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they kept it quiet

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She's babysitting Bernie and Little Lou when she sees him, casual as you please and for such a unique looking fella, he's really not made much of an effort to change his appearance.

She's driven the kids up to Duluth for the day and, okay, see her dad has told her specifically that she's not to drive the kids out past Grandpa Lou's Diner by the rail tracks and sure, Duluth is a heck of a lot further than that but it's also in the opposite direction. So technically she's not gone past it.

Besides, it's not really Greta's fault that the ice-cream shop selection in Bemidji is pretty terrible and, anyway, Greta's a pretty good drive - no, she's a great driver and she's good with the kids so.

Dad and Molly probably won't even find out, even if Little Lou blabs he's still young enough that Greta can laugh and say no, silly, I was only talking about the one in Duluth. She's got a great cover story all worked out, her friend's working the counter so she'll vouch for them and Bernie, at five, is well versed in keeping a secret.

She's at that age where she's starting to ask more questions about her dad. Ida's been telling the story all bereaved police wives tell their kids: her dad died a hero, died protecting people, died doing what he loved. Greta wonders how long it'll be before Bernie looks her dad up and finds out he was gunned down by a maniac for no reason. He wasn't stopping a robbery or nothing, all he was doing was trying to arrest some sick man who'd killed his wife.

Still, it's a more satisfying story than Greta got. Her mom died in a hit and run on her way to work. Out of the blue, just like that. And Greta's made her peace with it. She doesn't remember her mom, not really. She has vague ideas of bob-like hair and perfume and purple, floral shirts. Nothing concrete. Not like Molly. She remembers a lot about her mom.

Bernie's lucky, maybe. Not even having hazy memories.

Anyway, she's stopped by the library her Dad used to take her to on Sunday mornings. There's no library in Bemidji and it's got a great children's section, toys and play-mats and big soft bean bag chairs and colouring books. She sets the kids up at a table and edges her way to the crime section, keeping the little ones in sight at all times. Her dad doesn't like her reading anything too gory but Molly's been sneaking her stuff, the Hannibal Lecter series, Minette Waters, that sort of thing.

That's when she sees him. The Deaf Fella from her parent's sprawling poster-board. The one that's wanted in several states for a list of crimes longer than Greta's arm.

His hair is a little longer maybe, the sideburns are gone and in place of that tastled brown jacket he's wearing a red flannel. He's pushing a cart along, shoving books onto shelves.

And Greta's sure for the longest time that it can't be him. Because even the densest fella in the whole wide world wouldn't pick a library in Duluth to hide out in after what happened.

She pulls out her cell phone, scrolls through to find Molly's number but... she's gotta be sure. That's something Molly and her dad have taught her, you gotta be sure. Can't go around arresting people willy-nilly unless you're sure.

Besides it probably isn't him, right? They have news in Duluth, in papers, on TV. Greta's pretty sure the Deaf Fella even got a segment on America's Most Wanted. No way he'd get employed here after that.

She glances back towards the kids. Maybe she should back off, mention it to Molly on the way home - which of course would mean coming clean about driving up to Duluth and - but catching a wanted criminal, heck a murderer, trumps breaking that rule, right? They can't ground her for being a hero.

So that's settled. She'll make a positive ID and call the cops and her parents from the car. Maybe this way her dad will stop trying to talk her out of becoming a deputy right out of school, she can point to this and say but I'm good at this, dad.

She looks back to the kids once more, Bernie's leant over, helping Little Lou out or bossing him around, Greta's not sure but they seem happy enough.

She'll be in so much trouble if this goes South and those two don't make it home in time for supper, but heck, Molly didn't get to where she is today by playing it safe, right?

She takes a breath. Taps the guy on the shoulder.

It's him.

It has to be.

He turns, expression bland but leaning towards the prickly side. His name tag proclaims him to be 'Wes.' Honestly, he looks kind of lost. Vacant and lost.

Greta folds her arms across her chest, angles her body away from him, "Is that your real name?" she asks.

He raises his eyebrows, gives her a once over. He's not nervous, not yet, he's more curious. Maybe he thinks Greta's just a kid who reads too many crime novels (which she might be, yeah, but her life was essentially a crime show for a year so really, she can't be blamed.)

'Wes' helpfully taps the badge below his name tag that explains, in bright yellow letters that he's hard of hearing.

"You read lips though, right?" Greta says, sounding out each syllable carefully. Molly's told her the story a bunch of times. One day she'll tell Little Lou, too.

'Wes' nods dubiously.

Greta puts her hands on her hips, "You know, my parents still have your mug shot on the wall at home."

That has him jerking back from her like she's burnt him. His eyes dart about the place, looking for a way out like a rat in a trap. He doesn't want to cause a scene, she thinks. He's too exposed here. There are too many people.

She's blown it though, probably. Whatever she says now, however she plays it, he'll be gone by the time she tells anyone. Probably be like he wasn't here at all.

She draws herself up, tries to make herself look as intimidating as possible (and Molly's been giving her self-defence classes on the side that line up nicely with Grandpa Lou's shooting lessons so Greta's not exactly helpless.)

"You know, my dad says if you see someone doing something wrong you should do something to stop them," she says. It's a lie but 'Wes' doesn't need to know that.

'Wes' makes to sign something before he realises Greta won't understand and flounces, pulls a note pad out of the pocket of his hoodie and scrawls something in sharpie.

Just doing my job.

"I'm not talking about here," Greta says, impatiently. "I'm talking about that thing a few years back."

'Wes' rolls his eyes and underlines his statement. Then he must think better of it because he adds, was only there for Malvo.

Greta considers this. "He's dead, you know," she says, watching his reaction closely.

He nods, jaw clenched.

"You look upset," she says, frowning.

'Wes' flips onto a new page of the note pad, scrawls: Wanted to be the one who killed him.

"Oh," Greta says. "He killed your partner."

'Wes' nods slowly. There's something in his eyes, open and raw that makes Greta look away, back towards the kids briefly. "He wouldn't have ended up dead if you weren't criminals, you know."

'Wes' snorts.

Weren't much choice where we came from.

That's bullshit, Greta knows but swearing isn't polite and swearing at a former hitman probably isn't all that clever so she doesn't say that. Instead, she narrows her eyes, looks him up and down real close. "I should call the cops on you," she says.

She's not going to and he must know it because he writes: I don't do that anymore and doesn't tear her head off (and she's reasonably sure he could. She's not scared though. For some reason, she's not scared.)

"Greta!" her little brother calls a burst of sound in the quiet. "Bernie won't let me have the red crayon!"

A librarian looks in Greta's direction disapprovingly. 'Wes' looks amused.

"One minute, Lou!" she calls. "You're gonna bolt as soon as I leave, aren't you?"

'Wes' smirks.

Greta huffs out a sigh. Of course she'd run into a former hit man when she's got her baby brother in tow. "You better keep your nose clean," she hisses, channelling her Grandpa Lou.

'Wes' nods like he's taking her warning very seriously and Greta turns back towards her brother before she realises she'll never get a chance like this again (not until she's older, anyways, not until she has a badge of her own.) She turns back to him, nice and slow.

"Why'd you stay here? You're wanted for murder, it seems pretty dangerous."

'Wes' huffs and sighs like she's bullied some truth out of him or something and when he's done writing he shoves the note pad into her hands and disappears into the stacks.

Last place he was.


"Greta talked to the deaf fella today," Little Lou announces later at dinner. Molly's made some fancy recipe her Mom tried and Molly might be great at a lot of things but cooking isn't one of them. (She's unspeakably glad her dad lets her keep a stocked mini-fridge in her room these days.)

Greta snorts, "Sure I did, Lou."

"Don't make fun of your brother, hon," her dad says.

"She did, huh?" Molly asks.

"Yup," Little Lou nods enthusiastically. "At the library."

Molly smiles, "The library?" she repeats. She exchanges a look with Greta's dad. A that wacky child of ours, look because really, honey, a hitman in a library?

"I think somebody's been watching too much TV," Dad says, reaching over to ruffle Lou's hair.

Little Lou frowns, looks across at Greta like she's betrayed him and okay, okay, she'll probably have to stop lying to him at some point soon. At least until he's old enough to keep a secret but he won't remember come tomorrow and if he does, all he'll think about is how Bernie snapped that red crayon and the cherry fell off of his ice-cream cone.

(Maybe someday though, Molly'll tell him the story good and proper and he'll be rummaging around in the attic for something and come across a battered, yellowing old notepad with handwriting he doesn't recognise in. He won't put two and two together though, Greta's sure.

Molly might though. Better keep it hidden well.)