Nick was born Nicole Erin Duval. He was, in his parent's eyes at least, a perfect little girl. They loved her to death. She was their child at long last. Bethany and Alan Duval had been married since college but their careers got in the way of children until their mid-thirties. They loved their daughter immensely and they were devoted to giving her all that she needed.
Unfortunately, Nicole wasn't their little girl. Her name was Nick and she was a boy. He knew that young and first told his mom when he was only eight. She had played along, a good, supportive mother, but she would have never guessed then that Nicole wasn't playing make believe. She didn't believe that Nick was a boy until he was twelve and told her again. This time he was sobbing.
Now Nick's mom wasn't thrilled with the idea and cried with him, but she immediately threw her support around her son. She let him cut his hair, change his clothes and start going by Nick. His father wasn't as immediately supportive. He quieted suddenly and barely spoke a word to Nick or his mother for weeks. He yelled at Nick's mother when he thought Nick wasn't listening and it felt like the end.
Things changed, however, one month later. His father called him aside.
"Nick, I love you." He pulled his boy into a hug. "I have loved you since the day you were born. When your mother was pregnant asked me if I wanted a boy or a girl, I told her that it didn't matter. We had wanted a child since we were young and we finally had that child. I love you as my son just the same."
He nodded. "I am truly sorry for my distance, Nick. I was trying my hardest to learn to deal...and it didn't come easy. I suppose even the best of us can be confused, angry..."
Nick's parents were extremely supportive from then on out but things were far from easy. Nick would always feel guilty for ruining his mom's relationship with her own mother. The elderly woman almost immediately decided that his gender was "nonsense" and that she refused to have anything to do with it.
"If you can't learn to accept your grandson," his mother said boldly, "then you're not welcome here."
She refused to accept. That was the last he saw of his grandmother. According to other family members, his mother and grandmother always had an inseperable bond. It shocked and upset Nick that he was the reason that ended. The bond was never rebuilt. His grandmother went to her death thinking that his life was a foolish piece of nonsense. Other family relationships were also strained by Nick being a boy. He didn't often attend holidays, because even the most accepting of his relatives treated him strange.
Only the youngest of his cousins were comfortable with him. "Nick is a boy," he'd once overheard his six year old cousin Annabelle say. She crossed her arms and glared at their ten year old cousin Jordan. "He used to be a girl but since he didn't like it, he changed. He's magic, like Harry Potter or something. He didn't stay the way he didn't wanna be. He's better than you Jordan. You're a stupid-head."
Nick had never been more proud. He was like Harry Potter in a six year old's eyes. He openly sobbed that day and told his mom, who thanked his Aunt Marianne for raising such a good child.
School was bad too. Nick's school district dragged it's feet in accepting "Nicole" as a boy. Luckily for Nick, his parents fought. He was accepted as a boy even though the accomodations like using the nurse's office to change and go to the bathroom were embarrassing. Kids were cruel. Bullying became Nick's life the second that he came to school in boy's clothes. It was mostly verbal taunts; "tranny" and "fag" became a part of his daily life. It became physical though as kids got older and crueler. He was shoved, pushsed and his life was threatened. It was when he was sexually assaulted that his parents couldn't keep him there any longer.
It was in eighth grade PE. Even binding his developing breasts didn't hide the physical differences between him and his male peers, not at least once his thin PE t-shirt shrank. "I can see your tits," snarled Trevor Marshall, one of his worst bullies. He lunged at Nick, shoving him into the wall while sliding his hands along the material under his shirt.
His parents pulled him out then and there. Freshman year he was enrolled in Dalton Academy for boys. Despite the school's traditional history, he was accepted there easily. The school had not only a zero-tolerance policy for bullying, but a reputation for housing a number of gay and transgendered students who had been bullied. The Headmaster even told his parents with enthusiasm that one of their most successful recent graduates was transgendered. It seemed to give them hope.
He didn't come out at Dalton though. He weighed his options and decided against it. He was going to school in a new area where noboy knew Nicole. He was blessed with passing well and it was just nice to not have to worry about being found out. He was just one of the guys. He joined the Warblers during his freshman year and started to make actual friends.
He only started to feel like coming out was a possibility when he met his best friend. He met Jeff when he auditioned for the Warblers. The rambunctious blonde was terrified, so he walked over to Nick and said, "Hi, I'm Jeff. We're going to be best friends now, okay? Distract me best friend."
With that, Jeff and Nick became the best of friends. They were inseperable and told each other everything. Except, Nick never did manage to tell Jeff about his biggest secret. Theree was never a place or a time for it.
It was November of their second year at Dalton when Blaine, the Warbler's unofficial lead vocalist, met a member of their competition who had been spying on them. The boy was badly bullied at his school and well, his plight effected Blaine. He had an impact on Blaine, which meant he had an impact on the rest of the Warblers. Jeff took Nick aside the day after Blaine started telling the Warblers about Kurt.
"I was just like Kurt," he confessed to Nick. "Nicky, I got bullied really bad at my old school for the exact same reasons."
It took a second for Nick to catch the underlying confession. "You're gay, Jeff?"
Jeff nodded, running a hand through his hair. "I know...it's so stupid being closeted in a group like this, where a gay guy is like the hero. Everyone is so accepting here. I also know that it was really wrong to hide it from my best friend. I just...keep thinking about this Kurt guy and how much he got to Blaine and...I had to tell you, okay?" He blushed heavily. "You're not mad, right Nicky? I know I can trust my best friend."
"No," he spat out. "I'm not mad at you at all." Guilt threatened to overwhelm him. Jeff had been scared to be open about his sexuality but had come out to Nick, to his best friend. Nick wanted to tell Jeff in that moment that he was born a girl, but he couldn't. He couldn't steal from Jeff's coming out. Jeff then started talking about the tants and shoves, the pain and insecurity. Nick could not steal that moment, so he just comforted Jeff, assuring him he understood.
"People are cruel, Jeffy..."
It was about a month later when Jeff caught Nick off guard with another confession. The council had just denied them both a solo yet again. They were upset and irritable and Jeff just hugged Nick, muttering "I love you man." That would have been it if he hadn't continued. Jeff pulled away, blushing and looking at his hands. "Nick, do you ever think we could be more than friends?" he asked, stammering the words out. "Trent called us a married couple the other day and I've just been thinking."
Nick's heart stopped then and there. He had never really thought about Jeff that way but at the same time he had. Jeff was his other half and it didn't need to be a conscious thought. It just was.
Jeff kept rambling. "I'm so sorry, Nick. You said you liked girls...I didn't mean...I'm stupid...just a crush okay, just a long crush..."
Nick shut him up with a kiss, a long, determined kiss that let Jeff know he felt the same. Jeff reacted with shock but then started to kiss him back eagerly.
So after a year of keeping the complexities of his gender identity secret from his best friend, Nick was now keeping that secret from his boyfriend. He was miserable. He loved Jeff like no other and the relationship was immediately fantastic, but at the same time he had to be honest. He broke down and told him the second they got back from Winter Break. They were on a couch, kissing heatedly. It made Nick think of how they could easily get intimate soon. He started crying.
Jeff backed away. "Nicky, what is it?" he asked softly, stopping immediately. His eyes were so big and full of concern that Nick couldn't stop crying.
"I'm sorry," he yelled. He got up, panicking. "I'm sorry. Jeff, I'm sorry..."
Jeff got up and grabbed his wrist. "What is it Nick?"
He confessed his biggest secret in gasping breaths, trying to be at least semi-coherent/ "I wasn't...I wasn't born with a guy's body, Jeff. I know it was so wrong not to tell you...just...never a moment...I...you can break up with me. I don't blame you." He wasn't sure what happened after that because he was so lightheaded that he focused hard on not throwing up.
Jeff looked dumbstruck; however, he got a grip quickly, probably because Nick was panicking. "Nick, calm down, sit down." He helped him sit, looking him in the eye. "I'm not breaking up with you. I wish you'd told me that you were transgendered, of course, because I want to know all about you, but Jesus, I'm not breaking up with you. That's something you have to be ready to talk about. I get that."
Nick frowned, unable to accept that it was that easy. "You're gay..."
"And you're a guy, regardless of what junk you have, dude."
That night Nick told Jeff about absolutely everything. He told him about growing up, about realizing he wasn't a girl. He told him about the bullying and about losing friends and family members. He told him about the triumphs, though and how Dalton was his second home. Jeff sat with him the whole time, crying and holding him and just being the best boyfriend ever. Jeff was the encouragement for Nick to eventually come out. He told the Warblers how he was born and not one of them gave him trouble. Blaine even pulled him aside and thanked him for being so inspiring.
"Seriously, Nick, I never really thought about, you know, people who are trans," he admitted. "I'm gay and I try to be out and proud enough, but I never really gave the transgendered members of this community my consideration."
"It's easy not to," Nick said, consoling his friend. "Especially when there are a lot of guys like me who don't say and try not to share. I admire you, okay Blaine? You're strong but escaped bullying. That's what you, me, Jeff, Kurt and so many others did. We came here because we knew we deserved more. You're kind of a figurehead for kids like us."
He shook his head slowly from side to side. "I admire you Nick," he said. "I'm glad that you decided to share this with us."
The Warblers became even more like family. Even when they lost Regionals, they all rallied around each other. Jeff even invited Nick at the end of the year to spend some time with his family in the summer. He assured Nick that they were going to adore him. "They're finally going to meet the guy I ramble on and on in my emails about," he said with a bright smile. He rubbed Nick's shoulder and kissed his cheek.
They made love for the first time that summer. After Nick visited Jeff's family (a very successful visit, he might add), Jeff visited Nick's. Nick's parents adored the boy and even trusted the two boyfriends alone together in the house. When things started to get intimate, Jeff stopped them. "If you're not comfortable Nick, you know that you have to tell me right?" he asked. "That's one of the rules of being my boyfriend and all."
Nick looked up into Jeff's eyes, so absolutely charmed by that smile. "Yeah," he said softly. "I know. I'm not uncomfortable if you aren't."
"Hell no, not uncomfortable. You're so hot Nicky."
They made love and Nick didn't feel uncomfortable with his body. Jeff knew exactly what to do to make him feel good, without causing any worries.
"I love you Jeff," he said simply.
"I love you too Nicky."
It was like the perfect ending to a love story, but it had hardly begun yet. Nick knew that he was living his life exactly the way he wanted to with the person he loved, a good supportive family and school. It was absolutely perfect. That was all that he needed to be happy. It was all he needed to be who he wanted to be.