"I think she's finally fallen asleep."
Dominic feigned a smile, setting aside his mug of coffee.
"That's good. She deserves a good rest."
His eyes glanced up at the old woman, who made her way to the seat across from him. He knew what was coming and took a breath to brace himself.
He nodded. He knew what she wanted to say, what she would say, and what she would ask.
"Why do you make her do it?"
A sigh escaped his lips before words. No, he'd need to think before answering; she knew if he was lying, she was good at that.
"Because somebody has to."
No. That was wrong.
"That doesn't mean you need to." She gave him a faint smile, the kind that said 'You gave a good answer, but it wasn't what I wanted or what you wanted either'.
"She's still just a girl, Dominic, you know that, or at least I think you do." Her eyebrow raised, "And I hope that she realizes it."
"I know, Grandma, I know." He scratched his cheek, "It's more complex than you believe."
"Oh?" She responded, with an intrigued expression, "Do tell then, my boy."
Dominic rolled his eyes.
"And don't roll your eyes at me."
"Emily is…special. She's unique. We both are, you know that." He looked at her for reassurance and she nodded, waiting for him to continue, "We need to do this. We want to do this. The world need us…those girls need us."
Grandma nodded again in agreement. She understand quite well why they needed to, but she couldn't just let him go off without knowing that he was one-hundred percent amount this.
"Emily is always in danger, you know. What if something were to go wrong?" She put her hand over her heart, "If she- if either of you were hurt, or god forbid worse, I don't know how I'd survive."
Dominic was quick to respond, "We're careful. I don't just put a fishing hook in her, dangle her over the wolves and wait for her to attract one. We plan, we do things right…if something goes wrong, we get out, we move on."
"That doesn't mean there isn't a chance-"
"There's always a chance. Especially in our world now!" Dominic stood up and motioned towards the curtained window, "Why is your window curtained? Why is there steel behind that curtain? Why do we hide behind locks and bars and steel and gunpowder? Because the world isn't safe!"
He took a breath, slightly calming down.
"But because of us…because of us…" He tapped his chest and pointed at Emily's bedroom door, "Some people, some children…they can sleep soundly, at least, for another night."
Grandma smiled, gesturing to Dominic's seat, waiting for him to sit before speaking.
"You are absolutely correct, Dominic." Her head nodded slightly, "The world isn't safe and you are doing us all a favor, a tremendous favor. But haven't you ever thought about Emily? All the things she could be missing?"
Dominic huffed, "Missing? What? Getting kidnapped? Raped? Murdered? Spending her life in fear?" He shook his head, "Maybe you don't understand, Emily leads me around, not the other way. She picks the targets, she visualizes the plans; I told you, she is unique, she is special…she's gifted. A rare commodity in this world."
"All the more reason she should be learning something. A skill, a trade, something she could be using to help fix the world in a positive aspect."
"And you think what we do isn't positive? These men…they aren't even men. They prey on the weakest form of human life, little girls. Little. Girls. You were one once. You remember how fragile you were, how weak and delicate your bones are. The slightest bump made you cry and left a bruise. These men…take those innocent children and mutilate them…they destroy them. Even if they come back alive…they would never be the sam-"
Dominic's eyes found Emily, peering at him from her room.
"Come on out, dear." Grandma said in a sweet voice, "It's alright."
Emily took a step forward and opened her mouth, but shut it quickly.
"What is it?" Dominic asked, "You should be asleep."
"Hush boy, I think the girl has something to say." Grandma scolded.
Emily bit her lip and nodded.
"Well, go ahead."
"I…want to make the world a better place. I want everybody to be happy. I know there's danger, but I know Dominic will always protect me; he'll never let anyone hurt me. The world needs us and…and…if we don't do this, nobody else is going to! I know you want me to be safe Grandma, but with Dominic around, I always will be. And as long as we're around, the others will be safe." She took a breath, looking away and flushing from Grandma's smile, "I…will do everything I can. I want to do this."
Emily's feet shuffled a bit and she whispered 'goodnight' quickly, before retreating into her room.
"Well. There you have it." Dominic said, holding his hands up and shrugging.
"That girl is almost as hard-headed as you."