All That Glitters (Part 2)
Comics Retcon Universe 006
All That Glitters
Mike Carter is the man about campus who lives life in the fast lane. He's quarterback of his college football team, well liked by the student population and quite a ladies man. But due to gambling, Mike has a money problem. To make ends meet he takes a job at as a security guard at a museum and things go down hill from there all thanks to a gold orb.
Author's Note: Here's All That Glitters Part Two. I have to warn you that Mike isn't very likable at the moment but that he will mellow out as the story progresses. Any Northwestern fans or alum out there I apologize too as well, I hope I got things right. I also need to state that the views expressed on Band Geeks and sorority girls are solely Mike's and not mean. I'd like to thank djkauf for being my editing once again and doing a wonderful job. The characters herein are DC Comics and not mine.
After revealing her deep dark secret, Bea gave us the slip of paper and promised to explain everything after work. She told me and Skeets to meet her back at WE---that’s Wayne Enterprise, in case you’re wondering--- after seven, when she got out. So we wandered about a bit. I took Skeets sightseeing a bit and then to some of the shops. I didn’t have a lot of money but I had enough to do some browsing. I’m not going to bore you with all the gory details. But when I passed a woman‘s clothing story, the manager practically dragged me inside. I think she thought I was a model. She kept on asking me the name of my agency and if I had a portfolio, she could see. I tried to tell her I was just a civilian but she wouldn’t listen. She gave me her business card and told me to contact her as soon as possible.
Like that’d ever happen. After that, I took a taxi away from the shops. We went to the Lakeshore and I returned to the scene of the crime. It felt kind of weird walking the halls of the Field, especially during the day. Skeets stayed invisible while we wandered the halls. I went to all my favorite places. I even went by the Gem Hall and took a peek inside. I was kind of curious to see what the fake me took. It turned out it wasn’t the stone I would have picked. The blue stone was still there, resting on its little glass covered pedestal. It was a strange thing. The little plaque underneath said it was from Egypt, a replica of the one some pharaoh decorated all his things with.
After a couple of hours, I hopped in a cab and went back to WE. Bea was waiting outside for us. We went to a little diner down the street. We didn’t say anything until we ordered and even then I wasn’t sure what to say. I looked around to make sure there was no one nearby.
“So how long have you been a you know?” I asked as I dipped a fry in some ketchup.
She didn’t say anything at first. She took a sip of her drink and looked around the diner. I think she was just as nervous and just as cautious as me. After all, Metas weren’t exactly things you ran into on the street. We were a dime a dozen. Ok, so maybe I knew a little bit but it was hard not to. After all that Jade chick did talk about us when she announced to the world that we existed. I just never thought in a million years that I’d be one, too.
“It happened a couple of months ago,” she said in a soft tone. “I’m a business major at NU and I was interning at WE. I’d like to think I did a good job but there was always room for improvement. When the change happened, I was devastated. I kind of had my whole life ahead of me, you know. I had good grades, the perfect girlfriend and a job I liked to go to every day.”
“So you were a dude too?”
She nodded. “It seems to happen to a lot of us.”
“You’ve met others?”
“Just Doris and Jade.”
I was jealous. I’m not sure why but it was really cool. I wonder if they’d seek me out too. After all, I just started this whole new life. “Did you go to STAR Labs too?”
She shook her head. “They brought me up to some spaceship. They tried to recruit me into their little group but I wasn’t really interested. Jade seemed to respect my decision. She told me that if I ever changed my mind that she knew where to find me.”
This new revelation kind of shocked me. She had a cool power, why wouldn’t she want to help people. I ate a couple more fries, staring at the smoking hot chick across from me. It was hard to imagine that she was ever a dude. But then again when I looked in the mirror all I saw was a smoking hot chick too. The problem with her though, was that she was so damn good at being a chick. She walked like one and talked like one. I sniffed the air, smelling her flowery perfume. She even smelled like one. I wonder if it was ingrained in all of us now or if it was something we learned in time. I’m not sure if I liked the latter thought. I could see some things as a given but there was no way I was going to act all girly and giggle.
I asked a few more general questions but I didn’t want to pry. Clearly, she felt brave enough to reveal herself to me but not brave enough to tell me about her life. There were a few things I needed to k now, though.
“So that night in the bar, you really weren’t interested in me?”
She took another sip of her drink. Her salad still sat untouched on her plate.
“It's complicated,” she said finally, trying not to make eye contact.
I smiled. “So you were interested?”
She didn’t say anything but she didn’t need to. If I had been my male self, I would have been ecstatic but my new self felt kind of ashamed. Suddenly I knew why she was so standoffish and I understood. I think I was going through the same problem with Rick. I’m not saying I was interested in him, but I had feelings. They were strange feelings. Looking around the room, there were only three or four people besides us, two of which worked here. The other two were a pair of overweight middle aged truckers. One of them was eyeing us and it creeped me out. For the first time in my life, my skin crawled and I knew exactly how a hot chick felt.
I looked at Bea, seeing the tears started to well in the corner of her eyes. I bit my lip. I needed to change the subject and fast. I looked down at the slip of paper sitting off to the side. It had the information I asked her to get for me.
“So, do you want to go there with me?”
She looked at the paper and sighed. “I don’t think that’s such a good idea.”
“C’mon, I think it would be fun.”
Ok, so I was lying. The only reason I wanted to go was because I needed to get to the bottom of this. It’s kind of freaky that a man who wants to be a Senator also runs and owns one of the more raunchier nightclubs in town. I’d only been in The 1000’s once before but it was definitely the place to be. I took a couple hot young things there after a game once. Of course, yours truly didn’t have to wait in line like everyone else. It was a booming place with great music, lots of sexy dancing and one of the best mixers in the city. It had atmosphere too and these scantily clad waitresses that any guy would love to bang.
I inwardly shuddered at that thought.
“I can’t get any more involved in this than I already am,” she said, finally picking up a fork and digging into her salad. She took a few bites. “You should drop it too. Your old life is over. Mike Carter doesn’t exist anymore; let them drag his name through the mud all they want.”
She was right in a way. But my ego wouldn’t allow it to rest. “I can’t. They’re still looking for me, I owe them money. They’re going to continue to pull this shit until I give it to them or until I stop it.”
She sighed. “Ballard is dangerous. He’s destroyed people a lot more important than you.”
“I have to do this. He threatened my mother. He’s dragging me through the mud. I might not be Mike Carter anymore but I can’t let him do this to me.”
“He’s trying to drag you out of hiding.”
I nodded. “Well it’s working.”
She ate a few more bites of her salad then looked at the paper again. She picked up her glass and took a small drink. Then she sighed heavily. “Ok, look I’ll go with you to the club but I’m not getting involved in the rest of your crap.”
I smiled big. I knew she wouldn’t let me down. “So when do we do this thing?”
She took a big sip. “Tomorrow night. I work early tomorrow but I have the next day off. If we’re going to do this then we’re going to have to make it a long night.”
I smiled real big at her. “Then it’s a date.”
She rolled her eyes. I picked up my glass and gently tapped it against her’s.
I gave her my cell phone number and walked with her to the curb.
“I’ll call you when I get out of work,” she said and then she did something I didn’t expect, she gave me hug.
You know what; it was kind of nice. I smiled as a cab pulled up and opened the door for her as she got inside. I waited until she closed the door and drove away before I flagged for my own. She lives in the opposite direction of me in case you’re wondering. Now too many people that I associate with live in the Tides, besides Rick of course. I suppose I won’t be living there any longer either. It’s kind of a drag but I understand why he did it. Senator Hunter is the kind of dick who likes to get his own way. The only reason I voted for him the last time was because his opponent was caught in a nasty scandal involving a boy scout---I’m not going to get into the details. Hunter wasn’t up for election for another year or so and if it meant Ballard was running against him, I guess I could deal with Hunter being in the Senate again.
I stuck my arm out, waving it up and down. It didn’t take long for a car to appear. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a cab. It was a blue sedan. I looked at the driver as it pulled up and groaned. What the hell did the Feds want now? I took a step back, wondering if I could run and get away with it. But how would that look, after all I was supposed to be cooperating with this guy. So instead, I smiled sweetly as he rolled down the passenger window.
“Miss Carter, fancy meeting you here” he said, not even trying to pretend to be surprised.
I inwardly groaned but outwardly, I feigned pleasantness. “Agent Broderick, are you stalking me?”
He smiled. “Guilty as charged” The lock on the door popped. “Hop in; I’ll give you a ride home.”
I groaned but how would it look if I refused. I looked around, wondering if there were witnesses. There were a couple of guys lingering against the building. One of them looked at me and gave me a kissy face. I shuddered and pulled open the door, hopping into the car. Broderick looked at me strangely, as I buckled up and slammed the door.
“I’m sorry I was a bit late, I could have given your friend Miss De Costa a ride home too.”
I sighed. “So you were spying on me?”
He shrugged. “I’m looking out for your welfare.”
“I don’t need to be protected.”
He laughed. “In this part of town, everyone does.”
He started the car and pulled away rather quickly. We drove slowly by the lingering guys. They made nasty gestures with their bodies and I gave them the finger. Please tell me I wasn’t that bad when I was a guy. I admit I was a cad but there was no way I scum like that. Except that one time with the roofie but I’ve apologized for that, right?
We drove along for a while, going slower than I would have liked. It also seemed that the jackass was driving around the block. What the hell was up with that?
“My apartment is in the other direction?”
“It’s not your apartment, it belongs to Mr. Hunter and if I’m not mistaken, he currently vacated it this afternoon.”
What the hell was this guy’s problem?
“I’m staying there until I can find another place. Rick is a good guy like that.”
“Rick, not Rip?”
I groaned. “What’s it to you?”
“Everyone calls him Rip, don’t they? Everyone except your brother. Where is your brother by the way?”
I shrugged. “How should I know?”
“I think you do know. That’s why you tried to run when you saw my face through the windshield. Mind you, if you had run, you wouldn’t have gotten very far.”
“Stop the car.”
He continued driving. He had a smug look on his face. “Your brother is playing a very dangerous game. I’m going to catch up with him; it’s only a matter of time.”
My heart started pounding. My palms were sweating. I wanted to scream but what would that accomplish. “Stop this car now or I’ll roll down the window and scream rape.”
He laughed and pulled over to the curb. I didn’t give him a chance to stop me. I unlocked the door and stumbled out. I got to my feet and looked around. The giant looming presence of Wayne Spire stood before me. There was a light on in the lobby. I took a deep breath and started walking toward it. Broderick got out of the car too and moved faster. He grabbed my arm and spun me around. I wish Skeets was here. Why in the hell did I send him home?
“It’s rude to run off in the middle of a conversation,” he said, squeezing my arm.
I gasped. “You’re hurting me.”
Tears started to swell in my eyes. I’d never felt this helpless in my life. If I had still been Mike, Federal Agent or not, I would have pounded his ass.
“Where’s your brother?” There was an edge to his voice and a demonic fire in his eyes.
I opened my mouth. But not to response, I was going to scream. The only thing that stopped me was the approach sound of a footfall. I snapped my head around and saw someone coming out of the building. He was walking at a brisk pace. He was tall with dark hair and an air of sophistication. He was a couple of years older than me---gorgeous too, not that I noticed. He approached quicker than I thought someone in an expensive suit could.
“There you are, sweetheart,” he said in a calm, friendly tone.
He walked over and took my arm, gently pulling it from Broderick’s vice like grip. Broderick’s eyes narrowed and he didn’t look to happy. I looked up at the guy---he was a couple inches taller than me. He had the most dazzling blue eyes ever, I could get lost in those eyes.
“This is a private conversation,” snapped Broderick.
The man smiled. “Nothing’s private when it takes place out on the street.”
He pulled me to stand by his side, putting a protective arm around my waist.
“Do you know this man, Miss Carter?” asked Broderick, puffing up like a peacock.
The man answered for me. “Of course she does. I’m Thomas Knight, the two of us met last night at a company party. You were a guest of Bea’s weren’t you?”
I’m not sure if he was asking or telling. But there was something in his voice that told me I should agree. So I smiled and nodded, wrapping my arm around his waist, albeit reluctantly. “Its good to see you again, Tommy.”
I kissed his cheek to throw in the added effect. Broderick looked like a deflated parade balloon.
His eyes narrowed. “You’re hindering in a federal investigation, Mr. Knight.”
“Really?" he looked down at me and then back at Broderick. “Miss Carter here hardly looks like a hardened criminal.”
Broderick grumbled. I think he knew he was out of his league. “I’ll be seeing you again, Miss Carter. You and I have some unfinished business.”
The stranger, Mr. Knight, smiled. “I don’t think you will but it’s nice to be all formal, isn’t it?”
Broderick grumbled again and slowly slunk back to his car. Mr. Knight stared at him while he got inside. He didn’t take his arm off my waist until the sedan pulled away. When he finally did, he ran his fingers through his slicked back hair.
I pulled away from him as quick as possible. “Thanks for the help, buddy.”
“It was my pleasure,” he said, tipping his head slightly. He looked about. “Let me have my butler drive you home, it’s the least I could do.”
I looked about and sure about there was old fashion Rolls Royce parked in the shadows. How had I not noticed it before? But more than that, who was this guy that he could afford such an expensive car and the butler to go with it?
He smiled and nodded. “Fair enough. Let me call you a cab then."
He whipped out his phone, faster than I could say no. He talked for a few seconds then snapped it shut. He smiled and informed me it would be here promptly. I kept staring at this guy and at the fancy car in the shadows. I could just make out a figure standing near it. It was an older man in a black suit. He was half obscured by shadows but he must have been the butler Mr. Knight mentioned.
“If Agent Broderick bothers you again I want you to call this number” Mr. Knight reached into his coat and took out a gray business card.
I took it gently and looked at it: Special Agent King Faraday, Homeland Security.
“Is this for real?”
Knight nodded. “He’s a good guy, owes me a few favors. One call to him and Broderick will be out of your hair.”
I smiled and nodded. “Thanks.”
The cab came remarkably quickly. Knight walked over and opened the door for me then he took my hand helping me inside. I’ve never had better service in my entire life.
“You look after yourself, Miss Carter and please stay out of trouble.”
I smiled and slipped inside as he shut the door. I watched him standing on the curb as the cab pulled away. I saw him walk slowly over to the Rolls Royce and disappear into the shadows. Something about the way he walked and disappeared like that sent a shiver up my spine.
The cab driver talked about football the whole ride home. He was a Bears fan and wondered what I thought of their chances next season. Seeing as they did fairly well I thought their chances were pretty good. But I didn’t tell him that. Usually all you’d have to do was mention football and I’d talk your ear off. But tonight I just listened to him yammer on about the Bears while I stared out the window. It was kind of strange but I didn’t feel in the mood to talk shop. I looked down at my chest and sighed. I wonder if my new body had anything to do with it. Imagine that, the Great Mike Carter bored with football. I suppose there are better things out there. If I’d thought that thought a couple of days ago I’d of probably punched myself.
It took about twenty minutes to get home. I went through the front entrance. The doorman didn’t bat an eye. I was marked down as a guest of Rick Hunter. I think he and the front desk guard thought Rick and I were an item. Neither of us tried to correct them. It was hard enough trying to explain to people who I was or who I was pretending to be at the moment. I suppose calling myself Myka Carter, Mike’s little sister worked only some of the time. The rest of the time was too hard to think about.
I trudged into the elevator and took it up to my floor. When I got to the room, the door was unlocked. That gave me pause. My heart started beating a little faster. Was it Ballard’s men looking for me or maybe that jackass Broderick? I took a deep breath and turned the knob. What I saw was neither. I sighed with relief but was a little shocked too. Rick was spread out on the couch, snoring like a baby. I smiled and looked at the clock, it was only nine. There was an open book lying face down on the floor and a spread of papers all over the place. I would have bet even money that he’d be half way to his parents’ place upstate by now.
I smiled as I tiptoed past him. Maybe Daddy doesn’t hold all the cards after all.
“So how did it go?” asked Skeets as soon as I slipped into the bedroom.
I jumped; it was kind of jarring to be ambushed, especially when you weren’t expecting it. I groaned, putting a hand on my chest to stop my beating heart. I guess it’s going to take some time to get used to the fact that he would be floating around for awhile. I didn’t answer him at first though. Instead, I took off my coat and threw it over him, then walked over to my bed. He struggled a bit to free himself from the garment. But it gave me some time to pull off my sneakers and slip off my pants. I really needed to shower but I was too lazy to bother. So instead, I stripped off my shirt too, took off the offending bra and grabbed my jersey from the floor. Yeah I still had it and as long as I wouldn’t be wearing it on the field I mind as use it for something. Once I had the jersey on, I freed him of my coat, which I tossed on the floor with everything else. Yep I’m a slob, not even a gender change could fix that.
Skeets repeated the question. Great not only did I have an annoying gold robot but he also did a good parrot impersonation. “Ballard works out of a nightclub called the 1000's. Bea and I are going there tomorrow night to scope it out.”
"Excellent, what time do we leave?”
I sighed. “There is no we, it’s just me and Bea.”
Skeets made that sighing noise. “But you and I are a team.”
There he goes again. He said the same thing after I agreed to help him with his little mission. But I made it very clear that our “partnership” as he called it was a onetime thing. I didn’t need some freaky gold robot from the future floating about, cramping my style. Besides, I had enough problems without him annoying the hell out of me. I tried calling my mother after getting back from the Lab today but I got the machine. I definitely didn’t want to leave a message.
Could you imagine what that would have been like: “Hey Mom, it’s your son turned daughter. I have some good and bad news. The bad news is I won’t be able to play football anymore but the good news is I can pee sitting down now so you don’t have to bitch at me about leaving the toilet seat up.” I joke but I definitely need to talk to her to tell her what’s been happening.
But getting back to the team thing. “We’re not a team. I told you that before.”
He sighed, floating away toward the window. He did a lot of that.
“I understand. It’s hard, especially looking at you.” He turned to me; his red eye looked smaller than before. “You look just like her. Every time I look at you I half expect to hear her voice again. You may look alike but the two of you sound very different.”
I sighed. I guess it’s time to play Doctor Phil. “What was she like?”
He snorted or at least it sounded like one. “Nothing like you.”
“You misinterpret my meaning.” He floated over so he was only a foot away. “You may look alike but the similarities end there. Michelle…ummm…Goldstar, she was very goal oriented. She didn’t take time out of her day to do anything else but her job. It was the only thing that mattered to her. She and I were partners for five years. She was the top of her Academy graduation class, a sharp shooter and an expert investigator. There were a lot of people younger than her who wanted to be just like her. Goldstar was a star, an ace.”
I nodded. “Sounds like she didn’t have a social life”.
“Unfortunately you’re correct. As much as the two of you look alike, you are much more laid back than she. Not that that’s a bad thing but she would definitely not want to be around you.” He sighed and floated away. “She was always trying to live up to her childhood idol.”
“A superhero from your generation. She would go on and on about her. She did everything in her life to model herself after this person.”
I nodded. “What was her name?”
He was about to answer when there was a knock on my door. I snapped my fingers and he vanished into thin air. I took a deep breath and opened the door. Rick was standing there, his hair a disheveled mess, his clothes all rumpled. He looked pretty much the same except a lot groggier than usual. He scratched his head and yawned.
"I fell asleep waiting for you,” he admitted, I nodded. “Can we talk for a sec?”
I slipped out of my room, closing the door behind me. We walked into the living room. I took the couch, sitting crossed legged, making sure he didn’t get a peek off anything down below. Hey, I’m a girl now and I have to be modest. He sat in his chair. I looked around the room real quick, noticing a lack of boxes or suitcases. Maybe they were in his bedroom.
He took a deep breath and when he let it out it came out as a long sigh. “I need you to tell me to stay here.”
Great Doctor Phil Time Round 2. “What are you talking about?”
“You are a smart, beautiful, amazing girl and I’m the dumb idiot who can’t live without my Dad’s money.”
I groaned and blushed at the same time. Hey, you blush when you get complimented right. I don’t care if its from a guy or Rick. There was something wrong with me I know and the old me would have punched him in the face. But the new me, well I think she kind of liked being told she was pretty. Ok, he said beautiful, I guess I’m being modest. Ha, who would have thought I could be modest. I smiled weakly, inside my head a male voice was screaming.
“Do you want to leave?”
He shrugged. “I don’t have a choice.”
Typical Rick. “Of course, you do, dude. Don’t think about your Dad for a second. Think about you for a second. Do you really want to leave this place?”
He took some time to answer. I could tell he was thinking it over because he got that look. It used to annoy me before but now it was kind of cute. I groaned. What the hell was wrong with me? This was Rick; he was my best bud.
He came full circle with his response: “Do you want me to stay?”
Like a fricking broken record. “Stop worrying about what other people think and think for yourself.”
He ran his fingers through his hair and jumped out of the chair. He started to pace about the room. You know what; in all my ramblings I don’t think I ever described Rick. I might be a little biased with the description now but here goes. He’s not overly tall but he’s not short either. I was taller than him before but now we’re the same height so I guess that makes him and me about five ten. He’s got shaggy brown hair, blue eyes and is kind of on the scrawny side. I used to drag him to the building’s fitness center but he only stayed an hour or so. He had a little six-pack going, a baby one maybe. Male me thought it was pathetic. Female me…well I’m not going to embarrass myself. Male me would have called him dweeby but for some reason now when I looked at him all I saw was this cute bashful guy. It’s kind of funny because this morning I wanted nothing to do with him.
Now, I’m not so sure. God, these stupid female hormones are so confusing. How could my mind change so damn quickly?
He finally stopped pacing and turned to face me. He took a deep breath. “Can you do me a favor? It will help me decide if I’m making the right decision or not.”
I nodded. “I’ll do it within reason. I’m not taking off my jersey and flashing you.”
He laughed. He took a deep breath. “I need you to kiss me.”
I jumped to my feet. He was nuts. There was no way. “Are you out of your fucking mind?”
He looked like I’d bitten off his head and kicked him in the balls at the same time. My anger flared a bit and some of the metal stuff behind him rose from their resting places. I took a deep breath and calmed down. They lowered to the floor; thankfully, Rick didn’t see any of it.
“I need to know if I’m staying for you or for me,” he stammered. “It's crazy I know but I can’t seem to stop thinking about you. You’re driving me insane. Do you know I completely forgot to study for my exam last night? I went to class after getting back from the Lab and I was completely unprepared. When I stared at the Scan-Tron sheet, all the dots seemed to form your face.”
I laughed. I couldn’t help it; it was the corniest thing I’d ever heard. His head dropped. I bit my lip. Damn I hurt his feelings. My heart started to beat real fast and I took a deep breath. I made a split second decision, one I hope I won’t regret. I jumped off the couch, grabbed the front of his shirt and pulled his face into my mine. Our lips only touched for a second but there was a spark. When he pulled away, his lips curled into a smile. I smiled too, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. I was expecting to be repulsed by it but instead I was repulsed by me.
Oh god. I liked it; I liked it a lot. I felt the bile rise up my throat. I forced it back down and then pushed him away. The tears started down my face. It couldn’t be possible. No, I won’t allow it. He took a step toward me but I shook my head, tears flowing like Niagara Falls now. He made another move toward me but I backed up. Fear overwhelmed me and the metal vase rose from the shelf behind him. This time he saw and his eyes widened. He took a step back and I dropped the vase. I cried out and ran off, throwing open my door.
I slammed it shut and threw myself on my bed. He tried to follow but I willed the lock shut with my power. He pounded on the door for a few minutes. But I ignored him, burying my face in my pillow. I cried myself to sleep.
“You need to wake up now,” said an annoying voice floating somewhere above my head.
I groaned and opened one eye. A normal person would have freaked out to see a gold orb hovering over their head. But I’m not normal, not anymore. I opened my other eye and batted Skeets away, not wanting anything in my face when I woke up. I moaned and slowly sat up. Skeets hovered over to the window, a little arm coming out of his body and pulling one half of the curtains aside. The morning light streamed through, hitting me in the face. I put up one of my arms, shielding my eyes and turning away. I looked at the clock and moaned. It was eight in the morning, far too early for me to get up. I looked back at Skeets as he pulled the other curtain open, more light streaming into the room. What the hell is wrong with this thing?
“You’re asking for an ass kicking.”
“I don’t technically have an ass for you to kick,” he said as he moved away from the window, deftly dodging the pillow I threw at him.
Hey at least he was learning.
I threw the covers off, noticing my jersey. A part of me wanted to scream at the sight but another part was kind of glad. Who the hell wanted to be on a team with a bunch of cowards anyway? They were all dicks too; none of them had enough spine to tell me how they really felt. I got frustrated and pulled the jersey over my head, tossing it into the corner. All men were scum, I’m glad I wasn’t one anymore. Ok so that’s technically not true. I’d give anything to have a penis again.
Skeets floated over to the jersey on the floor, using one of his arms to pick it up. “Would you like me to put it down the laundry chute to have it washed?”
“Burn it for all I care, I don’t want to see it again.”
Another arm came out of his body and he quickly folded the jersey, carrying it over to a pile of folded clothes in the corner. I shook my head. Ever since Skeets showed himself, the room was ten times cleaner. I used to just drop everything, clothes and garbage included. But Skeets was like my own personal maid. My clothes were all folded and the clean ones neatly put away. All my garbage was gone too, either in the trash bin that I didn’t even know I had or in bags ready to take to the dumpster in the parking lot.
“Clearly you’re still upset from last night,” he said, dodging the other pillow I threw at him. “Taking out your frustration on me isn’t going to solve things.”
Damn straight, I was upset and why shouldn’t I be. I kissed Rick last night and I liked it. I shouldn’t have done it but I needed to know as much as he did. I’m not sure who it shocked more, me or him. The worse part, I acted like a girl. I didn’t even wait around to get his reaction. I just freaked and ran away, blubbering the whole time. I looked down at my boobs, wanting to scream. Instead, I cupped them and shook them violently. Who in the hell’s idea was it to give me tits? I definitely didn’t deserve them and even if I did it was a cruel joke. Ok, so I know I’m a bit of an ass and I treat women like crap. Ok, see, I admit it. But don’t you think I’ve suffered enough. It was bad to make me a chick but its worse to make me one that’s attracted to my own best friend.
I wanted to cry but I forced the tears away. Never again. I don’t care what happens; I’ve decided I’m never crying again. I’ve also decided that I’m not going to let this chick thing get the better of me. I’m still Mike Carter, even if I don’t look like it on the outside.
I slipped off the bed and trudged to the door. It never occurred to me that I was just wearing panties. It didn’t matter much anyway. When I opened the door, I found the apartment deserted. I expected as much. But I was surprised to see that nothing was missing. I wandered into the living room and looked about. The broken coffee table was still there, I forgot to tell Rick what happened. But apparently he noticed because all the glass was cleaned up. On the little table next to the couch was a note, I recognized Rick’s handwriting: Mike, I’ve done some thinking. I still want to be your roommate but I think I need some time to cool off. I’m going to book a hotel room for a few days and clear my head. I’ll give you a call when I’m ready to talk.
I crumpled the note and tossed it onto the couch. Typical man, always running from the problem. I groaned. I did not just think that.
“You should cover yourself up,” said Skeets, floating into the room behind me, carrying my bathrobe.
I ignored him. “I’m going to take a shower. If anyone knocks on the door, don’t answer it.”
I didn’t wait for a response. Instead, I went right for the shower. I closed the door and locked it, going over to the toilet. There is one thing I like being about a chick and that’s getting to pee sitting down. You never realize how much easier it is until you’re not standing up to do it. I know it’s kind of a gross thing to think about but it’s true. I will never again be yelled at for accidentally forgetting to put the seat up and peeing all over it. Which reminds me I still really need to call my mother.
I finished relieving myself and got into the shower. This early in the morning I like cold showers. But as soon as I turned the water on---to a nice freezing temperature, I might add---I screamed at the top of my lungs as soon I stepped in. Who knew that girls had far more sensitive bodies than guys? I cranked the water to lukewarm, but the damage was done. I touched my nipples; they were so pointy they could shred flesh. I groaned as I touched them but there was no way I was going there. Not today anyway. I showered quickly and when I got out, I walked naked into the living room. Hey, no one was home to complain and if no one was around, I liked to air dry.
“You’re not covered up,” said Skeets, who was busy dusting.
I thought he said he was some kind of police robot or something.
“I’ve been meaning to ask, do you have eyes?”
He didn’t answer. Instead, he dropped the feather duster and floated over to the little table by the door. There was a thick manila envelope sitting there, he picked it up. “While you were washing, this arrived for you. There was also a call on the machine, from your mother I think.”
I groaned about the mother call as I took the envelope from him. I tore it open and looked inside. There was a lot of papers and something else. I dumped the contents into my hands, the smallest of which was a new ID. It wasn’t a driver’s license, I’d have to retake that, but it was a new school ID. It showed a picture of the new me, listing my name as Myka Carter and my age as 18. I groaned at that. What gave whomever the right to name me and make me a year younger? The most shocking of all was the fact that it listed me as a freshman. I didn’t like that one bit. I threw the ID on the couch as I walked over to it and sat down.
I scattered the rest of the envelope’s contents on the cushion next to me. There was a new birth certificate and a new social security card. There was also a form for me to fill out, requesting a new passport, not that I ever got an old one. The most important sheet was a letter from Jenet. She basically told me how she rushed my credentials through because she wanted to make sure I could start back to school as soon as possible. I was now officially re-enrolled in Northwestern as a freshman, a Civics major apparently. Whatever the hell that was. Included in the packet was my new schedule and some of the other things I would need to make my new life believable. There was a sealed envelope as well, addressed to my mother. I smiled; wondering if that meant I wouldn’t have to break the news to her after all. Which reminded me…?
“Skeets, can you play that message my mother left?”
He floated over to the answer machine and pushed play. My mother’s shrill and angry voice filled the room. “Michael Jon Carter” I cringed, she was serious when she used my middle name. “I am your mother, shouldn’t I have been the first person you called when you found out you were a Metahuman.”
“I got a call from a nice lady doctor and an Agent Faraday.”
Why did that name sound familiar? ‘They informed me that you transformed a few days ago and now you were Myka Michelle Carter. I find that hard to believe but I’ve seen the picture. You make a very beautiful girl, a daughter that would make any mother proud, except this one. If you ever keep anything like this from me again so help me…” Her voice trailed off and she sighed. “I hope to see you soon, sweetheart, so I can meet my darling new daughter in person. I’m so excited, your aunt and I are going shopping this afternoon so we can redecorate your room. You are still coming home for summer break, right?”
The machine beeped, telling me the message was done.
I groaned; that could have gone better. I scooped up all my new stuff and stuck it back in the envelope. My mother was the most important person in my life and I couldn’t believe how cowardly I’d been in avoiding her. I quickly ran my stuff back to my room and found some clothes to wear. Rick only got me a couple of outfits---God, I’m even thinking like a girl now---so I found a pair of my old sweats and a t-shirt, they were a little big, but seeing as I was going to veg around the house it didn’t really matter. I left the envelope on my bed then rushed back out into the living room.
I went right for the phone. I took a deep breath as I picked up the handset and dialed. It only rang twice before someone picked up.
“Hello” her voice always made me feel better.
I took a deep breath. “Hi Mom, it’s me, your new daughter.”
We talked for hours. Ok, so it was only two but it was still longer than I’d ever talked to my mother before. Back when I was still me, we had a good relationship but let’s face it we didn’t have much in common. Now, well it was kind of obvious. She asked me all sorts of questions and I didn’t hold anything back. I told her everything and I mean everything. She wasn’t too happy about the whole gambling thing and me almost stealing the gem from the museum and she knew I didn’t do those other things. How cool is that? She wanted to meet the new me as soon as possible. You know what else I broke my promise to myself and cried, a lot. She cried a bit too. I guess it’s inevitable, being a girl and all. Ok so new promise: I will never cry in public again.
Toward the end of our conversation, my stomach grumbled. “Mom, I have to go or I’m going to starve.”
She sighed. “I really miss you honey and don’t worry, everything is going to work out in the end. You take real good care of yourself and don’t do anything stupid.”
“I won’t Mom, I love you.”
“I love you too, sweetheart.”
We both hung up about the same time. Ok, so I didn’t tell her everything. I left out the part where Bea and I were going to confront Ballard tonight. Yeah, I decided that last night. I didn’t just want to know where this bastard operated; I’m going to confront his ass. I’m going to put an end to all this shit too. I don’t care if he breaks both of my arms; there is no way that Mike Carter is going to be treated like crap anymore. I puffed up my chest and smiled. Then sighed heavily. Of course, it would help if I was actually Mike Carter.
I picked up my new school ID. Myka, I suppose I was asking for that one.
“How did you convince me of this again?” I asked, tugging on the hem of my extremely short skirt.
Bea laughed. I think she enjoyed torturing me. “Have you seen the way girls dress to get into this club?”
I groaned. I knew exactly how girls dressed to get into the club, I’d brought a few here myself. But that still didn’t make things any better; in fact, it made it one hundred times worse. Because I knew how girls reacted to the way girls were dressed. I looked down at my outfit again and groaned. There was no way I could walk around in this place without every dick in the joint feeling me up or rubbing against me. Some might call it poetic justice, I just call it plain mean. The worse part, I think that she did it on purpose.
Ok, so a recap is in order.
After getting off the phone with my mother and hightailing it to Sal’s. That was kind of fun as I had to reintroduce myself to a guy I’ve known for about a year and a half now. I told him I was Mike’s sister and that I was staying with my brother for a few days. The great thing about Sal, he believed in his friends. He told me that he thought Mike was being framed and that there was no way he could do the things they said he did on TV. Besides Rick and my mother, of course, Sal was the only one on my side. Bea didn’t really count because I barely knew her.
So after Sal’s, Bea gave me a call. Apparently, the boss man gave her the day off. If I ever meet Mr. Wayne, I need to shake that guy’s hand. I might have to strangle him, too---I’ll get to that in a second. Bea met me a few blocks away, outside of a little salon. Yeah, I know. She was convinced that in order for me to be presentable I had to look the part. I’m not going to bore you with all the gory details but suffice to say, salons are torture. First the hair then the nails and the makeup, ugh. We went shopping after that and boy did we shop. You would have never guessed that she’d been anything other than a girl. She made a confession after the third store that we went to that she might have been a closet you-know-what. Hey, I’m not one to judge. Suffice to say she knew a lot about women’s clothes long before she became one.
We spent hours shopping. Then we spent a couple more hours in her apartment. It was a tiny thing. She might have been a student at Northwestern too, but dorm life wasn’t for her. Apparently she tried it after the change---it must suck going from twenty-five back to eighteen---but she felt she was too mature for the girls there. So with her modest salary she could afford a nice little place. Her building was no Tides but it was nice. But she tortured me when we got there. She said she needed to make sure that I passed as someone who belonged at that club. So she made me practice for hours and hours. Have you ever walked back and forth in four-inch heels wearing a dress so tight that you black out if you move wrong? Ok I’m exaggerating a bit but it was nuts.
After what seemed like forever, Bea announced it was time to go.
What am I wearing, you might ask. Besides the shortest and tightest skirt I’ve even seen, I’m wearing a tube top that would make a hooker blush and so much makeup that a clown would laugh. Ok, so it’s not that much, but it sure felt like it. I felt ridiculous as I stood in line, towering over a lot of girls there due to my massive heels. How in the hell was I going to run in stilettos if something bad happened?
“Stop fidgeting,” said Bea softly as the two of us moved up in line. “You’re making people stare.”
"This is nuts, I look like an idiot and those guys are staring.”
I gestured my head toward a group of frat boys. There were four of them and they couldn’t do anything but stare at me. It was really starting to creep me out. I hated the way their eyes were on me, it made every part of my body feel as if it needed to be washed a hundred times over. Bea turned her head slightly and smiled.
“They’re looking at you, girl, because you’re smoking hot.”
I groaned. I didn’t want to be smoking anything. Ok, remember how I was proud that I was gorgeous, well not anymore. I’d never been a modest anything as Mike, but now standing here in as little clothes as possible, I wanted to crawl into a ball and cry. This was the most embarrassing moment in my life and we weren’t even in the club yet. Wait until these people saw me dance. That’s right, I said dance. Bea spent a good portion of the day teaching me how to move my body the “proper way” as she called. I was a pretty good dancer as a guy---at least I thought so anyway. But apparently, female dancing was completely different.
It was all about the body. She tried her hardest to show me how to move as sexily as I could. But no matter how much she tried, she failed miserably.
“Pay attention, we’re next,” she whispered in my ear.
I took a deep breath as the couple ahead of us was let through the velvet rope. We were so close to the club now that I could hear the pounding music. The bouncer was a huge black guy, not much unlike the one that Ballard had at Billiards. But this guy looked like he could eat the other. When we got up to him, Bea smiled.
He looked her up and down. Then he turned to me and smiled too.
After a few seconds of intense eye searching, he said. “Ok Red, you and Legs, go on in.”
I shuddered at the name. I was tall before but with the heels, I was apparently a giant freak. Bea took my hand and pulled me inside.
The 1000's was like most clubs. The music was loud, you could barely hear yourself think and it was so cramped that it was hard to walk. We slipped through a pair of drunks flirting with one another. Two guys, hey I’m not here to judge. Then we pressed our way toward the dance floor. It was standing room only with a crush of people. Someone stepped on my foot, which kinda hurt. The whole time Bea never let go of my hand as my stomach did flip flops. She pulled me along, acting like a concerned mother dragging her small child through the mall. I held onto her hand as tight as possible. I think this place was once a warehouse, it was huge and even though the smell was greatly masked, you could still smell the lingering aroma of something un-clublike in the air.
Through the dance floor and the flashing strobes, Bea got me to the bar in one piece. There was a crush of people there, too. She ordered some drinks and handed me one. It was pink, in a martini glass that seemed to be glowing. I looked at it and shook my head.
“What the hell is this?” I asked, having to shout over the music.
She shrugged and downed her drink.
I took a deep breathed and downed mine too. Don’t ask me what it was but it sure tasted good. Bea ordered us another pair. I took my time with my second. I didn’t want to get drunk; I needed to remain focused. I looked around, trying to see if I could spot the perfect place where Ballard would hide. At first, I could see nothing in the dim light of the dark place. But as my eyes adjusted, I spotted something that looked promising. There was a large guy in a black shirt standing by a door. It was right next to the bathrooms and marked PRIVATE. That had to be the place. Now all I had to do was figure out how to get through it. I looked around, sipping my drink as I did so.
“Are you having fun?”
I turned to Bea. “I used to be a guy and I used to troll for chicks like me in places like this.”
She laughed. “Maybe we should dance?”
She didn’t wait for my response. She took my land and started to pull me toward the dance floor. I downed my pink drink and let her lead the way. As soon as we got onto the floor, it was like there was a whole new Bea. She came alive and was on fire---not literally, because that would have been bad. She moved as if she was a whole new person, slinking and sliding all about me. There were a lot of guys bouncing around, rubbing up against girls like I used to. They took one look at us and one of them actually licked his lips. My skin crawled. I grabbed Bea’s hand and got into the groove too. Before I knew it, I was taken away by the music as much as she was. It was incredible and so damn sexy. I didn’t even know I could move that way.
One thing led to another and two of us were kissing. It felt so damn exhilarating. Neither of us held back, our tongues battling in our mouths. I felt so alive. My nipples were like daggers and I was wet below. If this was what it was like to be aroused as a girl then I’m never wishing to be a guy again. My whole body tingled and I did everything I could not to drag her off to a dark corner somewhere and have my way with her. I think she felt the same because she was moaning as much as I was.
Someone tapped me on the shoulder, ending all the fun. I pulled away from Bea, feeling slightly flushed. I turned and saw a frat boy grinning at us.
“That was so hot, mind if I cut in?”
Bea answered for me. “Get lost, dick, she’s mine.”
He looked as if she ripped off his sack. All the color drained from his face and the crowd seemed to swallow him as everyone crushed in around us to dance. We did finally stop but not because we wanted to. Exhaustion set in and Bea led me over to one of the tables that seemed to pop up out of nowhere. It seemed strange that she was taking charge. When I was male I was definitely the dominant one in all my flings. But for some reason it felt kind of nice to be led around by the hand. Bea pulled a chair out for me and I sat in it as daintily as possible, just like she showed me.
The good news in all of this, the table was close to that door.
A waitress wearing a black tank top and a pair of neon yellow hot pants walked up to the guy. He didn’t even look at her. We were close enough to hear what she said:
“Vinnie, I need to go up.”
He nodded, stepped aside and opened the door. I smiled because I think I knew a way up there.
Another waitress walked over. She was blonde and big breasted. But her hooters didn’t seem to interest me as much as they would have. Bea looked at me and smiled. Then she ordered some more drinks. The girl scribbled the order down and teetered off.
‘You paying attention?” asked Bea, looking sideways at the door.
I nodded. “So that’s why we sat here.”
“I saw you looking over here before. I figured if we got close enough you might overhear something. You figure out a way to get through that door yet?”
I nodded again. “I’m going to need one of those waitresses alone though.”
“Leave that to me.”
She waited a few seconds for our waitress to return then she stood up, pushing her chair back in the process. She timed it so the chair hit the poor unsuspecting girl in the legs, causing her to drop her tray of drinks. Most of them hit the floor but one fell all over her. She gasped and looked like she was about to cry. I got to my feet after that as Bea apologized again and again. The lump by the door didn’t even move, fricking piece of work.
“Here sweetie” I said, taking her arm gently and helping her up. “Let’s get you cleaned off.”
“What about my tables?” she asked as I led her toward the ladies.
“They can wait for a few seconds. You’re drenched.”
I wouldn’t let her protest any further. I walked her into the ladies room, surprised there was no line tonight. Usually the damn line was longer than some lines at a roller coaster. I pushed her inside first, taking a deep breath and entering No Man’s Land for the first time. It was surprisingly the same except there were no urinals. There was a plush red couch though which was kind of unfair and of course, the tampon dispenser on the wall---I can’t wait to use that, ugh.
The waitress went to the hand dryer, turning it on. The not too bright girl bent down under it, trying to dry her boobs off. I rolled my eyes and reached for my little clutch purse. Yeah I’ve got a purse, how annoying it that. I rummaged around inside until I found what I was looking for. I made Skeets stay home tonight but not before, I asked him for a few things. He had a lot of little gadgets buried inside of his body, there had to be something to help. Luckily for me there was. I pulled out the little sliver cylinder, it looked kind of like a tube of lipstick. I walked up behind the girl and stuck her in the side of the neck with it.
One moment she was standing there, drying off her boobs and the next she dropped to the floor. Holy shit, it worked a lot faster than I thought. I left her there for a second, ran back to the door and waved Bea inside. She slipped in quickly and looked around, shaking her head.
“Your little friend was right; she did drop like a ton of bricks.”
I nodded. “I was hoping to use this on Ballard but I guess when the opportunity presents itself, you take it.”
Bea didn’t say anything. Instead, she helped me as we dragged the poor unsuspecting girl to a stall and then started to strip her.
I took a deep breath and stepped out of the bathroom. If I thought the skirt and tube top were bad, they’re nothing compared to these little shorts. There wasn’t anything to tug down and they were riding up so badly. I’m just glad Bea forced me to wear a thong tonight or else I would have looked ridiculous. But there is one good thing about this outfit, the shoes. They’re black ankle boots with only an inch heel instead of those neck breakers I was wearing before. I suppose an outfit like this helped the girls get tips but I’m glad I didn’t have to wear it every single day.
I minced over to the door, looking right at the guy, Vinnie. He didn’t look at me, exactly like I was hoping.
“Vinnie” I said, trying to sound like an oversexed bimbo. “I need to go up.”
I held my breath and waited. It felt like an eternity but he finally stepped aside, opening the door for me. I let out the breath after the door shut behind me. There was a narrow staircase before me. I didn’t waste any time as I went up, taking it as slow as I could. Hey, I’ve never climbed stairs in heels before. When I got to the only floor, I sighed and stopped a second to get my bearings. I was now in a long hallway, doors dotting each side. At the end of the hall, I heard the faint thumb of music and laughter. I assumed that’s where Ballard would be. I’m guessing all this area was where he did most of his shady business, whatever that might be. I know he’s dirty but I’ll be damned if I know what’s he’s in to. I’m guessing whatever it is it’s shady enough that he hides it all up here.
But was it shady enough to incriminate the bastard.
I took off in the opposite direction of the noise and went to the first door. But it was locked. I tried the next one but it was locked too. In fact, all the doors leading away from the noise were locked. So I turned around and went toward it. The first door I found opened up into what looked like a simple supply closet. The next door was a grungy looking bedroom with a heart shaped bed and awful smelling incense. I did not want to know what happened in that room. The third door, the one closest to the noise looked the most promising. Partially because it was made of solid oak and it had a name plate on it: DIRECTOR. I groaned, how much of an ego does this guy have?
I tried the lock and surprisingly found it open.
When I went inside, I found myself in a swanky office. It looked like something a scumbag might have. There was a large desk in front of an even larger window. Shelves filled with books lined one wall and the other was covered with flat screens, at least six forty inchers. The most promising thing in the room though, had to be the open laptop on the desk and the two filing cabinets. I went to the cabinets at first but they were both locked. So I went to the desk and tried the laptop. It was password protected though. I cursed and looked around the room some more. All the drawers in the desk were locked too. On the desk was an assortment of pictures, most of them of Ballard with important people. There were more of those on the wall too. There was also a paper on the desk; today’s in fact, the headline big and bold: PRESIDENT TO VISIT CHICAGO. It was kind of big news, seeing as he was from here and all.
I was about to give up when I noticed a manila folder stuck under the laptop. I smiled and slipped it out. When I opened it, I found that it was a criminal file of some sorts. The guy in the picture looked like a real thug: baldhead, face all scarred. I looked for a name but the only one that was there was an alias: Chiller. Who the hell calls themselves Chiller? I shook my head and continued to read. There was nothing else in it, just a list of the guy’s criminal record. That wasn’t going to help me at all. There was one thing that puzzled me. At the bottom of the last page there was a note, indicating that Mr. Chiller showed promise of rehabilitation, it was signed by Lex Luthor. How impressive is that?
I put the folder back. As soon as I did the door to the office opened, I froze.
“What the hell are you doing in here?” It was that big black guy, the one who hassled me at practice a few days ago. The one who threatened me and my mother.
I felt my anger rise, the lamp lifted off the desk slightly. I put my hand on it and calmed myself. Then I bit my lip and remembered that I was supposed to be working here. “I got lost,” I said in that airy voice I used with Vinnie. “Isn’t this the VIP Room?”
The black guy’s eyes narrowed. “I’ve never seen you here before.”
I smiled. “I’m new, I just started working here.”
He stepped into the room. He was on me faster than I could move. He grabbed my arm. “I don’t think so. I should know, I hire all the girls around here.”
I bit my lip. Son of a bitch. The bastard dragged me out of the room and down the hall. He didn’t bother to knock on the closed door that led into the noisy room. He pushed me inside. I landed on a sticky floor. When I looked up, I saw half a dozen faces looking at me. Ballard was one of them, another belonged to a face I never thought I’d see again, my own. The color drained from my face. How in the hell can I be there when I’m here? It wasn’t possibly. The black guy grabbed my arm and pulled me to my feet. I looked at the rest of the people in the room. One of them was too fat to sit on the couch he was sitting on, there was a girl sitting on his knee, the same one I saw come up here earlier.
Ballard was sitting on another couch, two girls on either side of him. The last person in the room was me or more accurately a fake Mike Carter. It was kind of eerie, looking at my former self. But how was it possible.
There was a little coffee table spread out in front of them, beers and other assorted drinks laid out there. Ballard grabbed his drink, took a sip and then set it back down. When he looked at me, it was with hungry eyes. I didn’t like them one bit.
“What do we have here, Hertz?”
The black guy put a vice-like grip on my arm. “I caught her snooping around your office, boss.”
I was pushed forward, landing on my knees at Ballard’s feet. He reached down and grabbed my chin, smiling. “What’s a pretty little thing like you doing snooping around here?”
I said nothing. The fake Mike spoke up, laughing. “Let me have her, she looks like fun.”
I gasped, he even sounded like me. But he sure didn’t act like me.
Ballard smiled. “What do you say cupcake, do you want to play with Mr. Chiller…I mean Mr. Carter?”
So he was Chiller. How in the hell did he look like me. The guy in the photo was bald and ugly. I took a gamble because frankly I needed to get out of here alive. “I can’t.” I said, looking at Chiller or rather the Fake Me. I’m confused. “You see it would look pretty bad if a brother screwed his own sister.”
Ok, so I was improvising. I was hoping it’d get the response I was looking for, it did. Something happened to the fake me. He started to change. His face started to twist and turn, morphing back into its old self. I gasped. So that’s how he was doing it. He was some kind of Meta shape shifter. Oh shit, that’s brilliant.
“Oh dear, I believe we have a problem” said Ballard with a smile. “Did that cowardly brother of yours send you to spy on me?”
Everyone in the room laughed, including the girls who were clueless as to what was going on.
I said nothing. Ballard got to his feet and grabbed my arms, pulling me up too. I was a whole helluva lot weaker than before. It kind of sucked. If I get out of this in one piece, I’m definitely hitting the gym or taking self defense classes or something. Ballard pushed a strand of hair out of my face and then gently guided me over to Hertz’s strong arms.
“Mr. Hertz as much as it shames me to say this, why don’t you take our little spy here out back and show her why they call you a blackguard.”
He smiled real big.
“You want me to go too?” asked the fat guy, stuffing cashews in his mouth.
“No Mr. Pruett, Hertz can handle one little girl” He thought about it for a second. “To be on the safe side though, take a couple of the guys from downstairs with you.”
Hertz nodded and dragged me from the room. I fought and squirmed but it was no use. I screamed out and crawled at the bastard, my newly manicured French tip nails digging into the flesh of his arm. But it was no use; it was like the man didn’t even feel it. Before he dragged me out the door, I shouted at Ballard.
“Why have him pretend to be Mike?”
Ballard held up his hand, stopping Hertz. “Practice, my dear. Your brother pissed me off a few months back and then failed to do what I asked of him. So I had Chiller here drag him through the mud a bit. I always like to test my new employees before I pay them for anything big.”
“Practice for what?”
Ballard smiled. “Now why in the hell would I tell you a thing like that?”
He waved his hand and Hertz dragged me the rest of the way out the door. I screamed and kicked but it was no use. He was too strong. He carried me down the hall and toward the locked door at the end of the hall. It led to a staircase. He carried me down it. I tried my hardest to get free but it was no use. When I got down the stairs, he pushed his way through another door. We were outside, in an alley behind the nightclub. There were three other guys there and someone else. I gasped when I saw Bea on her knees. One of the guys was the bouncer from the door.
“Who’s this?” asked Hertz, indicating Bea.
“The two of them came in together. Mr. Ballard just called, the security camera in the bathroom caught them knocking out one of the girls and taking her clothes.”
Bea looked up at me and I mouthed sorry. She smirked, apparently she wasn’t as down as I was. I was defeated. I had powers but what good would they do in this situation. But Bea. I looked at her and widened my eyes but she shook her head. What the hell was her problem? Then I saw it. One of the guys had a canister of gasoline in his hand, ready to dump it all over her. Had they discovered her ability? No, I noticed a few seconds later that they had another one for me. Oh God, they were going to burn us to death. How unrealistic was that?
“You do her,” said Hertz as he threw me to the ground. “And I’ll do this bitch.”
The bouncer laughed, tossing Hertz the canister. I looked around, panicked. The alley was secluded and out of the way. Even if I screamed, no one would hear me. There was only one light, which flicked above Hertz’s head and only one way in and out. Even if I managed to get away, the other guys were blocking the only exit. I was screwed. I looked over at Bea, we were both screwed.
One of the goons was already raising the canister over her head. I closed my eyes because there was no way I could watch my friend burn to death. But as soon as I closed my eyes, I heard a smashing sound. I snapped them open and just caught the streetlight blinking out. Something sharp and metal landed in my lap. I snatched it up and swung it Hertz, using it like a knife. I cut across his face and this time he felt it. He screamed and stumbled back. The others screamed too. I snapped around, hoping to see Bea in action. But she was on the ground, crawling away.
Someone else was there though. I only saw a bit of him because everything was black. He moved fast though. He took out all three guys in a matter of seconds. Then he snapped around, moving toward Hertz. There was a flap of black fabric as he leapt through the air and slammed hard into the son of bitch’s chest. He dropped the big bastard, landing a hard blow to his face, breaking his nose and probably his jaw. But Hertz was down for the count.
The shadowy stranger turned toward me. “The cops will be here shortly. You two need to get out of here.”
“What about Ballard?”
“He’s too connected. Find out what he’s got his hands into and then take him out.”
I nodded. I turned to Bea to see if she was ok. She was slowly getting to her feet but she looked otherwise fine. I turned back to thank the stranger but he was gone. What the hell? I looked around, hoping to see him. But there was nothing. How in the hell? I didn’t wait around long enough to find out what was going on. Instead, I ran quickly to Bea, took her by the hand and the two of us got out of there as fast as possible.
When I opened my eyes and looked around, I was a little confused as to where I was. The room was a lot smaller than my bedroom and it was light blue in color. I groaned and sat up, looking around a bit. I was on a queen size bed, which actually took up most of the small room. There were dark blue curtains hanging from the windows and replica prints of famous paintings on the wall. It looked sort of like the room a teenage girl might have if she was kind of anti-social and didn’t have a lot of friends. I looked about, trying to figure out how I got here. I rubbed my temples, feeling a bruise on my elbow and a pain in my left arm. I groaned, last night’s events coming back to me.
First, it was the nightclub and all the dancing. I had a couple of drinks but I was only buzzed. I think Bea kissed me. I touched my lips and smiled. No, she didn’t kiss me; she ravaged me. I blushed at the memory. Then everything kind of went bad from there. Bea and I knocked out a waitress, I took her uniform---if you can call it that---and I played Jane Bond. I didn’t do a good job at iit either. I got caught, met Ballard and the man who could shape shift into me and then I was almost killed in an alley. Oh god, the alley. I shuddered thinking about it. Those guys were going to burn the two of us alive and then something happened. It was kind of fuzzy but I think someone saved us.
A knock on the door took me out of my thoughts. Before I could say come in, the door opened and Bea slipped inside. She looked as bad as I felt. She was wearing a bathrobe, it hung open, revealing a t-shirt and pajama bottoms. She walked cautiously into the room, moving with slow and steady steps. I knew the look; she was definitely hung over. Clearly, she had had a lot more to drink than I did. When she sat on the corner of the bed, she winced.
“I am never going partying with you again,” she groaned as she flopped on the bed, her head falling on my lap. She smiled up at me. “Tell me I didn’t act too crazy.”
I was shocked. “You don’t remember?”
She moaned. “Only bits and pieces, I’m not sure what’s true or not.” She laughed and clutched her head, apparently even laughing hurt. She had it bad. “Can you clarify some things for me?”
I nodded. “Only the stuff I was there for I’m afraid.”
“Did I order and drink things that I didn’t know what they were?” I nodded. “Did you and I make out on the dance floor?” I blushed at that one which got her blushing too. “Did I strip off my top and hop around like a kangaroo?”
“I don’t know about that one but I would have loved to see it.”
She smacked me as I laughed. “What about the alley? Did some guys really try to set us on fire?”
I didn’t know how to respond to that. How do you tell a new friend that our first outing together nearly ended in tragedy? I teared up a bit. She leaned over and squeezed my hand. “I’m sorry,” I said softly.
She smiled. “We’re ok, so something must have happened?”
She didn’t remember that either. It was kind of vague for me too, but someone definitely saved us. Someone in black, who fought like a madman and disappeared into the shadows. Then I remembered. He threw something at the light and it fell into my lap. I looked around quickly, practically throwing Bea off my lap. I threw off my covers, noticing I apparently slept in my underwear. I didn’t care. I was more worried about the metal thing; it saved my life. I looked about, fluffing the blankets. Finally, I heard a ting as something hit the floor. We both scrambled to the end of the bed to look. There on the wooden floor, lying like it belonged there, was what looked like a metal throwing star.
I bent down and picked it up. But it was different from a normal throwing star because it looked shaped like a bat. What the hell is this? I turned it over in my hand. I even went as far as pricking myself on one of the sharp points. I cursed, sticking my bloody index finger in my mouth.
“What the hell is that?”
I shook my head. “Some kind of throwing star I think.”
“Doesn’t look like any I’ve ever seen.”
I held it in my hand for a few seconds more. Regardless of what it was or wasn’t, the damn thing saved our lives last night and so did whoever wielded it. I’m not sure who that guy was, but he sure had our backs. It was kind of embarrassing actually, me being who I am and being rescued like that. You’d think I was some kind of damsel in distress or something. That didn’t bode well at all. I dropped the funky thing on the bed and continued to suck on my finger. Bea looked at for a few seconds longer then seemed to realize she came into the room for a reason.
“Do you want to take a shower first or should I?”
“It's your place, right?”
See that’s how out of it I was. I knew it wasn’t my place but I never went further than her living room before. So how was I to know where I was?
She nodded. “If I remember correctly, you and I were pretty out of it. We managed to stumble out into the street and get a cab I think. I’m not sure why we asked it to come here but I do remember you putting me on the couch.”
I nodded. I vaguely remembered that too. I had to carry her into the apartment because she was more out of it than me. Apparently, she was a little drunk when those bastards dragged her into the alley. So even if she could have used her powers last night there was no way to tell how accurate she would have been. She could have fried me and everyone else too. I shuddered, that was a scary thought indeed. After I dropped her on the couch, I think I might have stripped her off her clothes and got her into some semblance of PJs. Then I wandered off to her bedroom. I’m not sure how I ended up in only my underwear and on what I assumed was her bed. Looking around the room now I realized it wasn’t the room of an anti-social person but the room of a girl who used to be a guy only a short time ago. It was bare probably because it was in the process of being changed over. I glanced at the floor and sure enough, there were a couple of cardboard boxes stacked against one wall and a lot of shopping bags scattered about. I recognized most of the names on the bags; they were the stores that Bea dragged me to yesterday.
Bea left the room, apparently taking my silence as her go ahead to use the shower first. I slipped off the bed and followed her out of the room, leaving the funky bat star thingy behind. Bea’s place was a lot smaller than mine, which I think I mentioned before. What I didn’t mention was how similar it was in decoration, though. It was clear that a guy once lived here. Bea had the same chrome decoration sense but she didn’t have the glass coffee table. She did have the massive fifty-two inch flat screen though, complete with killer speakers. It was a sweet set up. There was a PS3 in front of it, the controller hidden away somewhere. Unlike our place, hers had a more open layout. The living room and the kitchen seemed to be one, which was kind of cool, an island the only thing separating them.
I wandered about, looking at the walls. There were still some guy things hanging there. The coolest being a pair of snow boards. On a little table beneath them was a framed picture of a guy and girl. The guy was clearly Bea back in her previous life. He was kind of cute, if you liked that whole dark haired, dark skinned kind of guy. The girl was a knock out though. She had almost white blonde hair and was wearing a light blue ski suit, a funky looking icicle medallion hanging around her neck. The two of them looked like they were on the slopes somewhere.
“Who’s the blonde chick in this picture?” I shouted as I heard her rummaging around in the bathroom.
“That’s Tora, she was my girlfriend from before” shouted Bea, over the water she just turned on. “She was the love of my life but she didn’t take my changing too well. She kind of ran off with some other guy. You would have hated her; she was a real Ice Bitch.”
I nodded. She definitely looked like she could freeze a man’s balls off just by looking at them. Staring at her made me shudder.
I wandered over to the couch and grabbed the remote, flicking on the TV. I flipped through the channels, landing on the news. I was half expecting to hear about my doppelganger again but instead there was a scene from the alley. I turned the volume up, my very favorite reporter, Rose, was talking, with the alley in the background.
“This scene behind me is becoming all too familiar in this Windy city of ours,” she said, pointing her arm at the alley. “Here we have the 1000's Club, owned and operated by wealthy entrepreneur and Chicago’s own, Henry Ballard. But last night it was something else. At 12:03 am, police responded to a disturbance call. When they arrived, they found three unidentified individuals, bound and hanging by their feet from a street lamp nearby. There has been no word yet on how these three ruffians were strung up but this reporter has her theories.”
Just like the reporter she is, she didn’t bother to elaborate them, though. I groaned as she switched over to some supposed eyewitnesses. It was clear that the guy strung those three up, where Hertz was I had no clue. The slimy bastard probably slipped away or better yet, Ballard probably cut him down. I clicked off the TV and rubbed my temples. Ballard pissed me off before but now I wanted to beat him to a bloody pulp. All this time I thought he was trying to screw me over with the copycat and it turns out that I was just practice. That pissed me off majorly. This bastard was running around looking like me and the worst part, I had no proof. The only one who saw him do his face change was me and the people assembled in that room.
But that wasn’t the biggest thing that pissed me off. The biggest thing was that Ballard was up to something worse. I knew it wasn’t really any of my business but what that guy said to me last night seemed to hit a nerve: “…Find out what he’s got his hands into and then take him out”. It was almost like he was asking me to look into Ballard’s criminal activities for him. He seemed like the lurking type, why the hell wasn’t he doing it.
I groaned. My anger was interrupted by a knock on the door. I got up and wandered over, looking through the peephole. Hey, I’ve learned. There was a pimple faced teenage boy standing with what looked like a pile of mail in his hands. I unlocked the deadbolt and opened the door but I didn’t take the chain off.
“Good morning, Be…you’re not Bea?”
“No I’m not” I said crossly, the kid looked at my bare legs then quickly back at my face. “Who are you?”
“I’m Chase, I live down the hall. Bea asks me to bring her the mail and paper in the morning.”
“Slip it through.”
He nodded, sliding everything he had through the space I provided. When he was done, I slammed the door in his face. Though technically I was still a teenager, I hated them. I wandered away from the door, setting her mail on the nearest table. I opened the paper as I walked back over to the couch, sitting with my legs underneath me. The headline was similar to the one from yesterday, OBAMA ARRIVING IN CHICAGO SOON. The article underneath went into detail about the President’s arrival and the possible hotel he was going to be staying at. I rarely read front page articles unless it was something exciting. Instead, I usually went to the Sports page which is exactly what I did now. Even though football wasn’t in season anymore, I liked to follow other sports, too.
I started skimming an article on the Cubs when I stopped. I quickly flipped back to the front page, remembering something from last night. It was in Ballard’s office, besides all the useless crap on his desk. I noticed the paper but didn’t really pay any attention to it. But there was something else too. It was a matchbook, from a hotel bar. I didn’t think anything of it at the time because I had a couple lying around, too. But this bar happened to be in the same hotel that the President was reportedly staying at. I flipped back to the front page and read the whole article. The President was expected to arrive sometime tomorrow afternoon. The article didn’t list his itinerary but it didn’t need to. For the last couple of months they yammered on and on about it on the news. First, he was going to have a brunch then he was going to play golf with the Governor and Senator Hunter. After that he was going to head back to the hotel to speak to some group there and then make his way to the convention center for his big speech, the reason he was here in the city.
I groaned. The stranger’s words came back again: what he’s got his hands into. Oh God, it made perfect sense now. Ballard was going to use Chiller to go after the President. It made perfect sense now, why else would he need a shape shifter. The bastard must have been turning into me as a trial run; “practice” is what Ballard called it. It was a pretty good bet that Ballard would have Chiller kill the President and take his place. But to what end? Then it hit me, of course. Ballard was currently running for Senator against Rick’s Dad, and everyone knew that Hunter was going to kick his ass, even this early in the campaign. Ballard didn’t want to be Senator; he wanted to be in the white house. What better way to do it than controlling the President himself.
This guy was more fucked up than I thought.
“You looked fired up about something,” said Bea as she came walking out of the bathroom.
I didn’t even notice the water shutting off. I turned to her. She was wrapped in a towel, using another one to pat her hair dry. She looked so damn hot and sexy that way. I felt my nipples get hard just looking at her. But I didn’t have time for that. I jumped to my feet, thrusting the paper at her. “I think I know what Ballard’s up to.”
She lazily took the paper and scanned it. “The President? You think he’s after the President?”
I nodded. “You and I need to stop this.”
She sighed. “Last night was fun but it was a onetime…”
I ignored her. I sniffed my hair and groaned. It smelled as if I’d been lying in an alley, which I had. I walked up to her pecked her on the cheek and gleefully ran toward the bathroom to take my turn at the shower. I turned back, blew her a kiss and ran inside.
“Holy…” gasped Bea as we walked into my apartment.
I smiled. The apartment often had that reaction, especially with the girls I brought home with me. It was something to behold, I guess, if you liked big and swanky. I hated to admit it but I think Rick and I were a bit spoiled by his parents. Ok, they weren’t spoiling me. The apartment was more like a suite than anything else with a larger than average kitchen, a huge living room and a bathroom wedged between our two rooms. I’m surprised I never described it before. The walls were white, there was hardwood floor and only half the furniture actually came with the place. The rest---all the chrome and glass stuff---actually belonged to Rick. The only thing that belonged to me was in my bedroom.
But unlike Bea’s place, ours didn’t really feel lived in. It felt sort of like a large hotel room that the two of just happened to be staying in. We had the large TV and a state-of-the-art entertainment system but that was the only thing that made it feel like two guys---well one guy and one girl now---lived here. As much as I hated to admit it, Rick’s parents had a lot more to do with decorating this place than either one of us. I’m sure I’ve mentioned a few times how Rick’s Dad sort of dragged him around on a leash. Well he didn’t even let his son have his own opinion, it was sad really.
“How in the hell can you afford this place?” she asked as she walked over to a print on the wall, running her hand along it.
“My roommate is Senator Hunter’s son. His parents pay for most of it.”
I watched as Bea walked over to our couch and frowned at the broken coffee table. She looked at me, I shrugged and she smiled. Then she sat down, making herself at home. I watched her for a few seconds and then went into my bedroom. Skeets was floating in the middle of the room and when he saw me, he did that sigh thing he usually does.
“Where have you been?” he said, floating over to me. “Do you have any idea how worried I was?”
“Seriously, don’t start with me.”
I tossed the little clutch purse on the bed. Bea insisted I take it, in fact she insisted I take all the clothes she bought for me yesterday. Which thankfully didn’t consist of the outfit I wore to the club last night, that now belonged to that poor girl I knocked out last night. She could have it. Unfortunately, I was stuck with the clothes that I wore home now. After showering, Bea ambushed me with a new outfit. Yesterday we actually bought several, the skirt and tube top being the ones she settled on for me. This morning, after my shower, she forced me into another tiny skirt---one made of denim this time---a top that made my boobs look two times bigger and a pair of modest heels. I talked her down from the three-inch ones. Never again was I going to wear anything above a two inch.
I turned and looked in the floor length mirror on my wall and groaned. I looked like a bimbo. I was starting to notice a pattern in the clothes that Bea liked me to wear. She apparently liked a slutty look on her friends. I had to laugh though because the girl staring back at me was definitely something I would have picked up. How disturbing is that. I somehow went from me to my kind of girl. I turned this way and that, groaning. Then as quick as possible I stripped out of the clothes. I found a pair of jeans on the floor and then got some modest underwear. I dressed quickly, wearing a turtleneck and putting on my sneakers. When I came out of the bedroom, Skeets in tow, Bea frowned a bit. Yep, she definitely liked the slutty look better.
“Are you going to explain what happened last night, now?” asked Bea, the suspense killing her.
She wanted to know everything that went on upstairs as she was downstairs embarrassing herself. But I didn’t want to tell her anything until I was with Skeets. As much as he annoyed me, I somehow thought of him as my partner now too. Ok, there I admitted it. I don’t think I’d ever tell him that though. So with both of them waiting patiently, I told them everything. I didn’t leave anything out, starting from the moment we entered the club---for Skeets’ sake---all the way to the point of being rescued in the alley. Both were quiet during the story but Skeets did “ahhh” a few times. What was up with that?
When I finished, Bea spoke first. “A shape shifting Meta, are you sure?”
I nodded. “He changed from my old face back to his own. It was really creepy.”
“What the hell do you think they’re planning?”
“It’s obvious, isn’t it?” said Skeets, we both turned to him. “They’re going to replace the President. This all sounds vaguely familiar but I can’t quite place it. I have extensive historical databases but they’re still a little garbled from being in hibernation for so long.”
“Is there anything you remember?”
Skeets sighed again. For a few seconds he didn’t say anything but then his red light got brighter. I waited for him to say something but when he didn’t, I huffed. I hated it when people knew something but were unwilling to share.
“Well” I finally asked. “What do you know?”
“It’s still a bit fuzzy” he sighed. “I’m sorry, I can’t access that information.”
I narrowed my eyes. “You’re lying.”
Skeets didn’t say anything. I grabbed one of the pillows off the couch and threw it at him but he seemed to sense it coming because he already zipped out of the way. I lunged for him and he disappeared back into my bedroom. I got up to follow and Bea grabbed my arm, pulling me back down on the couch. I sighed, resting my head on her shoulder. She held my hand and the two of us sat like that for some time. Her holding my hand felt kind of nice. My heart starting racing and my palms were kind of sweating. It’s kind of funny because I’ve been with a lot of girls and none of them made me feel this way. I knew I felt something when I looked at Rick but with Bea, it was like the whole world slowed down when she looked at me.
Oh God, I like her. I’m not talking about just liking her enough to be a one night stand. I smiled; I really liked her. I bit my lip. I’ve never liked a girl before. I mean yeah, there a lot of girls that I liked but only because they were hot or had some body part I could admit while I had my way with them. But with her, the moment I saw her in that bar, I think I knew. I didn’t just want to screw her and toss her away. I wanted to spend every waking hour with her.
Bea brushed a strand of hair from my face. “What are you thinking about?”
I smiled. “Us.”
I waited for her answer and she gave it by tilting my head back and kissing me long and hard. My arms went up around her neck and I found myself being slowly lowered to the couch. It felt kind of strange, letting her take charge like this but it felt right too. I’m not sure why because I never would have let a girl do it to me as a guy. Now everything was all screwed up and frankly, I didn’t give a damn. We made out for a while, never going anything beyond some exaggerating petting. She did get her hands up my shirt though and played with my nipples a bit. God that felt good. We only stopped when one of us leaned on the remote and the TV clicked on.
“President Obama will be making an earlier arrival than expected” the voice of some female reporter said.
That caused both of us to snap up. It took us a few seconds to get untangled and look at the TV. Bea grabbed the remote and turned up the volume.
The reporter continued. “The President was originally not planning to arrive until next week. But after some careful rescheduling, he and Mrs. Obama wanted to take in some of the sights. Though the new itinerary was not released to the press I can tell you that the President will be arriving at his hotel early tomorrow morning…”
Bea muted the TV. “That’s bad.”
I bit my lip. “Maybe not.” She looked at me, confused. “Think about it. Ballard was planning on the President arriving next week so he won’t be prepared for this change in plans.”
I got to my feet and laughed. Bea was still confused. “This means they’re going to try to kill him earlier than planned.”
I shook my head. “No, this means that the two of us can get to him earlier. Don’t you see? Ballard probably had the whole thing planned out; after all, he still had a week to execute his plan. But with the President coming early, that means you and I can get there before Ballard.”
“Us? Don’t you think we should contact the authorities?”
I sighed. She was right of course. As much as I wanted to run off and be the hero, this really was a job for someone higher up. I groaned because I knew what that meant. I beckoned her with me and the two of us went into my bedroom. She longingly looked at the bed, which made me blush. Maybe later but right now I needed to find something. I looked about on the floor, searching for the jeans I wore the other night. Bea made a couple of comments about the messy state of my room but I ignored her. Instead, I found my jeans and reached into the pocket, taking out the card that Mr. Knight gave me. I looked at the number, found my cell phone and gave it a call.
I got voice mail so I left a quick message. “Hi, umm, Agent Faraday you don’t know me but my name is Myka Carter, this guy gave me your card and told me to call if I had any problems with a certain FBI Agent. But this isn’t about him; it’s about a potential threat on the President’s life…” I then went on to explain everything I found out, hoping that I could leave a message that long.
When I was done, I thanked him for the time and clicked off.
Bea smiled. “Is that it?”
I groaned. “There is someone else but I definitely don’t want to call him.’
“This is kind of important.”
I sighed and went to the trash bin; luckily, I hadn’t emptied it for a few days. I rummaged around inside until I found the other business card I was looking for. It definitely belonged in the trash but Bea was right, I needed to tell others. Hopefully Broderick wasn’t as much as an ass when he was actually during his real job. I got the card and called the number. Of course, he answered, the guy probably had nothing better to do.
“Agent Broderick" he said, sounding annoyed.
“Hi, it’s Myka Carter.”
I heard him groan. “Calling to tell me how innocent that brother of yours is or are you finally going to cooperate and tell me where he is.”
I groaned. “My brother is innocent and can prove it.”
I took a deep breath and told him everything, not leaving out a thing. When I was finished, he didn’t say anything at first. Then he started laughing. I knew then that there was no way the son of a bitch was going to help us. I didn’t even wait for him to stop laughing before I hung up. Bea frowned, now she knew how pointless it was to call him too. She gave my hand a gentle squeeze. I took a deep breath and weighed my options carefully. There was no way we could count on Broderick and as much as I wanted to count on Faraday, how often did guys like him check their voice messages. Besides, would he even believe us?
“What are you thinking?” asked Bea.
I sighed. “We’re going to have to do this on our own.”
“What do you mean there are no more rooms?”
The man at the counter sighed and rolled his eyes. “You do realize who is staying in this hotel at the moment, don’t you?”
I bit my lip. I felt like screaming at the prick but it wouldn’t help matters. I knew exactly who was staying at the hotel, hell, I was here to save his life. But of course, I couldn’t yell that. The guy behind the counter was just doing his job after all. Besides the two guys in the black suits standing nearby were making all three of us nervous. It was clear who they were from their dark sunglasses and earpieces. They were looming like stoic statues, staring at the people as they entered the lobby. The Drake Hotel was the place to stay at in Chicago, especially for someone like the President. It was luxurious and modern and apparently really hard to get a room at the moment.
I cast a glance at the secret service agents and grimaced. These two probably weren’t the only ones in the lobby. Even though I couldn’t see anymore, didn’t these guys like to go undercover, too? There were a lot of people in the lobby, most of them sitting about, reading magazines and newspapers. There were a couple of bellhops pushing luggage carts and a woman with a screaming two year old that she was failing to keep quiet. Though this place was really swanky, I don’t know why anyone would want to shell out this much cash to stay here.
Bea wrapped her arm through mine, entangling our fingers together. “C’mon sweetie, we can find some other place to celebrate.” She said this as sweetly as possible, resting her head on my shoulder.
The guy at the counter only looked mildly disturbed. The other part of him I think looked a bit turned on. He was young and if he was anything like I used to be, the idea of two chicks together was really hot. So I hammed it up a bit. I turned to her and laid one on her, making sure I went full tongue. I caught the dweeb out of the corner of my eye and though he didn’t visually show it, you could tell he was majorly turned on.
He cleared his throat and began typing on his computer. “We do have one room available” he said, “There was a cancellation a few moments ago. “Its one of our executive rooms, lake view.”
“Oh that sounds perfect sweetheart,” said Bea, really hamming it up now.
“Anything for you, babe.”
“Do the two of you want the romance package?”
“Yes please,” said Bea, cooing slightly. “Can you make it a king size bed too?”
I think the guy blushed several shades of red. He nodded. “Certainly” he said as he typed away. “That will be two hundred thirty a night, non smoking of course.”
Bea smiled. “Of course.”
She pulled out a gold card and handed it to him. I might have forgotten to mention this but Bea kind of rakes it in. Even though she lives in a rinky dinky apartment---her choice---she makes quite a bit of dough working for good old Wayne, even as a receptionist. Plus the government apparently fronted the recently changed bit of cash as an incentive, to help them get their lives back in order. I didn’t have a check, not yet anyway, but apparently it had a couple of zeros on the end of it.
The guy took the card and zipped it through. We waited a few seconds to be authorized then he smiled and handed the card back. Bea took care of everything else as he handed her some paperwork, including the room key, which was actually a card. Me, I looked around a bit more. My eyes went from the front doors to around the room and back to the secret service agents. They were definitely foreboding and scary. But they were just doing their job after all. Me, I was doing my job too. Somewhere in this place was Chiller and possibly Ballard too.
After not getting a response from Agent Faraday and getting blown off by Broderick, Bea tried to talk me into calling the police. But I wasn’t willing to get laughed at again. Besides, they wouldn’t believe us anyway. For one thing, we had no proof and for another, Henry Ballard was a good friend of this city. He was like the Lex Luthor of Chicago; he donated tens of thousands of dollars to charity every year and dotted all his I’s as far as his activities went. Besides the nightclub, he was really well respected. But all of that was factual of course, just like Luthor, if the rumors were true. In truth, Ballard was as crooked as they came, hell he was gambling in a shady joint, placing illegal sports bets and what not. Let’s not forget his almost attempted murder of me and Bea, which I’m sure wasn’t his first but if I’m successful, hopefully his last.
Bea still tried to talk me out of it though. Not that she didn’t want to save the President but she thought there was someone else who could pull this off better than the two of us. Sorry, the three of us, I keep forgetting about Skeets, because he’s invisible half the time. She wanted me to try contacting that superhero from the news, Giganta, or maybe even Jade. But it’s not like I can scream for help and they’ll come a running. Besides, I had no way to contact them. She told me what Jade told her about needing help but we couldn’t leave this up to chance.
I made the overall decision last night. Then the two of us woke up early in the morning and devised this plan. It was kind of simple really. The two of us would pretend to be newlyweds and try to get a room in the hotel. Once that was achieved, we’d try to figure out a way to get to the President and warn him of the impending danger. Ok it wasn’t a very well thought out plan but it was all we had. It’s not like I could go charging into the place, shouting bomb or something. Do you know how fast those two burly Secret Service guys would have tackled me?
One of them did look at me finally. I think he was sizing me up and something else. His gaze lingered on my chest a little longer than it should have. I shuddered, not sure if I liked the attention or not. I suppose I deserved it, knowing how much of a pig I was before. But no girl deserves all the looks I kept getting. It was really disturbing actually. I zipped up my hoodie, pulling the hood over my head and turning away; glad I was wearing jeans and not the skirt Bea tried to talk me into.
“Ok, thank you so much” Bea said to the guy behind the counter.
I took a few steps away, grabbing our two bags. A bellhop tried to take them from me but I shook my head. I didn’t want him to take them and realize they were too light. They weren’t filled with anything besides newspaper, to give them the effect that they were stuffed to the brim. Hey, we’re not here on a real vacation; we’re here for business. I pretended to heft the bags a bit as if they were heavy and followed Bea across the lobby to the elevator. She was dressed sexily today, in a tiny skirt and cute little top. She was supposed to be the bimbo, girly girl of the relationship. Me, I was her butch lover apparently. But even I knew I couldn’t really pull that off with how I looked. I was too damn gorgeous to pull off butch but she pulled off the bimbo pretty well.
As soon as we got into the elevator she sighed, spitting out her gum and finally relaxing her face muscles. I didn’t know a human being could smile that long.
“You owe me big time for that,” she said, massaging her face.
I laughed. “It worked, didn’t it?”
She nodded. “Now what, oh fearless leader?’
“Skeets, you here?”
The golden football materialized next to my head. I sighed, jumping slightly. That was starting to get really annoying.
“I’m here, Boss,” he said, floating a few feet away from my face. “How can I help?”
“Can you use that Wi-Fi thing of yours and tap into the hotel computer system. We need to know which floor the President is staying on.”
“That’s your plan” gasped Bea “what, are you going to go knock on his door and tell him that someone is trying to kill him?”
I nodded. “Pretty much.”
I know what you’re thinking and you’re probably right. This plan isn’t going to work but I have to try. Chiller will stop at nothing. All he has to do is kill the President and replace him. I’m sure he’s got some crazy plan to get into the room. I bet it’s better than ours, too. Last night I thought we had the jump on things but then I realized that Ballard could change his plans just as easily, too. After all, I’m sure he got the papers and watched the news. Yeah, it was probably difficult but he was a man with a plan. If he was able to organize what he did, I’m sure he could change it just as quickly. It was all the more reason why we had to act so quickly. I was pretty damn certain he’d try to make the switch here. It would be really hard to do it at the Convention Center with all its security.
“I have found the President” said Skeets after a minute or so. “He’s in the Presidential Suite on the top floor.”
I nodded and looked at Bea. “What floor are we on?”
She looked at her keycard. “Eight.”
I nodded again. That meant we’d have to travel up two floors. I looked at the elevator buttons. There was no way the two of us could just waltz up to the tenth floor; it was probably swarming with Secret Service. But maybe we could go there by mistake. I took a deep breath and pushed the button for the tenth floor. Bea gave me a look but I smiled. I think she caught on because she smiled back. When we reached the eighth floor the door opened, I peered out into the hall and sighed. It looked really nice and swanky there. It was a shame that the two of us would never get a chance to enjoy it. I made a mental note to pay Bea back the 230 she just shelled out for a room that was going to go vacant for the night.
The elevator went up past the eighth and continued up to the tenth. I took a deep breath as the it came to a stop and the door slid open. I put on my game face, Skeets disappeared and I wrapped my arm around Bea’s waist. The two of us both took more deep breaths and stepped out the elevator, giggling. It didn’t take long for our laughing to draw attention. I caught a look down the hall as I pushed Bea gently into the wall and had my way with her. It was kind of cool, I felt like I was in a spy movie. There were four Secret Service agents standing in the hall. The closest one, a guy not much older than us, was walking rapidly toward us.
“Excuse me, ladies” he said, his tone gentle but forceful. “You can’t be here; this floor is off limits to guests.”
We pulled away from trying to suck each other’s face off. Bea giggled and put on her bimbo act again. I playfully sized the guy up, looking at the bulge on his left side, where his gun was located.
“This is our floor,” said Bea, giggling, holding up her card in the guy’s face. “See.”
The agent looked at it and sighed. “This isn’t your floor.”
“Sure it is” said Bea, looking at the card. “It’s eight.”
“I know your card says eight” he said, annoyed. “But this floor is ten.”
“Ten” said Bea, looking confused. “That comes after eight, right?”
Whoa maybe a little too much there.
I looked past them, gently slipping my arm away from Bea. The other three guys in the hall seemed to be drawn to the disturbance. The closest one was coming now. He was a tall, bald headed black guy about the same age as the other. He was moving pretty fast. I turned back to Bea. She was really putting on a performance now, giggling and flirting. She had her hand on the agent’s shoulder, laughing. Her plan appeared to be working, whatever it was. I think she was trying to pull off the drunken sorority girl act and it was working. The other agent arrived, ignoring me. He tried to pull Bea off his friend, but was having a hard time. It amazed me to see how strong she was. She was holding her prey’s tie, giggling and tugging on it.
“Why don’t we go to one of these rooms and I’ll show you a good time.”
The other agent grabbed her arm. “Miss, this is inappropriate.”
Bea grabbed his forearm, giving it a good squeeze. “Look at the bicep on you, I bet you work out.”
The agent ignored her. He tapped his ear. “You two better get over here. We have a problem.”
I stood off to the side. Bea was doing a good job keeping these two busy. But I’m sure the other two were going to notice me. I tried to weigh my options. The only thing I really had going for me was my magnetic thing. But I’m not really sure about that. I did an ok job with it in the apartment but that was little things. These were grown men. Besides, I’m not sure what I could do to stop them. As far as I could tell, there was nothing metal on any of them. Except maybe their guns and I wasn’t even sure about them, didn’t they make them out of ceramic now, or something?
The two others were moving down the hall, slower than their companions did. One of them was reaching into his coat, probably going for his gun. Oh shit, this was getting out of hand.
“Skeets” I whispered, going for my only other option. “Do you have anything that can take these guys out without harming me or Bea?”
“I thought you’d never ask.”
The two guys were moving faster now when they realized that I was standing there, too. One was coming right for me. He got about five feet away before something happened. It was quick. There was a little metal thing that flew out of thin air---probably from Skeets---it hit the guy in the neck. It didn’t take long for him to drop like a ton of bricks. His companion slowed and reached into his coat. Another metal thing sailed through the air, hitting him in the chest. He staggered a bit but dropped to the ground too. Skeets materialized and snapped toward the two guys who were with Bea. Both of them were too busy to notice.
Two more metal things flew from Skeets, hitting both of them in the back. They staggered and dropped.
Bea sighed. “I thought I was going to have to go pyrotechnic in a few seconds” She looked down at the agents, unconscious on the floor.
“They’re not dead, are they?”
“No” said Skeets, hovering over them. “My darts are non-lethal. They should be out for about a half an hour and then wake up with splitting headaches.”
“Skeets you are a bad ass” I said a with a big smile. “Remind me to never leave the house without you again.”
“It was a pleasure.”
Bea sighed. “You two can have your romance later; right now we have a President to save.”
I smiled and the three of us took off down the hall toward the presidential suite. There were no more guys outside the door. I went first; making sure Bea was behind me. I guess she should have gone first because of her power, but if anything were to happen to her, I’m not sure I could have lived with myself. After all, I kind of dragged her into this. Besides how bad would it look if I got my potential girlfriend shot on our second date? Ok so it’s not really a date but it was kind of cool to think of it as one.
I took a deep breath as we approached the door. I was going to do this as subtle as possible. So of course, I knocked on the door and said, “Housekeeping.”
Hey, it’s subtle, right. At first, there was no answer. So I knocked a little louder. A few seconds later, there was a sound from the other side. When the door finally opened, there was a burly man in a black suit standing there. He was wearing the traditional dark shades and earpiece. When he looked down at us---yes, he was a couple of inches taller---he didn’t look too happy. He didn’t say anything, instead his eyes cast down the hall and at the four guys unconscious at the end of it.
What happened next was really too fast to comprehend. One minute I was smiling smugly and the next the guy had his gun out. The barrel was real close to my face, almost touching my nose. It was so fricking fast. Ok so I know it looked bad but damn.
“ON YOUR KNEES NOW!”
Ok, someone was overreacting. I raised my hands. “I know this looks bad but it was the only way to get past them.”
Three more guys appeared, all pointing their guns too. Thankfully, Skeets was invisible again or they would have really freaked.
“This is a big misunderstanding,” said Bea, raising her hands slowly. “We’re not the threat here but there is one.”
“ON THE GROUND NOW!”
I nodded to Bea and slowly got on my knees. She reluctantly did the same. “We’re not the bad guys, dude,” I said, trying to smooth things over but I think it only made things worse.
The guy ignored us. He touched his earpiece. “Lobby, we have two potential hostiles up here. We need back up now.”
The guy waited but there was no response. He tried again but still nothing. Then he glared at us, his eyes narrowing. Oh shit, he thought we took out the lobby, too. But that was ridiculous, those guys were fine unless….oh God. It was Chiller, it had to be. I looked at Bea and she nodded her head, coming to the same conclusion. Then I took a deep breath and chanced it. I slowly got to my feet, my hands above my head.
The guy snapped back to me, raising his gun. “BACK ON THE GROUND NOW!”
“I’m not the threat here dude” I shouted “but someone is. There’s a guy here, he can look like anyone, and he’s after the President.”
The two agents behind the guy laughed.
“Its true” said Bea, getting to her feet too. “We called this in. Call Agent Faraday of Homeland Security, we left him a voice mail and explained everything.”
The guy pointing the gun at us didn’t flinch. “There is no Agent Faraday or Homeland Security. I know most of the field agents in this sector, he doesn’t exist.”
“Maybe he works for a different one?”
I saw the doubt in the guy’s eyes. Then he was all business again. “Get back on your knees now before I have to use this.”
I tried to switch tactics. “This guy who is coming, he’s a Meta, a shape shifter. He can look like anymore. His name is Chiller, call it in, he’s got a record. He’s working for Henry Ballard; they’re trying to kill the President.”
I said it all in one breath. The other agents behind him laughed some more but the guy in front of me didn’t. He lowered his gun slightly. He looked me up and down then looked at Bea. “You two don’t move” He didn’t holster his gun but it wasn’t as close to my face anymore. He turned to one of the guys behind him.
“Hendricks, phone it and check.”
“You can’t be serious?” said the guy who I assumed was Hendricks.
“Are you questioning me?”
This guy and the other one still kept their guns trained on us. Hendricks was at a little coffee table in the room at a laptop. He was typing away rapidly. I watched him, looking for signs. I got what I was looking for when I saw his face. His eyes widened.
Sir, she’s telling the truth,” said Hendricks, spinning the laptop around. “I’ve got it right here. It doesn’t say anything about him being a Meta but he’s definitely in the system. He’s bad news sir, on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.”
The Secret Service Agent finally lowered his gun all the way. He looked me up and down. “What’s your stake in all this?”
I sighed. “My name is Myka Carter. I used to be Michael Carter of the Northwestern Wildcats and I’m a Meta.”
The guy’s eyes widened. So did the other guy. “You’re the Booster?”
I smiled. I had fans all over the place, who knew. “Check with the government, I was just registered.”
Hendricks was ahead of his boss, typing away. It didn’t take long. “Believe it not, she’s telling the truth, boss.”
The Agent beckoned us into the room. We stepped inside. I couldn’t believe how large and swanky this place was. It was three times larger than my apartment even. It was lush and looked like a princess lived here. I took a deep breath. If I ever got rich and famous, I was definitely going to make sure I stayed in this room. I looked about; it had everything, everything that is except one very important thing. I scanned the room, seeing just the three agents and nothing else. What the hell was going on here?
Bea asked the question. “Where’s the President?”
The Agent in Charge answered. “The Drake was a decoy. He was never coming here. We set it up to deter would be assassins. The President and his wife have a home herethat they stay at when they come to the city.”
I sighed. So all of this was for nothing. “Is he there now?”
The Agent shook his head. “No, he’s en route to the Convention Center.”
I nodded and then it slowly dawned on me. Ballard probably knew that too, he ran in all the political circles. I groaned. Chiller was never coming here; the two guys in the lobby were probably on a coffee break or something. Oh God, I’m at the wrong place. The color drained from my face. I turned to Bea but she realized it too.
“We’re at the wrong place,” I said softly. “Chiller’s going to hit him at the Convention Center.”
I think that got the Agent’s attention. “That’s impossible. Ten of my best men surround the President. There’s no way he can get close enough.”
I shook my head. “Chiller’s a shape shifter, remember. He could be anyone. Ten guys aren’t going to stop him.”
The color drained from the Agent’s face as realization dawned on him too.
“I have to get to the Convention Center now!”
“Let us handle this, missy”
I looked around the room and found a metal ashtray sitting there. I raised it off the floor to the wonderment of all, including Bea. “I think I can handle this on my own.”
I dropped the tray to the ground and didn’t wait for the others to respond. I just turned and took off running. There were loud footfalls behind me, probably Bea and possibly the others. I’m not sure because right now, I had a one track mind and that said the President was in danger.
Bea and the Agents caught up with me just as I was getting into the elevator. That was ten minutes ago and now the five of us---invisible Skeets as well---were on our way to the Convention Center. The guy behind the wheel of the black SUV was driving like a maniac, swerving in and out of traffic. The Agent in Charge---whose name happened to be Franks---was trying desperately to raise the Presidential convoy. But so far, he was having no such luck. Me, I was gripping my seat, trying as hard as I could to keep my anger under control. How could I have been so stupid? I should have known that the hotel wasn’t the target. But I believed the news in thinking that the Obama’s would be here. But of course, they’d stay somewhere else; they were from Chicago after all.
I cursed. A couple of paperclips floated above my head, hitting the ceiling. Bea grabbed my hand, trying desperately to calm me. ‘We’re going to do this. Everything is going to be fine.”
I smiled, giving her hand a squeeze. “We screwed up.”
“Why can’t I raise the team, Hendricks?” asked Franks from the passenger seat.
Hendricks was sitting next to me on the laptop, typing away. “Someone is interfering with our radio transmissions. It’s really strange but I can’t get through.”
I took a deep breath. Now was time to put all the cards on the table. “Skeets show yourself.”
Skeets suddenly appeared. He was floating near my head. There were some collective gasps in the car. But I ignored them. “See what you can do to help with the radio problem.”
He floated over to Agent Hendricks. The Secret Service agent looked like someone had deflated the air out of his bicycle tires. He looked from me to Skeets to me again. “What the hell is this?” he asked.
“A long story” I said, looking out the window.
I could see the Convention Center looming up toward us. We were about five minutes away. The wait was kind of nerve racking. Bea held my hand, squeezing g it, keeping me from making bigger things form floating about. I bit my lip and squeezed her hand too, trying desperately to hold on to some control. I didn’t want another rehash of my apartment.
Hendricks cut into my thoughts. “We’re through. This little robot is amazing,” He sounded giddy for a second. “The President is in the Green Room right now prepping. I’ve told Donahue about it and they’re on full alert.”
Franks let out a sigh. “Tell them to hold him for the time being.”
“Will do, sir”
We finally reached the convention Center. The SUV went around the back, coming to a halt next to a pair of like colored SUVS. There was a limo there too, with the presidential seal on the side and those little American flags. I looked at a few seconds as the vehicle came to a complete stop. When we did I unbuckled quickly and threw open the door. When I jumped out of the SUV, Skeets flew out in front of me. He went right to the other vehicles, zooming about them. He stopped at the limo for a second, hovering over the trunk.
I ran over, Franks a few steps behind me. “What is it, Skeets?”
“There’s a body in there.”
I took a deep breath and concentrated on the trunk. Please don’t let it be the President. I yanked on the trunk with all my might, tearing the hood clean off. It sailed through the air, over my head and landed somewhere behind me with a clang. Inside the trunk was a red haired guy in a black suit, his glasses and earpiece gone, his neck looked twisted. He was a little pale but other than that, it looked like he’d only been dead for a few minutes.
Franks gasped. “That’s Donahue.”
Hendricks came running over and looked into the trunk. “What the hell?”
Franks pulled his gun and tapped his earpiece. “We have a hostile in the building, masquerading as Agent Martin Donahue.”
I didn’t wait to hear the rest. I took off toward the building. Skeets followed close behind. I think people were running after me but I was too far ahead. Hey, football player, remember. I hit the door hard, knocking it open. I’m not sure if it was my power or my body that did the trick but there was a snap and it came off the hinges. It clanged a few feet down the hall as I ran into the building. There were more running behind me. I ignored them and ran as fast as I could down the long narrow hallway. Up ahead there was a few guys in black suits. They held up their hands, trying to stop me. Nearby there were two metal doors.
My anger took over. The doors got ripped off their hinges and slammed into the agents, knocking them to the ground. I jumped over their crumpled forms and continued to run. I didn’t know where I was going, only that I needed to get to the President before Chiller.
“CARTER SLOW DOWN!” shouted a voice, I think it was Franks.
I ignored him.
“Boss” said Skeets, hovering next to me. “I’ve tapped into the place’s security grid and have a layout of the building. The President is the a room a few corridors down and up a flight of stairs, first door on the left. You better hurry, there’s a commotion going on in there.”
I put on the speed. When I got to the end of the hall there was a flight of stairs. I started up them two at a time. About half way up something happened. My body felt as light as air and I slowly lifted off the ground. It was impossible but somehow I was flying. I looked about and saw metal handrails on either side of me. Was I somehow using magnetic current to lift myself off the ground? I didn’t really care at the moment. All I cared about was getting to the President before it was too late.
I floated the rest of the way up the stairs. Once to the door leading to the next floor, I used my gift and blew it off its hinges. The door crashed down the hall, making a lot of noise. I ignored it and ran out of the stairwell. As soon as I stepped into the hall, my feet touched the ground. I guess it was the current after all.
I ran down the corridor. There were how many corridors now. Wait, no, that was downstairs. Up here, the room was right there. I stopped in front of the door and took a deep breath. I tried the knob first, opening the door slowly. I was just in time. There was several guys lying on the ground, some of them were dead, others looked stunned and confused. Chiller must have been strong, too, because a lot of them looked pretty mangled. But they weren’t the ones who mattered. The President was my goal. He was lying against the wall, a guy in a black suit standing in front of him, pointing a gun in his face.
I reacted on pure instinct. I looked around the room and found what I was looking for. There was a metal table against the far wall. I reached out with my gift and grabbed it, flipping into the air. Chiller---at least that’s who I thought it, was---snapped toward it, surprised. I didn’t give him much time to think about it as I used the table and slammed him against the wall. He dropped his gun and screamed. It was pretty cool but it wasn’t enough apparently. I tried my hardest to keep him pinned to the wall but he was stronger than most people. He pushed the table off, sending it crashing across the room. He dropped to his feet, lunging for the gun again.
I found something else. It was a microphone stand. It was made of metal. I whipped it into the air and send it flying at the bastard. First, I hit him in the gut with it, dropping him to his knees. Then I smashed him in the head. He cursed and looked at me.
“You’re the little bitch from the club” he spat blood from his mouth, his face changing back to the ugly bald headed normal version of himself. “Your little magic tricks won’t work on me.”
He batted the stand away, getting to his feet. He snatched up the gun and fired.
I raised my hand in fear and desperation. The bullet flew through the air and slowed down, stopping within a few inches from my face. He fired again. I snapped the first bullet around, slamming it into the second, stopping it in mid air. Chiller didn’t seem to be fazed as he fired again, twice this time. I caught the bullets and snapped them around, sending them back at him. He may have been super strong but there was no way he could stop bullets. One of them hit him in the left thigh, the other in the shoulder. He dropped to the ground, wailing in pain.
He raised his gun, ready to fire again. But he never got a chance. A shot rang behind me and a bullet whizzed through the air, hitting him in the head, dropping him quickly. I snapped around, Franks was standing in the doorway behind me, panting.
“You really are fast,” he said, slumping into the doorframe.
A few seconds later, Bea pushed past him, running into my arms, throwing her arms around my neck. “Never do anything like that again.”
Franks recovered and ran to the President. I looked, too. Please let him be ok, tell me I’m not too late. Franks checked him over, helping him to his feet. The President stirred and I sighed. He looked about, clutching his arm. He looked at the dead Chiller then at Franks. He patted the agent on the arm.
He sighed. “Donahue tried to kill me.”
“It wasn’t him, sir. It was a meta human shape shifter.”
The President nodded. “Good work, Franks.”
“I didn’t save you sir,” he said, pointing to me. “She did sir.”
The President smiled and nodded. “I owe you my life my dear. What’s your name so I can thank you properly?”
Franks answered for me. “That’s Booster, sir, Chicago’s own golden girl.”
The President walked over and held out his hand. I took it and we shook. “Thank you, Booster Gold.”
I smiled. Booster Gold, huh. I guess it kind of had a nice ring to it.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you the young woman responsible for my life, Booster Gold.”
I was standing on a podium with the President, in front of the huge crowd at the Convention Center. A few moments before the President explained in detail about the attempt on his life and then told the world how a Meta human saved him. It was a complete turnaround. The speech he had planned for the day was actually going to discuss the Meta human impact on the country and the world as a whole. No one knew what the President was going to say but everyone feared it was going to be disheartening. But after I saved him, he tore the speech up and decided to wing it. I’m not sure how much of an impact I had on it or not.
The crowd on the television screen went wild, chanting my name over and over again. Me, all I could do was smile and then I muted it. I started surfing and saw my mug on every single news channel, the headline beneath pretty much said the same wherever I went: ROOKIE HERO SAVES PRESIDENT. It was kind of cool when you thought about it but I couldn’t help but think how annoying it got, too. Hell, as Mike I would have loved all the attention, in fact I would have basked in the glory. Now I just wanted to be left alone. But that it seemed, wasn’t going to happen. As soon as that news broadcast aired two weeks ago my life has never been the same.
For starters, the phone hasn’t stopped ringing. First, it was the reporters, all seeking interviews with the hero who saved the President. I let most of those go to the machine. But there were so many that I actually had to have my number changed. The phone still rang but it had died down a lot since then. Then there was the letters. A lot of people were writing to Booster Gold, thanking her and asking her for help. It got so bad that I actually had to hire someone to help me read them all---I’ll get to that in a second. After the letters, came all the endorsement deals. That’s right; everyone wanted a piece of the Booster.
But that was only the half of it.
My cell phone rang. I groaned and clicked off the TV, snatching the phone off the coffee table in front of me. I looked at the screen and groaned, clicking the speaker. “Go ahead, Dirk.”
“Myka, baby” said the over enthusiastic voice of Dirk Davis, my agent.
I groaned. I told him not to call me “baby” but he barely ever listened. Dirk popped up two days after I popped up all over the news. He said he could help me get my career on the fast track. I kind of ignored him at first, thinking that maybe he was a nut. Then the offers started to flood in. Companies wanted to endorse me; others wanted me to advertise for them. There were even some movie studios who wanted to do movies based on my life. It was kind of crazy. The wildest one was a pitch about Mike Carter, going from all American football hero to darling debutante. No, I’m not a belle of the ball but the studios liked to put their spin on things.
I met with Dirk last week and told him I wanted the offers to stop. But he had other plans. He was convinced that he and I could create a Booster Gold empire. He wanted me to take a few offers, maybe do some commercials and photo shoots, get my name out there. It was kind of crazy really. I only did one thing and the whole world wanted a piece of me. They were fricken vultures.
“I told you not to call me baby, Dirk,” I said, rolling my eyes.
“Sorry sweetie” he said, his voice half drowned out by rushing air, he was probably driving. “But I have a great deal for you. “
I groaned. “I’m not interested.”
The offers kept coming in and so far, most of them were crap. I didn’t want to endorse cereal or energy bars. I did have a soda thing lined up for next month and there was some kind of commercial I supposed to shoot for something. I can’t even remember what, Dirk had that all set up.
“It’s big, sweetie” he said “real big.”
I sighed, defeated. “What is it?”
“It’s Sports Illustrated.”
I was all set to say no but the least I could do was hear him out. “Go on.”
I could almost see Dirk smiling. “They want you for the cover of their swimsuit edition. They’ll pay handsomely for it too. They’ll do a spread, a good fluff piece and you get to wear whatever you want. I’m thinking blue and gold; it seems to be your signature.”
I didn’t have a signature. The blue and gold thing happened by accident. Someone asked me what my favorite color was and I said blue. It was one of the damn paparazzi. I was leaving Sal’s, trying to get away as quickly as possible and I was ambushed. A bunch of pricks came out of nowhere, snapping pictures left and right. They kept throwing out questions; I couldn’t hear half of them. But I did answer the favorite color one. The next day my face was plastered in a trashy magazine saying: GOLD LOVES BLUE. Suddenly every started associating my face with blue and gold. It was kind of crazy.
“Are they paying well?”
Hey, its Sports Illustrated. How can I not even think about that? I’m sure Bea isn’t going to be happy but right now, she wasn’t talking to me anyway. She got kind of P.Oed about all the attention. Not that she was jealous, but they started hounding her too as soon as one of the photogs caught us together. Of course, it was in the tabloids the next day. We had a fight about it. She felt that I should tell everyone to go fuck off and I felt she was over reaching. I mean this hero thing was a fad and as soon as the next one popped up, I’d be old news. But she didn’t think so. She felt I was instigating it, basking in the glory of being the Big Man on Campus again. Now she wouldn’t return any of my calls and was hiding in her apartment.
“They’re paying big, sweetie,” he said “huge numbers. This could really get us started and it’ll get your face all over.”
I rolled my eyes. My face was already all over. It was two weeks later and they were still playing that Convention Center stuff on every channel. But Dirk had a point. I needed the money and seeing as it was now Summer Break---school let out two days ago, not that I was attending---I needed to do something with my life. Getting a real job was kind of out of the question too, seeing, as everyone knew that Myka Carter and Booster Gold were one in the same.
“Can I think about it and get back to you?”
“Sure babe. Trixie has all the details, call the office and have her contact me.”
Trixie is my secretary. Yeah, that’s right, I have a secretary. After I brought Dirk on, he brought her on. He used a bit of his own capital at first and rented out a little office space for me. Then he hired Trixie Collins. She was fresh out of school, a few years older than me and kind of hot in that schoolteacher kind of way. She’s the one that reads all my fan mail---I said I’d get back to that. She’s also the one who fields all my calls now. Officially as far as the public knew, I was a one woman show but unofficially Trixie was the one woman show. Me, I was the joker in the monkey suit who everyone took pictures of. Ok, I don’t actually wear a tux, but you get my meaning.
I left the phone sitting on the table and rubbed my temples. Things were definitely different than I expected them to be. For starters, not only was Bea gone but I lost Rick too. But he wasn’t mad at me. After he moved out, he did some soul searching of his own. His aunt Jenet pulled some strings and got him a summer job as a lab assistant at STAR Labs. He was actually working under the Dibnys. Which is kind of cool. We talk a lot on the phone but neither of us has mentioned the kiss again. It’s kind of forbidden territory and both of us have decided it was a spur of the moment type deal. Hey, I was in love with Bea, well I was pretty sure I was. I just hoped she felt the same way.
My doorbell rang, forcing me from my thoughts. I groaned and got up, padding over to the door. I looked through the peephole again and got a shocker. It was my mother, what the hell was she doing here. I looked about, seeing my mess and groaned. Then I looked at what I was wearing, nothing but a bra and pajama bottoms. I cursed and looked around the room, snatching up the nearest shirt I could find and pulled it over my head. I took a deep breath and opened the door, smiling.
My mother gasped. This was the first official time that she and I had met face to face since my change. She didn’t say anything at first; she just stared. I smiled sheepishly but my emotions were getting the better of me. I started to cry, hey, I couldn’t help it. She started to cry too and before I knew it, we were hugging like mother and daughters should. We hugged for a while, standing in my doorway. I’m not sure how long it was but finally we broke apart and I grabbed her bags.
“My baby girl” she said, through her tears, brushing a strand of hair from my face. “You’re absolutely beautiful.”
I carried her bags into the apartment, closing the door behind me with my foot. I was still living in the Tides but I moved out of the place that Rick and I shared. This one was all mine. It was bigger, had three bedrooms and a nice lakeside view. It was a couple floors up and twice what the other was worth. But apparently, I could afford it now. It was kind of sparsely decorated at the moment because I only moved in a day or two ago. There were a lot of cardboard boxes stacked against the walls and stuff cluttered about. I didn’t even have a bed in my room, just a mattress. I spent last night on the couch, watching TV.
My mother looked around the room and then looked at me, frowning. “I see you haven’t changed all that much.”
I rolled my eyes. “I just moved in, Mom. I’ve been kind of busy to unpack.”
She looked at my TV and the game system hooked up to it. She frowned again. “I see some of my little boy is still in there.”
I loved the PS3 and the game sitting on top. It was the new Madden College Football. It was made back before the change and so there was actually a digital representation of Mike Carter in there, playing as the quarterback for Northwestern. It was kind of cool, especially seeing as it was one of the only things that still acknowledged that the old me existed at all.
My mother walked around the room, I set her bags down near the door. She was scrutinizing things. She kept shaking her head as she looked in boxes. I groaned. A lot of stuff was things I took out of storage. When Rick and I moved in together, his parents wouldn’t even consider letting me put my stuff in the house. His mother was appalled by the fact. So they paid for a storage locker where I could “hide” things. But the rent ran out on it a couple days after Rick left so I had to take all my stuff out or lose it. Most of it was football stuff, posters and old game trophies from high school. A lot of it I took from my bedroom at home and had decorating my dorm room before Rick and I moved in together.
My mother finally stopped and turned to me. She smiled. “Turn around so I can get a good look at you.”
I groaned but did as I was told. “I’m still me, Mom, just different.”
She nodded and walked over. I bent so that she could get a better look. My Mom was short, about five feet so I towered over her. She touched my face, ran her fingers through my hair. Then she started scrutinizing. She tutted when she saw my nails and groaned at my unkempt hair. She also seemed to have a comment about my lack of makeup. Then she asked the embarrassing questions that no one likes to answers but no one more so than a boy turned girl. She wanted to know my sizes and was especially interested in my bra size. I blushed as I answered her.
“That settles it then” she said finally. “Go get dressed and grab your purse. You and I are going shopping.”
I groaned. “I don’t have a purse.”
She tutted even more at that.
So we didn’t exactly head straight to the mall. She wanted to make one more stop first.
“Mom, Bea’s working. I can’t just walk in there and pull her away,” I said, staring up at the tallness that was the Wayne Spire.
But I don’t think my Mom was listening. She had a one-track mind about these kinds of things. Even though we hadn’t seen each other, we’d been talking a lot. She knew all about Bea and thought it was about time I got myself a steady girlfriend. She was giddy with excitement, even mentioning grandchildren on more than one occasion. When I pointed out that we were both girls, she said there was nothing wrong with adopting. So when Bea and I unofficially broke up I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I screwed things up. It turns out that meeting Bea was one of the reasons she made the trip all the way from Buffalo.
So after we left my place---after my shower and a change of clothes---she directed the cabbie to take us straight to Wayne Enterprises. I tried talking her out of it but it was no use. My mother was one of those women who once she got her mind set on something there was nothing you could do to change it.
“Nonsense” she said to my rationalization. “You walk in there and drag her out if you have to.”
I groaned. There was no arguing with my mother. So I took a deep breath and walked into the building. I’d only been in once before and that was only real quick. Bea actually met me half way too; she was in a rush to leave. We went to dinner that time and then spent the night spooning on her couch. That was the day after my “miraculous rescue of the President” as the press liked to call it. It was strange because the press didn’t even know what went on, no one did and if I told anyone, I’d be violating national security.
Wayne Enterprises was very shiny inside. The floors were made of white marble and the walls were polished stone, buffed to perfection. Everything looked pristine and new. Most of the lobby had a glass motif going on, kind of like Rick’s decorating style. Except the chairs were large and comfy, made of leather and any table that appeared was made of black wood. I’m sure it was painted or something. The centerpiece of the lobby was the large metal globe in the center. It was ginormous. In the center of the globe was a big W, the biggest I’d ever seen. I stared at it as I walked around it and headed for the front desk.
Bea was sitting there, absorbed in her computer. I smiled when I saw her; she looked beautiful, even with her hair up. She was dressed like the time I saw her in Sal’s but for some reason she looked so damn sexy. Even with that large W behind her head and the Bluetooth in her ear. She didn’t notice me at first. I walked up slowly, holding my breath the whole time. The two of us hadn’t seen each other in like a week. That didn’t mean I didn’t try. I did everything to get her talk to me but no such luck. She was really taking the whole being “hounded” by the press thing real seriously. I guess I couldn’t blame her; it was annoying the hell out of me, too. They were even there when my mother and I left the Tides but she glared at them and they took off. Not even they would mess with my mother.
I finally let out my breath and cleared my throat. She looked up from the computer screen and gasped. For a second I thought her face lit up with joy but it slowly vanished to be replaced by an annoyed scowl.
“What do you want?” she asked angrily.
I held up my hands. “I come in peace.”
“I don’t have time for your crap, Myka.”
I sighed. I couldn’t do this. I didn’t have the energy for it. “I’ve come to apologize.”
She snorted. “I’ve only known you for a little bit and you don’t do things like that.”
She had me there. “It’s true. I want to say I’m sorry for acting like an ass and I want to see if you’ll come to lunch with me.”
She narrowed her eyes. I hadn’t known her for very long but I knew enough to know that she was thinking about it. She sighed. “Look, Myka, you and I can never work. You’re a glory monger and I’m a quiet thing who just wants to be left alone. Do you know I had to change my phone number twice and that my building actually had to hire security? The super is taking it out of my rent.”
I groaned. This wasn’t going well. “I’ll pay your rent.”
She snorted. “It’s not about that. It’s everything else.”
I nodded. We had this argument before. She didn’t think I should have ever walked onto that stage and outed myself to the world. But I wasn’t like her, I wasn’t afraid of who I was. I wanted to tell the world and show them I wasn’t a threat. People were scared of Metas and if one of them stood up and spoke then I think people would be less afraid. I told her all of this and she didn’t believe me. She was convinced I was a glory monger, that I was doing it to get back some of the Mike Carter thunder I lost when my penis disappeared. Yes, the world know knew that Mike Carter and Myka Carter were one and the same---I even got a full presidential pardon for the museum and bank thing. But that wasn’t what this was all about and she knew that.
I sighed and decided to change tack. I turned and pointed outside. “You see that woman standing out there?”
She had to stand up and look around the giant golden globe. She looked at my mother and nodded. “I see her, what about her?”
“That’s my mother,” I said, she gasped. “She came all this way to see me, finally.”
Bea nodded. Her voice was soft. “That’s wonderful.”
I knew this was kind of a touchy subject. After she changed, Bea’s family threw her out. Her father disowned her and told her to never darken his doorstep again.
“She came all this way to meet you, too.”
She gasped again. I could see the shock in her eyes. Her lip trembled and a tear rolled down her cheek. I reached over and took her hand, giving it a gentle squeeze. She smiled and squeezed my hand. We stared at each other for a bit. Then I opened my mouth, taking a stab at it: “I know you’re scared. I know why you pushed me away and it’s not because of the paparazzi” She shook her head but I wasn’t going to let her do this. I walked around to her side of the desk.
“I’m not going to leave you. I’m here and I’m going to stand by your side no matter what. My mother will, too, in fact she’s already talking about grandkids.”
Bea’s eyes widened at that. “I’m not ready for…”
I cut her off. “My mother is like that.”
She laughed. We both laughed. I finally broke her ice barrier and went in for the kill. It was a quick kiss but I think it was perfect. At first, she was a bit reluctant but then she got into as well and soon the two of us were making out in the lobby of Wayne Enterprises. After a few seconds, I think the two of us realized where we were and pulled away. She looked a little flustered and blushed. We both laughed and then she slipped behind the desk, I went back to the proper side.
“Even if I wanted too, I’ve already taken my lunch break.”
“Nonsense” said a voice.
I snapped around and looked over at the elevators. The door just closed and Thomas Knight was walking toward us. Looking at him made my heart thump and my knees kind of melt. He was just as gorgeous as I remembered even more so in his charcoal gray suit. He walked over to us, smiling. HE winked at me and then smiled at Bea. She looked like she’d just swallowed a frog or something. Was this guy her boss?
“Mr. Knight” I said unfortunately at the same time as Bea said:
Wayne? I looked at the guy and then for the first time noticed the large portrait above the elevators. It was a picture of Knight and underneath it was a little plague that read” Bruce Wayne. All the color seemed to drain from my face. I looked from the picture to “Knight” and back to the picture again. He wasn’t Thomas Knight he was Bruce Wayne. Oh, my God. Then it dawned on me, no wonder Broderick looked like he’d swallowed a frog too. That also explained why he had a fancy Rolls Royce and a butler.
He turned to me. “Sorry for misleading you before but I don’t like flashing my name around like a badge.”
I nodded, too numb to say anything.
Bea’s eyes narrowed as she looked at me. “You two know each other?”
Mr. Knight…I mean Wayne laughed. “I helped Miss Carter here out of jam a little while back.”
“Yes” I finally found my voice. “I’m very grateful for it too. He hasn’t bothered me since.”
That is, if you don’t count him laughing at Bea and me after we tried to warn him about the whole assassination attempt. Franks called me the next day and told me that Agent Broderick was now on administrative leave, something about harassment and using FBI resources for his own personal gain. I wouldn’t be hearing from Agent Broderick anytime soon.
Bea recovered her composure. “Sorry for earlier, sir” She was referring to our kiss. “We were making up for lost time.”
He smiled. “Don’t worry about, Bea. In fact why don’t you take the rest of the day, spend it catching up.”
He waggled his eyebrows a bit, causing the two of us to blush at the same time.
“In fact” he continued. “I’ll have a car brought around so you lovely ladies and the delightful Mrs. Carter can cruise around the town in style.”
My mother was standing in the lobby now, her mouth wide open. I turned, not even realizing she came inside. Mr. Wayne smiled at her and waved, she absently waved back. Apparently, my mother wasn’t as clueless about playboy billionaires as I was. Boy, did I feel like an idiot.
“Now if you lovely ladies will excuse me” he said as he took Bea’s Bluetooth out of her ear. “I’ll get the car and a temp and you three can be on your way.”
Bea and I nodded absently. He smiled and then went off to start talking. I looked at my mother who was still standing there, waving like a fool. I smiled and shrugged. Bea grabbed my hand and the two of us walked over to my mother. My mother snapped out of her waving and looked at Bea, her smile spreading across her whole face.
I didn’t even get a chance to introduce them. My mother grabbed her and wrapped her in a giant hug. “It’s so lovely to finally meet you my dear.”
Bea was shocked to say the least. “The same here, Mrs. Carter.”
My mother pulled away. “Call me Beverly, in fact you can even call me Mom if you want.”
I groaned and rolled my eyes. Bea looked like she swallowed that frog again.
I’m not going to bore you with the details of our shopping expedition. I can say that as soon as we got to the mall, the two of them teamed up on me. They dragged me from store to store, forcing me into this and that. I think I was bogged down with so many bags that I could barely stand. They dragged me into a salon, too and made sure the woman there gave me the works. Have you ever had your whole body waxed? Let me tell you it’s not something I recommend. Though I liked it when they did something with my hair. The woman trimmed it a bit and styled it, even throwing in some highlights. When they worked on my makeup, I was reluctant to have that gunk on my face but in the end, I looked like a knockout.
As traumatizing as the whole salon experience was it was kind of fun too. Don’t tell anyone I said this but being a girl isn’t so bad.
After that, we browsed the mall some more and then went to lunch. We didn’t eat in the mall, though. There was a restaurant in the city that Bea wanted to treat the two of us too. So after some coaxing, she dragged us there. The meal was fantastic. During lunch, my mother got to know her and the new me. I tried to convince her I was the same guy but she kept on insisting I was completely different.
“What are you talking about Mom?” I said when she mentioned that I was definitely not her son anymore. “I’m still Mike.”
She shook her head. “No you’re not, sweetie.”
I don’t think I liked that. I frowned a bit; saddened that my mother thought I was a completely different person.
She leaned over and took my hand. “It’s not like that honey. I know you’re my son, you’ll always be him. I just meant that you’re different, too. You’re not as brash and as cocky as Michael. You think before you speak and you seem more delicate now, less rough around the edges.”
“Gee thanks, Mom.”
Bea laughed and then scrutinized me some. She looked me up and down. “Your mother is absolutely correct you know. When you hit on me in that bar I didn’t want anything to do with you. Yeah, you were gorgeous but you were such a sexist jerk."
I flinched, the verbal arrow was painful. But it was right on the money. I was a jerk before, and now I’m not so sure. I felt different so my mother wasn’t all that wrong. I’m not really sure how to describe it. I was still Mike and yet I wasn’t. That doesn’t mean I’m going to go all girly and paint my apartment pink of anything. It just meant that I was the same person just in a different package. This package just happened to be female and somehow less of an ass as the other one. Maybe it was all the estrogen now. I think I might have mentioned my mind being different before and now when I thought about it I wasn’t thinking like the old me. I still kind of liked girls and loved looking at them but now that I was one, I didn’t think of them the same as before. When I saw a girl in a nice pair of tight jeans, I wondered if they’d look good on me instead of how good they’d look on my floor.
How weird is that? “Ok you two win,” I said, sighing.
They laughed. We continued to eat our meals only nature got the better of me. I groaned, my bladder straining. I wiped my mouth on one of the elegant napkins and stood up. “Can you two excuse me for a second; I have…well nature calls.”
Bea rolled her eyes. “Still needs some work.”
I ignored her. My mother swiped her mouth too. “Do you want me to go with you, sweetie?”
I groaned. “Mom I’m not six. I think I can go to the bathroom by myself.”
She nodded and I left the table, walking toward the bathrooms. I paused, almost walking into the men’s room. I sighed and pushed my way into the ladies. I went into one of the stalls and did my business. It’s strange having to sit to pee now but I’m kind of used to it now. I flushed and went to the mirror. There was a beautiful girl staring back at me. I smiled. The stylist at the salon really did good work on my hair and the woman who did my makeup made me look like a movie star. I couldn’t believe that the girl in the mirror was me. I smiled again, turning this way and that, admiring myself. Who would of thought that this could be my life?
I laughed then started for the door. I pushed it open and was about to go blissfully into the restaurant when I saw them. They were coming through the front door, four of them. The two I recognized immediately: Hertz and that fat guy, Pruitt, I think his name was. There were two goons with them. They looked around the room, spotted my mother and Bea and went for their table. I gripped the side of the door, fighting the urge to make every knife in the room fly at the bastards.
When they approached the table, Bea saw them first. She started to stand up; I could see the green flare in her eyes. Then she looked around the room and saw all the innocent people. She looked defeated and sat back down.
“Skeets, you there?”
“Right here, Boss” he said, materializing next to my head.
Like I said before, I wasn’t going anywhere without him. He’d spent the whole day tagging along with us, invisible as always.
“I need to know what they’re saying.”
It didn’t take him very long to tune into the audio about the room, filtering out everyone else and giving me only the conversation at the table.
“Hello ladies” said Hertz, as he took my empty chair. “Where’s that freak Carter run off too?”
Pruitt and the two goons dragged a couple of chairs over from one of the other tables.
“Who are you gentlemen and what do you want with my daughter?”
Hertz laughed. “Your daughter? Lady, that freak isn’t your daughter, she’s an abomination.”
I groaned and got angrier. But I’d been working on my control and was getting really good at it.
Bea spoke up: “Let’s not do this here. Why don’t we take this outside and I can show you jackasses some manners.”
Pruitt laughed, helping himself to my steak. “We know all about you too, freak. You try anything and we’ll start shooting.”
I looked at the two goons and could just see the outlines of machine guns under their coats. I groaned, this was bad, real bad.
Ballard was out of the everything business. After it came out that he was behind the assassination attempt on the President, he was ruined. His assets were seized and his businesses all shut down. He tried to run but didn’t get very far. The authorities caught up with him at his private airstrip as he tried to board his plane, apparently on his way to some small island somewhere. He’s currently spending his time in a nice cushy cell in a Federal prison somewhere, awaiting trial. I didn’t shed a tear. His guys were all rounded up too. But I guess Hertz and Pruitt slipped through the cracks. Now it looked like the two of them were after some kind of revenge. I guess I should have seen this coming but I figured with their boss gone, the lot of them would scatter like cockroaches from the light.
I guess I was wrong.
“I don’t understand what’s going on here?” said my mother, looking at the four of them. “What has my Myka done to anger you gentlemen so much?”
Pruitt smirked, speaking with a mouthful of steak. “He put our boss behind bars for one.”
I think it dawned on my mother then. “You work for that nasty Ballard fellow.”
Hertz smiled. “That’s right. Now Mrs. Carter, could you be nice and tell us where your son wandered off to?”
“I have no son,” said my mother “not anymore. The only child I have is Myka, my daughter.”
My heart skipped a beat to hear how proud my mother sounded when she said daughter.
Pruitt laughed. “Then can you tell me where your daughter is?”
My mother puffed her chest up. “Not on your life.”
Hertz laughed. “Your life actually.”
He grabbed Bea’s arm, which would have been a good idea if not for who she was. As soon as he grabbed it, her arm seemed to explode in green flame. It roasted her shirt and Hertz started screaming. It was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I knew she could make fireballs but I never k new she could make her body cover with flames. Hertz let go and stumbled back. Bea got to her feet and her whole body erupted in green flames, including her hair. But it didn’t go anywhere else. The goons stumbled back too, looking like they wanted to piss themselves. Pruitt was the only one who didn’t move; instead, he kept on eating my steak.
I realized why a few seconds later. He had a gun, the barrel pressed into my mother’s side. He smirked as he chewed. “Sit down, bitch or mama here will have a new bellybutton.”
Bea sat down, the flames vanishing. She quickly covered herself up, making sure the whole of the room didn’t see her naked self. I smiled. It would have been so wonderful if not for the whole hostage thing and the bastard about to kill my mother.
I had enough.
“Skeets, can you give me the suit.”
“On it, Boss” he said as a whole opened up in his back and a canister popped out of it.
I stepped into it and the canister explored in front of me. The suit was future tech, the only future tech that I wasn’t afraid to use. It was nano technology, built to utilize battle situations. The suit itself was…well I’m not really sure. Skeets told me about it shortly after rescuing the President. He mentioned if I’m going to continue with the hero stuff that maybe he could help. So he designed the suit for me. It was kind of cool and played on my whole blue and gold theme, with gold on my shoulders and wicked blue star in the center.
It didn’t take long for the suit to form around me, over my clothes, the nanites doing their work. It was kind of cool. I’d only worn it once before, to test it out. But I never actually did anything in it so this was my trial run. I flexed my fingers, moving them about in my gold gloves. I turned to the bathroom mirror, seeing the cool superhero girl staring back at me. I smiled; I could really get used to this.
I stepped out of the bathroom after that. “Let her go” I shouted, causing everyone in the room to snap around and look at me. “I’m the one you’re after.”
Hertz recovered from his burn. He got to his feet. His goons recovered too, whipping out their machine guns. They didn’t waste any time either. They snapped them around to point them at me and prepared to fire. I didn’t’ give them a chance. I snapped my hands into fists, yanking the guns away. They clattered to the floor, sliding against the far wall. The two goons freaked and pulled out pistols. Bea snapped her hands up, green fireballs zapping through the air, hitting their hands. They screamed, clutching their wrists, their hands now blackened and charred.
I smiled at her. Hertz made a run for the door. Bea was there though. She burst into flames and flew across the room, landing in front of him. How cool was it that she could fly? He stumbled back, wailing in pain because he kind of ran into her. He landed on his butt and scampered off, crashing into several tables to get away from her.
Pruitt jumped up, pulling my mother with him. “You’re going to let me out of here or I’m going to kill her.”
“Skeets, can you hit him with one of those darts?”
“Too risky, he might shoot your mother with a muscle spasm.”
I nodded. I couldn’t get at the gun either; it was behind him, out of my sight. I suppose I could try throwing things at him, there was a lot of metal in the room but they wouldn’t work either. He might get startled and pull the trigger. I was defeated and he knew it. Damn it, I’m new at this and already I was screwed.
“Boss” said Skeets. “The suit you’re wearing is a variation of the one that Goldstar wore.”
I nodded. “What’s that got to do with anything?”
Skeets made that sighing noise. “She designed it after her favorite hero of all time, her idol, Booster Gold.”
That shocked me. How in the hell was that possible? She idolized me. I smiled but I didn’t have time for an ego trip right now.
Skeets continued talking. “There’s energy cannons in your wrists, they fire bright yellow balls of concentrated energy. They’re nonlethal but they’re really effective. If we hit him with one, it might be enough to get him away from your mother.”
I nodded. I still couldn’t risk it, but I had another idea.
I didn’t wait for Skeets to tell if it would work or not. Instead, I took a deep breath and pointed my hand at the mirrored ceiling. I willed the energy to come and a yellow ball of light flew from my fingertips. It hit the mirror and reflected around the room. Everyone was blinded except me; apparently, my suit had a built in visor that lowered over my eyes. The bright light was enough though. It caused Pruitt to stumble backwards, letting go of my mother. It was also enough for me to act and see his gun. I yanked it from his hands, tossing it across the room then I lifted a metal tray, throwing it at him like a Frisbee only this one was going really fast. It hit him in the stomach and sent him flying. He sailed through the room and right through the huge glass window of the restaurant, smashing into the street outside.
The blinding flash dissipated. I walked over to my mother and checked to see if she was all right.
“Get the bad guys, I’m fine.”
Bea looked at me. “I’ve got Hertz and his lackeys,” she said, her fingers pointed at them, her green flamed body flickering as she hovered off the ground.
I walked over to the window and looked out through the broken glass. Pruitt was on the street, moaning. There was no way he was going to be a threat anymore. I turned back to the room and there was silence for a few seconds. Then as if they were one, the whole of the room started to cheer. I smirked and raised my arms over my head.
I think I can get used to this whole hero thing.
“Myka, turn to the left”
I did as I was told and the photographer snapped a picture. The flash was so bright that it was blinding but I guess I’ll have to live with it. It’s not every day that you get a contract with Nike. Yeah that’s right, I said Nike. How cool is that? After my little stunt in the restaurant five weeks ago, my hero career kind of took off. Ok, so not really my hero career, more like my endorsement career. As soon as the police arrived to mop up the rest of Ballard’s gang, the press came with it. I tried to get away from the cameras but it was no use. So I ended up staying for a few sound bits. Most of the stuff was about my suit and where I got it. That’s how the world found out about Skeets and that’s where I got my tag line.
“Smile bigger, sweetheart,” said the photographer and I did as I was told.
He snapped through his last frames. My face was killing me. How in the hell do those super-models do this day in and day out. This was tiring work. When it was finally over after all the frames were done, I actually massaged my face. A girl came by with a towel and I wiped my sweaty brow. Those lights were hot. Another girl handed me a bottle of water and then I unzipped the front of the jumpsuit they made me wear. It was a mockup of my real suit but with one difference, instead of the star in front there was a huge Nike swish. I didn’t have any lines to say because it was a print ad; yesterday I did the commercial. That was kind of tiring too. I spent two hours being pampered and then eight hours in a studio shooting a thirty-second ad. Who in the hell knew those things took that long to do? They showed me the final project this morning, all finished. It was kind of cool. When I shot the commercial, they had me in a flying harness---like they used in the Warrior Angel movie----and I was soaring through the clouds. In the finished commercial, I was soaring through the clouds too but the harness and wires were gone.
Luckily, I only had a few lines to memorize. But it was the tag line that drove me insane: BOOSTER GOLD, TRAVELING FROM THE FUTURE TO PROTECT OUR PAST. It was Dirk’s stupid idea; the press actually picked up on the whole future thing. Even though everyone knew I was from the here and now, it was apparently cooler to say I was from the future. I guess I should have never shown Skeets to the world. I guess you live and learn.
Speaking of Skeets, he wasn’t happy with me at the moment. He said I betrayed our partnership. I’m not sure what his deal was. I made a promise and I always kept my promises. He helped me take down Ballard and it was only fair that I help him find Brother Eye. But he was mad because I didn’t do it right away. Hey, it’s not my fault that Dirk booked all these damn things without me knowing. But as soon as I got some free time I was definitely going to help him find his super villain. I’m not sure, when any free time was going to come up, according to Dirk I was booked solid for months but I’d make time. I had too; I never back down on anything.
“You looked beautiful today, Miss Carter” said a meek voice as I walked away from the stack of Nike boxes. I turned and saw Trixie. She was standing in the shadows, holding a clipboard to her chest. She was kind of mousy and shy but cute, especially with those glasses of hers. She’s graduated from my secretary to my full time assistant. Just like Skeets---who liked to be invisible---she followed me around everywhere too. But unlike Skeets, she complimented me about everything. It was kind of annoying but no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t get her to stop.
“Its Myka, Trixie” I said for the umpteenth time. “You don’t have to call me Miss Carter; you’re three years older than I am.”
Ok so technically she was two but I was now playing younger, remember. At least that’s what it said on all the ID’s I now owned. It just amazed me that someone like Trixie---a super smart girl with an MBA---would lower herself to following me around.
“I’m sorry Miss Ca…I mean Myka.”
I smiled, shaking my head. The two of us walked out of the studio and down the hall toward my dressing room. How cool is it that I had my own dressing room. Dirk set that up, of course. Now, according to him, I was a big star. But I hardly felt like one. But the media sure thought I was, especially the paparazzi. I thought they were bad before but now they practically followed me everywhere I went. I guess that’s the perk of being a hero who decided to share her identity with the world. It’s a curse too, definitely. After the restaurant incident, people stopped me in the street looking for autographs and though he was unseen, I had a bodyguard that lingered about in case something got really bad. I could handle myself in most incidents but there are some that require the extreme measures of my powers.
We walked together, Trixie trying to fill me on what else was planned for the day. Apparently, after this, I was supposed to go to a meeting with the Sports Illustrated people. Yeah, I decided to do it, they offered good money and besides I’ve been dying to get in there forever. Who cares if it happened to be the swimsuit issue. Hey, it was my favorite magazine for years anyway. But there was something about that that gave me pause and I had this image of a fifteen-year-old boy pleasuring himself to my picture. I shuddered at that.
Trixie stopped following me when I reached my dressing room. “You have twenty minutes, Miss Myka,” she said, smiling.
I smiled. At least she was trying to make an effort to be less formal. “Thanks, it won’t take me that long to change.”
She nodded and I went into the room.
It was a small room, barely big enough for the makeup table and the rack of clothing. I’m not a big star yet so I didn’t expect anything gigantic. Dirk was kind of pissed when he saw it though. He tried to argue that I was everything and that I deserved the best. He wanted me in one of those lot trailers, with a bed and mini-fridge. It was crazy and I told him that. He seemed to think that I was over worked and actually told me to let the “big boys handle things”. He was such a prick and if I didn’t need him, I’d fire his ass in a heartbeat.
But it turns out I did need him, now more than ever.
Two days after the restaurant incident, Pruitt tried to sue me. Apparently, I broke several bones in his body, including both his arms and a couple of ribs. It was kind of ridiculous but I suppose it comes with the territory. Dirk snapped right to it though. He put a lawyer on retainer, some guy from New York. Get this, he’s blind, how cool is that? Anyway, my lawyer told me that Pruitt didn’t have a case but he did warn me that things could only get worse. It turns out making my identity known to the world and fighting crime probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do. Hey, now he tells me. Anyway, he said the government was working on a law that protected Meta Heroes from lawsuits just like this one. It was going before Congress in a few weeks. In fact, I was set to go before them as well, sort of a poster child in favor of said law.
But if you think my life was all bumps then you’re wrong. Shortly after the restaurant fiasco, Bea decided to move in with me. It turns out that she got a little face time too, thanks to her part in the rescue. So the paparazzi were on her as much as me. The two of us decided it might be better if she lived with me. I think there were ulterior motives there as well but hey, I’m not complaining.
My mother went back to Buffalo a few days after that. We had a good time together; I took her to see all the sights. We avoided the Field though; things are still a little iffy with me and that place. Though the President cleared me of all charges, I still couldn’t explain what I was doing by the Gem Hall or who robbed the place if it wasn’t me. The same can be said for the bank that “Mike Carter” supposedly robbed. The bank didn’t bother me as much because Dirk had a guy handling all my finances. When my mother left, we were all in tears, her, Bea, and me. I think my mother was happy to welcome her into the family, even though the two of us have only been dating for such a short time.
A knock on the door interrupted my undressing. I groaned. I had the phony jumpsuit pulled down to my waist, my bra exposed. I waited for the knocker to go away but when he knocked, again I got fed up. I walked over and yanked the door open, ready to bust someone’s balls. But when I saw who was standing there I squealed and jumped into him, throwing my arms around him.
“Rick” I said, finally letting my best friend breathe. “What the hell are you doing here?”
I stepped back and he sheepishly held out a bouquet for me. I took it, carrying it over to my makeup table where an empty vase sat. Don’t even get me started about the squealing, I think I picked it up from Bea. Apparently, it’s very contagious.
“I heard about your commercial so I thought I’d come by and give you my well wishes.”
I smiled. He knew about my commercial because I called and told Jenet about it. The two of us were keeping in touch now. After all, she was one of the first people to officially know that Myka and Mike were one and the same.
“Thanks” I said, smelling the roses. “How have you been?”
I looked him up and down. He was looking good, real good in fact. He had a rugged look going and if I didn’t know any better I could swear he was bulking up. He’d always been this frail thing but I think I saw some muscle definition underneath that t-shirt of his. What’s more, his glasses were gone and it looked like he was starting to grow a beard. I’m not sure if I liked that or not but he had this five o’clock shadow thing going on that was really working for him. It made him look a whole hell of a lot cuter, not that I was noticing. Hey, I’m happily in love with Bea.
“I’m doing good,” he said, looking around the room. His eyes only went once to my bra and then quickly looked away. “I’m seeing someone actually, a lab tech. She’s a year older than me but it’s cool. The two of us work in the same lab, so we have that in common at least.”
I was happy for him. “That’s great. Have you been watching the news?”
He smiled and nodded. “Yeah, the Great Booster Gold. Who would have thought that pigheaded Mike Carter would turn into the beautiful poster girl of Metas everywhere?”
He said it in jest and I punched his arm. But he was right. Somehow, overnight I was the poster girl for Metas. I’m not sure how it happened but whenever someone mentioned Metas now they couldn’t help but mention me too. It was kind of strange really, and I guess I’m not complaining but I’m hardly poster girl material. There were so many of us out there, surely one of them was more fit to take that title. Why weren’t they hounding Jade, Terra, or even Giganta? All of them were much more qualified than I was. Heck, the only thing I’ve ever done is save the President and beat up a bunch of bastards in a restaurant. In the restaurant Bea was there too.
FYI, the media dubbed her Fire, how cool is that. Well she didn’t think so and she’s been kind of cranky about it since.
We talked for a few more minutes but I think we kind of ran out of things to say. He was still my best friend but we didn’t have much in common anymore. Hell we didn’t have much in common when we were living together either, but now it seemed different. It was like being friends with the tomboy girl next door. It was kind of cool when you were younger but then when she started to grow and mature, things got kind of awkward. She was suddenly no longer one of the guys and the two of you had nothing more to talk about. Reluctantly I was the girl next door now and boy had I ever matured.
He sighed. I think he knew it too. “Look” he said softly. “I wanted to apologize for everything. I was a dick and I shouldn’t have kissed you.”
I nodded. “I kissed you.”
“Yeah but I asked for it and I shouldn’t have. I was confused and scared. I was losing my best friend and even though you might not have noticed, you were changing and not just the obvious way either.”
I nodded. I noticed. Boy did I notice.
“You don’t have to apologize to me,” I said, “I understand.”
I leaned forward and hugged him. It was kind of awkward but it was like hugging a brother. I think I could live with that. We pulled away and then he kissed me on the cheek. We said our goodbyes. But you know me, I never really say goodbye to anyone and I told him that. He smiled and left. I sighed and walked over to my makeup table. I looked over at the roses, smiled and finished undressing.
“Bea, I’m home”
I walked into our darkened apartment, nearly stumbling over the hideous pink umbrella stand by the door. Who the hell has umbrella stands anyway? It belonged to Bea and she wouldn’t let me throw it away. I’m not complaining, she did fill my place with a lot of stuff I didn’t have. Hey, it helps when I don’t have to spend money on furniture. But it was kind of surprising that the place was so dark. Usually Bea was home when I finally stumbled into the house, no matter what time of the day it was. You see she got a promotion. She was now the personal assistant to the Head of HR at Wayne Enterprises. Her boss, Mr. Fox, was a cool guy. He let her have real flexible hours, so she could come and go, as she liked. But she worked a lot; I think she liked to bury herself in work to get over the fact that she had a secret life. She was a hero after all, even if she didn’t want to admit it. But I can’t talk her into joining me in any of my promotional ads. Apparently, she still wants nothing to do with the hero lifestyle.
I wish I had her courage. My whole body ached as I trudged over to the couch, dropping my bag on the floor as I dragged my feet. I still don’t carry a purse; it makes me feel too girly. My mother and Bea bought me several on our shopping excursion but they were still in the bags at the bottom of my closet. Hey, I’ve still got to hold on to some of my manhood and that means no purses. I carry a bag though. It’s a messenger bag; Trixie picked it out for me. It’s kind of cool and a lot manlier than a purse. I don’t look anything like a chick either when I’m totting it around town either.
I flopped on the couch, looking about in the dark. Where the heck was Bea?
“Skeets” I said, hoping he was nearby.
He didn’t follow me today. He said he wanted no part in the fake lifestyle I concocted for myself. He’s still pretty pissed that I welched on our promise. But it’s not my fault; I’m just too damn busy. But as soon as I got some free time I was definitely going to help him find this Brother Eye guy.
Skeets appeared, floating out of the bedroom. “You’re home, finally.”
I groaned. “Don’t start with me tonight. Where’s Bea?”
“Miss De Costa is working late tonight. She left you a message on the machine.”
I nodded. Bea didn’t work late often but it happened. It was strange but it felt like we’d been living together forever but it had only been a couple of weeks. But it sure felt a lot longer than that. Don’t get me wrong, I loved living with her but I kind of missed the bachelor lifestyle. No, I don’t mean bachelorette lifestyle either. I kind of missed being Mike. Not a lot but enough to realize that some things about being a guy weren’t so bad. Others I definitely wouldn’t miss. I mean guys can only have one orgasm at a time, how screwed up is that and you know what, I don’t’ think I’ll miss my penis either. I know that might come as kind of a shock but it’s not really all that big of a deal. Now that it’s gone, I feel kind of relieved. How screwy is that?
I slowly pushed myself off the couch. Skeets didn’t even wait for me to say anything more; he just turned and floated into one of the spare rooms. I let him go; I wasn’t in one of his moods tonight. I’d had a rough, tiring day. After leaving the photo shoot, I met with the Sports Illustrated people. They wanted to fly me out to California as soon as possible. Apparently, they were scouting locales and found the perfect one for the shoot. My shoot, at least. They were going to do me separate from the other girls, less stress they said. Yeah, I’m that much of a commodity now, I think I get more paparazzi than all the cast of Gossip Girl combined. How messed up is that? Anyway, they wanted to do my shoot as quick as they could because it was getting close to the summertime rush---it’s only May---but they wanted to beat the tourists. So I let Dirk handle all that. He’s good with the negotiations. After the meeting, I found myself at dinner with some political snobs that I needed to brown nose. Apparently, they were on the committee that was overseeing that law I mentioned. I need to kiss their asses to make sure me and other Metas the world over didn’t get sued for doing what they did best, mainly helping people and stopping the bad guys.
The dinner went a lot longer than I expected. There were three of them---the politicians. They kept referring to Metas as “you people”. It was annoying the hell out of me. I did everything in my power to stop from belting all of them. Luckily, Bea wasn’t there or she would have roasted their asses. It was bad enough that people sneered at us when they saw us holding hands and kissing in public but badmouthing Metas was not something she stood for.
I trudged into the bedroom. We had a king sized bed now. It was the only thing that we purchased that neither one of us had. Ok, there was some Victoria’s Secret’s stuff too, but that hardly needs to be mentioned. I stripped down to my underwear, kicking my clothes about the room. I was too tired to pick them up and was certain Bea would have a fit when she got home. She was a neat freak and I was a slob. Talk about the Odd Couple. I had one up on her though because the other night she had a nightmare and kind of lit the bedspread on fire. She nearly burned the hell out of me, luckily Skeets was there and he woke us before anything bad happened. So whenever she mentioned my slobbiness I just mentioned that incident and she stopped bitching.
I groaned and dropped face first onto the bed. I lay there for a few seconds and then crawled under the covers. I’m not sure how long I was awake but sleep came quickly.
The cold breeze woke me. I groaned and rolled over, pulling the covers up to my chin. Though it was May, it was still chilly this time of night. I tried to ignore the breeze but the flapping of the curtains was really annoying. I groaned, why in the hell were the curtains flapping? Bea didn’t like the windows open because she was afraid that a bird would fly into the room while we were sleeping. She’s weird like that. I rolled, pulling a pillow over my head, trying to ignore it. But the flapping was too loud and annoying. So finally, I pushed myself up and squinted at the clock. It was three in the morning. I groaned and turned to Bea, hoping she’d get up and close the window.
But her spot was empty. She was still working this late.
I rolled over and sat up. I threw the covers off and as soon as I did, I jumped. There was someone standing at the foot of the bed. It was dark and I only saw his shape but he was just standing there. He looked kind of freaky too; the only features I could make out were what appeared to be two points on the top of his head. What the hell is this?
I cleared my throat. “Who are you and what the hell do you want?”
He threw something onto the bed, it was a folder, it landed at my feet. “You’ve been busy. Henry Ballard was a tough guy to get but you handled it well.”
That voice. It was so cold and raspy but also very familiar. It took me a few seconds but I finally recognized it. “You” I said, surprised and shocked.
“You’re the guy from the alley?”
He nodded. “You’ll be happy to know that I took care of the rest of Ballard’s operation for you.”
“If you were so interested than why didn’t you do it yourself?”
“It wasn’t mine to take care of.”
“That’s it,” I said, pulling the covers up to cover my half nakedness. I didn’t want some pervy freak to see me in my underwear.
“I was testing you. Trying to see if you had what it took to take him out and you did. I’m very impressed.”
“Is that why you snuck into my bedroom at three in the morning. You wanted to tell me that I passed your little test.”
He shook his head. “No. I wanted to tell you that you did me a favor and now I’ve done you one as well.”
I groaned. What was he talking about? “Favor, what favor?”
“You took care of Ballard for me.”
“You told me to do it.”
“You were going to do it anyway. Revenge is like that. He wronged you, threatened your mother. It was only natural that you’d go after him.”
How did he know all that? “You want a thank you or something.”
“No. Like I said you did me a favor and now I’ve done you one.”
I looked at the folder for the first time. It was a manila file folder. It didn’t look all that impressive. I reached forward and grabbed it, opening it up. Inside there were a bunch of pictures, most of them of a gray building in the middle of a desert. It didn’t mean anything to me. I sighed and closed the folder.
“What the hell is this?”
“It’s a facility in the Baja Desert of California. It was run by a very dangerous woman and now it’s deserted.”
I nodded. “What does it have to do with me?”
“Nothing. But it does have something to do with something you’ve been looking for.”
I shook my head. “There’s nothing I’m looking for.”
He smirked. “What about an advanced artificial intelligence program from the future.”
I stared fish eyed at him. How in the hell did he know that. “Brother Eye, you mean?”
He nodded. “I’ve been tracking it for a while. I traced it to this facility and then the trail went cold. My resources haven’t been able to dig up anything either, which bothers me some. I’m passing it on to you; I think you’ve got better resources.”
I looked at the pictures again then back at him. But he wasn’t there anymore. I snapped around, finding him by the window.
“Take that flight to California tomorrow. When you get there, make a stop in San Francisco and look up a young woman named Josie Reyes. She might be able to help you find the answers to questions you seek.”
I looked down at the pictures again. “I’ll think about it.”
I looked back up and he was gone. I threw off the covers and ran to the window, hoping to see where he went. But there was nothing. How in the hell did he do that? I stared out the window for some time until I finally got too cold and shut it. I rubbed my arms and then turned to the door. I looked at the folder on the bed and sighed. I guess it couldn’t hurt to look. I took a deep breath and wandered into the living room.
“Skeets” I shouted, “you still up?”
He hovered out of one of the spare rooms. “I don’t sleep.’
I nodded, forgetting he was a robot. “You still want to help looking for that Brother Eye thing?”
“It is my mission.”
I nodded. I had the folder with me. I tossed it on the floor in front of him, its contents scattered about. He looked at the pictures then back at me. His little red light got brighter when he looked at me. I nodded.
“Call Dirk and tell him we’ll take that flight tomorrow morning as planned. After the photo shoot, you and I are going to San Francisco.”
I yawned and stretched. Then turned and walked back into the bedroom. California and everything else could wait until tomorrow. Tonight I was going to get some sleep and hopefully my Bea would be home soon to warm the other side of my bed. I crawled into bed and closed my eyes. Life couldn’t get any better than this.
I smiled, closed my eyes and drifted back to sleep.