Chapter 12

Cate Fox and the Case of the Fading Magic by Emily


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Content Warning: Depiction of attempted suicide.


First thing Sunday morning, I saw Ms. Hathaway. I explained to her that I wasn’t leaving. She didn’t ask why I changed my mind, nor did she seem surprised. Figuring the less said the better, I left her office before she could question me. I was pretty sure she would not have approved of my plan to interrogate the teachers.


After that, I decided to play my weekly game of “Call the Kincades.”


“How was your second week of school, honey?” Mrs. Kincade asked.


“It was fine,” I said, withholding any mention of going out clubbing and researching nursing homes. Speaking of nursing homes, how old are you and Dad again? 


“How are your grades?”


“They are fine, too.” They’d better be, for my second round of high school.


“Honey, you used to talk about this kind of stuff.”


That was before you shipped me off to boarding school. “School is just fine. The teachers are nice. The classwork is easy.” You should see this place during the full moon.


“Are you making friends?”


For two days I dated a boy who is apparently a girl during the full moon, but I was really digging the girl. “Sure.” 


“Your friends back here have asked when you’re coming home. I told them you’d be home for Christmas.”


With any luck the real Emma will be home for Christmas. “Hey, other than my friends, has anyone else come asking for me?”


“Like who?”


Oh, I dunno, like a heavy-set white man in a blue hoodie who insists he’s the real Emma. I had a sketch artist draw his face two weeks ago. Do you remember that? “Oh, no one in particular. Just wondering.”


“So the country club is electing a new board, and I was thinking of putting my name in.”


“That’s great, Mom.” I rolled my eyes so hard that Sophia cracked a smile and chuckled. “I hope you win.” 


* * *


I spent the rest of Sunday in my dorm room. Sophia decided to throw a breakup party for me. I insisted that wasn’t necessary, and I was already over my two-day fling, but she invited Sam, Lulu, and Julia over anyway. We ordered Chinese food. Honestly, the General Tso’s chicken and lo mein hit the spot, so I can’t complain. I was more impressed that Weatherford has a Chinese takeout joint.


Sam was rather nice to me for a change. “I’m sorry that happened to you, Cate. Weres don't follow the same rules as Shifters do. We’re not supposed to pretend to be someone else. I guess your friend Brett didn’t get that memo.”


I thanked her for her empathy and reminded her Brett is not my friend. I think I was more embarrassed than anything. Here I am, a detective, and I was tricked into falling for the beautiful woman who was really a guy. I let my guard down and I paid the price.


While my brain was ready to move on, my emotions, fueled by these teenage hormones, were lagging behind. After all, I was ready to leave campus anyway and leave her behind just a day ago. But during the moments I was alone with my thoughts, I could feel the heartbreak. I had only known her for two days, but I was falling for her. She had started to fill the void left by Cheryl. And just as quickly as it came, that feeling was ripped away.


I tried to take the attention off of me, so I asked about the case. “Any idea on this underground Magic Club?”


“I asked a few Magics this afternoon,” Sophia replied. “Most never heard of it. In fact, some got angry that such a thing even existed. If we find it, you better believe there will be protests on the quad.”


“I asked non-Magics” Sam added. “There are plenty of rumors. But if it does exist, they are keeping a low profile. Apparently you have to be invited to join.”


"Apparently, the first rule of Magic Club," I said with a smirk, "is you don't talk about Magic Club.” I chuckled and I got confused glares from Sophia and Sam. “Come on, that movie isn’t that old.”


“Magic Club?” Julia asked, looking at us as if we were talking some other language..


“We think Ashley got involved in something she shouldn’t have,” Lulu explained to Julia.


Julia thought about it. “I think someone tried to recruit me once.”


We all sat up at that revelation.


“Who?” I asked.


Julia closed her eyes. “I don’t remember.”


“When?” Sam asked.


“I don’t remember. Maybe it was my previous life.”


“But your previous life was not at PAA,” Sophia reminded her.


“I don’t know,” Julia said, frustrated. “But it kinda feels like it. An emotion. Not necessarily a memory.”


“Why would they invite you?” I asked. 


I got disapproving looks from Sophia and Sam.


“I mean, of all people, why the girl who had her past life erased by magic?”

“I think-” Julia said. “They were trying to entice me with getting my old life back. Or at least… revenge. I dunno. This feels like déjà vu- like I can’t remember when it happened. If ever.”


“Well, keep trying, Jules,” Lulu said with a smile. “Maybe thinking about it more will trigger new emotions or even memories.”


“Well I’m ready to watch this movie!” Sophia blurted out.


As Sophia and Sam were trying to figure out how to play the movie, Lulu and Julia took to cleaning up from dinner. 


There was a knock at the door. Since everyone else was busy, I went to check it. I looked through the peephole to make sure it wasn’t Brett. It wasn’t, but it was an androgynous… boy… I didn't recognize. I opened the door.


“Cate,” they greeted me.


“And you are…”


“It’s me, Brandon!” they said excitedly.


“Oh!” I replied. “Brandon. You look…”


“Like my old self,” they replied, grinning.


“Come on in,” I invited.


Brandon walked in and everyone had to take a double take. “It happened,” they said. “Just like everyone feared.” They held up their mood ring which was not attached to any particular finger. The stone’s color was gray.


I heard Sophia gasp. Lulu came over to inspect Brandon and their ring.


“Can I ask the obvious question?” I asked.


“Sure,” Brandon replied.


“Can you put it back on?”


Brandon put it on, looked at me for a second, then removed it. “It doesn’t work anymore. The magic faded.”


“Just like me,” Lulu sadly stated. “How do you feel?” 


“Honestly?” Brandon said. “I feel better than I normally do. The dysphoria is mild and manageable.”


“I’m glad someone is benefiting from this,” Sam sarcastically commented.


“Sam,” Lulu yelled. She looked at Brandon and hugged them. “Brandon, I’m glad you are able to finally find peace.”


“Thank you, Lulu,” Brandon said, hugging her back.


Then Sophia and Julia walked over and hugged them as well.


I looked at Sam and shrugged. Clearly Sam was still worried about Lulu, and not exactly trusting the one person benefiting from the fading magic.


My assumptions were confirmed when Sam came up to me and whispered, “I don’t necessarily trust them. This is way too convenient for them.”


I, on the other hand, was trying to keep an open mind about it. 


“Convenient would be Brandon having zero dysphoria, right?” I whispered back.


Sam shrugged.


We still had our plan to talk to Mr. Barnes tomorrow. I decided it was best to take advice from The Godfather and just keep the suspicious Brandon close. “Brandon, we’re going to be watching a movie. Do you want to stay?”


They looked at me, then Sophia with a happy expression. “Can I?”


“Absolutely,” Sophia replied.


“I brought snacks!” Julia gleefully chimed in.


I climbed onto my bed, and Sophia, Julie and Brandon gleefully followed me as we all faced the TV. Sam and Lulu snuggled up on the other bed. I was sandwiched by Sophia and Julia. I’m not gonna lie, it was kinda a turn on to have these cute girls leaning on me. Brittany who? Anyway, I had no input on what movie they were going to put on. Hopefully it was a cool action flick. Maybe a classic like Die Hard. Maybe Terminator 2 or, of course, now that I’m taking advice from Michael Corleone, The Godfather


But that didn’t happen, Sophia put on a chick flick instead. I made an obvious grimace, but either nobody heard or nobody cared. They were all excited. Especially Brandon, who it appeared not to have made many friends during their unending dysphoria. I tried my best not to watch it and instead played on my phone and wrote in my case book. 


Alyssa sent me some pictures from back home. Girls I didn’t recognize. In fact, I didn’t know which one was Alyssa. Then she talked about how the lacrosse team wasn’t doing so hot after I left. I asked her how good I was at lacrosse. She said I am… or rather Emma was… the star midfielder- whatever that meant- on the JV squad. Their middle school actually went to regionals last year. She asked if I was feeling OK since I wasn’t acting like myself. I replied that I was under a lot of stress from the transfer.


When I got bored of that conversation, I somehow got sucked into the movie. Some sappy love story that I teared up for. Fucking hormones.


Eventually our guests left, leaving just me and Sophia alone. It was quiet and the two of us did homework. But what I didn’t expect was that the quiet room hit me hard. I couldn’t focus and instead just kept thinking about everything except my homework. Emma. Brittany. Ashley. Brandon. When I couldn’t stand it anymore, I crawled into bed so I could let my exhaustion take me.


But I couldn't fall asleep. I tossed and turned. After an hour or so, I felt someone sit on my bed.


Sophia laid beside me and draped her arm over me. “I’m worried,” she said. “About you. About Lulu. About Brandi.”


I considered telling her I was fine. I also considered telling her the others would be fine. But her embrace was comforting. So instead of responding - I finally dozed off.


* * * 


Monday came. I ignored Sophia’s alarm. Somehow she ended up under my covers spooning me. It was warm under there, and when she got out, I was suddenly cold. This is actually what it felt like when Cheryl and I stopped sharing a bed. But this also reminded me of only two days ago waking up next to Brittany. It was Monday and therefore I would see Brett at class. If he thought I avoided him before, just wait until he sees me avoid him now.


Sophia tried getting me up, but I assured her I’d get up soon. When I did finally get up, Sophia was already out the door. As I got dressed, I looked at myself in the mirror in my uniform. I was getting better at this. My uniform was neatly pressed, I had on light makeup, and yes - I had a bra on. Maybe I should be grateful for the muscle memory because I don’t have to think too much about the feminization of Jack Baker.


Anyway. Back to the case.


As I walked to class, I noticed there was something different in the atmosphere at PAA today. Everyone looked glum and serious. It wasn’t until Algebra class that I realized what it was.


“Hey Cate,” a classmate named Anna called out.


“What’s up?”


“What do you think about what’s been going on at PAA?”


“Umm… what’s going on?”


“The fading magic. A lot of the Magics are freaking out.”


I closed my eyes and sighed. “Where did you hear that?”


“It’s been going around campus. First, that sophomore, Ashley Tart. Then another sophomore, Lulu Matthews. Then another Sophomore, Brandon Jones. The rumor is that it’s contagious.”


“There’s nothing to worry about,” I told her. “Whatever it is, it’s not contagious. I’ve spent time with both Lulu and Brandon.”


“The rumor is that it’s just sophomores.” she casually replied before sitting back at her desk.


Wait as sec. Just sophomores? That got the gears in my brain turning. She was right. That is a pattern. But why Sophomores? What did they have in common? If it affected only sophomores then… Sophia might be in danger.


At that moment I wanted to rush out of the classroom and check on my roommate, but the algebra teacher came in and shut the door behind him.


I watched the clock tick telling me I’ll have to wait until later this afternoon to see her. Hopefully, she didn’t hear the rumors. Or if she did, that she’s staying calm. 


* * *


Despite that, I still had a plan to put into place. At the beginning of femme class, I mentioned to Mrs. Barnes I was interested in trying out for lacrosse. She was excited and asked me to come by at 3 and wear my gym clothes. Part 1 of my plan was a go. Part 2 relied on me needing to find a way to get close to her to ask her about her husband.


In science class, I did my best to avoid Brett. I waited in another classroom until he went into class and to his seat. I quickly followed him and sat in mine.


Before class, it was more of the same. People talking about the fading magic. 


Of course the “other” topic in my “friend group“ was Brett. Naturally my friends already heard what happened over the weekend. 


“I heard what happened Saturday,” Amanda whispered. “Are you OK?”


I looked over at Brett then back to Amanda. “I don’t want to talk about it here.”


“You got it. Lunch time then.” 


Thankfully she heard that message loud and clear. I cringed at the thought of Mr. Sanders announcing my dating woes to the class. 


Speaking of-


“Good morning, class,” Mr. Sanders cheerfully said.


“Good morning,” everyone glumly echoed.


“All of this nonsense and rumors about magic will cease,” he stated. “It’s time to learn about science.”


The class groaned again. Of course, the illusion was broken for me. Where everyone else saw an 80-something old man, I saw a 21 year old girl trying to demand respect and attention from her class.


* * *


After class when we were at the dining hall, I explained to Amanda, Jessica and Sally what happened with Brittany. As I sat there at the lunch table explaining it, I could see Brett in the distance looking at me. He looked distraught, but I looked away. Serves him right.


Towards the end of our lunch, Brett came over to our table. “Cate, can we talk?”


Amanda answered before I could, “Get lost, asshole.”


Huh. I couldn’t have said it better myself. As Brett walked away I kinda chuckled. I thought that title was reserved just for me.


“Don’t worry Cate,” Jessica said. “You have friends. And we’ve got your back.”


“Nobody takes advantage of our girl,” Sally cheerfully added.


The three girls looked at me with smiles, and I couldn’t help but smile back at their friendship. But then I remembered again I wasn’t a girl. This was all pretend. Then I looked down at my food and tried to wipe that smile away.


Whatever. 


I’m still Jack.


Nobody can tell me otherwise. I don't care how many chick flicks they make me watch. Or how accepting they are and comforting these girls make me feel.


I have to keep reminding myself that I’m leaving these girls once we solve this case. I might need a palette cleanse after this. Maybe go to the movies and see one of those action blockbusters with Max.


* * * 


After my last class, I finally headed back to my dorm. I first wanted to check on Sophia. I also had to get changed into my gym clothes for the lacrosse tryout I arranged. 


I walked into my dorm and I was immediately surprised that the curtains were closed. Actually I didn't realize we had curtains. I heard sobbing coming from Sophia’s bed. “Sophia?”


“Cate,” she quietly said.


“I guess you heard the rumors."


“Yeah.”


“That’s all that they are. Just rumors.”


“It can’t be a coincidence, can it?”


I felt a strong obligation to make her feel better after what she did for me over the weekend. “Yes, it can,” I lied. I walked over to the window and pulled the curtain back and the sunlight once again illuminated the room. “This isn’t like you. We have things to do.” See, I thought knowing the pattern of fading magic would be an important key in solving this case, but on the other hand, this pattern is putting Sophia in harm's way. 


“I can’t go back to being him. I can’t.”


I sat next to my roommate and patted her back like she did for me. “You won't,” I assured her.


“You don't know that.”


“One of things I learned here is that you can be what you want. So what if you revert to a guy. You’re still Sophia to me. To your friends.”


“You don’t understand.” she continued to sob.


“Then make me understand.”


She looked at me, then pulled off the arm warmer on her right arm and held her forearm up.


I didn’t understand what she was doing until I looked at her arm. It was scarred all over. Why hadn’t I noticed this before? I looked up at her in shock. “No, you didn’t.”


“Seth tried. Multiple occasions. Seth’s parents thought I just wanted attention. I eventually showed it to… mother… Mrs. Vansi. She knew if I stayed as Seth any longer…” She let those words trail off. “She got fired for me. If I go back to Seth, it’ll all be in vain.”


“Stop it,” I said. I held her hands. “Sophia. You’re not him. You’re not. Even If your magic does fade. It doesn’t matter. Even if you’re Seth on the outside, you’ll always be Sophia on the inside.” 


Her expression didn't change. Shit. She wasn’t believing me.


“Fuck it. Even if that does happen, I’ll go bake you a magic cupcake myself. Even if I can’t. You have friends now. Julia, Lulu, Sam…”


She looked at me and wiped her tears away.


“... and me.”


Sopha leaned over and hugged me. Tightly. “Thank you Cate. That means so much to me.”


Shit. I hope my ass is able to cash that check my mouth just wrote. “We’re by your side. And we’re trying to get to the bottom of this.”


She let go and grabbed a tissue to dry her face.


“Speaking of which. I have to get going. I need to confront a cheating spouse. One that may have answers to what's causing this.”


“Of course,” she said. “Hey when this is all over, let's just have a girl’s night. Me and you.”


I looked at my distraught roommate and I said something I didn’t ever expect I’d say. “Why wait? Sure, it’s Monday, but we have a weekend coming up, right?”


She smiled the biggest smile. “Cate Fox, you’re the bestest roommate in the world.”


What - did I - just agree to?



* * *


Our gym clothes consisted of a PAA T-shirt, and soccer shorts that seemed way too short. Of course I had to walk across campus like this. I kept having to pick at my wedgie. Sophia decided to join me at my tryout and watch as moral support. We arrived at the sports complex. Instead of going to the bleachers like last time, I headed towards the part of the field where lacrosse practices.


I look up at the bleachers. Sitting there next to Sophia was Julia, Sam, and Lulu. 


Great. Now I have an audience. “Yay, Cate!” they cheered.


Mrs. Barnes was waiting for me at the center of the field. “Fox, thank you for coming here to try out.”


“It’s the least I could do, Mrs. Barnes,” I said with a fake smile.


“That's Coach Barnes on my field,” she said with a smile and a wink.


“Got it, Coach,” I replied. This reminded me of when Max had to correct me when I’d forget to call him Chief in front of the rest of the force.


“We’re going to test you on passing, catching, and shooting,” she explained. “Grab a stick from the bag.”


I jogged over to the mesh bag, pulled out a lacrosse stick, and returned to the coach. I needed to start my plan of getting close to her. First, I need to disarm her so we can talk casually. “Coach, remember last week with the nail polish?” I asked.


She looked at me weirdly. “I remember.”


“Well, I was wondering if we could talk about that some more. Since we share similar experiences. I’m still having problems adapting after being displaced.”


“Maybe after practice, Fox,” she suggested, dismissing my attempt to initiate casual conversation. 


I figured that would happen. This might have to be an after-tryout type of thing.


“First, I want you to do a running drill. Jog from the goal line to the 25 yard line and break into a full sprint. Sprint for 50 yards and decelerate back to a jog all the way to the other goal line.“


Really? OK. Sure. I jogged to the goal line and waited for her signal. 


She signaled to go, and I followed those instructions. Jog for 25 yards, sprint for 50, jog the rest of the way.


When I was done, I jogged back to Coach Barnes. I was only mildly winded. I expect this body is only a few weeks removed from doing these exact exercises on a daily basis. Of course, this made me realize that I had been a lazy bum and putting junk food into this body. I caressed my hand over my midsection, worried I might have gained weight. I don’t really know Emma, but since she’s an athlete she might not appreciate me ruining her physique.


“Robinson!” she yelled to Kayla who was on the sideline sneering at me.


Fuck. Not her again.


Kayla jogged over with her stick.


“I want you two to practice passing to each other,” Coach instructed. 


She tossed a ball to Kayla who scooped it up in one one fluid motion and hurled it back to me.


At my face.


Thankfully the muscle memory kicked in and I caught the ball with the stick and net before it made Emma’s cute face resemble Jack’s ugly mug.


I hurled it back five feet to the right of Kayla so she had to run after it. I chuckled.


She did the same thing to me.


As I jogged after the ball, Mrs. Barnes yelled at us. “When you two ladies are done screwing around, I’d like you to actually pretend you’re teammates.”


“Yes, Coach,” Kayla responded. She passed a ball at me with less force and vitriol.


I caught it and threw it back casually.


“Hey Fox,” she said, continuing the back and forth passing. “I heard you were the one who found that missing sophomore.”


“Yeah, that was me. I had help too.”


“Is it true?”


“Is what true?”


“That someone sucked her magic dry and she was a prune?”


I sighed. “I wouldn’t say that. Someone sucked up her… umm.. age magic. In addition to a TG, she was an age… something.”


“Age Regression. AR.”


“Yeah, she kept getting older and older.”


“That’s fucked up,” Kayla said.


“For once you and I agree.”


“Do you think the other rumor is true? Do you think it’s contagious?”


“No, I don’t. And don’t spread rumors.”


“I have friends who are sophomores-”


You have friends?” I said cutting her off.


“Screw you, bitch. I was trying to be nice.”


“You’re right,” I conceded. “Sorry. I’m still pissed about you taking my lunch and hazing me.”


“It’s all in good fun, Fox. Someone has to put you freshmen in your place or you’ll think you run this school.”


Whatever.


“Ladies, less talking,” Coach admonished. “Now let's do that with a moving target.” 


We both had to throw and catch while running. After that, Mrs. Barnes brought me over to the track.


The same track where the track team, including Brett, was watching. Great. More spectators.


“Let’s see how fast you sprint,” she said, grabbing a stopwatch. “We’re going to do 40 yards.”


Sweet. I did a pretty fast 40 when I was on my high school football team. I lined up and looked at the spectators. In that moment I was Jack Baker, high school quarterback again. I had a reputation to live up to.


Coach Barnes blew the whistle and I sprinted 40 yards.


As I caught my breath, Coach yelled, “5.8”


5.8? I was able to run a 4.7 when I was 17.


“Not bad,” a boy on the track team jeered, “For a girl.” 


I saw Brett push his shoulder, “Knock it off, dude.”


I ignored them and jogged back to the coach. 


“Fox, fall in with the rest of the team.”


I did so and practiced with them. I was given a green mesh jersey as we played a few short games. It took me about a half game to realize - shit. I was playing lacrosse! I wasn’t supposed to be playing or practicing. I was supposed to be trying out, then fleeing.


Kayla jogged over to me. “Hey Fox. Thank you. It’s nice to play against someone else for a change.”


I shrugged. “Well, I’m sure you have your regular season games. I’m sure other schools have better players than me.”


She chuckled. “This is the regular season. Other schools don’t play us.”


I looked at her, and the rest of the girls playing lacrosse. I counted four different colored mesh shirts. “Wait, you don’t play other schools? Why not?”


“Duh, Fox. They think we have an unfair advantage. Because we used to be boys.”


“But you’re obviously not boys.” 


“Yeah, Normies suck.”


“Then who do you play?”


“Ourselves. Sometimes we organize into dorms. Sometimes classes or age groups. Sometimes Weres vs Shifters. Sometimes during the full moon. That’s a fun game because we finally get out under the lights and the Weregirls come to play.”


“Ladies, stop chatting!” Coach Barnes yelled, and we fell into line to do drills.


That was interesting and all, but what I really wanted to know was what Mr. Barnes was doing with Ashley Tart, and what caused her, Lulu’s and Brandon’s magic to fade away. Of course, it is entirely plausible whatever is causing this has to do with the bigotry in Weatherford. Things I’ll need to ponder after… umm… lacrosse practice.


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Emily

Hi, I'm Emily and I'm writing Gender Transformation Fiction! This site is a place for me 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

Hah! For a girl reference
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Emily

I was hoping someone would catch that!
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marter

Seems weird he would heckle her considering the place they are in
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Emily

Someone asked this on my Discord last week. I said: "It was tongue in cheek. A boy said it. He's either a former girl or a Weregirl like Brett. So he was teasing... Maybe he was teasing Brett because he knew Brett has a thing for her"
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marter

That makes sense!
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