Jack waved Hugh into the chaos of reporters waiting to hear the details of the case before turning to look at her.
“I'm not convinced my heroic constable deserves all the credit.” Jack suspected. “But as I've forbidden him to do your bidding, I may need to escort you home myself.”
“Thank you.” Phryne smiled.
She waited patiently as Jack finished up his duties and he gave her a nod. She followed Jack to his car and she hopped in the front seat. They drove along in silence, which was new for both of them. Jack kept glancing over at her.
“You okay?” He finally asked.
“I will be.” She smiled.
“You’ve had quite an afternoon.”
“It’s been quite a case.” She murmured.
“Mm.” He agreed as he pulled up to her house and put the car in park. He turned to look at her, still a bit concerned for her well-being. If anyone would understand...
“Jack?” She paused, wondering how much to confess. “Be kind on Hugh. I did request a ride home, but it wasn’t to manipulate him. I… I wasn’t fit to drive at the time and he saw that. He truly was just helping me home safely.”
Jack was staring at her, trying to read her thoughts.
“Let’s just say I was... back in France.” She added.
Realization flooded Jack’s face, knowing all too well what she meant.
“Yourka had died in my arms, crying Nina’s name. I was covered in his blood. I was wearing all white…” She stopped and swallowed back the tightness growing in her throat. “It seems there is no difference between a cotton uniform and furs, no matter how much we try to pretend that we’ve moved on.”
Jack closed his eyes briefly before turning to look out his window.
“This case…” He cursed it under his breath. “The Browning automatic we found at the docks didn’t help me any either.” He admitted quietly, still not looking at her. “How can you explain the effects of a Browning to a young constable without...?” He stopped, unable to finish the question.
Phryne felt her stomach drop at the memories his question brought to mind.
“You can’t.” She answered so quietly that it got Jack’s attention, but she wasn’t able to look at him just yet. When she finally did turn her attention towards him, she put on a new face for both of their sakes. “I love them dearly, but our younger counterparts can sometimes be appallingly naive.” She commented dryly.
“Mm. And may they always stay that way.” Jack hoped softly. His bittersweet comment was too much for her and she reached out and squeezed his hand at hearing his wish. She prayed that he was right. Phryne couldn’t bear the thought of her sensitive Dot working on the front, or sweet, bumbling Hugh in a trench. She shivered at the invasive images that came to mind and hoped she wouldn’t recall them later.
She briefly wondered if Jack twisted in nightmares the way that she did after conversations like this. If he woke his wife with his cries, or if he slept alone to avoid conversations he didn’t want to have.
“Jack, you probably don’t need me to tell you this, but you don’t have to explain the war to me. I know what it means to find a Browning automatic in a warehouse, and to hold a dying man in my arms as he whispers, or screams, someone else’s name.” She looked him in the eyes and saw the inquisitive desire for her point, mixing with something darker, more primal. “I’m always here, if you want to talk or not talk, forget or remember. You can’t tell me anything I haven't already seen firsthand.” She murmured quietly.
Jack swallowed the lump in his throat with a nod and she released his hand again.
“Well,” she forced a small smile as she put her hand back on the handle of the car door, “you know where to find me.”
“Yes.” He nodded politely as she opened the car door and stepped out.
“Thank you for the ride home, Inspector.” She smiled.
“You’re quite welcome, Miss Fisher.” He nodded.