A/N: This story takes place before Degrassi, back when Adam still went by Gracie. I'll be using female pronouns until Gracie/Adam comes to understand being trans and starts identifying as male in the story. Also, there are some OCs because Drew and Adam don't live in Degrassi Land yet. No Sues, so don't worry. If you want a Mary Sue, read my other work, Degrassi: The Boring Point.
Mrs. Torres looked disparagingly at her daughter, who was curled up in a blanket on the couch, a distant look in her eyes. Gracie had always been sensitive, but since middle school started, she had been even more isolative than usual. The family therapist, Dr. Marrow, suggested that Gracie was having difficulty adjusting to the new environment. While other girls (including the ones who used to be tomboys) were buying tighter jeans and frillier tops, even shopping for their first bras, Gracie still preferred baggy jeans and sweatshirts. Sometimes, despite her best efforts to keep her daughter's wardrobe up to date, Audra still saw Gracie borrowing her older brother's jeans. As happy as she was that Gracie got along with her brother, in the back of Audra's mind, she was always concerned that going back to work when the kids were eleven and twelve was the wrong decision. Drew seemed to be adjusting fine to doing more things on his own, but Gracie had always been shyer and slower to make friends. The few friends she did have were typically "borrowed" from Drew. There were rarely any girls.
"Hey," Mrs. Torres seated herself on the couch. "Are you alright?"
Gracie slowly emerged from the blanket. Her nose was red, like she had been crying. "I'm fine."
Audra sighed, a knowing look on her face. "That doesn't look like your fine face."
"Why won't any of the guys talk to me anymore? It's like the second we started middle school, everyone ignores me," Gracie said.
Half-smiling, Audra put her arm around Gracie. "I was a lot like you when I started middle school. I was always smart, got straight A's, but I was also very quiet."
Gracie looked at her mother in disbelief, trying to imagine the quite outspoken PTA president as a quiet teenager. "Really?"
"Yep," Audra said. "It's a known fact that girls mature a little sooner than boys do. You've always been years ahead of your friends. At your age, a lot of boys are a bit focused on...well...girls who are less likely to make them look dumb," she laughed.
"I don't get it!" Gracie said. "So I'm not the kind of girl they want to date. Why does that have to mean they ignore me?"
They had reached an impasse. "I think I have an idea of something that might help."
A half an hour later, they were at the mall. "Bra shopping?" Gracie shot her mother a disgusted expression. "Mom, I don't need..."
"You're twelve," Audra said. "I didn't want to say anything, but you are starting to develop."
"D...evelop?" Gracie's voice shook.
"You're becoming a woman," Audra smiled. "It's an exciting time."
As Gracie glanced at her reflection, in a lacy item with itchy, adjustable straps, she started to feel sick. "I don't want to wear this," Gracie said through the door. "It's itchy."
"Well we have a few others to try on," Audra suggested. "Don't worry. You'll get used to it."
"Do I want to get used to it?" Gracie asked.
Audra laughed. "When I was twelve, bras weren't made like they are now. Those things were a nightmare."
Feeling awkward, Gracie settled on some plain, gray sports bras and left the dressing room.
"Are you sure?" Audra asked. "There were some nice ones we picked out."
"It's just a bra," Gracie said. "I don't want to make a big deal about it."
She felt guilty for her tone, but at the same time it didn't make much sense. Breasts seemed like more of a hassle than anything else.
It's okay, Gracie, she thought, you had to get them so Mom wouldn't freak out. Doesn't mean you have to wear them.
The next morning, Gracie put on a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. Even without the bra, she could still see protrusions of breasts under her clothes. Sighing, she opened her drawer and pulled out the bra. "I guess I'll have to try it."
The sports bra did at least a bit to flatten her breasts, but they were still visible. Shuddering, she threw a loose jacket on. Why hadn't she noticed this before?
At school, she became even more aware of what was happening. The other girls didn't seem to hide their breasts. Lunchtime came, and she found herself looking at the girls sitting at Drew's table with his friends, Jason and Tom. One of them had blonde hair so flat it looked like it had been ironed. Her pale blue t-shirt was tight enough that you could see the outline of her breasts. They made sense on her body. She even looked...good. Other girls seemed to like their breasts. Why did Gracie's make her feel like such a freak?
"What are you looking at?" the girl asked.
Drew shook his head. "Ignore my sister. She's...weird."
"I'm weird now?" Gracie asked. "You suck."
She walked quickly past his table. Almost every space was occupied, not a friendly face in the crowd. The only table with space was a table most middle school students didn't like to associate with.
"Hey," Gracie said to a boy who was short and looked like he ought to be in about fourth grade. "Mind if I sit here?"
"Sure," a girl decked in Hot Topic garb said. "I'm Megan. This is Ernie."
"Hi," Gracie said.
A few moments later, a taller guy sat down beside Megan and threw his arm around her. "New girl?" he looked at Gracie.
"Nah, I'm old," Gracie said. "Well not old. I mean...well I've gone here for a while."
"You're Drew's sister, right?" Megan asked.
Gracie nodded. "You got a crush on him too?"
Megan and Ernie laughed in unison. "Do I look like the kind of girl who would have a crush on Drew Torres?"
Gracie took a closer look at Megan. She was one of the few twelve-year-olds whose mother let her dye her hair. It was jet black like the thick glasses she was wearing. Her eyelids were a bright red, like the stripes in her socks. Her skirt was green and plaid, and she was wearing high gloves with her t-shirt.
"My mom would freak if I dressed like that," Gracie said.
"You don't like?" Megan asked.
"No, I didn't say that," Gracie defended. "You look...fine...good...okay."
Megan giggled. "Well whatever. Yeah, my mom's pretty cool. She doesn't care what I wear as long as I'm not a skank about it."
"Oh, whatever, you're totally a skank," the second guy laughed at Megan.
"Shut up," she said, playfully punching him on the arm.
Before they could talk for much longer, the lunch period was over and they had to return to their respective classes. When Gracie got home, Audra was sitting at the kitchen table.
"How was your day?" she asked.
"Great," Gracie said. "Talked to some new people."
"That's wonderful!" Audra said. "Are they nice?"
"I only talked to them for like twenty minutes," Gracie said.
"Okay," Audra said. "Well good to hear you're talking to people. I knew people would warm up to you if you gave them the chance."
Gracie went upstairs and flopped down on her bed, imagining what it would be like to be Megan's friend. A combination of images came to mind: her mother's horrified expression when she saw Megan's style, Drew's confusion about whether he should find her attractive or not, the awkward moment when Megan found out Gracie knew nothing about music or alternative. There were better images too. Having a place to sit at lunch every day, having someone to talk to after school. That was where it became awkward. Gracie had never liked shopping or gossiping or sleeping over. Then again, Drew didn't like those things, and he still managed to hang out with plenty of girls.
Curiously, Gracie rewrote her fantasy. This time, she was Drew.
"I'm sorry, you just seem kind of shallow," Megan said.
"No I know," Gracie-as-Drew said. "I've dated a lot of losers, but honestly I'm getting bored."
The girl Gracie embarrassed herself in front of huffed and stomped away in the heels she could barely walk in. "Really?" Megan's face lit up. "I don't know. My friends are a little dorky and I don't want..."
"Relax," Gracie-as-Drew said, with that lopsided jock smile that seemed to win most girls over (much to Gracie's disbelief). "I'm cool with it."
Gracie-as-Drew walked over to the nerd table. They chatted amicably for a few moments, and when it was time for lunch to be over, Gracie-as-Drew said, "catch you later?"
"You know it," Megan beamed. Before she left, she leaned in and kissed him. It was just a quick peck, but Gracie-as-Drew quickly recoiled back to being just Gracie.
Her eyes shot open. What was she thinking?