Chapter 23 - In the Beginning

Masquerades 101 by Emily


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Synopsis: Our friends remember the events from freshman year.

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Nick



While I was contemplating my next move with regards to Brandon, I drove out of the parking lot and down the street. A block later I saw Madison sitting on a bench at a bus stop. Her head was down into her hands. All thoughts of vengeance were shoved aside while my best friend was visibly hurting. I pulled over and rolled down the passenger window.


“Hey Mads,” I said. “Let's go. I’ll drive you home.”


She looked up at me with tear-filled eyes and didn’t say anything.


“Listen, I know you’re mad at us. We deserve it. Come on in. That bus won’t be around for another twenty minutes.”


She reluctantly got up and walked to the car, opened the passenger door and got into the car.


We drove most of the way back to campus in silence. Our last encounter was in the stairwell last weekend, and she wasn’t receptive to chatting then.  I bet she’s even angrier now. It was up to me to find a way to break through the wall she put up.  


“I bet you’re hungry.” I said. “Do you want to come over to my apartment? We can order delivery. I can tell you the whole truth over some drinks.”


“I don’t really feel like beer.” she said, staring out of the window.


“Mads, it’s me,” I said. “I have your favorite Malbec just chilling in the fridge.” She glazed over to me and I smiled big and added, “It’s got your name on it!”


“I’m still mad.” she replied and let out a deep sigh. “But a part of me is curious and interested in hearing this crazy story you’ve cooked up.”


“Thank you” I said, nodding. I turned the car so I headed in the direction of home.


* * *


Vicky


When Alexis and I returned to our apartment, we each went into our separate bedrooms. I was barely holding it together. I couldn’t get Brandon’s actions out of my head.


I went to my bed and buried my face into my pillow. Tonight was a disaster. I went into it thinking I'd make amends with Madison, with Alexis, and figure out Brandon’s background. I accomplished none of those things.


On top of that, I felt dirty and I couldn’t get the feeling of Brandon’s hand on my upper thigh out of my head. I’ve never felt disgusted like that before. Unless I have. I don’t know what memories the genie suppressed from my time being a roommate with Brandon.


God, I can’t imagine how I even survived being his roommate for the few months I was.


I heard a knock at my door. I lifted my head off of the pillow. “Come in” I looked down and where my face was, the pillow was soaked in tears.


Lexi poked her head in the door. She looked like she was crying too. “I came to check on you.”


“Alexis, I’m sorry your night out was ruined.” I said. “I’m sorry about Brandon.”


“Don’t apologize,” she said. “You warned me. It was you who was telling the truth. It was you who was looking out for me.”


Why didn’t that make me feel better? I sniffled, and rubbed my eyes. I realized my hand was shaking.


“Lexi, I don't know what’s wrong with me.” I said. “I’m shaking.” I held up my hand. “Sure, I warned you. Sure, I stood up to him. But I can still feel his hand on me... I felt so powerless. I felt so...”


“Violated?” she said. 


“Yeah”


“That’s the same way Nicole used to describe him and what happened.” 


I sniffed and tried to wipe my cheeks. “What happened?” I asked. “Freshman year?”


* * *


Nick


Madison walked to my apartment and looked around awkwardly. This is the first time she’s been here. She’s the only guest I’ve had over aside from Vicky and Stephanie.


“Make yourself at home.” I said.


Madison sat on the couch while I got out two plastic cups from the cabinet and poured the chilled wine. She looked around at the apartment living room. “So this is where you’ve been staying the past two months?” she asked.


“Yes.” I replied, handing her the cup of wine. “It’s quaint. It’s kinda loud and noisy on the weekends, and it takes an extra 10 minutes to get to class. But I don’t have to be reminded of the life I’m no longer living while here.  It’s also the first time I’ve lived alone.”


“It’s nice.” she said, trying to be nice.


“Ha” I said. “You’re being too kind. You should’ve seen it when we first swapped. This place was a disaster. It took me days to clean it and straighten it up.”


Madison took a sip of wine from the cup.


“Sorry about the plastic cup.” I said. “Victor doesn’t have any wine glasses.”


“It’s fine.” she said. She stood up and looked at the half finished painting that I hung on the wall. “I remember Victor from class a few semesters ago. I don’t think we said two words to each other. Until you brought him to my apartment this semester, that is.”


“When I brought him over, we had just swapped. I remember trying to give him pointers on how to act like me.”


“I did think... Nicole... was acting strange.” she said.


“I actually thought you were behind the swap.” I confessed.


“Me?” she said, surprised. “I don’t believe in magic. I’m still having a hard time believing you’re Nicole.”


“I dunno.” I said. “It’s stupid. You were the only connection we had at the time. You and Victor were both art majors. It was a weak coincidence at best. But when I saw you interact with her that evening, I had almost convinced myself you were actually interested in Victor all along, but him being a dude was a deal breaker.”


“So you thought I would use magic to put Victor into a girl’s body so I could get with him?”


“That sounds so stupid once I hear it said back to me.” I said. “After a few days I realized that it wasn’t the case. I thought maybe Victor just needed friends. I thought you both might actually get along if you actually talked to each other.”


“I thought we were getting along.” she said, looking me up and down. Our eyes met and hung there for a moment. “I rather enjoyed running into you a few times a week. But It wasn’t Victor I was talking to was it?”


“Ah, but you have been spending time with Vicky too and you didn’t know it.” I added.


“Vicky? Is that what you call Victor - in your body?”

“Yeah.” I replied. “And he calls me Nick.”


“So this whole time, I’ve been flirting with Victor?” she said. “With Vicky?”


“I guess. I haven’t been around too much. It’s hard watching her live my life.”


“I was grinding up on her that first night. Then last month when we went clubbing. Wow. I can’t believe that was Victor this whole time.” Madison paced the room for a few seconds, trying to let all of this sink in. She saw a vase of fake flowers on the kitchen counter. “Are the flowers your idea?”


“No.” I said. “They’re um - from my ex-girlfriend.”


“Your ex-girlfriend?” she said, surprised. “Victor’s ex?”


“No. My ex. I dated her for the past two months. We broke up last week.”


“Huh. You finally dated a girl.” she said, taking a larger sip of wine. “Why did you break up?”


“She… wasn’t my type. There’s someone else…”


“Tyler.” she said, nodding. Before she let me answer, she said, “Wait. So Victor and Tyler?”


“Yeah Vicky has been dating Tyler.” I said. “That is a thing. I’m not happy about it. I try not to think about it.”


“So I take it Tyler doesn’t know.”


“No he doesn’t.” I realized I just misgendered Tyler again. 


“Holy Shit, Nicole.” she said, raising her voice. “Tyler is absolutely in love with the new Nicole - Vicky. What happens when he finds out he’s been dating a guy?”


“They” I said, hoping this changes the topic. How and when we tell Tyler is largely a Vicky decision, since she clearly doesn’t want to tell him at all. If ever.


“Right.” she said. “Tyler finally told you. No wait. They told Vicky?”


“Yeah, they told Vicky. Vicky told me.”


“Well at least everyone knows now.” she said. “It hurt me to keep such an important thing from you.”


“You kept that from me?” I said, raising my eyebrow. “For how long?” I gave her a slight smile.


She saw where I was going with that and took a deep breath.. “It wasn’t my place to tell you something so important to Tyler. That’s their business. I’ve been encouraging them to tell you themselves for a long time.”


“It wasn’t Lexi’s place to tell you about me and Vicky. That’s on us.”


“Yeah” she said. “I’ll forgive Lexi. I was just pissed at you and Nic.. Vicky. I’ve been spending time with both of you. I feel like that was all a lie.” She took another sip, and sat on the couch. “OK… Nicole, let’s take this from the top. Tell me how this happened.”


* * *


Vicky


“So it was freshman year.” Alexis said. “Rush week. Nicole, Madison, myself and a whole bunch of other girls were rushing the same sorority.”


“You guys were rushing sororities?” I asked. “Wow. I didn’t take you for the sorority girl type.”


“Vic, you wanna hear this story or not?” she said.


“Sorry.”


“So there was this mixer with a fraternity that the sorority hangs out with. The guys were your typical frat bro. Talking up themselves and their buddies. Bragging about their cars and how much they can lift. How good they were in bed. How they were the “gentleman's” fraternity. Now I didn’t really know Nicole or Madison yet, but they were there. I remember the girls getting separated by the guys. They were clearly trying to get us alone so they could seduce us individually. I guess getting in good with the frat is also a way to get in good with the sorority. I didn’t see the appeal. I was with some guy who couldn’t stop talking about his hair. Sometime in the middle of the party I remember Nicole running down the hallway of the frat house, crying. She claimed that one of the frat guys tried to rape her.”


“Oh my god - Nicole? Was that Brandon?”


“I don’t know. I never saw him. She never pointed him out. She left almost immediately, crying. The next day, the sorority leadership got us together to talk about it. Nicole told her side of the story about how he coaxed her into a private bedroom, started groping her and held her against a wall against her own will until she forced herself out of that situation.”


I was disgusted. I was also concerned about Nick. He never mentioned any of that to me. “That actually sounds like my interactions with him tonight. What happened to him?”


“I don’t know. The sisters didn’t believe her.”


“They didn’t believe her? Why not? What the fuck? Did Nicole accuse him?”


“Some bullshit about their closer relationship with that frat. Traditions. Then they victim-shamed her telling her she had no proof. And some more bullshit. Nicole said she was dropping out of rushing. She left immediately. When the sorority leadership asked if anyone else had a problem with it, Madison left next, and I followed. No other girl followed us.”


I shook my head. “So she didn’t press charges?”


“She never got his name. His fraternity covered for him. Plus for weeks afterward, the sorority was shaming us for making a big deal over it and dropping out of rush. They were offended that someone wouldn’t want to be a part of their precious clique. The girls we were friends with that week were actually harassing us.”


“What happened after that?”


“Well, that first night, Mads and I caught up to Nicole. We told her we believed her. Madison invited us both back to her place. She revealed she had a stash of wine she got from an upperclassman. And our first Malbec Monday was born. We cried. We shared our deepest secrets. Our fears. We vowed that night to always have each other’s backs. We didn’t need the sorority because we were our own sisterhood. We stuck together as the sorority harassed us. They eventually grew bored of us and stopped. Thankfully.”


Hearing how they became friends gave me a new appreciation for their friendship and how important it is to them. “I’m sorry I got in between everyone” I said. “I ruined your sisterhood. I certainly ruined your relationship.”


“You didn’t ruin anything, Vic. We’ll get over this. Our bond is stronger than some crazy body swap. And you were right about Brandon. I should’ve trusted you. I should always trust my girlfriends over some guy.”


I chuckled. “But I too am just some guy.”


“No,” she said, looking me in the eye. “You’re one of my girlfriends, Vicky. You’re my roommate. You’re one of my best friends.”


“I am?” I said, unable to stop a tear from rolling down my cheek.


“You are.”


“Even if I turn back to a guy?”


She chucked. “Even if you turn back to a guy. Nick is currently a guy, and I still consider him one of my girlfriends even if we haven’t been spending much time together.”


I reached out and hugged her. “Thank you, Lexi” I said. “I needed to hear this.”


* * *


Nick


We were both feeling buzzed from the wine. We ordered some food delivery. Madison was no longer angry and was laughing. “So you peed in the water fountain?”


“We did.” I said, chuckling.


“Wow Nicole.” she said. “Vicky has been a crazy influence on you.”


“If it weren’t for the whole, she’s living my life, we’d totally be besties.” I admitted.


“Have you talked to her about it?”


“I’ve tried, but I go through bouts of depression, and I just can’t…” 


Madison leaned forward, showing concern. “Tell me about your depression.”


“Mads” I said, putting down my cup. “I’m actually glad you asked. I’ve been dropping hints to Vicky and Lexi hasn’t been around. I really need to talk to someone about this.”


“Talk to me, Nicole.”


“I think I have gender dysphoria,” I said.


“Yeah, no shit.” she said. “The things you said you are going through.”


“I don’t want to be in the body anymore.” I said. “It’s killing me. I thought at first if I went with the flow and adapted to my body like Vicky did. If I embraced my masculine side. Maybe it would get better. It’s actually gotten worse.”


“Come here” she said, opening her arms up. I went in for the hug and felt her embrace. “First things first. Stop going by Nick. You’re Nicole. You’re a woman.”


Hearing those words made me feel better and I tightened my embrace. “What will that do to Victor’s life?”


“You can still go by Victor to those not in the know. But to those who know you - be yourself.”


I felt safe in her arms.  “I missed you.” I whispered.


“I’m here now.” she replied. We released each other’s embrace and our eyes met.


Surprisingly, Madison turned away first and changed the subject. “So how are you doing? With that guy back in your life? Brandon?”


“I’m overwhelmed with rage.” I admitted. “I thought it was behind me. Seeing him again...”


Madison grabbed my hand and squeezed it. “We’re here for you.”


“I at least have a name now. Lexi likely has more information too. He’s going down. I won’t let him get away this time.”


“Whatever you do, I’ll support you.”


“Thank you,” I said. 


* * *


Vicky


“So we think Brandon is related to this body swap somehow.” I said to Lexi.


“Really?” she said. “How?”


“Maybe through the frat. Some of my memories from freshman year have been altered. ”


“But Brandon isn’t in a frat.” she said. “At least - he isn’t anymore.”


“He was definitely still in the frat when he was my roommate.” I said. “How did he treat you?”


“Fine.” she said. “He seemed interested in getting to know me and my friends. He asked about you - I mean Nicole, Madison, Tyler.”


“Tyler?” I said. “He’s never met Tyler.”


“I don’t know,” she said. “He was curious about everyone. What they’ve done during college, where they lived…”


“There's also something else,” I said. “We think a genie is involved.”


“A genie?”


“Yes,” I said. “I know how crazy that sounds. But we talked to someone who experienced a frat boy using a genie on them.”


“That is nuts!” she said. “I know Brandon was charming, but everything seemed so innocent.”


“Did you ever do anything against your will or questionable with him?”


“No.” she said. “He was actually charming. Almost too charming, ya know?”


“How so?”


“He was super interested in listening to me talk. About my day, about you guys. He was eager for me to take him home. He was actually getting annoyed that we spent so much time at his place. But I knew you and he didn’t get along so I didn’t invite him back here.”


“Did you tell him about the body swap?”


“No.” I said. “But I may have let on that you were acting strange, unlike your old self”


“What if” I said, “Brandon doesn’t have the genie anymore? What if he’s looking for it?”


“And he thinks we have it?”


“I don’t know.” I said. “There’s a missing piece here. What would give him the impression our friend group has a genie in our possession?”


We both shrugged, unable to find that missing connection.


“Are you hungry?” she asked. “We never got a chance to eat.”


“I’m starving,” I admitted.


“I essentially just broke up with my boyfriend tonight. Let’s have a roommate night. Just me and you. Let’s get a pizza. Let’s watch something cheesy on TV. Let’s not think about Brandon or magic or genies the rest of the night.”


“I’m game,” I said, smiling..



* * *


Nicole



“All of this stuff,” I said. “With Brandon, brings me back to freshman year. I’ve pushed aside the bad memories, and fondly remember the good times. You were there for me. Just like now.”


“Always, Nicole,” she smiled. It was nice to hear my name again. It was nice to have deep talks with Madison again.


I think I’m getting a good buzz on. A good memory resurfaced, and I wanted Madison to feel like she was actually talking to me. To Nicole. “Do you remember that time Lexi brought over that everclear?”


Madison raised an eyebrow and chuckled. “I remember we were all drunk.”


“Lexi was passed out on the couch.” I said. “We were alone.” 


“You confessed to me about being bi. About your high school best friend.”


“I said that? No I didn’t.” 


“Yes you did.” she insisted.  “And I told you I was a lesbian.”


“No you didn’t.”  I said.  “I must've been wasted,” I said. 


“You don’t have to hide behind that excuse anymore.” she said. “Do you remember what happened next?”


Yes I do. My dick certainly remembers, and it wasn’t there. I was silent. “Yes. I uh.. thanked you for supporting me. Throughout the whole sorority incident.”


“You did more than that.” she said with a smile and a raised eyebrow. She poured more wine into her cup.


“I was drunk.”


“You were honest.”


“I threw myself at you.”


“It wasn’t unwelcome”


“I was confused.”


“You were hurting.”


“But you pushed me away.”


“I mean. Eventually.” she said. “Because I didn't want to take advantage of you.”


“But then you introduced me to Tyler, though.” I countered.


“You needed a Halloween costume. I didn’t expect you to start dating them.”


“He was the first guy I was able to trust after the incident at the frat house.”


“That’s because Tyler wasn’t a cis straight guy. You knew very well what you were doing. You may not have known they were an enby, but you knew damn well they were queer. You dragged them along because you stopped trusting hetero men.”


“That wasn’t the only reason. I couldn’t be gay. I just couldn’t. Not like my Aunt. Sure I felt safe with Tyler and he was a good front for my parents, but I legitimately fell in love with him. Them.”


“And I respected that. Or at least I tried.”


“I never meant to hurt you.”


“Why have you been pretending I’m straight?” she said. “You’ve been ignoring that night for 3 years.”


“Cause I love you.” I blurted out.  Once I said it, I covered my mouth and looked away.


Madison had a shocked expression on her face and was silent. The look on her face was pleading with me to say it again. But I can’t do that to her.


“I needed you as a friend.  I’m dealing with my conservative parents, my own sexuality, the fallout from the sexual assault.  I needed you as a best friend more than I needed you as a lover.  At least - that’s why I told myself back then.  It was easier to pretend none of that happened.  For me to have straight friends.  A straight, normal boyfriend.  That’s the image I wanted to portray to my parents… to myself.  I just wanted a normal life.  It doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t have any of that anymore.  I’ve lost you both.”  I turned away from her.


“Don’t do that Nicole. I know the truth now. You can’t push me away.”


“It’s not fair to you. You could never want me like this.”


Madison came closer and held my hands. “We don’t know that.”


I was silent. I was largely avoiding eye contact. I knew her eyes would be like quicksand... pulling me and never letting me go.


“Listen, I should go.” she said, sensing my hesitation. “I need to let all of this sink in too. My world has just been turned upside down. Magic exists. One of my best friends is now a guy. And everyone has been lying to me about it. It’s a lot to take in for one evening.”


 I nodded.


“Nicole” she said. “If you ever need to talk. Please don’t hesitate. Don’t let dysphoria get the best of you. I’m here for you for whatever you need.”


I forced a smile, and Madison left with a simple “Bye.”

I really wanted her to say she loved me back.  But how could she?  She’s a lesbian and I’m in a guy’s body.


Having this chat with Madison dredged up a whole bunch of feelings.  Love, hurt, loss.  Hell, the sex talk and flirting made me a little horny too.  I should go and beg her to stay.  Instead I turned around and walked to my bedroom, feeling a whole spectrum of emotions I can’t parse at the moment.



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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

I'm so glad they all made up. I really feel Nicole there at the end.
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BenFan

Well, not a lot of action but a chapter that opened quite a few possibilities. Kind of wish Mads and Nicole had not let the moment slip away…
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Emily

You may get what you want next chapter...
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Elron

Well, that was a whole bunch of pieces of the puzzle falling into place. Thank you for filling in more of the character's backgrounds. I'm glad things are more or less back to normal now that they have all had a chance to talk through their anger and betrayal. It sure does seem as if Brandon is trying to find something, and he thinks the 3 girls might have it. Looks like my theory of Mads using the genie to get rid of Tyler so she could have Nicole to herself has been busted. Well, at least as far as anyone can remember. So, all of these people now know about the swap: Nicole, Victor, Lexi, Hannah, and now Madison. But Brandon also heard some stuff about it during the fight at the restaurant. Was it enough to understand and believe what happened? And now Tyler is the only character who doesn't know about the swap. Damn, I just had my weekly fix and I'm already longing for more. Just another 167 hours. Sigh.
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