Filed Under Regret


elisabeth_icon.gif hart_icon.gif

Scene Title Filed Under Regret
Synopsis On the eve before SCOUT's gambit to clear the Mayor's name, Hart delivers a file regarding another open case— revealing the histories of Roxanne and Roman Santos.
Date February 13, 2020

The Watchtower

"Coming through," Sarah Hart advises well in advance before approaching the intersection of desks. That doesn't stop Erin Gordon from kicking back from her desk anyway, seat sailing backward even as she tries to sink a shot in the wastebasket across the room against the glass of the conference room they often use for briefings. "Erin!" the analyst starts, but just as collision seems imminent, Erin and chair both phase through Hart and come out on the other side, grinning up at her. Gotcha good, she conveys with a wink.

Sighing, she lifts both arms away from her side in a shrug. No harm, no foul, but tensions are running high these days. Some day soon might be the one she snaps instead of letting those antics roll off her shoulders.

At Elisabeth's open office door, Hart pauses to knock on the frame with the back of her knuckle. "Hey there, Lieutenant. Got a minute?" When she rights herself, the lanyard holding her badge shifts in the light, and she adjusts the stack of papers in the manila folder in her offhand.

Glancing up from the computer screen on her desk, Elisabeth moves a little self-consciously to slip a pair of glasses off her nose. "Sure, come on in. What's on your mind?" She waves the younger officer all the way into the office as she sets the glasses to the side, waiting to see if Hart closes the door so she has an idea of how serious it is.

Shaking her head, Hart doesn't smile, but she offers up the folder as an explanation while she sets about shutting the door behind her anyway. Not having to worry about a peanut gallery is her preferred state, both owing to and in spite of all the shenanigans that tend to happen in crosstalk around here. This is more serious business, anyway— this is strictly work-related.

"I sent you an email just now with the files and clippings I found in case you want to Control F your way through them…" she starts to explain, depositing the file on the edge of Elisabeth's desk. "But I printed out the articles to go with the records I found anyway."

She steps back, rolling the sleeves of her dress shirt back up to her elbows again before she folds her arms low. "I went and checked Albany Trial records for the Jackson stabbing suspect, based off the information you passed me the other day. I think I found the kid we're looking for— and once I got ahold of the names, everything else kind of started to fall into place." Glancing down at the manila, her head tilts to the side as she tries to find a way to sum it up. "It's… a lot."

Leaning back in her chair, Liz gestures to the chair across from her and holds out her hand to take the file. "The short version?" she asks curiously. Because having met Roxie twice now, she is truly curious. She doesn't open the file yet … but it might be because she doesn't want to put glasses back on.

"The short version?" Hart echoes back with a furrow of her brow. She slowly comes to a sit in the chair across the desk, arms unfolding to lay across the rests. "Well, for one, I can see why the brother and sister aren't on speaking terms. Father was a respected Senator turned Humanis First. Abused his position, got a number of people behind him. Stood trial at Albany…"

And it's there the apparent pain is, causing a twinge in her expression. Delicately, she looks back up to Elisabeth. "The sister testified against the parents, looks like." With a tip of her hand, she gestures at the file with a short sigh. "Sounds like it turned into a shitshow, if I'm being honest."

Elisabeth props her elbow on the arm of her chair, supporting the side of her head with two fingers while she considers that. Shit show is probably an understatement. "Brave kid," she murmurs thoughtfully. She's glad that the girl seems to have fallen in with some of the Lighthouse crowd — that group will help her if anyone can. "Looks like the brother is still following in daddy's footsteps, unfortunately." She grimaces, fingertips brushing the file.

"You know… it sucks that we can't seem to squelch this Humanis First bullshit." There's a low level of bitterness to that statement. "People always have to have an Other."

She pauses and then asks, "Anything in here that might lead to the brother? Friends, local hangout's around here? Has anybody even had the kid on radar before now?"

Hart draws a face, which can't be a good sign. "Kids were put into the system after both parents hung… and both of them didn't stay in it for long. Sister went by an alias when we picked her up— who's to say the brother's not been doing the same? In short, he's not been pinging radars til now."

Leaning on one elbow, she lifts her hand up, pointer extended toward the ceiling. "But it's not all bad news here. Was able to get a hit on two of the other kids in that photo you got a picture of. Evran? He's Evran Foster, another orphan, was picked up last year and released on community service for shoplifting. Batteries— like the kind we found stockpiled in the bomb-making haven at the condemned building. He said they were for an electric torch and radio, at the time."

"Second one was one of the girls. Suzie is Suzanne Osbourn, who we—" And Hart glances up knowingly, because we is broadly encompassing to mean not just the NYPD, but SCOUT and Elisabeth in particular, "picked up last fall on hate crime charges for aggravated assault. Held up an SLC-U SESA intern at knifepoint, you might recall. Seems like she didn't have the money to make bail, so she's still in a cell, waiting for trial, along with her boyfriend."

Letting her hand spread off to the side in a sort of shrug, "And before you ask, I tried to pull info on the fourth, but I was lucky to get what I did off of a photo of a photo."

Elisabeth's lips quirk upward at the corners. "Seems to me you got as much as anyone could be expected to." She studies the officer and asks quietly, "You holding up okay?" Her eyes flicker briefly back toward the door — she didn't miss the interplay out there and the rising tension has her keeping an eye on her officers. Her question holds a gentler tone; she's not asking the officer, she's asking the person.

For all Hart's shrugging off not being able to find more information, it's easy to see she wishes she could do more. Here, as well as in other areas. She flashes a smile when Elisabeth asks how she's doing, one that doesn't quite touch her eyes. "If you asked me last week how I'd be spending my Valentine's this year, I don't think I'd have believed you. It…"

The exhale that comes from her is long and slow. Doing what was right wasn't always easy, but it didn't make it any easier. Or in this case, less dangerous.

"Wilson saying he'll fall on the sword for us if this all goes wrong somehow makes this all worse," Hart confides. "Like the stakes weren't already high enough?" Her gaze wanders off to the side, head shaking. "We're all taking huge risks here. Like Abby said, it's a real rock and a hard place scenario. I'm not gonna think twice about doing the right thing… But those 'what ifs' are looming pretty strongly. Not to mention, I went through all this training and picked up this badge specifically to not be involved in any vigilante shit, so I've got those reservations lurking in the back of my mind, too."

Rubbing her palm along the top of her slacks, she breathes a laugh and asides, "Probably not what you want to hear, but it's where I'm at." Nodding to the file she's turned over, Hart adds, "Finding something to work on instead of focusing on the 'what ifs' was the distraction I needed, so thanks for that."

Tipping her head, Elisabeth moves to sit forward and put clasped hands on her desk. "Actually, … it's exactly what I want to hear," she says with a long sigh. "I have my own reservations about the call Wilson's making. It's the right one for all the right reasons," she says quietly. "But this unit needs him." There's a faint grimace and she shakes her head. And they won't be exactly surprised if I up and go vigilante without telling any of you we didn't have clearance. It's probably paranoia that it feels like a set-up, and Wilson is someone she trusts not to be that shitty. But given her life…

"I'm glad you said something." She genuinely is, or at least seems to be. "It cements something that's been bothering me since Wilson and Modhi brought it to us. It's the right thing to do and the wrong way to do it… and I hate that Wilson feels like we already have our hands tied so far behind our backs that this shit is happening. I need you to stick close to him." Since Hart isn't going on tonight's raid, it's the only thing the officer will need to do.

Hart doesn't look sure what to make of that for a moment, but she presses out a small smile anyway. "Something you might want to consider is that the people who set this up went low, and we're still going high. We're doing everything we can to set the record straight or go down trying. The goal is the latter isn't necessary— that we pull this off."

Pushing herself up slowly from the chair, she arches a thin eyebrow. "Don't go setting yourself up to be a martyr just yet. Have a little faith in us, Liz."

Elisabeth laughs softly. If Hart only knew how fucking often she's heard those words. "I only martyr myself for the people I care about once a decade. Hopefully my quota is full," she quips in a tone not so easily deciphered — part sarcasm, part dismissive. But she adds more seriously, "I have no intention of doing that except as a last resort. I just…. I worry that the intel is bad. That it's as much a strike against Wilson and us to undermine what we're trying to do here just as much as a strike against the mayor. It's win-win if someone gives us bad intel and we look like we're targeting the mayor's rival with an illegal search of his property, right? They'll have managed to frame the mayor and made it look like the new NYPD is just as crooked as the old one— with the added bonus of slapping out at not just Wilson but Donovan too."

Dragging a hand through her hair, Elisabeth leans back in her chair again, swiveling it slightly back and forth on its pivot. "I used to tease my husband that he was a ridiculous conspiracy theorist," she sighs. She shakes her head slightly. "I wish I still thought he was a little crazy," she admits ruefully. "But now you know what I've been in here puzzling over since we first heard about all this too."

Hart has to consider that for a moment before she tips her head to the side. "Well, consider letting the alternative play out— one where we did nothing. Decide which one's worse. It's what I did, and it gave me the peace to move forward without worrying about the what-ifs in the moment. Do… what you have to so you're ready to face it."

Thumbing over her shoulder, she shares drily, "I probably need to go check on Gordon and make sure she's not flipped my screen upside down while I've been over here, though."

"Already decided which of the two options is worse," Elisabeth points out. "You're a good egg, Hart. Just know I've got your back, okay?" She grins, as she makes a shooing motion with her hand. "If you're lucky, that's all she's done. Better check for a whoopie cushion before you sit too." Erin is a piece of work some days, but she does keep things interesting.

When Hart leaves, the door is cracked but open, leaving Elisabeth to consider the files left behind— the heavy reading delivered in the middle of the other intense tension regarding the upcoming mission. When she opens it to take a look at just what's inside, the printed copies of articles are sticky-noted with memos about their relevance, generally in chronological order so it tells a tale.

The first of it comes from a transcription of a story aired on Dateline late 2015.

Since the end of the 2nd Civil War, there have been a steady stream of calls coming into tip lines about the war criminals that have managed to evade capture. While most of the tips have been dead ends or false information, a few have resulted in some of the biggest captures. One of the biggest and most recent being that of former US Senator Ricardo Santos and his wife, as well as a contingent of their followers.

On March 18, a tip came into a tiny police department in rural Grapeland, Texas in the middle of the night. The dispatcher admitted that she almost didn’t alert the chief since, “There had been several prank calls by local youths in recent days.” Officers were sent out to investigate, but when they didn’t return, Wolfhound was quickly dispatched to round them up.

The remnant of Humanis First was found to be holed up in a farmhouse that had been abandoned during the war, situated just thirty minutes outside of the sleepy Texas town.

After a lengthy firefight that left many of the Humanis sympathizers dead or injured, Wolfhound rounded up the rest and delivered them into federal custody. In a surprise development, Wolfhound agents discovered children stashed away in the cellar of the house, among their numbers were the Senator’s own children.

As of the publication of this story, the former senator and his wife remain in federal custody on a no bail hold, awaiting their day in court; while their children have been remanded into the care of Child Protective Services.

Next came the shitshow, as Hart had put it. A copy of a newspaper article sits in the folder, unclear which publication it was printed from.

Emotions and tempers are running high after controversy rocked the Albany Trials today. In a risky move that shocked those in attendance, the prosecution announced a surprise witness against Humanis First members Ricardo and Amber Santos. As many remember, Ricardo was one of the crucial US Senators who helped President Mitchell enact the legislation that defined the administration’s horrific legacy.

But today, people are crying foul as Santos’ own teenage daughter Roxanne was put on the stand to testify against her parents. There wasn’t a dry eye in the courtroom as the girl was forced to recount some of the atrocities she was forced to witness, to include the execution of a family, that included two young children. And in a stunning reveal, Roxanne confessed to being the one to call in the very tip that resulted in the capture of her parents.

When the defense had its turn with the witness, they held nothing back and raked the poor girl over the coals. But like the brave Joan of Arc, Roxanne held her head high even as she was burned at the proverbial stake. By time she was led off the stand, the girl was visibly shaking. As she passed her parents, her mother started to sob and her father lunged at her, denouncing her as his daughter; forcing the judge to demand order in the court and have the former senator removed from the courtroom.

All of this was broadcasted for the whole world to see.

Since the jaw-dropping testimony, there has been a growing movement to protect young witnesses from the spotlight that the trials are shining on them. Many are even calling for the new US President to back the effort so no other child has to go through Roxanne Santos’ nightmare. Comments sections are filled with calls to name her a hero of the Civil War for her bravery in the face of hate, and number of people declaring wanting to adopt the poor girl as their own.

But clearly, that didn't happen, even if it isn't immediately clear why. The next article is brief, a footnote regarding hangings. The list of names of those executed on that date number far more than just the Santoses, but it's their booking photos pinned to the article.

The page visible underneath draws her attention with printed splashes of color from an online publication.

A tabloid-style article, it alleges that the prosecution convinced Roxanne Santos to testify with the promise that it was the only way to help protect her parents from being hanged for their crimes. It goes on: However, in a shocking turn the Former Senator and his wife were still sentenced to hang. Had the prosecution lied to the poor girl to get her on the stand or was there something else going on under it all?

The article declares concern for the girl's life and demands something be done by the government to better protect witnesses from the Albany trials— to back it up is a screen capture from the forums of a known Humanis First website. The forum thread is a call for the death of Roxie for the crime of treason to her own kind. It includes a photo of a much younger Roxie.

It's uncertain whether the post being printed without any of the comments is a kindness or not.

Underneath that are copies from Roxanne's file directly, certain lines highlighted by Hart to call focus to them.

One such highlight shines attention on a note in the file that Roxanne disappeared from the foster home she had been placed in for her protection. No news articles follow after placement likely because she had been placed under an assumed name, along with her brother, to protect her against retaliation by any Humanis members at large.

A short summary of an interview with the foster family reveals that just before Roxie disappeared, the twins had gotten into a screaming match that dissolved into a physical fight. The pair were separated for the night, and by the next morning Roxie had disappeared.

Roman's file is pinned underneath— highlights around his overall quiet demeanor with snaps of aggression, and resentment toward the events that had claimed his parents. Group counseling with other rehomed children of Humanis First had the opposite desired effect on his attitude. He became more convinced of the righteousness of his parents' cause, and the wrongness of the state of the world. It was only months after Roxie's disappearance that Roman, too, stole off into the night with valuables, money, and a revolver the foster family kept for protection.

The last thing in the file are copies of several photos the foster family took just before Roxie's disappearance, a Christmas tree backgrounding the two siblings. Only their clothes and hair serve to tell them apart, Roman's worn longer than Roxie's, but both with short hair. Roman stands with his arms crossed, tight-jawed but passive at having his photo taken. He stands close to his sister, one photo snapped while he glances at her out of the corner of his eye without any affection.

Roxie, in comparison, looks uncomfortable. Her posture is uncertain, expression sullen and her eyes dark. Only in one photo is she looking directly at the camera, and she smiles in none of them. It's clear she doesn't want to be in the frame. The single clear look into her eyes shows someone who'd rather just disappear… who'd erase what had lead up to this, if only she could.

Poor kid. How could she have known things would go how they did?

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License