Dani pushed aside a crumb-covered plate and put her feet up on the table. “I feel like I haven’t played video games in forever,” she said. “ It’s just been work and the gym for like a month.”
“Well you were in your room for the last-” Ryan started to say, until Dani glared at him. “Er, anyway, here’s your controller.”
“Thanks,” she said, changing her glare into a grin. He’s right, though. If it’s anyone’s fault that we haven’t done this in a while, it’s mine.
“Oh, you haven’t played since the update, right? Your main sucks now.” Ryan chuckled and took the dirty plate off the table. “Get the game started while I take care of this?”
“Sure.” Dani started auto-piloting through the menus. Well what character do I play, instead? It’s been so long since I cared about this game, I don’t even remember which ones are supposed to be good.
Suddenly, the screen went black. Then the lights went out, and Dani heard that distinct “powering down” sound that she could only ever associate with a power outage. Like a faint humming that only ever gets more distant as the realization sets in.
Great, Dani thought.
“Fuck,” Ryan said.
Dani set down the controller, and turned on her phone’s flashlight. “Do you think it’s a breaker or something?”
“No, look outside.” Ryan passed through the living room and gestured to the window.
Dani looked and nearly gasped. All the streetlamps that usually lit the block were out, and the neighboring apartment buildings were also entirely dark.
“Wow, that’s...not great.” Dani sat back on the couch. “Should we call the landlord?”
Ryan shook his head. “I wouldn’t bother. Everyone else will be calling him, and I doubt he will know anything, considering the whole block is out.” He joined her on the couch.
They both sat in silence for a bit, just staring at the dark television. The only light was from Dani’s phone, which was now on the table, pointed at the ceiling.
“So, want a drink?” Ryan said, apparently bored of staring at nothing.
“Yeah, sure. Nothing else to do, right?”
Dani had drank a few times since starting hormones, but those had all been at a bar or a birthday party, and she made sure to eat food and drink water alongside it. Now, however, she was in a quiet setting, with nothing to eat or drink the entire day. I’ll get some water in a bit, she promised herself.
Ryan set a near-full bottle of vodka on the table. “I think there’s some orange juice in the fridge if you want, but don’t leave the door open too long. Have to conserve the cold, ya know.”
“Eh, I can manage without,” Dani said. She poured a modest amount into the glass Ryan had brought her and held it up, with Ryan following suit. “Cheers?”
The two went back and forth for a while, talking about work or a crazy news story they’d heard, until it was time for another drink. Then a few more. At a certain point, the phone flashlight had to be turned off to save battery, and it was only used when a drink got poured. Of course, this left them sitting in almost pitch blackness, but they managed. Dani started to open up a bit more about her transition, and how her home life had been her main reason for moving out.
“Wow,” Ryan said. “I can’t imagine what it’s like to have your family turn on you like that.”
“Yeah, well...it’s whatever. Obviously I would rather have them support me, but they don’t, so they don’t.” Dani stared down into her empty cup.
“My family hasn’t been perfect by any means, but they’re so important to me that I’m not sure I could do what you did.”
“Uh, thanks?” She looked up at him.
“Sorry, that’s probably not the right thing to say. I just...admire you, I guess? Like I don’t want to transition or even change my life, really, but I haven’t really told them about my new, er, politics?”
“Oh, they don’t know you’re a full blown communist?” Dani smirked.
“Ha! Now that would kill them. But for real, whenever I spend time with them now, it’s so awkward to watch them attack the LGBT community while I just sit there and say nothing. It really does take something special to stand up to the people that raised you. People you’ve known your whole life and stuff.”
Dani didn’t respond right away, and went back to looking at the bottom of her glass.
Ryan began to fidget, and soon spoke again. “Uh, I can pour us another round.”
“Sure.” She set her glass on the table. As Ryan poured more vodka, Dani sighed and said what had been on her mind. “You know I’m not really that courageous.”
“You say it took a lot to do what I did, but I don’t think that’s true. I basically came out to my parents as some kind of panic maneuver. I didn’t mean to, really.”
“You still did it. No amount of pressure could get me to stand up to my dad. I feel pathetic, honestly.” He handed her the glass, now with another shot inside.
“Well even if that’s the case, it was short lived. I literally took months to come out to you and Simon. And I dress like a guy all the time, and I want to wear makeup but I’m too scared to even look in the mirror while I’m wearing it, let alone leave the apartment with any on.” She shook her head in defeat, then downed her drink.
Ryan held off on drinking his. “Dani, you’re not getting this. You’re making progress, even if you ‘d rather be doing it faster. I literally am afraid that I’ll never change.”
Dani looked over at him. I guess he KINDA has a point. A year ago I never dreamt I’d even be on HRT, and now… Her vision started to blur. Oh god, how much did I drink? She soon realized that it wasn’t alcohol distorting her sight, but tears. No no, not in front of him.
“Woah, hey, are you alright?” Ryan reached out his hand and set it on her shoulder.
“Yeah!” She said, wiping her eyes. “I think I just drank too much, and this talk got too serious, and -” She had to cut herself off to sniff back tears.
Ryan scooted closer to her on the couch. “Hey, it’s fine. You’re right, I should have kept it lighthearted instead of drunk-ranting about my insecurities. And bringing you into it was-”
“No, Ryan, that’s fine. I just was crying earlier, and it’s, like, carrying over or something. I don’t know.”
“Well, are you gonna be okay?”
Dani paused. “I think so?” She said. “It’s just been a really weird week for me.”
“Okay...Do you want a hug?”
Yes, she thought instantly. But now? When I’m a drunk, crying mess on the verge of hyperventilating? “Definitely.”
Ryan used the hand he had on her shoulder to pull her in a little closer, and they both quickly wrapped their arms around each other. Immediately, Dani felt better. The panic that was running wild in her brain died down, and her breathing stabilized.
While she tried her best to ignore it, she had fantasized about being intimate with Ryan before. And, maybe it was the alcohol, but it felt just as she pictured it would. Wow, he smells...really good. She felt the warm feeling in her chest explode, throwing her breathing off its course again, but for an entirely different reason than before.
Ryan must have felt a change, because he pulled out of the hug and looked at her, but said nothing. His hands were still on her shoulders as she looked up at him, only a couple inches from his face.
She didn’t notice her breathing anymore, or how dizzy she was, she just hyper fixated on his eyes. His whole face, really. Only a miniscule amount of detail could be made out with how dark it was, but she swore that it seemed to be- Wait, am I moving forward, or is he?
It didn’t matter who it was. In an instant, their lips met.
Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck.
The kiss lasted no longer than three seconds before Ryan stopped it. He looked shocked, and maybe upset? Dani wasn’t able to get a great read on him with no light.
Did I just ruin everything?
But as she doubted herself, Ryan said, “sorry. I’m so sorry, I just...Dani?”
The trance was starting to fade, and now Dani was noticing her breathing again. And how dizzy she was, and especially how she hadn’t eaten that day. She thought back to her broken promise to drink some water after the vodka was pulled out as she stood up from the couch.
Then promptly passed out.