Scarecrow was busy staring daggers at the TV in the back of the seat in front of him on my one side when Dani plonked herself down on my other side with an exasperated huff.
"Does he really think that little of me? My father I mean. He's sent both of you along to check up on me. I'm not stupid you know," The last bit she directed at Scarecrow who glanced at her darkly and said nothing.
"It's not that your father doesn't think you're up to the task, I'm sure of that," I soothed her. Evidently she was quite upset and frustrated. Heck I'd be less than pleased if my parents were keeping tabs on me at 21 but then this was a pretty dangerous career path.
"Listen, I know your father. He's a clever man, was always very good at picking out the raw facts from random bits of evidence he'd find at virtually any crime scene. Unfortunately for him I was the one who was always better with people so be a bit more sympathetic. He's not the greatest with feelings and all that. Try to understand him. He's only seen someone firing a bazooka in your direction just the other day and no amount of training can save you from that amount of high explosive."
"Yeah so why'd he send you along? It's not like you know how to stop bullets and absorb explosions. I know how to handle myself in combat situations. I'm not a kid anymore."
"Ok let me ask you this. Have you ever actually fired a gun at someone before?"
"Have you ever seen someone dead real close up?"
"Have you ever had to kill someone, knowing that they have parents somewhere, parents who loved them and cherished them dearly?"
"You see kiddo, there's a whole world of difference between the training and the reality. Trust me, I've spent enough years of my life in this job to know how it goes. Sometimes there is just nothing you can do. Someone will die and you have to choose between one or the other. The only thing that can save you is experience. And I've got the experience to know when to run and when to fight. When to hide and when to surrender. I know it all because I was there the last time someone on a SCIT team died. I'd left my choice too late and paid for it. It was a nightmare situation. There was nothing I could do."
My eyes glazed over and I remembered the last assignment before I'd quit. The standoff, the tension, forced to choose one life over another. Impossible.
"Anyway, what your father really wants is just for you to be safe. He was there too. Life is more precious when you've seen it lost. Remember that we're not just at the scene of a crime sometimes. Somebody's life is gone forever there. Your father just doesn't want it to be you."
Dani looked at me sadly or regretfully. I could see that she was dying to ask me what had happened in my last assignment. Scarecrow knew this one. I'd told him it afterwards. He'd been on another op at the time. It had been a four strong team with me and Harry leading. Dani kept quiet. She knew I wasn't up to reliving that right now.
"Thanks," she said and trotted off deep in thought.
"That was very touching," muttered Scarecrow.
"You know it's true though. You've got your own tales to tell about that."
"Don't even remind me."