2010-05-07: The Only Thing Keeping You Safe



Guest Starring:

Detective Fuller

Date: May 7th, 2010


"The writing on the wall", an idiom, is a portent of doom or misfortune…

"The Only Thing Keeping You Safe"


A suspect in the Battery Park shootout, a young Mr. Hiroyuki, is in holding. The theory about certain gang members showing up to the funeral of one of their partners in crime turned out to be correct.

He talked — but not enough. Detective Powers emerges from Interrogation Room A, past the viewing area and into a dim grey corridor, letting the guy sit for awhile. She's dressed like she just came from a funeral, but she hasn't gotten the "not looking like a cop" tactic down to an exact science. She only looks like slightly less of one, in a basic all black ensemble consisting of a high-necked, comfortable turtleneck sweater and slacks. Whatever coat she had been wearing to conceal her shoulder holster is gone and the weapon mars her silhouette.

Maggie seems to be in something of a rigid mood, her features unusually hard-edged and hollowed, the pace at which she moves down the corridor and up the tiny set of steps that lead into the station proper.

The corridor opens onto an area that should be more spacious, but isn't, because half a dozen uniformed officers are crowding around a TV screen as it replays footage from the recent murder in the Bronx. I'M COMING FOR ALL OF YOU, says the bottom of the graffiti - and the officers are taking it at face value, thumbing through files on other recent murder cases and looking for possible connections. If the writer isn't already a serial killer, then they mean to become one. Soon.

Compared to this group, Matt's jacket and tie are the least obvious, though his service revolver is no better concealed than Maggie's. While the others watch the tape, he hangs back and listens to them, trying to avoid unintended duplication of effort.

One person hanging around the screen, speaking in grouchy, hushed rumbles, corroborating information, is head Detective Fuller. Hushed, but not covert. "… fits her M.O. … have the writing analysis and everything else sent over. I mean everything … can't be sure if we're dealing with the so-called Acid Killer again or not…" Rumble, grumble.

He has his suspicions as to the identity of the writer of that bloody message, and it would seem he's not the only one. A few officers who worked on the "Acid Killer" case turn their head when Detective Powers enters, only to hastily look away — just in case.

Maggie hears none of this. She wasn't expecting this kind of buzz to be in the air. It comes as a faint surprise, enough to draw her out of her thoughts and bring her fast, dogged steps to a slow, unsure halt as she looks over the crowd. She gradually moves again and comes to stand next to her fellow detective, glancing around the station with unrelated annoyance before she poses a harmless, "What's up?" Maggie squints at the screen. Her brow instantly furrows. "I heard about this— but I hadn't seen it. From the Bronx, right?" The more she eyes the screen the more her arched brows knit darkly.

Matt turns and nods, taking a step back to clear a line of sight to the screen - not much of one, but it'll improve once one or two of the others disperse as well. "Fuller thinks it's connected to that case back at a mall last Christmas— the one where the victim got dropped through the skylight?" As convenient as the phrase 'Acid Killer' is, he doesn't like the idea that someone else on the force might manage to draw the same conclusion that he did. Because it would put them one step closer to drawing a similar conclusion about him. He's already got a known distaste for written paperwork working against him, he doesn't really need any more complications.

Not that he'll completely avoid the subject when it's relevant. "Forensics should rule her in or out pretty clearly. Either the pH levels are way off, or they aren't…"

Tension hardens Maggie's face threefold when Matt answers, and when one of the officers does drift away from the screen entirely, she gets the whole picture. More writing on the wall. THEY WERE THE ONLY THING KEEPING YOU SAFE. … "She's responsible for more than that," she says stiffly, her tone — excuse the pun — acidic. Her arms fold, one instantly escaping to rest on the opposite forearm with her elbow. She leans her chin hard into her knuckles, half-hiding a frown. The short clip is repeated over and over. "It sure looks like her. She's brazen. She's done this before."

Fuller ambles past the detectives, phone still attached to his ear. Before he can be asked even one question, he holds up his free hand: stop before you even say it, he says wordlessly, most pointedly to Powers, before disappearing into an office.

"I know," replies Matt - he's seen at least some of the files - "I just remember that one because I was at that mall on the same day. Off-duty." He conveniently fails to mention that, in fact, he saw the guy fall - or that Charlotte teleported him out before anyone on-duty could question them. Maybe Maggie won't ask for further details.

Things would be easier if he were nosy enough to pick up what she already knows about certain subjects, but sometimes, you don't like what you hear…

Glancing after Fuller for a moment, he turns back toward Maggie and points a thumb. "What's eating him?"

Clamping her teeth down, tightening her jaw considerably, Maggie's gaze follows Fuller and also searches the station for any more of her superiors, finding none, and gives the direction of the offices a long look while answering Matt. "If we get on this case — if there's a connection — I'm not so sure he wants me working on it." Though she is clearly not thrilled about that possibility, her voice has lost some of its bitterness. "Wait…" Her head turns to the other detective, blue eyes wide and searching on him. "You were there? But you didn't see it happen— "

He knew what he was doing, bringing up the Christmas murder - or he knew what he was trying to do, anyway. Get someone else to talk about it, look for anything that fit with what he saw. Like the note in the victim's pocket. What Matt didn't count on was for Maggie to prod him with questions right away. He turns, preparing to push her thoughts away…

…and meets her gaze. Wait, she's not pushing at him, she's pushing at the case. It's personal for her. Which explains why Fuller might want her off the case; it's his job to keep a cool head about things like that. Doesn't mean Matt has to agree. Certainly doesn't mean he has to use his ability to interfere with it; he might not even be able to, not without confusing her badly enough to make the situation even worse.

A quick glance around of his own, to make sure no one is paying them much attention. "Look, that terrorist witch hunt that's been in the news lately? Well… a new witness is going to come forward, on the condition that they stay anonymous. That's all right, right?"

"What?" Cue a complete confusion from Maggie, blithely naive as to what this has to do with what they were just speaking about. But that one soft question — paired with those keen eyes of hers, which focus even more precisely on Matt — has the distinct feel of being one of many. "I don't think I'm following you, detective." Her arms fall down to her sides and cants her head off to one side; expecting him to follow her literally, she makes her way to her desk, away from the group of officers and much of the precinct traffic. Since her desk and the desk nearest — Laurie's — is empty, it's quiet enough.

If there's something on her desk that wasn't before, she doesn't see it; assumes it's yet more work for her to do.

She looks at the desk covered in origami buildings for an extended moment, thoughtful, before turning at the corner of her own, expectant.

Indeed, he follows along, and nods as they arrive: this will do. Matt leans back against the edge of Laurie's desk, after eyeing the different sort of paperwork to make sure he won't crush the Sydney Opera House in the process.

"Okay, the thing of it is? I did see it happen— when the guy hit the ground, I mean, I didn't see what happened to him before that. I didn't see the killer's face or anything. But this thing with the feds… that's why I couldn't put in a witness statement. I will, now— I just need my name to not be on it."

Okay, his story - most of it, at least - is out there. He can still force her hand if he has to, but his instinct is telling him that maybe he won't need to.

As Maggie leans against the corner of her desk, half-sitting on it, crossing one ankle over the other, her arms come to fold again, firmly across her ribcage. She makes no effort to conceal her study of Parkman. There are a few obvious hurdles for her to get over in his story, and the lines in her brow deepen as she tries. "You were— what? Were you in working with DHS?" She seems skeptical on that. "Were you in Witness Protection or something?" Whatever the answer may turn out to be, a faintly dimpled chin tips up at him, prompting. "What you saw at Christmas … I wouldn't mind hearing it, even if it might match every other witness statement. Everyone sees through different eyes."

"Or something," Matt repeats, nodding vaguely: he's just as happy to gloss over it and move on. "Well, I was looking the other way when the guy fell through the skylight— he hit the ground right after I turned around. Looked like he died on impact… but he had something else on his hands, too, looked like it could've been acid burns. The killer… she'd already run off before I could get a look. Maybe to leave the message they found outside?"

"She left one with the body, too. 'Run, run, run, as fast as you can.' I looked it up later, but I don't know if it means anything, or if it was just a random gingerbread-on-Christmas thing."

"She plays games. You know, at first I thought her messages were all threats — but after I met her I wondered if she wasn't just tempting someone to chase her. End it." Detective Powers could go on; she doesn't. What she does say, without missing a beat, as her steady gaze takes in Matt's increasingly mysterious story, is: "And someone you were with took that note from the body and put it back. I could report you for being involved in tampering with evidence." Her calm voice doesn't quite give away her intentions — theoretical versus a real possibility. She straightens off of the desk's edges, uncrossing her ankles. Good news, the desk is still holding up well after her impromptu carpentry.

Matt scratches at his wrist as he mulls it over. "Plays games… that makes sense. But death by cop? It could be, but— seems more likely to me that she'd do it because it was fun to her. Rub things in our faces. Not that it matters yet, she still needs to be chased down." If it turns out to make a difference later, then they can work it out then and deal with it.

Leaning forward, he shakes his head. "Anonymous tip, remember? I could still be at risk if my name gets attached to that incident— and not from the department, either."

"Well the fact is you were there and someone touched something they shouldn't have, that note was found in the victim's pocket," Maggie states, no-nonsense. She isn't sold on Matt's vague terrorist witch-hunt story. She just has to decide whether or not that matters. "I don't know where you've been, Parkman— " A calm but pointed look lands on the red AA chip around the man's neck. She casts it into doubt with a single glance. " — And I won't ask, because it's not my business, and I won't tell anyone about Christmas because as far as I know, nothing got too messed up, but the second I think it becomes my business or the business of this department… I make a judgment call."

And that's that.

With those terms out of the way — for now — Maggie nods her head and gives a more candid sigh. "And… yeah. Yeah, she likes to mess with people. It is, it's fun for her." And it is personal for Maggie. "But she wants a worthy opponent. Someone strong enough and smart enough to be the one to take her down during her endgame. She thought it was me." Maggie's gaze falters and slips down for just a second; her voice quiets just a touch. "She was wrong. If you want to catch up — Miles wrote a profile based on what we know." Mention of Laurie brings about a thoughtful look to his desk off to one side of Matt.

A slight incline of his head: nothing obvious enough to draw more than casual attention from any other officers who happen to be walking anywhere nearby. "Fair enough. I wouldn't have sat on it for this long if I thought differently myself."

And now, back to the killer at large. So they're both partly right? "Can you— give me the high points?" God, not another typewritten file, and he'd be just as happy to save his ability for shutting down direct threats. "Did she actually talk about the end, her own end? Something must have sounded different." If it was obviously just another game she was playing, then Maggie would've said so.

"Larson…" The Acid Killer has a name after all. "She thinks the world isn't worth any reason we have to protect it. She'd rather take everyone down with her. That's what she said, anyway. She's a sociopath but she knows her days are numbered." Maggie lifts an arm high to brush a hand along her forehead and through her hair, looking off to some random point to her far right, her lips twitching and pulling into a straight line. "I have a suspect to question," she says, somehow both distracted as she is decisive, and starts to move off.

Larson. Good. Any little thing that might make her hesitate at just the right moment, if they cross paths again. Which seems likely.

As Maggie straightens up, Matt nods. "She'll get her wish, sooner or later. Maybe it will be you. Or me. Or— well, if it takes more than one of us, then it does." Pride be damned. He leaves it at that, looking around to see if he can find Laurie's case notes while she returns her attention to the gangbanger.

Maggie's exeunt pauses just long enough to look over her shoulder, revealing the very resolute, if slightly troubled, expression that has taken hold after this talk of Mandy. Without another word, she heads back the way she came — with a quick stop at the coffee maker on the way.

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