Apology is Not an Option


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Scene Title Apology is Not an Option
Synopsis Detective Shelby summons Grace Matheson regarding the incident with Nalani Hollingwood. Cat comes along as Grace's legal counsel. Grace takes neither her lawyer's nor the detective's advice, but adheres to her own principles instead. Admirable, if maybe not smart.
Date March 10, 2009

Tuesday is technically a business day, which is why Grace is spending the morning on a couch in the ballroom with laptop in hand. There's some semblance of isolation from the floors below and their occupants — Alistair, and various guests just finishing up their breakfasts. Calls on her business phone are not unexpected, resulting in the woman being mildly annoyed rather than surprised at the disturbance in her work. The phone rings thrice by the time she gets the laptop set aside and picks it up, her distinctive, gravelly voice utterly incongruous with the cheerfully polite greeting offered. "Bit by Bit Computer Consultants; how may I help you?"

Tuesday is indeed a business day, and Coren absolutely hates the idea of making the call he is, but he has put things off long enough. With the lawsuit still looming over the department, and the charges filed four days ago, he just can't justify putting it off any longer. "Hello," he says, also pleasantly, although anything said after that just isn't—not for him, no matter how he makes it sound. "This is Detective Shelby with the New York Police Department. Is this Grace Matheson?"

There's a momentary pause accompanied by a slight arch of one of the woman's brows; not in any way a usual call. Hm. "It is," Grace replies, sitting up straighter in her seat. She leaves the reply at that, letting Detective Shelby explain himself further.

"Miss Matheson," Detective Shelby says, "Would you be willing to come down to NYPD Headquarters to answer a few questions regarding your altercation with Nalani Hollingwood on February twenty-seventh? It would be doing me a great favour, as I had this case thrown onto my lap and I'd really like to bring it to a close."

Another brief silence ensues; not much of one, just long enough for Grace to turn those words over in her head. "As long as you don't mind me bringing legal counsel along, Detective, I will certainly do so," is the gravel-voiced woman's reply.

"While I am hoping you won't need it, I think that is a sound idea. When can you and your counsel be here?" Detective Shelby asks.

"I can be along in as little as 30 minutes," Grace replies. "I'll have to check with my counsel, but I think any time today should be feasible. When do you want us there?"

"As soon as possible. As I said, I want to close this off quickly, and I'd rather consume as little of your day as possible," Coren answers.

"All right. We'll be along as soon as we can be. Until then, Detective." Grace waits for Coren's matching farewell, then hangs up the phone. She uses her personal cell instead to call Cat and inform her that her presence would be appreciated, along with providing a summary of the incident in question.

NYPD Headquarters

The New York Police Department Head Quarters is an old stone building, rennovated many times over the years. The plaster walls are not as cracked and in need of repair as the various Precinct buildings around the city. The fluorescent lights give the room a rather sterile glow. Old posters, civic reminders, duty rosters and newspaper clippings are tacked up on the walls, rustling every time one of the doors opens. A high, wooden desk sits on the north wall, manned by two clerks, who records all visitors and arrests.

It's a little later that morning when Grace arrives at NYPD Headquarters, dressed not unlike she had been on her last visit there — charcoal slacks, a dark blue shirt. She waits in the lobby first, rather than immediately seeking out Detective Shelby herself.

"Good day," Coren says as pleasantly as possible before hanging up. "This sucks," he says to himself as he stands with file in hand and proceeds to the lobby. He leaves a photograph with the front desk, "Call me when this woman arrives, please."

So it is that shortly after Grace Matheson arrives at NYPD Headquarters that Detective Shelby shows up, dressed in a black suit, white striped shirt, and no tie. "Miss Matheson, I'm glad to see you've made it. If you'd like, I can show you to one of the conference rooms and get you something to drink while we wait for your attorney to arrive."

She isn't far behind Grace in arriving. Cat has donned a Brooks Brothers suit of grey charcoal jacket and knee length skirt over complementary pumps, the blouse is a pale peach color. Her hair is neatly pinned up to not fall below the bottom of her color when standing upright, a style familiar to Grace from her days in the United States Air Force.

Carrying a briefcase, her face impassive and professional in demeanor, Cat steps up to both client and detective. Her eyes look from one to the other briefly before settling on the man. "Doctor Catherine Chesterfield, Miss Matheson's attorney," she informs him politely. She is poised and confident, alert.

There isn't much waiting necessary, as Grace only has just enough time to greet Detective Shelby in return before picking up Cat's familiar voice. She offers the other woman a small, subtle smile, then turns back to Coren. "I think we're ready, Detective, if you are."

"Doctor Coren Shelby," the detective says in greetings, offering his hand. Once the pleasantries have been exchanged, he gestures for the two women to follow him. "Follow me, please," he says as he leads the way to the conference room he has used to interview everyone else regarding this case. He even pulls two chairs out for Grace and her attorney. "I don't know if this news has reached your ears, perhaps from any friends you may have here, and believe me, as far as I am concerned, we're all on your side, but Nalani Hollingwood has filed a lawsuit against the department and has filed charges against you."

She takes the offered hand and shakes once, then releases, her grip a bit stronger than may be expected from a woman. Her skin is warm, soft, and smooth save for calluses at the fingertips; things easily detectable by a person accustomed to noticing small details. "Doctor Shelby," Cat replies, then listens as he speaks of the matter at hand. A question of her own follows, as she begins to walk along with him toward the conference room. "What evidence has she cited in this claim?"

Following Coren to the conference room, Grace takes a seat in the proffered chair. She raises a brow at the statement of charges against you, a slight, sardonic twist tugging at her lips. The woman leans easily against the back of the chair, blue eyes flicking briefly to Cat. She lets the attorney take point in the conversation, remaining silent for the moment.

Detective Shelby sighs. "She has plenty of evidence to cite," he says. "Aside from her own testimony, there was eyewitness testimony from her assistant Stephanie Aberdeen, Rebecca Nakano from our forensics lab, along with detectives Mark Roberts and Pierre Poulin, and Officer Richard Johnson. They were all on duty and present at the time of the altercation, and their hesitation in detaining your client is the precise reason for the lawsuit. As the altercation occurred in our lobby, there is also surveillance footage, which has been reviewed by Miss Hollingwood's legal counsel, and I have it queued up on the television in the corner here if you wish to view it. It's fairly irrefutable, although as far as a defense goes, there's plenty to work with provided we can't get the charges dropped altogether."

"Interesting," is Cat's only initial comment. Her eyes move from the detective to the television indicated, attention focused there in anticipation of viewing this alleged evidence. The attorney's demeanor remains poised, nothing is indicated in her facial features.

Detective Shelby handles the remote and starts the video. It has been trimmed down to specifically highlight the event as it occurred on February 27th. It shows, however silent, Grace reacting to Nalani's scene in the lobby and accosting her. Both women share what only appears as a fairly heated and somewhat animated conversation. After that, Grace starts to walk away. Nalani apparently trips on the hem of her dress and collides with Grace, who drops into a crouch and foot-sweeps Nalani, who spends most of the remaining video cradling her wrist.

"For the record," Coren says, turning the video off, "Rebecca Nakano firmly believes that Nalani Hollingwood intentionally bumped into Miss Matheson. Unfortunately, my old contacts in the Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI were unable to determine any forms of deception given the quality and angle of the surveillance footage, even post-enhancement." He stands and walks over to the television and retrieves the DVD copy of the surveillance, along with a file folder. "Provided this goes anywhere near trial, which I am still considering highly unlikely, this is your copy, along with the police report and transcripts of all of the eyewitness interviews and the report from Supervisory Special Agent Jeffrey Gillis with the FBI regarding the surveillance recording."

She's silent while the video plays out, and impassive. Only after the footage is concluded, and Doctor Shelby's commentary which accompanied it, does Cat speak. "These charges, Doctor, are unfounded. Miss Hollingwood clearly assaulted my client, and made it necessary for her to react in self-defense. It was a cowardly assault, I might add, on Miss Hollingwood's part, striking her only after her back was turned."

Her features remain entirely calm as a pause is taken, followed by a question. "Has Miss Hollingwood been questioned as to her clearly videotaped crime against my client, Doctor Shelby? I will be advising her to prefer charges for assault."

Cat's features remain calm; the slight shift in Grace's expression at her words indicates either surprise or ironic amusement. Perhaps a combination of both. It can be interpreted as: Press charges? Her? …Not so much. But the woman who is the subject of this little interview still remains quiet.

"Doctor Chesterfield, according to my report, the eyewitness testimony of two detectives and one officer, and the independent assessment performed by SSA Gillis with the FBI, Miss Hollingwood tripped, and I am quite certain falling into someone by accident is hardly a crime. Whether or not it was intentional is not something that we can prove." Detective Shelby pulls out his cell phone and sets it on the table. "The charges you are suggesting are completely unsupported by all but the testimony of one eyewitness. I've been in law enforcement since nineteen seventy-eight, and I can assure you, it will never fly with a jury. And I'm not at all suggesting that I am going to enjoy arresting your client; quite the opposite. This case is a waste of time and taxpayer money."

"The fact remains that Miss Hollingwood made contact with Miss Matheson's person, commencing this incident. It is ludicrous to arrest my client for what you acknowledge is a case without merit. If there is to be an arrest of Miss Matheson, there must also be an arrest of Miss Hollingwood. And the preferring of charges for lying to the police when she claimed Miss Matheson assaulted her, as the evidence clearly shows she did not."

"When you bring Miss Hollingwood in to answer for this matter, I recommend showing her the recorded evidence and making that point. It is undeniable that Miss Hollingwood made unwanted and uninvited physical contact with my client, forcing her to defend against it."

For the first time in the entire session, Grace finally speaks up. "Cat." She looks over at the lawyer, a crooked smile curving her lips. "Thank you, but I have no interest in pressing charges against…" Whatever that woman's name is. "Miss Hollingwood. It's simply not worth the time and effort." The gravel-voiced woman looks back at Coren. "What do you need, Detective?"

"I never said it was without merit, simply a waste of time. One rich person trying to cause a stink." Coren shrugs and handles his phone, "I have been pondering whether I should arrest you first or after, and since even if charges are dropped, once you're processed the charge does tend to sit there. I was a profiler with the FBI for seven years, a field agent prior to that, and a cop prior to that. In my professional opinion, and this is fairly sound, Nalani will drop the charges if you apologize. It takes a lot to apologize, and I am certain she can appreciate that. If you're uncertain, we can test it first. If I'm right, the lawsuit will mysteriously disappear after I inform her you've been brought in and will soon be arrested. I have no intent to arrest you if I can help it."

There's nothing more to say. She's given her counsel, and her advice wasn't accepted. Cat is therefore silent. But she is still present, and observing. She won't forget the detective said the whole key to the matter straight up. One rich person trying to cause a stink. Therefore she will move on to plan B, and shred the good Doctor Shelby in court if she must. His reputation will be in tatters, his career ruined, because he failed to be an honest detective and do his job. This, at least, is how it plays out in Cat's mind.

But there's another scenario playing in her head. If people look at her too closely as a result of this, how long does it take to find the Ferry?

Having been that profiler, Grace's reply probably comes as no surprise whatsoever to Coren. The woman sets her hands on the table, leaning forward slightly and regarding the officer levelly. "Detective Shelby. I appreciate your suggestion, but I will not apologize for a wrong I did not do." She is just as capable of not taking his advice!

No, it wasn't much of a surprise to Detective Shelby. In fact, he pretty much saw it coming, but hoped he was wrong. He nods with a rather solemn expression. "I understand completely. It was worth a shot. The only problem now is that she bumped into you, tortious battery, and you performed a drop sweep on her, the end result of which was a fractured wrist, the x-ray of which your attorney will find a copy of in that file folder. There is evidence and testimony against you, and charges have been filed." Coren looks at his cell phone and returns it to his pocket, before looking up, a distinctly saddened expression on his face.

"Grace Matheson, you are under arrest, charged with battery against Nalani Hollingwood. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be entered into evidence and may be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney and to have one present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you by the state of New York. Do you understand these rights as I have explained them to you?" Yes, it seems rather redundant to mention the provision of an attorney when she has arrived with one, but proper protocol must be followed.

"The case against you is even thinner than he claims, erroneously, exists against Miss Hollingwood, Grace," Cat asserts with confidence. "I'll have you bailed out at the earliest opportunity. Doctor Shelby knows he's just knuckling under because she has money and is in the media. He knows if this involved anyone else, it would be a case of defense on your part, and no charges would be filed. So don't worry."

She observes carefully. Each action he takes, every word spoken, is committed to her perfect memory. Any error he makes, no matter how small, will haunt him. He had his chance to be a decent cop and threw it away.

Grace looks sidelong at Cat, and for once a true smile flickers across her expression. "Cat, relax. I'm not worried." Rather the opposite. Turning back to Coren, the woman inclines her head. "I understand them entirely, Detective."

"Bail won't be necessary. I already spoke with the ADA and she agreed that, given that you have no priors and that what you're being charged with is a class A misdemeanour, you can be released after processing. You'll receive a notice to appear within five business days for your arraignment, which will probably be in about two or three weeks," Coren says. He nods to Grace and his eyes flicker then to Cat, slightly angered at having his integrity questioned. Like he cares who the victim is. He stands, "I'll have a uniformed officer take you to processing. If you care to give a statement of the incident in question, I'd be happy to take it after you're processed, and then you can be released."

There's nothing more to say. His eyes on her meet with no reaction, Cat simply observes. She'll do so as closely as possible through the processing, and exit with Grace when she's released, or be waiting outside at that time.

Rising as well, Grace nods briefly. "Thank you, Detective." Then it's off to processing, throughout which Grace is polite and reserved, and later a conversation with Cat about how she intends for this to proceed.

March 9th: Pulling Stitches
March 10th: Post-Script
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