40: Heterotalk
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The stone pillar was almost excessively heavy as I adjusted it within its hole in the ground. It seemed to be seated properly, so I gave a nod to Izzy and we began to pack dirt in around the big ass hunk of stone.

“It’s kind of crazy that we can do this,” she commented as we hammered at the dirt to pack it in tight. “Making a proper respawn point, I mean.”

“Yeah,” I grunted as I whacked the soil with my shovel. “Even crazier because this isn’t actually a game and we really are priestesses to a goddess of sorts.”

“True,” she sighed, flopping back onto the grass as we finished the task.

I followed suit, laying down to stare at the crudely carved hunk of granite we’d just installed opposite Feslia’s statue in the clearing.

After a conversation with our goddess about how respawning worked for towns and cities, she mentioned that as a goddess she could empower us to create our own. It had a longer respawn time than the ones that were pre-built, but other than that it functioned the same. We even had the ability to allow or forbid certain players from using it at all, which was handy for keeping our town safe.

Turning my head to look at Izzy, I watched her with a proud smile. She looked happy, a massive departure from what she’d been like before her transformation. It was nice to be able to help someone else take the same path that I had, figuring out the same things and all that.

“So uh, Izzy,” I began, causing her to open her eyes and glance inquisitively over at me.

“Yeah?”

I gave her a gentle smile to let her know I wasn’t judging. “You and Liam, huh?”

In a heartbeat her face was a dark shade of pink. “What? What about him?”

“You like him,” I teased, although I tried to keep my tone as light as possible. “It’s really cute.”

“What? No! I-I don’t like him!” she exclaimed, wide eyed and blushing. “I don’t!”

I sat up and waved my hands placatingly. “Heyyy, it’s okay! You’re allowed to like him! I said it was cute!”

Opening her mouth to deny it again, she instead sagged and nodded. The trees overhead rustled gently in the breeze while she worked to find the words to express herself.

“I just don’t think he’d be interested in me,” she finally sighed sadly. “I used to be… you know. That’s probably a turn-off for most dudes.”

I shook my head. “Maybe, but not for Liam.”

It was true too, he hadn’t exactly been very subtle about his interest in the small dryad either. The normally cool, calm and collected Māori boy was a mess around her, tripping over both his words and his feet every time she smiled at him.

“Really?” she asked, the raw hope in her voice almost painful to my heart. “Because he’s just… he’s so nice! Is it weird that I like a guy? I almost feel like as a trans girl I have to be a lesbian but... he treats me like any other girl and he’s all tall and brooding without being too edgy and… yeah.”

“I can sort of relate,” I said with a little chuckle. “I used to be keen on Jeremy, did you know that? He was always being such a gentleman to me when I was still Sam, holding doors for me, making sure I was okay. I think he was just being a good friend or whatever but… he sort of treated me like a girl even back then. The gender euphoria I got from… well sort of filling the feminine role even before I changed, it was intoxicating.”

“But you’re with Karen now… how did that happen?” she asked with a frown and a tilt of the head.

“I don’t entirely know,” I said with a shrug. “Some days I feel like there’s something there, some days I feel like I was forced by magic to like girls, some days I think it was all just how he treated me. Of course, you being so into Liam kind of puts a pin in the idea that Feslia’s transformation makes you like girls or whatever.”

“I uh, yeah… it definitely didn’t change for me,” she laughed, going even more bright red in the face. “Boys were cute even before. Except back then I hated myself for it because being a gay dude is basically a crime punishable by death in high school.”

“God, I know what you mean,” I groaned, thinking back on the terror I had felt around that particular secret. “Gay guys get attacked by other guys and fetishised by girls, gay girls get fetishised by guys and shunned by other girls. Sucks ass. I got to feel both sides of it.”

“Oof, yeah…” she grimaced. “I guess being straight, or uh… close to it, it lets me be a bit more stealth about my queerness.”

“Lucky biatch!” I said, poking out my tongue. “By Feslia though, you do have good taste for a straight girl.”

“Rude,” she giggled, scrunching up her nose all cute-like. “I mean the straight girl steroetyping part, not the taste part. Liam is pretty great…”

I grinned. “I’m guessing that just like a stereotypical straight girl, you’re going to sit around and wait for him to make a move?”

Her cheeks went all red again and her lips stayed sealed. She did nod though, in addition to being all adorable and bashful.

“Thought so,” I said with a smile. Smiling with her, that is, not at her.

“He’s just… gosh!” she blurted, eyes glazing over. “I’m so inexperienced with this! I just look at him and I feel like, this pull and I can’t stop staring at him and oh my god when he takes off his shirt and I’m just staring at his skin and it’s all… and you can see like… agh!” Her words tumbled out all in a rush, like a clown car rolling down a hill.

“Whoa,” I giggled, leaning over to place a hand on her arm. “Breathe girl, breathe!”

She took my advice, burying her face in her hands while she did so. “I think he’s attractive but I can’t even find words to describe why I do. My eyes just like how he looks!”

“You’ll get there eventually,” I told her soothingly, although truthfully I had no idea how to navigate this situation. As much as I used to want Jeremy or whatever, I still couldn’t understand what was going on in her head.

We sat there in the clearing for a good five minutes while I listened to her ramble about her crush. It was cute, but also kind of tiring. I had no idea what she saw in guys so yeah… it was like listening to someone speak passionately about like, road maintenance. My heart just wasn’t in the conversation. Still, she was my friend, so I sat through it while she babbled and blushed and generally hyperventilated.

Karen saved me when she wandered into the clearing and told us that lunch was ready and that the others were working on digging a trench to lay down the first blocks of stone for the wall.

We were also getting started on figuring out who wanted to do what combat role out of the newcomers and setting them up with like, little tutoring sessions. I was in charge of the healers along with Yure, Alexia’s healer. It was kind of fun, teaching them about it all. Obviously everyone had experience with the role itself, healing had existed in mmos since the start, but there were quirks to doing the job in Pellan.

Oh, we also got started on sketching out some more houses and stuff. Extra buildings, as well as a possible keep! I was excited about that, but it was a long way off. We needed the wall more than anything else or we’d be in big trouble.

In the end though, it was time to log out and go back to normal, boring life. A normal boring life where I had secret magic and went to a high school where my popular nemesis was working to find out about said secret magic. So like, maybe not so boring after all.

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