Nikki, part 22

“Smile!” The cameraman urges me. Naturally, I obey, curling my scarlet lips upward while maintaining my trademark model’s pout. “Show us the side stitching.” Again, I obey, lifting my arm above my head to show off the stitching on the side panel of the tight under bust corset I’m wearing.

“Beautiful, Nikki,” the cameraman says. “Okay, just one more to go, then you can finally go home!”

“Okay,” I say, my pout turning back into a sweet smile as I head back to the dressing room and exchange my bra and waist cincher for an elaborate over bust corset, which is tightened mercilessly by Kayleigh (my ‘assistant’ for the day). After attaching my stockings to the garters of the corset, I head back out onto the set and repeat the same poses and pouts I’ve been pulling all morning as my scantily-clad body is photographed for the website that will be selling the corsets.

Eventually, my work is completed, and I literally breathe a sigh of relief s my corset is loosened and I change back into the tight top and short skirt I wore to the studio. After unpinning my long brown hair from its updo and slipping my feet into the comfortable flats I wore to the studio, I grab the ‘goody bag’ of lingerie the studio supplied for me and head out onto the busy London street, smiling when I see the very familiar figure waiting for me.

“Hey, sexy supermodel!” Sarah giggles, wrapping her arms around my waist and giving me a long, loving kiss.

“Hey, sexy fashion designer!” I say, returning my fiancée’s kiss. “Hope you’re not TOO jealous about the fact that I just spent all morning getting photographed wearing sexy lingerie…”

“I don’t ‘do’ jealousy anymore,” Sarah says with a smug grin. “Though you ARE modelling everything in that bag for me when we get home. Every. Last. Bit.”

“Hmm… That can be arranged,” I laugh as we get into Sarah’s car and head home.

As we slowly crawl through the packed London streets, I allowed myself a contented smile- today was my third modelling job in a month, and whilst I still work nearly full-time as PA for the Angels, it IS good to get in front of the camera from time to time, even if I am only wearing underwear. Concentrating on nothing other than looking sexy and feminine is a great way to clear the mind of distractions, such as my other work, Sarah’s increased workload at university, or planning a wedding… Or, most significantly, the fact that I was born male and still have a male anatomy… But won’t do for long.

Today is Tuesday the 12th of April, and exactly ten weeks from now, I will go under general anaesthetic and have my genitals cuts to bits before being reshaped to simulate a woman’s genitals… And the thought is terrifying the life out of not just me, but everyone I know, too.

It’s not like I don’t want to have it done, of course. I’ve been transitioning for almost three years and dreamed of being a woman for a lot longer than that. Every other part of my body is woman-shaped- I have perky C-cup breasts, my waist is narrow, my hips and backside wide, my skin is soft and smooth, my muscles lack any definition… Unless you were to strip my completely naked, you’d never mistake me for anything other than 100% female. And that’s just it- it’s not like I NEED to have SRS. Today’s just further proof of that- I spent all day wearing nothing but lingerie, and there was no hint that I had anything other than a vagina between my legs. And it’s not like I’m the only person who’d be affected by SRS, either- Sarah and I have settled into a sex life that more than satisfies both of us, something that would completely change if I, well, ‘changed’.

As we arrive back at my home, I’m reminded of the other people who’d be affected by my upcoming ‘change’.

“Hello, girls!” Dad laughs, handing Jenny to me to cuddle whilst he makes Sarah and I some much-needed cups of tea.

“Hi Chris!” Sarah replies. “Is Sandra at work today?”

“Yep,” dad replies. “I get to play ‘Mr. Mom’ for the day, heh. Not that I mind, of course!”

“Dada!” Jenny squeaks in her tiny, adorable voice.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t have helped to babysit more,” Sarah says, taking Jenny from my arms and giving her a soft, gentle kiss on her forehead. “Uni work, you know…”

“No, no, you get that degree!” Dad replies. “God knows you’re paying enough for it, thank you David Cameron…”

“Dad, leave the politics in the cab, please,” I say, making my father chuckle. “I’m also sorry I couldn’t have babysat more, Jenny’s just getting cuter and cuter every day…”

“No, you go and earn some money!” Dad laughs, hanging Sarah and I our drinks whilst ‘reclaiming’ Jenny. “Is that your haul from today?” I follow dad’s gaze to the big shopping bag containing the garments I wore today, and nod. “Any chance you could show us some of them now?”

“Umm,” I say, freezing from dad’s unexpected question.

“The, um,” Sarah stutters. “What Nikki was modelling today…”

“It was, kinda, um, lingerie…” I mumble, grimacing as dad’s face falls.

“Oh,” dad says darkly. “Well, you are nineteen, you are an adult, I suppose…”

“Jamie and Charlotte both did underwear shoots when they were nineteen,” I blurt. “So did Krystie, our ballet teacher. She actually did topless-“

“I don’t need to know any more!” dad says, sighing as Jenny starts to cry. “Gah- what you do is your own business, Nikki. Both professionally and- well- I need to take Jenny upstairs, see if I can calm her down…” I sigh as dad disappears up the stairs with my sister, before moaning and resting my head on Sarah’s shoulder.

“Ugh,” I spit. “Three years, three years since I came out. You’d have thought that’d be enough time to get used to it.”

“He HAS got used to it,” Sarah says. “He went on national television to defend you, for god’s sake!”

“Yeah,” I sigh. “But that was when all I was doing was wearing a skirt and taking a couple of pills every day. Now we’re talking about cutting things off…” I moan again and Sarah gives me a long, gentle hug, but even the touch of the woman I adore isn’t enough to relieve all the stress I’m feeling at my decision.

Naturally, by the time dad returns downstairs with a now-calm infant in his arms, the bag of lingerie I received today has been put away in my bedroom, and the topic of my impending operation has been taken firmly off the table, where it remains for the rest of the day as Sarah concentrates on her reading for her course and I catch up with my social media pages. I still feel stressed as Sarah and I head to bed just after 10pm, though once my bedroom door is shut, a wicked grin creeps across Sarah’s face as she encircles my waist from behind.

“Now,” Sarah coos, “didn’t you promise me a sexy, satiny, lacy corset?” I giggle as Sarah strips off her dress, turning her back to me as I pin my hair high on my head before pulling on one of the corsets I’d worn today, tightening the laces as far as they’ll go, before attaching a pair of shiny dark stockings to the corset's garters and sliding a thong up my legs, giggling as the thin rear strap nestles between my buttocks.

"Ask and you shall receive," I whisper, smiling wickedly as Sarah turns around and her eyes fill with a look of pure lust.

Less than fifteen minutes later, with our bodies glistening with sweat, we lay our heads down on our pillows and sigh contentedly, our ‘needs’ satisfied for now… Though before my alarm clock goes off the following morning, I’m woken by the feeling of Sarah pressing her smooth, naked body into mine and kissing me deeply, actions I’m only too happy to reciprocate.

“I obviously need to wear a corset more often if that’s the effect it has on you,” I say twenty minutes later, making Sarah giggle as she heads into the shower.

“Well you’ve got plenty now,” Sarah laughs. “Maybe we should try one each night for the rest of the week, see if they have the same effect!”

“Or you could wear one and see what effect it has on me!” I retort.

“I’ve always wanted to try making lingerie, especially corsets,” Sarah says. “Had a couple of ideas for designs last night that I can’t wait to sketch out. Feel like modelling them for me?”

“Like you need to ask,” I chuckle. “Though is that all I am to you, a clothes horse?”

“Oh, you have other good ‘parts’ too,” Sarah laughs as she returns to the bedroom, giving me a kiss before grimacing as she realises what she said. “Oh, um… You know what I mean by ‘parts’, right? Emotional, um, ‘parts’…”

“As long you’ll like my ‘parts’ in a few months’ time,” I whisper.

“It’s never mattered to me what you have between your legs, and it never will!” Sarah pleads, holding up her left hand for me to see. “Read the ring finger, Nikki!”

“I know,” I say, fiddling with my own beautiful engagement ring. “It’s just… You know, we’re going into unknown territory, right? We’ve only ever had sex with each other…”

“And as the oestrogen flooded your body, we adapted,” Sarah says.

“This is going to be a hell of a thing to ‘adapt’ to, though,” I say.

“I look forward to it,” Sarah says, wrapping her arms around my neck and giving me another kiss. “I really, honestly do. What you do to me in bed… You- sorry, WE are going to have so, so much fun!”

“We are,” I say with a confident smile.

“Now get showered,” Sarah says, giving my left buttock a playful pinch that makes me squeal. “Don’t want to be all sweaty for ballet, do you?” I giggle as I playfully pinch Sarah’s backside before showering, and once I’m dry I tie my hair back into a high ponytail before pulling on the soft pink tights and tight black leotard that have become part of my Wednesday morning routine. As I’m wearing a long-sleeved leotard today, I cover up with a cute grey pinafore dress and high-heeled ankle booties before following Sarah (who has covered her dancewear with a very plain black denim miniskirt and a hoodie with her university’s logo on it) down to her car, giving my mum and my sister a kiss each before leaving.

“Has your mum said anything about your operation yet?” Sarah asks as we drive away. “Every time you talk- well, okay, moan- about it, it’s always your dad who you seem to be moaning about.”

“I don’t ‘moan’,” I sigh, earning a withering stare from Sarah. “Okay, maybe I do. Mum’s not said anything, not a thing. She knows that this is what I want, so she’s all for it. Even picked out comfortable dresses for me to wear while I recover, got new towels for when I have to dilate…”

“Sounds like there’s a ‘but’ coming,” Sarah says.

“It’s like when I first came out,” I sigh. “Her first reaction was to immerse me in girlishness and watch me either drown or come up for air.”

“…Or swim and take everything in your stride, which is what you did,” Sarah retorts.

“You mean like how we took being inundated with bridal catalogues in our stride, after we told her about our engagement?” I ask. “That 366 day countdown we insisted on certainly lasted long, didn’t it?”

“So your mum’s a bit full-on,” Sarah shrugs. “She’s supportive, that’s the important thing. So’s your dad. Just- just give him time, okay?”

“He’s already had three years,” I moan, making Sarah sigh yet again.

We pull up outside the swanky dance studio a short while later, and I smile as we head inside to be greeted with hugs from all of our friends.

“Hey girlies!” Lauren and Katie squeak as they hug myself and Sarah.

“Last lesson before the end of the holidays,” Katie says with a smug grin. “Though next holiday, our class MAY get two more students…”

“Jacinta and Ophelia?” I ask. “Finally!”

“Yeah, they had their first beginner’s lesson last night,” Lauren says as she adjusts her leotard. “Damn thing… Why do dancewear manufacturers assume that ballerinas don’t have boobs?”

“Ugh, tell me about it,” I sigh, adjusting the sleeve of my own leotard. “Try growing 4 cup sizes in eighteen months!”

“I did,” Lauren says, prompting a girlish group giggle. “Not that I’d trade my curves in for anything, of course!”

“I dunno,” Katie says. “I kinda hoped that by the time I was nineteen I wouldn’t still have so many freckles… Though I guess that can be sorted by make-up rather than going under the knife… What?” Katie trails off as she sees myself and Sarah deliberately avoiding her gaze.

“I think ‘going under the knife’ is a sensitive topic for Nikki right now,” Lauren whispers, making Katie’s eyes go wide.

“Oh my god, Nikki, I am SO sorry,” Katie says. “I- I just completely forgot-“

“It’s fine,” I say, calming Katie down with a hug. “Sometimes I forget too, heh! As long as I get lots of presents while I recover, of course?”

“I promise,” Katie chuckles. “God, I can’t believe we’ve known each other for 2 and a half years…”

“Yep!” I giggle. “Think I’ve told you this before, but you’re the first friend I made as Nikki who never knew ‘Nick’ beforehand.”

“Ah, what a privilege,” Katie giggles. “And yet I have to settle for ‘bridesmaid’ and not ‘maid of honour’…”

“You’ll still be gorgeous in your dress,” I giggle as we head into our lesson and take our place at the barre. “Just as you were in your tutu on your birthday in January!”

“Yeah…” Katie says. “But you were HOT in the tutu on your birthday last month! And, of course, you’ll be the bride, so you’ll be the most gorgeous and girly of them all… Well, joint most gorgeous and girly, anyway!” I giggle as the lesson begins and we run through our usual stretches and steps. After pulling on my pointe shoes, I find myself yet again staring at my reflection in the mirror, gazing at the young woman balancing daintily on the tips of her toes, her slender body encased in a soft black leotard and her long brown hair tied into a severe bun. This continues even after the lesson ends as I continue stretching, lowering my body into a full split and stretching my body into shapes that would probably have left me crippled if I’d attempted them three years ago.

“Enjoy being able to do that while you can!” Jamie giggles, lowering herself into a full split alongside me. “Took MONTHS after my operation before I was able to do this again, and even now it’s not exactly comfortable, hehe!”

“Then why are you doing it?” I ask, making my mentor giggle even more.

“Because it’s girly,” Jamie shrugs. “And cute, and elegant… All good things, I’m sure you’ll agree.”

“Of course,” I whisper as my thoughts turn to one of my friends who should be in our class today. “Have- have you heard from Stephanie yet?”

“Not a word,” Jamie replies with a dark voice. “I- I’m still wrapping my head around what happened, what she did… She’ll be found when she wants to be found, I guess.”

“I guess,” I sigh. “It’s made me think, though- are we all really just pretending to be girls? You know, people like me and you…”

“If you are, then we ALL are,” Krystie says, effortlessly dropping into a split alongside myself and Jamie. “Even girls like us who are lucky enough to have everything ‘in place’ from birth!”

“Yeah, but really…” I mumble.

“No buts!” Krystie says. “Never mind Stephanie, what she does in her life is her problem. You’ve committed to being the most gorgeous, girly girl possible, haven’t you?”

“I guess…” I say, before cringing under a withering stare from both women. “Umm, I mean, umm, yes! Yes I have. Go girls!”

“Go girls!” Jamie and Krystie both cheer between their giggles.

“And once you get, well, ‘cut’, you’ll be able to experience ALL the amazing things we girls experience!” Jamie says. “Well… Almost all, anyway.”

“All the GOOD things,” Krystie laughs. “Though I don’t know why you’re rushing, Nikki. I mean, you’re only nineteen, you’ve got your whole life ahead of you…”

“Really, Miss ‘I can’t wait for my boyfriend to propose to me so I’ll propose to him’?” Jamie says, making Krystie roll her eyes. “Though substitute ‘girlfriend’ for ‘boyfriend’ and that would also describe young Miss Thomas here…”

“YOUNG Miss Thomas,” Krystie giggles. “Though not too young that she can’t strip to her undies and flash her cleavage at a camera…”

“Ohh yes,” Jamie laughs as I blush. “The big lingerie shoot… When do we see the results from that again?”

“Soon,” I groan, standing up and stretching my tired legs.

“Didn’t need surgery for THAT, did you?” Krystie asks.

“Oh, leave the poor girl alone,” Jamie sighs as I head to the changing room to pull my dress back on.

Both women make a valid point- Jamie herself didn’t get her SRS until she was 22 and only started transitioning when she was 19… But at the same time, like Jamie herself said, I HAVE made the commitment to be a woman for the rest of my life. However, no matter how many surgeries I have, the fact will always remain that’ll never truly be 100% female- like Krystie said, there are some things that birth women experience that transwomen simply can’t, and I’ll go through the rest of my life knowing that my vagina was created through surgery, rather than what I was born with. I’ll always be a ‘fake’ woman- and while my friends and family will undoubtedly give me all the support in the world, the fact is- they already do. Yet another thing that surgery won’t change…

“You’re quiet,” Sarah says as she drives me home. “Saw you chatting with Jamie and Krystie before we left…”

“Yeah,” I say. “No prizes for guessing the topic…”

“It’s either your photoshoot yesterday, Stephanie’s disappearance or your upcoming SRS,” Sarah says.

“Correct, correct and… Correct,” I say, making my fiancée giggle. “Stop being so damned smart…”

“Never,” Sarah says smugly. “So… Is there something you can tell your best friends that you can’t tell your soul mate?”

“Never,” I say, sticking my tongue out at Sarah and making her laugh. “It’s just- ugh. This whole Stephanie thing… Just kinda drives home the fact that I’m always going to be an ‘artificial woman’, that I’ll never be-“

“Stop right there,” Sarah says forcefully. “There is nothing ‘artificial’ about your femininity.”

“But there would be if I got SRS, even you can’t deny-“ I say, only to be cut off once again.

“Oh yes I can,” Sarah says. “Trust me Nikki, you are NOT Stephanie. You’re not pretending to be a woman, you ARE a woman. I’m willing to bet that when Stephanie was fifteen, she never broke down in tears every time she took off her skirt or her dress or saw her fingernails without any polish on them.”

“Okay, you’re right,” I sigh as I stare at my dark fuchsia fingernails.

“And just because your vagina is man-made rather than natural, doesn’t make it any less a vagina,” Sarah says. “Otherwise, I’d be called something else, wouldn’t it?”

“But it’s not like I NEED to get SRS,” I say.

“No one NEEDS anything,” Sarah says. “I don’t NEED to go to university. I don’t NEED to be a dancer, or even a fashion designer. Okay, I DO need you, but the point is, you’re entitled to strive to have what you want.”

“Jamie’s always telling me to want what I have, rather than have what I want,” I retort.

“Bit rich from someone who’s already had SRS,” Sarah says. “Not that I don’t like Jamie, of course, but… She’s not you. There’s nothing wrong with wanting something so badly that you’ll do anything to try to get it. And I’ll help you every step of the way.”

“Thank you,” I whisper, linking fingers with my fiancée as we arrive back at her posh home.

“Besides,” Sarah says as she heads up to her room, returning with 3 long, beautiful dresses draped over her arm. “You’ve helped me every step of the way, haven’t you?”

“Wearing your clothes all day every day isn’t really a burden, though,” I giggle.

“Nor is having exclusive access to your vagina,” Sarah whispers, giving me a long, deep kiss. “Now get changed!” I giggle as I take one of Sarah’s dresses from her and quickly change into it, posing for Sarah’s camera just as I had for the professional photographers yesterday.

After a quick lunch out with Katie, Lauren, Jacinta and Ophelia (to celebrate the last week of their Easter holiday), Sarah and I return home, where she spends the rest of the evening sketching designs for corsets and other clothes. Before we head to bed, Sarah insists that I look through some of her sketches, and I’m only too happy to do, imagining how her beautiful clothes would feel on my body, even the serious-looking corsets. As I reach the end of Sarah’s sketchbook, though, one drawing makes me nearly drop it on the floor.

Unlike every other drawing in the book, this figure isn’t wearing any clothes- not a single stitch. She is stark naked, fully anatomically correct… And an almost perfect likeness of me, except for what’s between her legs- or rather, what ISN’T.

“Let me guess,” Sarah giggles as she removes her make-up, “you’ve found my ‘special design’?”

“Umm… Yes,” I say, staring at the naked woman. “Do you- do you sketch me naked a lot?”

“Only when I’m bored and lonely,” Sarah giggles. “And horny, of course.”

“Are you any of those things right now?” I ask, smiling as Sarah gives me a long, deep kiss and drags me over to her bed…

Fifteen minutes later, with my body yet again covered in a fine sheen of sweat, I take several deep breaths to calm my racing heart as Sarah snuggles up next to me.

“Whatever it is you’ve been eating, get me some!” I laugh as I give Sarah another long, deep kiss.

“I’m simply drunk on ‘Nikkibrew’,” Sarah giggles. “That drawing’s going to see through a lot of cold winter nights when I have to travel for my course next year…”

“Well…” I tease. “I AM nineteen, there’s nothing stopping you from simply taking a photograph of me naked… Except, of course, it wouldn’t look like the woman in your sketch.”

“Part of the drawing is kinda that it’s, you know, ‘fantasy Nikki’,” Sarah says.

“You really, really want me to get SRS, don’t you?” I ask.

“I want you to be as happy as you can possible be,” Sarah replies. “And I reckon that if you don’t get SRS, you’ll always pine for it. So yes, for your own good, I want you to get SRS, I want you to see it through.”

“And if I decide to cancel the operation?” I ask.

“Then I’ll love you all the same,” Sarah says, giving me a soft kiss. “But you’ll spend the rest of your life wondering what your life would be like if you HAD had the operation.” I close my eyes and nod- Sarah is, of course, correct, but there’s no guarantee that she’ll still feel this way after the operation…

I put my stresses out of my mind as I wake up the following morning, heading into Sarah’s en-suite to shower before pulling on the skirt, tights, blouse and heels that have made up my work attire for many months now. After giving Sarah- who, being a student, is still in bed as I leave- a goodbye kiss, I head back to my house to pick up my car, before driving to Charlotte’s house to pick up my ‘boss’ for the day- who surprises me by ushering her fiancé onto the back seat of my car.

“Hi Nikki,” Stuart- Jamie’s fiancé- says as he fastens his seatbelt.

“Umm, hi…” I say. “Am I a taxi now, Jamie?”

“No, you’re a PA,” Jamie retorts with a smug grin. “That stands for ‘personal assistant’, which means you assist us personally, and my fiancé needs a personal lift to the studio today.”

“’You know who’ going ‘you don’t know where’ has kinda dumped a load of extra work on me,” Stuart sighs.

“Ah, okay,” I say.

“And the radio station’s only down the road from the office anyway,” Jamie says.

“I don’t mind,” I shrug. “Can I claim double petrol expenses?”

“Just drive!” Jamie giggles, giving me a playful shove as I start my engine.

After dropping Stuart off, I drive my mentor to the radio station where she’ll be interviewed today. Even though it’s radio, Jamie still spends time before the interview working on her make-up in case the station asks for any publicity photographs.

“For the record,” I say as I touch up my make-up alongside Jamie, “I did ask if they had anywhere else that could double as a dressing room…”

“Eh, I’ve been to studios with worse,” Jamie replies. “I’ve also been in much, MUCH worse ladies’ rooms, hehe!”

“Even the worst ladies’ room I’ve been in was better than the best men’s room,” I say, putting away my make-up brushes and adjusting my bra. “Is- is it really different, you know, peeing-“

“That’s a question for your doctor, not me!” Jamie laughs. “But- yes, it kinda is, but you get used to it very quickly.”

“It’s almost two years to the day for you, isn’t it?” I ask.

“Two years last week,” Jamie replies. “And to answer your next question, no, no regrets. And yes, ‘it’ feels complete natural. It did just a few weeks after the surgery, actually. Are you really still having second thoughts?”

“It’s- it’s a big step,” I say. “The biggest of them all, and like I was telling Sarah last night, it’s not like I NEED it, I’m really happy the way I am right now. I’ve got a great job, great friends, a loving family, I’m mildly famous… And I have Sarah.”

“For someone who’s only nineteen, you DO have a lot going for you,” Jamie concedes. “Then again, I know someone who could’ve said the same thing before their SRS.”

“…You?” I ask, frowning with confusion as Jamie smiles and shakes her head. “Then who?” My frown deepens as Jamie heads to the studio for her interview, and doesn’t leave my face even as we get back in my car after the interview’s successful completion. It’s only as we head to a small, posh café near Jamie’s fiancé’s workplace that the penny finally drops- the person Jamie was referring to is actually Stuart- or, as he was known when he was born 26 years ago, Claire.

“Hey,” Stuart says to Jamie, giving her a long kiss as we sit down at a quiet, out-of-the-way table. “Hi Nikki, Jamie’s been telling me that you’re feeling a little bit nervous about SRS, is that right?”

“More than a little,” I laugh. “It’s not just the pain or the recovery time either that’s making me nervous- though obviously that’s not something I’m looking forward to either.”

“It IS a small price to pay,” Jamie says.

“It was a much bigger price for me, though,” Stuart says. “With a much smaller guarantee that it would be successful in the long run. But I had it done anyway, because I knew that if I didn’t, I’d spend my whole life wondering what my life would’ve been like if I had.”

“Sarah said the same thing last night,” I muse.

“Maybe that’s telling you something,” Jamie says.

“I guess,” I sigh. “Can- can we change the topic, please?”

“Of course,” Jamie laughs. “So… Adeola’s party on Sunday, decided what you’re singing yet?”

“I’m guessing ‘Help’ by the Beatles is already taken?” I say, making Jamie and Stuart laugh. We stay in the café for the next hour, deliberately avoid the topic of SRS, and after dropping Stuart and Jamie back at his studio, I head home, where I’m greeted by an unexpected surprise as I walk through the door.

“Hello, Nikki!” Grandma Irene- my father’s mother- says as I sit down in my usual spot on the sofa. “Good day at work?”

“Well, good morning, anyway!” Grandpa Steven- my father’s father- chuckles as he bounces my baby sister on his knee.

“Umm, yeah,” I say. “No major dramas, anyway… Where’s dad?”

“He got offered overtime,” Grandpa Steven says. “Asked us if we wouldn’t mind babysitting- obviously you and you mum were at work- we said of course, so here we are!”

“Reminds us of when we used to babysit you when you were a baby,” Grandma chuckles. “And during the school holidays.”

“I remember those days,” I sigh happily.

“You used to watch all those DVDs over and over again,” Grandpa laughs. “What was it again? Ben 10?”

“Heh, I haven’t watched that in ages,” I laugh.

“Of course, if we knew then what we know now, we’d have shown you a something like a Barbie cartoon instead,” Grandpa says, darkening the mood in the room and leading to an awkward, tense silence.

“Would you like a drink, Nikki?” Grandma asks, breaking the tension.

“I, um, just had lunch…” I mumble. “I can- I can get a drink for you if you’d like?”

“I’m 69, not an invalid!” Grandma laughs. “I’ll get you a cup of tea.” My body tenses further as my grandmother leaves me alone in the living room with my grandfather- the same man who, almost two years ago, was sat on a stage getting booed by a television audience. In the intervening time, our relationship has healed, but we’re still nowhere near as close as we used to be when I’d sit cross-legged on his living room floor, watching cartoons all day…

“I. um, I put my, um, birthday present, the voucher, to good use,” I mumble.

“Good,” Grandpa says, leading to another awkward silence.

“Umm… Sarah and I are going dress shopping tomorrow,” I say. “Umm, for wedding dresses…”

“I’d guessed,” my grandfather mumbles quietly. I try to think of another topic of conversation, anything to break the awkward silence that’s fallen over the room, but the only topic on my mind right now is my upcoming operation… And that’s the absolute last thing grandpa will want to hear about right now.

“Here you go,” grandma says, handing me a much-needed cup of tea before taking Jenny for a cuddle. “My, aren’t you growing so fast! You’re going to be such a beautiful young woman, just like- just like your sister…” My eyes briefly meet those of my grandmother, and it’s clear that even for her, my ‘change’ is still a sensitive topic.

“Thanks,” I whisper. “I, um, I’ve actually been doing some modelling work in the last month…”

“Ooh, that’s nice,” grandma says, before another awkward silence falls over the room. “Are- are you going anywhere nice on holiday this year? I remember you telling us about your trip to Spain last year.”

“Umm, not this year,” I say. “I’m going to be laid up all summer, because of…” Oh crap, I think to myself. Looks like we’re talking about this after all…

“Oh,” grandma says. A quick glance at grandpa reveals that his face is one of pure fury, momentarily causing me to cower, before a wave of defiance washes over me. How DARE he be angry about my choices? It’s my life, not his- and much like my father- his son- he’s had three years to get used to the idea, to get used to having a granddaughter.

“Though I’m actually going in for surgery in June,” I say coldly. “So I should be all healed by the end of August, we could always have a week away somewhere before Sarah goes back to university…”

“Ugh,” grandpa grunts.

“Steven,” grandma whispers, trying in vain to calm my grandfather.

“I don’t need to sit here and listen to stories of doctors slicing off my grandson’s balls!” Grandpa spits, fuelling my anger even further.

“GrandDAUGHTER,” I say firmly. “I’ve got a piece of paper upstairs from the government that confirms that my gender is female, and it always will be.”

“Oh, I don’t know, Nick- Nikki,” grandma says. “You’re forever hearing stories about people who have sex changes only to regret it later…” And stories of friends who you thought had changed their gender only to have been secretly living as a man the whole time, I think to myself.

“Not me,” I say. “I am a woman, and that’s how I’m going to stay.”

“Well, obviously you’ll have our love and support no matter what you choose,” grandma says. “Isn’t that right, Steven?” I grimace as grandpa grumbles in agreement, before sitting back and trying to relax. Grandma isn’t wrong when she says that, on rare occasions, people who have changed their gender ultimately revert back to their original gender, but becoming a woman has been a dream of mine for so long, and I’ve enjoyed my life as Nikki so much that going back to being ‘Nick’ simply isn’t an option… Is it?

After mum arrives home, and grandma and grandpa leave- which leaves me breathing a sigh of relief- I head upstairs to finally peel off my work clothes and remove my make-up. Once my face is bare, I stare at myself in the mirror, and I gasp as for a brief, tiny moment, I see ‘Nick’ staring back at me instead of ‘Nikki’.

Before pulling on my casual clothes, I slick my hair back into a tight, strict ponytail, tying it away from my face to simulate short hair as closely as possible. I strip off my underwear before taking one of my least elaborate nightdresses and turning it inside out, effectively making it into a long t-shirt. I pull on the baggiest of my few pairs of trousers, tucking my ‘t-shirt’ into the trousers before fastening it around my hips with a battered leather belt. After removing my nail polish, I stare at myself in my full-length mirror, and sigh. If you were to present me to a stranger in my current state of dress and say ‘this person is a boy’, the stranger would undoubtedly believe you. Despite my soft skin, my narrow waist and even my boobs, I do look masculine- I have a male skeleton, a male facial structure (especially my jaw), larger than average hands for a woman… And yet, I don’t FEEL male, even dressed like this.

A stranger may look at the reflection in the mirror and think ‘this is a boy’, but all I can see is a girl pretending to be a boy. My facial structure may be male, but my facial expressions are entirely female. My hands may be male, but the way they’re resting on my hips certainly isn’t, nor is the stance my supposedly-male skeleton is in. And most importantly of all, my brain, my mind, my soul… Is most definitely 100% completely female, and not just because of the oestrogen-saturated blood flowing through it.

Looking at a supposedly male reflection in the mirror doesn’t question my resolve, it strengthens it- ‘Nick’ is gone, and won’t be coming back. And yet, as I pull my underwear back on, followed by a comfortable denim miniskirt and cute purple top, I’m still in two minds as to whether or not to take the ‘final step’…

Sarah arrives home just after 4pm, having spent the day studying with Lauren and Ophelia, and after a lazy evening in front of the television, Sarah and I head to bed just after 10:30pm. Before we climb into bed, however, a moment of panic grips my body when Sarah discovers the jeans I’d worn earlier and discarded on the floor, with my old, battered belt still fed through the loops.

“Umm… Nikki?” Sarah asks, holding the jeans up. “These are kinda… Unstylish for you, aren’t they?”

“…They are if you’re talking about ‘Nikki’,” I sigh. “When I got home, my grandparents were here.”

“The, um, good ones, or the, you know, bad ones?” Sarah asks.

“The ‘bad ones’,” I mumble, making Sarah sigh and give me a tight hug. “Dad asked them to babysit Jenny, I got home… There was kinda, um, an argument…”

“Over your SRS?” Sarah asks, sighing as I nod.

“Dunno what I was expecting,” I moan. “It’s not like they were going to roll out a red carpet for me as I leave the hospital, but it just drove home how much my decision would affect other people, you know?”

“People you barely see and do NOT have a say in your everyday life!” Sarah says.

“They may not,” I sigh, “but my dad does, and I KNOW he’s uneasy about it…” Sarah lets out a long, soft sigh and tightens her embrace, gradually leading me toward my bed.

“Get some sleep,” Sarah whispers, giving me a long, loving kiss. “Whatever you decide, I’ll always support you and love you, you know that.”

“I know,” I whisper. But even you have a preference about what I should do, I self-pityingly think to myself as I drop off to sleep.

“Do you, Sarah Jennifer Phillips,” the minister says in a loud, booming voice, “take this MAN, Nicholas Christopher Thomas-“

“No- no, wait,” I say as my pristine white wedding dress suddenly becomes extra-tight around my growing chest and arm muscles.

“Take this MAN,” the minister repeats as an unsightly bulge appears in the front of my dress, growing ever larger despite my efforts to hide it, until every single person in the church is staring at my enormous erection...

“Ahh!” I squeal, bolting upright in bed and startling Sarah awake.

“Mmph… Nikki?” Sarah asks. “Are you okay?”

“Ugh… I don’t know,” I moan. “No, probably… Must’ve been a bad one to wake you up.”

“I was half-awake anyway, it’s almost seven,” Sarah mumbles, giving me a tight, very welcome hug.

“I was at our wedding again,” I sigh. “But I wasn’t me, I was- well, I was me, but I was Nick…”

“Ugh,” Sarah spits. “From here on in, you are officially banned from wearing any male clothing, EVER. I’m tossing those jeans out first thing when I get up. No, wait- actually, they’d make a pretty cute maxi skirt..."

“Are you going to take all my most masculine clothing and turn it into girls’ clothes?” I ask, making Sarah giggle.

“Are you telling me you have clothing that can be described as ‘masculine’?” Sarah retorts, giving me a playful kiss.

"Touché," I giggle as I get up and head into the shower, returning a short while later and pulling on a clean bra and thong, followed by a pair of translucent black tights, a knee-length denim skirt and a cute lilac hoodie. I only apply a light layer of make-up- yesterday's 'Nick moment' convinced me that I really don't need as much as I normally wear- so I'm surprised when Sarah, fresh from her turn in the shower, sits down in front of my dresser and methodically applies layer after layer of her own make-up.

I watch, mesmerised, as Sarah applies her concealer, followed by tan-coloured powder, two different mascaras, thick eyeliner, three different shades of eye shadow, two shades of blush and four different lipsticks. She even exchanges her normal discreet nose stud for a flashy gold one, and spends almost ten minutes painting and repainting her fingernails a dark red colour.

"Okay..." I mumble, suddenly feeling very naked and very masculine in my own minimal make-up.

"Well," Sarah explains, "if you're going to experiment with being a boy again, I'm just going to have to experiment with being ultra-girly, aren't I?" I giggle as Sarah dresses for the day in a skimpy lace bra and thong, before feeding a matching suspender belt through the waistband of the thong and rolling a pair of dark fishnet stockings up each leg. Next comes her dress- a tiny, low-cut dress that shows off a LOT of cleavage and exposes the tops of her stockings with every step she takes, and last, but not least, are her shoes- a pair of platform stilettos with a painful-looking 6 inch heel.

"Umm..." I mutter. "Are you really going out like that?"

"Depends," Sarah says as she unties her hair and brushes it out to its fullest volume.

"On what?" I ask.

"On whether my fiancée REALLY wants to be a girl again," Sarah says smugly, making me narrow my eyes as I sit down in front of my dresser and enhance my make-up to the same level as Sarah's, spending even longer than she did touching up my nail polish.

"Better?" I ask, tossing back my long, brown tresses and giving Sarah a full view of my over the top makeover.

"PERFECT," Sarah says. "Though I really, really want that lipstick you're wearing."

"Then come and get it," I tease.

"I thought you'd never ask," Sarah laughs, giving me a long, deep kiss on my scarlet lips, a kiss that we don't break for several minutes.

"NOW are you going to change?" I ask as I sit back down and remove some (but far from all) of my make-up.

"I don't really want to go to the bridal boutique mum recommended dressed as a prostitute," Sarah laughs, toning down her own make-up and tying her hair back into her trademark ponytail before exchanging her stockings for a sheer dark pair, her dress for a casual pencil skirt and her university hoodie, and her shoes for a pair of comfortable flats.

"Keeping the lingerie on, then?" I ask, making Sarah giggle and kiss me again.

"Come on," Sarah laughs, "don't want to keep Katie and Lauren waiting!" I smile as I follow Sarah down to my car, stopping to give Jenny a kiss goodbye as we go- though I pause before kissing dad goodbye, and settle for an awkward hug instead.

We spend virtually all day at the LGBT-friendly bridal boutique Beverly had recommended, trying on dresses and picking out ideas for bridesmaid's dresses (that Katie and Lauren were all too happy to model for us). After a quick dinner, the four of us head back to Katie & Lauren's student flat, where we're soon joined by Jacinta and Ophelia to prepare for our traditional Friday girls night out.

"I still don't get why Lauren can't just design your dresses," Katie says as she applies her clubbing make-up- which looks very similar to the make-up Sarah and I were wearing earlier today. "I mean, obviously Sarah can't, bad luck to see the bride in her dress, you know..."

"Aren't you busy enough with your uni assignments?" Lauren laughs. "It's not just two bridal gowns I'd have to do, it's, like, a dozen bridesmaids dresses, and Sarah's sister will probably grow, like, a foot by the time I'd got them done..."

"Get Ophelia to help, then," Katie says, making everyone- except the teal-haired Ophelia- giggle.

"If you ever get married, I promise I'll do your dresses," Lauren says.

"Your wedding just sounds cuter and cuter every time I hear about it," Jacinta giggles. "Wish I could find myself a nice man to sweep me off my feet..."

"We're setting you up with enough, don't blame us if they don't meet your standards!" Katie giggles. "Besides, the wedding planning's going to be put on hold in a couple of months' time anyway..." I grimace as my upcoming operation once again becomes the topic of discussion.

"Can we just focus on partying tonight, please?" I ask. "You know, celebrating your last night of freedom before getting back to work?"

"You make it sound almost like a hen night," Katie laughs. "Besides, I know someone who's really, REALLY jealous of you..."

"Oh- shut up!" Jacinta moans. "I'm not REALLY jealous... Okay, maybe a little. But not 'REALLY'."

"Oh- oh god," I giggle as something clicks in my mind. "This is going to sound so bad... I'm sorry, Jacinta, I actually forgot for a second that you were trans!"

"Aww!" Jacinta coos, her mouth transforming into a wide, genuine grin. "That is so sweet! Don't worry, Nikki, I forget about you all the time as well!"

"Char-ming!" Katie says, making Jacinta blush and flap her hands in a panic.

"Oh god," Jacinta chuckles. "I- I mean, um, I ALWAYS forget that you're trans! You're, like, so, SO girly, and I'm, like, this lumbering giant of a woman..."

"You're at most an inch taller than me," I laugh. "And- and this is going to sound weird, but- you always seem, you know, girlier than me."

"Oh my god!" Lauren squeaks. "We should SO have a girl-off between you two! You know, see who's the most feminine?"

"Oh please," Jacinta sighs. "I've been on hormones less than 2 years, Nikki's been on them almost 3 years AND was younger when she started them. No. Contest."

"No way," I laugh. "You're, like, immersed in girlishness! Your hair is longer, your boobs are bigger..."

"My bra is padded," Jacinta laughs, cupping her D-cup breasts. "Your hair is thicker, your waist is narrower..."

"Okay," Sarah says, interrupting the argument. "I hereby declare this girl-off to be a draw! A SIX-WAY draw!"

"Yeah!" Lauren cheers. "Girls! Girls! Girls!" I giggle as everyone- including the quiet, reserved Ophelia- joins in the chant. As we head down to our taxi, ready to hit the town, I feel renewed- as Jacinta said, I'm a lot further along on my 'journey' than she is, and she's been accepted as a girl without question by everyone- myself included.

However, as secure as I feel in my femininity, I can't shake the feeling that she's more desperate then I am to have a vagina...

Sarah and I eventually arrive home just after 2am, having consumed a lot of alcohol and danced until our feet are almost numb. I moan when Sarah's alarm wakes us both at 9am, but Sarah quickly shuts it off before cuddling her body close to mine and drifting back to sleep.

"Girls!" Beverly yells, waking myself and Sarah again as she bangs hard on Sarah's bedroom door. "It's 10:30! Time you were getting up!"

"Yes, mum," Sarah moans as she unwraps herself from my arms and pads into her shower. Once Sarah's had a chance to dry her hair I take her place in the shower, smiling as I emerge to see her applying a very light layer of make-up.

"Use it all up yesterday?" I ask, making Sarah giggle as I kiss her neck.

"It was worth it," Sarah says smugly. "Helped you remember who you REALLY are, didn't it?"

"I don't need make-up for that," I say. "I only need you."

"Aww," Sarah coos. "So you won't mind if I steal your lipstick, then?" I smile wickedly as I snatch the tube from Sarah's hands and apply layer after layer of it to my mouth. Immediately after putting the top back on the lipstick, Sarah leaps up and gives me a long, deep kiss, just like the one we'd shared yesterday morning.

"I love you so much," I whisper after our lips finally part.

"I love you too," Sarah whispers. "Oh, your phone went off while you were in the shower, think it's a new Facebook message."

"Bit odd, considering that I'll be seeing everyone at the party tonight," I muse, checking my phone to discover that the message isn't from any of my 'Angel' friends, but rather from a young woman I haven't spoken to in a while.

"Who's it from?" Sarah asks.

"Um, Laura," I reply. "You know, that teenaged T-girl I told you about, that me, Jamie and, um, Steph went to help out last year?"

"What does she want?" Sarah asks with confusion in her voice.

"Umm, think she's having problems with one of her friends again, wants to talk about it," I say. "I've got nothing planned for tomorrow so I've asked if she wants to talk then."

"Nothing planned except a massive hangover," Sarah teases. "AND it's the last day of the holidays, before I go back to uni..."

"Ah... Shit, sorry," I grimace. "I'll message her back, see if we can't chat over Facebook-"

"No, it's okay," Sarah giggles. "Your massive heart is part of why I love you so much, hehe!"

"And yours is why I love you so much," I giggle, giving Sarah a kiss before dressing for the day in a short grey skirt and a comfortable pink hoodie- and, of course, a liberal layer of make-up. Even though I'm technically working today, it's only to help set up for tonight's party, so I can afford to dress casually- at least, until the party gets started!

Sarah gives me a lift to Charlotte's house (which is, as ever, the venue for tonight's party) and I spend the whole afternoon making sure everything is in place for the party. As the party is for Adeola, who's a singer, the theme is going to be 'The Voice'. A makeshift stage has been erected in the room, and five swivel chairs have been placed so that their backs are to the stage (even though only four chairs will be used tonight), and everyone who isn't a member of Adeola's band is going to sing and be 'judged' by the band, and as such, I'm very pleased that Charlotte's bar has been fully stocked with alcohol!

Once everything is set up, I head up to Jamie's bedroom, which she's generously let me use to change into my party dress, but before I head up there I'm interrupted by the arrival of my fiancée and an unexpected guest- the same girl with whom I had a 'girl-off' last night.

"Oh, hey Jacinta!" I giggle, greeting the tall, brown-haired girl with air kisses. "Are you here for the party? Don't think I've seen you at any before..."

"I had a word with Adeola, and she said the more the merrier!" Sarah laughs. "Besides, I think you two might want to talk." I smile and nod as Sarah heads into the main room, whilst I lead Jacinta up to Jamie's bedroom.

"Ahh," Jacinta squeaks. "I know I've been here before, but it's always so cool!"

"It is," I giggle. "Of course, it's also a lot of hard work for yours truly..."

"Oh, you mean like the modelling you did on Tuesday?" Jacinta teases. "It's okay, god knows I would give literally ANYTHING to be a model. Don't care what I'm modelling, just as long as I'm being photographed and being sex-ay!"

"Even ultra-tight corsets?" I ask.

"Ugh, make me even MORE jealous, why don't you?" Jacinta laughs. "I know your fiancée declared last night's girl-off a draw, but I really, really don't get why you'd think I was girlier than you."

"I'm... Happy just to call it a draw," I giggle as I strip off my skirt and hoodie and pull on a slinky short-sleeved minidress that shows off plenty of cleavage and plenty of my smooth, toned legs.

"Oh, and just look at THOSE," Jacinta says as she stares at my legs. "I would give ANYTHING for legs like those."

"Give it your all at ballet class for three years and you will!" I giggle.

"And here I was thinking that the best things about that were wearing a leotard in public and getting to mingle with celebrities," Jacinta laughs. "I don't get how there's any way you wouldn't, you know, 'complete yourself', you know, with SRS?"

"...I dunno," I say. "I guess it's, like, I have everything I need in my life."

"Oh, rub THAT in as well," Jacinta says, making me giggle and give the brown-haired girl a quick hug.

"I dunno," I shrug. "I guess because I'm not into men, I'm only 'into' Sarah, it's not like my vagina would ever be, you know, 'used'..."

"Well, I wouldn't be so sure," Jacinta says. "Three years on oestrogen, I'm guessing you don't, you know, 'function' anymore?"

"...Maybe, maybe not," I mumble.

"I'll take that as a 'no'," Jacinta says. "Which means I assume you need, you know, 'help' in bed with Sarah? Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course, even though I don't 'do' girls myself..."

"Point?" I ask.

"Okay, sorry if this was a sensitive subject," Jacinta says. "But whatever 'help' you give Sarah, you know she'd be happy to, you know, 'give it to you' as well. Take it from someone who's been 'given' a lot of 'help'- you do NOT know what you're missing!"

"...Who says Sarah hasn't already 'helped' me?" I tease, playfully wiggling my backside as I head down to the party room, which is already starting to fill with guests. Jacinta's not wrong, of course, but the fact is that it would be a huge change, and change can affect different people in different ways- as I'm reminded when I see the fifth 'judge's chair' being wheeled away into a side room. There's no telling what change SRS would have on me, whether it'd make Sarah feel differently about me- or worse, whether it'd make me feel differently about her...

"Hey girls!" Jamie giggles as she approaches myself and Jacinta. "Oh hey, Jacinta! Glad you could make it tonight!"

"Oh, you could not drag me away from a proper Angel party!" Jacinta enthuses. "This is all SO cool..."

"Glad you approve," Jamie says. "Picked out your song yet?"

"Umm, I was just going to look down the list for one I recognise," I shrug.

"Same here," Jacinta laughs. "I am SO tone deaf it's not even funny. Going to get nice and pissed before I get up on stage!"

"Well if I were you," Jamie says, "I'd check out song number 63. After what we talked about a couple of days ago, I figured it'd probably do you some good, hehe!"

"Umm, okay, if you insist," I say, before heading to check the song list- and as Jamie predicted, song 63 does indeed put a smile on my lips.

An hour into the party, my name is called, and after a good luck kiss from Sarah, I coolly stride onto the stage, microphone in hand.

"Hello," Adeola- the birthday girl- says, her chair of course turned to face away from me. "And your name is?"

"My name is MISS Nikki Thomas," I say confidently. "I'm nineteen and I'm from London."

"What are you going to be singing for us?" Becca- Adeola's BFF- asks.

"Probably the most appropriate song I've heard in my entire life," I say, prompting giggles as the music starts. "Let's go girls. Come on!"

"I'm going out tonight," I sing. "I'm feelin' alright,
Gonna let it all hang out
Wanna make some noise-really raise my voice
Yeah, I wanna scream and shout
No inhibitions-make no conditions
Get a little outta line
I ain't gonna act politically correct
I only wanna have a good time

The best thing about being a woman
Is the prerogative to have a little fun

Oh, oh, oh, go totally crazy-forget I'm a lady
Men's shirts-short skirts
Oh, oh, oh, really go wild-yeah, doin' it in style
Oh, oh, oh, get in the action-feel the attraction
Colour my hair-do what I dare
Oh, oh, oh, I wanna be free-yeah, to feel the way I feel
Man! I feel like a woman!"

By the time my song finishes, all four 'judges' have turned to face me and are dancing along with the music- and more significantly, my mentor is stood at the back of the room with a very proud smile on her face.

"Told you so," Jamie says after I step off the stage to a huge round of applause. "They didn't all turn around for ME..." I giggle, before playfully sticking my tongue out at Jamie, eliciting giggles from her as well.

I spend the rest of the party snuggled next to Sarah on one of the room's many sofas, before heading back to Sarah's house just after 1am and quickly falling into a deep, dreamless sleep.

"Wake up, Shania!" Sarah coos in my ears as I turn my face to shield it from the morning sun.

"Mmph," I moan. "I should NOT have drank all that vodka before getting on stage..."

"Don't tell that to your teenaged friend when you see her today!" Sarah giggles. "Mentors are supposed to set a GOOD example, remember?"

"The best thing about being a woman," I say, "is the prerogative to have a little fun!"

"I'm not arguing with the 'fun' part, just the 'little' part," Sarah laughs. "Now get up, you can sleep in tomorrow, I can't!"

"So you can sleep in a little more today," I say, wrapping my arms around Sarah's slender waist.

"I'm going to," Sarah says. "You can have the shower first. Now up!"

"Yes ma'am," I sigh, rolling out of bed and showering away my hangover. I dress conservatively today- moderate make-up, a plain grey bodysuit, opaque tights, a dark purple sweater dress and low-heeled knee high boots, the sight of which make Sarah smile lustfully as I sigh at her for still being in bed.

"If you're not out of bed in 10 seconds," I say, "you don't get to lay so much as a finger on these boots!" I giggle as Sarah immediately whips back her sheets and all but jumps out of bed, giving me a long kiss (and crouching down for a long stroke of my boots) before showering, applying her make-up and dressing in a plain top and one of her own hand-made pleated black skirts.

"Gorgeous," I giggle, giving Sarah another kiss.

"So are you," Sarah giggles. "Did this girl-protégé-whatever of yours say what she wanted to talk about?"

"Umm, one of her friends," I shrug. "Think maybe she needs tips on how to deal with a bully, least I can do is share my so-called wisdom, heh!" Sarah smiles as we link hands and head down to her car. A short while later, we pull up outside a small Starbucks, inside which we find Laura, who's accompanied by three of her friends.

"Hey, hope we didn't keep you waiting long!" I say, smiling with pride at the grin on Laura's fourteen year old face- and the considerable change her body has seen since I saw her last year. Gone is the shy, insecure pre-pubescent girl, and in her place is a confident, tall- almost as tall as Sarah- young woman. In some of her comments on my Facebook page and YouTube videos, Laura's often told me what an inspiration I was to her- and looking at her now, I feel just like how I imagine Jamie must have felt when she saw me singing last night.

"No, we just got here," Laura says. "Thanks for agreeing to talk with me... I wouldn't have asked if I thought it was something I could handle myself."

"It's my pleasure," I say as I sit down with the young women, whilst Sarah orders our drinks. "You said you were having trouble with one of your friends?"

"Ugh, that's putting it mildly," one of Laura's friends- a tiny, brown-skinned girl- says in a mild Indian accent.

"Are- are they bullying you?" I ask in a cautious tone.

"Not- not quite," Laura says.

"Then... How can I help?" I ask, listening for the next twenty minutes as Laura details the problems she and her friends are having with their other friend, another transgendered girl called Ashley who's having difficulty coming out to her parents. I offer the usual advice and recommend the usual websites/helplines, most of which Laura already knows about, and also offer to intervene personally in case all else fails- which is almost certainly the reason Laura asked for my help in the first place.

Laura and her friends leave the Starbucks shortly after we finish our chat and assure me that they'll do all they can to help their friend, but before they go, Laura turns to me with an excited smile on her face.

"If we do need your help," the young blonde girl says coyly, "I'll make sure we ask before June!"

"Why June... Oh," I say as I realise that even here, I can't escape discussion of my SRS. "I'm not sure you're supposed to know details about that just yet, heh!"

"Why not?" Laura shrugs. "It's not like it's not going to happen to me. The second I turn eighteen, I'm booking my operation!"

"You're really THAT sure?" I ask.

"If I could have the operation tomorrow, I would," Laura says. "Don't you feel the same way? Aren't you, you know, excited?"

"I guess I'm more 'nervous' than 'excited'," I say. "Never really likes hospitals..."

"Oh, but it will be SO worth it," Laura gushes. "Being a girl is, like, a real gift, a real privilege, you know? Like, there are girls like us... Like Ashley... Who don't get to be like, you know, 'like us'."

"...That's definitely true," I say quietly.

"And so what if my stupid dad doesn't approve?" Laura spits. "It's my body, I'll, like, do whatever I want with it! And if I want to be 100% female, then that's what I'll be!"

"Yeah!" One of Laura's friends- a short, stocky girl with ginger hair- cheers. "Think your dad's here, Suri, we oughta go."

"It was nice meeting the two of you," the oldest of the four girls- presumably the older sister of the young Indian girl- says in a thick accent.

"Likewise," I say, offering limp handshakes to the four teenagers as they leave.

"...Even they think so," Sarah says as I let out a long, tired sigh and sit back in my chair.

"Ugh," I moan. "Can- can we just go home, please?" Sarah giggles, before giving me a kiss and leading me back to her car, and subsequently back to my house, where she spends the rest of the night either studying or transforming my old jeans into a (very cute) maxi skirt, which I happily 'model' for the rest of the night.

The following morning, as the alarm on Sarah's phone wakes us up, I smile wickedly as I hear my fiancée moan into her pillow.

"Revenge," I whisper, cuddling my sheets around me as Sarah sighs and gets out of bed.

"I'm going to wear one of my jumpsuits to uni today," Sarah says. "Either be out of bed before I'm out of the shower, or you don't get to touch ANYTHING the jumpsuit covers for a week, okay?"

"Really?" I ask. "That's your threat?"

"...Ugh, fine," Sarah moans.

"And stop moaning, everybody knows how much you love university," I laugh. Sarah lets out a light chuckle before heading into the shower, before returning to the room and, contrary to what she'd said, dresses in a short, long-sleeved dress instead of her jumpsuit. I smile as Sarah makes a show of pulling on a pair of knee-high boots over her translucent tights, just as I had yesterday morning.

"You know the rules," Sarah says, placing one boot on the bed next to me and stroking the soft faux leather material. I smile as I roll out of bed and head to the shower- but not before giving Sarah's boots a gentle caress first, of course!

By the time I'm out of the shower, Sarah has already left for university, but I still apply a full face of make-up anyway, followed by a comfortable long-sleeved grey bodysuit, a pair of thick black tights and the new skirt Sarah 'made' for me yesterday. When I head down to the living room, though, I squirm when I see dad sat in his usual chair with Jenny in his lap.

"Morning, Nikki," dad says as I sit down in my usual place in the sofa, crossing one leg over the other in a typically feminine manner. "Feels like I haven't seen you in ages... Is- is that, um, what you're wearing..."

"My skirt, you mean?" I ask, frowning as dad nods.

"Is it- is it the jeans we got you for Christmas last year?" Dad asks.

"Well, 2014, but yes," I say. "You know I hardly wear jeans anymore, dad."

"Right," dad mumbles, making me groan.

"Dad," I sigh. "We- we need to talk about this, we really do."

"I'm okay just letting you do your own thing, Nikki," dad says.

"Well I'm NOT okay having to tread on eggshells around the one person who should support me more than anything!" I retort.

"I DO support you," dad says with barely-concealed anger. "I've support you all throughout your transition, it's just- this 'final step', you know, it's a big step, not something you can simply undo..." Try telling that to your parents, I think to myself with a snort.

"I know," I say.

"...And do I question whether or not it's what you truly want," dad says.

"You said the same things about hormones, if I recall correctly," I say. "That was three years ago. Three years, zero regrets."

"Taking a pill is very different from having your- well, you know, can't say it in front of Jenny..." Dad mumbles.

"I know," I whisper.

"And yes, as a man, there's a part of me that feels squeamish about the whole thing," dad confesses. "Especially when it's happening to someone who was, for sixteen years, my little boy."

"Dad... Do- do you miss 'Nick'?" I ask.

"Every day," dad confesses, making my heart sink. "But that doesn't mean I don't love Nikki just as much. I've gone from having one son to having two daughters. Three, if you count Sarah. To any right-thinking person, that's a trade-up."

"But would going from having one son to having one daughter also be a trade-up?" I ask, my heart sinking further as dad pauses.

"It's certainly not a trade DOWN," dad says. "Any parent's job is to unconditionally love and support their child. And yes, I'd have preferred to go and see football games with you, to have gone for a pint in the pub, to talk about sport... But what you want is more important."

"Thank you," I whisper.

"You don't need to thank me," dad laughs. "I'm your dad. It's my job. And if you feel you need my blessing to have your operation, then I'll give it without any hesitation. As long as you're sure it's what you really want, and what you really need to make you happy."

"'Want' and 'need' aren't the same thing," I retort.

"Indeed they're not," dad says.

"I may not 'need' it..." I say. "But I do 'want' it. I've wanted to be a woman for my whole life, and by that I mean I want to experience everything associated with being a woman. Some things... Some things are obviously beyond what medical science can give me. But they CAN give me this. And I do truly want it."

"Then I guess I'd better set up a room that you can recover in," dad laughs. "As long as you don't, you know, dilate anywhere I can-"

"No danger of that!" I laugh. "How- WHY do you know about dilating, anyway?"

"I read up on the operation and post-operative care," dad shrugs. "It's something you'll need to know, therefore I'll need to know it as well."

"...You are the best dad in the world," I giggle, getting up and giving dad a long hug and a kiss on his cheek.

"When's the date of your operation again, June 21st?" Dad asks.

"Yep," I say. "The longest day..."

"Well I am going to ensure that you spend the whole of summer in total comfort," dad says. "If you want to be a full woman, Nikki, then that's what you'll be." And I do. I really, really do.

Ever since I started on my journey to become a woman, the 'final operation' has always seemed like a goal, a 'finishing line' I had to cross, and whilst that hasn't changed, this week has made me realise that whilst it is, in a way, an ending, it's also a beginning- the beginning of the life I've craved for the past nineteen years. Sure, some things will change. I'll change. But what won't change is the love of my friends, the love of my family... And the love of the woman with whom I'm going to spend the rest of my life.

Man, I feel more like a woman now than I have ever done. And in 64 days' time, I'll never feel like anything else ever again. And I can't wait!



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