Chapter 21 - Time to Think

Masquerades 101 by Emily


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Synopsis: Vicky confronts Nick about Tyler. Vicky's first day at her internship.

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Tyler


“Would you quit pacing?” Josh said to me. “That’s a new carpet.” He took a bite of his sandwich.


“It’s just that I’m worried.” I said. “Maybe I came out to her too quickly.”


“You said she took it well,” Josh said, with a mouthful of food. “Why are you worried?”


“Because she’s had a night to sleep on it Because I haven't heard from her all afternoon. Because of the things she told me last year. She could change her mind today and not accept me for who I am.”


Josh put his lunch down. “Well if she doesn’t accept you for who you are, then maybe it’s for the best if you broke up.”


“But she’s been so great the past 2 months. I love her all over again.”


“Sounds like you just have to wait it out then. She’ll come around and surprise you.”


“But I’m done waiting. I’m done pretending to be someone I’m not. I’m done conforming to society’s standards of masculinity.”


“Preach.”


“I just want to be myself in front of my girlfriend.”


“Listen Ty, If it makes you feel any better, I have a good feeling about this.”


“That’s not going to stop me from worrying about it.”


“I just want you to stop pacing.” Josh said, chuckling. He returned to his sandwich.


I pulled out my phone to check to see if I have any messages. None.


Josh noticed me checking my phone. “Are you expecting her to check in with you? Is it normal for her to tell her where she went all hours of the day?”


“No.” I said. “I’m just worried.”


“Why don’t you play a game? Take your mind off of it.”


“My games remind me of her now.” I pouted.


“I guess I’m going to need a new carpet, then.” Josh laughed.


I looked at him and he stuck his tongue out at me.



* * *


Vicky



“Breathe” I said to Nick who was hyperventilating in the kitchen. “Nick, practice the stuff you’ve been doing in martial arts.”


“She wouldn't listen.” he said between breaths.


“Don’t worry about Mads right now.” I said. “Focus.”


Nick closed his eyes and moved away from me and from the kitchen appliances and started to perform martial arts blocking patterns. He was chanting something under his breath.  Slowly after a minute of him doing this, his breathing was returning to normal.


“Good.” I said. “You’re doing great” I actually had no idea what he was doing, but since I could tell he was calming down, I’d offer encouragement.


“I think I’m OK.” Nick said, reopening his eyes. “Thank you.”


“I’m going to get dressed,” I said and retreated back to my bedroom. I no longer had the desire to model the new clothes for Nick anymore so I found a pair of comfy leggings, and another t-shirt and put those on. I returned to the living room and gave Nick the shirt he was supposed to be wearing. I sat back down on the couch, brought my legs up to my chest and watched the rain. 


Minutes went by without us actually talking to one another. Nick was pacing, talking to himself about how to win Madison back. I was staring out the window. I wasn’t listening. I was content watching rain hit the window and roll down it.


“Are you listening?” Nick asked. I guess he was talking to me.


“Sorry.” I said. “What were you saying?”


“We go over there. We tell her the truth together. It worked with Lexi.”


“Lexi saw our confusion in person,” I said. “She didn’t know me. Victor was a stranger. Madison has spent two months getting to know Victor. She’ll be harder to convince.”


Nick was silent after I dismissed his plan.


“What if she tells Tyler?” I said watching a large raindrop slowly make its way down the window.. “I mean, she saw both of us topless in my room. It does look very incriminating.”


“Madison won’t tell Tyler.” he said. “They only tolerate each other.”


This actually might be a great time for me to segue into talking about more serious issues. We can win Madison back into our corner later. I turned from watching the rain to face Nick. “Why is that? Why do they not get along?”


“Umm…” he said. “What I said on the phone last weekend.”


“You didn’t elaborate.”


“Madison is jealous of Tyler. And Tyler knows it.”


“Is that why you’re playing dumb?”


“I’m not playing dumb.” he said becoming defensive. “I’m trying to preserve the peace. And my friendships. Madison is one of my best friends. I don't want to ruin that relationship.”


“Have you told Madison you’re not interested?”


“No.”


“So you’re leading her on?”


“No. I’m not leading her on. I’m dating Tyler. She’s well aware of that.”


“So about that.” I said.


Nick didn’t say anything and instead gave me the side-eye. Good, I have his attention.


“Tyler came out to me last night.”


“Came out?” he asked. His eyes were wide and I could tell he was in complete shock. 


“As non-binary” I answered.


Nick sat down with a confused look on his face. He took a large breath and exhaled. “Non Binary? Not gay? Only non-binary?”


“Yeah” I said.

“So he didn’t break up with me?”


“No, he didn’t break up with me. They.”


“I was worried he was gay. I was worried he was going to dump me. Maybe for his new roommate.”


“Josh? No. Tyler is straight. I think. Can you you be straight and non-binary?”


Nick shrugged. “I guess only he can tell us that.”


“Tyler prefers “they”” I added.


Nick chuckled. “My parents are gonna love that.”


I didn’t say anything. I could see tears rolling down his cheeks.


He looked at me. “I’m going to lose him aren't I?” he said. “I was afraid I wasn’t good enough for him… them. That I wasn’t meeting his needs.”


“They love...” I wanted to say “Me.” “Us.”


Nick gave me the side-eye again. I know he doesn’t like when I talk about Tyler as if they were my own boyfriend. Is boyfriend even the right term if they are non-binary? I should ask him. Them. But I’m the one acknowledging reality. I’m dating them, even if Nick doesn’t want to acknowledge it.


“Tyler used to dress more androgynously” Nick said. “It was cute at first. He was different than all of the other guys. I felt safe with him, especially after… nevermind.”


I wanted to correct Nick’s pronoun usage again, but since he’s opening up to me about this, I decided against it.


“When I brought him home to my parents, they called him all sorts of names behind his back.” he said. “When we got back to campus I encouraged him to tone it down. He did for a while. But the following Halloween, he wanted to go as a female character from some anime he watched. I lost it. I told him to stop it and act more like a guy.” His voice started to break up as the tears flowed. “Guys don’t act like girls. They don’t wear dresses. They don’t play dress-up. They act masculine. They don’t cry.” he looked down at his hands in his lap. His newly painted blue nails from earlier. “They don’t wear nail polish.”


Nick looked at me with tear-filled eyes. He got up and hugged me. “Vicky, I’ve made a huge mistake.”


I hugged him back. Was he talking about Tyler or was he talking about himself? I couldn’t be sure at this moment.


“I’m sorry I put nail polish on your fingers.” he said.


“Nick.” I said. “It’s OK.” God, Nick, why does everything have to be about you?


“I gotta go.” he said, releasing me from the embrace.


“Wait. Why?” I said. We weren’t done talking about this. “At least take an umbrella.”


He didn’t respond as he dashed out the door.


What did I just do? Did I push him too far? I only wanted to talk about Tyler, but I think he may have been talking about himself. I wanted to talk to someone about this, but I had no one.


I was alone again. No Nick. No Lexi. No Madison. At least I still have Tyler.


What Nick said about Tyler and Halloween and costumes made sense. They wanted to explore their gender identity with Nicole, but she shut them down. But I’m Nicole right now, and I can right that wrong, right now.


I dialed Tyler’s number and they picked up on the first ring.


“Hey babe,” they said in a cheerful voice. “How are you today?”


“So Ty,” I said. “I had an idea for Halloween costumes.”


“Oh?” they said.


“Let’s go as our game characters.” I said.


They paused for a moment. “Are you sure?”


“Yes.” I said. “You go as PurpleMage. I’ll go as my elf character.”


“So you’re OK with me dressing as a female character? And you as a male character?”


“I’m totally fine with it if you’re fine with it.” I said. “I think this will be good for us.”


“I am.” they said. “I mean I’m totally fine with it.” I could hear the excitement building in their voice. “I’m going to need a whole bunch of supplies. Oh my God, we only have 8 days til Halloween.”


I chuckled at how giddy they got.


“Oh my god, the store is going to close soon. It’s Sunday night.”


“Ty” I said. “You don’t have to work on it tonight.”


“But the party is on the 31st. I only have 8 days!” they reiterated. “I love you. Bye!” And they hung up.


Well. That went well. Except I was hoping they’d come over tonight and we can snuggle under a blanket while watching the rain. And now I’m alone again. Different apartment, different body. Same ol’ Victor.



* * *


Tyler


I got off the phone with Nicole and got up from the couch, and turned off the game I was playing. “I’m going to run to the store” I announced so Josh could hear me.


“In this storm?” Josh said from his room.


“I need to make me and Nicole costumes for halloween!” I said.  “Store close soon.”


“I told you it would work out.” I hear Josh chuckling.


I left my apartment and dashed to my car through the rain. Costume designs danced in my head. I was excited. Most of all I felt great. I decided I need to thank my good fortune on one person - Madison.


I started the engine of my car and scrolled through my phone and found her number. I dialed her.


“Hello?” she answered.


“Hi Madison, It’s Tyler.” I said. “So I did it. Last night. I told Nicole. I feel great!”


“That’s… umm... great Tyler” she said.


“I know you’ve been harping on me about doing the right thing. I was just so concerned how she’d take it. But she took it awesomely!”


“She did?”


“Yes. I told her about how I’ve felt like this since high school. About my pronouns. She adapted instantly and told me she loved me.”


“She did?”


“Yeah. I don’t know why she’s changed this semester, but she appears as if she is much more accepting. Thank you so much Mads. I know we’ve butt our heads together in the past. But you looking out for me has meant a lot.”


“That’s great.” she said.


“You know what.” I said. “I think she might be the one.”


“What?” she said in a surprised tone.


“Yes. Oh my god, I’m getting so giddy just thinking about it. I was worried. But the way she took it. She’s the one Madison!”


“Umm, Tyler, It’s great you came out to her and she’s accepting of you. That’s awesome. But I would cool down your jets. I think you’re moving a bit fast. This is a big step for both of you. You might need time to let that all sink in. What if… something unexpected happens.”


“It won’t.” I said. “She even suggested I could do a feminine cosplay for Halloween!”


“Tyler.” she said. “I know we haven’t been the best of friends. We’re both in love with the same woman. But, I think something’s up with her and… you should be careful. As a friend.”


I took a deep breath. “You’re right. I just got really excited.” 


“I understand.” she said.


“Thank you Madison. I’ll let you go. Enjoy your evening. Bye.”


“Bye.”


* * *


Nick


On Monday morning I tried to follow my same routine. I wanted to catch Madison on the way to class like I do every Monday and Wednesday.


I really needed to talk to her. I needed to tell her the truth about the swap. I also needed to confide in her on a few things. I stormed out on Vicky yesterday. My anxiety spiked and the depression I was feeling when I first became Nick came back with a vengeance. When I got home I tried doing some meditation exercises, but they didn’t calm me down.


I walked to the grassy quad between buildings where I normally run into her. I stood there for 5 minutes. She never showed up. She must be avoiding me.


I continued to class, dejected.


* * *


Vicky


I woke up nervous for my first day at the internship. According to the directions I was emailed, they work my schedule around my classes. So I am to report there in the morning, give them my class schedule and then they will structure my working hours around that.


I’ve never had a job before. I hope I make a good impression.


When I got out of the shower, I looked over the clothes I put out for myself last night. I put on the new nude colored bra and panty set I bought yesterday. Then the black pantyhose. Then the brand new black skirt. I pulled on the baby blue blouse and buttoned it up. Nick told me to tuck this shirt in yesterday. I looked at the mirror at my work. God, I look like a teacher or a secretary. I pulled on the jacket. It matched the skirt. I didn’t really wear suits as a guy, and here I was wearing one as a woman. My reflection gave off strong business vibes. So I guess that’s the look Nick wanted me to go for.


* * *


I took the bus to the business park where this internship was. Thankfully this business wasn’t far from my campus. I had originally imagined commuting would be a nightmare without a car. During the trip, I texted both Nick and Madison. I was hoping one of them would respond to me.


I found the correct office suite on the 3rd floor and walked up to the receptionist. “Hi,” I said to her. “I’m Nicole Rosch. I'm supposed to be starting today.”


She checked her notes. “One moment. Someone will be with you.”


A middle aged man came out. “Nicole?”


“Yes” I said, and he escorted me into the office, through a maze of cubicles and to my desk.


I was given a whole bunch of reading material to read about what this place does. It’s a marketing firm. I mean, of course it is. I have no idea what they’re going to expect from me.


I gave them my class schedule, was introduced to a whole bunch of people, and just like that my first day was over and it was time to head back to campus and to class.


Before I left, I noticed some of the older men checking me out. It was very creepy. One middle aged guy even said. “You don’t have to dress so formally here. You can wear short shorts or tank tops. You’re much too pretty to be wearing that.”


Did he really just say that to me? Granted. I was a guy only 2 month ago. I would have never said that to a girl I just met and found attractive - and certainly not to someone who is likely half my age. My dad who has his own company would’ve never said that or tolerated that kind of talk. This was gross. If it wasn’t my first day, I would’ve put him in his place. For now, I’ve added him to my “people to avoid” list.



* * *


Nick



It was Tuesday morning. I was having my biweekly coffee with Kayla. We were halfway to class when she spoke up.


“Nick, you’re really silent today. What’s up?”


She’s right. I had a lot on my mind. Madison, Vicky, Steph. The current state of my life was an endless loop of failed relationships. 


I wanted to talk to Vicky about the internship last night. But I didn’t feel like talking to her. I didn’t know what to say to her. Would she even understand? 


I wanted to patch things up with Madison. She hasn’t returned any of my calls. As far as I know she hasn’t returned any of Vicky’s either. Not that I would know if she did.


Then there is Stephanie. I’ve been avoiding her. I don’t want to ghost her. I just don’t know what to tell her. Breaking up with someone sucks.


“I have a lot on my mind.” I replied to her.


“You’ve been such a good listener to me.” she said. “The least I can do is listen to you.”


I suppose I can tell her some of what’s going on. “I want to break up with Stephanie. But I don’t know what to say.”


“Just be real with her.” Kayla said. “Nobody likes being broken up with. Just tell her it’s not working out. Yeah, she’ll be upset, but she’ll get over it. It’s better than dragging her along and making her break up with you. Kinda like my former roommate and her boyfriend.”


Wait what? “What do you mean?”


“Well the other Nicole. It clearly wasn’t working between them, and yet I think her boyfriend was just afraid to breakup with her. God, she was such a bitch to him. I wonder if those two are still dating.”


I was silent. This isn’t what I wanted to hear right now.  “I think they are.”  I said, meekly trying not to be defensive.


“What else have you got going on?” she asked.


I’m glad she changed the topic.  “I’m fighting with some friends.”


“That’s not good, Nick.”


“Two different friends. Two different reasons. I feel like I have no one to talk to.”


“You have me.” she said, smiling and nudging me.


“I do have you.” I said, “You’ve been a great help.”


“Listen Nick,” she said. “I’m going to a party this weekend with some friends from one of my other classes. You should join me. Take your mind off all of this and relax.”


“I appreciate it, Kayla.” I said. “This weekend is so far away. I barely know what I'm doing tomorrow.” 


“Well, think about it”


I gave her a smile and we continued walking to our class.


* * *


After class I was doing various research on my laptop. I was all over the place. I was having a hard time focusing. I looked at the 3 windows that were open on my screen. Each window had at least 15 or more tabs open pertaining to the 3 topics I’ve been simultaneously researching. “Genies”, “Gender Dysphoria” and “On campus sexual assaults.”


My phone buzzed. It was Vicky. I wasn't ready to talk to her again just yet. I don’t know why. It wasn’t rational. I was feeling down and depressed and didn’t want to look at or talk to my old body. But I still read the message anyway. “I know you’re not talking to me, but Lexi wants us all to go to dinner at a restaurant on Friday. She’s bringing Brandon. I really want you to come and back me up. I think Madison will be there too.”


Friday? I suppose I could go to that.


I need to pick one and focus. I picked the “Genies” window. I was trying to find other references to genie lore around here. I was coming up empty handed. It sounds like most people who see this genie don’t remember it.


That reminded me. I opened up another tab and looked up missing students circa 2008. It took me a bit but I found a news article about a missing 19 year old male who went to this school. He was last seen at class and vanished after that. I wonder if this is Courtney. Nothing else other than concerned and grieving family members. I found a recent one from last year recounting the anniversary of the 10 year cold case. The body still has not been found and they have no more leads. I wonder if Courtney ever gave her testimony. Would they have believed her? Hell, Madison didn't believe me.


There was a knock at the door. I already know who it was. The moment I was dreading. I opened the door to see Stephanie standing there. 


I let her in. I think she could sense my unease. She sat down on the couch and I sat beside her.


“So I think we should see other people” I blurted out.


She was silent for a moment. “I kinda figured this was coming.”


Good. That works. I can take a deep breath and-


“Why?”


I ran through a whole bunch of cliched lines in my head. It’s not you, it's me. We’re better off as friends. I don’t feel the spark. I couldn’t pick one.


She grabbed my hand and looked down at my fingers. I never removed the blue nail polish. She looked up at me. “Are you gay?”


Would that be a cliche reason?


“Why are all the good guys gay?”


Oh God. I just realized I’m re-enacting my worst fear with Tyler. “I’m not gay, I just.. Um.” Do I tell her the truth? The partial truth? “I’ve been depressed. I’ve been researching Gender Dysphoria and...”


“So you’re a girl?” she said. “Wow, that’s a first for me. So all the good guys are either gay or not guys at all. Wonderful.”


Hearing her actually call me a girl actually made me feel kinda good, despite being in the middle of a break-up conversation. Maybe I actually do have dysphoria. “Steph, I’m sorry” I said.


“What for?” she asked. “You have to do you.”


“Because it seems like something I should apologize for.”


She chuckled. “You really are a woman. Don’t apologize for being yourself. Apologize for leading me on. Or something like that.”


I chuckled. “Yes. It was wrong to lead you on and not tell you sooner. I’m sorry.”


She nodded her head and stood up. “Thank you for telling me Victor.” She embraced me for a hug. “Take care.” Then she walked out of my door.


And like that I feel at least one of my burdens was lifted. Is this how Tyler’s conversation with Vicky went? But now I have a new one. This conversation may have convinced me I might actually have gender dysphoria. I mean. Why wouldn’t I? I am a woman in a man’s body. How do I deal with that? It’s certainly not going away.


I had a lot to think about on top of everything else going on right now. I wanted to talk to someone about this, but there’s only two people I’m willing to admit it to. One is not talking to me, and the other I’m not talking to.


I instead decided to go to the gym to work off these frustrations. Hopefully I can shake off this funk so I can go talk to Vicky.


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Emily

Hi, I'm Emily and I'm writing Gender Transformation Fiction! This site is a place for my to keep all of my stories in one place. I'm also a software developer in the daytime, so this site will also be a proving ground of cool new features that pop into my head. Feel free to message me on Twitter or at my Discord Server! You can also find me on TGStorytime.com and FictionMania.tv.

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Elron

This chapter gave me a headache. Who is really who? Now I'm wondering if Mads might have made a wish to turn Tyler gay in order to get him away from Nicole. Eliminate the competition. Pair Tyler up with a gay roommate and everyone wins, right? But it seems like Vicky is getting more and more possessive of Tyler. I don't think she will give him up without a fight (and I do wish they had gotten together under that blanket. At least one happy ending tonight). Wow, Emily, what a tangled web you weave. You must love watching all your readers fall over each other with theories about what magic has led up to this point - and what is yet to come :) As always I love your writing. You are truly awesome.
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Emily

Hopefully it wasn't a bad headache! I do love watching my readers fall over each other with theories. Some of them are close too! Some not so much.
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marter

I try not to guess too much in case I am right. I don't want to spoil anything for someone with a guess.
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marter

Thank you for the chapter!
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Anybody

I can't express how much I'm loving this story. But I need to be in a good head-space to read it, as the issues you so masterfully deal with are very real to me. Gender dysphoria, unrequited love, etc... Keep up the good work, Emily. 😘
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Emily

Apologizes for the dark content. I know TG stories typically lean towards light fluff, but I wanted to tell Nicole's story properly.
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Anybody

No need to apologize. Like I said, the story is great. I'm dealing with similar stuff, so it is a bit heavy for me, but I wouldn't change anything. I can't wait for the next chapter.
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Elron

Your stories are great because they ring true to life (magic exception here). And real life isn't a fairy tale, especially with some of the topics you cover. Conflict is what gives a character depth and makes them real in the minds of the reader. Please don't ever alter your stories because they might seem too 'real'.
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Ashe

Ugh!! :) I'm all caught up again and have to wait until next week. Love your work Emily. I look forward to reading the next chapter.
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Emily

Thank you for reading, Ashe!!
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BenFan

Love your characters; could do without their pronouns!
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Emily

Here's a secret. I have trouble with their pronouns too. I misgendered someone at work and I felt awful.
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