Extra chapter: Names
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“Phew, that was tiring,” Lexi said, stretching her limbs, as we emerged from the changing room. I nodded in agreement: training always took quite a bit out of me, especially since we were ramping up the intensity, to be ready for the state championships, which were coming up in about a month.

“Rog and I are going to go grab a bite to eat,” Lexi continued. “You coming?”

I shook my head. “You go ahead, I have to go back home: I have a video call with my mom and siblings.”

Her eyebrows rose. “Oh? Everything okay?”

“Yeah, everything’s fine,” I replied. “My brother just wants to talk about something, that’s all.”

“Alright, see you tomorrow!”

I waved goodbye to her, retrieved my bike from the rack I’d chained it to, and began the ride home.

As I felt the wind on my face, my long hair flapping behind me, I wondered what Peter wanted to talk about; he’d been really vague about it, just saying that he had something to discuss with the whole family. It wasn’t anything time-critical, though, since he’d let me set the time for our call; and also, he’d insisted Patrick and Lena be present, since they were part of the family, too (his words, which I really appreciated).

Pulling on the brakes, I slowed to a stop in front of a small, two-storey apartment building; I took the bike around back and chained it to a pole in the backyard, then made my way up the stairs, to one of the two flats on the first floor.

“I’m home!” I called as I stepped through the door.

“Oh, welcome back!” Pat replied, rising from the couch; he walked over to me and kissed me on the lips. “How was practice?”

“It went well,” I said, with a smile. “I’m feeling optimistic for state championships.” And it was true, I really was. It was going to be my second time taking part as a girl, and I was looking forward to it, even though I was nowhere near the level that would have allowed me to place well – hormones had done a number on my fitness, I had to give it all just to be able to stay on the team: the other girls were really good. But still, I enjoyed racing, it always gave me a thrill.

I looked around. “Where’s Lena?”

“In here!” she called from the kitchen. “Just doing prep work for dinner tonight.”

Oh, right. I’d asked her to marinate the chicken thighs we had in the fridge with some beer, garlic, and spices earlier that day, after class and just before heading to practice; I was planning to cook them for dinner, but had forgotten to do the required prep work that morning before leaving for class. Well, no matter: three people living together certainly had its advantages, we shared chores and kept on top of everything no problem.

Over about four months of me and Patrick living together with Lena visiting almost every day, our housemates had become increasingly annoyed with us – especially with Lena, since she was practically living with us without paying rent or utilities; so we bit the bullet, pooled our money together, and figured that on our budget we could just afford to rent a two-bedroom flat. It was relatively cheap because it was quite a way’s from college, but we didn’t mind: all it mattered was that we’d been living together, the three of us, for the past year.

“It’s almost time for the call, are you ready?” I asked.

“Yeah, sure,” she said, wiping her hands on her apron and hanging it up; Patrick nodded in agreement. I walked to the second bedroom (which we’d converted into a study room), retrieved my laptop, and set it up on the living room table; then we sat down on the couch, so the webcam could see all of us.

After a couple of minutes my brother called us, and I answered; as my mother and siblings appeared on the screen I could see they, like us, were sitting on the couch in their small apartment.

“Hi, y’all!” I greeted them with a wave. “How are you doing?”

“We’re good,” my mother answered. “How about you? Everything okay up north?”

Patrick nodded. “Yes, everything is fine. We’re a bit tired because finals season is approaching, so we’re busy studying. That, and Allie’s training really hard in triathlon; who knows, maybe this time the girls' team will make it to nationals.”

“Let’s hope so,” Leah replied, smiling.

There was a brief pause, then I asked: “So, why the call? What was so important you couldn’t just talk about it over the phone, but had to schedule a video call for?”

“Alright,” my brother said, straightening up a little on the couch. He cleared his throat, and continued, “There’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while. A long while, actually, and I think I’ve come to a decision. You see, this is something really, really important to me, which I care a lot about.”

“Okay…” I said, eyeing him suspiciously; what was this about?

“I mean, it’s also a bit weird too,” he went on. “So I talked about it with Leah and Mom, before deciding to call. You see, I’m going to go to college next year. Well, Leah and I, of course, so--”

Leah elbowed him in the ribs. “Oh, get on with it, bro, you’re making them worry.”

Peter winced, but nodded. “Yeah, alright. Sorry, I was rambling a bit. What I wanted to say was…” He looked straight in the camera, and took a deep breath. “May I have your name?”

I blinked in surprise. My name? What did he mean by that?

There was a moment of silence, then Lena spoke up, “So what, you’re coming out to us as one of the Fae?”

Everyone laughed. My mother looked at Peter and said, “I think you should explain it properly, dear. I don’t think they understood.”

“Right,” he nodded. “Okay, so you know how it’s a family tradition for every first-born son to be given the name of his ancestors?”

I nodded back. How could I forget? I’d carried that name myself, until very recently.

“Okay. And, of course, right now there’s no one who has that name in the family.”

Again, I nodded, with a bit of a grimace; it was a bit of a sore point, actually, I felt bad at having let such an old family tradition lapse because of my transition. But it couldn’t be helped, could it?

Wait. Hold on. Was he saying…?

“So I wanted to ask if I could change my name to your previous one,” he concluded.

Again, there was a brief moment of awkward silence.

“Only if you don’t mind, and give me your permission,” my brother added. “It used to be your name, after all.”

I felt put on the spot; everyone was looking at me. “Oh. Okay.” I paused. “Why?” I asked.

“Well, like I said,” he replied. “I just want to carry on the family tradition, since I can. As a way to remember Dad, and Grandpa.”

“Yeah, I get it,” I said.

My brother smiled. “I’m glad you did. I thought that maybe…”

“No, I feel the same way,” I replied. “Though we’d never really talked about it, right?”

He nodded. “And besides, this way I’ll finally be rid of the Spider-Man jokes.” He leaned over, and punched Mom lightly in the shoulder. “Seriously, Mom, who calls their son Peter Parker?”

Mom smiled. “In my defence, your dad and I didn’t really think about it, we just liked the name Peter and went with it; we didn’t realise it until much later.”

My brother smiled back, then turned back to the camera. “In any case, you’re okay with it?”

I thought for a moment; but in the end, there was really no reason not to.

“I’m okay with it,” I confirmed. “With two conditions.”

He frowned. “Oh?”

“First, you’re going to be the seventh, not the sixth. Because…” I sighed. “Well, I was the sixth, right? I want to keep a hold of that, at least a bit.”

Everyone nodded. “Yeah, we get that,” Leah said; Pat gave my shoulder a squeeze.

“And second,” I continued; then I paused, and smirked. “You won’t use Theo as a nickname.”

My brother – John Duncan Theodore Alan Parker, the Seventh – laughed. “Yeah, sure. I can do that. Thank you, sis.”

“Hey, that’s what big sisters are for, right?”

 

 

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