Saturday, November 20, 2004
I'd suggested to Agent Jones that it might be a good idea to use me to track down Nat, but they said that wasn't happening. It was the first thing they thought to do, too, but putting a civilian in harms way is pretty much a last resort thing with them. Just because their Hostage Rescue Team is among the best in the world at what they do doesn't mean they want to create those kinds of situations. Fair enough, I guess, but it means I'm on the outside looking in.
Jones has done a pretty good job of keeping me informed, not just because it's much easier to track someone's emails and phone calls if they co-operate. I have to admit, I was more than a little nervous with how quickly they opted to treat Nat as an adversery; the idea of a socialite in her third trimester as an enemy of the state is a tough concept to wrap one's head around. As the Feds pointed out, though, she's in possession of what is potentially the world's most dangerous technology - one which can render every security provision moot - and she's clearly planning to use it. Plus, she and her people have nabbed Alexei-Martin (I'm apparently still Martin-Michelle to them, too), and kidnappings are part of what the FBI does.
The thing is, Jones is probably the agent I know best, so as soon as he flew cross-country to handle the search in Seattle, Carter and I were significantly less welcome at the Boston office. Around two o'clock, the ranking guy told us to go home and wait by the phone; they'd call us if they needed me to talk to Nat or something like that. They want you out of their hair, see, but don't want to actually let you go on your own. Not that I really cared in this case; though I can be distracted, I was far away from "let's blow this off and see a movie".
The Red Line was crazy; I hadn't heard that today was the day of the Harvard-Yale game, and it seemed like everyone who had ever gone to an Ivy League school was taking the subway to our stop. We were packed in like sardines, and when I got off at Central, I couldn't find Carter. No biggie, I figured - our apartment is almsot exactly halfway between the Central and Harvard stops, so she might not have been able to push her way through the scrum and just opted to get off with the crowd one stop later. I half expected Carter would beat me home, since we're actually a little closer to Harvard than Central.
When I got home, Maureen was cooking. She said she figured that maybe something feminine like a homemade dinenr would help convince her siblings that she was the same Mo they'd always known and just happened to like girls (besides, her assistant concierge job means she's got to keep track of events and thus she knew that there'd be no room in any restaurant anywhere because of people in town for The Game). I'd completely forgotten that she had planned a get-together with her brothers and sister and apologized, but she said it was okay; finding out about Nat and my whatever-Alexei-is-to-me would push everything else from my mind. She thought it was really great that "Sam" was supporting me, but it's not like she didn't have a legitimate gripe of her own, being held prisoner with Alexei's son planning to use her body to ferry peoples' minds into the country.
While the roast cooked, we got changed - nice, but not showy dresses; it was just a dinner at home with family. We got out the leaf for the kitchen table and the card table, since Mo's brothers are married and one has twins, and ten people is much more than we usually feed (with our schedules, it's a rare occasion when the three of us are eating at the same time). By the time that was all set, we noticed it had been an hour and Carter hadn't shown yet.
Maureen, naturally, got worried, and called the FBI office, figuring maybe "Sam" had gone back. Nope. She called hospitals and police stations (and since there are like a zillion of the former in the Boston area, that took some time), asking if a small, blonde girl had been injured. Nothing. She'd just finished the list in the yellow pages when he doorbell rang to announce her brother Sean (and his wife Pat). As soon as that happened, she put down the phone, and went into hostess mode, saying that Samantha was detained and we expected her back any minute now - Marti and Sam had been across the river assisting the FBI with a case, you know.
Really, they said. Oh yes, I was exposed to some experimental chemicals the FBI didn't want me to describe too fully last year, and Sam had later been kidnapped by the people responsible, and there'd just been a new lead (even without knowing Carter's true identity, Maureen didn't want to hit her family with too much at once). Amazing, they said, nothing like that ever happens in their little town. Well, you probably wouldn't know if it did - these people don't like to advertise.
Connor and Trish and Jimmy and Jamie (fraternal, a boy and a girl) were next to arrive, at which point all of that talk stopped, since Jimmy and Jamie are three, the age where parents are aware that the kinds can at least record the words your saying and spring them on people later. They soon discovered that I would read to them if they showed me a book, which meant that I got pulled off to the side and was busy talking about Harold and the Purple Crayon when Maureen's sister Krista arrived, apologized for taking so long to get here. The kids immediately forgot me to jump on Aunt Krista - apparently, 19-year-old aunts and uncles are the coolest people kids can imagine. I guess the logic is that aunts and uncles are usually grown-ups but since the rest of the family treats them like kids, they're like double agents. Or something.
Still no Carter. Maureen was starting to show cracks.
We waited as long as we could, but eventually Mo figured if the roast sat in the crock pot any longer it would become rubber, so we dug in. Maureen can cook, no question. Dinner was nervous, though - everyone had come out to meet Mo's girlfriend, and be convinced that "Sam" was cool and made Maureen happy and Mom and Dad were being stubborn... And then it looks like she stood the whole family up. they hung around for another half hour after dinner, but eventually the kids started getting restless, so people started making excuses. While Trish was putting the twins in their car seats, the rest pretty much made it clear that they'd tried to come with open minds, but even if we had managed to convince them that Maureen having a girlfriend wasn't unnatural (this was mostly Connor), Sam clearly hadn't impressed them. Maybe, Krista said, this was a wake-up call about the wisdom of this lifestyle choice. Sean and Pat seemed to be the coolest about the Whole Lesbian Thing, but they did mention that one of Maureen's high school boyfriends still asked about her.
As soon as they left, it took all of about ten seconds for Maureen's composure to just drop, and she pulled out her cell, saying that if me and "Sam" carried them, then this would never happen. I reached out and closed it, because I'd figured out what happened earlier. Don't bother calling anyone, I said, I don't think she's in town any more. She's probably gone to Seattle.
Why, Maureen asked, she's just a girl Krista's age - what can she possibly do that the FBI can't?
That's the thing, I said - she's just not a teenaged girl. Remember Carter?
Maureen doesn't immediately get it, thinking Carter did something to her before he died. That's not it, I say - it wasn't Carter that died. When "Samantha" came back from Europe, there was a man named Mikhail inside her, and after meeting me, he decided that he wanted to be my boyfriend...
Maureen stopped crying. So Samantha... is actually Carter? Why didn't you say anything?
I said outing her wasn't my place, even though I told him repeatedly that you deserved to know. But, also - you were the one good thing that had happened to Carter since the switch, and I didn't want to ruin that. But she never really liked being a girl.
Maureen is not stupid. She was right there with me. So if you're right, she said, and he/she/whatever has flown out to Seattle, it's not to try and bring Nat and Alexei and company in, is it? Carter figures that if you're not going to jump at the chance to have your old body back, then she might as well have it, right?
That's about right. But it's only a guess, I say.
Maureen doesn't say anything, then she kicks a chair. She screams, she says she doesn't know whether to call Carter just a bitch or a son of a bitch (Maureen never swears, by the way), and how can she just leave her like that. And what if that made her family right, that she didn't really like women but the last two men she was attracted to just happened to be in women's bodies? Did that make her a fool or even more of a freak, if men in women's bodies were what turned her on?
And then she stopped being angry and just started crying again. She must have had her head in my lap crying for a solid hour before she got up, wiped her tears, and started cleaning the kitchen, saying I should call Agent Jones and tell him this theory.
Women - I've been one for a year and a half and I sometimes think it's given me no insight into how their minds work. She was right, of course, and I did, though I had to leave voice mail. I called the Boston office for good measure, and the woman I talked two cursed, saying she should have put two and two together when Maureen had called earlier. I asked if there was anything I could do, and she said she had to call the rest of the team, but she was sure they'd have questions to ask us.
They haven't called back yet, though, and now that the dishwasher is loaded, Maureen's starting to cry again. I'd better go sit with her.
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