Ace stood in their bathroom, staring at the short, choppy brown hair that they cut only a few days ago. It was different. It was what they wanted. Their blue eyes bore into themselves as they held their robe across their body.
What does sexy even mean?
They wanted to get ready for their date with Ben tonight. Ben was sweet, but they weren’t sure how he would take the coming out part of the night. Yes, gay was one way to describe Ace.
But it was so much more complicated than that.
They weren’t just gay.
They weren’t just male or female.
They were neither.
Ace went into the small bedroom that had the black dress they wanted to wear splayed out on the white bedspread. It was originally strapless, but they sewed two small spaghetti straps onto the sequined top so it would hold up against their flat chest.
Ben had never seen them in a dress before.
It’s been three months. Why didn’t I tell him earlier?
Ace slid their boxers on under their robe. They took off their robe and slipped on the black dress. The skirt poofed out a bit, but not so much to make it look too girly.
Ace put on their black flats and grabbed their small black backpack. They looked at how they looked in the mirror. Ace saw difference in how they looked: the way the dress showed off their lean arms, the way the skirt showed off their freshly shaven legs. The backpack was a little accessory that added to the whole outfit, but Ace knew something was missing.
They knew exactly what it was. They went back to their room and grabbed the cubic zirconia heart necklace and clasped it around their neck. They went back into their bathroom and took some hairspray to their already dried hair. After fluffing their hair out a bit, they added some mascara to their eyelashes, highlight to their cheeks, and pink gloss to their lips.
They wanted to look natural, just with a few enhanced features.
Ace put the lip gloss in the pockets of the dress (they had to make them themselves) and did the same with their apartment keys and began to walk over to Ben’s.
It was only a few blocks away, but still a difficult commute to make considering what Ace was wearing. The stares people made them uncomfortable, but they knew that once they were at Ben’s place, they wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore.
The cold air hit their arms gently, causing a shiver down their spine. A man stared Ace down, glancing them up and down almost hungrily as they walked by while another looked in disgust.
The world was a harsh place for Ace, but at least they didn’t have to deal with any yellers tonight. It was still a bit early for that, they usually started around 9pm while it was only 6 right now. The yellers were always drunk.
By the time Ace reached Ben’s apartment, he was slightly out of breath. He inhaled and let out the deep breath and knocked on the door. He waited a few seconds.
What if he doesn’t answer?
What if he shuts the door in my face?
What if he-
“Hey, ba- woah.” The door opens and Ben pauses, “Woah, babe. You look… fantastic.” He smiles, his uneven row of white teeth poking through his lips. Ace fell for that smile before they even met.
Ace looks up through their eyelashes, “Really?” It comes out like a whisper.
“Hell, yeah. You look amazing, a lot better than me at least,” he says, pointing to his black, now flour covered apron. Ben holds out his calloused hand towards Ace. “Let me give you the ultimate apartment tour of all time.”
Ace takes his hand. “Why thank you,” they smile.
Ben points to the kitchen, “That is the kitchen slash dining room,” then to the sofa on the opposing side of the half wall that faces a short table with a television on it, “and that is the living room. The bathroom is upstairs to the left and my room is to the right.”
“Wow, its so…”
Ace shook his head, “Clean.”
Ben rubbed the short hair on the back of his neck, “Thanks,” his cheeks turned a sheepish pink.
“Aw, you’re cute when you blush.” Ace kissed Ben on the cheek and jumped when an alarm went off. Ben fumbled with his phone to turn off the alarm.
“That’s the chicken. Rice is already cooked, lemme grab you a chair.” He pushes a stool out from under the table, “Sorry I don’t have anything fancier.”
“I like it. It’s home-y”
Ben took the chicken out of the oven and prepared two plates. “Here ya go.” He said, setting both plates down on the table. He took off his apron and hung it on the command strip on his wall.
They ate dinner and had a casual discussion. How was work? How was your day? All that jazz. And then it happened.
“So… Ace, what do you think of the food?”
“It’s great! I never really took you for a cook,”
“Ace, I LOVE to cook. I wish we could’ve had this date earlier, but with work and all…”
Ace fumbled with their necklace, “I was a little nervous about tonight…”
“I just… I wasn’t sure how you would react,” they paused, trying to find the words, “well, to me, I guess.”
“Ace, whether you wear a dress or pants or skirt or nothing at all, I’ll still love you.” He reached his hand over the table.
“You love me?”
“Of course, I wouldn’t do this for just anyone, you know,” Ben winked.
“I love you too.”
“Wanna watch a movie?”
“Sure, love.” Ace smiled, happy as can be. But then they looked at the clock on Ben’s wall, “Oh no… I have work in 6 hours… Next time, I promise. And I’ll cook.”
“Let me walk you home.” Ben grabbed a jacket from his closet and put it around Ace’s shoulders.
“So… what is it? He? She?”
“They. I’m non-binary.”
“They. Got it. Thank you for trusting me.”
Ace smiled, “Thank you for letting me trust you.”