Posted on March 21, 2011 - chaniyarotem
“Murdoch!” Maddie Hughes looked up from her computer as Det. Murdoch entered the lab. “Hamish and I have something!”
“This had better be good, Hughes, I was in the middle of something important.”
“It is. I promise.” She turned her computer so that he could see the picture on the screen– a small red and black knife and brass sheath.
“What the hell is that?”
“It’s the murder weapon.” Hughes looked at him expectantly.
“And you called me all the way here for this?”
“Well, yes. It’s the murder weapon.” She repeated.
Murdoch sighed. “You’re going to have to give me more than that, Hughes.”
She smiled. “Okay! These were handmade by a Brazilian knife-maker named Marina Farão, and she only made a few of them. I was able to track down some of the people she sold them to, and get this, one of them lives just a few blocks away from where George’s body was found.”
“Oh? And who is he?”
“She. Isobel Karolak, 38 years old, moved from Xique-Xique, Brazil to the United States with her family in 1987.” Hughes’s voice got excited. “She’s got two daughters, and apparently they’re both friends with Kelly and Yitz… um… Talia.”
“Yeah. But what’s even more interesting is that one of Isobel’s daughters has been missing since November.”
Murdoch nodded. “Great. well, Hughes, thank you for not being a complete waste of space. Hey, wanna keep being useful? Call Tate and tell her what you just told me. Then tell her to meet me here.”
With all the others at school, Nina and Ned had the mansion to themselves once again, something Nina always looked forward to as much as she dreaded. On most school days, she’d wait in her room for an hour or so, nervously tapping her feet on the foot of the bed until Ned knocked on the door and told her she had to come out. Shyly, she’d open the door, and he’d smile at her. If the weather was nice, they would walk in the garden, but if it was cold or rainy, they’d just sit in the living room, and talk, though it was mostly Ned doing the talking, telling stories about his adventures in the bush, occasionally stopping to ask if she was listening or joke about how silent she was.
Today, like every other school day, he sat down on the couch and patted the seat next to him, and like every other day, she ignored this and sat down on a nearby chair.
“Oh, Nina.” Ned sighed.
“What’d I do?” She asked, twirling her hair nervously around her finger.
He sighed again. “Nothin’.”
“Then why do you look like that?”
“Like I did something.”
He didn’t answer, just sighed again.
“Don’t sigh like that.”
“Well, I find that when people sigh, it usually means I’ve irritated them somehow.” She shifted uncomfortably in her chair.
“Nina.” He paused, looking down at his shoes.
“Yeah? What is it?”
“You don’t like me, do ya?”
“What?” She looked up at him, shocked. “I… Ned… Why on earth would you say that?”
“You won’t open up to me. You won’t even sit on the same lounge.”
“Sorry.” She said, quickly moving so that she was on the same couch as him. “There. Now I am.”
He laughed, but a bit sadly. “Ya still won’t even sit next to me.”
She scooted towards him. “I will if you want me to.”
He frowned. “But you don’t want to.”
She bit her lip, and nervously played with a strand of her hair.
“See? Ya don’t.”
“Why wouldn’t I like you?”
“Well, I dunno. What would a beauty like you want with a larrikin like me.”
“What’s that smile?” He asked.
“Nothing.” She said, looking down at the piece of hair that she was twirling.
“I like it when you say weird old-fashioned things.”
He smiled back at her. “Do ya?”
“Yeah. I like a lot of things about you. I hope that doesn’t sound weird.”
“Course it doesn’t. I like a lot of things about ya too, love.”
“Don’t ask me that. You know I hate it.”
“See, this is why I don’t think you like me. You won’t even talk to me besides sayin’ sorry or askin’ ‘really?’”
“Ned… that’s not the problem. If you want to know what my problem is, it’s that I like you too much, okay?” She closed her eyes, tugging harder at her hair.
He frowned. “Don’t believe ya.”
“If ya really like me, why won’t ya come out of your room to see me? Why do you always sit as far from me as ya can?”
“Because… because the the last time I liked someone this much…” Her voice trailed off as she lifted her shirt a few inches. Her stitches were gone and the angry red of her injury had faded to pink, but the jagged line running down her stomach still stood out against her pale skin.
“Nina…” Ned touched her scar gently.
“Yeah? What?” For the first time since they’d sat down, she looked up at him. He reached over and took her hand.
“Your hands are so cold.”
“I know. You said that before.”
“Know what me ma used to say? Cold hands, warm heart.”
“Yeah, right.” She let go of his hand and smiled dryly. “You wouldn’t say that if you knew what I’d done.”
“Love…” Ned shook his head. “I’ve done things too. Things I don’t like to think about. Nina, you don’t know who I am, do ya?”
“Yes. I do.” He face reddened a bit. “I… I sort of Googled you.”
“Sorry. I know it sounds creepy, but–”
“No, no, not that. But, er, what exactly does “Google” mean?”
She laughed. “Oh. Um, it means I looked you up. On the internet.”
“Oh. Then… you know.”
“Know? Know what? Ned, you’re a hero.”
He sighed. “Don’t say that.”
“Say what? It’s true. Those policemen were hurting people, and you stood up to them. That’s something I could never do.” She looked back down at the floor. “That’s why you’re a hero and I’m just a bad guy.”
“Love, I really like ya. But if ya think that, I have to assume you’re a bit off your head. You could never be a bad guy. You’re much too pretty.”
“Nina, stop it. Of course really.”
“Right. I guess I’m not a bad guy…”
“That’s more like it. ”
“No, a bad guy at least stands for something, even if it’s wrong. I’m just that one sleazy coward in every movie that everyone hates. I’m not good or bad, I’m just selfish. And in the end, people like me always get what’s coming to us.”
Ned stared at her for a second. “Nina Karolak, I apologize in advance for swearin’ at ya, but that is a bloody load of fuckin’ horse shit.”
“No. You’re wrong. You could’ve let the yellow bastard kill me that day we met. But ya didn’t.” He touched her scar again. “You knew this would happen, didn’t ya?”
“Well, yeah, I did, but…”
“But nothin’. You made a sacrifice, and you didn’t do it for yourself. You risked your own life to stand up for me and that’s brave. That’s somethin’ a hero would do.”
“I’m not a hero. Not like you.”
“Oh. You think I’m a hero, do ya? Think I’m bloody Robin Hood, yeah? Well, it just so happens that the man you read about on that internet Google thing isn’t real and never was. I’m anything but a hero.”
“Then what are you?”
“I’m just Ned. A man who’s done some good and some bad. I fought for me ma and me family, that’s true. But in doin’ so, I did some things I regret to this day.” He sighed and shook his head. “I know I told that man I’d shoot him one day. But I never really wanted to. If he’d just throw down his gun…”
Nina looked at him, unsure what to say. “Um, it’s okay. He sort of deserved it, after what he did to you…”
“What?! Nina, how can ya say that? He had a family, and I took him away from ‘em!! I could’ve aimed for his head and at least made it quick. But I aimed for the gut. I did it out of spite. I wanted him to be in pain… he was callin’ out for his wife, his kids, his ma… and I left him there. I just… left him to die… and I killed other men too… Men you never heard of, good honest men just doing a job…”
“But I thought you–”
Nina, I told ya. What you read on the Google is a big heap of shit.”
“In that case, that makes two of us.”
“I’ve killed someone too, you know.” She wiped away the tear that was forming in her eye. “I can still hear him… He… he talked about his family too…” Another tear rolled down Nina’s face. Ned caught it with his thumb and wiped it away. “Love, don’t cry.”
“But… but… I’m a bad person…”
“No, no, don’t say that. It’s alright to feel bad, but ya can’t bring him back now.”
“I should have said no. I should have stood up to my mother… but I was so scared. I’m always scared… At least you were brave. I never was.”
Ned put his arms around her, pulling her close to him. “Nina, I won’t forget how ya stood up for me. I could very well owe my life to ya. You’re one of the bravest people I know. Please don’t ever forget it.”
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