The person who steps out of the mirror is recognizably him. There’s the nagging thought that she’s gotten something wrong, but Luke honestly couldn’t say what. He studies himself, in awe.
Aiyana stays silent as he does, flexing the muscles in her new body’s arms and rolling her neck. She runs her hands over the skin of her arms, flexing underneath her own touch and grinning.
“You weren’t kidding about being a dancer, were you?” The voice that comes out of her isn’t quite his. It’s too high and airy. She starts humming, working her way down the register until she gets to about where his voice is.
“No, I wasn’t,” he replies, though his attention is definitely not on the question.
“Alright, start talking,” she says briskly, once she’s got the right range for his voice.
He blinks at her, unsure of what to say. “You want me to read poetry or something?”
“Yeah, that’ll work,” she says, and he thinks to himself that hearing amusement in his own voice is a little weird.
“I don’t actually know any poetry,” he says sheepishly.
“So read a news story off your phone, or I’ll get you one of my textbooks.”
He reaches for his phone and pulls up his news feed. There’s some story about a politician’s son gone missing, and he reads it aloud. Aiyana repeats some of the lines after him, her voice getting closer and closer with each repetition.
When he’s done, he pockets his phone and looks up, and sees a lazy grin on her face that he thinks is very close to his. (It’s a little creepy. He doesn’t think he’s ever smiled like that around her, so how does she know?)
“Satisfied?” She asks in his voice, and he nods.
Aiyana lets his body fade away. Unlike what movies and shows have led him to believe about shifting from one body to another, it isn’t a quick change, his body to hers in the blink of an eye. It looks kind of like pieces of clay falling off a statue, dripping off in pieces until it reveals Aiyana’s body beneath.
(He wonders what would happen if she became someone shorter than her. Would he watch the clay-like stuff rebuild her height?)
“I have to make a call,” he says into the silence. “Check in with my superiors.”
Her face closes off, and she nods, moving toward the back of the apartment. He tries not to feel disappointed; this is his job, and she doesn’t know the good parts of the PLE well enough to understand why it’s important. She’s not wrong for feeling the way she does, but neither is he for being an agent.
“Agent Smoke,” answers a gruff voice, when he puts in the call. His spine straightens, and he automatically starts scanning the apartment with his eyes, despite already having checked it over.
“Sir,” he replies respectfully. His superior, a man he knows only as Agent Wire, has been his handler since he started out in the PLE. They’ve built a good relationship over the years, Smoke thinks, for all that they’ve never met.
“Status report.” Comes the command.
“Aiyana Clarke, Codename Mirror, has not appeared to have any communication with Codename Predator.” He gives a quick rundown of their activities over the past day, up to and including the shape-shifting.
“Good thinking, Smoke,” Wire replies, “they’ll want to know about this. I’ve been told to inform you they’ll have a decision by tomorrow. Off the record, they were leaning toward just letting her go and keeping an eye on her. Mirror-walking isn’t something you worry about compared to the other parahumans we have to deal with. With the impersonation, though, I think they’ll take her in.”
“Into the PLE, or into jail?”
“Into the PLE. She’d be a flight risk in jail, and that secondary ability is too useful to let it sit around a jail cell.”
Luke isn’t sure whether he’s relieved or disappointed. He says goodbye to Wire, and putters around Aiyana’s house until Franz comes back and Aiyana emerges from her room.
The tension between he and they lifts enough that they make actual small talk at dinner, and he surprises a smile out of Franz. The entire time, Luke wonders if they’ll hate him when they find out Aiyana could have had her freedom if he kept his mouth shut.