2010-03-28: The Calm



Date: March 28, 2010


… before the storm.

"The Calm"

Battery Park — NYC

Giant wings of stone are unfurled in the blue sky, reaching toward the sun; gleaming, in the process. The black statue of the eagle looms over the war memorial, protects it, and seems to watch over a figure up ahead. Hands in the pocket of her jacket, blonde hair pulled into a loose, curling ponytail that drifts down far past the worn leather of her jacket collar.

The granite nineteen foot slabs engraved with names of many who fell during World War II line this area of Battery Park and seem to create a wide, open corridor at which Maggie stands at the end of. It points toward the Statue of Liberty in the distance. She has no relatives on these stone pylons that she knows of, no deep-rooted personal connections save for a feeling. A feeling of her father.

Fallen soldiers deserve respect. These were men and women who sacrificed everything for the greatness of this country. They gave everything for the freedom of Americans today. Freedom, squandered and sold to the highest bidder thanks to human weapons. Why does everything eventually lead to some skewed version of itself? Corruption is the word of the hour, day, week, and month.

With a frown edging her lips downwards, Jo pads between the slabs. Her finger grazes the names immortalized in history, until civilization, and consequently this memorial, falls. A memorial. It seems trite in a way. A large sacrifice for a small tribute that so few take time to visit let alone read. The marine's brown curls are tied back into a loose ponytail of their own before she sighs, finally reaching the end and… seeing a face she knows. Turning on her heel, she pads slowly towards Maggie, a very small smile plays on her lips. "Been awhile…"

Maggie's gaze, as it turns out, doesn't magnetize toward the iconic lady of liberty across the water. Instead, she stares into the water itself, seeming to contemplate every little wave. It's choppy today out there. Always on guard, with the keenly trained senses she relies on for her job, she hears the approach of someone else and starts to turn, to wander elsewhere, think amidst the immortalized names, maybe, but instead — "Hey…" she starts with surprise. Not unpleasant surprise, but she does blink a few times before smiling. "…you," she finishes belatedly. "Yeah, it has, hasn't it. It's nice to see you outside of a crime scene."

With a nod, Jo hmmms quietly. Near-silently. Her own lips and eyes betray her, however, emitting two entirely different expressions. Her eyes display an odd type of weariness — weighed with regret and exhaustion while her lips quirk into something akin to a small grin, decidedly different than the one she reserves for her targets or prisoners. "You look well," she observes somewhat blandly. "Glad the city hasn't worn too much on you."

"Mmh," Maggie makes a small noise under her breath, self-deprecating but not quite managing to be entirely cynical. She rolls her eyes while smiling, conflicting expressions of another kind. "I think appearances can be deceiving!" It is true that Maggie doesn't appear especially weary herself, not today, rarely ever — most of the time, she wears her badges of bad experiences well. That or she hides their effects — but her smile, when it spreads in the bright manner it's wont to, is sincere. "I take it you've been keeping yourself busy."

Jo shrugs as she continues to smile, although it too has grown in weariness. It takes time and energy bouncing back from being sick, and in a way, her own mental illness has made her nostalgic for her family, especially her parents' voices, but she hasn't brought herself to call any of them. Not yet, anyways. "I always manage to stay busy," she says with a small smirk. "You know how life is. It's either insane or silent." Pause. "What would I give for a bit of silent for once… what about you? Lots of murders these days? Anything like the one I witnessed…?"

"I'll chip in, if you find something to give in exchange for silence," Maggie jokes, though it's not a joke really. Even when she's not working, her mind is. Today's outing to the memorial is quiet, but her thoughts are not. "I used to be good at quiet time." But lately, she has so many questions and she can't stand them lingering unanswered. Calmly, a small smile in place — more thoughtful, now, than anything — she looks out over the water.

Jo's question seemed ignored, until Maggie speaks up suddenly. "No," she says decisively. "No, not like that." She slowly turns her head back to Jo. "You didn't witness it," she points out gently. By contrast, her vivid eyes are prying. "You heard it. Didn't you? From the other subway car."

"Ha! It's good to know there's others who are in the same boat," Jo smirks. "And no. I didn't witness it." Although she knows more than she's let on. A lot more. "But I'd heard of other deaths like it, leaving me curious." She shrugs a little. She smiles as serenely as she can manage before turning her gaze to the water.

"I think it's going to storm soon," her voice is level as she glances at the horizon.

Again, the detective looks out toward the water. This time she follows Jo's gaze to the horizon and doesn't look down, doesn't let herself get caught up in watching the waves. "We tried to keep the publicity down," she comments in a plain, casual tone. Her mouth twists to one side a moment later. "Scotty — " Ignoring so-how-about-that-weather-talk, however ominous, she looks to the other woman, more curious about Jo than an apparently looming storm. "What've you been up to, anyway? I thought you'd be overseas on some exciting adventure in the Navy."

The horizon is safer in a way, easier to watch, and certainly easier to semi-lie to. "Government contracts now. Of various sorts." Her lips are pressed together as she tries to cut to the chase as quickly as she can. "I retired when — well, when mom and dad died. Just other things to attend to. Tony is still… well…" she shrugs again. "It would be irresponsible to be overseas again."

"… That's too bad," Maggie decides aloud. Back and forth, back and forth — the view ahead to the sight of Jo, her attention continues to veer between them. Now, it's Jo she studies again; really studies. Her examination ends in a sort of melancholy sympathy. "I'm sorry… the way things turned out."

"It is what it is," Jo says softly into the breeze before forcing another smile. "Maybe someday I'll go back overseas. I was a damn fine SEAL, and I think they would've been disappointed that I cut my service short, but I could always return to the Navy. Not a SEAL, though." She purses her lips together before turning to face Maggie. "There are lots of people out there who've gone through more tragedy than me. I'm just trying to make a difference as best I can. If I can keep others from going through that drama, at least I'll have made a difference."

"Yeah… I know what you mean." Maggie's thoughtful smile extends, nearly dimpling her cheeks. Applying Jo's statement to herself, she has to reflect. "Sometimes I wonder if I should've gone into Missing Persons after all…" But that seems to be all the insight she feels like sharing, because she says quickly, "Hey. Good for you, Scotty, I bet you're a damn fine… government contractor." What does that even entail? Mystery, that's what, but even the curious Detective Powers doesn't ask.

Jo's eyes narrow at the comment about missing persons, but she lets it go. Asking too many questions will just leave Maggie open to ask more of her own. "Most days I am," she manages to face Maggie with a smile. "Not everyday, but most of the time I'm on the ball." She wraps her arms around her chest, giving herself a kind of hug. Things have been shockingly lonely without the voices in her head. Even if they were making her lose her mind, at least now she can be somewhat reassured. "And I'm sure you're a damn fine cop." She grins a little broader now. "At least we do our jobs well, eh?"

"Most days." An apt echo. Maggie wears a knowing grin, nodding a few times. "I don't know." The grin dissipates and with it, any hint of amusement, and her voice takes a softer turn. "Lately, there just aren't enough cases closing. If I did my job, I'd have solved them by now."

"Not everything is solvable," Jo notes equally softly, tucking her hand into her pocket and almost at once furrowing her brows. She has a pocketwatch that doesn't belong to her. She blazes passed it. "Sometimes that's just how things work though," she notes quietly. "Sometimes things aren't supposed to make sense, and all logic fails." She frowns, but only for a moment.

"No, there's always a reason," Maggie is quick to insist — she doesn't even have to think about. To her, it's logic. Logic is logic. She's adamant. "There's always logic. Maybe not everything is solvable, but there's always a reason why not." She backs out of the more abstract wisdom and brings a hand out of her pocket. Unlike Jo's, it's empty. She tucks a curl of blonde behind her ear with it. "I've just had some bizarre cases lately. Like the one you… didn't witness…" she explains dismissively. "Different but just as infuriating."

"But logic fails when the impossible is actually possible. For example, if the rules of the world were different than we were made to think. Then logic, or at least, conventional logic, would fail." Jo's gaze narrows again. Another evolved, perhaps? Someone worth hunting, maybe? But then, she's not doing that for the government anymore, but maybe — maybe there are other ways to neutralize a threat. "Oh? How so?"

Within milliseconds of Jo's eyes narrowing on Maggie. Maggie's eyes narrow on Jo. All this talk of the impossible being possible … well, she's had some experience in that arena and she's well-acquainted with the feeling of logic failing against it. She just still continues to make sense of it; make it logical. There's a long pause before she decides what to tell Jo.

"Two months ago, I almost drowned," states Maggie. "The woman responsible was also responsible for a lot of deaths I can't explain. She got away. The chief made me see a psychologist. I'm still looking for her. She's only one of the things I can't explain." Maggie pauses. "So far."

"Several weeks ago, I almost lost my mind," Jo murmurs back as she touches one her arms absently — it's still bruised underneath her layers of clothing. "And psychologists can't explain it. Our own minds can't understand it. And in a way they aren't supposed to." She shrugs again. "But that means more caution is needed than ever. More tools. More options." Pursing her lips together, Jo peers around the area slowly. Purposefully. "Can you explain any of these deaths to me?"

Jo almost lost her mind? The news comes as an obvious surprise to Maggie and she gives the other woman a decidedly shocked expression. She realizes, though, that she doesn't know the woman exceptionally well. "…Well…" "If I can't explain them to myself, or my colleagues, I can't explain it to you." That said…

Maggie crosses her arms, the sleeves of her coat bulky. "Acid. She used acid. Why are you so interested in my unsolved mysteries?"

"Acid," Jo murmurs in a near-whisper. Possibly one of the evolveds; one of her prey former prey. Pursing her lips together, she's weighing something in her own mind. She stares at the water again for a few moments, trying to decide something, contemplating whether or not to explain herself further. "Sometimes the simplest answer is the right one. Even if it makes no sense." Moistening her lips, she turns and openly stares at Maggie. "I have a vested interest in the one I didn't witness. You see, I've seen it before." Clucking her tongue, she adds about the second, "As far as the second is concerned… call it morbid curiosity."

"You have?" Maggie tucks the same strand of hair behind her ear after it's stirred by the breeze, trying its damndest to get in her face. "I need to know everything you do, so does the police department. Acid, ashes, aging, a logic-defying suspect disappearing in a whirl of DHS, my curiosity's more than morbid, it's getting to the point where I don't know how to do my job anymore — "

Maggie cuts herself off with an apologetic smile. " — This is probably what I'm supposed to be telling the psychiatrist," she says, harbouring resentment over said psychiatrist. "Sorry. You just seem to know something everyone except for maybe this consultant I sometimes work with doesn't. And he makes about as much sense as a woman who doesn't get burned by acid."

"It's classified," Jo says with a sigh before returning her gaze back to the water. "At least that's what I keep telling myself," she manages a mirthless chuckle before pushing her already tied back hair into a tighter ponytail. "I'll tell you something, though. I have been pursuing a suspect across the country with an MO similar to the train killer. In fact… I've been in hot pursuit of him for years." She presses her lips together. "If you do some digging you'll see there are similar deaths across the US. The first of which — " She turns back to her former friend, "Look, I need to find that killer. He panicked when I was so close. He's dangerous. Very dangerous. I've seen it."

Maggie's focus is intent on Jo, listening to her every word, but some stand out more than others. "Classified? By what? By who?!" Her arching brows push inward, determined, incensed. "Why are you pursuing this guy, is that what your government contract is about?" Despite her passion just then, she takes a step back and says clearly: "I understand if all of that is classified too." She just doesn't have to like it.

"No. My pursuit of the suspect isn't exactly classified, but parts are?" Jo's response is more a question than an answer. "And the contract is somewhat about pursuing him. That's why I took the job. It was always about him. Someday. Someday I'll corner him." And shoot him. Square in the forehead.

"I can't tell you more. Not yet." Jo takes another step back. She's said too much already, more than she'd intended, and more than she's told anyone about her personal mission ever.

"But Mags, you need to know something. There's a storm brewing. One bigger than you and me. Be careful of this woman you're investigating. I'm going to — I'm going to help if I can. You just need to trust me." It's a lot to ask and Jo knows it. She issues her former friend a slight smile before turning on her heel and disappearing down one of the park paths, destined for Governor's Island.

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