Anything to Stay Alive


angelina_icon.gif murdoch_icon.gif

Scene Title Anything to Stay Alive
Synopsis Two professional opposites share a meal and discuss a deal.
Date December 14, 2009

Roy Wilkins Park

Located off of Merrick and Baisley Boulevard, the Roy Wilkins Park is a plot covering just over fifty acres of land, with a number of features to entertain those from the very young to the very old. Boasting four outdoor tennis courts, a quarter mile jogging track that circles the rec center, and a wheelchair accessible basketball court, anyone visiting the massive park can find a reason to spend hours idling away their time. In addition to these features there is an indoor pool open all year round, and a number of baseball fields - two towards the northern area of the park with a smaller field towards the south end, in the Nautilus Playground, which is just south of a small pond.

For convenience of the park visitors, restrooms are located both in the playground and at the rec center. Pristine, with a relatively clean pond, the facility also hosts a summer day camp, a counseling center, and hosts a variety of community events. Along with the rec center and play areas, there is a jogging path and a series of picnic tables scattered throughout the park, complete with nearby barbecue grills for outdoor eating. Far more than an ordinary park or recreation center, the Roy Wilkins Park is a cultural landmark, home to the Black Spectrum Theatre, an acting troupe given to perform socially conscious drama. The most famous feature of the park, however, is the four acre vegetable garden that gives locals an opportunity to grow their own produce, which is often donated to charity.

Vincent Murdoch's mostly just been doing his job of late, half sleepwalking through his tasks. His age usually keeps him out of anything that would demand he be on his toes. He haunts the forensics lab, taking his hand and his gift to whatever scrap of human tissue they bring him, pulling out relevant memories, more pain, more deaths, more heartbreak. It's numbing, after a while. So, during his off hours, he's taken to ambulating around the city parks, trying to see if the air superior air quality will clear his head. No such luck. The air's so chilly, it just adds to his numbness. Still, could be worse.
As such, it's a vaguely morose older gentleman, suit and tie, long coat to keep out the chill, still above freezing. The sun shines, at least, and Murdoch watches his shadow stay just ahead of him as he walks, eyes down. His shoes, nice patent leather, crack the occasional twig. He looks miles away, mentally, and fairly well to do. He does not look like a cop, though that is what he is. Just a businessman, maybe even a retiree, taking a walk in the park, barely aware of his surroundings, or maybe aware of nothing else. Certainly not particularly aware of himself or anyone else.

With it getting colder there are fewer people in the park at this time of day than there would've been six month ago. Sadly that means that there are fewer potential marks for Angelina. She's heading in the opposite direction of Murdoch, which means she's heading towards him, a guitar slung over her back, coat pulled snuggly around her, hood up. She assess him quickly, and her course is altered just slightly, just enough to have her brushing him as she moves past, just enough to let her try to steal whatever's in his pocket.

She's good. It takes a good five paces and a brief over the shoulder glance before Murdoch's brain registers this distinctive brush. He doesn't stop walking, just reaches over to check his pocket. Very smooth. He didn't feel a thing. If he didn't know to check, he never would of. Not breaking his pace one bit, he makes a fairly wide turn, not changing the rhythm of his footfalls even as he turns to give quiet chase. He'll speed up slowly, stay shadowing Angelina. If she spots him, well, he'll have to give chase, but if she just keeps on going, he might be able to close to gap.
And what will he do when and if he does? Arrest her? That seems pointless. Scare her? He's no sadist. But he does kind of need his wallet back.

His wallet is slipped into Angie's pocket before she's finished taking two steps away from Murdoch. No reason to keep stolen goods out in the open, after all. It's just begging for an arrest. Her pace never changes, and she doesn't glance over her shoulder towards him. That would just make her look guilty. So she's ignorant to the fact that she's being followed.

This is where it gets delicate. If he approaches too fast and too loudly, he'll alert her, she'll bolt, and for all his training, unless he corners her, it's highly unlikely Murdoch could possibly catch up with her, longer legs or no. A thief like that must have swift feet. Better to be stealthy, then, he decides, and just keep an eye on her. He shadows as best he can, as best as he's been taught and learned from years of experience. He has ample time to size up the young woman who robbed him, and to consider what he'll do once he confronts her. He waits, waits, follows, keeps his steps quiet, until they approach the edge of the park, and the wall that surrounds it, the path parting to the left and to the right. He's close behind Angelina, now. Close enough that she'll momentarily be able to sense his presence. The wall means she'll have to spend time choosing which way to go, and lose speed turning. It's not a great corner, not by any means… but it's what he's got to work with. Let's see if he can work this small advantage… let's see if she notices he has it, however small.
"Excuse me," he speaks, low and distinctly, trying to surprise her but not startle her, "I think you have something of mine." No threat in his voice. With luck she won't bolt at all, not yet.

Angelina glances back at the voice, then mutters a curse and starts to run. She takes a whole three steps before she has to pause and figure out the best escape route, which gives him the time to do whatever he has decided to do.

Dammit. He didn't want it to come to this. Murdoch lunges forward, and reaches out, gripping the strap of her guitar. He pulls her back, trying to get her off balance before she can just slip free, his other hand reaching to take her upper arm. She's in his grasp, if only for the moment. "Hold on!" he growls, "You can keep the money." In the space he takes to say this, she's given too much time, but he sounds earnest, if somewhat frustrated. The question remains if she'll take his offer seriously.

Angelina is jerked back slightly when her guitar is grabbed. she starts to fight when his hand closes over her arm, but the words make her pause and look at him suspiciously. "Yeah, right."

"You have quick hands," Murdoch says, still holding tight, "It's not your fault you chose the wrong mark. Take out my wallet, check my ID. But don't panic. I'm on my break, off the job. And I have no interest in causing trouble for someone who probably /has/ to steal to survive."

Angelina doesn't look as though she trusts him, and tries denial. "How am I supposed to do that? I don't have your fuckin' wallet, man. You got the wrong girl. You lost your wallet, you should look somewhere else, dude."

Murdoch smiles grimly, though she can't see it. "I appreciate the attempt, but let's be honest with ourselves," he says, "Let's lay our cards on the table. I'm /tired/, I'm sick of my job, and I'm much more interested in having someone to speak to on my walk than making a young woman's life worse. So… this can go one of two ways; either you waste my hour break by making my work, or you can give me my wallet and, if you wouldn't mind, tell me exactly what it is you were planning to do with the cash inside. Which cash, as I said, you're welcome to keep. I don't need it. Already had lunch today."

Angelina considers him with a frown, but then slowly pulls the wallet out and hands it over, still looking skeptical. "What does it matter to you what I was gonna do with it? You don't know me."

"Call me a romantic," Murdoch says, dryly, taking the wallet and letting go of Angelina, "But I think most people have a story worth telling." A story he has all-too-easy access to, at times. He pulls the money free of his wallet, three twenties, and two ones, and, clasping the bills between index and middle finger, extends them towards Angelina. "There," he says, "Take it. Then come on. Walk with me."

Angelina glances at the cash, and doesn't hesitate before she snatches it and shoves it deep into her pocket. "You're a weird guy. My story isn't worth tellin'. And why do you care about the story of a chick who took your wallet? Most people would be pissed as /hell/."

Murdoch gives Angelina a level look. He's invested now, and doesn't want to scare her off, but the explanation might. "I work with forensics and homicide," he says, which is a way of saying he's a cop, but with bigger fish to fry, "I couldn't really give less of a shit about theft, particularly when I won't miss what was stolen. I would have spent all that on overpriced coffee and pastries. I imagine you'll put it to better use." His lips quirk in a wry smile. He's able to get a better look at her now. She's obviously tough, young, and if she hasn't seen better times, she certainly deserves to. "Now, I believe we had a deal?"

Angelina's chin lifts slightly. "Don't think I ever agreed to any deal. But you buy me somethin' to eat and I guess I could talk to you for a lil' while," she says with a jerk of her shoulder and a stubborn glint in her eyes.

"True. How rude of me," Murdoch says, smile still in place, "Where would you like to eat? Lady's choice."

Angelina thinks for a moment, then shrugs. "Don't care. Somewhere close. With steak," she says, and the mere mention of the word all but has her mouth watering, while her stomach growls softly.

Steak it is. A short walk, and they are at NY Original Steak 'n Take, a small place but one with beef on offer. Murdoch doesn't press Angelina with further inquiries; he wants to deliver before he demands. He opens the door for Angelina, dipping his head as she passes. "Table for two," he informs the hostess, once they are inside. The pair are led to a table by the windows. Murdoch pulls out Angelina's chair for her, waiting for her to take a seat before he goes to take his. His manners refined but not absurd - this is just how he treats a lady, at least after that lady has /returned/ his wallet.

Angelina gives him an odd look when he acts the gentleman, but then, she probably isn't at all used to being treated courteously. She sits though, keeping her coat on despite the warmer air indoors. She doesn't bother to look at the menu, or to wait to order. "Steak. Well done. Whatever sides come with it. Coke, plenty of ice." At least she knows what she wants.

Murdoch takes his seat, warding off the waitress. "Nothing for me, thank you though." He folds his hands before him, leveling his eyes on Angelina. "So… are you going to keep me in suspense until your food arrives?"

Angelina looks back at Murdoch, still far from relaxed. "What exactly is it you wanna know?"

"What's your situation? Why do what you do?" Murdoch says, "I'm not asking for a justification or an excuse, just a story. Put it into perspective for me. I've been behind my blue line for quite some time. I'd like to actually know about someone who I'm supposedly responsible for punishing."

Angelina's face shows a continued lack of trust. "My situation is that it blows. You want to know why I take the money? Simple. I like eating," she says, jerking a shoulder in a shrug. When the waitress returns with her drink it's picked up, half of it downed in quick, greedy gulps.

"See, this is something I can relate to. I also enjoy eating," Murdoch says, "Devil's advocate question: why not get a job?"

"Yeah? What would you suggest I do? I never finished school," Angelina says with a bit of a sneer. "No one wants to hire a girl like me."

"I'm not suggesting anything yet. I know almost nothing about you. Why didn't you finish school?" Murdoch asks.

"You're pretty fuckin' nosy," Angelina mutters. "It's hard to finish school when you live on the streets, you know. Survival is more important than sittin' in some classroom for eight hours a day."

"I'm professionally nosy, it's true," Murdoch says, nodding agreeably, "So you started on the streets and are stuck on the streets. You don't see any way out?"
Angelina rolls her eyes. "Sure. I just don't take the way out because I like my life," she says sarcastically. "What do you think?"

"Well, would you consider running drugs? Dealing drugs? Would you consider, if you had the option, killing professionally?" Murdoch asks.

Angelina narrows her eyes at him. "If I /did/ consider any of those things, why in the /hell/ do you think I'd admit it to a cop? Think I don't know what entrapment is?"

Murdoch lifts a hand to his brow, rubs, "Understood," he says, "I put the question stupidly. Allow me to ask it another way: assuming you do /not/ do any of the things I just mentioned, which maybe you do but I am trusting my intuition in thinking you don't, why wouldn't you, given the option? Is that less entrapping?"

Angelina considers that and her answer for a long moment. "Hypothetically? Connections. Gotta have connections to do almost anything successfully if it's illegal."

Murdoch's brows lift, "So it's a matter of opportunity? Hypothetically, you'd be willing to kill for a living?"

Angelina shrugs. "Hypothetically, I'd do anything to keep myself alive."

Murdoch considers this answer carefully. Apparently it's food for thought. Appropriately, at just the same time, food for Angelina shows up, the steak platter sliding in front of her, with a healthy side of potato salad and cheese fries. A real artery clogger if ever there was one. Murdoch takes a break from asking questions, since Angelina has much more important things to do at the moment.

Angelina seems to completely forget about him once she has the food, and eats with a single-mindedness that speaks of how often she's gone without. Oddly though, she doesn't rush, but savors each and every bite as though it might be her last.

Her eating is, in and of itself, just as if not more informative than what she's told him so far. Murdoch feels hungry just watching her. He starts to politely decline the waitress again, then reconsiders. "Coffee, please. Black."

Angelina doesn't notice the waitress's return, or pay any attention to her drink. She takes her time in eating, and when she's done, there isn't a speck of food left on the plate. She did all but lick the plate clean, and probably considered that before chosing pride over those last miniscule bits of food.

"Dessert?" Murdoch inquires, one brow arched, smiling.

"Something chocolate," Angelina mutters absently before she picks up her soda again, draining it then looking for the waitress for a refill.

"Chocolate cake for the lady, please," Murdoch says, as the waitress arrives with his coffee. She nods, taking Angelina's spotless plate. Murdoch sips his coffee, the laces his hands together again. "Is there anything, anything at all, that you'd be willing to die for? A big question, I realize, but bear with me, if you don't mind."

Angelina looks back at him, and the "are you crazy" look returns. "Fuck that. You don't work as hard as I have to survive to give it up."

Murdoch nods, just once. "I'd like to help you," he concludes, his tone one of a man who has just made up his mind about something.
Angelina rolls her eyes. "Yeah, right. Why and how?"

"Because freedom begins where needs ends," Murdoch says, "Because you're a beautiful young women who has been dealt a shitty hand by life. Because I can, and I want to. How? Well… that's something worth discussing. It's a matter of mutual trust. Let me first ask: are you interested?" A small smile, "Hypothetically."

Angelina studies his face for a full minute as she thinks that over, then she shrugs slowly. "I might be…Depends on what you expect in return."

"And," Murdoch adds, "On what you /think/ I expect in return. This is where trust gets involved. So, this is the first draft of my deal: I will give you a weekly allowance to be spent at your discretion, and you may stay in my guest bedroom, which is an incredible waste of space at the moment. You, in return, will study in order to get your GED, and will do nothing in my presence or on my premises that I can't professionally ignore. I trust you to obey the law and respect my home, and you trust me not to do anything untoward. Any revisions you'd like to make?"

Angelina holds up a hand in the universal symbol for 'wait'. "Let me get this straight…You want to give me money, a place to stay, and an education, and you don't want jack in return but for me to /not/ do stuff?"

"Well, you could put it like that," Murdoch says, "Or you could say that I am asking you to make a very considerable leap of faith, trusting a man you just met, a cop no less, and an older man, who is inviting a young woman in a very desperate situation to live in his home at his financial mercy. That's no small order. I might be a murderer, or a pervert. Your trusting me is not nothing. It's a very big something, particularly, I imagine, for someone who has likely met few people worth trusting."

"Yeah, but what are /you/ getting out of this deal?" Angelina asks. "I know people. No one, /no one/ gives something for free. They always something in return. So what do you want?"

"I was raised on tales of King Arthur and the Round Table," Murdoch says, leaning back, lifting his coffee, "What I get in exchange is to get to live a ridiculous fantasy of helping a damsel in distress, as well as a captive audience for my occasional dull sermons on outdated philosophies," he smirks, "You'd be surprised how hard those are to come by." The waitress returns once more, with Angelina's cake, a big dark slice with thick frosting.

"I don't promise to listen to anything," Angelina says, before her attention is fixed on the cake. This, now, she does devour. She apparently was taught manners at some point, so isn't doing anything to truly embarrass him, or herself, but chocolate seems to be a weakness.

"Oh, and I wouldn't dare ask you too," Murdoch says, sipping his coffee, watching Angelina demolish the cake, "That would just be cruel."

Murdoch nods, "I'll write it on the back of our receipt," he says, taking out his wallet, the thing that started all this, and taking out his credit card. He hands it to the waitress.

Angelina nods. "Good. Need time. Not rushing into anything."

"You've at least got as long as what was in my wallet will buy you," Murdoch agrees, "Take your time. I don't want this to be a choice made in haste, or out of desperation. And even if you don't agree, if you should ever need my help… you can feel free to call." The check arrives, needing only Murdoch's signature. He signs, then writes down his number on the back of his copy of the receipt, handing it to Angelina. "My name is Vincent, by the way. Vincent Murdoch," he says, "If you lose that, you can always leave a message for me at the precinct."

Angelina snorts as she takes the receipt. "Yeah, like I'm going to /voluntarily/ call a cop shop. Do I look frickin' stupid?"

"I was mostly joking," Murdoch says, "I should be more clear when I do that." He pockets his credit card and gets to his feet, "May I show you out?"
Angelina shrugs and stands. "Sure, why not? Show away."

And so he does, holding the door for her on her way out, into the chilly air beyond. "It was a pleasure to be robbed by you," he says, "Would you mind telling me your name, at least, before we go? It doesn't have to be your real one, of course."

Angelina hesitates, then shrugs. "Angie." It's sort of her real name, just not her /full/ name.

Murdoch bows. "I hope to hear from you soon, Angie. Stay safe."

Angelina rolls her eyes a little then nods. "Yeah, sure. Thanks for the food." Then she starts heading off, hood coming up, hands shoving deep in her pockets.

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