• Published 9th Apr 2020
  • 757 Views, 11 Comments

Butterfly - TheWingman

Vice-Principal Artemis is visited by a student with a problem that reminds him of his past.

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A Small World...

“Hmmm, here we are,” hummed Artemis, “the thick of the action.”

Perusing through his filing cabinets, Artemis briefly looked over the many files that pertained to each student at Canterlot High. A lot of the students he got to know and care for had been on their best behavior for the most part. There would be a few times where one student or the occasional magical anomaly would cause disruptions. For the most part, he and his sister were able to keep things orderly.

Among the files, one stood out in particular. It dealt with Gilda, one of the rougher students in the school. Though she has decent enough grades and did well in gym class, her attitude, and disciplinary record, was of some concern. Being among the year’s graduating class, Artemis and the staff did their best to make sure she graduated on time.

“She has been good as of late,” muttered Artemis, “Graduation’s a month away. I hope she keeps it up.”

Putting the folder away, he turned to the window as the early noon arrived. When not busy with paperwork or on break, Artemis enjoyed the sight of a clear blue sky. It had something of a calming effect on him, a way to destress from the duties of a vice principal.

“Beautiful,” mused Artemis, “just beautiful.”

The door opened and through it entered his older sister, Celestia. He always looked up to her when he needed help with anything. They shared a strong bond that eventually translated to their jobs, making a good team.

“I agree,” said Celestia, “The skies are quite nice this time of year.”

“Same, but I’m partial to a good moon-lit sky,” Artemis added. He got up from his seat to hug his sister, “What have you been up to today, sis?”

“Well, since Cheerilee is still on her honeymoon and I couldn’t find a substitute, I decided to teach her class,” sighed Celestia, “Makes me remember the old days when I taught literature.”

“Well, the students like you and you’re always dependable,” said Artemis.

“But the same could be said of you,” said Celestia.

For a moment, they shared a slight giggle between them. Artemis, though the little brother, was just as mature as his older sister. But, he could tell when she needed him for something.

“So, what is it you need, sis?” Artemis smirked.

“I was thinking about what the graduating seniors could do next Friday,” said Celestia, “One thing that would be fun is a water balloon fight behind the school. What do you think?”

“Water balloons?” asked Artemis, “Don’t you think that it’ll leave a noticeable mess?”

“I told them they’ll be able to do it as long as they clean up afterward,” answered Celestia, “If they miss a few, the groundskeeper will be able to take care of it.”

“Will they be getting a half-day?” asked Artemis.

“They will,” answered Celestia.

Artemis turned his gaze toward the window and smirked. He remembered the moments in his childhood where he and Celestia had water balloon fights of their own. Always picking up after themselves, it was worthwhile to them.

“Okay,” said Artemis, “I suppose it’ll be good for the seniors to let loose a bit. It’s your call.”

“Okay, water balloon fight it is,” Celestia agreed with a smile, “I know you can be a bit rigid in how you carry yourself at times but I know you’re quite the softie.”

Artemis blushed at his sister’s choice of words but she was right. Growing up, he developed a hard exterior to ward off anyone that might give him a difficult time. Still, those that got to know him found him to be welcoming. He loved working with people for a living and being in charge of a school fit well within his skills. He loved what he did for a living.

One thing that he held above his work was his sister. For Artemis, Celestia was more than simply a sister to him. She was the best friend he was lucky to have. Whenever he needed someone to talk to, Celestia would drop whatever she was doing and hear him out without exceptions or judgment.

“Brother, are you alright?” asked Celestia.

“Yeah, I guess,” answered Artemis, “I’ve just been thinking about a lot of things lately.”

“Like what?” asked Celestia with a hint of concern.

“With the end of another school year coming up,” Artemis sighed, “I’ve thought about how far we came. Years ago when we left school behind, I never thought we’d come back to be the principals here.”

“We put our minds and will to our goals to make them a reality,” said Celestia as she placed a hand on her brother’s shoulder, “If anything, you’re the hardest worker I know.”

“Well, I did have a sister who always had my back,” Artemis smiled, turning his attention to his sister, “Tia, you were there for me when I needed someone during my rough patch. You were the first to understand what I felt and I… I still remember the hug you gave me that day. There, I knew everything would be alright.”

Compelled by the emotions from his memories, Artemis quickly pulled his sister in for a hug. Nothing but pure silence traveled the air. All that mattered was a moment of contemplation between siblings.

“I know this sounds pretty corny but you’re the best big sister out there,” Artemis broke the hug, “Tia, thank you… for everything.”

Celestia gave her brother a short look before she flashed a smile his way. Artemin returned it with one of his own before he sat down at his desk. With a nod, Celestia turned to the door and opened it. She sighed with contentment before walking through it.

“You’re very welcome, brother,” said Celestia, “We have that dinner tonight after work. Does the place on the corner of Bastion and Arcadia sound good?”

“I haven’t tried that place yet,” answered Artemis, “Sure, that sounds good. Okay, I don’t want to keep you held up. I’ll catch you after work. See you later.”

“Likewise,” said Celestia.

Seeing Celestia close the door behind her, Artemis turned his attention to some paperwork. Pulling out a pen, he gave his work his undivided attention. Still, he couldn’t get his earlier thoughts out of his head. There was much he overcame years ago and as he looked back on it, he realized how fortunate he was to receive the support he got from friends and family. In his mind, they were like an invaluable treasure.

“Tia,” sighed Artemis, “You truly are one in a million.”

Hours had passed and the last round of classes was soon to end. Keeping track of the time, Artemis took his time finishing up the daily reports and other paperwork that came by his desk. To some, such a workload would tire one out. But for him, it was something he was more than used to as it was quiet work.

With the sound of knocking on the door, the silence had been broken, pulling Artemis from his work. Through the window, he could tell it wasn’t any faculty member he recognized but a student. Rarely did students come to visit him at his office for any reason as they would usually go to his sister for help. Still, he welcomed any visitors.

“Come in!” said Artemis.

The door opened and revealed a student he recognized. Black hoodie, light-blue jeans, navy blue skin and sun orange hair in a ponytail, it was Nebula Spectacle, head of the school’s poetry club. The way she dressed was a mix of both masculine and feminine features, an expression of herself. While usually slightly extroverted, Artemis noticed her becoming more aloof and closed off.

“Nebula?” said Artemis as his face drew a smile, “Come in. Make yourself comfortable.”

Nervous and cautious, Nebula slowly stepped into the office and closed the door behind her. She then sat on a couch in front of the desk with her eyes fixed to her sneakers. Artemis was concerned but retained his smile for reassurance.

“Ms. Spectacle, how are you today?” said Artemis.

“I’m… I’m fine, I guess.” answered Nebula in a quiet tone, “It is close to graduation for me and I’m very nervous.”

“Ah, it’s nothing to be choked up about,” said Artemis, “It’s just another chapter in life, a journey we all must take. You’ve done well this year and you should feel proud.”

“I know,” added Nebula, “It’s that a lot of things are changing.”

“Change is the only constant in life,” reassured Artemis, “While it may be intimidating, it’s nothing to be scared about. I know you’ll do well out there. You have a good future ahead of you.”

Looking at the jaded student, Artemis noticed her mood didn’t improve one iota. She even averted her gaze from him. He saw expressions of that sort many times before and knew it to be the sign of another problem, one of great distress. Artemis knew just a simple chat about what the future had in store wasn’t the sole reason Nebula came to him.

“Ms. Spectacle,” said Artemis as he straightened his tie, “I think that just a simple conversation wasn’t the reason you came here. I know you think that I’m all strict and intimidating but I’d be more than willing to listen to you about whatever you have on your mind.”

Nebula flinched and her eyes shot open. Since she could remember living with her mother, she had a sort of feeling that ate away at her over the years, a feeling that something wasn’t right about her. Every time she looked in a mirror only worsened those thoughts. She was afraid to speak her innermost thoughts for the fear of harsh judgment.

“I… can’t,” muttered Nebula in a distressed tone, “I just…”

“Nebula,” Artemis sat down next to the troubled student, “I know you’re afraid to speak about what’s troubling you. You think that I’ll judge you harshly but as the vice-principal, that’s something I’ll never do. Rest assured, whatever you want to discuss, none of it will leave this room. You have my word.”

Part of Nebula was resistant to say anything to Artemis, despite his promise and reassuring tone. Yet, the other part felt it was safe. Having spent years being fearful of the perceived hate, she had enough. She badly wanted to let it all out.

“Since… since middle school,” Nebula sighed, “I felt like I was stuck in the wrong body. Every day, it felt all wrong. Whenever I look at the mirror, I see something that doesn’t match who I feel like inside. There are times where it kept me up at night. I hate feeling like this! I do!”

Though it surprised him, Artemis knew of the issue that affected Nebula. He knew friends who were on nearly the same boat as she was. Though he heard stories from his friends about their journeys, in a way, it hit close to home for him.

“Well, I feel proud of you for that,” said Artemis with a warm smile, “It takes a bit of courage to come out like that and it’s nothing to feel ashamed about. You should be proud to be who you are. Why were you afraid of that?”

Nebula didn’t respond, only with frightened shuddering and a worried shuddering. It didn’t take much for Artemis to know what it meant. The uncertainty of the reactions from her friends and family ate away at her.

“Nebula,” said Artemis, “I know you are afraid to tell those close to you and it’s understandable. Fear of the unknown is common for people like you. Your mother, friends, I have a feeling they would be understanding if you tell them with honesty and clarity.”

“But what if you’re wrong?!” yelled Nebula, “If I told them I’m a boy and why, would they still accept me or treat me like trash? My mom might kick me out, my friends brush me aside, and Argento leaves me! I just don’t know what to do other than keeping it all in for my sake!”

“For your sake?” asked Artemis, “What’s worse to you? Telling your friends or living in fear?”

“Then what?! Huh?!” Nebula yelled again, “You don’t know what I’m going through! To me, you’re just another stranger! How would you know how I feel?!”

Artemis understood Nebula’s frustration but hearing that he didn’t, shook him. He remembered years ago when faced with a similar circumstance, the fear of coming out to those he loved and the rejection that would’ve ensued. In Nebula, he saw a bit of himself and fully understood.

With a sigh, Artemis got up and walked to his desk. He pulled out two pictures and fondly looked at them for a while. As he returned to the couch, he handed them off to Nebula without another word. Unsure of what to think, Nebula took the pictures and gave them a look. What she saw surprised her.

The first picture she saw struck her as odd. One figure she recognized almost immediately was Celestia. She was hugging someone who looked like Artemis, clad in a cap and gown. However, the figure was a girl. All the gears and motors in her mind went into overdrive in her confusion.

“Nebula,” Artemis sighed, “Contrary to what you’ve said, I do know what you’re going through. I’ve been down the same path as you’re on when I started questioning that part of myself. All the fears and anxiety, it was all familiar to me. Even after all those years, I still remember it.”

“Mr. Artemis,” gasped Nebula as she put two and two together, “you’re...”

“Yes, Nebula,” Artemis finished, “Long ago, I was once a woman that went by the name of Luna. Much like you, I felt that what I looked like on the outside didn’t reflect what I felt on the inside. It ate away at me until a month before I graduated from high school and I told my sister.”

“My God,” gasped Nebula, “I had no idea that you were… I’m sorry.”

“I know you didn’t mean it,” reassured Artemis, “I was prepared to show you those pictures anyway as I didn’t want you to think you’re alone.”

Still reeling from the revelation, Nebula took a look at the next picture. Like the first one, Artemis was in a cap and gown but it was black instead of blue. Also, much like he was now, he was male. He posed with his sister with warm smiles on their faces but Artemis’ expression was one of triumph in more ways than one.

“By the time I was close to graduating from college, I had completed my transition,” Artemis commented, “Part of me was scared when I set out on my journey but deep down, it was something I knew I wanted.”

“How did your family react?” asked Nebula.

“My sister was the first person I came out to.” Artemis sighed, “To my surprise, she gave me the tightest hug that I still remember to this day. A month after I left high school, I couldn’t keep it from my parents. When I told them, I thought I was going to get shown the door but I felt their hands' grip mine. Then, my father said something that I’ll never forget.”

“What did he say?” asked Nebula.

“That no matter which path I walk in life, he and my mother would always support me.” Artemis noticed Nebula was still pensive, “Is there something wrong?”

“Even if my friends and family accept me, will they still see me as the Nebula they know?”

It was a question Artemis wagered on when he desired to come out. He couldn’t count the many times he asked himself that during his high school years. However, when he took a camping trip in his senior year, he thought of an analogy that fit.

“Mind if I tell you something?” asked Artemis, “Think of this as how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. As a caterpillar grows, it desires to change the way it looks and wraps itself inside a cocoon. For weeks, it drastically changes itself until it emerges as a butterfly, flying proud and free. Still, inside, it’s the same caterpillar that has adapted to its new form. Even if you do go through with transitioning, others will still remember who you are inside.”

Nebula, while still unsure, pondered the vice principal’s words. She wanted to come out and for all of what Artemis said to be true. But, the severity of her anxiety had been lessened by a renewed sense of optimism. All that was left for her was to tell those close to her, ready to endure any potential rejection.

“Mr. Artemis,” sighed Nebula, “Thank you. I’m just sick of hiding who I truly am. I want to tell everyone I love, even my boyfriend, Argento. But, what’ll I do if I tell my mother and she hates me?”

“Nebula,” Artemis smiled, “I’ve gotten to know your mother through the meetings I’ve had with her and she’s a very caring person. If anything, she would be the first to completely understand your issue. And Argento, I know you two are very close. Sometimes, you need a leap of faith, even if it’s for your own sake. If something happens to you at home, my sister and I will take care of you. I promise.”

“I… don’t know what to say.” said Nebula with a growing smile, “Th-thank you, Artemis.”

“You’re welcome, Nebula. I’m looking out for you, that’s all,” Reaching into his coat pocket, Artemis pulled out a notepad and pen. He wrote on it before he handed the paper off to Nebula, “Here’s mine and my sister’s address. If something happens, you come here and we’ll give you a place to stay.”

“Artemis,” Nebula lunged forward and hugged Artemis, “thank you!”

“It’s no problem.” Artemis briefly returned the hug, “The important thing is to come out at whatever pace is most comfortable to you. If you want to tell your boyfriend, I think he’s still in the auditorium getting the set pieces ready for the upcoming play. If you hurry, you might catch him.”

“Okay.” said Nebula as she got up with renewed optimism, “I hope he’ll understand.”

“I’m positive he will.” added Artemis, “Regardless of what happens, remember that someone will have your back. Don’t hesitate to come to see me if things turn sour.”

Flashing a brighter smile, Nebula nodded with Artemis as she walked out of the office. With a sigh, Artemis sat back in his chair, turning toward the afternoon sky. Satisfied that he was able to help a student that went through a similar hurdle he once did, he was able to enjoy a moment of peace. Though he doesn’t know what’ll happen next with Nebula, he hoped it’ll all work out for her.

“Hey Artemis,” Celestia called out as she entered her office. Artemis turned to face her, “how are things going? You seem to be in a pretty good mood.”

“Well, the head of the poetry club, Nebula Spectacle, stopped by a bit ago,” Artemis explained.

“Oh really,” said Celestia, “What did she need?”

“She, well… was going through some of the same hurdles I went through years ago,” answered Artemis, “I showed her those photos I had.”

“I see.” mused Celestia, “I hope she’s doing alright. With how stressful it was for you, I can imagine how it must be for her. Plus, I thought you got rid of that picture.”

“Well, I first thought of it but I want to be reminded of your support.” Artemis got up from his seat, “Also, I told Nebula that if things got bad at home, she should come to our house. Are you alright with that?”

“Of course!” Celestia answered, “It’s not a huge problem. I hope coming out to her mother goes well for her. It reminds me of how it happened to you.”

“Yeah, but I had a good sister that had my back.” Artemis pulled Celestia into a hug, “If it wasn’t for you, I would’ve still been languishing in that closet. I thank you for the love you’ve shown me.”

“Artemis, when you were born, I promised that I would love you no matter what,” Celestia smiled, returning the hug, “It doesn’t matter who you are. I’ll always care for my little brother.”

As Artemis broke the hug, his eyes began to water from the surge of joy. The look in his sister’s eyes reminded him of the day he opened up to her about his identity. He never forgot that smile and it was a comforting memory in times of stress. It kept him going.

“Sister, you’ll always be my best friend.” said Artemis as he wiped the tears from his eyes, “I truly mean that.”

“I know, little brother,” said Celestia. “I know.”

Then, the bell rang and soon the halls were packed with students, all eager to leave and enjoy the weekend. Artemis and Celestia still had a bit of work to do before they could call it a day but they didn’t mind. It let them a bit of time to reminisce and remember their early years. Yet, Artemis couldn’t dwell on the past. His concern was with the welfare of Nebula.

“I wish you luck, Nebula.”

Author's Note:

Whew, never did I write something about this subject but there's a first time for everything. When I began writing it, I felt nervous, even worried, that it might not be as good as I hoped or that I might've handled the subject in a way where it's disrespected. But, I hope I handled it right. Any and all comments are welcome and I hope you enjoy this.

Also, if you all want it, I have an epilogue planned that'll end this story on a heartwarming note. Just holler enough and I'll answer.