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Author’s Note: This story is kind of experimental in a variety of ways. I hope it works and isn’t too confusing or anything. Thanks in advance for feedback and such.
Also, all characters are eighteen or older. I’m not sure I explicitly stated that anywhere in the text.
“You know, I didn’t believe it. I really didn’t. They told me my brother was playing detective and I’m like ‘no way would Sil be doing that.’ But here you are.”
Silas looked up from his desk. He broke out into a wide smile. “Holy shit. When did you get back?”
Faith smiled back and took a few steps closer to her brother. He leapt from his chair and embraced her tightly as they met.
“Just got back in town today,” Faith said. “About an hour ago, actually. Stopped in to say hi to the parents, then straight to see you.”
“Awww, I’m third on your list? That’s so sweet.”
“Shut up. You know I had to see Mom and Dad first. Otherwise it would have been you. You know that.”
“Yeah, alright. Fair enough.” Silas gestured to a chair on the visitor’s side of his desk, which Faith graciously accepted. He hopped up on the edge of the desk instead of returning to his usual seat. “I haven’t heard from you in forever.”
Faith looked away for a second. “I’m sorry about that. Stuff happened. I kinda had to be no contact with anyone for a while.”
Silas frowned. “What, like, shady stuff? Are you in trouble or something?”
“No, no, Sil. Nothing like that. I don’t need big brother to come rescue me or anything.” Faith punched her brother lightly on the shoulder. “Even though I know how much you love being my hero.”
Silas ignored the jabs, both physical and verbal. He’d noticed something more pressing. “What the hell happened to your arm?”
Faith held up the arm she’d used to hit him. She’d wondered how long it would take him. “Looks normal, doesn’t it?”
“That’s what I mean. Last I saw you, you had that… that…”
“Hideous monstrosity of a prosthetic. I know. This one’s much better, wouldn’t you say?”
“I absolutely would.” Silas reached out and felt Faith’s arm. “It almost feels real. The skin part anyway. When you hit me-“
“Too hard? I’m still learning. I get decent feedback, better than I used to, but it’s still not as good as a real arm.”
“No, no. It was fine. But it didn’t feel quite hand-like. Like there was something harder underneath. Which I mean obviously there is.”
Faith nodded and brushed her hair back with her robot-hand. She’d been practicing and the motion looked almost entirely natural. “People don’t stare as much anymore,” she said softly. “It’s been really nice this past little while.”
“That’s great, Fai. If that’s what you were off doing, then I totally get it. I just don’t understand why it had to be such a secret.”
Faith nodded. “Maybe I’ll be able to explain that someday, Sil. Not right now.”
“Yeah, sure. I get it.”
“And who knows,” Faith said with a smirk, “if you really are good at being all detective-y and shit, maybe you’ll work it out on your own anyway.”
Silas chuckled. “I’m not really that kind of detective.”
“Oh?” Faith arched an eyebrow. “What kind of detective are you then? One who doesn’t detect?”
“I’m actually an ‘investigator,’ for one. Apparently people get pedantic about these things. And also…” Silas sighed. “Turns out most of my work comes in the form of people wanting me to find dirt on their significant other. You know, when they suspect cheating, mostly.”
“Really? So you’re just a glorified stalker?”
“Hate to admit it, but yeah, basically. I mean, I still get some real work sometimes. Or at least some different work. Tracked down a stolen heirloom necklace the other day, that was kind of a nice change of pace.” Silas shrugged. “But mostly not as glamorous as you might think.”
Faith giggled. “Poor Sil. Gets into detectiving, and it turns out to be a silly career option. Who could have guessed?”
“Hey, it’s working for me. Turns out I’m pretty good at it. And it means I get to work alone most of the time, which is good for me right now.”
“Oh? Feeling rather anti-social these days, are we?”
“Something like that.”
“So that second office…”
“Used to have someone working with me. Two someones, actually, though not at the same time. They both quit on me. Probably just as well.”
“Oh, Silly.” Faith reached out with her good hand and ruffled his hair. “I know you. You get lonely here by yourself, don’t you?”
“Not as much as you’d think,” Silas said with a quick glance behind Faith.
Faith checked over her shoulder, but there was only an empty couch set against the wall. She noted that her brother’s eyes flicked to it every so often, but she couldn’t figure out why. Probably nothing. A nervous habit, perhaps.
“Well hey, I’m probably hanging around the area for a while,” Faith said. “What if I came and worked with you? At least for a bit. Give me something to do with my days.”
Faith pouted. “Aw, you’re already thinking liseli porno up excuses for me not to, aren’t you?”
“Don’t look at me like that. You know I can’t say no when you look so sad.”
“That’s the idea, brother dear.” Faith stood and kissed Silas on his forehead. “I’ll come back and see you tomorrow, how’s that? We’ll be a crime-solving brother and sister wombo combo.”
“Again, not so much with the actual crimes, mostly.”
“See you tomorrow, bro,” Faith called over her shoulder, cunningly ignoring Silas’s mutterings.
“Yeah, alright. See ya.”
Silas waited until the front door had definitely swung closed behind his sister before turned once more to the couch that wasn’t quite as empty as his sister thought.
“I’ve fucking told you to shut the hell up when there are people around,” Silas growled. “You know how hard it is not looking crazy at the best of times.”
The mostly transparent girl reclining on the sofa shrugged casually and offered a winsome smile. “I like your sister. She seems nice.”
“You know almost nothing about her.”
“I know you love her. That much was pretty obvious.”
“Well spotted. Now what possibly made you think that yammering on with your insipid questions that whole time was going to help anything?”
The ghostly girl cracked up. “It was just funny watching you try to ignore me.”
“Yeah, I know. One of your favourite things. I really wish I could have explained my need for a solitary occupation to Faith without sounding crazy. I think she’s worried about me now.”
“As well she should be. You see dead people, Silly.”
“Just the one, thank fuck.”
“Aw, don’t be that way. You know you’d miss me if I wasn’t around.”
“Alas, I’ve never had the good fortune to be able to test that hypothesis.”
The girl stuck her tongue out. “Don’t get mean, Silly. I still have feelings. Being dead doesn’t change that.”
“No, but it does make you particularly hard to avoid when I need space.”
“Oh boo hoo. The living boy wants some alone time. What a sad life of not being dead you must lead.”
“Aggie, shut the hell up.”
“Shan’t,” Aggie replied with more than a little petulance. “We have a good thing going, don’t we? You keep me sane, I make your job super wicked easy, and I give you space when you go to the bathroom and such.”
“As far as I know, anyway,” Silas muttered. “I can’t exactly verify where you do and don’t go. And you completely ignore any other requests I make for privacy.”
Aggie flipped her position so that her head dangled from the leg area of the couch, while her legs rested over the top. Her ease of movement still bother Silas occasionally. “I get so bored, Silly. You know I can’t talk to anyone else, and I can’t interact with much of anything physical. Can’t even read without someone to turn the pages for me.”
“Right. And you’re still incapable of hanging out with other ghosts?”
“Not incapable. Just… most of them move on within a few days. No time to even get attached. And they’re all so obsessed with death.”
“Their own, no doubt.” Silas rubbed his forehead. “Speaking of, why haven’t you ‘moved on?'”
“Don’t act all hurt. You know what I mean.” Silas waved his hands in exasperation. “If ghosty types are meant to bugger off within a few days, how come you haven’t? It’s been, what, a year? Longer? And you’re still here.”
Aggie beamed. “And how lucky for you, am I right?”
“I… yeah. Sure. Whatever.”
“‘Cause I do basically all the work for you. You’re a pretty shit detective.”
“I’m only a detec- investigator because of you. Because you won’t let me interact normally with other people. Always making comments, always trying to distract me.”
“See my previous comment about boredom.”
Silas shook his head and sighed. “Do you want the tv on? Is that what you’re telling me?”
“Nah, it’s all stupid shit.”
“I’m turning the tv on.”
“Maybe cartoons. To go with your childishness.”
“Ok, message received. I’m taking off for a while. ‘Til you stop being a dick.”
Aggie floated through the wall and was gone. Silas waited a moment to be sure she wasn’t going to pop right back for a parting shot, but the coast remained clear.
“Fai’s gonna think I’m crazy,” he muttered to himself. “And she might not even be wrong.”
The next day Faith got ready for her first day ‘working’ with Silas. She was kind of worried about him, as were their parents. Hopefully spending some time around him would reveal that he was still the same old brother she’d grown up with.
By all accounts he’d withdrawn socially over the past year, and this ‘detective’ business he’d started was a crazy departure from his previous career track. Possibly he’d simply decided to make changes in his life. Maybe he was happy with how things were going now. He owned his own business, after all. Some people would consider that a success.
It was important to Faith that she figure it out meet suck and fuck porno one way or the other. If Silas was happy, then good. If he was having problems that he couldn’t share with anyone else in his life, then what were sisters for but to pry them loose.
Faith was temporarily staying with their parents. Temporarily in her mind, at least, since she didn’t actually have a real plan for getting her own place. Her same old room as when she was a kid, same old bed, and in many ways, the same old her.
She liked the way she looked in the mirror much better, at least. Her robot arm now passed casual inspection, though not a thorough one by any means. She didn’t feel like a total freak every time she caught a glimpse of herself. That was something.
Then there was her new eye. Faith leaned in closer to her mirror and examined the bionic replacement closely. It was so much more realistic than her arm. She couldn’t tell the difference between it and her real one just by looking, not until she let her cyborg prosthetic take over. If she let her robot eye scan, the differences became glaringly obvious. The sensitivity it possessed still astounded her.
Faith knew the questions about her arm were on the way. So far her family and friends had just been happy to see her, and happy for her that she had the new and improved limb. Soon enough, they’d start wondering where it had come from, and where she’d been all that time. As long as she didn’t mention her eye, no one would even think to ask about it. That was something.
After getting as ready as she’d ever be, Faith left her parents’ house and drove her beat up old car she’d had since she was eighteen to Silas’s office. It didn’t even have a kickass detective agency sign out front or anything. If that wasn’t a cry for help, Faith didn’t know what was.
The sound of a one-sided conversation greeted Faith as she walked in. It cut off abruptly as she was noticed.
“Talking to yourself there, Sil?” she asked as she walked into an office empty except for her brother.
“Something like that,” he admitted.
“Looks like I came back just in time. You would have gone crazy without me.”
Silas’s eyes flicked across the room. “Might even be too late.”
Faith smiled, but her brother’s tone didn’t quite hold the note of humour she would have liked. “Don’t worry. I’ll get you all fixed up and ready for the world again.”
“Great. Can’t wait.”
Faith dropped her lithe frame onto Silas’s couch and stretched out. Pretty comfy, she thought. It seemed unnecessary for an office, but what did she know? She’d never run her own business.
“Do you think I should set up in your spare room?” Faith asked. “Seeing as you’re lacking a partner at the moment and all.”
“If you like. As you say, it’s lacking an owner at the moment.”
“Sweet. Can I get a couch too?”
“If you want to buy yourself one, you go for it.”
Faith pouted, though she didn’t really care one way or the other. She was mostly just feeling her brother out. “Fine, I can do without for now. But here’s the real question; what nefarious villainy are we thwarting today?”
Silas sighed. “Maybe you didn’t understand yesterday when I explained that’s not really what I do. Not much villainy to be thwarted. That’s the cops’ job.”
“Right. Them too.”
“Ok, sure. But then what… investigating?” Faith paused, then nodded at her choice of words. “What ‘investigating’ are we doing?”
Silas took a long moment to answer. “I’m not sure you’re gonna like this.”
“Like what? Your case?”
“Why? Is it super boring?”
“No. Well, maybe. But more to do with it being kinda shady.”
Faith sat up straighter. “Ooh, intriguing. Shady like spying on people to see what badness they’re up to?”
“Well, some spying, anyway.”
Silas took a deep breath. “These parents are convinced their daughter is hiding a pregnancy from them.”
Faith frowned. “Like… a teenage daughter?”
“No. University daughter. Not living at home.”
There was a silence as Faith processed. “You’re right. I don’t think I like this.”
“I did warn you.”
“That’s what we’re gonna do? Pry into this girl’s life and possibly reveal something she doesn’t want revealed?”
“What exactly did you think investigating was?”
Faith threw her hands up. “I don’t know. Like, catching bad guys. Preventing robberies. Solving murders.”
“Again, that would be actual cops doing that sort of thing. I mostly get the stuff they can’t be bothered with.”
“Yeah. It does.” Silas shrugged. “Not that it’s all bad or anything. Sometimes I get to do interesting, non-shady stuff. But it is mostly domestic disputes of one kind or another. Nothing brings out the morally questionable in people quite like family does.”
“And this is the job you chose?”
Silas looked uncomfortable. He did the eye-flicking thing again. “It wasn’t exactly my choice, mobil porno in some ways. But yes. I did.”
“You know you’ve got me worried now, right?”
“You don’t have to worry.”
“I may not have to, but I do anyway. Something’s going on with you. I can tell.”
Silas tilted his head and raised an eyebrow. His eyes were a little too knowing. “Me? How about what’s going on with you? Disappear for, what, the better part of two years, no one hears much of anything. Show back up with a brand new arm, one that’s way better than what you should be able to afford. How about what the hell’s going on with you?”
Faith hesitated and bit her lip. “Ok, fair enough. We’ll leave it for now, shall we?”
“Yes, why don’t we.”
“Did we really have to bring her along?” Aggie asked. “She’s throwing off our whole rhythm.”
Silas maintained a discreet observation of the students wandering past to make sure no one was paying enough attention to notice him talking to himself. “You wanted me to ditch my sister who I haven’t seen in forever?”
“Well… you could have socialized after work. Or taken the day off.”
“I don’t get days off from you. You still would have been hounding me even if Faith and I hung out elsewhere.”
Silas turned slightly in his seat to check on Faith’s progress. They were at the campus where their target, Melody, lived and studied. Silas had taken up a spot at a picnic table near Melody’s residence. He had his phone out in front of him in order to blend in. His eyes were everywhere but on the screen.
“Yeah, I probably would, wouldn’t I?” Aggie agreed thoughtfully. “Kind of a pain in the ass, aren’t I?”
“You got that right.”
“The point is, scouting’s my job. That’s literally the one thing I’m any good at.”
“Don’t forget spying.”
“Scouting and spying, then. Whatever. You gave my job away to your stupid sister, is what I’m saying. What am I even supposed to do now except bug you?”
Faith had been sent off to check out the entry to Melody’s building. Usually that would have been Aggie’s task since she could just sit and watch people go in and out without ever being spotted. There was a delicate balancing act to be achieved on this assignment, however, where somehow both girls had to be kept happy. The rate things were going, Silas wasn’t convinced he was up to the task.
“I have to give her things to do,” Silas explained patiently. “Fai’s new to this. She doesn’t have our carefully cultivated sense of patience.”
“That was a subtle attempt at making me shut up, wasn’t it?”
“Apparently not subtle enough.”
“Ugh. Whatever. Dumb-dumb’s coming back now anyway. Guess I’ll shut up and pretend I’m not here.”
Silas wisely didn’t engage with Aggie’s last statement in any way. It was best not to provoke her into breaking her helpful, self-imposed silence. He had enough trouble getting her to stop talking at the best of times.
“Pretty standard stuff, looks like,” Faith said as she slid into the bench across from Silas. “Double entryway, open outside door, locked inside door. Students all got cards to unlock it if they live there.”
Silas nodded. “Well, with some proper timing we can probably just follow someone in. Students are notoriously apathetic about who they let in to their buildings.”
“Sure, we could do that,” Faith allowed a small, creeping smile. “There’s also a keypad for emergency or admin access.”
“So I got the code. Some dude, looked like campus security maybe, just happened to walk in while I was skulking around.”
“Don’t worry. I wasn’t actually skulking. Don’t even know how to skulk. I was just acting normal, like you said.”
“And you still managed to catch the code he entered? What were you, peering right over his shoulder?”
“Uh… something like that, I guess.”
Faith was glad Silas hadn’t followed up with any questions about her gaining the entry code. She could have given him some bullshit about how she’d managed to position herself just right to watch the code get entered without giving away that she was sneaky-spying. Truthfully she’d remained outside and glanced casually in the right direction. The zoom and detail her eye could manage was pretty damn amazing, and she wasn’t even particularly good at using it.
She had to be more careful about what she let slip. It was too easy to fall back into the habit of casually revealing information she shouldn’t know. The researchers who’d installed her cyborg enhancements had been oh-so-keen to make note of any new development in her ability to use her prosthetics. In the real world, no one was even supposed to know about her eye.
Despite Faith’s information gathering, the stakeout continued. She wasn’t sure what the point of finding a way in had been if they weren’t going to use it. She was willing to trust her brother, though. At least until she got too bored of waiting.
“How long are we gonna sit here?” Faith asked as casually as she could manage.
“Until Melody shows up.”
“That’s the master plan?”
“What are you, like, just gonna ask her straight up if she’s got a babby in her?”
Faith crossed her arms and frowned. “You are possibly the worst detective ever.”
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