Dirty Little Secrets


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Scene Title Dirty Little Secrets
Synopsis Samson Gray comes to collect.
Date April 29, 2010

NYPD Headquarters: Lau's Office

A potted orchid. Polaroids of two small, dark-haired children with bright black eyes and round, pale faces lit by the flash of an old camera passed down from mother to daughter. Stacks of paperwork piled high on a heavy desk that overlooks New York City's waterfront behind a veil of falling snow highlighted silver. There's not a lot in Karen Lau's office, but this was a conscious choice that New York City's current police commissioner made when she accepted the position.

It eliminates distraction.

She sits at that desk, pointedly ignoring her reflection in the office's large glass windows, and resists the temptation to lift her eyes from her work. Whenever she does, they are inevitably drawn toward the phone in the desk's upper left hand corner. Her children will be in bed by now. Her husband won't, and he worries — now moreso than ever with the weather the way it is.

It's not unlike him to call her, once or twice over one of the long nights of work, even if just to talk for a few minutes. There's enough history between the two of them, enough reasons in New York to worry where his concern can be legitimately voiced. Though still, at times, it feels more like a whining puppy that misses its owner. It's a resentful thing to think, she blames the stress.

With everything that's been going on the last few months, responsibility has been laid on Karen's shoulders heavier than burdens she expected to have to shoulder when this job was taken years ago. Karen Lau took over a city with a smoldering heart of glowing cinders and background radiation following the death of Raymond Kelly in the blast

It's been almost four years, and somehow it's only gotten harder. Sometimes, there has to be a break, something has to give, and things finally have to start getting easier. The draft document sitting on her desk from the DoEA doesn't seem to be suggesting anything of the sort. It's enough to make Karen wonder if it's too late to call Raymond Praeger and ask him to read between the lines for her.

The smell of smoke is a distraction from that thought.

Karen's nostrils flare around the stench, and she raises one hand off the desk to wipe her nose with the back of her hand. There are no smoking signs on every floor of the building at every turn and fork, impossible to miss. The smoke detectors in the bathrooms, too, are meant to discourage the boys in blue from lighting up on their breaks even though the detectors themselves work sporadically at best and haven't been up to code since the blast claimed Midtown.

What the city chooses to spend its budget on will forever remain a mystery.

Bridge of her nose pinched between two long fingers, Karen rises from her desk and circles around it, the staccato snap of her sharp black heels muffled by the office's Berber carpet underfoot.

Her aides know better. The janitorial staff should, too.

Framed by the window in the door of her office, Karen Lau's silhouette is a crisp one, backlit by the glow of a single lamp on her desk, the kind with a green glass shade that seems to emit just the right amount of illumination in warm, golden hues. Behind her though, as silent as the wind, the four foot wide column of choking black smoke drifting down from the overhead vent goes unseen. It pools about on the floor, like water from a tap, a rolling carpet of gray and black smoke still funneling from above.

It's only when Karen catches her own reflection in the glass of the door that she sees the undulating column's last few feet slither out of the vent behind her. The stink of smoke rises in the room, tobacco and tar, creasode and soot, like a chimney full of cigarettes sodden down by a heavy rain.

Karen's reflection grows tense, a manicured hand slipping into the interior of the suit jacket she wears paired with her blouse and slacks, and closes fingers around the handgun in the holster she wears beneath it. Being able to legally carry a concealed firearm is one of the few perks attached to her position, and it's saved her life at least once in the past.

It won't tonight.

On the other side of the office from her desk and phone, there's no plucking the receiver off the hook and calling in for help. Her free hand finds the door handle and locks her arm into position, half-turned, but does not pop the lock just yet. "Lazzaro?"

"No," says the surprised voice from within the pillar of smoke as it begins to thin, "actually, not Lazzaro." It's the sudden jerk that pulls Karen Lau off of her feet, whipping her backwards through the room, fingers away from the doorknob and her body hurtling over the shoulder of the tall and lanky man standing shrouded in wafting clouds of ashen smoke. She passes right beyond him, crashing into the office wall and rattling the drop ceiling tiles overhead.

Following in her wake with the motion her passing made in the smoke, Samson Gray's lips pull back to reveal yellowed teeth in something of a smile, though more properly like an animalistic baring of teeth. He peers over the frames of his wire-rimmed spectacles at the Comissioner as she crashes down to the floor, and in those clouds of smoke rising off of his body, there's flickering lightning-like flashes of fire that blossom to life.

"You've a very, very dirty little secret, Comissioner Lau…" Samson slowly raises one weathered old hand as he turns, wagging a finger back and forth with a cluck of his tongue each time. "I have to wonder though," he takes a step forward, worn-in old sneakers treading across her expensive carpet, leaving flakes of soot and ash behind as he does, "how far does the apple," Samson motions to the photographs on Lau's desk and the frame floats up towards his hand, "fall from the tree?"

Gritting her teeth, Lau pushes herself off the floor, haggard breaths forced from her lungs. Her gun is still clenched between white-knuckled fingers, thumb poised above the safety, which creates a barely audible click when she nudges it into the off position. Blood trickles from a gash behind her left ear, making obsidian threads of her hair — freed from the prim bun at the back of her hair — and smearing her skin red where her face came into contact with the Berber, plenty of evidence for the lab techs to cut out of the fibers and process in the morning.

The mention of her children pulls a low snarl from the back of the woman's throat as she struggles to get to her feet, one hand braced against the floor and the other leveling her weapon with the biggest, broadest target Samson makes available: his chest.

She squeezes off three shots in rapid succession, filling her office and the hall outside with the booming sound of gunfire.

One bullet in the doorframe, another shatters the glass, the third and last goes through the open frame of the door where glass once was and strikes the opposite hall's wall, punches through, tumbles through the tank of a water cooler and winds up embedded in the wall beside a light socket. None of the shots missed, not a single one of them, but neither did they afford any purchase on something tangible as flesh. Archie Rassmussen was a wonderful man for parting with the ability he did, as was Marie Anne LePlante; useful combinations they'd never have had the capability to utilize.

"I wonder," Samson breathes out, coalescing from the smoke again with a flick of two burn-scarred fingers to the side, sending the gun flicking from her hand to the floor, "if they are like you, is that why you lied about what you can do? The champion of law and order in this city, hiding from the very laws she is sworn to uphold." Samson takes one sooty step forward, leaving a careless ashen footprint in the carpet, his fingers pointing now towards Lau, pinning her up against the far wall by an unseen hand pushing at the center of her chest.

"If it's out of raw cowardice, I don't much have sympathy…" There's a dry quality to Samson's voice, like a man in desperate need of a drink, throat sore, voice bordering on hoarse. "But you know," he affords Lau a squint as he draws closer, "if you did it… for your children? I can understand, empathize even." His thick brows lift at that comment, eyes tracking the dark path of Karen's from side to side as he lifts his hand up, slowly, two fingers pointed up now, more towards her head than her chest.

"Parents do insane things for their children."

There's a file on Karen's desk folded lovingly between two pieces of manila paper with a bent spine, its edge trapped under the pot of her orchid which acts as a makeshift paperweight and prevents its contents from fluttering away on the rare occasion she cracks open the window to feel the cold winter air nip at her nose and lips. It's closed now, and the file is in no danger of being taken by the wind — only her visitor, and he doesn't even know it exists.

It was the last item on her itinerary for the evening, and even though she'll never get to it, she addresses Gray, S. in her own way. "How would you know?" she asks, voice growing thin as her strength wanes. "You abandoned yours."

That gives Samson pause, enough pause that his brows furrow together, his jaw sets and his throat works up and down in a painfully dry swallow. His cold, tired eyes meet Karen's in bitter silence, before his jaw clenches and the fire in his expression builds to something fueled by the most combustable of emotional kindling — guilt.

"I was protecting him." Samson sharply asserts with a growling, furious tone of voice, and when those two burn-scarred fingers lift up towards Karen's forehead again, there's no shrill whistling, no deep baritone rumble, no sedation to lull her into unconsciousness or keep her from feeling what he's about to do to her. "You don't know me," he adds angrily as a different shrill noise begins to build up, a whining grinding, like a dentist's drill spinning up.

Flesh splits, bone cracks, and Samson's eyes grow wide as he leans in towards Karen, clutching fingers at either side of her face to hold her chin still as a line of blood rolls down her forehead and cheek, dribbling off of her jaw. "You don't know my son."

Parents do insane things for their children.

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