“It’s not a cult,” Jane said as she reached for her coffee.
Ally frowned at her sister. “Bullshit.”
“Seriously, it’s not,” Jane repeated, trying to keep her tone calm and level. They hadn’t talked in months. She was giving this her best shot.
Ally didn’t seem to be as committed, despite what she’d told their mom when they’d both agreed to come home for a couple days. “You live with what, seven people? Eight, nine?”
“I spend time with them, but I still live in my condo by myself. Neither of which are cultish.”
Ally glowered, but Jane help up a hand.
“Can we back up a second, please?”
Ally’s glare softened a bit, and she nodded. “Ok, we can back up.”
Jane nodded. “So first off - cults are usually defined by certain things.”
“My sister the historian,” Ally snarked.
Jane raised an eyebrow, but continued on.
“Typically it’s a group that meets in secret, devoted to a religion or ideology that would not be accepted in the mainstream.”
“Like living with eight people!”
Jane snorted. “That’s just how people pay their rent now, Ally. It’s 2021 and not everyone bought a house ten years ago.”
“Please. I saw the photos Mom framed. That’s not just rent.”
“Ok, true. I most certainly love Dina,” Jane admitted. “So do her other partners.”
“And that’s totally mainstream,” Ally shot back.
“Depends,” Jane admitted. “But it works for us. I’m also very much in love with Katie and Dawn too. I’m happy. More to the point - I’m also not hiding any of that. Like you just said, I sent Mom and Dad pictures!”
Ally frowned, but let Jane go on.
“We have some rules. One of the biggest ones is the make sure we work on keeping healthy relationships with our families, because Dina doesn’t want us to turn into a cult. We don’t worship her in a religious sense, and she doesn’t want that.”
“I heard you call her Goddess on the phone last night!”
“First of all, eavesdropping is rude.”
Ally flicked her off.
“Second - that’s a title we use together because it makes her feel good and I like using it for her. I do not think she is a literal deity.”
Ally still didn’t look impressed, and Jane once again wondered how the little sister who used to insist she was a fairy princess and had been a diehard fan of Jem and the Holograms had grown up to be such a totally vanilla bitch.
“I don’t like it. All you should need is one person in your life! All of this is just setting you up for heartbreak! Look at Mom and Dad!”
Jane wanted to groan and pinch her nose. She really did. But she wasn’t going to make a scene. Yet.
“Mom and dad’s marriage didn’t fall apart because they had a girlfriend. It fell apart because Dad stopped giving a shit and Mom was happier with Annie.”
“You are such a momma’s boy.”
Jane went very, very still.
“I am going to give you thirty seconds to rephrase that.”
Ally didn’t really seem to notice where she fucked up.
“You always used to run to her when we were kids, and now you take her side!”
“Yes, I am. Because I see Mom being happier and living a better life with Annie.”
“Meanwhile you just keep living in sin and getting brainwashed by that bunch of f-“
Ally blinked, brought up short. “What?!”
“They’re my family. Who I love, care for, and am cared about by. So you’ll excuse me if I am done listening to this.”
She didn’t stop walking until she got to her car, locking the doors once she was inside and reaching for her phone. The first text was to tell her mom she had tried to go out for coffee with Ally and that her sister had insulted her and her family. She would let Mom clean up.
The second was to her Goddess and partners. “Can I call you?”
Dina was calling her within seconds of the message being read.
“Hey pretty girl. Problems?”
“Ally remains a transphobic asshole who has decided I’m in a cult.”
Dina let out a long sigh. “I’m sorry, pet. I know you were doing your best.”
Jane closed her eyes and just let herself sink into the car seat for a moment. “I did. I really did. But…”
“Yeah, but.” Dina made a concerned noise, and Jane could almost feel herself being hugged through the phone. “Are you at the house?”
“No, we tried getting coffee. I think I may go to a park or something. Take a walk.”
“Thank you, Goddess.”
“I love you, Jane. Please be gentle with yourself.”