Quid Pro Quo
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Eugene scratched his neck nervously. He'd never gotten the hang of interrogations. "Look we're going to uh deport you. That's uh not even a question at uh this point." Fifty-six years old and he still couldn't talk to women. Thirty-three of those years at the Bureau and he still couldn't talk to suspects. "The uh question is where we uh deport you to." Passports from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and Kazakhstan. Different name on each — different face on each, too, but that's why he was here instead of at his nice cozy basement desk at the field office.

The woman sitting opposite him shrugged. "It does not matter to me. Take your pick, Agent Vega." She was taller than him. He wished he hadn't sat down. "I will be fine anywhere."

"Uh right but we can't uh send you anywhere, there are —" There was a knock at the door. Eugene stood a little too quickly, and all the blood rushed from his head. He steadied himself on his chair. "Ok uh I'll be back in a minute, you should uh think about telling me the uh the truth. Can I uh get you some water or uh coffee or something?"

"No thank you, Agent Vega. I'll be fine."

Detective Novak was waiting for Eugene outside the interrogation room. "Hey, Vega. Ran your girl's prints through AFIS. No matches."

"Not my girl, Novak."

"Hey, so… You think she's really… You know…" Novak gestured vaguely around his face.

"Really what, Novak, I don't uh like charades."

"A shapeshifter, man!" He lightly punched Eugene in the arm. Presumably it was supposed to be friendly. Eugene didn't appreciate it. "That's why we called you in here! The spooky shit, you know?"

"There's no such thing as uh a shapeshifter." Technically correct. The Unusual Incidents Unit preferred more precise language. She was a multimorphic mimic. Or maybe a frighteningly good plastic surgeon. "And even uh if she was you know I couldn't confirm or deny uh anything whatsoever."

"Sure thing, sure thing." Novak gave him an exaggerated wink. "Say no more, Vega."

Eugene sighed, and headed back into the interrogation room.

"Welcome back, Agent Vega." She was playing with his pen. Rookie mistake, leaving it on the table. "I think we might be able to help each other after all. I've figured you out."

"What uh do you think you've figured uh figured out?" He sat down, and she slid the pen across the table. It bounced off his stomach and rolled across the floor. "Is uh this some sort of uh of mind game? Because uh I've seen them all. Or uh heard them. I guess."

"You," she said, pointing right at the fresh ink stain on his shirt, "are dying. And you did it to yourself."

Eugene tried not to react, he really did. Judging by the look on her face he had not been successful. "What do you uh mean?"

"Itchy skin. Slight yellow tint to the sclera and the fingernails. I would guess that under those cheap trousers your ankles are swelling, no?" Eugene barely resisted the urge to scratch his legs. "Cirrhosis of the liver. Maybe, two years to live? Ten if you stop drinking?" Three and fifteen was what his doctor had told him. Maybe he was sugarcoating it. "I can fix you, Agent Vega. But I will need… What is the line?" She smiled. "Quid pro quo. Yes or no, Eugene?"

"Alright Novak, I'm uh taking her out of your hair." Eugene was, in an objective sense, a terrible liar. He sweated, he stammered, he wouldn't meet people's eyes. But he did all that when he was telling the truth, too, so it all balanced out. "She's uh turning state's evidence on the uh the Odessa mob."

Novak sighed. "Vega, you and I both know the Odessa Mob haven't operated out of Chicago since the 90s. If you need her for spooky shit you can just tell me."

Now, choosing the right lies, that was a skill he'd never mastered. Eugene grinned sheepishly, and nodded. "I uh need her for spooky shit." He took out his official UIU ID card, and flipped it over to the back; then he flipped it over again, to the third side. "And uh sorry about this Frank you know I hate to uh do this but if you could uh just look here?"

"What, are you going to neuralize me or some-" Sergeant Novak stared at the amnestic meme on Eugene's ID card for a few seconds, then blinked and shook his head. "-thing. Sorry, what did you say? I spaced out for a sec."

"I uh said I'm going to uh make a Starbucks run if you uh want anything."

"Oh. No thanks. Too expensive." Novak frowned. "Hey, did you…" He patted his pockets. "Huh. Never mind. Great to see you, Gene, but I got paperwork to do. See you around."

Gene turned out of the precinct lot onto Belmont, headed for… Well, he wasn't really sure where he was headed for. "Alright so uh…" He paused. "What uh what should I call you by the way? I know Irina isn't uh your real name but uh does that work?"

"Hmmm." She was staring out the passenger window, lost in thought. "Call me Olivia. And take a left on Kedzie."

"Ok. Olivia. So uh what do you need to fix my uh my liver?"

"You missed Kedzie. Take a left at the light up ahead." She lit a cigarette and glared at Eugene before he could object. He rolled down the windows without comment. "I need a sharp knife and some gauze. You're, what…" She sniffed the air a few times. "B negative? I have some B negative at home if you need it. Left on North."

"What? We uh searched your apartment. There wasn't any uh blood there."

Olivia snorted. "That, Agent Vega, was not my home." They sat in silence for a few minutes. "Right on Damen."

"Wait don't you uh need a uh a liver?"



"We're here."

"Here" was a third-floor walkup above a dry cleaner's. Pretty standard two-bedroom, except for the operating table in the middle of the kitchen. Eugene made sure it didn't make any sudden moves while Olivia dug around in the back of the refrigerator. After a few moments, she emerged with a lump of wet meat. It was pulsing faintly.

"What uh what is that?"

"A gallbladder. Take off your shirt and lie down."

He followed Olivia's instructions. Not really anything else he could do, at this point. She was doing something behind him, now, but he couldn't feel anything; there was a wet slap, a few muffled curses, and then nothing but silence.

"You can sit up now. Don't drink or take tylenol for at least eight hours. You didn't lose enough blood to need a transfusion, but you'll be a little light-headed. Have a big dinner."

Eugene sat up. His back itched. "That uh that was uh it?"

"Yes." Olivia's hands were bloody to the wrist, and her left held a sickly lump of flesh.

"And that's uh that's my liver?"

"It is."

"What uh. What are you going to uh to do with it?"

"Hmm. Well, I have a nice Chianti in the cabinet, maybe go get some fava beans…" She rolled her eyes at his horrified expression. "I am going to throw it out, Agent Vega. It's medical waste."

"Oh. Uh. So that's uh it?"

"Yes. Well. If you don't keep the police away from me I will be taking my gallbladder back. But that's it for now at least. Goodbye."

"Uh goodbye." Eugene put his shirt back on and left without a backward glance; tomorrow, he promised himself, he would submit his retirement paperwork. Get out a year early before any more of this bullshit.

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