Story:Crossing Lines

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Crossing Lines
Written by TriangleDelta

"She told them where I was!" Lauren finally snapped, slamming her palm down on Susan's desk.

At that, Susan looked up from the email she was writing. The bulldog let her gaze shift from Lauren's hand on her desk, up to the skink's face. Lauren was glaring, and her breath was coming heavy. She'd managed to keep level and calm up until that moment, but now her muscles were tensing as she fixed her gaze on her agent.

The skink went on. "There. In that fucking city of all places, she told them that I was there and where I was. At my dad's house. She told them."

Susan tapped her fingers on the desk for a few long moments. When she spoke, her voice was very level. "Lauren. You know we can't get her on that. Any news site could take a picture of you at any time and mention where they saw you."

"She's not any news site!" Lauren searched for words for a few moments, and then continued. "She's a representative of TBPC. If we can't get at her, can we get at them for this somehow?"

"Again, they haven't broken any laws."

"What about using that picture of me without permission?"

"They paid the photographer for the rights to use the picture. It's entirely above board."

Lauren opened her mouth to continue, but couldn't think of anything else. At last, she just narrowed her eyes on Susan. "I thought I was paying you to deal with this type of issue."

The office was very quiet. Lauren could hear the whirring of the air conditioning in Susan's office agency, filtering into her office. Across the desk from her, Susan didn't react. She kept her gaze steady as she considered the skink.

"You are," was the bulldog's eventual response. "But let's take a look at what you're letting me do. I can't discuss your concerns with your team. You won't let me disclose what's happened to you over the past two years, or even hint that anything has happened at all. I can't speak to my connections in the media without that permission, so I can't ask them to avoid or adjust any stories that could open you up to attention. I can't even ask people to watch out for pred supremacist dogwhistles on social media, and if I could, I wouldn't be able to talk to any stadium security."

"So that's it? That's all we can do?"

"Lauren. You just took a two week trip off the grid. I then managed to get you back into your hometown, the place you've been afraid to go back to for two years, without anybody knowing." She held up a hand to stop Lauren from speaking. "No. What I did on my end worked. You were in town for two days before it got out. If what I arranged hadn't worked, you coming home would have been all over local news the night you landed. Who knows, maybe a neighbour noticed you in your dad's window or something, and word spread. I can't control for that.

"Look, I've done what I can to help protect you from TBPC and their 'supporters,' but there's only so much I can manage without being able to pull in other resources."

Lauren was still leaning forward, glaring at her agent. She wished she'd had the time to go pick up some other clothes. It was difficult to stare down Susan while the bulldog was wearing her perfectly tailored suit and Lauren was in her wrinkled travelling clothes that needed a wash.

To be fair, it wasn't like she'd had much of an option. After Rebekah Huotari, the student ambassador of Thunder Bay Predator College, had publicly tweeted out Lauren's location the evening before, Lauren had left for the airport almost immediately. She'd grabbed her bag of travelling clothes, kissed her dad goodbye, then called her uncle Max to give her a ride. She'd called Susan from the backseat of her uncle's car, and her flights through to Vegas were booked by the time she arrived at the Thunder Bay airport.

Lauren had arrived at her hotel at two last night. She'd still managed to be waiting for Susan at her office before she got there in the morning. The skink was already feeling exhausted, and was dreading stepping outside into Las Vegas's heat to head back to her hotel.

She kept glaring at her agent for a few long moments, but her exhaustion finally got the better of her. She let out a long breath and sat back in her chair. She crossed her arms over her tank top, and closed her eyes.

"So what's the plan? What's our next step?"

She heard Susan shifting in her seat. Lauren kept her eyes closed as the bulldog responded. "You know that Rebekah's going to declare for the draft this summer. You two were in school at the same time. What do you know about her?"

Lauren's forehead creases as she thought back to her years at TBPC. "I dunno. She was on the bench for the years I was there. Always a bit too loud and a bit too careful. She gave me big, 'just asking questions,' energy, you know? Letting other people say the bad stuff, and then twisting it to seem reasonable. Everybody knew where she stood, but she would never say it out loud, and she always had an excuse or a redirection ready."

Susan let out a barely perceptible groaned. Lauren thought she could pick up a bit of a growl in it. "Great. I'm dreading this next year already."

Lauren snorted. "If it helps, I don't think I paid her as much attention because she never implied anything about me and her jaws or claws. At least it's not one of those ones."

"Count your blessings, I guess." Lauren heard the bulldog tapping her fingers on her desk. She didn't have to look to know that Susan was leaning forward as she spoke. "Okay kid, here's the long and short of it. I've told you what I can and can't do right now. If Huotari declares for the draft this year and makes it in, then her platform's only going to get bigger. You and I both know that she's not going to leave you alone. The dogwhistles will continue, and she'll be every bit as careful. There's nothing I can do openly about that unless she missteps."

Lauren finally opened her eyes. She was slouching in her seat a bit now. Much as she'd guessed, Susan was leaning forward. The bulldog's eyes were locked on hers, and there was an intensity there, mixed with concern.

Lauren let her gaze wander away from her agent, towards the photos and newsclippings framed on the walls. She lingered on the photos of a younger Susan in the middle of boxing matches, or standing bloodied and victorious afterwards, or staring down an opponent at a weigh-in. Lauren thought about why she'd originally signed with Susan - her intensity, her directness.

Lauren turned her gaze back to Susan herself, and took a deep breath. "I know the type of people that follow her. They know what she thinks."

"Right."

"And, whether we can prove it or not, she pointed them towards me while I was at my dad's house."

"She did."

Lauren gave a very slow, small nod. With a groan, she straightened up in her chair. She clenched the arms, and then narrowed her gaze on Susan.

"What permission do you need?"

Susan let out a very long, quiet breath. Then she started speaking. "Let me tell the management of the teams that offer you contracts during free agency about everything you've gone through over the past couple years. Let me drop hints to my contacts in the press. If it can't be open, at least let it be known where it matters so that she starts running into resistance."

"Done." Lauren nodded. "And what do you need from me?"

At this, Susan paused, and raised her eyebrow at the skink. Lauren met her gaze with her own glare. The bulldog waited for a long moment, and then spoke.

"Draw her out. Take your small shots where it's safe and smart to do it, but don't get cocky or stupid. Force her to make the mistake. That's when I can come in."

Lauren gave a curt nod. There was a heat rising in her guts, but she forced it down with cool, calm resolve. She was already tired, and thinking about this was pulling out a whole different kind of exhaustion. Her voice was steady and cold when she replied.

"Got it."

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