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[personal profile] lb_lee
This is a belated Shadowthon story, snatched from the orphan pile!  It was prompted and sponsored by [livejournal.com profile] aubergine_pilot.  This story, by specific request, is fanfiction for Persona 4, and it involves lots of gender stuff.  It also has a cameo of Marge/Princess Margaret from Ordinary Ever After.  Enjoy!

Waiting Out the Storm


Chicago weather was awful.

Naoto dashed through the first open door she saw, shaking water off her sleeves.  Outside, the rain pelted down—or across, rather, due to the howling wind.  Irritated, she tossed her mangled umbrella into the trashcan.  So much for her planning.

None of this was going according to plan.  She was supposed to be on a plane to Iowa, first-class, with a nice cocktail and lecture notes.  Then the weather had happened.

Where was she, anyway?

Homescross Coffee, according to the chalkboard on the wall.  The place smelled of cream and cinnamon, and a chubby girl with blue hair robotically wiped down the counter.  The weather had apparently kept away the customers; the only other person in the shop was a tall, gangly woman—

Naoto froze.  Her heart hammered in her chest, and for a moment, she could feel the ghost of the old binder that she’d worn for so many years.

The woman looked back at her and raised an eyebrow.

Embarrassed, Naoto hastily turned and hurried to the blue-haired barista to place her order. (No, the barista didn’t look like Aika, not even with the red apron, that was a long time ago.) The tall woman was still watching her.

“I hate to be rude,” the woman said, “but you look familiar.”

Naoto felt her cheeks flush with shame. “I’m sorry,” she told the woman. “It’s just that you look like an author I really liked.”

The woman smiled and crossed her long legs. “Well, that’s nice.  I don’t know whether to be flattered you recognized me or insulted you said ‘liked,’ past tense.” She moved her handbag off the other chair. “Come, sit.”

Naoto did. “You’re Janet Scarsborough?”

The woman managed to curtsy without actually standing. “In the flesh.”

Janet Scarsborough was one of the more famous trans writers of the US.  Naoto’s ten-year-old mind had been blown when she discovered a (badly translated) copy of Transgender Blues on the shelf of a library, and she could feel that inner ten-year-old shivering.

“Of course,” Naoto said with a resigned sigh. “I would meet you when I don’t have any of your books on me.”

She hadn’t had any of those books on her in years.  She’d gotten rid of all of them after… well.

“I’m not trans anymore,” she felt compelled to say.

Ms. Scarsborough shrugged and sipped from her coffee mug as though drinking fine wine. “C’est la vie.”

“I’m sorry.”

“What’s to be sorry for?  It wasn’t for you.”

Naoto was silent.  What could she say?  That she’d fought her trans self in the shadow world, reintegrated it, won?  That everyone had been so startled (relieved, they were relieved) that she was a girl, that she’d gotten over it and acted her age (gender, acted her gender) and put away her childish things (her binder was still buried in a drawer somewhere). That she had a nice tough Yankee boyfriend that sometimes she bent over the table and fucked because he loved it probably too much and she loved it definitely too much and for all the wrong reasons.  That it was so easy not to talk or think about it, because everyone had kinks, they didn’t mean anything, but she remembered her shadow’s flat metal eyes, and Kanji had told her that his had been gayer than a rice-cooker full of roses.

The blue-haired barista appeared with a steaming mug of something Naoto no longer remembered the identity of. “Naomi?”

Naoto tried not to cringe. “Thank you.”

The coffee burnt her tongue, jolting her back to the present.  Stop it, she told herself.  That was a long time ago.  It was over.  She’d beaten it.  She was a grown woman now.

Even if her boyfriend still called her Naoto-kun when she fucked him.

(“Why?  Why’re you leaving me here!?  Why am I always left alone!?”)

Janet Scarsborough was looking at her curiously.

“Are you all right?”

Again, the shame.  None of this was Ms. Scarsborough’s fault.  She was just a woman, minding her own business and drinking a cup of coffee.  She wasn’t here to be Naoto’s shrink.

“I’m sorry.  I need to go,” Naoto said, lurching up.

“Wait!  Your coffee—”

But Naoto left it there on the table and dashed back out into the storm.

Rain instantly soaked her through, lashing at her face and clothes.  That was all right; even as an adult, Naoto still hated to be seen crying.  Part of her, the childish part, wanted to take advantage of the near-empty streets and scream all her frustration and despair into the wind.  But she wasn’t a child anymore, and so she just chose a direction at random and hurled herself into it, letting the cold rain and the howling wind drown out any sound she would’ve made.

This was supposed to be over!  She’d dealt with this already!  Why was it back?

Her Arcana was Fortune, the wheel, and it never stopped turning.  Maybe it wasn’t supposed to.  Maybe things weren’t that easy.

Naoto ran out of wind and adrenaline and came to a halt in front of a bookshop, doubling over and wheezing.

There was a sign in the window—Janet Scarsborough Book Signing.  It was marked for yesterday.  Well, that explained what she was doing here; she’d probably intended to fly out too, only to be delayed by the storm.  Funny coincidence.

Under the sign was a copy of Transgender Blues.

Naoto paused.  From far away came the shadow’s voice: “You’re just a lonely child.” Ten years old, maybe.

Naoto walked in and bought the book.  The cashier wrapped it in plastic to protect it from the weather, but Naoto tucked it under coat and sweater, just to be safe.  Then Naoto returned to the coffeeshop.

Janet Scarsborough was still there.  And now, when Naoto looked at her, she was just a woman.  Just an author who’d blown a ten-year-old’s mind.

“I’m sorry,” Naoto said, pulling out the book. “I just know I’ll never see you again.  Would you mind…?”

Ms. Scarsborough laughed. “Oh, sweetie, you didn’t need a dramatic exit for that!”

And she signed Naoto’s book, and he drank his coffee (now cool enough to drink) and they talked about books and travel while waiting out the storm.

He’d have to talk to Kanji about this.  But somehow, he thought it’d be okay.

Date: 2014-03-26 04:12 am (UTC)
ext_12246: (Default)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
Ohh myyyy.

Date: 2014-03-27 03:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lb-lee.livejournal.com
I didn't know you were a Persona 4 fan!

Date: 2014-03-28 01:10 am (UTC)
ext_12246: (smiley)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
I don't even know what Persona 4 is, though I can vaguely guess. But I think I can see what's happening in the story, and Uncle George's most famous expression is too neat not to use.

Date: 2014-03-28 02:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lb-lee.livejournal.com
Persona 4 is a video game, and also an anime. The latter is what I saw, since apparently the game can run up to something like eighty hours of play, while the anime was only something like twenty-six episodes.

The concept is such: some high schoolers in rural Japan discover that a TV opens into another creepy world, where one's most suppressed parts of self become entirely new entities that argue, beg, or try to kill you. Then people in town start dying, being kidnapped through the TV.

Naoto is the "Detective Prince," in that he desperately wants to be seen as an adult and as a man by the authority figures around him, and relies on his intelligence and his wealth to get it. When he gets dragged into the TV, it gets pretty crushing.

--Rogan

Date: 2014-03-27 06:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] natalief.livejournal.com
LOL very George Takei!

Date: 2014-03-27 06:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] natalief.livejournal.com
*like*

Time to buy a new binder and/or hope the old one still fits.

Date: 2014-03-27 07:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lb-lee.livejournal.com
Alas, I would offer you mine, but had to donate it back when I moved. Not gonna lie, I do NOT miss having to wear those buggers.

--Rogan

Date: 2014-03-27 11:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] natalief.livejournal.com
Your character, not me.

Date: 2014-03-28 12:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lb-lee.livejournal.com
D'oh. Now I just feel silly.

Date: 2014-03-28 01:11 am (UTC)
ext_12246: (question mark)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
But I don't know what this kind of "binder" is. Breast compressor?

Date: 2014-03-28 02:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lb-lee.livejournal.com
Basically. Think a t-shirt or tank top either made of compressive fabric or with compressive panels built in. I always found them incredibly stifling and uncomfortable, but part of that might have been the brand I bought, and also I was just a really, REALLY crappy body-type for them.

--Rogan

Date: 2014-03-29 12:53 am (UTC)
ext_12246: (Default)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
thx4theinfo

typing onehanded past the cat
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