I had to post this before I lost my nerve.

Cross-dressers, drag queens, and transgendered people have always fascinated me. Sometime ago, I decided I wanted to write about that, to write about someone who was passing as the opposite of whatever their genetics said they were supposed to be. I wrote about a page and a half and promptly left it there, not sure where to go with it.

Maybe I drank too much coffee this morning. Or something like that. Whatever the case, I finished this strange little piece of romance for you. I hope you find it just as sweet as I did.

When being polite, people said that Roxas didn't get out much. When they were sure no one important was listening, they said that he was a recluse. But that wasn't really true. Roxas went out all the time- he just didn't go out with people, usually, because they were loud and irritating and they often set his headaches off; Roxas suffered from horrible headaches that often turned into migraines, and anything he could do to prevent them was a blessing.

But he did go out, and the fact that he was sitting on a tall stool at the counter of a small coffee shop he'd never been to before was proof. Roxas liked to wander, and in a city as large as the one he was currently going to school in, that was an easy hobby to cultivate.

'Shot in the Dark' was a clean, comfortable place Roxas had found in an alley off a side street. There was a bar running along one side of the behind-the-counter barista territory, so that was where he settled, perched on a brushed-nickel stool with a tufted red top, with a notebook open in front of him and a brownie on a plate near his elbow.

"Double shot mocha with cinnamon?" a husky voice asked. Roxas looked up, first coming face to face with a tall mug capped with a puff of whipped cream, and, beyond it, the greenest eyes he'd ever seen in his life. Then he sat up properly, and got a good look at the person attached to those green eyes.

She was, without question, the tallest woman Roxas had ever been close to, easily six foot four, maybe taller. She was skinny and her shoulders were quite wide, which would have made her look sort of sick if her hips hadn't been wide as well, balancing her shoulders out and making her look normal, even a little old-time elegant with that perfect hourglass figure. Her hair was shockingly red, wildly spiked back away from her face, and metal glittered in her ears.

"Uh, yeah. That's me."

"Here ya go, then." The mug was pushed into Roxas' hands, the smooth black ceramic hot against his skin. "Smells like heaven, that does. Enjoy."

"Thanks." No one had ever said his favorite drink smelled like heaven, though Roxas privately thought they should. He'd started with Mexican hot chocolate and eventually made it to this cinnamon blend that packed enough of a punch to keep him buzzing for hours. "Came up with it myself."

"'s a good idea." The barista leaned over the counter, propping bony elbows on the counter and cupping her pointy chin in her hands. "Mexican hot chocolate, right? For us big kids."


"You know it ain't really made right 'less it's got chile in it, right?"


"Chile. They mix chocolate and chile in Mexico. 's pretty good."

"I'd…I'd heard of it, but I doubt you have any chile back there, so this is fine."

"Actually, I think I do. Lemme look."

Sure enough, the barista came back several minutes later with a little shaker of chile powder, which she offered to Roxas.

"You're not trying to pull something, are you?" Roxas asked carefully, eyeing the little bottle.

"Nope." To prove it, the barista shook a little of the red powder into her palm and licked it off. "See?"

Roxas took the bottle and added a careful shake of chile to his drink, stirring it in thoroughly and then taking a quick, experimental sip. It had added a nice kick, not enough to hurt but enough to be interesting. "Hey, that's pretty good."

"Told ya. Enjoy, cutie."

He was gone before Roxas had time to stop blushing and come up with a response.


Roxas began frequenting Shot in the Dark. His favorite barista's name was Axel, and she worked a steady schedule, five days a week with Tuesdays and Saturdays off, though the times she was in each day varied. It was hit or miss, really, but Roxas didn't mind. The quiet little café was a good place to write in, and he came up with a few short stories that he really liked while he was perched on a stool or curled in one of the squashy armchairs in the back, sipping his drink and watching Axel work.

He really, really wanted Axel. Something about the lanky redhead made him feel dizzy and drunk, sort of the way he had been way back when he had first come to grips with his sexuality and had looked- really looked- at the men around him. There was so much more than pussy and tits out there, and he could have it if he just went for it. That brilliant realization had not, thankfully, had any lasting repercussions, though Roxas had spent a long time on antibiotics because of it, and the initial high of casual sex had worn off. He hadn't felt that way since, and never about a woman before.

There was just something about Axel. Maybe it was the way she moved when she was cleaning, hips swaying to the beat of the music playing over the sound system. Maybe it was the broad grin she wore most of the time, the one that had a hint of hunger tucked away in the corners and never failed to make Roxas feel weak in the knees when it was directed at him. Perhaps it was the husky purr of her voice when she was really enjoying a conversation, the scuffed purple All-Stars she wore with her uniform black jeans and t-shirt, the silver and black barbell in her tongue. Maybe the mischief glittering in her eyes. Maybe it was all of that, or none of it at all. Whatever it was, it got to Roxas like no one thing ever had before, and it was driving him mad.


It was early October when Roxas finally worked up the courage to ask Axel out. He did so in a rather awkward way, which involved spilling his coffee by accident and apologizing profusely while simultaneously trying to ask Axel if he might be interested in attending a music event in the park later that week.

Much to his surprise, Axel had laughed and said yes, and she had replaced Roxas' coffee without charging him.


Jeezy Creezy was a local band that had gained some regional fame, and their concerts were always well attended. As it was a free event in the park, there were people everywhere, but Roxas had arrived early and set up a little picnic of sorts on the hill, hot cider and cookies and a varied assortment of other nibbles all together in a backpack on the blanket with him.

Axel came strolling down the hill, hands in the pockets of baggy black and purple Tripp pants, wearing a skin-tight black zip-up vest that Roxas wanted to remove with his teeth. She simply oozed sex.

"Good spot," Axel said conversationally, dropping onto the blanket. She stretched, her shirt rode up, and Roxas' mouth went dry at the sight of the strip of pale skin revealed between her bullet-casing belt and the hem of her shirt.

"Thanks, I…I got here early to make sure we had a good view."

"Awesome." Axel smiled at Roxas in a slow, sweet sort of way with just enough sharp teeth in it to promise things, and leaned over, laying a hand on Roxas' leg. "Thanks."

They ate and drank and danced on the hill, and when the concert was over and the park mostly cleared out, Axel reached over to cup the back of Roxas' head and kiss him. It was quick, little more than Roxas' chapped lips against Axel's, slightly slick with a fresh application of minty lip balm, and then Axel was pulling away, smiling. Roxas blushed clear to his toes and smiled back.

"I'll see you at work," Axel purred. "Bye-bye, Roxie."


Concerts at the park became something of a regular event for Roxas and Axel, especially as fall began to come on with a vengeance and there was an excuse to cuddle together under a blanket and drink the hot toddy Axel brought in a purple thermos. When the last concert of the season was over, they shifted to a local artist's hangout, where performance arts were the norm and no one minded being watched.

In early December, they went to a dance performance. Afterwards, Axel arched and bent and swayed on the sidewalk in almost perfect imitation of one of the dancers, a curve of muscle and bone reaching for the moon overhead. Somewhere between the theatre and the train station, they wound up pressed against the wall of a deli, bricks rough against one of Roxas' hands and an old crate creaking under his feet because he was just to damn short to do this without some help and Axel was warm and solid and panting against his chest, groaning when Roxas' fingers tightened in her hair, long, thin hands scrabbling against the back of Roxas' jacket and then opening it and diving inside.

"Ahgod," Roxas gasped. His free hand slid down, under the hem of Axel's wool coat and then the hem of the sweater under that and his fingers were touching hot, hot skin and hard muscle, and then…more clothing. Something thick and extremely tight around Axel's ribcage. He had a moment enough to wonder what it was before Axel was pulling away, tugging her coat and sweater down.

"I…I've got to go," she whispered, and she was gone, long legs carrying her to the end of the block and away before Roxas could quite understand what had happened.


Roxas saw Axel at the coffee shop three days later. Axel took one look at him, blushed, whispered something to his coworker, and vanished into the back room. Se didn't come out while Roxas was there.

The next four times Roxas went to see Axel at work, the same thing happened.

The fifth time, it was a few days before Christmas and Roxas had a cold. He wasn't looking for Axel- and it wasn't one of the days Axel usually worked- just a hot drink and somewhere to curl up for awhile without being pestered. Roxas ordered a peppermint mocha and went to the back of the shop, planting himself in a deep, cushy armchair near the gas fireplace to warm up and drowse for a while.

"Here." Soft footsteps and the clink of a mug being set down on the nearest end table made Roxas blink groggily up at a shock of red hair and big green eyes standing over him. "Enjoy."

He was too tired to try and talk to Axel, even to ask what he was doing at work that day. Mumbling a bleary thank you, he picked up the mug and sipped, watching as Axel returned to the bar. God, but he missed that girl.

Eventually, he fell asleep in the chair, curled up with the empty mug in his lap and a book sliding slowly off his knee.

"Hey." Someone poked at Roxas' shoulder. "Hey. We're closing. You need to wake up."

Roxas groaned, instinctively trying to roll over and hide his face in a pillow and finding the arm of the couch instead.

The poking turned into a proper hold and shaking, and Roxas looked up, scrubbing at his eyes with one hand. Axel was standing over him, looking a little annoyed, a little worried, and a little like the woman Roxas was so crazy for.

"Mrph?" Roxas managed.

"We're closing."

Roxas looked around. The room was almost completely dark, and Axel was the only other person in sight but him.

"Oh. Um…sorry, hang on." He scrambled to grab the book on the floor by his foot and to not drop the mug he had forgotten about, stood up, and sat back down when the room spun. "Nngh."


"Mmph." Roxas sat up after a few minutes, sniffling and trying to clear his throat. "'m fine."


Roxas collected his things and headed for the door, pausing with his hand on the knob when he saw what was going on outside.

"It's snowing."

"'s been snowing for over an hour."


Axel was silent for a minute, then approached Roxas, eyeing him warily. "You walked?"


"In this?"

"It was just cloudy and windy when I left." Roxas flipped his collar up for a little more protection from the weather. No hood, no waterproof shoes, no gloves, no scarf, and only a hand-knitted hat to protect his head. With several inches of thick wet snow outside and tons more falling every second. He was in so much trouble.

"You…um…you want a ride home? I don't mind."

Axel had never made it over to Roxas' dorm. Roxas had never been to Axel's place either.

"Nah," Roxas said quietly. "I'll be fine. Thanks though."

Ten minutes later, he was regretting his decision to tell Axel no. God knew he wanted to say yes, but he was still upset and confused by what had happened after the dance performance, and he didn't want it to be brushed off, nor did he want to be given a ride home for pity's sake. But he had been sick and was feeling worse, nose running like a faucet, head pounding, throat sore, coughs welling up in his chest, and he wished he'd changed his mind. The walk home would take at least another twenty minutes. Maybe longer, with the weather.

A car horn beeped from somewhere behind him. He ignored it.

"Hey! HEY!" Roxas ignored the yelling as well, but found himself incapable of ignoring the bright purple pickup almost jumping the curb right beside him.

The window rolled down and Axel scowled at Roxas.

"Get your scrawny ass in the truck before I get out and throw you in," she growled.


"No buts. Do it."

Roxas climbed into the truck. The heaters were going full blast and the cab was deliciously warm. He whimpered softly and leaned towards the nearest vent.

"Take all your wet stuff off," Axel grumped, getting back on the road. "You'll warm up faster."


Axel grunted. "Where do you live?"

"Campus. In Taunen Village."

"You live there? Those rooms are crap."

"I missed the housing deadline and barely got in at all. I'm not complaining when I could have been looking for a place off campus by myself."

Axel shrugged. "I guess. I live with my brother, so it's not so much trouble."

"You've got a brother?" Axel had never mentioned him before, and Roxas wondered why.

"Yeah. Older 'n me. Name's Reno. He works security for one of the big office buildings downtown. So do most of his friends."

"That's neat." Roxas coughed softly, then stole a glance at Axel when they stopped at a red light. Axel was staring fixedly out the windshield, but apparently could feel Roxas' eyes on her. Green eyes flicked towards Roxas momentarily, then back on the road.


"What happened?"

"You tried to walk home in this shit with a cold or something."

"To us. What did I do wrong? Did I hurt you or something?"

"I don't want to talk about it."

"Tough. You wanted to drive me home, so you can listen to me pester you all the way there."

Axel made a disgusted sound. "Don't make me throw you back out into the snow, blondie."

"You wouldn't."

"Try me."

"Hey, I'm not the one who just ran off down an alley and started pretending like you didn't exist. I'm the one who got left there, wondering what the hell had just happened and how I'd screwed up."

"I don't…I don't like to be touched," Axel mumbled.

"Uh-huh. But you were perfectly happy 'til I went for your shirt. And all the other times I touched you before that."

"It's different, okay?"

"How is it different? I don't want that to happen again, Ax, I really don't. I'll do whatever it takes to keep from getting you upset like that, but I can't do that unless you tell me."

Axel said nothing, and dropped Roxas off at his apartment. She didn't get out of the truck or say goodbye, and Roxas slouched inside, feeling sicker now that he was sure he'd blown it.


Two days later, Roxas was curled up on his love seat (the place wasn't big enough for a couch, and it wasn't like someone his size really needed one anyway) with a blanket, a cup of coffee, and enough cold medicine to last him until the end of days, blearily watching reruns of Third Rock from the Sun on his laptop. It took him several minutes to realize that the knocking he was hearing wasn't coming from the show.

He shuffled to the door in his slippers, bathrobe, and bed head, and opened it without checking outside first.

Axel was standing in the hall, squirming awkwardly with her hands clasped in front of her, booted feet shifting around on Roxas' welcome mat.

"Hi," she said softly. "Can I come in?"

"Er…sure. Yeah." Roxas backed up, holding the door open. Axel scooted in around him and started taking her wet boots off. "What's up?"

"You asked," Axel murmured, hopping on one foot to get the other boot off. "And I decided to tell you. Just…let me finish before you say anything, okay?"

A little worried, Roxas nodded.

With her boots and jacket off, Axel moved into the cramped little living room, standing near the coffee table supporting Roxas' laptop. "Sit. It'll be easier."

Roxas sat, and watched, silent, as Axel reached behind herself and unzipped the flounced corduroy skirt she was wearing. It fell to the floor with a soft hushing sound and was quickly kicked out of the way. The little sweater vest Axel had on went next, leaving her in rainbow-colored leggings and a tight black long-sleeved shirt. The leggings went next, rolled down long, lean, strong-looking legs and tossed into the pile. She was wearing lacy green panties.

Roxas swallowed hard.

The shirt came off. Axel had managed to get a thin camisole on under it, and she reached beneath it, back arching for a moment and pushing her chest out most becomingly, before releasing what Roxas assumed was the clasp of her bra. Holding it on with one hand, she reached under the cami with her other hand and fumbled with something. There was a quiet, fleshy tearing sound, and Axel pulled both hands away.

A mesh bra and two fake breasts fell to the floor. Roxas squeaked, only just managing to keep from saying anything as Axel pulled the camisole off. There was a pale, flat body underneath, all faintly defined abs and hard pectorals and no breasts whatsoever. Axel fumbled with something under the little green panties, then removed what looked like a thong of some kind from them, and suddenly there was an impressive bulge filling them out.

"You were messing with the corset I was wearing," Axel mumbled. "That night. I was afraid you'd try to take it off."

"Ax, I…what…"

"I'm biologically male. Got a Y chromosome and a dick and everything." He looked down at himself and laughed humorlessly. "Guess that's obvious. I'm just…I'm more comfortable in girl stuff, most of the time. Have been for a long time. I don't date." He looked at Roxas, green eyes large and hopeful. "I made an exception for you. Maybe that was a mistake."

Roxas swallowed. Without the girl parts, Axel was still one of the most beautiful creatures he'd ever seen. His hips had been attractive on a woman, but were downright sexy on a man. His waist was still so narrow it boggled Roxas' mind, but it looked more natural with the smooth, flat transition from shoulders to belly to hips. He was still tall and pale and pierced and redheaded, he was just…suddenly more vulnerable.

"Come here," Roxas whispered hoarsely.


"C'mere. I want…I want to see."

Axel tiptoed over and sat on the edge of the couch, shivering. Roxas got up on his knees and reached out, touching the sharp jaw, the pale throat, the delicate collarbones, and flat chest, down to the very edge of lacy little green panties. It still felt like Axel. He bet that if he could smell anything at all, it would still smell like Axel. It was Axel.

"'s okay," he murmured. "I mean…I dunno if you want a guy to like your guy parts too, but…do you?"

"Why would you? I'm built weird."

"Are you insane? You're fuckin' hot. If there were more guys around with bodies like yours, everyone with a functioning libido would be worshiping at their feet."

"But…my hips are-"

"Bony and wide and awesome."

"And my waist-"

"Is great for getting my arm around. 's not like I can reach your shoulders. Which are nice too, by the way. They balance your hips out."

"I have no-"

"You don't need an ass. You've got everything else. And even if you didn't, you've got those eyes."

That made Axel smile and lift one long hand up to touch the soft skin just under his eye. "I do like my eyes."

"Then you can like your eyes and I'll like all the other parts. When I'm not sick and can do them justice."

Axel just gaped at him. Then, much to Roxas' horror, he began to cry. And he grabbed Roxas around the middle, squeezing him in a powerful grip. Roxas squeaked but didn't struggle, petting thick red hair and broad shoulders and anything else he could reach until Axel was done soaking his robe with tears. He was put back down, and Axel smiled sheepishly at him.


"'s okay. You needed that."


Roxas got up, leaned over to kiss Axel's cheek, and shuffled into the kitchenette. "I need more coffee. And food. You want takeout?"

Axel smiled at him, a broad grin with hunger tucked into the corners, the smile that Roxas had fallen in love with the first time he had seen it. "Are you buying?"

Roxas chuckled. "Sure. A guy always buys for his lady."

They didn't actually order takeout for another fifteen minutes, as Axel had flung himself off the couch and shoved Roxas up against the counter, bending him backwards over it as he kissed him hard, immediately making up for days without any kisses at all, even though Roxas was sick. Roxas kissed back with equal enthusiasm, and being hungry was forgotten for awhile.

On New Year's Eve, Roxas attended a fancy masquerade ball. He was dressed like a princess, wearing a poufy dress with a square neckline that showed off his utter lack of cleavage, and he was accompanied by six and a half feet of prince. Axel wore tights and formal wear like something out of a Disney movie, and the front of his waistcoat curved perfectly over his breasts.

Axel made him keep the dress on when they got home.

For those of you who were wondering, in the stripping scene, Axel is wearing silicone breasts adhered to his skin and supported by the bra, hence the tearing sound. The thong thing he took out of his panties is a gaffer, an undergarment designed to hide a penis and create the illusion that there isn't one there.

Axel was wearing a corset to the performance for aesthetic purposes only, but many drag queens and trans folk wear them to draw the waist in and create a more feminine silhouette. With a body shape like his, Axel doesn't need any help doing that.