She tells him about years of burying what she really feels, of being the obedient child, the good soldier, the dutiful spy. Decades spent being what other people want her to be, giving her all and taking nothing in return.
She tells him of a lifetime spent avoiding mirrors, of feeling fundamentally wrong in both body and spirit, of knowing that what she is is not who she should be.
She tells him about Lancer, about the needles, about making her peace with death, knowing she could finally move on to something better, her job done, her mission accomplished.
She tells him of waking up in the hospital room, ostensibly free but still a prisoner, trapped in a body not of her own choosing. Of the startling realization that her rebirth could be not just physical, but psychological, too; that now she was finally free to follow her own conscience rather than five generations of duty and honour.
Through it all, he listens to her with a patient ear, letting her talk herself out before he speaks.
“OK,” he says. “You’re sure about this, Colby?”
Surer than anything she’s ever been. “Yes, Doctor,” Colby replies. “I want to transition.”
The next step- and easily the more frightening one- is telling her team. Colby remembers the sting of her father’s hands on her when she slipped, attempted to be something other than a good Granger boy. She doesn’t think she can take that kind of rejection from her second family, too.
Megan is first- she’s sort of what Colby wants to be when she grows up, and her psych training means that she’s less likely to throw a punch than Don or David.
Even so, it takes half a bottle of tequila before Colby can tell her, and even then, she doesn’t say the words, just presses the pamphlets into her hands before looking away, unwilling to see the disgust on Megan’s face. She doesn’t look up until arms slip around her waist, drawing her into a comforting hug.
Don is next. Colby goes to her boss’ apartment a week before she’s officially due to return to work and lays her heart on the line; yes, she wants to come back, but as herself. Despite his initial shock, Don takes both revelations well, wishing Colby luck with her transition and her effort to repair things. Colby walks out of Don’s place with relief bubbling through her; even if the Bureau sends her somewhere else, at least she’s tried to mend her fences here.
Megan’s and Don’s support gives her the strength she needs to tell David. Colby knows that his reaction is the most important; David was the one she was closest to before the whole Janus clusterfuck, the one who was most hurt by the lies. Colby’s not going to cause him further grief; she owes her best friend better than that.
She shows up at David’s apartment, knowing that this is a conversation that needs to be had face-to-face... and sober. David nearly slams the door in her face when he realizes who it is, but the quiet desperation in Colby’s voice when she asks for just five minutes is enough to melt his reserves a little, and he lets Colby in.
“Spill it, Granger,” he says when a minute has passed and Colby’s still searching for the right words.
“I’m sorry,” Colby says. It’s the first thing she can think to say, the most important. “I never wanted to be a spy, David, I never wanted to have to lie to my friends. If I could have told you I would, God knows I wanted to, but Kirkland said no. It was too risky. And... what you didn’t know couldn’t be tortured out of you.”
David’s still standing there, arms crossed, his expression forbidding. But he hasn’t thrown Colby out yet, and so Colby manages to continue. “But that’s not what I came here to say, at least not all of it. The spying wasn’t the only thing I wasn’t completely honest with you about,” and God, Colby hates the hurt that flares up in David’s eyes as she says it. “Although, to be fair, I was lying to myself, too.”
“What are you talking about?”
There’s no way except to come right out and say it. “I’m transitioning. Male to female.”
David’s jaw drops. “What?”
“This- me- it isn’t who I am, it’s not how I see myself. I don’t- I’ve always been a woman, David, just in a guy’s body.”
“You’re a chick?” David sputters. “What the fuck, Granger?”
Colby winces. At least David hasn’t thrown a punch, yet.
“Yeah,” she replies. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before, there were security issues and- I guess I wasn’t ready to stop lying to myself.”
“How long?” David asks.
Colby rakes a hand through her hair. “Hell, I don’t know. My entire life, it feels like. I figured out exactly what was wrong in college but I’ve never not known this was fucked up.”
“Why didn’t you-?”
“Five generations, David,” Colby says quietly. “That’s not something you walk away from. And my Mom... losing my Dad devastated her. I couldn’t take away her son, too.” She closes her eyes. “So I lied to myself my entire life. Convinced myself that this- this body I’m in- was the right one, no matter how wrong it felt. Went into the Army and Special Forces and Quantico, thinking if I could just bury it deep enough I’d forget it was there. But it doesn’t work that way.”
“So what changed?” David asks.
“I died,” Colby says plainly, ignoring David’s flinch. “I’ve been given another chance, David, and I’m going to use it.”
David turns away, staring at the wall. When it comes, the command is so soft, Colby almost doesn’t hear it.
“OK,” she says quietly over the sound of her own heart breaking. “I’ll put in for a transfer, you won’t have to deal with me much longer...”
She’s at the door when David says, “Colby, wait.”
She stops, not daring to hope.
David’s still not looking at her, but his expression is contrite. “I’m sorry,” he said. “That came out wrong. Look, I just need some time, OK? You’ve had like thirty years to process this. Give me a while.”
Colby nods. “Take however long you need,” she says quietly. “I’ll always be your friend, David, even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes.”
David gives her a brittle smile, and with that small victory Colby takes her leave.
David doesn’t call, doesn’t say anything to her at work the next day, but Colby comes back from the break room to find him tying her woolly bugger back to her desk lamp.
Colby smiles through the tears that threaten to fill her eyes before making a call to Dr. Mackenzie to schedule her next appointment.
She stands, naked, in front of the full-length mirror in her bedroom, the one that she’s never actually looked in properly until now. She takes in her body from head to toe; mousy brown hair, cut in a severe style that’s remniscent of her time in the Army, a wide forehead, bright green eyes she got from her Dad, just about the only part of her she’s happy to keep. An aquiline nose and square jaw she’s been told are classically handsome but have never been more than repulsively masculine to her, a mouth that’s had painfully few reasons to smile over the past thirty years.
Her eyes move downwards, over broad shoulders and well-muscled arms, a body honed by years on the farm and in the Army, over slim hips, defined thighs and too-big feet, lingering for a moment over her groin, over the part of her anatomy that’s given her the most grief, physically, emotionally. Today’s a big day; it’s the last time she’s going to be completely Colby Granger, a woman stuck in a man’s body, the last time she makes a conscious effort to think in terms of ‘he’ and ‘him’, the last day of rest before her journey begins.
Colby raises a hand to her own reflection, running a thumb gently over the ethereal image, bidding the man in the mirror goodbye.
Then she turns, gets dressed, and heads off to begin the first day of the rest of her life.
Colby starts off slow, knowing that the habits of a lifetime aren’t going to go away overnight. Dresses rather than pants at home, the draft around her thighs (and other places) taking some getting used to. Skipping her monthly trip to the barbers’, letting her hair grow out rather than use a wig. Research, more books than she’s read in school and college, about what she needs to do to become who she is. Charlie, of all people, is an invaluable help, introducing Colby to colleagues of his who’ve transitioned, his office or the Craftman’s garage a welcome escape from the testosterone-laden minefield of the FBI offices.
Megan is a freaking godsend, or a goddess, Colby can’t decide which. She’s with Colby every step of the way, calming her fears, assuaging her doubts. Colby might be on the way to becoming *physically* feminine but there’s so much more to being a woman than just tits and no dick- there’s a history, a language, a entire culture that most women are born into and Colby has mere months to learn.
She’s incredibly grateful for Megan’s company on her first few shopping trips; Megan’s got an eye for colour and style and a don’t-fuck-with-me glare capable of intimidating just about any salesperson dumb enough to make comments about why nearly six feet of linebacker is shopping in the women’s aisle.
Somewhere along the way, Amita gets roped in, too, and the two of them take it upon themselves to be the sisters Colby never had, teaching her how to walk in high heels and sit in a skirt and kick ass in both.
Six months of sitting in doctors’ offices telling them that yes, this is really what she wants, and no, she doesn’t have any doubts, and she finally, finally gets the go-ahead to start with hormone therapy.
Megan comes with her because even after all this while Colby still hates needles; she holds Colby’s hand while the doctor administers the drugs and takes her back to her place after for beer and takeaway Chinese. Amita and Charlie show up with Charlie’s friends Sasha and Kelly in tow, bearing a big gift basket in honour of her first hormone session.
It’s full of gag gifts, some of which make Colby unexpectedly choke up, others which make her laugh. The stuffed red ball that Kelly says is meant to represent her first period is definitely one of the latter, although more for the look on Charlie’s face than anything.
The basket also contains a name book and Charlie offers to run her selection through one of of his probability matrixes. Colby laughs and thanks them, but this- this choosing of her name, her new self- is something she has to do on her own. Her given name is unusual enough that she doesn’t relish the idea of being a Jane or a Betty, but at the same time, she knows the dangers of standing out too much.
It’s during one of her Discovery Channel marathons that she finds it.
Norse goddess of death and rebirth, love and war, a name that also means ‘woman.’
She tries it out with her friends first, to get them all used to the name, wanting to be comfortable with it before the first round of surgeries comes up.
David comes with her this time, to the little clinic in San Francisco where she’s scheduled to have her facial feminization surgery. It’s a great place with wonderful people, and Frejya knows, now more than ever, that she’s on the right path.
Not that everything is sunshine and roses- she and David come back from San Francisco to find an eviction notice on her door. When she confronts the landlord about it, he goes on the offensive, calling her names Frejya didn’t even know existed.
Thank God for David, who gives back as good as she gets before bundling a shellshocked Frejya off to his apartment. Ever the gentleman, he offers to let her stay as long as she needs it, but it’s when he casually mentions how his mother would never stand for him letting a lady sleep on the couch that she finally breaks down.
David lets her ruin one of his good shirts with mascara-laced tears before tucking her into his bed with a kiss on her forehead and a promise that things will look better in the morning.
Somehow, she believes him.
When all is said and done, Frejya looks at herself in the mirror. She’s gone the whole hog, made good use of years’ worth of hazard pay, and gotten doctors who know what the hell they’re doing. There’s nothing they can do about her broad shoulders, but they’ve given her quite a nice rack, even if it will never be as sensitive as a real one. Her hips have been filled out, her dick and balls removed (and man, that had been a weird few days, having to acclimatize to sitting down on the toilet), the harsh lines of her face softened, her arms still muscular but considerably less so after months of hormones.
She’s not easy on the eyes (no matter how much Amita and Megan and Alan and everyone else try to tell her different) but she’s herself and that’s enough to make Frejya feel beautiful.
Even with her team’s support, coming out at work isn’t easy. She drafts an FAQ to be distributed at the office the day before Frejya is due to start work and the SAC calls a meeting to head off any potential issues, plus Don promises to make sure her colleagues know to behave.
That doesn’t stop Tim King from making a scathing comment about falling standards at the LA office as she goes by.
She blinks back tears- damned if she’s going to let the bastard see her bleed- and walks to her desk, head held high. She is who she is and Tim goddamned King can shove his bigotry where the sun don’t shine.
A little later, she hears raised voices and looks up to see King and another agent in the war room. From the looks of it, he’s being read the riot act- and it’s not by one of her team-mates. Frejya smiles and gets back to work, resolving to bring a big box of cookies to the office as soon as she has a kitchen to bake them in.
It’s a rough few days, but eventually everything smoothes out. Most people remember what to call her, and those who forget a little too often are easily put on the right track once her team catch wind.
Frejya hums tunelessly as she fills in the paperwork for the latest dumb crook they’ve caught. She feels new, free, like she’s spent her whole life mired in a fog that’s finally lifting.
David walks into the bullpen, smirking in that way he does when the pieces are about to fall into place.
“Hey, Granger,” he says. “Wilkerston just spilled the beans on his partners, you want to go kick down some doors, haul them in for questioning?”
Frejya grins, grabbing her badge and slipping her gun into the back of her pants. “Absolutely.”