as she works in the lab Wednesday evening, Alice's phone buzzes unnoticed in the pocket of her lab coat
when she gets done melting bismuth to create crystals (which are very useful for arcane purposes), she checks her phone to find some messages from an unknown number in Vermont
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revealing anything about the existence of magic to normal people is traditionally considered to be a terrible idea, but Alice isn't really a traditional witch and loves to drop subtle hints that there's something beyond what normal people think are immutable laws
sure, helping Evelyn transition is more than just a subtle hint, but everything will be fine as long as Alice can dodge her questions and nothing goes wrong
she searches the drawers and cabinets of her lab and eventually finds the bottle of extremely special estradiol she synthesized last summer, along with her notes on the ritual to make it work
as the appointed time approaches, Alice drinks a chai latte in the back corner of the café
it'll be a long night even if everything goes right, and there's a large chance things will go south
Evelyn walks into the café and starts looking around for Alice
in the corner, she spots an iridescent shine in a girl's hair and they head out into the crisp night air together
"I have the pills you're looking for, but it's not as simple as just dissolving them under your tongue. there's a whole ritual and quite a bit of risk" Alice told Evelyn
"risk of what? osteoporosis? regretting it?" Evelyn asked
"if we do this wrong, it's possible that all your internal organs will get dislocated, causing massive internal bleeding"
"how the hell does *estradiol* do that?"
"when you ignore the laws of physics and a lot of organic chemistry, a lot of weird shit can happen"
Alice immediately knew she'd said too much
"wait.. what?" Evelyn asked
"the laws of physics are honestly just guidelines that the universe usually follows. if you know what you're doing, you can avoid them"
"this is just an elaborate joke, right?" Evelyn asked as they walked into the science building
as an answer, Alice hovered a foot off the ground, making her even in height with Evelyn
Evelyn was stunned into silence for the rest of the walk upstairs to a classroom
Alice fished through her pockets for her keyring and looked through her keys until she found the building's master key and unlocked the door
"in case you're wondering, I've actually had that key since before I became a witch, and it's come in handy a lot" she said
Alice set down her bag, which had the logo of a local record store on it, down on a desk and started taking out an impossibly large number of items
the first thing she took out was her pointed witch hat, which she put on
next came a box of chalk
she took a piece of dark gray chalk and tapped it against the glass window in the classroom door, instantly filling it with darkness
"even though I don't think campo is patrolling this late, we can never be too careful" she said
Alice asked Evelyn to sit down on the floor and she drew a circle around her in chalk and wrote some runes, which began to slowly rotate around the circle
she consulted her notes again and picked up an eyeliner pencil
Evelyn held still as Alice drew several sigils on her face
then came the time for the pill
it was much larger than normal estradiol pills, but was the same distinctive blue-green color and had 6 of the b-shaped symbol that marks normal estradiol
in Evelyn's hand, the pill felt surprisingly heavy and warm to the touch, as though it were made out of metal and had been left near a stove
as she put it under her tongue, the runes around her began to rotate faster and faster
she felt herself stand up as sparkles and stars glittered around her
she felt various parts of her body change in turn and saw lights in the color of estradiol and in pink flash in her eyes
after a minute, the lights subsided, the sparkles and glitter fell to the floor, and Evelyn sat back down, exhausted
she began to feel up and down her body and started giggling excitedly as she felt her chest
"yes! yes! thank you so much!" she shouted
then, they heard a knock on the door
"open up! we know you're in there!" shouted a gruff male voice
"well, shit." Alice whispered
she took Evelyn's hand, pulled her up, and ran for the window, which she shattered with a gesture
Alice leaped through the window
Evelyn hesitated for a second before following her
as she fell, Alice made a strange series of gestures to slow her fall, caught Evelyn, and landed firmly on the ground
"if they're normal campo, then we don't have to do much to get away from them, but they might be the Bell goons and they'll stop at nothing" said Alice
"you didn't mention you were on the run from the phone company when you warned me of the risks" replied Evelyn
"I'd thought they'd given up, but they might not've"
Alice rummaged around in her bag and pulled out a broom significantly longer than the bag was tall
they climbed on and rose up into the sky
"if we go to my place, we'll definitely be safe from campo, but Bell would probably stage an ambush there" Alice shouted over the roar of the wind
"but wait, why are you on the run from the phone company? does Bell Labs enforce physics or some shit?" asked Evelyn
"you joke, but Bell Labs is trying to get revenge on me, Becca, and Sophia after we went to avenge them torturing Sophia"
"should I text Becca to let her know we're on the run from *someone*?"
"do it.. unless your phone is on AT&T, in which case they can use it to track us"
as she waited for a response from Becca, Evelyn thought about how she'd transitioned from just being a boring engineering student into a witch's accomplice on the run from the might of American Telephone & Telegraph
Becca normally texted back pretty quickly and her lack of a response worried Evelyn
"do you think they ambushed Becca too? she hasn't texted me back and you know how she always texts back quickly" asked Evelyn
"Becca's place is roughly on the way to mine; we can check"
outside of Becca's apartment they found a black SUV with blacked-out windows parked diagonally across two spaces
"it's gotta be the feds. nobody else drives those ugly things or is that bad at parking" pointed out Evelyn
Alice swore and the bulb in the nearest streetlight shattered
Evelyn looked around for the source of the sound
"when I'm feeling really emotional and don't actively stop it, I just sorta do random things by magic" Alice told her
"so *that's* why Becca won't play mario kart with me again"
"I hit her with a blue shell once and I was lucky to escape with my life and I still haven't managed to get the burn marks off my switch controllers"
they both laughed a bit as they went inside and climbed the stairs to Becca's apartment on the second floor
the door of her apartment was lying on the floor in the hallway and two guys in tactical gear stood just inside, training their weapons on Becca
Evelyn pulled a pocket knife from the pocket of her jeans and Alice readied her hands to cast a spell
they looked at each other, then Alice nodded and they both leaped at the agents
as the agents whirled around to fight off the threat from behind, Becca cast the spell she'd been preparing, freezing them mid-turn
"Evelyn?! what are *you* doing here?" Becca asked
"Alice was helping me trans my gender, and then this shit happened" Evelyn replied
"transitioning from just a dude to a hot girl attacking FBI agents with a pocket knife, eh?"
"hell yeah! I'm transing my gender into a gay criminal"
"be gay, do crimes"
"be gay, do crimes!"
"do you have any clue how they found us or what they think we did?" asked Alice
"my best guess is that Jackson snitched and implicated us in the deaths of five Bell men in Cozad, NE" replied Becca
".. wait, what?" asked Evelyn
"I'd hoped that what happens on the lesbian road trip stays on the lesbian road trip, but I was sadly mistaken" answered Alice
"they must have a pretty serious warrant because they didn't even knock before breaking down the door" said Becca
"but the evidence at the scene shouldn't point to us at all. they were struck and killed by their own bullets, except for the one who burned to death from whatever was in that bottle"
"that was mostly kerosene, so the only lead they had was Jackson and he probably snitched to get out of jail"
"he must've said that we're heavily armed terrorists or some shit"
"so we know why they're after us, but how are we going to get them off our tail?" asked Evelyn
"I have an idea, but it's completely batshit" replied Becca
"I just found out that physics isn't real and that my friends are murderous witches. can it get more batshit than that?"
"probably not more batshit than *that*"
as Becca detailed her plan, Evelyn thought about all the ways it could go wrong
by the end, she had only one objection left
"wait, wasn't Sophia also on that road trip? wouldn't they have gone after her too?"
"hmm.. unless she and Katy each independently came up with this batshit idea, that's going to be a problem"
"well, if they did the same sort of spell you did, we might be able to reach them and pull this off"
"I'll call Katy if you call Sophia" said Alice
against all odds, neither of the other witches had killed their attackers and had merely knocked them out, and they put Becca's plan into motion
Becca reversed her spell and unfroze the FBI agents
they looked around and confusedly pointed their guns
Becca loudly cleared her throat and began to speak
"gentlemen, I believe that you are the victims of an elaborate fraud"
"how? the dispatcher said there was a terror cell here" asked one of the men
"have you heard of 'swatting'?"
"oh. sorry about the door, then"
"sorry about knocking you out for a bit. I was just scared and had to defend myself from the guys breaking into my home" she continued, holding a frying pan to add truth to her story
"we'd best be going, then" said the other agent
"this'll get them off our tail for the weekend, but our names are still implicated in a FBI case" Evelyn pointed out after the agents had driven off
"and that's where phase 2 comes in, and we'll need Sophia and Katy for that" said Becca
a few minutes later, Katy came by to pick them up in her car
Sophia was already riding shotgun
"you're sure this'll work?" asked Katy
"I'm certain" answered Becca
as they drove towards the city center, Becca went over the next, even riskier, phase of the plan
they pulled up in front of an office building and took some broomsticks out of the trunk
they flew up to a window on the 15th floor
Sophia removed the glue holding the window into the wall with a wave of her hand and shoved the heavy pane of glass inside
Becca started messing with the computer on the desk while the others searched the numerous filing cabinets
"the case status is currently 'under investigation', but I'll just add a convincing note and set it to 'closed'" she said
Katy pulled a file from a drawer with a gloved hand and traced the CASE CLOSED stamp on another file with her other hand as the same stamp appeared on the first file
Evelyn and Sophia checked the other offices in the building and cleaned up all other traces of the case
after magically gluing the window back into place, the next stop was the federal district courthouse down the street, where they repeated the same tricks to get rid of the warrants for their arrest
once they were done, they stopped by the late-night diner near campus for some well-deserved sandwiches and milkshakes
a few days later, Becca set up a circle of candles on the floor of her kitchen, wrote some sigils on the floor in chalk, and sprinkled some iodized salt in the center of the circle
as she was making her finishing touches, Evelyn arrived
they embraced, and Evelyn's Soulsparking began
as it ended, Evelyn looked happier than Becca had ever seen her before
Becca took off her witch hat and put it on Evelyn's head, where it didn't quite fit and started to slip off
as the hat went on, she felt the spells and wards that Becca had enchanted the hat with slip over her like a weighted blanket
"I think you've earned this, Evelyn" Becca said
"thank you" said Evelyn as she hugged Becca again