Alex stood in front of her dresser with her fists on her hips, fuming at her clothing selection. As if staring at it was going to magically procure the perfect outfit for her and Steph’s first date.
I have no idea what to fucking wear.
After helping to unpack her new girlfriend’s drum kit, Steph had proclaimed that she was going to “date the hell” out of her, so they could both have the true girlfriend experience. Alex had been ecstatic, happily accepting Steph’s dinner offer at the newly opened Brown Bear Diner.
That had been before she’d thought about her wardrobe, though. She had a decided lack of “first date” attire.
I could just wear a normal outfit. Alex grimaced. No. It’s our first actual date. It should be something nice.
Shit, I should really own something nice.
Okay. Functional but classy it is. She picked up her black skirt, smirking at the memory of Steph’s reaction to having seen it at the festival.
Feels like a lifetime ago.
Before I got shot and thrown down a ventilation shaft.
Alex quickly shook her head. No. Bad memories. We will be making good memories tonight. Dinner, conversation, goodnight kiss, all the cornerstones of a good first date.
Pssh. Yea, like I’d know.
Alex shook her head again, trying to discard the negative thoughts before sliding into the skirt and selecting one of her t-shirts. She turned to admire herself in the mirror, then paused.
The huge cut on her forehead. She’d totally forgotten about it.
Should I cover that up?
Yes. Gonna try to forget about the last few days for tonight. She went back to the dresser, rooting through the drawers before she pulled out her abysmal makeup kit, which only contained a few items. But one of them was a half-used tube of foundation, which she liberally applied over the cut on her head. It wasn’t a great job, since she didn’t use it very often, but the end result was a much less-noticeable injury.
Okay. She stood back up, exhaling slowly. I look fine. I feel good. This will be a good night.
This WILL be a good night.
“Welcome to the Brown Bear Diner!”
Alex smiled as the door closed behind her, looking around. The restaurant was about half-full of new customers. “So far, so good,” she noted to the owner.
“I know! Thanks for your suggestion, by the way,” he added. “A lot of people took me up on it. We’ve had a really good first few days.”
“I see.” She smirked. “I guess the Black Lantern has some competition.”
“Well, we’ll see how it goes. Table for one?”
“Um, two, actually.” Alex paused. “Unless Steph is already here?”
“Steph, Steph…” he frowned. “Brown hair, beanie?”
“Ah. I’ll learn who everyone is eventually.” He nodded, as he turned and pointed. “She’s over there. Got here a couple of minutes ago.”
Alex followed his finger and saw her girlfriend, staring out the window as she ignored the rest of the diner. “Awesome. Thanks.”
He nodded as she headed towards the table, noting Steph’s outfit. The brunette had put her black beanie back on and was wearing the same outfit Alex had seen when she’d first met her; blue jeans and a black V-neck shirt with a red and white logo. The only thing missing was her red jacket.
Steph showed no reaction as Alex approached, until she pulled the chair back. Her girlfriend immediately spun her head, her smile brightening. “Holy crap, you wore your skirt,” she breathed.
Alex raised her eyebrow as she sat down. “Am I going to get that reaction every time I wear it?”
“You might. I mean…” Steph paused. “Shit.”
“You look amazing.”
Alex blushed. “You look pretty good yourself,” she complimented back, as she tucked a stray hair back behind her ear.
“No, I don’t.” Steph looked down. “You look nice, and I look like I just left work. Fuck, I’m an idiot.”
“You DID just leave work,” Alex reminded her.
“That’s not the point.” Steph dropped her shoulders, a pained look coming over her face. “This is our first date. I should at least look like I put some effort into it.”
“However much effort you think I put into this, you’re very wrong.”
“I…” Steph tilted her head, leaning in closer. “Did you… put on makeup?”
Alex squirmed. “Only to cover the cut on my head.”
“I didn’t know you had makeup.”
“… not a lot,” she admitted. “Seriously, Steph, you look great. Please don’t make a thing about it.”
“All right. If you insist.” Steph grinned. “… I really do like that skirt on you though.”
Alex felt the leather toe of a boot on her calf, rubbing up and down slowly. She glanced down at the table, then back up. “Are you… trying to play footsie with me?”
A snort escaped her nose. “You’re adorable.”
Steph smiled back, leaning forward and resting her chin in one hand. “Even though you look nice, and I look like a hobo?” she asked coyly.
Alex reached over and took Steph’s other hand, smiling back. “You might be a hobo, but you’re the prettiest hobo in the city.”
“God, you’re so gay right now.”
“Says the girl playing footsie with another girl.”
“Good evening!” A familiar voice chirped, drawing their attention as a waitress approached from behind Alex. “Welcome to-”
“Riley?!” Steph asked incredulously as she sat upright.
The other brunette blinked, taken aback. “Steph!” she exclaimed. “And Alex! I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you guys!”
“What are you doing here?” Alex asked, looking up at her. “Are you working here now?”
Riley sighed, resting her hand on the pad sticking out of her apron. “I decided to get a second job,” she admitted.
“Online school tuition.” She shrugged. “Plus I want to save some extra money, in case Nana needs anything.”
A pained look came over Alex’s face. “I’m sorry.”
“Oh, stop,” Riley admonished. “It’s not your fault. Besides, if you hadn’t told me, I would’ve been really upset with you.”
“But you are still going to school, right?” Steph asked pointedly.
“Oh, for sure.” Riley nodded. “Classes start in a couple of weeks.”
“So.” Riley pulled the notepad from her apron, then produced a pen and clicked it. “Can I get you guys started with… some…”
Her voice trailed off as she blinked. Alex followed her gaze and saw that the brunette was looking at her hand, which was still holding Steph’s.
“Is… oh my God, is this a date?” Riley asked in a hushed voice.
Steph smirked. “It’s our first date.”
“You’re on a date!” Riley squealed, grinning widely. “Oh, this is so cool! You guys are on a-” she paused, a mortified look coming over her face. “Oh. Oh, God, this is a date and I’m ruining it. I am so sorry.”
The two girls couldn’t help but laugh. “You’re fine, Riley,” Alex assured her as she chuckled.
“No, I’m still embarrassed.” Riley looked at her. “Especially because I had no idea you were gay. After everything you’ve done for me and Nana, I feel like I should’ve at least known that about you.”
“Eh.” Alex shrugged. “Technically I’m bi. So don’t beat yourself up too much.”
“Cool. Cool. Okay, I’m gonna stop talking now.” Riley held up her pad, poised to write. “What did you guys want to drink? We’ve got Coke products and iced tea.”
“Coke sounds good.”
“Same,” Steph agreed.
“Two Cokes, coming right up.” Riley tucked her pad away. “I’ll be back in a second for your food orders.”
Alex hummed as Riley left. “I guess I should probably look at the menu then,” she mentioned, picking up the folded paper from the middle of the table. “Do you know what you want?”
Steph didn’t answer. Alex looked up after a few seconds to see the brunette looking at her with a cocked head and an inquisitive expression.
“I had no idea you were bi,” Steph answered. “I just thought you were gay.”
“No.” Alex squirmed. “Is that… okay?”
“Of course it is,” Steph said quickly. “I just didn’t know that about you. You’ve been with boys and girls before?”
Alex looked at the table between them and sighed, setting the menu back down. “Yea. A while ago. One of each.”
She shrugged. “Not a lot of people interested in dating a fucked-up orphan with mental problems.”
“Hey. Nuh-uh.” Steph grabbed Alex’s hand, squeezing tightly. “You’re not allowed to talk about my girlfriend like that.”
Alex snorted in amusement, though she didn’t raise her gaze from the table. “Sorry.”
“What happened with them?”
“Well, one ended when I blocked them. The other ended when I got blocked.” Alex finally looked back up at Steph. “For the sake of my dignity, I’d rather not go into detail on which was which.”
“Yea.” Alex sighed. “Like I said before, I’m… really, really not great at this whole ‘relationship’ thing.”
Steph hummed, biting her lip. “… I left my last girlfriend when I ditched our band to stay here,” she admitted. “Completely broke her heart.”
Alex was taken aback. “Really?”
“Yea. I mean, there was other stuff besides that, but me leaving the band was rough for her. And the few times I’ve tried to date since then… didn’t really end well.” Steph itched at her fingers. “I’m not that great at the ‘relationship’ thing either.”
“Could’ve fooled me.”
“Thanks.” Steph met Alex’s gaze. “But this is different. What we’ve got… I know it’s new, and it’s fast, but it’s important to me. And I swear that I’m gonna do everything I can not to screw it up.”
Alex let out a slow breath as she contemplated everything. “Man, we’re both just big bundles of anxiety, aren’t we?”
Steph snorted. “No shit.”
“This thing… it means a lot to me too. And I’m terrified of screwing it up, like I have almost everything else in my life.” Alex squeezed Steph’s hand. “Can you promise me that if I fuck up, you’ll give me another chance?”
The brunette smiled. “Can I get the same promise?”
“Is it cool if I get, like, two or three?”
Alex snickered. “You’re pushing your luck there, Gingrich.”
“Hey, better safe than sorry.” Steph shrugged. “I wasn’t kidding, when I said that nothing else matters except for having you with me.”
“Mm.” Alex squeezed Steph’s hand again before pulling it towards her, softly kissing the back of her girlfriend’s knuckles. “That is definitely the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.”
Steph smiled as she squeezed Alex’s hand back, neither of them speaking for several seconds.
“I’m not looking, I swear I’m not looking.” They both glanced sideways as Riley reappeared at Alex’s elbow, removing two glasses of soda from her tray, and setting them down while keeping her eyes averted. “I’ll leave as soon as you tell me what you guys want to eat, I promise.”
“Dude, seriously, you need to chill,” Steph told her with an amused tone. “Although we haven’t had a chance to look at the menu.”
“Okay. I’ll be back in a few minutes. No pressure.”
Alex rolled her eyes as Riley departed. “That’s getting old.”
“Little bit.” Steph picked up a menu. “Come on. The sooner we order, the sooner she leaves us alone.”
Alex loved the feeling of Steph’s fingers intertwined with hers, as they left the diner an hour later.
I could one-hundred percent get used to this.
“You’re sure I can’t change your mind?” Steph was asking as the door closed behind them.
“I’m sorry, but there will only ever be one punk rock band that I will never pirate the music from,” Alex assured her with a smug smile on her face as they began crossing the street. “Janet’s Love will always earn my money.”
“I still maintain that they don’t have shit on Four Hours Later.”
“Those guys are just proof that you can have Parkinson’s and play the guitar at the same time.”
“That is…” Steph paused. “Okay, maybe. But their vocals are solid, unlike your singer, who seems to have a permanent case of laryngitis.”
Alex snickered. “Okay, maybe they’re not perfect,” she agreed. “But they’re still worth adding to your song line-up.”
Steph hummed, giving Alex’s hand a squeeze. “Okay.”
“Just for you, the first song I queue up tomorrow morning will be Death By Honeypot. Though I can’t promise that I won’t make fun of the singer.”
“Deal.” Alex smiled at her. “Is this a perk of dating the town DJ, that I can make more special requests?”
“Dating the DJ absolutely gets you more song requests.” Steph glanced down. “So does the skirt, by the way. I can’t stress that enough,”
“Then I guess I need to buy another one.”
Steph was still laughing as they finished crossing the street, stopping in front of the Black Lantern. “Well, uh… this is me,” Alex stated nervously.
“Yea.” Steph looked at the sign. “I guess it is.”
… fuck. I didn’t make a plan for this part of the night.
Alex bit her lip, as she looked at Steph. “This was incredible,” she told her. “Probably the best date I’ve ever been on.”
Steph raised an eyebrow. “Even though I look like a hobo?”
“Oh, stop that.”
“Okay.” Steph took Alex’s other hand, as they stood in front of the door. “I… had a really great time too. Your questionable tastes in music notwithstanding.”
Alex snorted, recovering quickly as she looked up at Steph. She didn’t need to check the brunette’s colors to see the nervousness emanating from her.
“I… ran headlong into all my last relationships,” Alex admitted quietly. “Full-speed, because I had no idea what I was doing. And I fucked them up.” She met Steph’s gaze. “I want to do this one right.”
Steph slowly nodded after a few seconds. “Me too,” she replied. “This one’s too important to me.”
“Then… you’re okay if we just… call it a night?”
“Absolutely.” Steph squeezed both of Alex’s hands. “Whatever you want, babe. You set the cruise control.”
Alex hummed. “… babe, huh?”
“Yep.” Steph paused. “Unless you don’t like it.”
“I like hearing it from you.”
“Good, because I really like the sound of it.” Steph smiled. “So… a goodnight kiss isn’t too fast, right?”
Alex smirked as she pulled Steph in close, the shorter girl standing up on her toes to deliver a kiss to the brunette. Feeling her girlfriend smile as one of Steph’s hands slid up Alex’s arm, eventually resting on her neck, made butterflies float around her stomach.
She exhaled as they eventually separated. “Definitely a nice first date,” she admitted happily.
“For sure.” Steph smiled back. “See you tomorrow?”
“Count on it.”