We spent the next few hours just driving away from Jiyu while Allison interrogated me about our operation. When we stopped at a gas station somewhere out in the middle of Western New York, I went in to get some food while Allison filled the truck's tank. I came back out to find her sitting in the passenger's seat again already, fixing her long, curly auburn hair in the rear-view mirror. I got into the driver's seat and began to drive.
Then, she asked, "So, how did you get that scar on your face, anyway?"
I looked at her briefly, wishing she wouldn't have asked that question - another thing I didn't want to talk about. "I was..." Not sure how or where to begin is what I was, so I settled for starting from the very beginning. "I was deployed outside of...well, I'm not at liberty to say, exactly, but I was deployed a couple of years ago overseas. I was supposed to be taking care of this foreign HVT - High-Value Target - and I got close." I paused, placing my thumb and forefinger about a quarter-inch apart, and continued "About that close - to the guy's personal bodyguard. I guess he had a thing for blades, because he cut a nice line straight down the right side of my face with an old saber."
"Wow," she said, "I didn't know. I'm-"
"Don't be sorry. Believe me, I know guys who have had it worse - much worse - than me."
"Yes. Just wait until you see my partner."
"When are we going to see him, anyway? You can't tell me he's way out here when you were in the city."
"He's not. He's in the city, too."
"Then what are we -"
"Like I said, we had a small disagreement."
"Well..." I paused again, then continued, "Actually, it was a medium-sized fight."
"Oh, is that all?" Her voice was dripping with sarcasm, and suddenly I remembered why we had a divorce.
"You know, it's always with the snarkiness with you, isn't it?" I said, voicing my thoughts but grinning as I said it - I was just kidding with her, and I didn't want her to get too upset.
We drove for another few good hours. It was well into the next morning by the time we arrived back at New York City - I'd decided to come back to get the job done with Christian.
We were barely back into the city when I heard a familiar voice call, "So, what have you been up to?"