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N ightingale blew smoke up at the sky. Inspector Evans stared at the ground glumly. Whats your problem? asked Nightingale. They were standing outside the police station. A uniformed constable and a community service officer were also on the pavement, smoking with serious faces.

I had tickets for the Arsenal match today, he said. A bloody box.

No way, said Nightingale.

Ive got a mate who works for Emirates, the airline. He gets seats as a perk, and gave me two for the game today. I was going to take my boy.

Im sorry, said Nightingale. Really.

Evans pulled a face. Its not your fault, he said. Chalmers is a prick. There are others he could have brought in today. But Im an inspector so he brings me in because inspectors dont get overtime. Plus, he knew I had the tickets. He shrugged. Its no big deal; my brother-in-laws taking my boy.

Yeah, well, Im sorry.

No problem. He jutted his chin out. What you did to that paedo, that took guts.

Allegedly, said Nightingale. He dropped his cigarette butt onto the ground and stamped on it.

Thats why you left, right?

I wasnt given much of a choice.

But they couldnt prove anything, right? You were in the office when he went out through the window?

Allegedly, said Nightingale. Its not something I talk about.

I can understand that, said the detective. But guys Ive spoken to all say the same thing. You did what theyd have wanted to do. He was screwing his daughter, right? Nine years old.

Nightingale nodded. Yeah.

Two years had passed since little Sophie Underwood had died but he could remember every second as clearly as if it had just happened. He remembered how her voice had changed to a dull monotone and the way she hadnt looked at him as shed spoken. You cant help me, shed said. No one can help me. Then shed kissed her doll on the top of its head and, without making a sound, shed slid off the balcony and fallen thirteen floors to her death. He shuddered at the memory of the sickening thud her little body had made as it slapped into the tarmac.

My daughters eleven, said Evans. If anyone touched her, Id do them, without even thinking about it.

Youd think about it, said Nightingale, but youre right anyone who touches kids, they deserve anything they get.

And the mother knew, right? She knew what the bastard was doing?

Nightingale nodded. She said not but there was no way she couldnt have not known, not with the marks hed left on her. Anyway, she killed herself, not long after they buried the girl.

Evans stamped on the ground, trying to keep the circulation moving in his feet. Damn its cold, he said. They reckon snows on the way.

White Christmas, said Nightingale. God rest ye merry gentlemen. He took out a second cigarette.

Evans pointed at the pack. Have you got a spare one?

Nightingale raised an eyebrow. You smoke?

Used to, said Evans. Wife made me give up when our boy was born.

Nightingale tapped out a cigarette and gave it to the detective.

Evans shrugged I figure that if I dont actually buy them, Im not really a smoker.

Nice philosophy, said Nightingale. He lit the mans cigarette and Evans inhaled gratefully. Chalmers doesnt really think Im going around killing people, does he?

Evans blew a cloud of smoke, and coughed. He patted his chest and grinned shamefacedly. He thinks you killed Simon Underwood and that you got away with murder, he said.

Hes not alone in that, said Nightingale.

Yeah, but Chalmers has taken it personally, said Evans. He reckons youve got friends in high places, which is why you werent charged with Underwoods death.

Nightingales eyes narrowed as he pulled on his cigarette. He tried to blow a smoke ring but the wind whipped it away as soon as it left his mouth. He does, does he?

He has a point, right? Youre alone in the office with Underwood and he exits through the window. How many floors up?

Twenty, said Nightingale.

And the next day you resigned. Chalmers thinks you should have been charged with murder.

There was no proof, no CCTV, no evidence. Nightingale shrugged. And no witnesses.

Me, I couldnt care less, said Evans. One less paedophile in the world and you wont find me shedding any tears. But Chalmers is gunning for you.

Hes wasting his time, said Nightingale. He dropped what was left of his cigarette onto the ground and stood on it. He gestured at the door to the station. Come on, lets get this over with. And when weve finished Im going to need a lift back to Tylers house to pick up my car.

Still driving that MGB? When are you going to get yourself a decent motor?

Its a classic.

Its an old banger. But yeah, Ill arrange a car to run you back. Just dont tell Chalmers.

| Midnight | c