“How is she?” Melinda murmurs eventually, and Phil is caught off guard, clearly having become comfortable with their shared Skype silence.
He sighs at first, but she tries not to react.
“She’s doing okay. Pretty sure she’s less okay than she’s letting on, but everyone keeps reminding me she’ll make it through all this. That’s our Sk- that’s her, you know. It’s not like the rest of us are - are totally okay. I mean, we’re all...struggling.”
“Fitz in particular?”
“Fitz in particular.”
Melinda presses a smile to her lips, knowing it will only marginally help but that she feels the need to do it anyway; another soft silence follows, this one slightly less comfortable than the last.
“She’s still our girl, you know. It’s just like...as though she were trans, you know. Different name, different public identity, but that’s it. She’s just...changing who people see to match who she is, who she wants to be. And if we’re half as dedicated...parents as we’d like to think we are, we have to be there for her, whoever she turns out to be, right?”
“I know, I know, I just...it’s hard to feel like she’s doing this for herself rather than for them.”
Melinda takes a sip of her beer.
“We may never know, Phil.”
“Doesn’t make our jobs any different, does it?”
“Nope, not a bit.”
Phil smiles gently, and shortly thereafter is pulled away by a text.
“Daisy...I gotta go handle this.”
“I’ll be here, until I’m not.”
“And then you’ll be home.”
“Go take care of our girl, Phil.”