Author Notes: Thanks to Scribbler and Elena Tiriel for the beta.

Walk a mile in another man’s shoes

He didn’t know how the fuck it happened, but one minute he was glaring across at Cali, and the next minute he was staring back in surprise at his own face. The expression in his eyes—in the eyes in his body—mirrored the shock he felt in… himself.

The two of them stood frozen for a long moment. Then he—the other he; he didn’t know how else to describe it—lifted the hand that wasn’t holding his semi-automatic and looked at it questioningly. He turned it around slowly, before raising an eyebrow and murmuring, “I don’t think this is going to be fixed by a can of spray paint.”

“What—?” His own voice sounded different. His whole body, the way he carried himself, felt different. It ached in different places. Although it didn’t seem to have had any more sleep than he’d had: it still felt dog tired.

“Never mind.” He—the other he—nodded at him. “I’m guessing that’s Mr Wolf standing over there?”

“Yeah.” Wolf turned and squinted at what he could see of his reflection in the plate glass window of the conference room. He wasn’t terribly surprised when he saw Cali’s haggard features peering back at him. This made no sense at all, but if his body was over there, and his mind was over here, there was a kind of logic to it. He turned back to him—no, Cali. That was Cali on the other side of the table.

He suddenly became aware that Cali was the one holding the gun, while he was now unarmed. A shiver ran down his spine. Cali’s spine, he reminded himself, which made him remember that he’d probably think twice about shooting himself. He just had to hope Cali felt the same way.

Shaking his head, trying to clear it, he squared up to the other man. “Any idea what just happened?” A part of him was hoping this was all just a hallucination induced by sleep deprivation or PTSD, because this made all the shit in Iraq look positively sane. Or maybe it was the delayed effects of some of the crap he’d pumped into his body, or had pumped into it, over the last few years.

Cali shook his head. Shook Wolf’s head. “No. And before you ask, I’ve no idea how to undo it either.”

Wolf made to shove his hands in his pockets, but the gesture didn’t feel right in this body. He crossed his arms instead. “So what the fuck do we do now?”

Cali shrugged. “Well, I can hardly go back outside and talk to my squad looking like this.” He grinned mirthlessly. “No offense.”

Wolf returned the grin, finding the muscles moved the same and yet felt different. “None taken.”

A sudden thought struck him, and he leaned forward and spread his hands, Cali’s hands, on the table. As he did so, he noticed how steady they were. How not like—he shied away from the thought. The idea of Cali finding out all about his tics and twitches and pains while he was in Wolf’s body made him feel vulnerable. Instead, he focused on the task in hand. “We do still have a hostage situation to resolve.”

Cali raised one of Wolf’s eyebrows, inviting further comment.

“You want to get all the hostages out safe.” Wolf wanted that too, because he really didn’t like the way all this had gone down, but he wasn’t going to tell Cali that. “I want to get my men out and clear. So how’s about I trust you to stay in here and keep an eye on things, and not sneak the hostages out the back when my guys aren’t looking? Because you are not gonna like what they’ll do if they think you’re—think I’m double-crossing them. And you trust me to go out and fix up our extraction without making you look an idiot for letting us escape.” He inclined his head. “We get to leave. The hostages get saved. You get to be a hero on prime-time TV. And we’ll work out how to sort this shit,” he waved a hand to encompass the two of them, “once we’ve gotten outta here.”

Cali considered the offer for a long moment, before he nodded. “Okay. I think you and I have enough trust for that.”

As he headed out to the front of the bank, Wolf found a part of him was glad. Because he kinda liked Cali, respected him, and this way, they could keep that trust. This way he didn’t have to tell Cali what he’d called him in to tell him. This way, maybe everyone could get out fine after all. Then they could work out how the hell to fix whatever the fuck was going on.

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