I read Exchanged. Then I read over all the other Diaper Dimension fics I could find. And then a plot bunny took me and would not let me go. Please forgive any format errors. I have no real computer and I’m typing this on my phone. I’ll go back and work it when I can get computer access.
Character name notes-
Celtic names hurt to pronounce, so for the uninitiated:
Saoirse- SEER- sha
Eilish- AY- lish
Eamonn- AY- mum
Ad Hoc Social Justice
November 1, 2018
There were days when running away to pursue social justice and disrupt the system from within felt like a grand spy adventure. When every one she saved was one more tiny victory on the way to equality. When the night ended in air high fives and congratulations and her sister actually smiling.
And then there were days like today when the reports came due. On the days like today, underground social justice felt like endless tedious paperwork. Saiorse typed the codes into the closing comments box, sighed, and rubbed her tight back. She was ten and a half feet of ache from sitting still too long and it was only eleven in the morning. She reached for her mug and muttered a quiet feck as she realised her tea had gone cold. Again.
Standing and stretching until her back emitted a series of cracks, she carried the hand painted yellow mug with a childish hand reading “ Aunty Saoirse” to the microwave in the break room. A breeze out of nowhere ruffled the nondescript memos tacked to the message boards and sent a chill breeze up her already cold back. The winter had come on like a thunderclap this year and the heat had yet to catch up in the Bureau building. City construction. Only the worst for their public servants. Not that the furnace was responsible for this chill. This one was definitely supernatural and probably her responsibility, being that she seemed to be the only Sensitive working in the Bureau and they tended to be skeptics here.
Saiorse peeked over her shoulder as she hit the button to make her tea drinkable again, thankful she had never picked up the Libertalian habit of coffee in her years living here. Reheated coffee was vile, fresh coffee slightly less so. No one was there, no one living at least, so she chanced a whisper to encourage whoever it was. “If you want something, you got to bring it me with actual information.” She hissed at the room in general. “I don’t speak cold breeze, so when you’re ready to tell me in Libertalian I’m all ears.”
This city was getting to her. For being called the city of brotherly love, it was damn rude place and it was sinking into her words. Probably should have been more polite, she reflected. She suspected being a conduit to those excluded from the great beyond should involve more patience, but what the hell. She had paperwork to do. The microwave beeped and she opened it, lifting out the mug with both hands. It needed both hands to lift- it had been a gift her oldest nephew made during the school holidays, and being six, he did not have great talent at pottery making. (Maybe someday he would. Hell, kid could grow up to be whatever he wanted as long as he ended up nothing like his worthless tit of a father.)Amateur though it was, the considerable lumpy bulk of the mug warmed her hands against whoever was placing a vague complaint in her general direction. “I’ll sic Eilish on you, see if I don’t.” She muttered, then shot one last glare at the room and headed back in the direction of her work desk.
“Saiorse!” A voice called out. She paused, then sipped the tea to prepare herself. She leaned on the scratched laminate of the desk, the swankiest government work could afford.
“Jodie.” Saiorse took in the look the R and D developer had managed today. She seemed to have managed matching clean clothes today, but was sporting a garland of USB drives on a lanyard as jewellery. Her dark hair was frizzed out and twisted up with two LPS pens clearly stolen from the reception desk. “Up late with a project then?” She inquired, noticing Jodie was in fact wearing the same clothes as yesterday.
“We’ve found some weird readings near dimensional arrivals. Like nothing we have on file. Opens to a dimension where they don’t even seem to believe in multiple universe theory.” Jodie shook her head excitedly, then grasped her tablet tighter. “They’re popping up out of nowhere in rooms we haven’t opened in ages, but they vanish just as fast. Want to see my compilations?” Jodie shoved the tablet at her.
Saiorse backed away, shaking her head. Get caught up one of Jodie’s moments and your morning was shot. “Cool as a dimensional glitch is, I have to file another three reports that shouldn’t have existed. Can’t people just divorce without using us to bully their ex?” She gulped another mouthful of tea, cursing families and their infidelity.
“Ugh, domestics.” Jodie said with a sigh. “AKA, I hate you because you screwed your secretary, therefore you are obviously neglecting our Little? So much unnecessary drama.” She tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear and rolled her eyes.
“Stupid, the lot of them.” Saoirse agreed. “All the visits were a total waste of time, and now I waste more time filing the reports that I could be using to solve actual problems. And it was only two cheating exes this time. One was a grandmother who took offence to the daughter not taking the boy to visit Nana.”
“And that is why I’m not a social worker.” Jodie commented. “Too many people. Portals and nanites don’t piss you off like people do. I’ll leave that to you guys with a world to save and the downtrodden to rescue.” She juggled a giant travel mug of coffee from a LaLa convenience store to her other hand, taking a gulp. “Anyway, I got more energy stalking to do, so good luck knocking down crazy grandma a few pegs.”
“I will be merciless.” That as least was expected of her, though not in quite the direction she took it. It was apparently shocking when an LPS agent with a name like Saoirse O’Farrell and a strong Eire accent displayed a twentieth century attitude. “Good luck portal hunting, then.”
Jodie dashed off, eyes on her tablet screen. As Saiorse approached her office, she felt another chill, but this one was a comfortable and familiar one. She shut the door, then stuffed her ears with the outdated EarPods she had purchased specifically because they were obvious and cheap and tended to keep her from looking like she had lost her mind. Not bothering to actually turn them on, she flipped a casual, almost imperceptible wave at the tiny figure seated on her desk. “Got bored with saving the world one lost soul at a time, Eilish? Care to join in on saving my side of it for a meagre salary?” She asked, her tone light.
“Got to do something to keep up my share of responsibilities.” Eilish adjusted the skirt of her loosely draping magenta dress and leaned back on the wood laminate.
“True and it is, but I will remind you I don’t charge you any rent.” Setting the mug down, she shuffled through her notes from yesterday’s pointless visits.
“And I will say that is good because I have literally no money.” Eilish made a show of searching her pockets for spare change, a pantomime only slightly affected by the fact that she lacked pockets. She shrugged, tucked a strand of her blond curly bob back, and scooted over on her bottom, scanning the papers. “The downtrodden of Libertalia are all leading very boring existences at the moment. As, apparently, is this mad granny here who needs to calm down with her… dartboard?” She commented, deciphering the notes. “How do you even read that scribble?”
“Daughter. It says daughter.” Saiorse shot Eilish a look. “Standard stupid revenge call, not like social workers have a job to do or anything. And get your bum off my desk. I need room to work.”
Eilish sighed theatrically and scooted to the edge of the desk, climbing down the drawer handles as though she weighed nothing at all. Which made sense, given that she did in fact weigh nothing at all. “Technically,”. She pointed out as she heaved herself onto a seat gymnast style, “I never really had my bum on your desk.”
“Technically we’re not sisters, but you’re sure as hell needling me like one.” Saoirse shot back, though there were no barbs in the words. They weren’t sisters, not by blood, but that hardly mattered these days. Ironically, after mutually rejecting the adoption that had made them sisters in the first place, they had grown closer than they ever had been as legal sisters. “And I know how you actually could help today.”
Eilish tilted her head curiously. “Strange things afoot at the Bureau? I’m intrigued. And also I get right to refuse as I’m the older sister.” She locked her blue eyes of Saoirse’s green ones, daring her to contradict.
That was as far as Saoirse was willing to take that topic. Eilish would have exploded into four and a half feet of fury if that nerve was touched. Better to direct the fury at Mr. Vague Complaints in the break room. “I felt some weird energy or something in the break room just now. If you check it out-“. She broke off as her phone rang. Mum’s ringtone. Shite.
“It’s scarce daybreak there. Mary Elizabeth wouldn’t call now unless it were important.” Eilish murmured. She regarded the phone with some suspicion until Saiorse gave in and pressed the answer button.
“Mum. Hi.” She managed as brightly as she could. “You’re calling early, everything alright?” Eilish was right, the timing was worrying. Gran hadn’t been well lately, and Saoirse’s stomach seized up in worry as she spoke.
“I’m fine, darling.” Mum did indeed sound pleased, which left Saoirse even more confused. “How did that date go with that Chris from the Quizzo team?” Gods damn it. Calling her at arse o clock in the morning to pry about a date. Which of course had not gone well. This was why she never told Mum anything.
Saiorse bit her tongue to hold back any impolitic replies that might bring out her mother’s passive aggressive side. Chris from the quizzo team had cared a lot about her nationality. A lot. To a scary degree. “We… didn’t have a lot in common, Mum.” She ventured. That was probably the best way to describe his deeply creepy obsession with her accent.
“Oh, that’s too bad dear.” Mum said. “I so want to see you settled down, even if it is with a Libertalian.” She paused as if that wasn’t an insult to an entire nation, then went on. “I’m calling because I have good news. Maeve and Eamonn are adopting!”
Saiorse’s stomach instantly twisted into a knot, and she must have looked stricken because Eilish looked at her in apprehension. “Uh… oh!” She managed. “Really? I thought they were done?” Prayed more like, her kind still having a belief in their gods. They were clearly not listening at the moment.
“Apparently even with the boys being into everything, they just want their girl.” No. Just no. And Mum- poor, innocent, naive Mum- seemed so happy in her ignorance. Gods above, she should have spoken up when she was seventeen. “After the trouble Maeve had with Cormac, the doctors said she shouldn’t have any more. So they’re going to get themselves a Little. I’m going out now to get the yarn to make her some baby blankets. Best you get on sending them a gift- they’re going to go ahead on it once they get Cormac potty trained, and you know how simple it is to adopt here.”
Saiorse wanted to puke. Eilish, picking up on her distress, had left the chair and walked closer, bare feet poised to scale the desk again. She gulped down the nausea as best she could and said, “Mum, that’s… amazing news.” Amazingly bad, but the gods seemed to have granted her the ability to twist words as she needed to get poor naive Mum off the phone before she was sick. “I’ll get right on a gift.” She gulped and her head started to spin as she thought of what the hell she was going to tell Eilish. They had some time. Cormac was nineteen months old and as stubborn and immovable as the hills when he didn’t get his way. She only hopes it was enough time. “Uhhh… I’m headed to a visit now, Mum. Talking while driving is a damn pricey ticket. I’ll… talk to you later. Give my regards to Maeve.” Her warnings, more like, but how the hell was she going to handle this one?
“Very well, love. I’m so excited to be a granny again. You’ll have to fly out to meet her when she comes, of course. And maybe someday I’ll see you with little ones of your-“
No. Not now. She couldn’t. “Traffic cop, Mum, Gotta go!” She managed, then hung up and promptly vomited her breakfast into the trash can. When she could lift her head again, Eilish was looking at her with a mix of dawning comprehension and horror.
“Eamonn?” She whispered, her eyes wide as she sank down to the carpet. Saoirse wanted nothing more than to hug Eilish, but of course they couldn’t actually touch. That would make things too normal. “Is Maeve pregnant?” Eilish asked, hoping against hope that was it. At least then there would be a shot that it was another boy…
Saiorse shook her head miserably, knowing this was the worst possible news of Eamonn they could have gotten. “Adopting. A Little girl. Apparently after Cormac she shouldn’t get pregnant again.” The sisters stared at each other in silence for a moment, then tears began to trickle down Eilish’s slightly translucent cheeks.
“He’s a monster.” She spat the words out as if they were poison. “We have to warm Maeve.” She curled up into a tiny ball, tucking herself into the hem of her dress. The black Capri leggings beneath clearly showed the bulge of a thick diaper underneath a backside covered in tiny ruffles, as they had for years now. It wasn’t like she got a change of clothes, and this was at least fairly innocuous as Little clothing went. “We can’t let him hurt anyone.” She jumped up, began pacing furiously.
“Which means we have to do something.” It wasn’t like Eilish could, though what could she even say? They couldn’t hear her. Saiorse could relay it to them. There hadn’t been any proof and it wasn’t like she could tell the story without seeming mad, but Eilish deserved that much at least. That he couldn’t be allowed to hurt anyone. Anyone else, a horrible voice whispered in Saiorse’s head. “Mum said they’ll wait until they’ve potty trained Cormac. We have that long at least.”
“That kid better be the most stubborn damned Amazon on that Gods forsaken fucking island.” Eilish said with venom in her voice. “This has to stop. We have to tell Maeve. We have to tell Mary Elizabeth. She’s nowhere near as evil as most of the Amazons on Eire.” For a given value of evil, at least. And damn it, this hurt. Calling her by name wasn’t giving Eilish the emotional distance it usually did. Even as upset as she was, she could never let herself slip and call Saiorse’s mum by anything but her name. She’d called her Mummy eleven years, but it had all been a lie, a terrible hateful prison it had cost her her life to escape. She froze in place as reality settled in around her. She would have been hyperventilating if she breathed. “I- I need to- I can’t be here.” She sputtered. “I need to be alone.”
Saoirse nodded, knowing her sister was about to shut down. “Go. You know how to find me when you’re ready.” And with that, she was the only one in the office. She sagged down in the chair, shaking. It had taken years of being a plane ride apart from him for Eilish to heal. And now some poor little on Eire had a fate depending on her.
Could she tell them? Would they believe her? It wasn’t so strange to have Sensitives about, especially in a place as haunted as Eire. She honestly figured they suspected she was either Sensitive or a bit touched, but would they believe her if it was Eilish’s words? To them, there was no Eilish. Just baby Alannah, who knew five words. Who had a doting big brother. Who they’d lost in a tragic accident years ago and who certainly never would make accusations that would tear a family apart.
Fourteen years ago now they’d run, all the way to Libertalia. Seemed they couldn’t run any longer.
November 1, 2018
Amazon came to the rescue after all. Same day shipping had provided one bag of very overpriced Middleswarth BBQ chips, a bottle of birch beer, and two packs of those weird ass old lady flower mints Abuelita had loved. Just in time, Pera ripped the box open with her house key and placed the disturbingly sweet chips and beverage next to Mila’s picture. She lay the flower candies next to Abuelita’s picture, then lit the little candle and set up the two big ones. The ofrenda was complete with zero time to spare.
She ought to call Mami and Papi over, but she needed a minute alone. Or not alone, depending on how much she believed what they said. Either way, if she wanted say anything to her sister, this was her chance, whether or not it got heard. “Hey, Mila.” She said softly, looking at the picture. “So I don’t know how I feel about this being my last year doing this here. Papi’s insisting I go far away, way north, once he finds my social security card. Says Nogales isn’t safe anymore.” She took a deep breath. “Things are getting scarier here since that fascist Oompa Loompa took over. I almost feel like you’re lucky not to be living through this. I know I was born here and I’m eighteen now, but you’d have been in as much danger as they are. I worry every day they’re going to get grabbed and deported. They go back there, they could get fucking killed.”
She felt a quick shot of fear hit her like a shoe to her head. Well, it tingled, but felt almost like it was a shoe to her head. Many times in her life it had been- Abuelita had scary good aim when it came to shoe throwing. Memories must be playing tricks on her. She threw a quick glance at Abuelita’s portrait and added, “Sorry, Abuelita. Language, I know.” Turning her attention back to Mila’s picture, she stared at the smiling young woman and whispered, “Maybe I go up to Pennsylvania like you did, right? Learn to love winter and weird cabbage food and freaky sweet barbecue chips. Wish I could find you there.” She sniffled, then composed herself. It was not a night for tears.
“Esperanza?” Mami called out. “You ready?” She came in and placed a tamale on the ofrenda like it was a sacrament. Papi joined them, looked at the photos. “Mami.” He murmured to the picture of Abuelita. He turned to Mila’s picture, brushed it with his fingers, and said in all but a whisper, “Milagros.” At that exact moment, Pera jerked when the shoe to head sensation started again. The hell? She hadn’t even cursed that time! But it continued, more urgent and harder, somehow more… desperate? She turned to figure out what was happening and the door burst open.
“Hands in the air!” In the gloom, Pera couldn’t make out the features of the men, except that they were bulky with body armor. “Don’t move!” Someone grabbed Pera around the waist. She felt a pinch on her arm and turned her head to see a syringe pulling away from her. Papi was trying to fight the man off and slid into the ofrenda, sending Abuelita’s photo crashing to the floor. Fuzziness, then blackness overcame her.
Milagros Ortega wasn’t used to being a hero, and she was at a bit of a loss as to how to do it as she raced after the giant man who was stealing her drugged sister. She had to somehow get Pera away from the giant, get her back to the weird metal room, figure out how to get the metal room to take them back home, and then find Mami and Papi, who were probably already shoved back into Mexico. She had… what weapons did she have? As Mila ran,she groped through her purse for something, anything that could help. She had… Tic Tacs, a pen, a bunch of lint, a useless social security card with a number that was not technically hers. And… she looked down at the chancla still clutched in her right hand. And apparently her grandmother’s shoe. That could be a weapon, though she doubted smacking a giant with it would do anything.
Not to mention she had to pull this off without anyone being able to see, hear, or touch her. With a pen and a shoe she was nowhere near old enough to weaponize properly. This was possibly the world’s most pathetic rescue attempt ever.
The giant was tireless, his strides eating up huge swathes of floor. On the absurdly large gurney at his side lay Pera, the girl still unconscious from what the ICE agent had injected her with. The men from ICE (she was starting to suspect maybe there was more to that than what it seemed) had carried Pera to a van, loaded her in next to an equally knocked out boy who couldn’t have been older than eighteen as their cronies restrained Mami and Papi. They hadn’t even reacted when Mila snatched up Abuelita’s other shoe and applied it as hard as she could to their heads. Of course Mila had to follow. The van had traveled for what felt like hours, with the men taking turns napping and guarding their prisoner. Said prisoner being drugged, the main guard had spent the majority of the time boredly playing Candy Crush and occasionally complaining about the overactive air conditioning. They had been offloaded in a dark desert landscape, where instead of a detention center, a nondescript cookie cutter house rose up like a snowbird’s dream. The hours ticked on toward midnight and Mila hoped the magic that yanked her back to… wherever it was she came from at the end of Dia de Muertos would let her stay this time.
The Candy Crush guard had poked the other two to wake them, then strapped Pera, still knocked out, to a stretcher and carried her inside. It was not nondescript inside. While the outside was indistinguishable from any snowbird’s winter home, the inside was filled with various unrecognizable metal bits. In the center was a pod, about the size of a small room, with two metal chairs inside.
“Creepy mofo” One of the men muttered as he lowered Pera into a metal chair and strapped her in. “What name we putting down?” He pulled out a little label maker like device.
“They said put Maria Lopez on all the girls.” A man was strapping the boy in. “Juan Lopez on all the boys.”
The machine, after some tapping, spit out a little bracelet like a hospital bracelet reading:
He fastened it on Pera’s wrist, then said, “You done, Alex?”
The second guard clicked the bracelet on the boy, then said, “Done. Let’s get out of here. This thing gives me the fuckin’ creeps.”
“Tell me about it.” The men exited, but Mila remained, keeping her hand as close as she could to her little sister’s without them touching. Whatever this was, she couldn’t leave Pera behind now. Mami and Papi were tough. They had to handle being deported on their own. This was… something else entirely.
The lights in the room dimmed and there was a curious humming sound. Very faintly, Mila was aware of a strange sensation like the the world twisting itself around her. When the sensation abated, the door opened tentatively.
The door… had it been that tall before? It must have been, because the man who entered had to be eleven feet tall. He was slim and dressed in mint greenish scrubs, pushing a huge gurney alongside him. The nurse giant bent over first the boy, then Pera, checking their pulses and blood pressure and dictating into his watch as he did.
“Maria Lopez- Damn it all, another one- could they at least try with the code names?- number… 14. BP 110 over 70, pulse 57 beats per minute. Breathing normal, anaesthesia administered prior to transport, though God only knows when or which one, because apparently this dimension doesn’t believe in record keeping. Female, aged approximately eighteen to twenty but once again nobody wrote it down. Transported at-“ he sighed heavily. “Some damn time prior to midnight 11/1, arrived 3:52 AM 11/2 eastern libertalian time.” He clicked the button, then unbuckled Pera. “I had low expectations of you idiots, but damn. Alright, Maria number 14, let’s get you set up. Juan 12, you hold on a bit and Josiah will be along to help you.” He lifted Pera up gently and lay her on the gurney, striding off purposefully.
Mila didn’t even know where to begin with this. Where the hell were they? What did dimensions have to do with this? And why in hell was a giant taking her sister? And why were there giants in the first place? It occurred to Mila that she might be going crazy, though how she was managing that without a physical brain was anyone’s guess. If this was real, she was completely out of her depth.
She sprinted alongside the gurney, not even trying to look out for anything. As she rounded the corner, Mila collided head on with someone and went sprawling on the floor.
“Oi!” A strongly Irish accented voice protested. Next to her, a short blonde woman in a childish magenta dress rose to her bare feet. “Watch where you’re going!”
“Uh…”. The gurney was going to get away! But if they had collided and she was obviously seeing her, then…”You. Blondie. My sister’s being kidnapped by a giant.” As the words left her mouth, she realised just how insane and desperate she sounded, but obviously no one else was going to look at her or help. “Please help?”
The blonde froze, stared at her, then looked over at the nurse giant and the gurney. “What the…” she said, then seemed to come to a quick decision. “I’ll take that as a distraction. Quick. Run, we’ll catch them.”
The two women sprinted as fast as their short legs could go as the gurney paused at an elevator, neither one knowing what they were getting into.