Chapter 37 - Picking up the Pieces

Masquerades 101 by Emily


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Synopsis: Victor gets discharged from the hospital

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Tyler


I returned to my apartment and sat down on the couch.  I cried into my hands. I held out as long as possible during the drive back from the hospital.  I’ve never been broken up with before, and I’ve never experienced this much heartbreak.


Josh heard me and came out of his room.  “I suppose I should ask how it went, but I guess I might already guess.”


“Victor said to not use any more magic to fix us.” I said.


“That seems like a rational response.” Josh replied. “Victor has gone through a lot. Living with Brandon, getting those memories altered, swapping lives with Nicole.  Then swapping back.  That’s a lot.”


“Then what am I going to spend this last wish on?”


“You don’t have to use it right away.  Wait for the right moment.”


“What am I going to do now? On Friday I was engaged.  I suppose I technically had 2 girlfriends.  Now I have nobody.”


“You have me.” Josh said with a great big smile.


I grinned at him.  “Nicole was my first girlfriend. I’ve never been dumped before.”


“I hear people say it takes time to get over breakups.”


“But” I said.  “I was OK letting go of Nicole.  Losing Vicky is what hurts.”


Josh nodded.  


“Do you know how this all ends?” I asked him.


“No.” Josh replied. “I’m a genie, not a fortune teller. I cannot see into the future.”


I sighed


“Take some time for yourself.” Josh said.  “Cry if you need to.  I can order us food.”


I wiped my tears and thanked my roommate.  As he went to make some food calls, I sat and pondered on how I can use my last wish to make everything right again.



* * *


Victor


After the girls left, it was just me and my parents. It was time to get discharged from the hospital. The doctors gave me directions on changing the bandages. I was to stay away from heavy pain killers, which sucked because just moving around really hurt.


My parents had brought me a change of clothes. I also had some of my personal effects that somehow got to the hospital. Like my wallet and keys. Usually my keys had just my apartment key and my parents’ house keys. But now my key ring included my car keys, a plastic barcode for the gym and a chrome trans flag key ornament. That must’ve been Nicole’s doing. I hope my parents didn’t notice the flag key ring. They still haven’t said anything about the nail polish.


All that was missing was my phone. Earlier, Lexi had informed me that my cell phone was smashed to pieces. My dad was also working on getting me a new one. I didn’t really have any desire to call or text anyone right now anyway.


My parents escorted me out of the hospital and to their car. It was Monday night, and it was already dark out.


“Where to?” Dad asked.


“Do you want to come home with us for the rest of the week?” Mom added. “Thanksgiving is this week, so there’s only really 2 more days of school before the holiday.”


As much as I wanted to just go home and be catered to by my parents, I also just wanted to be alone. I felt I needed to process what happened to me over the past 3 months.


“Just back to my apartment,” I said. “I should really try to go to class. I’ll see you Wednesday night regardless.”


My parents agreed to that and drove me to my apartment.


I got out of the car and stood at my apartment door. My parents sat in the car waiting for me to go in. The last time I was here, my world got turned upside down.


I unlocked the door and walked inside the apartment. I flicked on the light switch. To my surprise my apartment was clean. It was decorated with balloons and a banner that read “Welcome home”


The balloons and welcome message put a slight smile on my face. I expected to find this place a disaster covered in blood. Whoever cleaned it made sure to erase all evidence that Saturday happened.


I turned around and waved at my parents from the open door to tell them I’m OK.


I heard Dad say “We love you. See you Wednesday” from his car window as they drove away.


I closed the door and stood there in silence for a few moments.


There was a knock at the door. Did I forget something in my parents’ car?


I peered through the eye hole to see who it was. It was my neighbor Dave. I opened the door for him.


“Hey, Dude.” he said, inviting himself in.  Dave has never understood that all I ever wanted was to be left alone.


“Hey” I said. I wonder how much he and Nicole interacted when she was living here.


“I hope you don’t mind that me and your friend Alexis cleaned up in here.” he said.


“You cleaned up?” I said in surprise. “With Lexi?”


“Yeah man.” he said. “I feel so awful for not being here. I should’ve been here. I would’ve kicked the living shit out of that asshole for you.”


“Umm. Thanks, Dave.”


“How are you doing?” he asked.


“I’m fine.” I said. “I just wanna be alone.”


“OK.” he said, walking back towards the door. “I get it. But don't hesitate to knock, buddy.” He left.


Not 10 seconds later, there was another knock at the door. 


“Dammit, Dave,” I mumbled.


I opened the door this time to find Nicole. She pushed her way through. “I brought your books, your notes and all of your assignments.”


“Nicole, you didn’t have to do that.” I said.


“Umm... yes I did.” she said. “Remember. We’re each other again. Same deal as September. We need to figure out who is going where. We don’t have the luxury of blending in anymore since the professors know our faces now. And our internships!”


“Oh.” I said. “I suppose you’re right. I just haven’t thought too much about any of it.”


“You’re going to class tomorrow right?”


“I was planning on it. Depends on how I’m feeling.”


“And where are you going? Where am I going?”


I shrugged. I knew she was right, but I wasn’t really thinking clearly. My mind is on a single track just resting and being alone.


“Besides.” she said. “I don’t think you should be alone.”


I sighed. “That’s all I want, Nicole.” I pleaded. “To be alone. It’s Monday. Shouldn't you be drinking wine with your friends?”


Our friends, Vic.” she said. “I decided I wanted to be here with you. You’re lucky I didn't bring Lexi and Mads with me.”


“Listen, Nicole.” I said. “I get that you’re feeling guilty about what happened. Apology accepted. I just… I just can’t.”


She grabbed my hands. “Vic, I’m worried about you. You’ve been through a lot. We don't have to talk. I’ll sit here in silence and study and do homework.” She smiled at me. I could feel my resistance to having her around fade. “Besides, I kinda got used to being productive in this apartment. It feels like home.”


“Really?” I said. “This apartment is too noisy. Dave blasts his music at all hours...”


“He doesn’t do that anymore.” she said. “I asked him to be a little more courteous a few months ago.”


“You did?” I said. “How did you do that?”


“I talked to him.” she said. “You never talked to your neighbors?”


“I mean… I talked football with him a few times.”


“Did you know he’s studying to be a lawyer?” she asked. “And his family is from Mexico?”


“I... did not know that.” I said. “Wait... that guy… the guy who’s a football player is studying to be a lawyer?”


“He’s only a backup guard.” she said. “Third string I think. He knows he won't go pro.”


Backup guard? Third string? Did she just use football terminology? Who is this girl and where is Nicole? I waved it off. I didn’t want to have a long discussion about my neighbor. “Anyway…”


“I brought you some things,” she said, putting her bag on the counter. First thing she pulled out was the toy skull. “To remind you of better days.”


I took the skull and chuckled. “That was a good day wasn’t it.”


“It was.” she replied. “If you ever want to go dancing. Just me and you, we can make that happen.”


I nodded. That sounded enjoyable.  I may have accidentally smiled.


She then pulled out a picture frame of me and Tyler. “I don’t know if you wanted mementos of your time as Vicky.”


“I could hold onto it.” I said taking the frame. I’m not really into holding onto mementos of ex’s, but this felt different.  It wasn’t just about Tyler.  It was about me too. I looked at the picture and saw me and Tyler looking very happy. This picture was only a month old.


“Here’s the last thing.” she said. “It wasn’t my place to return it since it wasn’t given to me.” She handed me the engagement ring box.


I took a deep breath and took the box and opened it. The diamond of the ring sparkled in the dim light of my apartment. I stared at it and sighed. It was only 3 days ago that this was on my finger.


“When you’re ready we can talk about classes,” she said. “Take your time, though.”


* * *


Nicole


Deciding which classes was harder than I had thought. There were some classes - especially the smaller ones where we couldn’t hide. For those classes we had to just swap and take good notes. We filled each other in on what the classes were currently doing and studying. There were a few classes where we could just go and hide. Those classes we kept. 


We sat in the living room and studied in silence. I noticed Victor picking at his nails. Or rather he was nervously scraping off the nail polish I painted on before my date with Madison.


“Do you want nail polish remover?” I asked.


“I don’t feel like going out to the store,” he replied.


“Silly, I bought some a few weeks ago.” I got up, went to the bathroom cabinet and retrieved the nail polish remover and cotton balls and placed it on the chair next to Victor.


“Thank you,” he meekly said and he opened the cotton balls.


There was a knock at the door. I saw Victor get visibly frustrated.


“I got it.” I said.


I went to the door. This time I checked the peep hole. It was Madison. I opened the door and stepped outside. “Mads, what’s up?”


“I swung by your place but you weren't there,” she said. “And you weren’t answering your phone.”


“Sorry, I put it on silent so we could study.” I said. “Is something wrong?”


“No.” she said. “I was just checking on you.  Making sure you're alright.”


“Victor shouldn’t be alone.” I said.


“Victor or you?”


I was silent for a moment and stared off into the parking lot.  “Maybe both of us.”


She reached up and turned my head so we were looking at each other again. “You can be with me if you don’t want to be alone.”


“I thought you were done with me.” I replied, looking down at my feet. The embarrassment of our last conversation at the tailgate still stung.


“I’m not. I was just angry.”


I sighed. “Mads. I was the angry one. I meant it when I said I thought I was ready. The truth is I am over Tyler. I have been for a while, but I’m just messed up. My fear of turning into my father is real. I have issues stemming from… everything. My anxiety. The body swap. Losing my life. Getting it back - but in the worst way possible. I might have anger management issues. The good news is I can actually think more clearly now than I could last week. I’m wondering if my dysphoria was causing me to be in a constant fog.”


“And what are your thoughts telling you tonight?”


I looked at Madison. She’s so cute standing there with her hair slightly messed up. I wanted her back, but my rational brain was telling me to take it slow. “My thoughts are telling me to follow you back to your apartment and make love to you.”


She laughed at my blunt honesty.


“But Victor needs me. And my actions over the past week really sucked. I get why you would hesitate to welcome me back. I embarrassed myself in front of all of my friends and a crowd of strangers. You deserve better than that.”


She nodded. “Yeah I do.”


“Mads” I said. “I love you. If you’re patient with me, I promise I’ll make it all up to you.”


She smiled. “I’m usually an impatient person. But for you. I’ll wait.”


I smiled.


“Good night,” she said.


As she turned around to leave I said. “Wait.”


She looked at me with those loving eyes.


I held her hand and pulled her in for a kiss. Our eyes closed and our lips met. She wrapped her arms around me and embraced me as we shared an intimate good-night kiss.


* * *


After another hour of studying, Victor got up. “I think I’m going to call it a night. Are you spending the night?”


“Yeah.” I replied. “I can just sleep on the couch. I know where the extra blankets are.”


Victor nodded and walked to his bedroom.


I let about 20 minutes pass before I decided to sleep too. I walked down the hall to wash my face when I heard sobbing coming from Victor’s open door.


I peered into his room. The memories of this room were fresh in my mind. I remember being held down against my will on this very floor only two days ago.


He saw me and turned around to face the other way. “I’m sorry I’m crying. I couldn’t hold it back any longer,” he said.


“You don’t need to hold back tears, Vic,” I said. “Especially not in front of me.”


“I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what I’m doing. I feel like you’re only being nice to me because of what happened. Everyone is just being nice to me because of it. This isn’t real.”


I confronted my own trauma and stepped foot into the room. I laid down on the bed next to him and put my arm around him. “We’re both broken Victor. It will take time for both of us.”


“But you got your life back. Everything is great for you.” he said.


“It came at a price,” I replied. “I alienated all of my friends. I nearly got raped. I almost killed a man. I almost lost you.”


“Why would you care if you lost me? I’m just some nobody that stole your body for 3 months.”


“I was angry and jealous when I said that. You’re not that same loner from the summer. You’ve grown. You were selfless and forgiving. You did so much for me, and all I did was forbid you from falling in love.”


“But was that me or the genie’s magic?”


“Hanna said you are a good and selfless person. That’s who you are. Sure you were a hermit for the past 3 years. But over the past 3 months you made lifelong friends because you opened yourself up to us.”


“I don’t wanna be alone again.” he said. “But I can’t help but think everything will revert back the way it was before I met you guys. I don't want to go through that hurt again.”


“Don’t push us away.” I replied.


Victor was quiet, but I could feel him take a deep breath.  His breathing told me that he was going to try, even if he didn’t verbalize it.


I held onto him tightly. “We’re going to get through this.” I whispered. “We’re going to be fine.”



* * *


Victor


I woke up in the middle of the night with Nicole still holding onto me. We were both clothed and under the covers. I could tell it was cold in the apartment, but I didn’t quite want to get out of the warmth of my bed, and Nicole’s embrace.


I could tell she was fast asleep from her slow breathing. 


I tried to fall back asleep, but my mind was just too active to properly shut off.


I got out of bed and put the covers back over Nicole. I put on some clothes and walked out into the living room.


I turned on my video game system. All of the controllers and headphones were rolled up in the corner. They hadn’t been touched in months and had a light layer of dust on them.  I unraveled the cords and sat back on the couch and started playing a game.


Like it did in the past, playing the game was helping me forget about the real world. I could see myself falling back into the same pattern that I did for 2 years. I could bury myself in class and in the video games and not have to worry about the pain of the real world.


I could… but I know Nicole is trying to prevent me from withdrawing from the real world again.  Did I really make real friends? Do they really care about me?


The game popped up a message. “PurpleMage has sent you a private message.”


I stared at the message for a moment. Seeing their name on the screen sent complex feelings through me.  My heart fluttered.  I know I still loved them.  I also felt guilty for how we left it this afternoon.  Besides, how did Tyler know my real username? I read the private message.


“Couldn’t sleep?” I saw the message on the screen.


“No.” I replied into the microphone. “You?”


“Same” they said. “Wanna play a round or two?”


“Sure,” I said.


“Same as usual?”


“Yeah”


Tyler started the game, and I fell back into the strategies and moves that Tyler and Vicky would always do in our private games together. 


I watched the female form of PurpleMage on the screen. I remember wanting to get to know the real person behind that avatar so badly. I did. I dated them. They proposed to me. It just didn’t turn out like I hoped it would.


“Tyler,” I said. “You can turn your mic on. You don't need to hide your voice. We know each other now.”


I heard Tyler's microphone click on. “There we go,” they said verbally.


“How’d you get my username?” I asked. “You didn’t wish for it did you?”


“Not unless your sister is a genie.” they replied with a chuckle.


“How do you know my sister?”


“We met in the hospital yesterday afternoon. She has this crazy idea that she's my future sister in law. Even after all that’s happened.”


“Did you set her straight?”


“I tried. But she had this way of getting the last word.”


“Yeah, that’s my sister all right.” I chuckled. “So you asked for my username?”


“Kinda.” they said.  “After we parted, I ran into her in the waiting room again.  I told her what happened.  She told me to stay friends, then texted me your username.  And if you can’t be my girlfriend - or boyfriend - I at least want to keep you as a friend.”


I shook my head.  “Why does everyone want to keep being my friend?”


“Because you’re a good person.” they said.  “Don’t get me wrong - Nicole is a very attractive girl. But when you were Nicole - you were the sweetest kindest person I’ve met at college. I didn't just decide to propose to you out of the blue. You made me feel like I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you.”


I was silent as I wiped a tear away from my good eye. “Stop Ty, you’re going to make me cry.”


“Sorry” they said. A few minutes of game play went by. “You know Victor, I’m actually kinda jealous of you.”


“How so?”


“You got to experience 3 months as a cis woman.” they said. “I would’ve died for that opportunity.”


“Maybe next time you can swap with Nicole” I said with a laugh.


Tyler laughed.


“Wait, no don’t wish for that!” I said. “She’d kill both of us.”


“You’re right,” Tyler said.


“Well, it was certainly an experience.” I said, reminiscing. “I never expected to have to learn all of that. I certainly leaned on Nicole and Lexi a lot. But as of last week I had my favorite outfits. I knew how I liked to style my hair and makeup.”


“I’ve been crossdressing as Taylor longer than you were Vicky, and let me tell you, you were excellent.”


“Thank you Ty” I giggled. I realized I giggled and was silent.


“You sound so much like her sometimes. Like Vicky.”


“Nicole seems to think that Vicky was always a part of me. But I’m not trans.”


“You don't have to be trans.” they said. “It’s OK to have a feminine side. Men shouldn’t have to feel like they have to be hyper masculine all of the time.  You might also be non-binary or genderfluid like I am.”


“I don’t know. I’m having a problem figuring out who I am. I don’t know what parts of me are real and what parts were the genie’s magic.”


“I can ask him if that’ll help.”


“Can I meet him?”


“I’ll have to ask. They want to remain hidden because of what TK did to them.”


“I get it.”


“But I'll ask. They owe me a favor or two.”


“No wishes!”


“No wishes.”


* * *


Nicole



I stood in line Tuesday morning waiting for coffee like I would do during my normal routine with Kayla. She was nowhere to be seen. I looked around. Eventually I ordered 2 coffees and left.


I imagine she wanted nothing to do with me. But I had to set the record straight with her.


She was in the classroom early and I sat next to her and handed her the coffee I bought for her.


She looked at me and did a double take. She clearly didn’t expect the original Nicole this morning.


“We’re back in our own bodies” I said.


“Oh.” she said. “Who did I send a get well card to?”


“Victor.” I replied. “The owner of that body. I don’t think you’ve ever actually met him.”


She looked at the coffee I was offering her. “Are you trying to buy my forgiveness?”


“No.” I replied. “This is what friends do after a fight.”


“We’re not friends.” she said.


“I may have not been truthful about my identity the last 3 months, but I certainly considered you a friend.”


“Forget the past 3 months. How about all of last year?”


“I was a bitch.” I said. “I admit it. I was self-centered. I only cared about myself. I kept my best friends at a distance. I kept my ex-boyfriend from being themself. I treated my ex-roommate like garbage.”


“Why?”


“I was jealous.”


“Jealous? Of what? I wasn’t trying to move in on Tyler.”


“Kay” I said. How do I word this? “I uh… I didn’t stop you that one night you stayed over last month.”


“What does that have to do with…” she started. “Wait. Are you saying you were attracted to me?”


I smiled. “Yeah, I mean… God you’re so pretty.” I said. 


She looked stunned.  “You know that being mean to people you have crushes on is not how you show them you have a crush.”


“I know I know.  I was trying to keep you at a distance. I was lashing out. I resented being bi. I resented the way my parents treated me for being bi. I resented that my boyfriend was feminine. It was wrong of me.”


She took the coffee from me and sipped it.  She nervously tapped her finger on the paper cup. “This doesn’t mean I forgive you. I just haven’t had coffee today.”


“You helped me through a difficult time, Kay.”


“Only because I didn’t know you were you.”


“Fair. But I got to see a different side of you. I realized I was the one being a bitch. Hell, you even accepted me when I told you I was a trans woman.”


She chuckled. “Now you’re a cis woman again.”


“And I want to make sure I don't forget the people who helped me out the past 3 months. You’re one of them.”


She nodded. “Well I guess this coffee is a start.”


I smiled and she smiled back at me.


“Fuck.” she said.  “I had sex with my former roommate.”


I chuckled. I wanted to compliment her, but then realized I cried during sex with her.  I saw a smile on her face.  I think we’re going to be OK.


My phone buzzed in my purse. I took it out. Unknown Number?


“Excuse me” I said to Kayla, and walked out of the classroom.


“Hello?” I answered.


“Nicole Rosch?” the voice answered.


“Yes?” I said. “If this is about car warranty, I don’t have…”


“We want to have a private meeting with you and Victor Machado.”


That took me by surprise. “Oh? About what?”


“About Brandon Flynn and Tau Kappa.” the mystery person said.


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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

OMG I love it I love it I love it. From Super Dave the 3rd string ass kicking cleaning bot, to Nicole and Victor spending time together, to Victor and Tyler spending time together, to Nicole and Madison making up (and out), to Nicole and Kayla, um having coffee; I think this is my favorite chapter. Then you drop that big ole cherry on top - the bad guys are back and Nicole and Victor are sitting out on that cliff together, soon to be joined by their friends if my guess is correct. Now it's time for some very carefully thought out (first time for everything) and worded wishes, with a healthy dose of karma sprinkled on top, and maybe everyone can have the ending they deserve. Thank you for such a positive and uplifting chapter! You really hit it out of the park with this one, Madam Destiny.
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Elron

That was Chapter 1 of my review. I just had to say something as soon as I was done reading your latest chapter. Thank you again😂
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Emily

You write the best reviews as always I look forward to the next 5 chapters!
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marter

Seems like they can start healing now. Until that phone call...
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