This is a story – Part II

His hand reached for his hat. Eying the shapeshifter behind him in the mirror before him, he tilted his head to one side. A gesture he hoped the rogue agent would take as a request for a pause. She nodded a head that looked exactly like his own, the muscles tightening around her/his lips with impatience.

Dexter continued to reach for his wet hat. Moving deliberately so as not to excite his new twin, he turned around, his hat now in his hand, the empty dark bowl facing up. Reaching inside, he grinned at the petite woman turned man, still marveling at how well she mimicked his own appearance. “I wonder,” Dexter said, “everything comes?” He groped deeper into his hat and continued, “Even this?” as he pulled a rabbit out of his hat. The gleaming white fur contrasted well with the dark wooden bar as Dexter placed the squirming critter down atop it. The rabbit hopped a few feet from them and sat contemplating the mirror.

Agent Ailey took a step back. Her free hand, the one not holding a government issued glock aimed at his gut, shot up to a hat identical to his own, just as wet and, presumably, hiding an identical rabbit.

Her hand stopped before reaching the hat, and she resumed her calm.  Easing back to a shooter’s stance, she trained the gun on him. “Cool trick. Does that get you many dates?”

He chuckled.  “No. To tell you the truth, wasn’t sure that was going to work. Aren’t you curious?” He pointed his chin at her head.

“Does it matter? Unless the poor fellow is about to jump out, it’s better where it’s at.” She motioned with the gun. “Let’s get this over with.”

“Dexter. Agent Dexter.”

She shook his twin head. “I don’t care who you are.”

Dexter shrugged his shoulders and did as the shapeshifter told him. As he left the bar from a side door, he called to the bartender to get something for the rabbit. They exited into an alley lit by stray light from the tourist docks only a few hundred feet away.

“This is a little public for murder, Agent Ailey. Might be better to head on down to the darker side of town.”

“Murder? And just what was your intention? Bring me back in? I hardly think I’ve been forgiven by the Agency for killing their prime witness.”

“You’re wrong there.  They just want to talk.  There’s a lot of confusion about your last assignment.  They’re curious as hell how you got away.”

The strained silence behind thickened the air around him, but he smiled, knowing that the gun in her hand was just as empty as the one in his holster.  Even so, as he turned to face her, he held out his hands before  him where she could clearly see them. She, still in his shape, tilted her aim and pulled the trigger. An impotent click echoed off the tall, brick walls. She fired twice more, a frown creasing her shifting face.

Dexter’s grinned as Agent Aliey shifted back into the woman he’d been following, the woman that looked just like her cadet photo. Why a shapeshifter would ever let anyone know their true form always bugged Dexter. Made him think they knew something he didn’t.

He looked her over. She didn’t appear to be wearing any obvious weapons, but the long trench coat could be hiding anything.

“You ready to talk?” Dexter said.

Agent Ailey turned her face up to the night sky. The drizzle that had paused while they were in the bar resumed its drenching march across the city. She allowed the rain to wet her face before turning back to him. Her eyes reflected light back at him as a tabby cat ran across his feet and under the low eave above the bar door. When he looked back up…


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