Myka immediately looked up from the thick binder of capital inventory figures. The smile came, not because it was expected or that the person at her desk was a special agent that actually treated a work-study student as a human being, but because it was an opportunity not to look at the capital inventory list anymore.
"Agent Todd, how can I help you?"
"You can call me Kate for one thing. But as for the other, I'm here to help you - another CP-1091 for your inventory project."
"Thanks," Myka said with a sigh. "Inventory is my life."
Kate chuckled but not in the mean way that Agent Coda did earlier when he dumped five incomplete forms on her desk.
"One day you'll make agent and can hand this all off to another work-study student."
Before she realized she was doing it, Myka was ducking her head and pushing her hair out of her eyes. She hated that habit; it conveyed a lack of confidence that wasn't going to help her get ahead. "Actually, I took this work-study because I'm pre-law. I was really hoping that I'd get work related to the prosecution of counterfeiters. I'd really like to serve my country, and I was thinking about being a federal prosecutor."
"Ah. Around here, we only catch the bad guys."
"And the federal prosecutors try the case. The thing is that the Secret Service actually pays better – as in, the Secret Service has a work-study program and the Justice Department only has unpaid internships."
"Oh, I remember those college days, eating raman." Kate cocked her head. "You know what else I remember from my college days?"
"Everyone telling me that a smart girl like me would excel at spending her time behind a desk – lawyer, judge. The thing is that I hate paperwork. I've seen you at the gym, running the obstacle course. Are you sure you want to be a lawyer?"
"Yes. Well, that is, I think I do. I was pre-med before I decided to be pre-law and switched to Georgetown. I can definitely handle the coursework – I have an eidetic memory. To be honest though, I prefer the criminal code to anatomy. As for the physical…" Myka stopped herself from biting her lip. One day she'd cure herself of all these facial tics. "Uhm, lawyers are always running to court, right?"
Kate was looking down at her, eyebrows arched.
"Maybe not so much running." The doubts about her major that always seemed to be buzzing in the back of Myka's head, buzzed louder.
"Grab your coat. I'm taking you to lunch." Kate didn't wait for an answer but headed to her own desk and grabbed her purse.
Technically Myka had a lunch hour that didn't start for another twenty-two minutes.
"Come on, Myka. Live on the wild side for once. I'll cover with your supervisor if he actually notices."
Wildside? Myka didn't think she had one, but maybe the smile Kate was giving to her said that she could. Myka shoved the stray papers into the binder, not caring about the order and then locked it in her desk. "Sounds good to me."
"This isn't exactly how I pictured lunch," Myka said. "Do you always eat lunch on a firing range?"
After picking up some wraps at a health food store, Kate lead them into the basement of the building next door. They were standing on a platform divided into a dozen little booths. Down range were various paper targets. Some were bullseyes, while others were more elaborate, depicting the outline of gunman using the outline of a hostage as a shield. There's was a bullseye in the outline of a human in front of them.
"Yeah, this is more fun isn't it?" Kate said and then placed a gun in Myka's hand. "Have you fired a weapon before?"
"I was an all-state archery champ in high school." Myka looked down at the gun, realizing that bows and arrows were a little off topic. "I went skeet shooting once."
"A 12 gauge shotgun is a different animal. So let's adjust your grip. You're aiming for the chest not the head – it's a bigger target."
"That makes sense, I suppose. I'm just not sure –"
"Hey." Kate looked her in the eye. "I bet you're good at this."
Something clicked in Myka's head. Her entire life, her parents and teachers told her how good she was at book things. When it came to sports, there was someone always wondering if the girl could handle it. There were more than few people that were surprised she was good at archery. That always pissed her off. Kate knew she could handle it – expected her to handle it.
Myka turned toward the target, aimed and fired. The kick back rolled back through her hand and into her body. It was different than the almost zen-like twang that came from a bow string. It was different than the bruised shoulder she got from shooting skeet. After her gun clicked empty twice, she put it down on the counter. Kate hit a button, and the target flew toward them.
"I can see why you gave up being pre-med," Kate said.
"Okay, so that's the right kidney and not the chest, but I took that kidney out, didn't I?" The bullets were in a tight grouping. "In archery, a tight grouping is more important than hitting the center of the target. You can always adjust the accuracy later."
"You're right," Kate said and handed her the reloaded gun. "You know, we could use more female agents."
"What?" Myka blinked.
"Law enforcement is too much of an old boys club. We need smart women doing this job too."
"But, I'm pre-law." Myka realized how dumb that sounded, but couldn't stop the words from leaving her mouth.
"When you ran the obstacle course last week, I saw you hip-check Agent Farrell."
"Okay, that might technically have been cheating, but he kept throwing towels and socks at me, because we were racing. I wasn't going to let him win."
"Myka, that's exactly the kind of attitude that a special agent is supposed to have."
"You'd have hip-checked him too?"
"I'd have tackled and cuffed him. In three weeks, I'll be done with counterfeiting, and I will be protecting the President. Nobody is beating me to my target."
"Presidential detail. You're going to be working on the Presidential Detail. Congratulations." Myka's brain was racing through every decision in her life, how they had been so focused on increasing her knowledge with little actual thought about what she'd do with that knowledge. The woman in front of her was going to protect the President of the United States, and Myka couldn't quite settle on her major.
"What are you thinking?" Kate asked.
"About how pissed I was when I was ten and they told me that a lady didn't play football."
"They told me a lot of things a lady wasn't supposed to do. The people who say things like that, don't have three older brothers."
"Huh." Myka turned from Kate and picked up the edge of the target, focusing on the kidney damage. "I guess we could reuse this one. My next shots are going to straight through the heart." Myka let the paper go and looked to Kate.
Kate hit the button sending the target downrange. "Yes, you are."