"You have to be a little curious," Gabriel said, and Riley still couldn't get over the odd sensation of hearing his accent and intonation in her voice.
"What I'm curious about is how exactly we're going to reverse this," she said. She'd known that CyberComm had a lot of classified projects going on besides Clockwork, but no one had warned her that body swapping technology was one of them.
"Cassidy's working on it," Gabriel said with a careless wave. "They'll figure something out. For now, might as well enjoy the ride."
"And by enjoy the ride, you mean..." Riley trailed off, not entirely sure she wanted to know the answer to that.
Gabriel smirked. "I'm just saying, if you want to take my body out for a test drive, go ahead."
If she were completely honest, she was a little curious about, well, everything, really. Including that. On the other hand, she wasn't ready to extend him the same offer, and she wasn't sure how she'd go about finding a partner for it anyway.
"Don't worry," he added. "I'm not planning on taking advantage of your body while you're gone."
She hated it when he read her mind like that. And she couldn't even pretend it was related to the chip, which was currently in her possession, although not exactly under her control.
"How do you use the chip?" she asked abruptly.
"All the differences, and that's the one you go with," Gabriel said.
"I don't have the gene," Riley said. "I'm never going to be able to use it myself."
He shrugged and leaned back against the table. "Just think about what you want to know, and where you want to look. The hard part isn't getting the chip to feed you information; the hard part is sorting through the intel once it does."
She thought about her sister's new boyfriend, concentrating hard. A moment later, she shut it off, gasping at the flood of information, only a small bit of which had anything to do with the man she'd been researching. She looked down at Gabriel--and that was strange too, all this extra height. "How do you do that?"
"It takes practice," he said. "You have to stay focused. Learn to ignore the extraneous stuff."
"We'd better hope they get us switched back soon," she said, "or the chip's going to be useless for a while." She suspected that was the reason the Director of National Intelligence was currently hovering in Lillian's office, rather than concern for Gabriel and Riley themselves. The country had gotten by for years--decades--without the chip, but the loss of it was apparently unimaginably dangerous now.
"They'll figure it out," Gabriel said again.
She wondered if he was really as unconcerned as he sounded, or if it was all an act for her benefit.
He tilted his head--she could almost see him, in the stance and body language, despite the fact that it was her body--and smiled. "What do you say we get out of here?"
"I'm not sure we're allowed to leave."
"Better to ask for forgiveness than permission," he said. "And how often do you get a chance to see the world through an entirely different perspective?"
If they weren't allowed to leave, no one had mentioned it to CyberComm security. They ended up at a Mexican restaurant that Gabriel knew. It wasn't one of their usual hangouts; they weren't totally sure that someone who knew them wouldn't notice something off.
She noticed the covert looks as they walked to their table. And some not so covert looks. Maybe she could take Gabriel up on his offer, if she wanted to. Except the idea of sex with a random strange wasn't terribly appealing, and neither was trying to explain what she expected would be a certain degree of awkwardness, trying to figure out how things worked from the other side.
Gabriel noticed the looks too. He winked at her as they sat down. "There's a whole table over there watching you," he said. "You could have your pick."
"So is that how you spend your Saturday nights? Picking up women in bars and restaurants?"
He shook his head, suddenly serious. "Not since before I met Amelia."
Amelia was like a landmine that Riley was always tripping over. She figured it was probably worse for Gabriel, with all the things that prompted memories. For all his innuendo and flirting, he hadn't dated anyone since Amelia's death. She was sure of that. And knowing him, there hadn't been anyone while Amelia was missing. Which made for a very long dry spell, and damn, how did men deal with things just...popping up like that? She couldn't have her own body back a minute too soon. Enjoy the ride, she reminded herself.
Food tasted a little different in someone else's body, she discovered. Cilantro, which had always reminded her of soap, actually tasted good. Beer, on the other hand, tasted pretty much the same, although it took a little more to have any noticeable effect.
Gabriel, on the other hand, seemed to be feeling it. "You're really not curious?" he asked again. "Don't you want to know what it's like from the other side."
"Even if I were," Riley said, "I'm not going to go pick up a stranger."
"For one thing, it's a security risk. And I'm not sure how well I'd fight in your body."
"Well, if that's all you're worried about, we could always--" He gestured back and forth between them.
"That's just..." Oddly tempting and weirdly incestuous at the same time. Did it even qualify as incest when it was your own body and you weren't in it?
"It would save us having to explain things," he said.
His body seemed to find the idea appealing, going by the way his--her--cock was hardening again. Or was that her own response? Did she want to sleep with him/herself? She shifted uncomfortably in her seat, trying to adjust things without anyone noticing, knowing that he probably knew exactly what that meant.
He was right, too. It would save them from having to explain things. And they'd both know exactly what their own bodies responded too. Really, it was about as perfect a set-up as you could get for this, if you ignored the fact that they'd have to go on working together after they got their own bodies back. Assuming they got their own bodies back.
Better to ask for forgiveness. Better still not to get caught.
"Let's go," she said finally.
"Yeah?" Gabriel looked surprised.
Riley nodded and stood up, knocking the table a little as she did. It was amazing what a few extra inches of height and limb length did to your spatial perceptions.
"Then let's go," he said, smiling, as they left the restaurant.
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