2010-09-08: Execution Style





Date: September 8th, 2010


Maggie is called onto a scene and gets an impression of why tying up loose ends is taking this FBI Agent so long. Justice is not in the eye of the beholder.

"Execution Style"

"Detective Powers, this is Agent Hamm — we spoke briefly at the Falkland residence. There's — something I've decided you should see. I know you have other cases, but I have a feeling you'll want to make an exception for this. Come to the Leffert's Hotel in Clinton. Tell the uniform outside I sent you. I trust you'll use discretion with your coworkers."

* * *

Even while luxury hotels continue to infiltrate the city, there are those seedier kinds of will keep clinging on to New York's tolerant underbelly. Reassuring to the drug dealers, and the pay-by-hour prostitutes, this and other such establishments are hives where the bright font of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is neither common nor particularly welcome. Doors are closed around discontent muttering while the small fare of forensics experts and one lone suit explore the untypical turn-down service the occupants of room 16 received last night.

Each of three men are face down to the brown carpet picked for its ability to hide even the most putrid of stains, and rapidly having absorbed the blood of the crime. Two bodies side-by-side near the hallway-side wall are bound hand and foot, collapsed forward onto their own foreheads, laying plain the massive destruction made of the backs of their heads. Some of the residual splatter is skull fragments, being carefully preserved by blue-gloved fingers of the examiners. The third is also bound, but this one made a lunge for escape, presumably while his friends were dying — his body is on his side pointing towards the bathroom — but his wounds are identical.

One to each knee, shattered. One in the head. Execution.

By the clothes, the memorabilia spread about the otherwise un-ravaged room, and a thick tattoo along the arm of one parted only by the puckering of an old wound — Irish.

Standing in the midst of this example of trial by bullet, Agent Hamm's hands push to his waist, flaring his suit jacket out into a V behind him. Grim understanding of the scene wins out over surprise or horror; he waits only in expectant pause as a crime scene worker gingerly turns one of the exploded heads around, staring at burn marks circling out from the source spot, middle of forehead. "Can't say for sure," he declares, bracing the neck as he sets the body down to draw in lines above the wound with two covered fingers, "Till they dig the bullet out, but— " he meets eyes with the agent, "I'm willing to bet it's the same gun…"

"Yeah…" Hamm's weight shifts, discomforted with his own knowing, perturbed but not necessarily disturbed. His eyes flash up to the bullet holes in the wall: two for the kill shots, but low and more angled than if both men had been upright. "Tell me something I don't know."

You should see — have a feeling — make an exception — use discretion. Those words bring forth the innate sense of unease Detective Powers is now settled with, more than the location she arrives at. Past the uniform at the door, to the hallway that houses room 16 that she now walks, she is perhaps a softer picture than the crime scene ahead, her light hair in waves about her shoulders, blouse a light cyan and her pants a light khaki, albeit both plain and with a heavy belt in-between. Not soft by any means is the detective's demeanour, already steeled against sights she has yet to witness in the room. In approximately three seconds, she's about to see it all.

She's crouching by the door to fetch a pair of those protective blue gloves left out in a box for such a purpose by the crime scene techs when she recognizes the agent who has been lurking around the station of late. "Agent Hamm," she greets, standing and entering; the scene is taken in slowly as her gloves are pulled on, the details rapidly coming to her attention. "Good to put a name to the face…" she says, studying the bodies, not the man she speaks to. "…but what is this about? These look like gang killings…"

Hamm's line of sight follows a crack in the ill-kept wall to where it stops at the doorway framing the entering Detective Powers. His examination of is the same strict professionalism with which he regards the entire scene that she steps into moments later. "It's only unfortunate it had to be like this," he opines, leaning over a rickety lamp-stand to offer his hand for shaking, gloved both of them, but the meaning is well-intended. However, her observation of the crime soon has him brushing his hands in the air near the victims rather than indulging in pleasantries.

"You're correct," though he can't exactly commend her for it; this is not the time nor place, "All three of these men were members of the Harlin Irish movement." There's a small glance spared to the detective, but he mostly watches his tread as he steps around furniture to stand between the two parallel bodies. "And all three got off either on minor crimes or snitching on other, more prominent members."

The detective's arms fold after the professional handshake and that is where they stay as she, too, takes a chary track around the hotel room. As the agent stands between the two parallel bodies, her boots pause carefully in front of the separate man on the floor, the one who didn't quite get away. On her approach, Maggie's arms fall so that she may plant her gloved hands above her knees and bend down slightly to get a good look. An equally studying, if more distant, glance goes to the other two. "There's no arguing that these are executions." But conjecture is left unsaid, even as thoughts keep her face stern. Instead, she asides to Hamm: "Have you retrieved anything from the room? Bullets?" she straightens, "You've been in here longer than I have; what do you make of it?"

The one who — almost — got away is distorted by his facial wound but not enough to disguise a certain familiarity to the detective. And, too, old bullet wound that mars his tattoo…
Meanwhile, Hamm has returned his hands to his waists, twisting around them towards the wall where the bullets penetrated after exiting the victims; he gives the general air a two-fingered gesture before the hand settles to its post. "These were made by a Glock 17L Competition with AAC suppressor." Said with complete assurance, even while techs and their tools seek to dig into the broken plaster for the same evidence that would lead them to this conclusion. "These aren't just executions, detective," as if that weren't enough: his tone is warning without belittling her observation, "But a very honed and distinctive style of execution."

Now, between the two cooling bodies on either side, Hamm drops to his knees heavily, as if feeling the push of an armed controller on his shoulder. "He gets them down on their knees, but they aren't blind-folded. They see it coming. First— one knee," his left one recoils, "then the other," the right, "so fast. Precision shooting. They can't take the pain, they fall— " But rather than that, Hamm bounds to his feet and spins, now standing and facing his former self's position, his hand raised like a weapon to some tumbling opponent. "They fall right into the barrel of the gun. Like they're asking for it. Maybe they even do — it's so much pain kneeling on busted caps — finally— " And his forefinger flips upwards, "Shhht."

It hovers like that, just Hamm and his imaginary mirror-image opponent falling into a puddle of his own blood… then the agent loses the pose, brushing his hands against his jacket and regarding Maggie in all strictness. "We've seen this before," perhaps said redundantly, "Four more scenes just like this, and that only in the past two weeks. All Irish. All out on what might consider 'light'," his fingers representing the quotes for flavor, "sentences for their crimes."

Maggie's slightly narrow-eyed study of the third body's familiarity prompts a distant frown, and she then becomes a quiet audience to the FBI agent. To his observations and reenactment, however complete attention, she has little reaction to show for it; it's only as Hamm finishes, and make those last comments, that she lifts her eyebrows in prompt.

"Four," she repeats. "Have you checked the MO against other cases prior to two weeks ago?" She wanders carefully to the nearby door, examining it while she goes on, perhaps for signs of how the perpetrator got inside. "Not many people would know who's out on what. If it's related." Her neutral voice doesn't attach to any theory. "It's not entirely dissimilar to the Takahashi's methods… they — or … someone — could be tying up loose ends…" A glance is sent sidelong at Hamm, pausing a blue-gloved touch of the door's lock. Tying up loose ends — wasn't that his job, after all, according to her sergeant? Detective Powers straightens, fixing steadily on the agent to address him straightforwardly, plainly as can be: "I know this is my job, and that I was involved in the recent cases — the gangs. And I don't mind but helping if that's what you're looking for. But why… am I … here, Agent Hamm? You decided to call me only today; why?"

Hamm's face is lowered from Maggie's inquisitive address, not in bashfulness; he squints at the bodies brutalized by bullets, seeing their make. "We didn't have to," is spoken in calm, measured stylings to her rather obvious questions on proceedings, "'Only in the past two weeks' doesn't account for the other time we've… seen this before. There's the Takahashis, sure," hand spread, then replaced, "But there was also a time when they looked up to another's methods…"

This lingers a bit while she notices no obvious harm to the door: no forced entry. Then his gaze switches tracks to her, studying the same way he did the evidence on the floor all those twitches that make up Maggie's even miniscule reactions. "Detective Powers, I had to be sure that if I let you in on this, it wouldn't come right out your mouth to the wrong ears. There were… some who thought you might be — well, involved. I had to consider it. I'm sure you understand the care that has to be taken here— " Carefully, politically — but determinedly, he nails her with his stare and his words: "… We don't want to push him to do anything drastic…"

The miniscule reactions Hamm scrutinizes become less miniscule, suddenly unquestionable in her need-to-know — yet surprise for this turnaround isn't a factor, as she's been studying the agent in return all along. Turning on a dime, Detective Powers steps straight toward him, intense — in every way — as she presses, almost overbearingly concentrated on him. "Agent." It's all she has to say. It's Hamm who needs to keep talking.

He doesn't balk at her new approach, his body language only tightening, the professionalism pulling him up like puppet strings until he's standing taut — but not tall; that part just isn't in him and there's only genetics to blame. But even with Maggie casting him in shadow, he's only so below her as physically. His authority is incontestable. He doesn't need to do anything. And when he does, she isn't going to like it: "Detective. How has your partner been lately — would you say?"

The detective's intensity doesn't lesson, nor does it increase. Maggie doesn't waver, a tall statue with staring blue eyes directed at Hamm. While certain things leak into her voice — defensiveness, anger — it remains measured even in its intensity, well thought out, the border of professional. "I knew awhile ago what you're trying to imply, Agent Hamm; before," if, "I have any kind of conversation about this, I would say … that I'm going to need not onlythese details; I'll need every detail."

"You don't need to prove to me that you're a quick one," Hamm, meanwhile, tips to the other side of the line — quiet, neat, allowing. But no less a wall of fortitude against her anger of any amount. There's no retreat in that he's being pleasantly voiced. "But try to remember that I invited you here. My choice," he doesn't stab at his chest or puff up his chin. There's no ego about it at all. He wants her, in all sincerity, to know how much he means what he means. "If you have a problem, if you want to make stipulations," his hand slides out of his pocket and he waves it back-handedly at the door, "You're free to go. I'd completely understand."

As his hand dips again into the fabric of his tailored — especially, perhaps, thanks to that height — pants, he tips his head in an apologetic manner without a single apology in his hard eyes, "But then you understand that I am going to follow this wherever it goes. However it ends." A slow blink, like maybe he's put a message there… but nothing's wavered in him when he concludes, "And with whoever felt strongly enough to give their side."

For all her looming (how can she not), Maggie's intentions do not lie in intimidation and she has nothing to prove except her want for answers — something shared by Hamm. A frown tugs at her mouth, pulled into a thin, tightly-pressed line almost instantly. She considers the agent for a long moment before admitting, "…of course I… have a problem…" When she looks away then, her gaze naturally lands on death, and despite having seen innumerable dead bodies in her life time — and having already stood in this gruesome room without flinching — she flinches now, steels against it, looks down— and back up at Hamm with the same determined gaze. "But you've brought me here— I've seen it— I'll follow it through."

Watching, calculating, reading. Hamm's badge is shiny, and as such he holds a certain sway of experience eyeballing the taller detective amongst her tight lines and decisions. Only a pause after she's finished. Then, "That's good!" almost cheerful, "If you didn't have that problem, you wouldn't be half so dogged in trying to get to the truth. However," his momentary compliments pan to quiet, "I won't lie. The cards are stacked pretty high on this one."

He twists about against the rough and tumble hotel carpet, walking by forensics specialists too used to these situations to give the discussing detectives much note. "In the BAU, we narrow in on a point called a 'stressor'. It's the point where things just," he squeezes a fist together near his ear, "Got too much. The unsub was compelled to lash out. Now, four months ago, Vincenzo Salvatore was released from prison on a reduced sentence for 'good behavior'," quote unquote, "That would— be hard on anyone. Then, a month ago, Roberto Harlin and his men… many make deals, get off on smaller offenses, jump bail or parole," he glances unforgivingly but notably the bodies strewn over his left shoulder, "Criminals. Everywhere. Getting off without what they deserve." If quotes were intended for that one, his emphasis drowns them out.

But, twisting a second time to find Maggie in the room, he's pleasant, "Did you know that he stabbed Roberto? Right here?" A finger jabs into his forehead: the center. Execution. As the hand falls, he's solemn, asking but not pushing — probing. "So I ask you again, detective—

— how has your partner been lately?"

"…Distant," Maggie answers, turning slowly a she does so; no reply on what she did or didn't know on the specifics of how Roberto met his end. She looks steadily about the room, taking a few steps along the muddy-colored carpet to watch the forensics crew do their thing, to take note of what they're working on as she speaks to Hamm. "…Avoidant. Dismissive of rules." She pauses her multi-tasking study of the scene, looking back to roll her eyes to one side in apparent thought. "Oh— and a little silly. But if you're asking what's been different about him lately…" There her tone takes a dip: a turn for the worse. "…well. More. Of all those things. And he's been…"

Maggie hesitates.

Through this moment of being quite unwilling to go on where details are concerned, she turns toward a rare corner devoid of people, dead or alive, and closes her eyes hard. Whatever she does — wherever she goes in her head — it's eventually enough to say, grim, hollow: "… Let's just say… that he would fit your profile."

Behind her, what she doesn't see while eyes closed to the world, is a Hamm similarly but oh-so-subtlety affected. It comes as no surprise, any of it — but that never means he has to like it. "And the crime," his voice reaches her after a moment of reflection, "Mode, motive, opportunity. He would've known these men got off, as well as they'd know him to let him in that door." His eyes go to it, the one Maggie noted as being unbroken. "I probably don't have to tell you," which is only a preface to match his low, apologetic tone than to discourage him from continuing, "This— " The room, everything. He takes it in with a pivot around a heel, " — the gun. They're— Rosoce's. Through and through."

Soft bends in the carpeting; Hamm has stepped over near Maggie, keeping his polite distance while making things a touch more personal. Around them, techs and other experts melt off. "The BAU— we understand. Sometimes… there's cases you don't feel like you quite came back from. And then to watch men you know personally to be dangerous walk free…" Quiet, companionable: his voice is akin to if he were whispering in her ear, just there for her. "We all," all, her, just for her and now she's included smoothly, "want to just see him get the help he needs."

There's a soft pause for that to worm its way into the detective's full consciousness before, a slight weight adjustment past, Hamm mutters encouragingly in that same non-pressuring want, "… And what else has he been, detective."

Maggie looks to the side through all of the agent's words, just off point, but there should be no confusion as to the fact that she's listening very closely to his inclusive explanations. Come time to answer — again; or rather, to actually put words to what she didn't quite before — that hesitation interferes once more. Her lips press together again, disappear; she swallows. "He hasn't been," she says quietly instead, "my partner for two weeks." There's more — her mouth moves, but she's silent. On that. She turns, her gaze hopping from body to body and back again as if doing math. "How many," tarts the detective, "are left. Gang members like these, out on the streets."

"Two weeks." Meant to be a question, a clarification — it isn't. It sounds more like a sentence. The studied attention Hamm has put to Maggie falls, his head slackening to the side as he does his own calculating, "If he's distancing…" Eyes up; she's asked him a question of her own. "We have lists, we could round them all up. The truth is— do we even know the truth?" His mouth moves almost out of sync, of its own accord, like he's quoting someone without obviously doing so. "A lot of the solid idents came from him."

Point made, he slips to a different part of the room again, scanning those identifiers that mark these bodies as so obviously Irish born, Irish died. "There's nothing to say— having gotten a taste— he'll stop there. Until he is stopped, or— " Or. It catches in Hamm the way Maggie's words clogged up in her own throat. His point of hesitation. As sure as it wasn't noticeable before, it shines down on him now: he's more invested in this than as just an officer of the law. Clearing up the problem on his face, he makes to deflect by looking over at Maggie more pointedly, putting it on her to react, instead as his voice blands out factually. "Or he realizes how far he's gone."

Points made. The reaction Hamm expects from Maggie is not a reply: it's a distinct, undisguised study of him. A slow blink eventually — eventually — draws her out of it and her head turns, her body following until she's pivoted to look out over the extent of the crime scene. Her thoughts undoubtedly stretch further but, rigorously working through them, they're kept internalized. She folds her arms, the bright blue of her hands resting along her elbows in a firm pose not remotely resembling relaxation. And the detective is silent.

Besides that one example of clarification, Hamm is a fortress against reading. Outwardly, an open and people-minded stance, but those digging for more have gotten all they will off his expressions. When silence on either side has hung into the air above the equally wordless corpses, he tips his head in permission to the waiting examiners and the zip of body bags starts the clean-up process. "Maybe it's better right now," he mentions, coolly skirting sympathy with unfelt optimism, "That you aren't working as close. You'll need to be able to act as if everything's normal. And he has a certain way of— " One eyebrow up, one down. Almost comical. Almost. His eyes dart to the side, then back. "Knowing."

A small but distinctive lift of Maggie's eyebrows is directed at Hamm in turn — knowing, one might say. The woman's face is otherwise completely unchanged. "There is no normal," she states, slow and certain. "And what…" she starts off on an neutral, objective and equally slow-spoken track toward the agent and only him. "…do you plan to do next?"

Next. After these bodies are finished being hauled away in those familiar black bags, after this hotel room is left as clean or dubiously unclean as it was before.

"Well," Hamm's mouth scrunches to the side, thinking a thought already done, "I only said as if." A shrug that slows in descending when he is absorbed deliberating on her inquiry. But in the end the answer is easy — no, logical. "Next, I gather this evidence," two fingers at her, "your words," the gesture falls, "and make an informed decision about how I should proceed."

Your words. Her words. A flinch ripples under the surface at those very words; Hamm's gesturing fingers might as well have jabbed her. Detective Powers settles into silence again, hardened.
She's looking away when she breaks her own silence with a low, firm reply. "I know what he's capable of." Stark-faced, she regards the agent, and her arms fall to her sides. "Being capable of something and acting on those capabilities are two different things. And maybe that is a line that's easy to cross for someone who has lived what he has. To go… too far. It's not out of line to suggest that these… people… have gotten what they deserved in his eyes. But I've also seen…" A hand raises near Maggie's face, by the waves of blonde, a fist forming only to flutter open. "I saw what I saw. But that's not… it's not everything that I see."

Both hands spread quickly, a reassuring gesture for Hamm: to hear her out, to not dismiss her as non-objective, to understand that she's not arguing. Maggie is only being fair. "Make your informed decision, Agent. Don'— don't take my word as gospel." A gentle overstatement; she doesn't expect him to. "What about Salvatore. Do you have eyes on him?"

"You saw…" But it isn't a prompt, more a follow-up observation, "Something that made him want to separate himself from you." The rest? It's probably all known to the behavioral analyst — could be guessed or summarized by him just as easily. Standing as he stopped last, Hamm listens to the rest with no inclination, no acknowledgment, no assurance that he's taking her request or her non-objectiveness into account: at least, not in so many words. "In the spirit of sharing— " He's almost smiling now, a reminiscent expression for when it might have been more appropriate, "Miles— " The name. Put out into the room at last, unspoken before, now inescapably confirmed, "He got me into the BAU."

The case of Salvatore wipes free happier times and the smiles they conjure. "He's— slippery… but as it happens— "

As it happens, so does Maggie's phone. Loudly and importantly, it's work, with somewhere else she has to be. Doubletime, detective.

A few nods are allowed toward Hamm, all of them grim save for the last, when Maggie almost smiles: a note of empathy for the agent having to be involved in this, too, when the man in question — now named — isn't a stranger to him, either. What was empathy turns into polite, if grim apology when she reaches for her phone at her belt. It rings persistently but doesn't go immediately answered. "Slippery — and he can't be too happy with Miles. That's motive, and he has up close and personal knowledge of these methods right here," she gestures around here with a few pointing fingers extracting from her phone. Something to keep in mind.

They're both bound to know the persistence of the call of duty, and it's with a curt nod and her phone lifting that Maggie indicates she has to take it. "Keep me up to date?" A beat. "Please." Her look lingers on Hamm, and then she's off, weaving her way toward the hall. On her way out, an examiner is given the same look of apology as she squeezes around a body bag going through the door, in order to half disappear around the corner. "Powers…"

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