“Tonight’s the night, eh?”
“Fuck off, Aaron,” Jace growled. “Sick of your shit.”
Except that’s not actually what they said. They said “Mm” and nodded, instead.
“Got any big plans?”
“Nah. Just gonna rent a movie.”
“I have, like, three other friends turning tonight,” Aaron said, leaning back against the edge of Jace’s cubicle. “Y’all like to cluster up, like some sort of pack.”
Jace rolled their eyes. “Given that I don’t know any others who turn tonight, I’d give that a no.”
“Well, hey, I could introduce you–”
“I’m not looking for a party, Aaron.”
“Yeah, sorry, I know. I just thought that I–”
“Could come with?” Jace said, then continued silently in their head, “And get laid?”
“Yeah, man! Sorry.”
“Anyway, yeah. A night out with four werewolves sounds like a blast.”
Jace shrugged, feeling heat flush up over their cheeks and ears. “Well, I’m just going to rent a movie and stay in, I think.”
“Suit yourself, buddy.”
Jace knit their brow.
Aaron stood and chattered about his friends a bit longer. He seemed as though he were still holding out hope that Jace would join in with them on some glorious night on the town followed by - knowing Aaron - plenty of fucking.
Jace knew when last Aaron had gotten laid because their coworker had talked about it at least once a day, every day, for two weeks. Some fling with some guy who promised he was a werewolf and that it just wasn’t his night. While Jace harbored their doubts about the last bit, they figured it probably didn’t matter one way or the other to him. A chaser would never be satisfied with anything other than the chase.
“Listen, Aaron,” Jace interrupted. “Can I just finish this up real quick?”
Wrongfooted, Aaron stammered a yeah-sure and stomped back to his own cube.
Jace figured they’d probably picked a bad time in Aaron’s story to interrupt, but couldn’t be sure. They hadn’t been paying attention.
Just get stuff wrapped up and run home to change. Rent a movie, indeed.
The way they looked at it, Jace had three things working in concert to make life difficult: they were ace, they were a werewolf, and they were single and didn’t want to be. If any one of those three things were to disappear, their life would become simple. Trivial. Easy-peasy, lemon squeezy.
The three of them together were three halves of a person trying to become one whole. Were the asexual bit gone, they’d plop right down in the center of the dating pool and immediately be partnered. Were the werewolf bit untrue, they could live a comfortable life seeking out an ace partner without the undue pressure put on them by the whole “turns into a wolf-person once a month” thing.
And boy could they bypass a lot of they would just be okay being single.
But no, this was the hand they were dealt: sex was a panicky mess, the mere thought of which left them feeling slippery and tacky; werewolves were the sex-gods everyone else wanted to be (or, cue Aaron, be with), and ‘fuck-beast’ would never apply to them; and they were just so lonely.
So they kept trying.
Dating as an ace were was a bit of an adventure. They’d initially left the whole not-into-sex bit off their profile, but that had led to a lot of okay first dates followed by really bad second dates. For them to list themselves as were — something they weren’t willing to compromise on — and then not be available first night was…well, everyone got the jitters once in a while, right? But two dates without sex rarely led to a third.
Once they’d listed asexuality on their bio, their hits had dropped by half, and of those they did wind up meeting up with, about half had seemed to want to do so in order to somehow fix Jace by getting them in bed. The reasons ran the gamut from the painfully self-centered “well, who wouldn’t want to fuck me?” to the endearingly awkward “you just haven’t found the right one yet, dear”.
It had irked them to no end, and while they knew it wasn’t the case — they didn’t think so, at least — but they’d eventually just added “(for medical reasons)” after “asexual” on their page. This after they’d not stopped an aggressive touch soon enough, and their date gotten upset for them not responding how they had imagined a werewolf ought to. Jace supposed the lack of unbridled lust was a point against them, and a third date never materialized.
Maybe it was true. Maybe they were just born busted, just needed repair.
Jace shook their head, feeling the reverie cling to their thoughts like wisps of cobweb, dogging their vision even as they struggled to get changed out of dull work clothes and into their nicest shifting clothes. Loose black slacks with elastic that wasn’t too worn out, and a ‘button’-up shirt that was clasped shut with magnets behind the faux-buttons.
This Ellie they were meeting tonight was one they hoped would be one of those who were comfortable with both the ace and the were thing, and that all that would be left would be the actual did-the-date-work-ness of the night.
“So, what do you do?”
“Do?” Jace straightened up and tried to dispel the subdermal itching that presaged the shift. It’d happen before long, nothing to do but wait for it.
“Yeah, like…you’ve told me about work, but what to you do? What do you love doing?”
“I read a lot, I suppose.” The words sounded dull before they even finished speaking, and the final bit of non-committal non-language was mumbled, more a gesture at language than anything concrete. “Which sounds boring, when I put it like that. I mean, I read a lot of non-fiction. I’ve got a great book I’m working through now about the history of homosexuality.”
At this, their date perked up. Ellie’s smile, Jace realized, had been somewhat forced up until this point, as it suddenly grew more earnest. “By Crompton?”
“That’s the one,” they answered automatically, then tilted their head. “Wait, you know the one?”
(Need some more stuff here so that Ellie’s actually engrossed)
“Of course!” Ellie laughed. “A bit dry, at times, but fascinating all the same.”
“Fair enough, yeah. I’ve been enjoying what I’ve read so far.” Jace grinned.
Across the table from him, Ellie started back, fork clinking against the plate too loudly.
“Are you alright?”
“Yeah,” she said hoarsely, then shook her head and laughed once more. “Yeah, I’m alright. Just, your teeth–”
Darting their hand up to their face, Jace felt the downy fur, still just a peach-fuzz thick, coating their cheeks, and they knew that their canines must be lengthening as well. They covered their mouth with their hand — fast becoming a paw — and stammered, “Sorry. I can– I mean, sorry. Would you like to call things for the night and pick them up another time? I understand if–”
Ellie reached her hand out, palm up, on the table, offering it to Jace. “No, it’s okay. Really. Nothing I haven’t seen before. Guess I was just wrapped up in the conversation enough that it took me by surprise.”