Chapter 22 - Homework

Masquerades 101 by Emily


Posted on 10 Views / 627 Hits Word Count: 3535 (16 minutes)

Synopsis: Vicky's intership adds more to her plate. Dinner with Lexi and Brandon doesnt' go as planned.

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Vicky


On Tuesday night while I was hanging out with Tyler they showed me the sketches they made of our costumes. The sketches were nowhere near the quality I make, but they were filled with lots of details. Materials, measurements, and stuff in illegible handwriting. Tyler seemed really excited about it.


After playing a few video games, we decided to just cuddle on the couch and watch some TV. I turned to him. “Ty, Do you want me to call you my boyfriend? Or something else?”


“Actually “boyfriend” is fine,” they said. “In Tyler mode. If you ever meet Taylor she won’t like that.” They chuckled.


“Oh” I said, raising an eyebrow. “I can’t wait to meet this Taylor then.” This is the second time Tyler has brought up their alternate persona. And they used the “she” pronoun. I’m going to have to remember that.


Despite Tyler having come out of the closet for me, nothing has really changed - except their pronouns - which I haven’t used in their presence yet. We still play games, watch TV, and cuddle and talk for hours. I was so comfortable with them, I fell asleep on their lap that night. I remember waking up in the middle of the night so I could return to my own apartment and bed. 


A half-asleep Tyler mumbled “You should just spend the night.”


That was really tempting. Really. “Maybe next time” I whispered. “Bye. I love you. See you tomorrow” I exited Tyler’s apartment and headed to my own.


This was the first time I had to walk the campus this late as a woman. I was hyper aware of how silent the campus was. How still it was. How the fog hung and glowed under the street lights. The blue glow of the emergency lights reminded me this wasn’t safe. How a stranger could be lurking in those dark shadows. It was eerie and I didn’t waste any time walking back to my dorm.


Once I was back in my bed, I instantly fell asleep thinking about falling asleep with Tyler in their bed.


* * *


My internship was rather dull to me. The company was a marketing company. I mean, I bet this would’ve been right up Nick’s alley, but not mine. I spent my second day reading up on some of the projects we were working on. I was assigned to a team that was creating a branding campaign for the city.


On Wednesday, my team had a meeting in the conference room, where one of our teammates was creating logos for this marketing campaign. 


An older guy across from me looked at me and smiled. “You’re the new intern right?” he asked.


“Yeah.” I said, smiling and pretending to be a good model employee. “I’m Nicole.” I said, extending my hand.


“David.” He shook it.


“Hey Nicole,” he said. “I was wondering if you could get me some coffee?”


My demeanor changed instantly. Um. Did he seriously just ask that? After everything I’ve been through the past week, I decided I felt like being a little bold. “No thank you, David. But if you’re getting yourself a cup, I’ll take some too.” I smiled and savored the shocked expression on his face. 


As the presentation started, the presenter showed off 5 different designs. Nobody in the conference room seemed impressed. Some of the older people were dozing off. The designs weren’t bad, but the presenter certainly didn’t show any enthusiasm. In fact. I think the designs themselves showed the same lack of enthusiasm. I’m jealous of the person in the back who has fallen asleep.


I was surprised when the team lead turned to me. “Nicole, what do you think?”


“Me?” Good thing I didn’t fall asleep.


“Yeah.” she said. “I’d like to hear the perspective of our younger demographics.”


Great. I didn’t expect to be put on the spot. Here’s my chance to speak up on behalf of my generation. “Um. They’re not fun. They’re… Uninspired.”


“How so?” she asked.


“Well, if you’re looking to attract younger customers, you’re going to want something risky, bold. Those designs tell me this is my dad’s company - which is not a bad thing, but I don’t think that’s how you attract younger customers.”


She nodded. “Nicole, work with Jake here to create some new designs.”


What? I’m not a marketing person. Shit. I forgot. Nick is.


“OK.” I heard myself say. 


And like that the meeting was dismissed. I stayed in my seat, and the presenter Jake stayed behind.


“So Nicole.” Jake said. “Thanks for throwing me under the bus.”


“Sorry, it wasn’t my intention.” I replied. I felt a little bad for Jake. The intern just completely wrecked his designs.


“Have you ever done graphic design?” he asked.


“No.” I said. “But I paint and sketch.”


“Oh” he said, disappointed. “Have you done any branding with those sketches?”


“No I haven’t.”


He looked even more dejected.


“But I know people who do!” I said hoping to make him feel better. “I can learn. I am… a marketing major.” 


“OK.” he said. “Let me know what you come up with tomorrow.”


Tomorrow? Shit I oversold myself. I have homework. Crap. I didn’t even want to do this internship.

* * *


Nick


It was Wednesday evening when I got a knock on my door. I opened it up and saw Vicky standing there.


“I would’ve expected you to just walk in.” I said. “This is your apartment., after all”


“I was trying to respect your space.” she said. “After you ran away from me on Sunday and never returned my calls or texts.”


“Yeah” I said, walking back to the living room. “Sorry about that”


“Listen,” she said. “I want to apologize. I think I came off too harsh on you. With Tyler and Hanna.”


“You did nothing wrong.” I said. “I just… I just am not in a good head space right now. What did you come over for?” I asked.


“Well, I have something that may make you feel like you're a part of this internship.”


“Oh?” I said. I was deeply curious now. “What is it?”


“I’ve been tasked to come up with a logo for the city. I thought maybe we could… work together. You know. Your marketing degree. My art degree. My ability to sketch.”


“OK.” I said, nodding. Maybe this will be good to clear my mind. “What do you have?”


Vicky opened up her bag and pulled out her sketch pad and some photos. “So I wanted to incorporate some known icons or landmarks.”


“That fountain downtown is a landmark.” I suggested.


“The one we peed in?”


I chuckled. “Yeah that one.”


“Oh how about that cool looking bridge that goes over the river?” she asked.


“That can work too. It’s unique.”


She pulled out a sketchpad and pencil and started doodling.


“Oh wait.” I said. “What if you put this over here…”



* * *


Vicky


When I brought my sketches to the internship the next day, Jake was excited about it. But I had one more homework assignment. I needed to sketch them with a graphic editor. Good thing I’m dating a computer guy. I showed my sketches to Tyler Thursday night. They got a great big smile. They were going to teach me how to use a graphic editor over the weekend. 


At first I was hoping they’d just do it for me. “Can you just do it for me?” I asked with a cute innocent smile I know has worked on them in the past.


“But Nikki, If I do it for you, how will you ever learn?” Tyler explained to me.


Drat, it didn’t work this time. I pouted, but realized they were right.


I was actually kinda excited. One I get to work with Tyler on something together outside of games. And Two, I can get into graphic design. I certainly have classmates in my art classes that are into digital art. Part of me is jealous. But there is something I love about canvas.


* * *


Friday came along and it was time to go out to dinner with Alexis and Brandon. Alexis was finally home in our apartments. We opened a bottle of chardonnay and were “pre-gaming” while getting ready. 


When she had invited us, Tyler was also invited, but he declined this time because he was waist deep in working on our Halloween costumes. I told him it was OK if he took a break. I got the feeling that he was being a perfectionist because he wanted to assure me we would look great while crossplaying. I should’ve insisted he come. I was nervous about spending an evening with Brandon. It’s an irrational fear brought on by my memories and the fact those memories were altered. I don’t trust him. I wanted my boyfriend with me.


Lexi and I didn’t say much to each other. I could tell she was tense around me ever since last weekend. 


I also texted Nick. “Reminder about our dinner night with Lexi and Brandon. Consider this research to see if Brandon is someone you remember. Maybe we can figure out if he has anything to do with the Genie. Also Madison will be there.”


He responded a few minutes later. “I’ll swing by.”


Great. I hate that Brandon is getting between mine and Alexis’s friendship. I hope Nick can have my back.


“So Lexi” I said through her closed door. “I hadn’t gotten a chance to talk to you this week. But Madison walked in on me and Nick getting dressed together.”


“Did you tell her the truth?” I heard her say.


“Actually, Nick did, if you can believe it.”


“And?”


“She didn’t believe him.” I replied. “She thinks Nicole and Victor are having an affair behind Tyler’s back.”


I heard her laugh. “If only she know it was Vicky and Tyler having an affair behind Nick’s back”


“Hey now” I said.


“You’re right.” she replied. “You’re doing it in plain sight.” Lexi was certainly in a mood. She opened her door. “Remember that time I told you, you both should’ve come clean months ago? You wouldn’t have this problem now.”


I rolled my eyes. This wasn’t helpful.


“I’m sorry Vic” she said. “You know I love you, but you and Nick dug yourselves into this hole against my advice. Digging out is going to be more effort the longer you wait.”


She walked to the mirror and started doing her makeup. It was time to do mine. I joined her and took out my makeup bag.


“I was hoping you can behave tonight,” Lexi said looking at me through the mirror.


“Behave?” I said. “I have never made a scene.”


“You know what I mean.” she said applying lipstick. ‘With Brandon.”


“Does that mean you believe him more than me again?”


“I don’t know what to believe.” 


I sighed. I thought we were over this. I suppose Brandon had a week to undo the progress I made last weekend. Maybe that’s why she’s been testy with me.


Madison came into the apartment. That made things more tense. She ignored me as if she didn't see me. She only interacted with Lexi.


“Hi Mads” I said passing by,


She said nothing and her face was stoic.


I wanted to fix everything, but I didn’t know how. I texted Nick to update him where we were going and what time we were going to be there. 


“Let’s go” Lexi said, and the 3 of us left our apartment and piled into Lexi’s car.


* * *


We were escorted to a 5 person table. Since it was just the 4 of us, I sat between Brandon and Madison. The guy still creeps me out. I really should’ve sat between Mads and Lexi.


Madison looked at me. Betrayal was all over her face. She made sure I saw her get up and move to the empty seat next to her. Lovely. I wonder what’s upsetting her more. Catching me with Nick or Nick’s attempt to tell the truth?


The waitress came and got our drink orders. I got a rum and Coke. I needed something stronger than wine tonight.


Alexis was busy smiling and talking about her day. Madison wasn’t making eye contact with me and focused on listening to Lexi. I got the feeling that Lexi knows the tension is there, and is trying her best to lighten it.


I was startled when I felt a hand touch my thigh. I really wished it was Madison, but I knew better. The shithead next to me is looking at his girlfriend while feeling up my leg. I put my hand under the table and swatted his hand away.


Lexi was saying something but my mind was elsewhere - like the creep beside me. 


Madison got up from the table and said. “I’ll be right back” and I saw her walk off to the ladies room. In the time I’ve known her over the past two months, she usually asks me or Lexi to join her. Not this time. She went alone.


The hand returned. 


What should I do?


The hand crept farther up my leg. 


I swatted it away again. “Stop it” I said under my breath so Brandon could hear me. I could see a shit eating grin form on his face.


He turned to me. “Stop it Nicole, I’m dating Lexi” he whispered louder back to me.


My face turned red with anger. Lexi noticed he said something to me. A look of concern spread across her face. I needed to control my anger, so I got up and excused myself to the ladies’ room.


I walked into the ladies room and stood there in front of the mirror. I didn’t have to pee, so I just stood there, trying to calm down. 


Madison came out of a stall, and said nothing to me as she washed her hands.


“Mads, Brandon is hitting on me. I don't know what to do.”


“Geez Nicole.” she said. “Don’t you have enough boyfriends? You don’t need to steal Lexi’s.”


That was harsh. She didn’t stick around for me to make a rebuttal. I took a deep breath, and followed her back to our seats.



* * *


Nick


I walked through the restaurant and to the bar. I was here at Vicky’s request. I can’t imagine Lexi would want Victor’s body anywhere near Brandon. But I needed to know where Brandon knew me from. I ordered a glass of wine. Naturally I was carded so I showed the bartender Victor’s ID.


I scanned the restaurant looking for my friends. I got a glimpse of the back of Madison’s head. I scooted over to then see Lexi. There were people at a table between us blocking the rest of the table.


“Here you go, sir” the bartender said, handing me my wine.


Sir? Why does everything have to be about gender? “Thank you” I said, politely. I took a sip.


“Where’s your friends?” A woman beside me said. She looked to be a woman in her 40s. Attractive for her age. She was certainly wearing a clothing style meant for a younger woman though. She appeared to be by herself. 


“I’m keeping an eye out for them.” I explained, as I looked around again.


“What are you drinking?” she asked. She then stroked her hair slowly with left hand making sure I saw her fingers. Her ring-less fingers. Is she seriously hitting on me? Wow that was not subtle at all. I’m a girl and I got what she was letting on. This makes me wonder how Victor was still single.


“Malbec.” I said. I don’t really have time for this. I glanced back to where my friends were sitting.


The table between me and my friends got up and left and I could see everyone clearly. 


“I think I see them.” I said to the woman. I see Madison, Lexi, Vicky and… “Oh my God…”


* * *


Vicky


When I returned to my seat, I scooted my chair away from Brandon.


He put his hand on my thigh again. This time his hand was getting very high and creeping further. I’ve never been in this situation before. I looked at Brandon. Brandon is just about the same height as I used to be. Old me would’ve decked him. But now in this body I felt small and powerless. His hand was enormous on my leg.


He squeezed my thigh and I immediately stood up. “Stop it you prick!” I yelled.


“I told you I don’t want to flirt with you.” he said, trying to turn this around on me.


That’s when I saw Nick come at us. “You son of a bitch!” he yelled. He came behind me, and punched Brandon in the face, knocking him backwards out of his seat.


Lexi and Madison jumped out of their seats.


“V- Victor?” Brandon said lying on the ground through a bloody lip. He wiped his lips.


Nick pounced on him, punching him again. Brandon fought back and pushed Nick off of him and threw him back into our own table, knocking place settings and drinks on the floor. Lexi and Mads dodged away from the table.


Nick got back up and kicked Brandon in the gut.


“Stop!” Lexi yelled. “What the hell is going on here?”


Both guys stopped and looked up at her.


“Nicole, what the fuck?” she added.


“Brandon was groping me!” I said. But then I realized she wasn’t talking to me because she was looking at Nick.


Lexi glanced back at me for a moment and looked back at Nick. “Nicole. The real Nicole. Answer me.”


“He’s the guy from the frat party.” Nick said. “Rush week. Freshman year.”


Lexi had a look of recognition and horror.


“What that fuck are you smoking?” Brandon said.


“You sexually assaulted me, asshole.” Nick stepped closer to Brandon holding his fist up.


Brandon got up and put his hand around Lexi’s back. “This guy is crazy. Why would I touch a dude? Even one who's my crazy former roommate?”


“Don’t you touch me.” Lexi said, shrugging him off and moving away.


Two bouncers came over and grabbed both Nick and Brandon and escorted them to the exit. 


A manager came over to us. “You all need to go or we’ll be calling the police.”


“Fine.” Lexi said, picking up her purse from the floor.


The 3 of us made our way to the exit in silence as other patrons watched us. It was embarrassing to say the least. The bouncers had escorted Brandon and Nick to opposite directions of the street.


I said nothing as we exited the restaurant and onto the sidewalk. I was still in shock.


“What was that?” Madison said, angrily. She looked from me to Lexi and back.


Lexi was tearing up.


“Nicole?” Madison asked me. Well at least she’s talking to me again.


“I’m Victor, Madison.” I said. “Victor is the real Nicole.”


“Not this again.” she said, exasperated.


“She’s telling the truth.” Lexi said meekly through quiet sobs.


“What? How? Why?” Madison said. “This can’t be real.”


“We don’t know.” I said. “It’s real”


“How long?” she asked.


“The beginning of the semester.” I replied.


“The beginning… you’ve been hiding this from me for months?”


Madison looked at Lexi who nodded.


“You knew?” Mads said to Lexi.


“Yes.” Lexi said. “I told them they should’ve come clean on day one.”


“You kept something like that from me?” she reiterated.


“Let’s just go home,” I said. “We can bring Nick up and we can come clean about everything.”


“No!” Madison said. “I feel betrayed by not one, but both friends.”


“Madison,” I said.


“No.” she said. “You’re not even my friend. I don’t even know who you are… Victor. I’m taking the bus home.”


Madison stormed away down the street towards the bus stop.


Lexi and I walked back to her car in relative silence. Well I was silent. Lexi was crying.


* * *


Nick


The bouncer tailed me for a block so I didn’t turn back around and beat the shit out of Brandon. Before I was out of earshot, I could hear that Madison sounded pissed. At all of us. I guess Lexi verified our story.


I felt a rush of energy. And rage. I was amped. More than I have ever been at the gym. I had largely forgotten about Brandon up until this evening. It took me a long time to get over that. It took me a long time to trust men after him. 


I looked behind me. I didn’t see anyone I knew anymore. Should I double back and find the girls? Does Vicky have it under control? 


I texted her. “Vic, do you need my help? How is Lexi? Mads?”


I wanted to turn around and find Brandon. I hadn’t seen him in 3 years and I let him get away with it all. I didn’t even know his name. But not this time. I know who he is now. He’s not getting away with it. I will make him pay.


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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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marter

The mystery deepens. Thanks for the chapter!
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bloodraven

So I finally check out your site and I realize that you're publishing here a week early! Or maybe I saw that on twitter... doesn't matter. This was interesting. I understand Lexi being loyal to her b/f, but Vicky is her roommate. Granted she doesn't know Victor as well as Nicole, but I also think it's fair to say that her and Vicky have been getting closer. I feel that either Brandon is a real twat and able to gaslight at will, or Lexi's just not being fair to her friends. Quite probably both. We can also ride with the assumption that Brandon is somehow tied up with this genie and/or magic that has been going on in this story, and is using the ultimate gaslighting on people around him. I loved Chrissy's story, and Erin's was good too. But you're knocking it out of the park with this one.
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Emily

I post a week ahead with the stipulation that there might be typos. A number of readers on my discord point out mistakes that I promptly fix. Then TGST and other sites get the revised revisions! I love when readers realize this site is a week ahead.. its like "I get to binge TWO chapters!" Meanwhile - I think Lexi knows she's made a mistake.
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bloodraven

And that was exactly my thought, when I got to read two chapters that week! I was looking at your twitter and realized the chapters were off. Yeah, I was gonna join the discord, but honestly discord scares me. I think TGST taught me to rely on the comment section. Back to the story... The thing about mistakes is sometimes you know you've made them but you don't know how to get out of them. And then there's the sunken cost fallacy, which may or may not apply to Lexi, depending on how invested she is. I've also seen too many relationships that work like Brandon and Lexi's, and those never work out well for the gaslightee. Anyways, keep up the good work.
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Joejedfjsj

Was this an early chapter, anyways good job as usual. Not really sure if I’m all for Nick beating Brandon up, even if he is a dick. Something doesn’t seem right about him
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Emily

This isn't the last we've seen of him!
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Elron

Wow, Vicky to the rescue! I'm glad somebody finally kicked Brandon's ass. Throughout the whole story, the only verifiable fact is that Brandon is an asshole. Now if only Lexi could see the truth and dump him. I also think Mads may be starting to believe that Nicole and Victor switched bodies. Except she is over-reacting to being left out of the secret. They don't owe her every detail of their lives. I think Mads is being a Karen. Great chapter. Sigh, only 168 hours until the next one............
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Emily

A lot of these points will be brought up the next chapter... 156 more hours ;)
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Elron

Looks like I screwed up. Nick kicked Brandon's ass. Vicky called Brandon out for hitting on her. I wish she had discretely photographed Brandon's hand on her thigh and then held it up for everyone at the table to see. Without evidence it's just he said/she said. Or she could have stabbed him with her fork. Or both. I'm feeling protective of Vicky. And a little jealous.
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BenFan

Well that was a satisfying chapter! Too bad all the girls are at odds with one another. The unforgivable sin in womanhood apparently is not immediately divulging everything in your life to your BFF’s. Somehow I think it is only unforgivable, however, if you are the one who didn’t know. Doesn’t seem like Madison was advertising to Nicole that she was hot to get into Tyler’s pants, after all! ;-) I will just say that the Tyler pronouns make him seem like an “it”… The effect is just about like the Tyler character has left the story… at least for me.
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Emily

I admit that I've neglected Tyler as a character. Nic and Vic's stories just kinda started writing themselves. Tyler still has story left to tell, I promise.
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BenFan

Actually, this is a body swap story between Nic and Vic. Tyler has been a supporting character from the start, so the story should not primarily be about him or Mads or Alexis, as much as we may like them. I think he has had the right degree of involvement in it and was a legit person until he became a “they.” That kinda depersonalized him. But you can’t fragment the plot by having it become about “them.” Maybe that will be a different story to write?
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