‘Juvenile priors.’ ‘Oh well then, those don’t count.’ ‘What am I missing here?’ ‘When I worked at the state’s attorney’s office …’
Kalinda wears her boots but replaces her jacket and dress with tight jeans and a tank top. She laces her boots a little too tight and focuses on landmarks to stop herself from forgetting when and where she is. She doesn’t have to misrepresent herself, is the the thing, doesn’t have to claim she’s someone else. She’s barely twenty-one and pretty. She knows how to get people talking and it feels like coming home in a way she kind of wishes it didn’t.
He’s eyeing her like she’s a piece of meat but she’s got the right expression and she gets him on record, bragging about all they knew and more. He’s seventeen but his brother is right beside him, fourteen and trying to keep up. The confessions gets the case kicked back to the cops and send them scrambling.
She goes to watch the two boys get booked because she feels like she has to. (And if she wears jeans again? Well, she’s not on the clock this time.)
‘Hey, c’mon girl, give us a smile!’ There is a jeering section, two big white guys with buzz cuts and moustaches, belly laughs and meaty fists. The guy trying to take her picture is a skinny kid with a braid. She’s pretty sure he’s not a real cop.
‘He killed a cop.’
He was her friend. She’s not supposed to have friends here, but it’s true. He was a big sweet bear who got into policing because he wanted to do good.
They go to a bar because they’re work friends, because Kalinda was there and Muller was his partner and Li did the autopsy and Matan has to prosecute and Leah has to help him. Kalinda drinks whisky and thinks about options. Matan and Leah are doing their best but it doesn’t look good: Kalinda’s the only eye witness and she’s been vetoed up the chain of command all the way to Peter; Li did his best on the autopsy and he’s doing his best to keep thinks light now; Muller was in the car, calling for backup. His testimony is barely relevant, he was following the regs to the letter, and now he’s sitting in front of a beer, as miserable and useless as Kalinda.
Matan grips her wrist too-tight on the way out of the bar. ‘Don’t do anything stupid,’ he hisses.
She’s not sure what he qualifies as ‘stupid’ but she waits the trial out. Not guilty, no avenging shooters.
She’s not sure if Matan would consider provoking a fatal fight stupid, but she learns soon enough.
Fine. Fuck Matan.
There’s a mess, again. It’s not her mess and it’s not in her house, but apparently it’s Sadie’s boyfriend’s brother and Nick has always known how to use what he’s got.
( She finds a badge in Nick’s pocket a couple of days later when she’s doing the laundry. It’s got a bloody fingerprint, of all the careless fucking shit. She takes a breath, then another, then rinses it off carefully, knots it in a sock, throws it into the washer, and runs it cold. She puts the load into the dryer except the knotted sock, hops on a subway to the ferry, drops the badge halfway to the island. Fucks around for a couple of hours, wanders in the sun, grabs a cup (not a cone) of ice cream and enjoys it by her goddamn self, for a change. Drops the sock in a garbage can once she gets back into the city and goes about her day.)
‘No, twelve jurors strong and true found him guilty. That means not allegedly, that means he killed a cop.’
‘Did you hear Detective Langston’s been charged with rape?’ Sophia doesn’t notice Leah freezing and disappearing, but Kalinda does.
‘You saw that, huh?’ Kalinda is more reluctant to step into Matan’s office and close the door, but she does.
‘Yeah.’ Kalinda isn’t good at this part.
‘I figured it only happened with girls who were stupid enough to get drunk and bring him home when they didn’t want sex.’
Kalinda is not a person who brings people home. She goes home with people, sometimes, and she’s had people break into her house, but she does not bring people home. But there are rules for her and there are rules for everyone else, and they have to stay separate.
‘That’s not stupid.’ She means it and she tries very hard not to think about anything other than what is happening in this room at this moment.
‘Kalinda, you don’t have to say that.’
‘I thought it was just the once, you know?’
‘Yeah,’ Kalinda shakes her head to clear it. ’It’s not your fault it happened again, either.’
‘Then who’s is it?’ Leah sounds like she’s verging on tears and Kalinda doesn’t know how to do this. She moves to sit next to her on the edge of the desk. Leah leans into her a little and takes a deep breath.
‘His.’ Kalinda shrugs. ‘Just his.’ Matan is coming towards them, frowning. ‘Get Matan to keep you up to date. And Leah… talk to someone.’
Kalinda can’t look at her, can’t believe she told her to do the one thing (one of so many things) she’s never been able to do herself. Leah squeezes her hand though, and Kalinda squeezes back quickly before slipping out as Matan opens the door.
The Crown pushes for first degree murder but Nick elects trial by judge because he’s not fucking stupid, because he can pay for his lawyer. She doesn’t go to court because there’s an outstanding warrant, plus the subpoena and bench warrant, but Matty swings by regularly to keep her up to date.
‘Sometimes people with cute daughters and sweet little wives do bad things. Sometimes very bad things.’
She will admit to liking Peter.
It’s not services rendered, he’s sharp and clever and easy to like. He plays fast and loose with the rules, but he means things. He believes in things. Not enough to make him dangerous, just enough to make him predictable. He believes he’s Good and he’s not half bad, but he’s better at making other people believe it than at following through. (She sometimes wonders if his wife knows who she married.)
She doesn’t have the expectations of him that other people seem to. Glen adds him to the special investigation list discreetly, bringing in only Kalinda and Matan. Matan is disappointed in Peter as an ideal, angry about Peter and corruption. Kalinda is vaguely disappointed that he got caught.
It’s nothing personal. (It’s a little bit personal. If he’s been careless enough to get caught with this what else has he been careless with? Still.) Corrupt or not, he knows how to do his job well and a half-assed effort at that is better than most of the alternatives. He cares about the city, he grew up here and he’s raising his kids here. It makes him dependable. And if he’s fucking prostitutes, well, there are much worse things. (He’s paying them with his own money, too, which she certainly hadn’t been expecting. Might make the wife a little angrier though.) He’s good at making sure the most people are happy and that the wrong people don’t get unhappy.
She will also admit it’s worse than she thought.
Glen still doesn’t seem satisfied though. It’s starting to look more and more like a witch hunt. Like someone should tip Peter off no matter what he did do.
Kalinda sits in at office, watching Peter flirt with an intern. Leah sits next to her.
‘I can’t, sorry.’ Leah shakes her head with an understanding smile and jiggles her leg against Kalinda’s.
‘Is there anything I can do?’ Kalinda watches Peter and thinks about the way his anger flips on a dime. ‘What do you know about Will Gardner?’ she asks, because she likes Will and he’s offered half-joking professional overtures, but dammit she doesn’t want a repeat of this resentment.
Bill’s friend Kenny is even more of a sucker than Bill is, so he elects trial by jury. Leela doesn’t doubt Nick’s encouraged it one way or another.
Kenny’s wife, Bev, is sweet. Stupidly gullible, but sweet. They’ve got four kids already. Kenny’s a mess, Bev’s a mess. They both trust Nick, and Leela by extension. Nick’s halfway to pleading manslaughter and Kenny hasn’t hit a show-cause yet. Matty groans and puts his feet up on the coffee table.
‘The lawyer doesn’t give a single flying fuck.’ Kenny Jr is six and cocks his head, trying to hear with his good ear. Lily’s eight though, and she hears just fine. Dennis is playing with blocks on the floor but four isn’t too young to listen. Leela kicks Matty under the table and hopes Camen doesn’t throw up down her back. Matty makes a face. ‘Sorry kid,’ he says it mostly to Lily and waves the boys over. ‘’You go grab a book I’ll read it to you and your brothers.’
Leela nods approvingly and Matty smiles. ‘Yeah, yeah. You gonna have one of your own sometime soon? It looks good on you.’
She smiles stiffly. Nick’s mentioned it in public a few times. She thinks… she thinks about kissing the foreheads of all the kids and Matty for good measure and fucking off right now. Probably too obvious though, and Matty doesn’t need help getting into trouble.
(It is eight days later and she is fully prepared; Matty is looking after Bev’s kids and shit is looking worse for Kenny and better for Nick and she steps on a Greyhound and only looks back to make sure no one is following her.)
(The arson is only her first adult offence.)
‘I’m not helping you on this one.’