Smith rubbed the bridge of his nose and them replaced his bifocals.
“She did what she was told do, she did it flawlessly. Why are we even talking about this,” Freddy said from the far end of the table.
“She deviated!” Scott returned, slamming his hand on the table. “She could have been done in 15 minutes, less even, but she waited almost three hours.”
“Maybe she was hungry,” Freddy said, smirking.
“Assuming she didn’t lie to us,” Maggie said, putting her hand over Scott’s, “then she was more successful than we could have dreamed. She played the long game, she did the right thing. She was in there long enough to allay suspicion, she played it just right.”
Scott shook his head.
“Opinions?” Doyle said, running his hand over his head, “I’d only have an opinion if she hadn’t done her job. Did she do it? Will there be blowback? No? Then why are we even talking?”
“And the souvenir?” Smith asked the table.
“That’s the only concern I have,” Tom said.
“But she volunteered the information,” Doyle responded.
“So...we’re comfortable with deviation from the plan so long as she’s up front about it?”
“She deviated all over the place!” Scott yelled, trying to draw back to his pet topic.
“No, she didn’t,” Tom replied. “We gave her parameters, not single options. She did the job, she did it her way, and generally I’d go with what Doyle says, why are we asking questions. But taking a souvenir? That...could be a concern.”
“Why?” Smith asked, knowing the answer already.
“Attachment!” was Scott’s immediate response.
“Scott, I’ll be interested in your opinion when you don’t insist on shouting. Tominda, please continue.”
“He’s not wrong, but that’s only one reason. Attachment, yes, but also...well it also means she enjoyed it, she wants to remember it. I never say that in our sessions, she was always so neutral. And for this to be the one thing, the one thing where she seems to be human, where she’s still a kid, she wants something to commemorate her big adventure...that’s a concern.”
“It’s a tie. Maybe a DNA exam can find skin cells on the cloth, test them, find out who it came from.”
“And how does that tie to anything?” Smith asked.
Tom opened her mouth and then realized she didn’t know how to respond.
“The ifs are astounding,” Smith continued. “If this happens and if she’s caught, and if anyone decides Olivia was murdered, for that matter, all of which are unlikely. All happening together are impossible. Unless you’re afraid of Alice telling stories, taking her tale to someone and taking evidence with her. But then she wouldn’t get to play anymore.
“No, as far as I’m concerned, even with her taking a souvenir, you should all be proud. I gave you a job, and you did it. She’s perfect.”
For three more years The Freak was assigned jobs under the in-house code name The Kid. After that was a string of codenames as she aged out of the safehouse and began to live on her own, using the skills that Scott and Maggie had taught her. Around that time, Smith began to use her to fulfill the occasional subcontract at high profits. By the time she was 21, she had a small flat in London and an apartment in New York, more than a million dollars in the bank, and a job that took her around the world killing people, making them vanish, creating accidents, doing as she was told just a few times a year. She was, by Smith’s definition, perfect.
Of course, several times a year in London and often when The Freak visited cities, there were unexplained deaths or vanishings. No one but Smith put the figures together, because no one but he and The Freak ever saw the whole picture. To him, it was just another cost of doing business. And another way he had control over her if the time ever came.