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I am not a coward; I am just afraid

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"No one will care, it doesn't matter, it doesn't affect anyone," Balthazar says for the hundredth time in the last month

"It affects you, and you clearly want to tell them" Ursula replies, and he silently thanks her for saying them, and not him like she so clearly wanted to

"Everything will become all weird, they'll wonder why I haven't said anything before, and it's not like I use a different name or pronouns or anything"

She gives him a look because they have had this conversation many times before. But because Ursula is kind, she just says "You don't have to ever apologise for when you come out and if any of them get pissed just send them directly to me"

He goes over his thoughts about the subject in his head once again: he wasn't that close with Ben in high school (especially not before last year) so Balth doubts he would be offended. Freddie is so openly nonbinary and awesome and is honestly half the reason he wants to tell the flat but also ey told them all eir name and pronouns within the first second of meeting them all and by Ben's reaction Balth could tell that he knew sooner and had done a bunch of research before meeting Freddie in person, which is a very Ben move and Balth is sure he would do the same if (when) Balthazar tells him. He is sure Chelsey and Paige would be fine with it, they are both newer friends so he doubts they would be too offended but it would be an awkward conversation and Balth really isn't one for confrontation. Kit is along the same lines as Freddie, Kit, only last week, told Balth that it trusts him enough to let him know its pronouns (it jokes that if you forget just think about the fact that Kit is it) and they had a really nice and casual conversation about the whole deal and he has honestly never been so impressed with the way someone got the facts down but also with lots of emotion and heart, and then it ended the conversation by asking Balthazar if he could help with a song its been trying to finish. Balth still feels like a moron for not just telling it his identity in return.

When he gets out of his own head, Ursula is still on the skype call looking at him with all this love on her face that Balth doesn't know if he deserves but is thankful for nonetheless. Ursula is the trans friend he needs and loves now and also needed as a small twelve-year-old with a strong distaste for his name (Stanley). As a kid he spent most of his time outside or hidden away playing music and one day as he was exploring the local park he met this girl who reminded him a little of a fairy (she was sitting in a tree at their time of meeting) and he climbed right up and she told him that she wishes she was a girl. He didn't know what to say to that because he thought she was a girl and apologised for being wrong. After he said that she smiled and hugged him (very awkwardly, as they were in a tree) and a lifelong bond was formed. 

Ursula is the only friend he had for a really long time, and sometimes it feels like maybe she's still the only friend he has. Being in Uni is different and living with Ben and Peter (& Freddie) is weird and exciting and nice but often he still feels like that soft-spoken loner gay kid who was always just on the outskirts of everything. And yeah, the feeling of never quite feeling like enough has definitely impacted his decision on not telling anyone that he's agender. At first, it was because he was figuring it out but then he wasn't sure who he was close enough to or how to say it or he was still trying to convince himself this wasn't something he was faking.

He told his family and friends to maybe call him Balthazar instead of Stanley if possible and weirdly most people didn't question why. Ursula told him it was because they were his friends, dumbass, and they cared about him so of course, they would do that no questions asked. Except for Rosa, she straight up asked him if he was maybe not cis and he just straight up sobbed and she let him and patted his head and waited for him to let all those feelings out. She told him that the person who let her know she was almost definitely aromantic was genderqueer and they were the second most cheeky person she had ever met (Balth love his sister because she still calls him cheeky and it's the most embarrassing thing in the world and he loves her for it).

Peter won't care. Balth knows he wouldn't. He knows it, he knows Peter has grown so much (although he really doesn't think he would have even had a problem with it a couple of years ago) but Balthazar is scared shitless about telling him. And it's stupid and they aren't even dating and he knows Peter has gone on dates since they've been in Wellington and he's happy for him and jealous and Balth once tried to set up a tinder account but didn't know how to navigate the gender selections in his profile and just gave up. 

Weirdly it happens exactly as he plans it. With this group he expected them to get into a kind of hijink or something, but instead, it was about two weeks after the rules were set in place and everyone was getting along very nicely (he had no doubt things would go to hell at some point so it was probably best to get this done sooner rather than later). He had practised the speech with Ursula about one thousand times (she suggested that maybe he should do a song but that just felt like an extra layer of pressure so he vetoed that idea pretty quickly) and the two of them talked about every possible question or interruption that his flatmates could say and then decided what the best responses would be. And as a practise he comes out to Hero over skype, with Ursula sitting right beside her. Hero, of course, is a sweetheart and responds kindly and asks about pronouns and lets him talk but also asks questions to show that she's listening and that she cares. She also looks at Ursula like she hung the moon, so Balth can't wait to question her about that.

He does it in the living room (for a solid minute he thought about doing it in the bath but soon realises that was stupid and impossible but also resolved to tell Ben that he at least considered it) and it went pleasantly. Ben asked a bunch of questions but in a way that seemed like maybe he was questioning something about himself but he was still engaged in what Balth was saying and he was so kind. Freddie was mostly excited and ey smiled a bunch and Balth knew they were going to have a conversation later and honestly Balthazar was looking forward to it, having people care about you is nice and he was really loving the people around him at that moment. And Peter was mostly quiet but he was the first one to ask about pronouns and when he did, he asked with so much care that Balth's heart felt like it was being electrocuted for just a second, other than that Peter mostly just nodded and smiled and looked at Balth with those eyes. And Balthazar knows that no matter what happens next, he will always have this afternoon. 

Ben leaves first, and apologises immensely and even goes so far as to almost insult his favourite professor (he gets sidetracked and when trying to explain why this class is at a bad time and ends up talking about Marlowe because of course he does), Freddie goes next and ey give him a kiss on the forehead (it's awkward and wonderful and so very Freddie). And then it's just him and Peter and because Balth is a coward, he gets up to leave but on the way, Peter clears his throat and asks if he was to ever date anyone would he be their boyfriend, or what term would he prefer if he wanted to date someone in the future or whenever. Peter was so red and Balth was too and awkwardly replied with the possibility of the term partner and speed-walked the three metres to his room and smiled into his pillow for a solid five minutes. And then he called Ursula the second he had control over his brain again.

Telling Paige, Chelsey and Kit was simple and the week after he told the flat they bought him a vegan cake and declared it a good reason to go over the budget (although Freddie clarified later that ey actually needed $3.45 from everyone because there's actually never a good enough reason to go over the budget which ey would know because eir name is on the lease). And everything was back to normal (but better because they knew and they respected it and loved him and shit was about to go down but it was just because the people he cared about were dramatic people and that was something he loved them for).