6. Police
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"Seriously?!" Jason asked incredulously. "You made a deal with some kind of supernatural being, without knowing who she is, what she is, and what she wants from you? Dude what the fuck is wrong with you?!"

I was blushing but I was also a little uptight. I felt defensive, like he wasn't being all that fair with me.

"Ok first off," I stated, "Please stop calling me 'dude'. It was fine before, but I'm not a 'dude' now. Or a guy. Or a bro. I'm a girl and my name is Mara."

Jason looked like he was going to comment or protest but I kept on talking.

"Second off, I'd just been killed so excuse me if I wasn't thinking all that clearly. I just watched the EMS guys stuff my body into the back of an ambulance, and I was worried about what was going to happen to my mom when she found out I was dead. So yeah, when I had the option to stop being dead I jumped at it."

He was quiet for a few more moments, then finally sighed "Ok. I'll try and remember not to call you 'dude'. It's a little rough though, like just when you convince me that it's really you in there, now you want me to forget who you were and start treating you like a girl. And I'm sorry I got a little upset about the whole 'make a deal without knowing what you were getting into' thing. It's just..."

He paused for a moment as he figured out what he was trying to say, "It's just, we've both played enough games, read enough stories, and seen enough fantasy stuff to know better. You know? Like what if she's evil? What if she's some kind of demon or something?"

I sighed as well, "I know I should have asked questions. I mean, thinking back, yeah it's pretty obvious. In the heat of the moment though, it's totally different. Like it's easy to sit around and what-if and theorize and stuff? But when you're actually standing there dead, watching your body get carted off while the cops are milling around and nobody can see you, it's a lot harder to think clearly and objectively."

"Ok," Jason nodded slowly. "I guess I wasn't really thinking about it from that perspective. And I mean, I hope to hell I'm never actually in that situation myself. So I guess I can't blame you for how you handled it."

I was glad the argument seemed to be over, and I knew he was just looking out for me. I gave him a smile and said, "Thanks for worrying about me Jason. I think it's going to be ok though? Like, Lily's been pretty awesome so far. I mean, not only did she bring me back to life, she got me a whole new wardrobe, and a brand new phone."

"Ok that is pretty awesome," he agreed.

We were both quiet again for a bit. Then Jason asked, "So I gotta know. What's it like?"

I gave him a confused look, "What's what like? Being dead?"

He rolled his eyes, "No doofus, what's it like being a girl?"

"Oh." I hesitated a few seconds as I thought it over, then replied "I mean in a lot of ways it's nothing special? Like the biggest adjustments haven't really been specifically about being a girl, but more about being smaller. Like if I'd been reincarnated as a small guy, it'd be the same thing. Like I needed all new clothes, I'm still getting used to stuff like doorknobs and light switches and shelves being higher than before. And getting used to you and my mom both being taller than me now."

Jason almost looked disappointed by my answer, "Oh. Huh. I guess I thought it would be a bigger deal."

I blushed and smiled as I added, "Of course in other ways, it's pretty fucking amazing! I mean, boobs are great. I had a shower before you got here, and that was pretty wild. Dresses are fun! And I want to figure out how to do make-up? Maybe even get my ears pierced."

He sort of stared at me, and I caught his eyes going up and down over me, lingering around my crotch and chest. At the same time he shifted his position on the chair, and I realized he was trying to hide an erection.

"Ew, hey!" I protested. "Stop picturing me naked!"

This time Jason blushed but he responded "You started it! Talking about your boobs and getting wild in the shower..."

I reached over and grabbed my pillow and held it against my chest so I was sort of hiding behind it. We were both still blushing as I countered, "That's because you wanted to know what it was like being a girl!"

After that we both just sort of sat there in awkward silence. Both of us were still blushing, and we couldn't really look each other in the eyes for a bit.

I was sure it was as awkward for him as it was for me. I mean, he was my best friend and I was a guy up till yesterday, so I knew what it was like and what he was probably thinking. I knew he was probably feeling really weird and conflicted about suddenly seeing me like that and having his body react. And I was definitely feeling weird about having my best friend looking at me that way and getting turned on.

The main difference I figured was where he suddenly found me hot, I still wasn't the least bit attracted to him. Or guys in general, really.

Eventually the silence was broken by Jason's phone buzzing.

"Crap," he sighed as he pulled it out of his pocket. He glanced at the screen then got to his feet and stuffed the phone back where it came from. "I gotta run, I have to be at the store in twenty minutes."

He worked at the big-box home improvement store just outside of town. I vaguely remembered he mentioned the other night that he had the afternoon shift today.

"Ok," I got up as well. "Thanks again for checking up on me Jason. Thanks for caring."

As I walked him to the front door he asked, "Will you be at school tomorrow?"

"No idea," I sighed. "That's kind of my next project, to figure that out."

He frowned, "I hope you get it sorted quickly. Only three weeks till graduation."

I cringed slightly, "I know. I hope you have a quiet shift. See you later."

He waved then got into his car. I watched him go, then closed the door with another sigh.

"How did it go?" mom asked. She was still on the sofa in the living-room, she had a book in her hand but set it down for now.

I shrugged, "It was fine. Some awkward stuff here and there, but he knows I'm me."

She smiled "That's good. And are you two still friends?"

"Yeah, I think so."

Mom hesitated a moment then asked, "Just friends? Or do you think that'll change since you're...?"

"Ew!" I made a face. "No mom, I'm not into Jason! I wasn't into guys before, I'm not into guys now!"

She blushed slightly, "Oh. Sorry, I just assumed..."

I rolled my eyes as I headed back to my bedroom. I picked up Jason's and my empty soda cans and dumped them in the recycling box in the kitchen, then grabbed myself another from the fridge. I went back into my room again and closed the door behind me and sat down at the desk again.

After a sip of cola I powered up the new phone and started going through the set-up wizard on it as I asked, "Hey Lily?"

"Yes Mara, what is it?"

I was still setting up the new phone, and decided to set up a brand-new account under my new name rather than use my old account under my dead-name. As I did that I said, "I guess you heard all the stuff me and Jason were talking about. I don't want to seem ungrateful, and I really appreciate everything you've done for me. But I am kind of curious about some stuff."

I paused for a moment then asked, "Like who and what you really are? And how you want me to help you? I mean, our deal was that you'd help me and I'd help you, right? You've done a lot to help me, but you haven't said anything yet about how I'm going to help you."

She didn't answer right away, and I just continued setting up my new phone in the meantime. I figured if she didn't want to talk about it, I'd just let the subject drop. I sure didn't want to antagonize her or anything like that.

I just finished getting through the phone's set-up wizard and started going through the settings and everything to make it a little less 'generic' and a little more 'Mara', when Lily finally spoke up again.

"You're already helping me Mara, just by being you. As for details of who and what I am, I suppose I'm not comfortable sharing that information with you just yet. I think I'd like to get to know you a little better, if that's ok? And give you a chance to get to know me better as well."

I thought for a bit, then nodded "Ok, that makes sense."

She sounded a little hesitant as she continued, "I know your friend seemed distrustful of me. I wonder though if there might be something else going on. Do you think perhaps he might be a little bit jealous of you?"

I was just having a sip of cola when she caught me with that, and I nearly spilled it on my new phone as I reacted to the idea.

After coughing and sputtering a bit I asked, "What are you saying? That Jason wants to be a girl too?"

Her voice sounded slightly amused now, as Lily replied "I can't say Mara, I'm just making an observation. Based on the conversation you mentioned from last week, and based on Jason's curiosity about your experiences."

I shook my head, "I don't know about that. He doesn't seem like the type to want that."

"I have a feeling both he and your mother would have said the same about you. And yet here we are."

My cheeks turned pink and I sighed "Ok, you got me there."

I decided to change the subject and asked, "So you probably heard my mom and Jason both asked about school. Is there something you can do about that, like so I can finish up the year and graduate?"

"No."

That actually caught me off-guard. It was the first time she'd just flat-out refused something.

I asked nervously, "Uh, is that no as in you can't? Or no as in you won't?"

"It's both," Lily replied. Her tone was soft, she sounded apologetic rather than upset or angry. "I'm sorry Mara. Your mother and your best friend both know the truth about you and I, but that is enough. You have to remember, to the rest of the world the old you is dead. Your body will be identified very soon if it hasn't already. Your school is going to know of your passing. You are Mara now, the world will see you as a new person. You can't just step back into that old life and pretend nothing happened. And we can't tell the whole world that I brought you back. That would cause pandemonium."

"Right," I sighed deeply. I slumped in my chair as the implications of that all hit me. "My mom and Jason will have to act like I'm dead. Oh crap, there'll be a funeral... This is going to suck."

"I'm sorry," Lily said again.

I sighed, "Still, what am I going to do about school? I can't go to college in September if I don't have my high-school diploma."

"It's something we can discuss later, Mara. They're here now, go and join your mother."

I frowned, "What? Who's here?"

She didn't reply, and a moment later I heard someone knocking on the front door.

I took my new phone with me and stepped out of my bedroom in time to see mom moving to the front door. I was a couple meters behind as I hurried to join her.

She opened the door and my heart skipped a beat when I saw the two uniformed cops standing on our doorstep. They both had sort of grim unhappy looks on their faces.

"Good afternoon officers," mom said nervously. "What can I do for you?"

The cop on the left replied "Ma'am, are you Emma Carter?"

Mom nodded, "Yes?"

The cop on the right said in a serious voice, "Ma'am we're here to speak with you about your son. May we come in?"

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