All of the Above: A Countersink Scene

“Sorry for asking—“

My heart sped. Pupils dilating, stomach in knots, the whole shebang. “Sorry for asking” was never a good start to a sentence. And she was hesitating. Also not good. I wished she’d hurry up and finish her question, so I could decide which lie to tell her.

“—but, well, you’re a guy, right?”

My panic disappeared and was replaced by annoyance and a deep sense of having none of this.

As was her way, when she sensed my offense, she tried to fix it.

“Or, you’re a girl, right? You’re a girl?”

“Does it matter?” I asked.

“No, no, of course it doesn’t,” she muttered herself into a corner like a sparkler fizzing out. “No.”

“I use ‘they’ for a reason,” I continued.

“Right, I get that.”

She dropped it right there.

I tried to think of something to say to show that it was okay. It was okay, really, even though it was annoying. She wasn’t trying to be rude. But there was nothing I could say without making it even more personal. Guy or girl, male or female, it was a trick question.

The answer was “neither” and “all of the above.” Hell, I didn’t even know which I was. Every time I tried to figure it out—figure out which I was more like—it always ended in frustration and a troubling sensation of isolation. I wasn’t male or female. I was something in between and something different entirely.

I had never really cared. It had never been relevant. Was being male going to keep me from inventing? Was being female going to stop me from wearing shorts? Back before Ashby, back when Mom, Dad, and myself worked with a lot of other ultra-heroes, sex wasn’t even in the equation.

No one asked me if I was male or female. They asked me if I could build a 3D printer or if I could figure a way to make their engine fifty percent quieter. People got my pronouns wrong all the time. I didn’t care really. Sometimes Mom or Dad would correct them, saying I preferred gender-neutral pronouns, and that was it. There were no insinuations, no odd looks. Just shrugs, “okay”s, and then getting back to work. “Who really cares?” was and always had been my philosophy.

Problem was, I found out, a lot of people did care. People were concerned with what was proper, clean or simple. Yeah, like the world has ever been clean or simple. People like Ashby and Sato. People I didn’t care about. And Alana, apparently. I didn’t like her being in the same category as those two. In fact, it made me sick.


A/N: Ever say something and immediately regret it? You didn’t mean anything by it, but all attempts to show that just make it worse? Yeah, that’s Alana. Poor Alana.

I’m trying some new things in Countersink 2.0. One of which is swapping Adam’s gender, and making Luis (or “Lu”) intersex. As with everything, we’ll see how this goes. I really want this to go well.

I’ve finished Part 1 of Countersink 2.0! I have some pretty major tweaks to do on it before sending it out to be read, including adding a couple more scenes to smooth out the progression, but it’s getting there! Thanks to everyone who has supported me by reading, liking, following, and commenting. 🙂

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