Coming out, very unfortunately, is everything. You don’t want it to be. But it is.
Because you are probably exposing someone to something that they don’t want to understand.
“I wouldn’t expect that,” isn’t hurtful on its own.
But unfortunately, it is a micro-aggression, whether they like it or not, and it says “This thing you are isn’t even on my radar for me to think about.”
It is crushing.
But even worse than that?
Arms around his bare knees, – – – sat under a street lamp, dimly aware of the darkening sky. His mind continuously strayed and retreated from his best friend, Hector. Rich Hector with loving parents who would take him in as their own within a heartbeat.
But hadn’t he taken enough?
Dainty hands that longed to be made of something tougher.
He could chop all his hair off now. Who cared.
He could do anything. Be anything. Anything that cost less than the ten dollars he had left. He was going to need a job. A job to get a haircut.
But what if he cut off all his hair and his employers realized he was a freak? They would still stuff him into dresses and the customers would leer at him, undressing him with lonely eyes. And he would feel sorry for them.
Because he wasn’t normal. And no one should look at him like that.
And that name.
– – –
Plastered across a name tag. An eternal gift to the people who wanted to hate him.
Maybe he could go by a new name. But no, that wouldn’t work because no one would look at him with a straight face. Soft chin and a growing chest with pretty, long locks. Stuffed into oversized lacy outfits from decades before.
It had been an hour.
And then hours became years.
“Katrina! Please let me in!”
That once high voice had dropped into something more old and feeble, warm and loving sounds from wrinkling skin.
Thick framed glasses and a mustache only the dorkiest old man would allow himself, with neatly chopped hair. So much had changed about him in the past forty years. All that was left were his blue eyes.
But it was better that way.
Fist pounding against the door maybe harder than required, – – -’s forehead, now Lucius’, slid into the door, nose brushing against the wood.
“I’m trying, Katrina, you know I’m — ”
Dry lips pressed against each other, holding in an angry shout, furrowed brow concealing it well.
Shoving his other hand to the wall, he stretched backwards, head now bowed towards the floor, eyes closed, cane falling to the floor.
An abusive father and a mother who took a sudden turn towards hate at the drop of a dime.
Lost friends and a wife who couldn’t handle it anymore.
That was Lucius Gawain. But that wasn’t who he was fighting for.
“I love you, Kat, please talk to me, I’m here, okay?” he said in a tender voice.
A click and a pregnant pause.
Eyes still closed, Lucius straightened his back.
A girl born to a family that didn’t want her taken in by a family that eventually collapsed. Bullied and lonely, quirky and scared, fighting battles that no one her age needed to. Stood up for those who needed it and took a beating from it.
That was Katrina Gawain. His everything.
And then it struck him at how normal this all was. A father trapped outside his daughter’s door begging for her forgiveness.
By this point, she was supposed to open the door and silently listen to him with a scornful expression that would appear time and time again in his nightmares.
But he was the legendary superhero dad who had passed the mantle onto his little girl soldier.
Yeah. At some point in those forty years, that happened. It’s a long story.
“Son of a bitch,” he dropped under his breath, and pushed the door to her bedroom open to find it as barren as he had imagined.
Pinching the bridge of his nose, his right hand lazily tapped five keys on the piano and voila, the book case slid across the room, revealing a dingy room the size of a closet with an empty rack.
A rack that was intended to display the Nightmare’s super suit.
A super suit that was very much not intended to be taken out to fight crime in the middle of a conversation.
“God, she is so rude sometimes,” Lucius grunted, slamming the book case shut.
Leaving her room and walking into his, he sat before his computer and pulled on the headset, the soft foam pressing on his ears a little too tightly.
It reminded him of when she first had taken flight in the suit two years ago, how he would sit there and talk her through every mission. That was before she knew who he exactly was.
Every now and then he would plug in to see what was up, but for the most part, well, baby bird has to fly on their own some time.
Taking in a deep breath to clear his head, Lucius flicked a switch.
“I just want you to know that I just delivered the apology of a lifetime to your door and — “
Blink. Blink. Sigh.
“Crap. Um — Okay.”
Cranium drooped pathetically, he took a moment to gently slap both sides of his head, attempting to think of some way to make things right.
Tentatively, he reached towards his radio, adjusting the dial until he was on the police’s frequency.
Nodding along to the usual to the dry crackly updates from the cops, he waited for that scrap of information he needed.
And when it came, there was only one thing he could say.
“Oh, the things I do for love.”
The second he stepped into the bank, he was greeted not by a teller, but by a man being thrown against the length of the bank and into the wall right besides him and subsequently slumping to the floor.
Eyebrows raised, Lucius gave a quick scan to the bank and found everything to be in a flurry of chaos as the Nightmare went toe to toe with Sid the Squid’s Gang.
An incredibly iconic gang of bank robbers reduced to rag dolls from her sheer power. Or perhaps anger.
“Get out of here, man!” a delirious and evidently sympathetic robber cried out to Lucius as his body careened across the floor.
Hunching over his cane deliberately, plastering a contagious smile across his aged face, Lucius strolled through the panic and straight to the teller.
“I’d like to make a deposit,” he said in a forcibly feeble voice.
It was within mere seconds that Lucius found himself with a gun pushing against his scalp, a shaking hand quaking on his shoulder.
“D-don’t move — or — or — I’ll shoot!” Sid the Squid announced.
The entire room froze as Nightmare silently turned her head from the goon she had lifted off the floor, and as her icy eyes fell onto Lucius’ dumbstruck face, she turned her head to the ceiling and sucked in so much spit that her groan echoed through the whole bank.
“W-was that — not — I — should I have not said that?” Sid the Squid asked as Nightmare lazily dropped the goon who scrambled away like a rat.
“Nah, you’re making a good call,” Lucius muttered from the side of his mouth.
“Aw, thanks,” Sid the Squid blushed.
Nightmare stomped across the room until she was finally within a few yards of Lucius. Eyes digging into his very soul, she finally straightened her posture and took in a deep breath.
And releasing it, the Nightmare swatted both hands in front of her and turned away from the duo.
“Whatever man,” she grunted.
Heart dropping into his stomach, Lucius watched as the distance between him and his daughter grew farther and farther.
“Is she for real?” he heard Sid the Squid utter.
Already five steps ahead, Lucius steeled himself as he watched a black shape slide into the Nightmare’s hand, and he shut his eyes tight as she whirled around and lobbed it across the room.
The black blade flew across the room and soared straight up, knocking Sid the Squid’s gun into the air.
Sid the Squid looked to Lucius, and Lucius looked to Sid the Squid. And as Lucius hoped that Sid the Squid wasn’t too violent a man, Sid the Squid hoped that Lucius really was the feeble thing he scooped up.
Turned out he wasn’t, and it turned out punching goons right in the face really hurts the fist.
Eyes glued to his purpled knuckle, Lucius’ legs dangled freely off the rooftop.
“I guess I deserve that, huh?” he said over his shoulder to Nightmare whose watchful gaze scanned the city continuously.
“Yeah,” she shrugged.
“I sort of understand why you’re mad at me, but it’d be nice if we could talk about it,” Lucius said as he massaged his wrist.
“You’re pressuring me to — come out and like — I’m not ready, Dad,” Nightmare said, her voice dropping the pretense and returning to the softer Katrina, albeit retaining the cold tones of the Nightmare.
Shaking his head, Lucius began his counterpoint. “I think that — ”
“I know it was hard for you. I know. I’ve heard it.”
Sirens echoing down the streets, fading back into the soundscape.
“And yeah, I’m just gay. Probably. And my story will never be as — uh — stressful, as yours. But I need time.”
“Just gay?” Lucius asked sensitively.
“Kat, honey. You are never ‘just’ anything. I’m not guilting you — no. I guess I was, huh?”
Tiny rocks scattered behind him as heavy boots trudged through them. Smiling to himself, he continued.
“I didn’t mean to make you feel bad for being just gay, Katrina. I just wanted you to know that I went through Hell being trans so young and I came out okay.”
Nightmare’s feet slung over the rooftop’s edge and she nestled herself besides him.
But still. Silence.
Gulping, Lucius tried again. “Does that not help?” Another silence. “Okay. W-well, what should I say?”
“Ask me why I’m nervous about coming out.”
“Okay. Why are you nervous?”
“Katrina, Charlotte’s not homopho — oh.”
A soft pink crawled up her cheeks.
“Dad, what are the odds that two girls grow up as best friends and happen to be able, due to their abnormal sexualities, to fall in love with each other? Only like 2% of the world is LGBT.”
“Hey, I think that statistic is off and it says a lot about how many people don’t come — alright, sorry. Not helping.”
Pulling her mask off, a sweaty, bruised face exposed to the quiet breeze, Katrina turned to her father and put a gloved hand on his shoulder.
“I just need time, that’s all, you’re not doing anything wrong by me waiting a little longer than you’d like, I’m just — “ Katrina paused, searching for some explanation, and then laughed to herself. “I got a lot on my plate.”
“Yeah, no, I get it. I’m sorry,” Lucius said, holding his crumpled hands up to her eyes. “You got an ice pack in that utility belt of yours?”
“I wish,” Katrina rolled her eyes, “Can you believe that Sid the Squid guy? He like — jabbed a finger in my eye earlier. It fucking — “
Pausing, Katrina looked to her father, jaw clenched for a second.
“It fucking hurt, yeah,” Lucius chuckled.
“Well, hey, maybe you being the one to clock him will be a good lesson to him in what a loser he is,” Katrina said as she jumped up to her feet, throwing a hand to her hip. Firing off a grapple line to another building, she prepared to jump off.
“Wait, you’re not — “ Lucius paused to collect himself, “You’re going to leave me up here? I’m — I thought we were good.”
“Oh, we’re fine,” Nightmare laughed, “But ya know, I got stuff to do.”
Lucius looked back into his lap and shook his head. Guess he was going to miss that Matlocke taping after all.
“Hey, don’t worry,” Nightmare sighed, patting her Dad on the back. “You’ve been through a lot. You’ll figure it out.”