They stayed silent for a few moments, processing it all. A cloud of dust was now floating about near the ceiling.
“Are you kids alright?” asked Mr. Robert.
“I… I think Sam got hurt…” N said, looking at his friend collapsed in the corner.
Everyone but him rushed to Sam’s aid. He felt an ominous presence still that concerned him even more. He looked up and saw the dust slowly fall down towards the pile of cloth, from which a faint green light was emanating. He approached it, curious, but mostly afraid trouble was brewing back up.
“Sam! SAM!” screamed Jules, shaking his friend’s vigorless body. He sighed in relief as he heard a grunt and a cough in response - it was so unbelievably better than nothing.
Sam pushed on his now frailer looking arms, trying to get himself into a sitting position. His hair kept falling and obscuring his vision. Had it suddenly grown? He feebly turned around and met the looks of his friends.
“Oh my gosh Sam…” Exclaimed Lucie, covering her mouth with her hands. “You look so…”
“Androgynous?” Said Jules, finishing her sentence.
“I was gonna say ‘cute’, but that’s a better word to describe it, yeah.” She answered.
“Wait, what!?” Sam exclaimed with, at Jules’s surprise, a gigantic smile on his face. He tried to catch a glimpse of himself, but couldn’t beyond his arms and torso, failing to gather the energy to look further. “Someone bring me a mirror!”
Mr. Robert sighed with restrained relief and turned away to take note of the state of the room, while Lucie quickly gave Sam her phone after opening the camera app.
“Marcus!” shouted the professor as green light engulfed the room. Lucie snapped her head around, almost feeling blinded by the sudden light.
N was tugging at an ornate collar stuck on his neck. The emerald scarab medallion in its center was glowing and absorbing the cloud of dust whole. He tried to get it off as much as he could, but to no avail. As the last of the dust was swallowed, he felt a shove that made him take a step backwards, and the gem stopped glowing. Most of the collar fell off, leaving him with only a small gold band around his neck with the emerald gently laying on his collarbone.
“Oh my gosh are you okay-” Said Lucie as she hurried to his side to look at the collar.
“Yes- yes. I think I am. I can’t get it off, but I’m okay.” He glanced up. “More importantly how’s Sam?”
“I think… They’re happy.” Said Lucie tentatively. He raised an eyebrow, puzzled, and the both of them went back towards Jules and Sam.
The professor disinterested himself from N once he knew he was safe, and turned to the remains of the portal.
“Sam? Are you okay?” N asked. His friend had lost about a foot in height, putting them closer to the rest of the group. Their hair had greatly lengthened, falling down onto their shoulders, and their facial features had lost masculine attributes, putting them at a middle ground that looked like neither gender. And while their muscles had seemingly evaporated, and their body lost its impressiveness and towering aura, Sam had a smile on their face from checking themself on the tiny screen of Lucie’s phone that he had never seen from them before.
“I feel so tired, but it sooo doesn’t matter. My… My wish has come true.” Sam answered, tears of joy swelling in their eyes. Jules was patting them on the back in support.
“So… You’ve been non-binary this entire time, eh?” Said Lucie with a gentle smile. Jules and N exchanged a look that made it clear they had no idea what that meant.
“Ah ah, yeah… I should’ve come out so long ago... But with my naturally muscular body, it just... Didn’t feel right.” Sam answered with a hint of regret. N noticed how different their voice was now, way less booming, with a hint of daintiness.
Lucie jumped on them and they shared a hug of mutual understanding. Their smile came back immediately.
“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to pry, but… What’s non-binary, and why is he that?” asked Jules.
“Oh, that brings me a good question!” Exclaimed Lucie, completely deflecting Jules’s quizzing. “Should we use they-them pronouns when we talk to you?” She asked, grabbing her chocolate bar from earlier on the floor and handing it to Sam.
“Yes please!” They answered while taking the sweet, in total adoration for this newfound ally.
“I am completely lost.” N stated.
“Eh… Don’t worry, I’ll go over this after all that has settled.” She explained, before turning her head away. “But, first... I think the teach’s angry.”
Mr Robert was on his knees, muttering swears over and over, picking up bits of machinery and observing the damage on each of them. He firmly planted his head in his palms in frustration, before pounding his fists on the ground. “Damn this all…” He growled, calming down, if not feeling better.
The group closed down on him, Sam walking thanks to Jules’s help (and munching on the chocolate bar Lucie gave them). N had many questions, but all of them amounted to one. “What happened?”
“I don’t know.” Answered the teacher. “That wasn’t my portal’s doing. Whatever that was, it came from the other side of the connection... it was probably that... being’s fault.” He gestured towards the pile of linen-like material that had been left behind. “One way or another, it broke the portal. It could take me months to build it back up, especially if some specific parts got smashed and need to be completely replaced, which I don’t know yet.” Lucie took a step closer, but stopped herself as he added “And before any of you try and touch me, no, this is not something that can be fixed with a smile and a hug. Keep them to yourselves, thanks.”
They stood silent for a while again, no one really knowing what to do. This whole thing had turned out so catastrophically, Sam aside.
“Eh…” Sighed Jules, half-smiling. “Can you imagine if that had happened while you were alone down there, professor? It was pretty good luck we were there...”
The teacher slid his finger in his messy hair. “Yeah… Pretty good coincidence wasn’t it.” He finally cracked a smile. “Thanks kids. The worst was avoided thanks to you all.”
“That’s what I was here for.” Joked Sam, shrugging as best they could.
After helping the professor clean up the room somewhat, the four friends finally took their leave. Jules ended up carrying Sam up the stairs as best he could.
Finally, they were out the door, and back into the more usual school corridor.
“So…” Started Jules.
“Yeah. Let’s find some bench to sit down on and I guess we’ll review what just happened or something.” Said Lucie, knowing what the question was about to be.
“There’s a few outside if you’re okay with stone.” N replied, checking his phone. It was past 7 - there was no doubt in his mind he’d missed the bus, and he really didn’t want to walk back home after already having done it in the other direction this morning. Not to mention what his parent’s reaction would be… A more severe repeat of yesterday. No thanks.
The last rays of the sun were tentatively holding on, but night was slowly gaining. They took a seat upon one of the slabs, except Sam, who asked to be laid down in the grass so they could look at the appearing stars.
N tried to tug at the collar again, but nothing happened. It still wouldn’t come off.
“I guess we should start with me...?” Tentatively said Sam. Jules nodded in agreement.
“Only if you’re ready to.” Replied Lucie.
“It’s fine. I guess I am as much as I’ll ever be now.”
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- Princess Alchemist Catgirl
Bio: I write the LGBTQ gender bending stories I wish I had when I was a teen, and all the internet had was cis gaze erotica. I write so that future trans kids have better stuff to look at to figure themselves out than what I had.