2008-04-29: Up In Smoke


Mikhail_icon.gif Gabriel_icon.gif

Guest Starring: Jennifer

Summary: After an NYU student is confirmed dead, reduced to a pile of ash, her roommate gets a number of visitors — all with their own reasons for looking into what happened.

Date It Happened: April 29th, 2008

Up in Smoke

New York University

On a corkboard in a corridor, emblazoned with many a flyer of NYU pride and various events around campus, a college girl tacks one on top of the rest. In delicate white paper, it's a tasteful announcement. 'HOLLY DENNISON — MEMORIAL — REMEMBERANCE — KAPPA PSI DELTA — THURSDAY 3PM'. A black-and-white picture of a pretty, light-haired woman graces the bottom of the page, smiling.

"Thanks Kristy," says another female's voice to the young woman at the corkboard. Standing in the doorway to her dorm, once shared with Holly, the redhead sighs and waves to her friend Kristy before heading back inside, just starting to close the door behind her.

It's surreal. Surreal in the way this young woman, like another from dance corps, is connected to him of all people. Rumors floated around campus with ease, all of it taking its sweet time before actually hitting Mikhail fully. Sure, he walked out in the middle of an art class, but he needed to check.

When the artist did take some time to stare at the actions surrounding the posting of the announcement, he stayed quiet. Out of respect? But wait - the girl's going back inside. "Jennifer," he calls out as he starts to walk over. "Wait."

The girl turns slowly, her sun-kissed face already tired — people have been asking her questions all day. She nudges the door open further, peeking out. "Nick… Mik… Mikhail, right?" Relaxing, she lets the door swing open. One might expect the room to still be a crime scene, but aside from things being slightly out-of-place — beds shoved aside at awkward angles, dresser drawers open — it looks like a normal room belonging to two college girls. Colourful, mismatched, band and Dance Corps posters on the wall.

"Yeah, that's me," he says with a weak smile, an attempt to lighten the mood. It looks sort of odd for him, but he's trying. Bleached bangs fall over an eye as the artist takes a few seconds to continue. "Um…just…I was wondering if you were doing all right. You know - with all of this." A hand gestures lightly. "I know I'm probably not helping, and you've been dealing with people and all," Mikhail trails off, looking at Jennifer with half-hidden concern.

"I dunno," Jennifer says, turning around — the open door is an invitation, of sorts, as she wanders into the room and shrugs. "It's cool, I haven't heard too many 'are you okays' yet. Ask me tomorrow…" She attempts to smile at Mikhail as she goes about pulling a suitcase out from under the bed. "You think you guys're gonna have to find a replacement at Dance? Does it work that way?" She's talking just to talk.

The whole room has a faint, stale odor of burning and cold ash.

The unsaid invite is given a minor pause, but he nods quietly. Stepping in after her, Mikhail's nose wrinkles at the scent. Eyes wander over the room and its contents as he moves further in. "I…guess I can do that," the artist replies belatedly, shrugging a shoulder. "It's common sense to ask. Sorta." He watches Jennifer for a while before staring at the room again, the look in his eyes distant as he observes the scene. "…Auditions'll be held again sometime. I don't know what the girls are going to do right now, though." All of this sounds fairly normal coming from him. He won't push the subject if she doesn't feel up to it.

Jennifer unzips the suitcase — empty, for now — and tosses it open, but just flops down on the bed beside it. "It just sucks so much. I keep going to say, 'I can't believe she's really gone' like they say in the movies, but it's true, you know, she's just gone, like, she seriously just went up in smoke or whatever." The redhead laughs nervously and wipes at a watery eye, cautious not to smudge her shimmery green eyeshadow even still.

Knock, knock, knock.

A sharp rapping comes from the door the room, where a man is currently standing. He's wearing a rather nice looking suit, his face bearing a hint of stubble. Not quite enough where he needs to shave, but just enough where it looks fashionable. He looks professional. What he's a professional at, however, is anyone's guess.

"Can you get that Mikhail," Jennifer says quickly, dabbing at the other eye and sniffing. "If it's someone from the sorority you can tell them I'm not here."

Mikhail says nothing as she gets that off of her chest, briefly resting his cool, blue gray gaze upon her. He can agree; it's like a movie setup, a television drama playing out true to life's strange circumstances. Surreal. The word just fits.

He blinks. "Huh?" The artist takes a moment to process what is said, but nods once he gets into gear. "Oh. All right." He has no problems with that. Shifting, the young man walks back over to the door, turning the handle. Mikhail stays in the opening as he raises his eyebrows. "…'Sup?"

Mikhail wouldn't recognize the man, and the girl inside most certainly wouldn't either, and if they did they might be more than a little scared. After all, Gabriel Gray showing up at a college dorm wearing a suit isn't something that normally happens.

He looks down at Mikhail with a hint of a frown on his face. 'Sup?' Is that what the kids are using these days? There's a barely imperceptible shake of his head, and he quickly whips out a badge. It's real, that's for sure. A quick, invisible trip into a police station secured it easily enough. Closing the badge and sticking it back into the inner coat of his jacket, he looks into the room. "I'm Detective Andrew Hanson of the New York Police Department," he says, turning his eyes back to Mikhail. He's selling the lie. He's got the poise down, the voice, the manner. It's coming to him rather easily, as it always has. "I've got a few questions I need to ask."

Sighing yieldingly, Jennifer pushes up off the edge of the bed and pads on her flip-flops over to Mikhail, looking around the young man's shoulder at the … detective. "The police were already here, but whatever," she says, stepping aside and waving in toward the room. "I really just… I hafta pack. I can't stay here."

He isn't the best at social interaction half of the time, but the artist maintains his deadpan expression. The badge itself is not given a second thought; his dad has one, and he's seen many other police officers do the same. Or is it all on those television shows? It's normal for the police to look at crime scenes over and over again, right? Well, Mr. 'Hanson' does seem to fit the role well.

Mikhail tilted his head a few degrees to the side, his brow furrowing slightly. "I…don't think she wants any mor - " Words are cut off as Jennifer speaks, the quick glance over a shoulder causing him to move out of the way and open the door wider. "…" Mikhail stuffs a hand into a jacket pocket, nodding at 'Hanson' as a go-ahead signal.

"I'm aware that we've already questioned you once before, but I'm a detective that's been specially assigned to the case in order to hopefully get some answers and put all of this behind us," Gabriel says, his voice containing just the right amount of sympathy, yet the hardness that comes with being a cop. Stepping into the room, he takes a quick glance around, before focusing on the two of them, looking back and forth. "What were your relations to the victim?"

Jennifer gives the man a wide-eyed look that screams 'duh'. "I live here…?" The student sighs, worn down. More courteously, and with a truly sad little note in her syrupy voice, she explains, "Holly was my roommate. Since we were freshmen."

Observing the detective, he finds nothing wrong with the question. Basic protocol. Mikhail wants to reach out and place a hand on Jennifer's shoulder, but he keeps from doing such. Plus, he still feels sort of awkward now that there's a third party member in the room with them. "…I knew Holly from Dance Corps. Just for this year, anyway. She never missed any of the practices," the artist adds with a slight frown.

Pulling a small notepad and pen out of the other inner pocket of his jacket, and writes down what the two say. "Alright…" he says, making a little note in addition to what he was just told, "do you know if she was involved with any suspicious activity? Maybe hung around the wrong crowd, got involved in anything she shouldn't have gotten involved with?"

"What?" Jennifer exclaims, shaking her head. She steps back by the bed, picking up a photo framed by foam butterflies. Inside, her own face looks back, along with that of a pretty blonde. Given the summery surroundings, it looks like they're on Spring Break. "No, Holly was like… everyone's role model. She mostly just hung around with the sorority and people from the Dance Corps. Some people from her classes. There was totally nothing like that."

Mikhail doesn't really know how to answer the question, and the girl's reaction is enough to make him jump a little. He still stays quiet and calm, staring back at the detective as notes are written. "She didn't seem like it…I mean, yeah - Holly was always happy and…bright," he says. "…I can't really say much else." Jennifer is covering most of it. He just feels like he's not being as helpful as he could.

Detective Hanson continues to write down the statements they both give, adding his own little notes to it where he sees fit. "Right," he says, pausing and flipping to a different page on the notepad, before looking back up to the two of them. "What about any strange people? Even if she didn't hang out with the wrong crowd, that doesn't mean the wrong person didn't target her. Did she ever mention anyone bothering her, any strange people following her around? Or even you?" The last part is added as an afterthought, his gaze directed in Jennifer's direction. One innocent girl has already died, there's no need for another to.

Jennifer is on the verge of replying 'no', her head starting to turn to shake, but her eyes pop. "Wh— me? No… why?" She shoots a worried glance to Mikhail, then to Detective Hanson. "Well… sometimes she'd bitch about that creepy-ass janitor thinking he was following her home from practice, but he's creepy to everyone."

What? An incrdulous look becomes prominent upon his features, his eyes staying on Hanson before flicking over toward Jennifer. He tries to give the girl a reassuring nod, something to get her back to a comfortable level, but it remains neutral. Distant? Still, a staight-up but controlled jab at the roommate and best friend is something the artist finds a little off. It makes him quirk a brow and stay silent, listening and studying both figures as they continue.

"We just want to make sure that everyone is safe and nothing happens to anyone else," the detective assures the woman as he writes down her answer. "This janitor," he begins, looking back up to her, "can you describe him for me? Any noticable characteristics that we might be able to recognize him by? Does he work here? There's a chance he could be connected if he's given your friend trouble before, and we want to do our best to get to the bottom of this."

Disconcerted, Jennifer gravitates toward Mikhail, even though he's rather distant for a buddy in this. She folds her arms tightly, looking nervously at the detective notepad. "Um… no idea what the guy's name is. He's got glasses… kinda scrawny… I don't really pay attention to the janitors, you know? He works here, nights. God, do you think he like— oh God, do we have a furnace?! Oh God— "

"—Whoa, whoa, hey, Jen," Mikhail whispers, his arms automatically reaching up to wrap around her. Awkward, but it's needed. "Shh, it's oka- d-don't think about it. Jennifer. Shh." His train of thought crashes and resets itself as he keeps his own mental notes. Eyes flick back over at the detective, his voice faltering a little. "I think…that's enough."

Writing down the last of what Jennifer says, Detective Hanson flips his notepad close, tucking it and the pen back into the inner pocket of his jacket. "I don't think it's anything as extreme as that," he says to the girl, giving a nod towards Mikhail. "I've gotten what all I need. The police may contact you again in the future if they need to." He glances to the suitcase, then back to Jennifer. "If you're leaving, make sure they have a way to contact you." With that said, he turns on his heel and moves through the door and into the hall, disappearing just as mysteriously as he appeared.

Comforted by Mikhail, the redheaded roommate of the deceased nods and sniffs a few times. "Okay." She watches the man leave and, after a moment, steps away from the other student. "Today can end now."

Down the hall, Gabriel pulls the police badge out of his pocket and discards it into a nearby trash bin. The jacket comes off next, but not before removing the notepad, and he tosses that as well. Anyone who's watching doesn't bother him in the slightest. He looks down at the notepad, reading a few lines of what he's written down, and then he slips it into his pocket.

Yes. He's gotten what he needed.

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