2010-11-16: Life Goes On

Starring:

Maggie_V5icon.png

Guest-Starring: Sergeant Gartland, Detective Kotowski, Detective Jordan, Detective Ryan, Officer Parker

Jocelyn_V5icon.png

Date: October 19th, 2010 - November 16th, 2010

Summary:

And time passes by. Detective Powers has a new partner.


"Life Goes On"

* * *

Ring. Ring. Ring.

Click.

"What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from."

Beeeeep.

Leave a message.

* * *

"It's over." Here, Sergeant Gartland. His short dark hair being run through by a hand, his eyes narrowed with combination stress and relief. Seated at his own desk, upon which the station's resident relations expert leans, both men are across from Detective Powers, parked in the visitors' chair of the office. "Until something comes up, we put this behind us and we do our jobs. Does that sound reasonable to you?" When he asides pointedly to the PR man, he shifts his weight on the desk and look around his shoulder at the older officer.

"Reasonable," he condones amiably, though his arms are crossed in a tight fashion across his chest. "Detective Powers," his head swivels to the other occupant, "I'm sure you understand the importance of keeping the NYPD's stance on all of this as neutral as possible. Without former agent Miles' cooperation, it's imperative that the police keep up a good image between now and whenever the suits start flooding in. Procedure was followed. The only thing that can screw you is public opinion. Now, if that's it— " Having sat through the general summary of current events, the relations officer heaves off from the desk, giving Gartland and Powers equally polite nods. The jacket folded over his arm is tucked under a finger and tossed over his shoulder.

Sighing off the weight of the world, Gartland returns the nod not with his own, but a brisk, dismissive flap of his hand. It falls onto a stack of tan-wrapped files out in front of him, glaring in an accusatory fashion not usually imagined in something made out of paper. "Powers," the hand beckons the other way, "Stay here a moment."

If it weren't for the detective's penchant for keeping a calm, professional demeanour, she'd look the part of a student pulled from class and placed in the principal's office.

Calm or not, and while the situation may be different, here, a certain amount of begrudging touches her harder features. Maggie's response to the relations officer is silence that's left to be assumed agreeable; or left to interpretation. She softens slightly to bid the PR man a polite — but impersonal — adieu by way of a nod and smile, and watches him leave with a thoughtful, not entirely favorable, look. She grips the worn arms of the chair — about to get up, then conversely re-settling at Gartland's command. Her regard fixes on the sergeant. There's a tight quality to her voice; it's spread thin atop some of her more unvoiced opinions. "Sir?"

Gartland's hands smooth over the tops of those files, flattening some invisible problem they represent, and also giving himself something to eye while he gathers his exact words. "Powers," he repeats, a touch less authoritatively now that they're alone, "Look, I know you've been wrangled into this more times than anyone would like. But the truth is, you're in it. Now, so far the heat has been kept off of you… but when this lawsuit happens, that won't be the case anymore." Shuffling all of his weight to one side of the chair, he grumbles a bit at the effort.

His elbow plants along the arm of his chair, letting his hand periodically float between gestures and slipping under his chin. "And it's important that everyone understand… — well, let's look at it this way — you spent a lot of time with the man," he grimaces; apologetic, "I'm sure you noted a flavor of— inconsistency in his behavior — not that we blame him! Of course, not. It's been hard times… but all this running about. Living with criminals." The lines of the older man's face darken tellingly, even as he forces the prejudice out of his voice, keeping things light and merely suggestive of purpose. "It can create a kind of unreliability of character…"

A few times, Maggie's mouth moves as if formulating thoughts, preparing to interject— she's quiet up until unreliability. Her eyes narrow on the sergeant once, honing in, capturing his intent and promptly stepping on it without hesitation. "Sergeant," she addresses him sharply, reigned in by the fact that she is, after all, talking to a higher rank — but not, on her end, kept light. "What exactly are you getting at? It sounds a lot like you're telling me I should worsen a man's reputation for the sake of appearances. With all due respect, what you're implying, with your bureaucratic concern, it isn't something I want to be involved in."

Narrowness is met in turn; Gartland sorts out Maggie's disapproval quickly, and not without consequence. More direct anger is eventually squashed, as he stares at the woman detective, and what shines through is a general annoyance — which has been the theme of nearly the last month. "Detective," he admonishes, reinforcing with some vigor their differing statuses, "I am suggesting that a person who has been through Laurence Miles' experiences should be judged, accordingly, by them, if he should bring up negative statements against an institution that has supported him through what have now been numerable missteps. I'm sorry to say, Powers, that this isn't about what you want anymore." He gives a soft shake of his head, "A while ago, you had the option. Not to be. You said you could handle yourself, and here we are. Believe— that I don't want to see you dragged down with any— potential poor decision-making further down the line."

A frustrated flicker of Maggie's eyes moves her sights closer to the door. Her hands rise from the arms of the chair, ironing out invisible surfaces as she resumes her firm eyeing of Sergeant Gartland. "I have— " her voice starts out harder than the softening, quieting, patiently correcting tone that follows, "handled myself— fine, now hold on a second."

Her voice raises to normal. "It's not my job to judge," she states firmly. She may be as respectful as she can be, while voicing these opinions, but Detective Powers is unapologetic about what she has to say. "If there comes a time when I'm meant to speak, I'll tell the truth inasmuch as it should be told. And fairly. Miles is not a saint, but I'd be more concerned with him not showing up to have a role in any of this than I would be with him saying a bad word about us." She gestures with one flattened hand toward the sergeant and smiles lightly as she further expresses her viewpoint: "A lawsuit, the press, I mean this whole thing is a little ridiculous— "

"Ridiculous, and yet on our doorstep. And the fact that you continuously pretend that jumping through political hoops is not a part of the job isn't going to keep your head above water this time around. So straighten up, Powers," timely in that, she is doing such that in the chair. Gartland also does, his back stiffening as his hands come down on the file determinedly. He gives it a pat, bringing it just in front of him where his fingers strengthen the crease keeping it closed. "We can't always only do the parts that suit us, and we can't always cling to our— " his hand dashes little motions in the air, "little fancies."

Leaning forward, he is quiet but for a moment, though it fields no interruptions. Gartland retains the floor through sheer authority, using it to take his time weaving his fingers together to rest on the desk. "What's more important to you? Your job?" His eyebrows raise demandingly, narrowing in on the shield displayed so perfectly on her belt. Then they drop: "Or him." Intent short of malice infects the word, though he says it almost wistfully: him, just one of those fancies, easy to blow away. "If I were you— I would pick one." It is all the threat that it sounds. Slowly, his elbows inch back and then his arms fold down; the lesson has been given, his eyes drop to his desk, where work awaits — and the movement also helps hide the flickering disappointment over what was meant to be well-meaning advice so shot down by her. Helps, but not completely. It's there, especially when he glances briefly up to mention, "Dismissed."

Maggie is left unblinkingly regarding Gartland, stoic save for a seemingly permanent upward curve of her brows and a faintly incredulous open mouth. She moves from the chair to the desk, standing in front of it — leaning, slightly toward him, led by her gesturing hand. She would normally leave the room, thus dismissed from business in it, but her need to reply and express herself isn't so easily dismissed.

Quieter, kinder, vaguely hesitant tones — respectfully not wanting to insult — address him more personally. "I don't believe it comes down to that." Don't be so dramatic, Sergeant… "Look, I can and will do… all… parts of my job, Sergeant. I'm here," Maggie says, clearly wanting him to know that; she's capable. "I'll jump through political hoops where I have to, but I plan to land on my feet with integrity. Everyone's integrity." She regards Gartland steadily a moment longer, nods, and leaves— dismissed.

Kinder to whom — Gartland does not appear to enjoy the intrusive approach after he's so clearly sent her off. He eyes her back, shining with that disappointment, with only a mulling of his lips together until she's about to be gone. Final words: "He'll make it come down to that, detective. Make sure you know where you're landing when it does."

* * *

The shining, twirling lights of several parked police vehicles cuts an intangible line between spectator and investigator, leaving wide-eyed civilians to only watch as a group of blues and badges circulate the area outside of a tall warehouse. The structure is marred on top by the fire that had been rampaging earlier, and has since been tamed, revealing the gruesome evidence that brought the murder mob squad down this way so late. Observations made, they've all adjourned to the outside to allow the clean-up crew to do its part.

Among them, the trench-coated Kotowski, bending his head slightly at an angle to light up the cigarette mashed between his teeth. Wearing his officer's uniform, and a disgusted grimace, Parker bats his hand to dispel some of the resulting smoke away from his side of things. There's a disbelieving glance from tiny cancer-stick to the remains of a much larger fire behind them that has the officer shaking his head, but he otherwise holds to their current dialogue: "I'm just saying that it's not right… we pretty much put our own selves on the line that night— and— and, what. He leaves us in the lurch, that's what. To get— hounded on by his new fanclub. I just don't get it…"

Detective Jordan glances sidelong at the line of associated press attempting to breach the barrier between civilian and cop, his gaze distant, and his voice soft, but firm. "Could be he's under protection. You heard about those mafia hits, haven't you. That doesn't mean nothing, even with Salvatore dead."

Was she listening, was she not listening — Detective Powers joins her colleagues, having turned away from her post several feet away where a phone call theoretically held most of her attention for the last few minutes while the warehouse blazed on behind her. As she takes up a wide stance near Detective Jordan, however, she on-and-off partner of the subject of conversation glances around in a way that can only be described as knowing — more, that is, than usual. She folds her arms over the a blue scarf softens the otherwise tough exterior of her leather jacket. Tight-lipped, she's stingy with her two cents, adding nothing to the opinions other than intense quiet.

Quiet only means she's easier to ignore, allowing the male parties to plow ahead. Rubbing his hands together in the chill, Officer Parker is less than convinced and his face scrunches unhappily to show for it. "It's not right," he only repeats, sapped of arguments though not of the will to argue, "It just isn't right…"

"Miles is a certified loony," pipes up Kotowski, the opinion brimming with more respect than the definition of the words should allow. Hand flying up to his mouth, he catches his cigarette, pulls it into the air, and releases a breath purely made of smoke. "If he's magically~" he slides the cigarette between his teeth, freeing his hands to wiggle in the air to emphasize, "disappeared, it's probably to go— I don't know. Whatever loonies do. Maybe he'll reappear when we most need him, like Batman, or maybe he's in a ditch somewhere. I don't see what's so great about speculatin' about it." Though the detective does not break the gossiping fold.

From behind them, as Kotowski takes a second long drag on his cigarette, and Parker contemplates this skeptically, the line of reporters breaks through for one especially pushy elbow, and loud voice: "Hey! Hey! Yeah, you! Are you a buncha cops or a buncha women? Cause right now, looks like the same thing!" To the baiting, Kotowski's head rises — his back to the shouter, his glowering eyes are not apparent to the rabble-rouser, but his sudden attentiveness seems to be. "Oh, yeah, I know you can hear me!"

"I really hate this guy," the hot-headed detective reveals, to exactly no surprise. His cigarette comes into his hands, stabbed forward in the air like a weapon. "He's been on our asses for the last week. Irresponsible this, and conspiracy that. I swear to God, I'm gonna shoot him. Jordan— " his arm flies to the side, slapping Jordan in the chest, "Take my gun. I'm gonna shoot him."

Maggie's gaze continues to travel around the group of detectives and officer, unclear of opinion except that she has one. "If it's not so great to speculate…" she interjects, trailing off with an obvious fill-in-the-blank: they why are they speculating? The shouts of the passionate reporter overtake her words, however, and Detective Powers quickly whips her head around to spy him. "Hey," she says then to Kotowski with a calming hand gesture into his smoky space, advising him just as calmly, "just ignore him."

Because, apparently, she's nominated herself to take care of it, if only so no one else does; if Kotowski is hot-headed, she's the opposite. The cool-headed detective twists a look over her shoulder with a smile pointed at Jordan on her way. "You better hang on to his gun, though." She tucks her hands in her coat pockets on her way to the ill-talked-about reporter, only to remove one and gesture that he keep a distance. "I'm a cop and a woman; could you please keep back, sir." Keep back, keep quiet — they're politely interchangeable.

"I don't care if you're Nancy fuckin' Drew," determines this particular reporter, "You're not going to keep me back. The public is sick of the way you coppers just sweep in an' get rid of everything you don't like. Where were all the uniforms when those kids were killed right out in the street last month." There's a muttering of indistinct approval from around him; a couple of microphones and cameras flash in Maggie's direction. It's as good as throwing fuel on a whole new fire, to the backdrop of one that's burned out. "How about how all those homeless people went missin' and nobody bothered to look. Were you all standin' around, makin' chatty, when Mafia Miles got into that bar fight? You ain't no better than those gangbangers. Hey, maybe you pointed the Irish his way— " thump, thump, thump, "— you're all a buncha thugs— "

He jerks forward — and is throw back. Kotowski, flying past the police tape, that unfurls around his body like the finish line of a race, barrels straight into the disruptive reporter, fist already cocked. Cries immediately abound, as other reporters scatter to get out of the way — and make room for their zoom lenses as cameras flash spastically in the growing chaos. The bodies scrape about, rolling on the dirt, as Kotowski loses his obvious advantage, resulting in an indistinct jumble of violence.

* * *

"Well." It's a whole sentence in a single word, as the weary-eyed NYPD Captain draws his arms over his chest. The disapproval he radiates is not distinctly for the milling group of detectives he's addressing, however; that aim of his gaze is over shoulders where Kotowski sports dark rings around his eyes for different reasons as he hunches discontentedly in a desk chair. "In light of Detective Kotowski's new duties," the gaze floats just to the left, where Jordan sits far more patiently at his own desk, a magazine drawn up against his knees, "… and his partner's apparent silent protest…" and his eyes finally roll, bringing him back to the ground at hand, "I don't have to tell you how woefully understaffed we are for the numbers of cases that are building up. So I'd gladly ask you to send all of your complaints directly to our new desk riders when you're feeling the strain of also completing all of their cases."

"However— " in an attempt to sound optimistic, he falls short, anticipating no one around him feeling the same, "We're getting in a transfer to help— shut up, shut up, guys. Yeah, that's how desperate we are. So shut up. Powers— " The Captain wags the marker he'd been using as pointer across the Open Case Assignments board at the woman detective, "He'll be yours. Try to remember we're all on the same team, everybody. And whoever keeps trying to hand in transfer papers saying they're 'Going over to Miles' side'— well, you better pray I don't find out who you are." A few half-hidden sniggers signal the meeting as thoroughly adjourned.

Not among those who protest or snigger — often the same culprits — Detective Powers, at her desk, looks generally tired. No less attentive, though the stack of paperwork on her desks says she has better things to do than listen to the consequences of Kotowski's hot temper— she was going to take care of that reporter… but she accepts everything in her own silence, even when the news lands that she'll be working with the transfer and prompts the smallest of frowns. That's all it gets — just a tightening at the corners of her mouth, an acceptance of the way it is.

* * *

The way it is: the battered body of a nineteen year old girl lies face-down in a tree-shaded corner of the Carl Schurz Park, the general pride of the Upper East Side for its renovation attempts and prized children's playground. Dirty blond hair sprays around the ground by her face, radiating out from the blood-clogged lump deforming the back of her head. Underneath each fingernail is mounds of the ground she's been found in, the streaks marring the earth around sure to match the size of her hands. The light flowery dress, one of its straps fallen from her shoulders, is far too little for the weather of the past few nights — the coroner having predicted her being there for at least two. With this article ridden up to reveal decisively torn pink 'Princess' underwear, her skinny young girl legs are bare, all the way to the feet. But, while dropped in the dirt as well as the rest of her, her feet are markedly clean — even the toenails don't show the same struggle as her hands.

The area is blessedly clear of nosy trespassers, being far enough from the main area of the park for that — though the path taken up to this particular hill is not hidden, nor meant only for animals. This allows a fair amount of police traffic up and down, stomping footsteps into the defined stretch of land, but that very top — where 'Princess' lies, is quiet. A shrine. There she lies, waiting for her prince to come.

But she will never wake up.

There is no happy ending for her. What she does have is a king's army of hard-working people on her side, determined to find out why her story ended so abruptly. Anyone would be hard-pressed to find a more determined face among the police in the park than that of Detective Powers. She leaves the busy beginnings of the investigation at the bottom of the hill, and makes her way up top, reverent to the tragic shrine. There's not a stomping boot to be found; her approach is slow, at it keeping her distance as she takes it all in.

So too does she take in the presence of another person — another living person, a man — standing like a beacon with a badge. He's secondary to the body; she acknowledges him with a glance, goes on getting her first impression of the scene.

She pauses an idle adjustment of her protective gloves, as blue as her scarf and the eyes that level on the man. "Hi," she says, polite with a side of questioning. "You must… beee …"

"Ryan," the man supplies, offering her a professionally styled nod in lieu of a handshake. "Detective Ryan— you're Detective Powers." His curt words are not exactly unpleasant, more time-efficient. The distance he was waiting behind the line of those waiting on a detective to officiate the scene does not apply once he's there near the body. Snapping the edges of his own blue gloves, he drops into a bouncing crouch at Princess' side. A brisk movement lifts her arm, his fingers running up hers to spread her fingers and reveal all that dirt; the pictures have been taken, her pose preserved, so there's no hesitation.

"Seems like quite the fight to put up after a blitz attack from behind." Neatly, her hand is laid back down. Not where it started, but the difference hardly matters to a girl, face-down and spread-eagled on the ground. Brushing his hands on his legs, Ryan straightens, giving a sweeping glance around the area. "There's probably a bloodied rock somewhere in those bushes," he raises a hand, gesturing individually to a few of the covered brush. "Can get some people to check it out."

"That's me…" Maggie says in lieu of any further introduction Detective Ryan doesn't give time for. That's all right; her focus is already back on the crime scene, too. She approaches a couple of steps nearer, quicker on the other detective's particular treatment of the young woman's body, crouching slowly on the other side as soon as Ryan's up. He's eyed carefully on her way down. "There could be…" she says without quite agreeing yet.

She studies 'Princess' up-close, leaning in elbows-upon-knees, not looking up as she casually, politely suggests, "Why don't you check the bushes?" You know, since he's on his capable feet. "It was more than just a blitz attack." She reaches to touch the girl's head, just barely turning it this way and that to get a better look at her injury.

"The team can do it," Ryan mentions off-hand, politely gifting Powers with this information after her forgivable oversight. "We should get to canvassing the neighborhood with a few of these officers," there's a glance beyond him to the ones camped out at the base of the hill, ushering any spare early morning walkers by. His eyes tracking back to her, and upon finding her at the injury, he takes the stride to reappear there. "No defensive wounds, blow from behind. That's exactly a coward's attack. Is there something else there?" An honest question, for all its phrasing, not derogatory.

"It is a coward's attack, but there's…" Detective Powers trails off into thought, moving her hand away and herself up, moving around to the other side. "She's not wearing any shoes," she states simply with a gesture down toward the feet. "She has no coat; this is a summer dress." Not exactly straight answers to the manner of attack, only pieces of the puzzle. "It's … more than possible that she was sexually assaulted, so at what point during the attack was she hit from behind? Even if there aren't any defensive wounds, she put up a fight on the ground."

Drawing her attention up from the body to Ryan, Maggie's gaze still intense with the consideration of the crime at her feet, holding onto more of her thoughts. "I'd like to look around the scene more and fully interview the person who found the body, first — the dog walker — before we start canvassing," she says plainly, without any particular argument; she even smiles faintly at the new face for an instant. This is just what she's going to do, and she starts to move off to do it.

"Hmm, you're right." Not a surprised admission, but only an absorbing of information visible on Ryan's face where his brows knit gently together to simulate processing. "It… could have been afterwards. If the blow didn't immediately kill her, she could have woken up just long enough to try and drag herself along. Meanwhile, the killer's long gone with her shoes and coat— this is an affluent neighborhood, they were probably expensive. I imagine this perpetrator is homeless."
Jogging slightly, Ryan comes up alongside her at an impersonal distance, but enough that his privately low voice can be heard. "Let the team do that," he coaxes strictly, "And we'll keep to the questioning, like detectives. The dog walker's seen as much as we've seen. Even less, really. But, sure, wait up for me." Their brisk paces don't quite match up — perhaps because Ryan displays some distaste for walking on a rocky dirt path. "We'll do this your way, your neighborhood."

"People see things they don't realize they've seen, until they're asked the right question," Detective Powers points out with patience; but it's offhand, idle. "Even dog walkers." Her focus is over her shoulder past Ryan, looking with regret at the body she's left behind in such a state. Out of necessity, it doesn't stay there long: she's soon busy scanning the ground and veering toward the bushes with an eye for detail. As for Maggie, tromping over rocks and brush couldn't look more natural. "This job is more than asking questions, Detective," she says slowly throughout. "What did you transfer over from," she asks Ryan without glancing over — a would-be casual question, it's more pointed toward wanting this valid information.

"That's— not exactly what I meant," attempts Ryan, his hesitation not bashful, but wary that he choose the absolute best thing to say. Each of his words sounds, therefore, cropped short by editing. "Just that, there's other people who can do that. If everyone works together, communicates, we can cover more ground." Like the kind Maggie is currently stepping all over. The park's kept in healthy state, and everything appears to look just as nature should. "Homicide most of my life, more in the inner city, not up here; though I've been organizing drug busts for the last two," he gives a pointed gesture towards what they've left, "I've seen plenty of that in my lifetime." One fair close to Maggie's own; Ryan's close-cropped, military friendly hair is all brown, but his face does nothing to hide his age, and his body is carrying over into some of the less forgiving aspects of getting older. He's in shape — but he also has a few extra ones.

"I know what you meant," Maggie says, factual and without argument, no disagreeing, no harm meant; she looks to the other detective with a small pacifying smile. Rather than explain the particulars of her methods, however, she keeps them up thoroughly, checking this and that with her careful but not shy steps firsthand through the park's dying environment; it'll be winter soon, and life has been on its way out or some time. But nothing she finds is quite so lifeless, or as telling of death, as the princess atop the hill, and she marches her way down toward the teem of activity.

* * *

For being an 'affluent neighborhood', the Upper East Side dwellers living near the park have not managed to hoard away much more manners. As cold as the weather outside, each snooty woman lets the door kindly shut in the detectives' faces. Each time, smiling the smile of public service, Detective Ryan merely thanks them for their time and slips his card through when he can. This time, faced with a maid painted up in nervousness — several times loudly declaring that she can't let them in without the missus' permission, he hasn't even the time to do that before the door is shut — audibly locked twice.

Slowly, Ryan retracts the card into his possession with a flick of his wrist. "You know, I expected more out of this neighborhood than the last I was in," he comments crisply, but lightly, tugging his suit jacket a little tighter where he makes to wander down the expensive brownstone's front steps. "Not that I thought it'd be a picnic coming over here, of course."

Without a complaint for each of the times a door is shut in their faces, Detective Powers is quiet toward Ryan's. Striding down the steps of the brownstone at a brisk pace, she swings her scarf over her shoulder and makes a mark in her notepad — which hadn't, until the foray into canvassing, emerged — to note the address of this last house where they've been shut out by the maid.

Onto the next house— but on the sidewalk, Maggie gives a considering look to the door behind her that hides the nervous maid. She pauses. "Don't take this the wrong way…" she warns gently with a glance aside and a pointed lift of her brows at the near-stranger, "…you look like a door-to-door salesman." Selling murder?

Ryan chuckles; he's at least not taking it a bad way. "Yeah, well," he says, humor clinging to his usually stiffer words, "Can't exactly push my way in like I'm on a raid anymore, can I?" That'd be silly. And against the rules. "In a way, it's easier over in narcotics. But we couldn't ignore that you death detectives needed the help. What with all these bullying charges and relying on 'outside'," chuckle, "expertise."

Detective Ryan is treated by a long look from the death detective, an ever-so-slightly defensive stare that goes on longer than strictly necessary. "Expertise is called expertise for a reason," she says evenly, her pencil poised above paper a moment before one is tucked atop the other. "And… that wasn't exactly what I meant." It's her saying it this time; a popular trend and the case has just begun. Maggie is on the move again, climbing the stairs to the next Upper East Side residence. "These residents, they see badges and they already don't want to have anything to do with us; sometimes especially if they saw something. Every time one of them opens the door, they have to be to be treated like a person, not a task, or they'll see only the badge."

"The badge protects them," defends Ryan swiftly, "Some just take longer to realize it than others." Easing along the stairs beside her, he ends up on the right, putting Maggie near the actual door opening while he twists sideways to get an arm up to the door and knock importantly. An official knock. "As for these experts," he asides, lazily factual in that interim between knock and response, "They're only on the outside because they've done too little, or too much. I'd rather have a cop who knows procedure by my side any day." His smile to Detective Powers is companionable; she's that cop.

On that note, the door clicks, cracks, and then swings wide to allow the entire frame of the boy who opened it to be visible. Not more than seventeen, he's half dressed — or undressed — in the garb of what is likely his preppy school. His eyes flash confusion at the two's appearance, then trace visibly to their belts before their faces. "Um, can I help you?"

If Maggie has a response, it's gone with the opening of the door. Off the other detective's companionable smile, to which she is straight-faced, she looks to the teenager. He gets a smile, friendly and instantly apologetic, genuine as can be. "Hi. Maybe! I'm sorry if this is a bad time," she says, noting his state of school wear. There's a small glance past him, into the residence — he's young, there might be parents around — but or now, she focuses on him. "It'll just take a minute," she adds, her smile fading into something more serious, "my name is Detective Powers, this is Detective Ryan; we're looking for people who might have been in or around Carl Shurz Park in the last few days who might have information about a possible crime." Modest; it's a little more than possible, but Maggie's voice is kept light. "Do you ever hang out there?"

The kid echoes the detective's look around, shooting a glance over his own shoulder — checking, for himself, if there's anything there. On returning to Powers, he shifts his weight, giving a strong one-shouldered shrug, "The park? That place is for kids— " for, clearly, at his great age he is not one, "and druggies." The casual way it's relayed, he is probably neither one of those, but is also not bothered by the prospect of them existing. He hovers for a second, evaluating them — not calculatingly, but hesitantly. After a second, some morbid curiosity pushes out over his desire to end the conversation. "Did you guys— is there a— dead body or something?"

"There's something," Maggie replies ambiguously with a smile to apologize for being ambiguous, glancing briefly at Ryan and back. "We're asking everyone in the neighbourhood. Even if you saw or heard anything on your way past the park within the last few days, anything out of the ordinary on your way past … anything that seemed suspicious— or I you know anyone who frequents the park besides kids, or anyone who's been missing," she says without laying any particular judgment on the boy. "let us know." She takes a card from her pocket and hands it through the door, but this is not the point she cues their departure. "Do you have parents here? — someone? Please tell them to do the same."

The card is taken, but handled skeptically; the kid turns it around in his hands is if checking it for traps or wires. "Look, if— if I knew anything, I'd tell you right now." Another glance over his shoulder, and he's suddenly reaching across to hand Detective Powers back her card. Then another shrug, this one full-fledged. "My parents are really important, alright," he admonishes the detective, a tick at the corner of his mouth reminiscent of a sneer, "They're a little," understatement, "too busy for a park." His stray glance over to Ryan inspires the detective to ask: "Why aren't you in school, kid?" To which his face twists indulgently, relaxing into the ease of some assumed superiority, "Good kids get to go home for lunch. So— I'd better get back to that before I'm late for a class." He steps back, giving him space to give the door a proper shut.

"Kids— go to the park," Maggie points out. This, too, is with a smile — good-natured until it disappears. The detective's card isn't back in her possession for long; she tucks it into the mailbox by the door and gives the teenager a short, to-the-point look, as if to say: just in case. "Thanks for your time," she says politely. It's time they likely won't spend much more of, as everyone prepares for the barrier that is the door to send the detectives on their way to their next stop. Maggie steps back herself, glancing to the figure beside her out of habit.

Thanks for your— door, is more what it's like. While not slammed, it's certainly shut on the owner's time, rather than that of polite conversation. "Somehow," Ryan mentions wryly, twisting efficiently about to aim towards the stairway, "I don't think he'll be giving us any calls." As the first steps are taken, he gestures out a hand back towards Powers, "Looks like our tactics aren't so dissimilar, after all. You want to take the next one, or shall I?" Reaching the bottom, he gestures down the row — to all the doors awaiting detectives at be closed on. It's still a long afternoon.

* * *

"What's wrong with you today?" Dr. Bonham's precise voice snaps as she whisks around the autopsy room, creating a breeze in her speedy path. It not only swooshes her pristine lab coat out behind her, it ruffles the two detectives in passing. Maggie's attention is drawn up with a sudden blink from where she had been staring in a thoughtful daze at the body laid out on the table across the room.

A "look straight ahead and get the job done" attitude has been surrounding her all day. It's not unusual, for this particular detective — she's just doing her job — but something about her level of silence has, apparently, piqued the ME's curiosity. Or not; she whisks by again with zero concern, this time all the way around the table. A manicured hand waves Detectives Powers and Ryan over before the red nails disappear into gloves.

"I'd like to find out what happened her so we have our next step," Maggie replies to answer, spoken as bleakly as the sight in front of her — the young woman laying dead on the table. She heads closer, arms folded over a now-open jacket, scarf missing.

"What happened to her was that she was raped and killed," the ME says with the lack of cheer the statement deserves. "If you're speaking less obviously, well — cause of death was the blow to the head. Something heavy… indistinct. Probably a rock. Whoever did this to her didn't use a condom, so you guys have that going for you."

Detective Ryan clucks his tongue over this vague advantage, "We'll see if he's in the system, at least." In his bland gray overcoat on top of a similarly colored suit, the detective keeps his hands to himself, and those in his pockets. Approach towards the body is slow, and the most interested he gets in nearing anymore towards it is a slight lean. Examining the dead body is now another's job; the fine woman across from them handles it well.

His own handling thus far has included please and thank yous, and an adherence to the law book as if he'd read it just that morning. The only service he all-out skipped was holding the door for Detective Powers as they entered. Now, he raises an expectant look to the ME; do go on, if there's even any more.

"There's a substance embedded under her nails besides dirt. Whatever it is it got in there beforehand," Dr. Bonham says, lifting the curled-in hand those nails belong to, displaying what she means. It's more for her benefit than the cops'; she spends a moment puzzling at it. "It's not blood— it's being tested as we speak." She straightens and sends a suspicious look at the door, as if second-guessing the competency of the person she sent to do said job. "Time of death … as expected, about forty-eight hours or so. Girl's otherwise clean. No more injuries, although— she did have her nose done recently…" She leans in with a discerning eye.

"Plastic surgery?" Maggie queries. Her attention is rapt, eyeing every detail the ME does. "She's so young."

"Youth has no bearing on ugly," quips Dr. Bonham. To the skeptical, faint grimace of Detective Powers, and to Detective Ryan in general, she rolls her eyes, waves a gloved hand and gives a light scoff far less serious than her present task. Picking up a scalpel idly and gesturing at Ryan, she looks to Maggie and broadcasts, "I liked your last one better."

A startled look lifts Ryan's features from their no-nonsense posture, but it doesn't last long in his regard of the ME. Clearing his throat, more cosmetic than clinical, the found lacking detective juts a brisk hand forward, indicating the girl's redone nose. "She's from that same area, then. Lots of well-off teenagers around town get things like nose-jobs as sweet seventeen presents along with their fancy cars. We circulate her picture within that community of doctors. There's only so many the rich crowd trust."

Maggie bans commentary from herself with an especially closed mouth for the ME's opinion, tipping a look toward her that manages to be equal parts admonishing and amused; silly, in the end, before she's back to grim. "That's terrible," she says — of the plastic surgery. "Okay. Is that everything you have for us, Dr. Bonham?"

"If it's not, I'll let you know," the examiner says, paying no more mind to the detectives, whisking off again with a click of tall heels. A rattle; she's organizing surgical tools.

Minus the presence of Dr. Bonham, Maggie's company becomes Ryan and the body of the unidentified young woman. She seems reluctant to move at first, standing stoically arms-crossed in thought; whatever her considerations, they don't quite make it to air. "Then we'll work on getting a list of plastic surgeon's offices who cater to the Upper East Side," she says, sudden by contrast, and turns — nearly as fast as Dr. Bonham's whisking about — to the exit.

"Chin up, Detective Powers!" the other woman calls out without so much as a look from where she's standing with her back turned. "You wouldn't want to get more wrinkles and need that list yourself."

* * *

Having kept up a strong pretense to the commentary back — though not really forth — Detective Ryan finally heads off his interim partner as they escape the lower halls of the examiner's rooms for the more traditionally office ones of the station proper. In one such hallway, marking the lack of traffic going by them, though a few people pass through a perpendicular route, he glances behind them to the elevator they left as though making sure what happened several minutes ago really happened.

"What did that mean back there," he inquires without preamble, "She liked your last one better." There's a tinge of disbelief that rises above his natural curiosity. "I didn't get the exact impression she was joking," more of that light scoffing; certain but entertaining this strangeness. His head swivels away from staring after this oddity of an ME to glance in confirmation at Powers, "But weren't you assigned to Laurence Miles?"

"Well, Detective…" Maggie starts to very slowly reply without a hitch in her step or a glance to Ryan. "…I'm pretty sure she meant…" she goes on in that same specially patient tone, unconcerned with what he deems as strange, "…that she liked him better." Halting just short of the station proper beyond, she pauses to look over to the detective and smiles, good-natured; she's being facetious. But there's a hint of a smirk pursing that smile, and there's a bit of warning behind those eyes. "I wouldn't take it personally," she dismisses. "Dr. Bonham has a certain sense of humour."

"Some humor," Ryan scoffs, sliding into position next to Powers, his hands planting on his sides in a confident pose surveying the land of the police station. But Powers' dismissal has lightened him some, and he shakes his head — agreeing to what he perceives as Powers' agreeing. "It's not very professional of her to make those kinds of comments — and wildly unrealistic besides." On the second part of that two-parter declaration, he strolls into the bullpen for his temporary desk, mollified by his own insights.

Maggie pauses, assesses — that wasn't what she meant, either — and trails after the other detective with a slightly hastening step. "It was … unprofessional," slowly, in comparison to her step, she picks up the thread of conversation, coming to stop his desk as he reaches it. "… as for unrealistic— well." She gives a considering, not-quite-serious tip of her head, then explains: "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Except…" Her head, canted to the side, remains there while exactingly precise eyes fix on the transfer. There they stay, steady, as she states solemnly, "… you."

With a bit of fire behind her otherwise very calm and level-headed sorting out of the facts as they are for Ryan, she goes on. Her words are kept to a low level, quiet, steady. "Yours … is second-hand; third-hand, maybe. You're making judgments on someone you don't actually know— " Not, perhaps, as overtly as some of her colleagues— but obvious in their own way. Ryan is part of the popular consensus. " — and I'm sure that some of them— seem fair. Since we are going to continue working together, let me get one thing straight: I'm not one of them." Maggie gestures toward what appears to be the rest of the bullpen as a whole. "I don't gossip. I don't make comments every day about how Miles is crazy, or imply offhand that he's a criminal; he was my partner."

With that out of the way… "I'm going to get a list of high-end plastic surgeons who work out of hospitals," Maggie states easily, turning to head off to her own desk, "you take private clinics."

"Now wait just a second," interrupts Ryan, but a breadth of a second after she's concluded with her instructions. His hand branches out towards her but, never intending to make contact, it falls inevitably short, while he paces up to catch her. Rounding about the front, he puts himself at a face-to-face angle with her, forcing acknowledgment. "I understand the need to stick up for a partner," he begins, calmly rising to heatedly in the span of the argument, "But everyone knows that these deep-cover guys all start a little crazy— and there's only one way to go in that line of work. I accept their accomplishments, but it is never acceptable to indulge in their methods in an upstanding station — of which this one is barely considered anymore."

"More than that," his weight shifts, finger jabbing towards her space and then some distant point, "It is purely negligent to shield or cover for a partner who is acting outside of the law's mandate, furthermore to go along with them. No matter how 'involved' it may be." Said his piece, he has nothing more. Nothing, except the mandatory, "I have to make some phone calls," before Ryan power-walks his proud way across the floor, past where he'd previously halted. Shoulders high, he goes by the desk of the errant Kotowski, and his purely negligent partner Jordan, who have a couple of sentiments to say expressed only in their faces.

* * *

Mid-afternoon, and Carl Schurz Park is a bundle of activity completely irreverent to the gruesome discovery made scant yards from where children play. Life, as it seems, goes on — even as the brush slowly withers about them, making room for wintry landscapes, and past-times. Till then, the playground remains occupied by nannies and young children, trying to keep warm in their fall coats while being as limber on the various equipment. The watcher women, all standing in a chatty huddle, or sitting on various benches aligned for such activities, have already expressed their vague disappointment over the dead portrait of Alison Lambert. One, that from the address Detective Powers marked down — who is, truly, not much older than Miss Lambert — hustles her wards to another part of the park at the detective's approach, pleading not to bring up such information in the presence of the young'uns.

It's further in, or at least in another section, that a group of young men play at basketball. Mostly, it devolves into displays of talent and cackling immature threats at one another. A few tussles; they've taken off their coats, but their school shirts see a flare of wrinkles those maids will be working on later. They knew Alison, but not well; nobody really knew Alison well, by their words.

And then, off a path most of these others would not much tread alone, a figure. The boy who refused to take Powers' card. His own jacket fitted on his shoulders, he loiters about on the unmarked route, squinting with almost bashful curiosity off into the deeper brush where things are completely hidden. Squinting, and then crouching once in a while; his hand reaches into a part of the brown woods and crackling, dead leaves. Upon Maggie's approach, he juts up to full height, his chest puffed out, with his clenched hands dropping into his pockets. The sight of the detective both lulls and tenses him, and his mouth draws a thin, sour line. "You're that detective from a couple days ago…"

"I am," states that detective, coming to stand beside him. Her colleague from a couple of days ago is nowhere to be seen, although, theoretically, she's meant to be in sight of him. Her curious glance she gave, for the teenager's own curious crouching, leaves a lingering perceptiveness in her eyes now as she watches him, but her smile is friendly. "My name is Maggie," she clarifies companionably, and switches the photograph she's holding in one hand to the other so that she can hold out her freed hand across her body to the boy. A young woman's face flashes from hand-to-hand in the exchange; Alison Lambert. "What are you doing over here?" she asks with a tip of her head back the way she came, "There's a game on."

The boyish face is glued to Alison's in that exchange, resulting in a spark shooting up him for the question — as if Maggie had barked it twice as accusingly. But his head eases towards the more worn path easily enough, finding behind the crooked trees where that court would show up around the corner. "Didn't you notice?" He quips a little caustically, "That's the older guys." He hefts up a shoulder for whatever and then turns at a slight angle to Maggie, allowing him to edge casually along the line of trees, even further from all the civilization and other people below.

"They don't look so much older," Maggie says — to that boyish face — as she passes by the kid's less friendly reactions. She takes a few slow steps to keep pace with his wandering along the trees, tucks a hand in the back pocket of black jeans and asks, "I'm sure you've heard about Alison… did you know her?" Despite her moniker as a detective, Maggie's tone is casual — and not speaking to him like he's a teenager, despite the fact that she's old enough to be his mom. "It seemed not many kids knew her well. But, believe it or not— " she looks to the boy with a warmly seasoned smile, "I remember high school. Everyone has an opinion, even on the people they don't know very well." Some things never change outside of high school. "This isn't far from where she was found…"

"Not much of a detective, are you," is the boyish reply. His sullenness allows him to relax even more, and his footsteps mark the detective's ones behind him. The kid is clearly familiar with the route he's talking, taking some relish in that she's following. "Ummm, that's the general opinion," he expresses, now releasing one hand from the pocket; it gestures, empty. "That they don't know her." In his glance to Maggie, he suddenly becomes nervous, a flush creeping into his cheeks. She is, after all, old enough to be his mom — but a woman, besides. After a bit of shuffling his toe, digging up some random dirt off the path, he relates, "They were making a joke at you." Flickering gaze up at her — marking her reaction — then down again. That they are near the death site heightens his avoidance; he's silent.

Maggie's reaction isn't much of one, to the boy's eye: she was, and still is, looking at him attentively, focused, smiling just faintly now, but gently. "Oh yeah?" If that's true, she doesn't sound particularly naive to the possibility; but she does sound curious, prompting for more. She reaches out with a quick touch to his elbow and back, coming around to his front; unobtrusive, however, she doesn't block his way. "They didn't have to know her…" she trails off, hanging her head sideways a little as she watches the teenager's face, waiting for it to fill in blanks that she may already know. "Hey," she prompts quietly, "why don't you tell me what you know about Alison."

A lack of reaction seems almost as bad as the perhaps more that he was expecting. Shoulders twitching, he jerks his head away and keeps up his pace— until Maggie's interference has him coming to a complete halt. The hand in his pocket flexes protectively. Eyebrows curl downwards — a touch of confusion, disapproval — at the leading off sentence. All that clears for his startled reassurance immediately after. Deer in the headlights eyes mold down into stiffened defensiveness after a second, making him sound equal parts each. "Hey, no. I didn't know her either, it wasn't like that."

"I didn't say it was," Maggie says genuinely, giving the boy a small shake of her head. She smiles with reassurance and holds up her free hand; the photograph stays at her side, sporadic glimpses of a dead girl. "I come in peace, alright? It's alright." Her boots crunch on the familiar trail, rocks underfoot as she cants back, giving the student space.

"Yeah, well, I don't know anything, alright," the boy says into his newfound space, "I already told you about the hobos, so." He's shifting indecisively between destinations when a call comes up from the brush, only barely preceding the crunching and nature-killing steps of its owner. "Joooooon!" The little girl's enthusiastic call comes out, "Joooonnn!" Soon enough, a small blonde, her hair done up in matching pig-tails, pops out from behind several trees, dashing her way up and onto the formed path. She blows past Maggie in order to stumble into the side of the now-named Jon, who hands instinctively go to catch her as he crouches down to her immediate level. "Look what I found! I found another treasure~" She sing-songs happily, thrusting her hands into him and forcing him to pick up the shiny stone placed there. He does so instantly, a transformative smile making a complete change in his appearance. "Heyy, look at what you've got. This is great, Katie."

The little girl bursting onto the path swings the attention of Detective Powers promptly onto her, and she steps back to a farther edge of the path, giving extra space to the young bunch to whom she is a stranger. Maggie is all smiles and even some of those are contained, watching them, quite unrelated to the task at hand. She waits — seems, perhaps, like she's going to leave instead — but she gestures down to Jon. "Is that what you found too— " she glances pointedly, albeit casually, down to the teenager — his pocket, in particular, "Treasure?"

Katie gives a soft gasp, tugging on Jon's pants eagerly, "Did you find something? Do you have something for meeeee?" The "No!" out of Jon is a bit more brisk than he intended, causing a startle in the young girl that immediately has him relenting. "I mean— yeah. It was a surprise," his eyes dig into Maggie a second, before he pulls his hand from his pocket. It unfurls unwillingly, revealing a large wooden bead — fallen off of something, who knows how long ago. When Katie reaches for the treasure, Jon's hand retracts, "You can't have it yet," he instructs, pushing to his feet, "We have to clean it. That's why I didn't want you to know. So, come on, let's do that." Terribly affected at having been denied her treat, Katie clings onto his leg while he tries to walk back down the path towards civilization until, nearly pulled over, he's forced to heft the girl onto his hip for riding privileges.

"Jon," Maggie calls out from her short distance away. It's not as though he's going to get far fast with his new albatross, but she holds up both hands all the same to get his attention, the photograph serving as a reminder of her purpose— and of what occurred not too far away from where the little girl had been playing just now. "Can I see that?" It doesn't sound quite like a question, but more of a demand to see the girl's treasure. "Our team could have missed something outside the crime scene. Let me look at it for a second."

They've reached the bottom of the path, connecting to the other, when Maggie intercepts them. Jon gives a hasty glance to the side, towards the court, but is instantly distracted by Katie beginning to emit a high-pitched noise of protest. "Nooooooo, don't let her have it, Jon! You said it was miiiine!" Amidst the poor beleaguered boy attempting to hush his wailing sister, there comes a new sound: cat-calling. The court has come alive to their plight, as Jon feared, and the whoops and hollers of the older teens drifts into the woods — accusations of mother-henning, deliberations that the nannies are wandering extra far today. Under it all, Jon stiffens into his spot, flushing crimson with anger and hurt that tenses him even hider in trying to hide it back down.

The cat-calls briefly switch Maggie's attention from the brother and sister to the court; her look is one of disapproval across the distance, and besides that, it's calculating. On looking back to Jon, she notes his reaction but makes no comment; her sterner look melts harmlessly into a smile toward his sister, instead, leaning down just a tiny bit toward her level at her brother's side. "Jon and I just want to make sure it's perfect," she says kindly beneath the sounds of teenage hollering. She glances to Jon and back before nodding at the little girl, lifting both brows high, animated. "That your treasure is fit for a princess." And on that, the sweet-voiced detective holds her hand out pointedly to the teenager.

Grappling a little harder to Katie, Jon gives her an adjust along his hip where her wiggling has displaced her. There's more muttered comforts and a bit hair-stroking before either of them have the presence of mind to eye Maggie — Jon more warily, but hopefully, than his younger. Katie harrumphs a noise fit for a king, instead. "My brother's right," she announces proudly, in high-pitched authority, "Adults ruin everything." But she drapes out an arm and smacks the small round stone into Maggie's hand. Jon's hand trails towards his own pocket, but he can't quite reach without chancing dropping his sister.

"Don't count us all out," Maggie says optimistically to the girl, glancing at the stone. "It's very pretty," she admires. As sincere as that assessment sounds, Jon's pocket steals her attention. "Let me get that," she offers, though her voice has a distinctly firmer quality. The reach the detective extends to the pocket is just as straight-to-the-point.

"Adults always takes things away," continues Katie's lofty exposition to the timely backdrop of Maggie reaching into the young teen's pocket to retrieve that which rests against the soft folds of his pocket. "But my brother never goes away." Her pride butts up against the wash of pale in Jon's face when he tilts his head to stare steadily at the bead moving from his possession to the detective's. Right into her eyes, he looks, ignorant to the urgent tugging of his sister on his sleeve. "Isn't that right, Jon? Never leave!" …

* * *

"It's a match."

Dr. Bonham narrows her eyes through the rectangular frames of her designer glasses at a sheet of paper, staring at the lab results as if they're like to shift and change on her if she doesn't keep a strict eye on them. The twirling cord of the basement-level phone trails to her ear.

Her voice travels from the realm of the dead to the realm of the living through the speaker of the phone sitting upon the desk of Detective Powers. Standing affront her chair, leaning into the edge of her desk with both hands, black sleeves rolled up, she stares grimly down at the device the ME drifts through for both her and Detective Ryan to hear. "… Thank you, Dr. Bonham."

"But— " Reluctantly, the velvety disembodied voice goes on, "…These are my least favourite words to say… there's a small problem with the sample. Even though Jon's DNA matches the DNA found on the victim's body, which in my opinion, puts it without doubt, there's an irregularity… and you know what that means."

Ryan is not appreciative of what that means; though his soft grunt of disapproval is by no means directed towards the ME — even… despite circumstances in the last couple of days. With a crisp tug at his coat pocket, he backs off from his ready stance near Powers' desk. "We'd better let the DA know," is the explanation for his removing a second phone into the conversation.

Maggie's sigh doesn't quite make it to the phone below, or to Detective Ryan, but the same sentiment is etched all along her forehead. She starts to push out of her lean on the desk. "Alright," she says and, looking up, says aside to the other detective, "I'd like to talk to her, too, about whether or not we should have him picked up yet." She reaches to disconnect the phone, opening her mouth to say another thank-you—

"Was that your new partner? What's his name again?" Dr. Bonham's voice pipes through, either unaware that she's on speaker phone or uncaring. "I can't keep track. You eat them up and spit them out, Detective," she says brazenly, though not with insult… this is Dr. Bonham and her certain humour. "Is that what you do with all men?"

"I.."

"No, probably not; you clearly need more fun in your life. If he ever returns from the depths of hell or wherever he's gotten to, that other fell— "
Maggie, from her standstill eyeing the phone incredulously with a knit brow, snaps the phone into her hand and hurries it off speaker, glancing guardedly at Ryan before turning in the opposite direction with the phone to her ear.

The stance that Ryan has taken up several paces away doesn't change amidst the ME's words; he's having his own across his own phone line. Asking to be directed to the right office suggests means this particular ADA has not deigned to give her direct line to the station for general consumption. As he waits, Ryan's hand goes to his hip and he gives Powers only an absent, distracted glance for what appears to be her sudden transition into private chatter. With another girl.

The chatter isn't on her part. "Doctor— " Maggie politely interrupts the ME's segue into the unprofessional, blinking into the bullpen as she does. " — Doctor, I have work to do… I— duly noted— thanks for letting us know the results," she swiftly manages and hangs up with a determined thwack of the phone's receiver. She stands still a moment giving a vexed bite to her thumb as she drifts back to the task at hand, finalized with a shake of her head. And what an unfortunate task it is, unraveling the story of a teenager indicated in the death of a girl, and him the whole world to his sister. Thus focused, she briskly marches off to see if Ryan has gotten hold of anyone at the District Attorney's office.

Ryan's attentive listening suggests that he has. And upon noting Maggie's approach, the detective attempts a word or two in polite interruption over the phone but, unable to get past the 'Eh' and 'I's of several started attempts, he finally takes the phone from his ear and presses this one on speaker to replace the original. He's gotten a hold of Jocelyn Danvers: "— bring me something like 'irregularity' I want to know exactly what the hell — excuse me — that means so I can throw it right back over— Am I on speaker phone? I sound like I'm on speaker phone."

"Yes, Ms. Danvers, I switched you over. Detective Powers," Ryan gives her a nod for his own purposes, "is here with us now."

"Oh, Detective Powers," through the reedy quality of the phone, Jocelyn's voice sounds uplifted; but mostly the ADA radiates a certain persistent level of stress not present before. "Would you kindly rate on a scale of one to ten, how much I'm being irregularly screwed up the ass for this one?"

As Maggie settles in to stand close enough to the phone to be clearly heard, but at a polite distance across from Ryan. "Aah…" she hesitates a moment; lovely, Jocelyn, "…I can't really say; you tell me," she says apologetically. "The ME said she's sure without a doubt that the samples are a match. Maybe the irregularity is a contamination. I'm sure the lab's trying to figure it out. I'm concerned about what might happen when we bring him in and this comes to light."

"I guess what I'm just asking is what 'irregularity' even means. Because now it's just going to become a contest of who can describe it more agreeably for their side, and here we are, starting at a disadvantage." The blunt-spoken DA is not at all apologetic for her own words; this likely wouldn't change even if she could see the sour look Ryan is fighting off his own face. "They'll immediately jump on it, of course. When they find it. That gives you until then to get him to say something even vaguely incriminating."

"Are you saying," interjects Ryan, shifting his weight with a physical 'harumph', "We should withhold information? Because that isn't— "

"No, detective whose voice I don't recognize, what I'm saying is that the turnaround time for paperwork in this station is abysmal."

"It's still with the ME," Maggie says of the paperwork, proving Jocelyn's statement to some degree. "And he's just a kid. If we can talk to him by himself without his parents asking questions and bringing in their lawyer— " She glances to Ryan as she explains. "It's a match. It's the truth according to the lab, despite any irregularity, and it's a good enough conversation to start with."

"He's under eighteen, his parents will have to be there if they don't sign off…"

"Then I guess you'd better get them to sign off," Jocelyn cuts Ryan off shortly, in a no-nonsense that makes her sound completely sensible, "I guess that's your job now, Detective New Voice. Powers is right. It's a match. And, like you said, he's under eighteen; they aren't going to simply ignore that their underage son had undeniable sex with a nineteen year old. If nothing else, we've done them a favor and discovered an underlying medical issue. They can thank us later. Bring him in."

* * *

" — in full amount to the bailiff." BAM BAM.

A somber situation on both sides; one, where overly dressed parents attend to the shoulders of their underaged son as they stand, absorbing the amount of money it will take to keep him at home. The argument of 'flight-risk' went sour, leading to a supervised house arrest pending trial. Sneaking past the legs of her distant parents, Katie curls her way around Jon's, unable to fully comprehend the proceedings. She's eventually led off by the eldest, whose clap on Jon's shoulder is encouraging, even if his face makes a thin, disappointed line.

Watching from across the other side, Jocelyn Danvers begins to pack up the related materials, shuffling them not into a briefcase, but the maroon tote that slips over the shoulder of her brown pin-stripe jacket. The clack of her heels is distinctive as she passes by a colleague, who picks up step alongside her. "House arrest," the blonde ADA bemoans wryly, "I've probably made eternal enemies of those parents; they wanted to be on the next plane to Bahamas while their son's in prison."

"But the point they raised," the younger man ventures, swinging around people in a less dignified hurry to keep up with Jocelyn's push through the early courthouse crowd, "It's true we can't determine anything without proof he was both there, and that the sex had anything to do with the murder."

Rolling her eyes, Jocelyn casts her fellow a look that lines her face, betraying strain behind every curve. "Then I guess the good detectives at the NYPD better get us something to use."

* * *

Weeks. Three weeks, the calendar claims, since Alison 'Princess' Lambert was found, face to the ground, in Carl Schurz park. Almost as long since her accused murderer, the fifteen-year-old Jon Callahan was released into the custody of his parents to await trial — a trial that looms around the corner, lacking in evidence. And yet, that isn't what gathers the figures settled around Detective Jordan's desk, several chairs circled like wagons around the campfire that is the newspaper article that's been laid there upon it's top. Laid like a beacon; it's influence spans out amongst every officer and visitor who wanders the halls today, like a disease that flares up and moment two people become within a certain proximity of one another.

FBI ADMITS BLAME; PAYS OUT UNDISCLOSED AMOUNT TO MISHANDLED AGENT FOR DAMAGES

"… The FBI refused to comment on the exact amount they would be offering," narrates Detective Kotowski from off the page, "But inside sources suggest that the settlement amount borders on the millions of dollars. Shit damn," the last, improvised, sees him push off from the desk, dropping into his chair with a wild shake of his head, "Millions of fuckin' dollars."

"That— that feels like a cop-out to me," protests Officer Parker, giving the paper an accusatory slap with the back of his hand, "It's a problem so— so shove money at it? How does that solve anything at all."

"Are you joking?" balks the gruffer detective, sweeping his hands behind his head in relaxed pose, "I'd get my arm broken on the job if it meant a million dollar paycheck." There's a sly look for him from Jordan, whose eyes immediately soften to the display shown by his partner. "They're not talking about the church," the other side of the team comments with slow, patient affection inside his retort, "It's for years of unacknowledged undercover work, and them crossi
ng their fingers we'll all be distracted by the dazzle."

Kotowski mulls this over for a good several seconds, his lips working together in upmost concentration as he— bullshit. After a couple of seconds, he lets out one disbelieving snort and shrugs both his shoulders against his ears. "Okay, so. Then what's all the hullabulloo?"

Whatever the hullabaloo is, there is a concerted effort to ignore its repercussions over at the desk of Detective Powers. She's in hearing distance of the speculations; it tends to be that most people are in hearing distance of Kotowski at all times. For those with the gift-and-curse of perception, like Maggie, ignoring the chatter is not an option. She sits elbows-upon-desk without even paperwork to keep her company, in the sort of limbo that just begs for something productive to do for the sake of doing anything at all.

A newspaper, a carbon copy of the one under conjecture by the men over yonder, sits under her computer monitor to her right — folded, today's popular article face-down. It has already been read, but it acts like a beacon at the corner of her vision, flashing nonstop until she finally pulls it in. Turning it over, her thumb sweeps over the words: FBI. AGENT. Her gaze sweeps, too, over the words, skeptical for a second time. Maggie suppresses an annoyed frown halfway, and a smile the other half; but what relief the article theoretically gives — the mishandled agent is around, somewhere — disappears from a face that just looks down, conflicted.

"Maybe he'll show up a million dollars richer," another voice adds to the talk all around, drifting past Maggie's desk. It's Officer Shumack, accompanied by his partner Sung and the commonly spied rookie. "Dude, no offense," the latter pipes up as they wander past, "If that were me, you would never see me again."

Never see me again.

It doesn't matter at that point what the article does or doesn't mean, or where exactly the mishandled agent in question is or has been. Never mind the newspaper. Time and possibility catch up to Maggie, triggered, how stupidly, by the passing comment of a twenty-something rookie who says dude. The typically level-headed detective bites down on her lip resolutely, keeping the — perhaps rational, perhaps irrational — tumult of sudden emotion at bay, in order to keep up what is now the guise of being level-headed. She is at least level-headed enough to know it won't last, her tightly-constrained features attest to that; she pushes from her desk as casually as possible. The NYPD bullpen blurs past; hallways; lockers; the women's restroom door swings in, and Maggie's back strikes the inside of it as soon as it shuts behind her. No one immediately appears to be inside, and that'll have to do — she leans back, pushing her hands through her hair, blinking desperately at the ceiling.

* * *

Ring. Ring. Ring.

Click.

"I'm sorry. The number you have reached is not in service at this time. Please check the number or try your call again."

Click.

* * *

The fourth week. The case wavers in the hands of lawyers now, set up to fail or succeed by the power of words and how well another person can wield them. Always teetering on the side of much too busy, the NYC police department bustles on, the ringing of telephones and the hustling of small-time criminals through the holding gates create the ever-familiar tones and clacks making up the environment. It seems like the newspapers have begun to chill; the front page no longer plasters some accusatory statement revealing another face of the FBI responsible for gross mistreatment of cases decades ago. That's been regulated to the third or so page, where a lone voice suggests: Sources say the settlement has yet to be signed for, making us wonder: did this apologetic measure simply come too late? Or did the FBI get what they wanted, after all, and Mafioso Miles has simply vanished.

The newspaper is out of sight — maybe it's not out of mind, but Detective Powers is immersed in work. She belongs to the bustle that makes up the station. On-and-off, that is: one second she's there, one second she's not, the next she is, coming in out of the cold unwinding the blue scarf from her neck.

The case of Alison Lambert's death and the fate of Jon Callahan might be out of her hands, now, but that's not to say Maggie can sit idly; she never does. There's still work to be done in the meantime, and other work besides — both of which inject a quickness into her step as she catches the phone ringing on her desk just in time.

Her partner through this venture is also not a newspaper man; he has it neither in his hands nor tucked away at his desk while he pounds away somewhat forcefully at the keyboard of his set-up. Paperwork is something Detective Ryan is never slacking on, much of it reading like a perfect manual of 'how to exactly handle this kind of case exactly'.

The clackety clack of typical heels is drowned somewhat in the station noise, and in that of Ryan's heavy-handed typing, but as ADA Danvers draws near, she makes it more of a point to zero in on both related detectives. A sharp point and brisk, "You," summons Powers, "and you," over to Ryan's desk — though she gives a small nod to Maggie that acknowledges the detective's phone business first.

Thus summoned, the presence of the ADA whirls Maggie around phone in hand. In return, she gives a nod and a small polite smile in the midst of answering her call — as well as unwinding her scarf all the way off. "Powers," she answers proficiently, listens a moment— "I'm going to have to call you back." Jocelyn has taken priority; she hangs up and turns, fully, to face her. "ADA Danvers. What's up?"

Down seems more likely; Jocelyn's usually bright ensemble seems unusually somber today, even with sky blue stripes through a grey shirt. All of the lace bunched at her throat wilts, revealing a woman looking not only her age, but more than it. Tucking what is not the last stray strand of blond hair back as it all escapes her loosened bun, the ADA glances between them both before landing an arched hand on Ryan's desk. Her long, but un-manicured fingernails clack like miniature imitations of her shoes. "Jon Callahan committed suicide last night. His little sister Katie found him this morning after he didn't make his court appearance."

Maggie is in the process of truly taking in Jocelyn's state when the announcement hits her. She does not react like a toughened, heard-everything professional, or like a stoic cop who might grimly shake their head; no, the news and the imagery it provides sends both of this detective's hands, and her scarf, to her mouth in a bundle. "Oh my God," she exclaims, soft- and high-voiced and genuine, her features instantly alight with sympathy. Never mind the case: "That's terrible." Her hands fall as far as her chin, which plants upon her knuckles. "He was that girl's best friend." Clearing her throat faintly to seek some focus for herself, she thinks to ask with raised brows, "— Do we know if he left a note?"

A part of Jocelyn softens in empathy upon noticing Maggie's reaction, and even this joined sympathy puts years back on her face: a backwards process, sorrow toughening a stance. But her kindness is warm as she projects it the detective's way along with a tenser rise and fall of her shoulders. "A note. Pried out of his hand, after it took them five minutes for them to get the sister to let go." There's a kind of guttural reaction; the ADA has heard plenty, but never seen it all, and her own words provoke a kind of imagery.

"So, I suppose that's case closed. Note, suicide— guilt," through a heavy sigh of his own, Detective Ryan sounds far less satisfied than those words should be. "Sometimes it doesn't seem to make any sense. Do something so foul— just to feel that strong of shame afterwards." Swiveling in his chair — he never had stood up since the ADA came to him — he gives a clouded glance to his computer screen. "Who understands the human mind, eh?"

An odd little twitch grabs hold of Jocelyn's mouth, pulling it crooked. "Anyway, thought you should know." Another hand, another strand of hair in a doomed cause. She twists on her heels, after a jerk of a nod to each, and moves on down the line of desks.

Maggie is left with her hand splayed atop her chest and around her throat, fingers tangled in the blue wool of her scarf as Jocelyn moves on and leaves her imagery behind. Ryan brings her attention back to the bustle around her, but only transiently— her eyes, beneath sadly pinched brows, quickly shift back to the bearer of news across the bullpen, and by proxy, Jon, Katie, and the whole case. She maneuvers around her desk almost without looking and sinks down into her seat. "Some people," she replies in direct, but distant, answer to Ryan. She rolls her chair in. "I don't really feel— I don't really feel like that was ever the whole story."

Tick, tick, tick. Ryan spares a glance for his partner at her suggestion that some exist; reports eventually call, and moving on with the day. He could already be typing up a response to the Jon Callahan conclusion. "According to the facts we have," he concludes blandly, "It was." Tick, tick, tick.

* * *

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License