5.5 Debrief

by Matt P.

“I’m never going to be able to let you go out on Friday nights again. Ever.” Walter proclaimed to his daughters, with a mix of exasperation, concern, and relief. “Or any other night.” He amended with a grumble. “So when I asked you about shenanigans, you neglected to include breaking and entering for what good reason?”

The conference room the Richards family occupied was the same one that Walter had spoken to Tania Summers in a few days before. It was a somewhat more quiet scene now, with Antigone and Siobhan torn between the exhausted relief of adrenalin having left their system and the sullenness of teenagers before an angry parent.

When the police, besides Officer Shaw, had arrived it had been briefly pandemonium. None of the shooters were dead but two were severely injured, and the one who had been hit with the pirate brand pepper spray had been loudly promising vengeance on “that craven sow who lit my face on fire.”

Of course when Walter had arrived his first reaction had been relief and hugs that were desperately reassuring on both sides, heartfelt and deep. Both girls had been able to see the stark relief etched plainly into his features. They had both been shaky, and blankets and hot drinks (black coffee for Siobhan, tea for Antigone) had brought a sense of calm if not normalcy back.

But now they were a few hours later and creeping into the time of day normally referred to as ‘wee hours’ for some reason, and the debriefing stage was leaving everyone exhausted.

“We had to.” Siobhan said with a sigh. “Before you get all hot and bothered,” she continued as he started to breathe in to respond to that, and despite her intense desire to never associate those words with her father, “We did. He was creepy to us.”

“He was creepy to us is not, as far as I know, an acceptable defense in a court of law for any crime.” Walter’s voice carried a bit more weary sarcasm then he normally liked to employ with his children, and he softened it with a tired little smile.

“He knew something Bonnie had said at school.” Antigone continued before her sister’s snark cannon could fire and make it worse—she got more and more so the more exhausted she got, which did not help when arguments or debriefings reached their second or third hours. “Verbatim. We needed to know how.” Walter suddenly looked very serious at that revelation, and was about to say something when a uniformed officer leaned in.

“We found a letter for you, Walter.” The officer said. He held out an opened envelope and an unfolded letter, which the girls instantly recognized as being a matched set with the others that had started their adventure that evening. “It’s cleared and printed.” Walter still pulled a pair of gloves out and put them on before he took the proffered goods. As he turned the envelope over the girls could see that their instincts had been write as they identified the handwriting. At their intensely interested expressions Walter raised an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything.

He considered the letter slowly, and only his poker face kept emotions from showing.

“Pretty freaky shit?” Siobhan asked. Walter only nodded, slowly.

“He answered my first two questions, and it says he isn’t pressing charges. In fact,” Walter offered with a wry note as he glanced up to meet his daughters’ eyes. “It says he, in fact, gave you tacit permission to do what you did.” Walter gauged the looks on their faces. “Is that what happened?” His tone of voice was doubtful, to say the very least.

“Sure!” Siobhan said instantly. “So now that we’ve given our stories—err…” She stumbled for a moment, before amending “I mean testimony three times…you gonna habeas our corpuses, or are we under arrest, copper?” She asked with a forced cheer that belied her sheer exhaustion. Walter considered her, and the butchery she had just performed on both English and Latin, and waved.

“Please try not to commit any felonies—or misdemeanors,” He added immediately, “on the way home. Monica is waiting outside.” He explained, which made both girls blink. Walter raised his voice to call out to the hall. “Officer Shaw, why don’t you come in?”

The girls passed the mocha skinned officer in the doorway, and paused to both give him a simultaneous thankful hug. With reassurances that it was, quote, nothing, Shaw came up to Walter and stood. He looked like he didn’t know what to do, and Walter surprised him by reaching out and shaking his hand. “Thank you, Officer Shaw.”

Shaw smiled. “They pretty much did the work, sir. I just got to take out the trash.” Walter nodded.

“Still, someone had to be there to do it. Thank you.” He offered the younger man solemnly and sincerely. “I see you’ve put in for promotion to Corporal and transfer to investigations?” He asked, to which Shaw nodded. “Well, investigations is full, but I spoke to Marshal Alexander about a different opportunity.” Walter grinned as Shaw looked briefly hopeful, then disappointed, then confused. “Welcome to the Three Stripes Task Force, Corporal Shaw.”