Mystery
rating: +31+x

No, Clement, I'm serious. And yes, I do know a little bit of Chinese, so I know when someone says "bullshit". Just because Intelligence Agents are required to know everything doesn't mean we actually know everything.

Oh, you want an example? Alright, fine. We've got some time to kill before this training session is over, and I love talking. So sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of… wow, blank faces? Jesus Phyrexian Christ, don't you kids watch old TV shows? Anyways…

A few months ago, the higher-ups forced me to take some PTO. I decided to visit a good friend of mine, Susie. Since Clef stole my access card for the Sites, I took her offer to spend the night. I take the guest room, but Susie comments that the bed sucks and since her boyfriend is out, I could crash on her bed if I didn't like it. Nothing inappropriate went on, for the record. Too many of my IA colleges like to imply they are James Bonds, sleeping with hot girls every night. It's mostly bullcrap, and besides, her boyfriend would kill me.

Anyways, I'm doing some Foundation work in the Guest Room, because the higher-ups forgot to confiscate my tertiary work tablet. It's around two in the morning, when I get a hankering for some Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I stop working, and walk downstairs to nosh. I'm surprised by the lights being on, and Susie sitting straight-backed on the couch, watching TV. I say hi, she says "Hello", and I get my food.

I make a joke about her being up so early, and she just says "Yes". It sounds like her, but it doesn't sound like her. Also, she doesn't even look at me. She's watching some show on Discovery; I can't remember what. I know I'm making it sound dramatic, but it really wasn't. It was off, but not really off. It's like turning the color tint on a TV a few notches from center: you can tell something is different, but you can't quite explain what. For all I knew, she just wasn't awake.

So I'm eating, and I'm half-watching Susie watching the TV. If I had to guess, it was fifty-fifty between "Susie is Cute" and "Something Is Up". She's fixated on the screen, smiling that smile. with posture you're taught in fifth grade. You know the kind, the kind that you can't do now for more than a few minutes. To break the ice a little, I ask her some questions. Is she okay? "I'm fine.". Does her back hurt? "No, it's okay.". Is she hungry? "No, I'm fine."

At this point, I'm trying pretty hard not to act on the growing Foundation Sense whispering in the back of my head. You guys have been here long enough to know that sense. You know it's the sense that keeps you alive, brings your training to the forefront, and keeps everyone around you from dealing with shit they don't deserve to deal with.

I finish up the box of CTC, and say goodnight. As I'm about to walk back upstairs, she asks me to hand her the controller. The one sitting right next to her, which I point out. "I know. Could you hand it to me?" I look at her, still watching the TV. I decide to do it. Fundamental rule of the universe: Susie asks, and Bibs complies. If she ever became an O5, I'd be a lot more subordinate. Just sayin'.

As I take a a few steps towards the clicker, I can't help staring at Susie. This time, it's not because she's cute. I mean, she is, but that Foundation Sense isn't just whispering. It's screaming, over the droning narration of the television. Get out. Run. Use the Class-A Spray you've got in your bottom-left pocket. GET AWAY.

Now, I don't get to be an outstanding IA by ignoring the Foundation Sense. I back away, keeping my eyes on hers. She's still smiling, still sitting straight-backed, still staring at the screen. Perfectly normal, except it ain't normal. I hit the stairs, do a 180, and walk up. Methodical, one step at a time. I get to the top of the stairs, and I see my my room's door, is at the far end of the hallway. Something tells me I wouldn't make it to my room's door, so I quickly open Susie's door to my left, do a quick 90, and walk in.

In my peripheral vision, I get a glimpse of the bottom of the stairs. All the lights are out, downstairs, and Susie is standing at the foot of the steps. She's not smiling. She's not… she's not anything, if you'll permit me being vague. It's all I see before I close the door. Pretty sure I should be glad that's all I see.

I stumble around briefly, but find Susie's bed. I hear a groan, and before I can react, I feel Susie's arm around me flop around me. I don't sleep. I tell her in the morning that the bed made my back hurt, and apologize for not waking her up. Susie being Susie, she doesn't give a rat's ass. She knows I'm not going to try and get in her pants. Again, her boyfriend would kill me.

I don't tell her about what happened, and I certainly don't tell her why I'm disturbed when I flip on the TV and NBC comes up. Or why I freak out a little when she tells me her cable package doesn't include Discovery. I make it up to her by buying a bunch of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, since we ran out.

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