On their way to the Grand Hall, Liz suddenly stopped and looked at her friends. "What if Mr. Smith was actually Ms. Smith before and now he's a transgender…" she trailed off.

"That would be pretty..." Macey trailed off.

"Awkward?" Bex supplied.

"I can't imagine him as a woman. It's just… impossible. Maybe I could go on my computer later and see?" Liz asked timidly.

"Sure, but after dinner. I'm starving," Bex answered.

Dinner passed by like every other year before for them, except for the fact that Cammie wasn't there. Once they had gotten back to their suite, Liz went straight to her computer and began got a picture of Mr. Smith and began to transformation that would make him look like a girl.

Bex glanced at the screen after a few minutes and her eyes got wide. "Oh my God. Is that Mr. Smith?" Liz nodded her head.

Macey looked up from her magazine, and said, "That actually looks like a boy that looks like a girl that looks like a boy."

"Eh?" Liz couldn't believe she just said 'Eh'. She cleared her throat and said, "I don't understand."

Macey rolled her eyes, but explained anyway. "In that picture, Mr. Smith is a guy that looks like a girl that looks like a guy. If you don't get it, mull it over in your head for a bit. It'll make sense."

After a minute of contemplation, Liz understood what she meant, and slowly nodded. "I get it. It actually makes sense. Especially when you look at this picture."

"Great," Bex said sarcastically. "Now why don't we get back to the book?"

"So who's reading this time?" Macey asked.

"I will, I guess," Liz said. She looked around the room. "Ummm. Guys, where is it?"

"It should be by my bed," Bex replied.

Liz walked over. "It's not there."

"That's where I put it," Bex said.

"Who has it then?" Macey questioned.

"When did Zach leave?" Bex asked suspiciously.

"When school ended," Liz replied.

"Did Abby come back?"

"Not that I know of," Liz said slowly.

"You know what this means," Macey said mischievously.

"Time to spy," Bex said with a grin.

Let's go see what the guys have been up to...

"Can you believe it?" Grant asked his roommates, Zach and Jonas.

"No, actually," Zach replied.

"Well believe it," Jonas cut in. "We're on our way there right now."

"This semester is just going to turn into a disaster," Zach moaned.

"How do you know that?" Grant questioned.

"Call it a gut feeling." They all knew to trust their gut.

Back at Gallagher...

"Oopsy Daisy," Liz said as she tripped. "Uhh guys?" They were busy planning on what they needed to do.

"Hmmm?" They asked simultaneously.

"The book is right here..." Liz answered while pulling it out from underneath their rug.


"BEX!" Macey exclaimed.

"Sorry," she said sheepishly. "So ummm...Does this mean we're not going to spy anymore?"

Macey sighed. "I guess."

"I suppose I should start reading then," Liz said awkwardly..

Bex had spent six hours on a private jet, but her cappuccino-colored skin was glowing, and she looked as if she'd just walked out of a Noxzema commercial, so I really wanted to be petty and point out that the sign in the foyer said we were suppose to be speaking English with American accents during the Welcome Back Dinner.

"Technicalities." Bex dismissed it with a wave of her hand while sinking into a bean bag chair.

But as the only non-U.S. citizen Gallagher Girl in history, Bex was used to being an exception. My mom had bent some serious rules when her old friends from England's M16 called and asked if their daughter could be a Gallagher Girl. Admitting Bex had been Mom's first controversial act (but not her last).

"What else did she do?" Macey asked.

"Lots of things," Bex replied. Macey glared at her before looking at Liz to continue.

"You have a good holiday, then?" Throughout the hall, girls were beginning to eat, but Bex just blew a bubble with her gum and grinned, daring us to ask her for the story.

"Now I feel like having some more gum," Bex said, then stood up and started rummaging through her desk for some.

"Bex, if you know something, you've got to tell us," Liz demanded, even though it was totally pointless. No one can make Bex do anything she doesn't want to do.

Macey and Liz exchanged knowing looks, while Bex was still looking for some gum.

I may be a chameleon, and Liz may be the next Einstein, but when it came to general stubbornness, Bex is the best spy ever!

"Was that an insult?" Bex called from under her bed.

She smirked, and I knew she'd probably been planning this scene since she was halfway over the Atlantic Ocean (in addition to being stubborn, Bex is also quite theatrical).

"It's pretty fun," Bex defended, getting out with her hair still perfect.

She waited until all eyes were on her - holding the silence until Liz was about to explode, then she took a warm roll from the basket on the table and nonchalantly said, "New teacher." She tore the bread in half and slowly buttered it. "We gave him a ride from London this morning. He's an old pal of my father's."

"Name?" Liz asked, probably already planning how she was going to hack into the CIA headquarters at Langley for details as soon as we were free to go back to our rooms.

"Umm. Maybe..." Liz commented.

"Solomon," Bex said, eyeing us. "Joe Solomon." She sounded eerily like the black, teenage, female James Bond.

Macey rolled her eyes, Bex smirked, and Liz continued reading.

We all turned to look at Joe Solomon. He had the scruffy beard and restless hands of an agent fresh off a mission. Around me, the hall filled with whispers and giggles - fuel that would have been the rumor mill running high by midnight - and I remembered that, even though the Gallagher Academy is a school for girl geniuses, sometimes the emphasis should be kept on the girl.

"No way! Then we'd be boy deprived!" Bex gasped in horror.

The next morning was torture. Absolute torture!

"Now she's the one being dramatic, don't you think?" Bex asked.

And that's not a word I use lightly, considering the family business. So maybe I should rephrase: the first day of classes was challenging.

We didn't exactly go to bed early...or even a little late...or even at all, unless you count lying on the faux-fur rug in the common room with the entire sophomore class sprawled around me as the basis for a good night's sleep. When Liz woke us up at seven, we decided we could either primp up for an hour and skip breakfast, or throw on our uniforms and eat like queens, before Professor Smith's 8:05 COW lectures.

"The choice should have been obvious," Liz scoffed.

B.S. (Before Solomon), waffles and bagels would have won out for sure.

"It still should have," Liz commented.

But today, Professor Smith had a lot of eyelined and lip-glossed girls with growling stomachs listening to him talk about civil unrest in the Baltic States when 8:30 rolled around.

"Wow. That must have been really awkward for him..."

I looked at my watch,

"Very pointless," Bex remarked.

ultimate pointless gesture at the Gallagher Academy, because classes run precisely on time, but I had to see how many seconds were standing between me and lunch. (11, 705, just in case you're curious.)

When COW was over, we ran up two flights of stairs to the fourth floor for Madame Dabney's Culture and Assimilation lessons which, sadly, that day did not include tea.

"I don't really like tea," Macey said. "I don't really see the problem."

Then it was time for third period.

"Yay. Third period. Whoopdy freaking doo," Macey said sarcastically.

I had a pain in my neck from sleeping funny, at least five hours' worth of homework, and a new found realization that woman cannot live on cherry-flavored lip gloss alone. I dug in the bottom of my bag and found a very questionable breath mint, and figured that if I was going to die of starvation, I should at least have minty-fresh breath for the benefit of whatever classmate or faculty member would be forced to give me CPR.

"Wow. What an overachiever," Bex said, rolling her eyes.

Liz had to go by Mr. Mosckowitz's office to drop off an extra-credit essay she'd written over the summer (yea, she's that girl),

"I like getting good grades," Liz told the book defensively, which, admittedly, made her feel silly.

so I was alone with Bex when we reached the base of the grand staircase and turned into the small corridor that was one of three ways to the Subs, or subfloors, where we'd never been allowed before.

"No need to get all dramatic," Bex sighed.

Macey and Liz rolled their eyes at the irony.

"What?" asked Bex. "That was being theatrical."

"Right," Macey said with a straight face, then urged Liz to continue reading.

Standing in front of the full-length mirror, we tried hard not to blink or do anything that might confuse the optical scanner that was going to verify that we were, in fact, sophomores and not freshmen trying to sneak down to the Subs on a dare. I studied our reflections and realized that I, Cameron Morgan, the headmistress' daughter, who knew more about the school than any Gallagher Girl since Gilly herself, was getting ready to go deeper into the vault of Gallagher secrets. Judging from the goose bumps on Bex's arm, I wasn't the only one who got chills at the thought of it.

"Bex? Scared?" Macey gasped. "Who would've thought..." she finished with her own version of theatrical.

A green light flashed in the eyes of a painting behind us. The mirror slid aside, revealing a small elevator that would take us one floor beneath the basement to the Covert Operations classroom and - if you want to be dramatic about it - our destinies.

"Yup. Be dramatic about it Cammie," Liz muttered bitterly. "Leaving us without a word except these books is pretty dramatic too."

"Cammie," Bex said slowly, "we're in."

We were sitting calmly, checking our (synchronized) watches, and all thinking the exact same thing: something is definitely different.

"Really..." Macey said sarcastically.

The Gallagher mansion is made of stone and wood. It has carved banisters and towering fireplaces a girl can curl up in front of on snowy days and read all about who killed JFK (the real story),

"So who did kill him?" Macey asked, slightly curious.

"Don't worry about that right now," Liz replied.

but somehow that elevator had brought us into a space that didn't belong in the same century, much less the same building, as the rest of the mansion. The walls were frosted glass. The tables were stainless steel. But the absolute weirdest thing about the Covert Operations classroom was that our teacher wasn't in it.

"How very spy-like," Macey said mockingly.

Joe Solomon was late - so late, I was beginning to get a little resentful that I hadn't taken the time to go steal some M&M's from my mom's desk, because, frankly, a two-year-old Tic Tac simply doesn't satisfy the hunger of a growing girl.

We sat quietly as the seconds ticked away, but I guess the silence became too much for Tina Walters, because she leaned across the aisle and said, "Cammie, what do you know about him?"

Liz pursed her lips, Bex tightened her jaw, and Macey just sighed. Bex and Liz knew the onslaught of questions were coming. Macey was just annoyed that Liz stopped reading.

Well, I only knew what Bex had told me, but Tina's mom writes a gossip column in a major metropolitan newspaper that shall remain nameless (since that's her cover and all), so there was no way Tina wasn't going to try to get to the bottom of this story.

Macey shook her head slightly at the typical behavior she had come to known from Tina Walters.

Soon I was trapped under an avalanche of questions like, "Where's he from?" and "Does he have a girlfriend?" and "Is it true he killed a Turkish ambassador with a thong?" I wasn't sure if she was talking about the sandals or the panties, but in any case, I didn't have the answer.

"It was definitely the sandals," Liz answered innocently.

"You're wrong. It was obviously the panties," Bex retorted.






"Guys. Quit it," Macet interrupted calmly. "Liz, just keep reading."

Liz complied. Albeit a bit grudgingly.

"Come on," Tina said. "I heard Madame Dabney telling Chef Louis that your mom was working on him all summer to get him to take the job. You had to hear something!"

"I suppose that makes sense. Even if it's just a bit," Liz remarked.

So Tina's interrogation did have one benefit: I understood the hushed phone calls and locked doors that had kept my mother distracted for weeks. I was just starting to process what it meant, when Joe Solomon strolled into class - five minutes late.

His hair was slightly damp, his white shirt neatly pressed - and it's either a tribute to his dreaminess or our education that it took me two full minutes to realize he was speaking in Japanese.

"Dreaminess," Bex and Macey replied.

"I suppose considering our education here..." Liz trailed off.

"What is the capital of Brunei?"

"Bandar Seri Begawan," we replied.

"The square root of 97,969 is..." he asked in Swahili.

"Three hundred and thirteen," Liz answered in math, because, as she likes to remind us, math is the universal language.

"A Dominican dictator was assassinated in 1961," he said in Portugese. "What was his name?"

In unison, we all said, "Rafael Trujillo."

(An act, I would like to point out, that was not committed by a Gallagher Girl, despite rumors to the contrary.)

I was just starting to get into the rhythm of out little game, when Mr. Solomon said, "Close your eyes," in Arabic.

"Uh-oh," Bex said, slightly singing. "We're in trouble."

We did as we were told.

"What color are my shoes?" This time he spoke in English and, amazingly, thirteen Gallagher Girls sat there quietly without an answer.

"Am I right-handed or left-handed?" he asked, but didn't pause for a response. "Since I walked into this room I have left fingerprints in five different places. Name them!" he demanded, but was met with empty silence.

"Open your eyes," he said, and we did, I saw him sitting on the sorner of his desk, one foot on the floor and the other hanging loosely off the side. "Yep," he said. "You girls are pretty smart. But you're also kind of stupid."

"There's no denying that. Especially after what just happened," Liz answered with a sigh.

If I hadn't known for a scientific fact that the earth simply can't stop moving, we all would have sworn it had just happened.

"I probably would have," Bex said.

"Welcome to Covert Operations. I'm Joe Solomon. I've never taught before, but I've been doing this stuff for eighteen years, and I'm still breathing, so that means I know what I'm talking about. This is not going to be like your other classes."

My stomach growled, and Liz, who had opted for a full breakfast and a ponytail, said, "Shhh," as if I could make it stop.

"Well," Liz started. "She could have eaten breakfast. No point dressing up for someone that could be as old as my dad."

"Ladies, I'm going to get you ready for what goes on." He paused and pointed upward. "Out there. It's not for everyone, and that's why I'm going to make this hard on you. Damn hard. Impress me, and next year those elevators might take you one floor lower. But if I have even the slightest suspicion that you are not supremely gifted in the area of fieldwork, then I'm going to save your life right now and put you on the Operations and Research track."

"No need for him to decide that. I already knew I was going to the R&D track," Liz answered.

He stood and placed his hands in his pockets. "Everyone starts in this business looking for adventure, but I don't care what your fantasies look like, ladies. If you can't get out from behind those desks and show me something other than book smarts, then none of you will ever see Sublevel Two."

"Harsh, but relevant," Macey remarked.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Mick Morrison following his every word, almost salivating at the sound of it, because Mick had been wanting to hurt someone for years. Unsurprisingly, her beefy hand flew into the air. "Does that mean you'll be teaching us firearms, sir?" she shouted as if a drill sergeant might make her drop and do push-ups.

But Mr. Solomon only walked around the desk and said, "In this business, if you need a gun, then it's probably too late for one to do any good." Some of the air seemed to go out of Mick's toned body. "But on the bright side," he told her, "maybe they'll bury you with it - that's assuming you get to be buried."

Bex's eyes widened a fraction of an inch.

My skin burned red. Tears filled my eyes. Before I even knew what was happening, my throat was so tight I could barely breathe as Joe Solomon stared at me. Then, as soon as my eyes locked with his, he glanced away.

"The lucky ones come home, even if it is in a box."

Liz stopped reading, not wanting to go any further.

"Liz." She looked at Macey. "Just keep reading. In case you didn't know. I wasn't there."

Liz took a deep breathe, then continued.

Although he hadn't mentioned me by name, I felt my classmates watching me.

"That's because we were," Bex muttered dryly.

They all know what happened to my dad - that he went on a mission, that he didn't come home. I'll probably never know any more than those two simple facts, but that those two facts were all that mattered. People call me The Chameleon here - if you go to spy school, I guess that's a pretty good nickname. I wonder sometimes what made me that way, what keeps me still and quiet when Liz is jabbering and Bex is, well, Bexing.

Bex smiled slightly at that.

Am I good at going unnoticed because of my spy genetics or because I've always been shy? Or am I just the girl people would rather not see - lest they realize how easily it could happen to them.

"Spy genetics?" Liz asked hopefully. Not expecting an answer.

Mr. Solomon took another step, and my classmates pulled their gazes away just that quickly - everyone but Bex, that is. She was inching toward the edge of her chair, ready to keep me from tearing out the gorgeous green eyes of our new hot teacher as he said, "Get good, ladies. Or get dead."

"She probably wouldn't have gotten away with it," Bex remarked.

"Are you sure about that?" Macey asked quietly. "Rage and adrenaline is pretty dangerous when mixed together."

A part of me wanted to run straight to my mother's office and tell her what he'd said, that he was talking about Dad, implying that it had been his fault - that he wasn't good enough. But I stayed seated, possibly out of paralyzing anger but more probably because I feared, somewhere inside me, that Mr. Solomon was right and I didn't want my mother to say so.

Just then, Anna Fetterman pushed through the frosted-glass doors and stood panting in front of the class. "I'm sorry," she said to Mr. Solomon, still gasping for breath. "The stupid scanners didn't recognize me, so the elevator locked me in, and I had to listen to a five-minute prerecorded lecture about trying to sneak out of bounds, and..." Her voice trailed off as she studied the teacher and his very unimpressed expression, which I thought was a little hypocritical coming from a man who had been five minutes late himself.

"I thought so too," Liz said.

"I think everyone did, Liz," Bex replied.

"Don't bother taking a seat," Mr. Solomon said as Anna started toward a desk in the back of the room. "Your classmates were just leaving."

We all looked at our recently synchronized watches, which showed the exact same thing - we had forty-five minutes of class time left. Forty-five valuable and never-wasted minutes. After what seemed like forever, Liz's hand shot into the air.

"Yes?" Joe Solomon sounded like someone with far better things to do.

"Which he probably did," Macey remarked lightly.

"Is there any homework?" she asked, and the class turned instantly from shocked to irritated. (Never ask that question in a room full of girls who are all black belts in karate.)

"Yes," Solomon said, holding the door in the universal signal for get out. "Notice things."

"That wasn't too hard, right?" Liz asked.

"I guess not," Bex answered.

Macey just looked at Liz to finish reading.

As I headed down the slick white hallway to the elevator that had brought me there, I heard my classmates walking in the opposite direction, toward the elevator closest to our rooms. After what had just happened, I was glad to hear their footsteps going the other way. I wasn't surprised when Bex came to stand beside me.

"Of course not. Gallagher girls stick together," said Bex.

"You okay?" she asked, because that's a best friend's job.

"Yes," I lied, because that's what spies do.

We rode the elevator to the narrow first-floor hallway, and as the doors slid open, I was seriously considering going to my mother (and not just for M&M's), when I stepped into the dim corridor and heard a voice cry, "Cameron Morgan!"

"And the drama continues..." Macey muttered, looking at Bex.

Professor Buckingham was rushing down the hall, and I couldn't imagine what would make the genteel British lady speak in such a way, when, above us, a red light began to whirl, and a screaming buzzer pierced our ears so that we could barely hear the cries of the electronic voice that pulsed with the light, "CODE RED. CODE RED. CODE RED."

"Ahhh. Finally. Here I come girls," Macey said smiling.

"Cameron Morgan!" Buckingham bellowed again, grabbing Bex and me by our arms. "Your mother needs you. NOW!"

"Well, that's the end of the chapter," Liz said."I'm going to go check on possible Ms. Smith transgender operations now."

"Okay. I'm going to find somehting else to eat," Bex siad standing up. "Tell me if anything interesting comes up."

"Alright," she muttered, already working on her computer.

"I'm just going to sleep," Macey said.

"Ready?" Zach asked his friends.

"Ready as I'll ever be," Jonas muttered.

"Let's just get this over with," said Grant.

"I'd have thought you'd be more excited," Jonas remarked.


A/N Sorry I've been gone for a while. My video card burned out and when I got it replaced, I couldn't log into fanficiton because that thing where you write in the letters you see wouldn't show up and it kept telling me to fill it out even though it wasn't there! But my computer is finally letting me log on.

For my other stories, I swear I had them in my IPod, but SOMEONE STOLE IT FROM MY LOCKER! D; High school is dangerous; full of homework, tests, projects, and thieves...

It was the touch, 4G 32GB :/ Some people are just cruel...

Anyway, I have a question. Do you like it when I reply to your reviews?

Also, you guys will be so proud of me :) I made it onto the basketball team! :D Which means less time to write, so maybe not so much...