Illicit Contacts


allison_icon.gif bryan_icon.gif veronica3_icon.gif

Scene Title Illicit Contacts
Synopsis Three company agents pay a visit to a less than reputable person.
Date August 24, 2010

Sheung Wan Kitchen

Down in the bowels of the Rookery, the Sheung Wan Kitchen is one of the few legitimate businesses that have retained continuity since before the bomb to the time after. The owners of this restaurant, stubborn as they are, have maintained this place with only a few months division between the exodus of Staten Island and the birth of the Rookery. They are the same owners that have run the restaurant before the revelation of the Evolved, and as they say they will continue to long after the next tragedy or crisis.

Everyone needs a hot meal.

This couldn't be any more true for the peroxide blonde sitting by the front entrance of the restaurant at a window booth. A bowl of soup steaming in front of her, the dangerously skinny woman is pushing thirty, though the lines in her face and dark circles under her eyes make her seem nearly five years older than she is.

The cheap, disposable cell phone situated beside her on the table is nervously glanced at every time so much as a spoon clinks a teacup and might sound like an incoming call. The last one happened to be placed from Fort Hero's investigations department, and agent Gracie Lee's conversation with one "Jasmine" opened up an entirely different angle of the case surrounding th death of Senator Portman than had been imagined.

Three agents assigned to the case, Bryan Buckley, Veronica Sawyer and Allison Richards may as well be ghosts to Jasmine, able to view her through the front windows of the restaurant. For someone who claims to be fearing for her life, she's terrible at making herself inconcpicuous. According to Agent Lee, 'Jasmine' was a client of Anthony Portman during his livacious time at the Happy Dagger last year. However Jasmine herself claims to have information to share rgearding Portman's death, but has demanded protection in return given that she — as she so vaguely explained on the phone — fears for her own well-being.

Arranged to meet at the Sheung Wan Kitchen, Jasmine's jittering presence has little further explanation. All Gracie was able to pull from her was that she had information pertaining to Anthony Portman's death and that it may have endangered her life.

Since just the other day, Veronica was here as the auburn-haired, green-eyed Kiki, today her hair is back to not quite the usual brown, but a touch darker to further distinguish the hooker's persona from her own. She's not dressed like an agent, either, since that's probably not a good idea here on Staten with the current climate. Instead, she's got a baseball cap tugged low over her eyes, hidden behind sunglasses, and a gray t-shirt, tight jeans, and black boots give her an air of a tough girl who knows how to take care of herself.

She glances through her glasses at the prostitute behind the window. "Allison, see if you can tell if her story's legit or not," she suggests to the blonde as the three make their way inside.

"Easy enough," Allison says, nodding as she follows Veronica in. A smile is put on her face as she approaches Jasmine, offering her hand. "Jasmine? I'm Allison Richards." And apparently someone has gotten a bit…impatient lately, because her eyes go ahead and shimmer silver, before she Jasmine can have long enough to reply. "We'll join you, and talk for a little while. You'll answer all our questions completely and honestly, won't you?" she says, before glancing to Veronica and nodding slightly. She clearly has utmost confidence in her ability to…use her ability.

Buckley looks up from his bowl of noodles when Allison and Veronica walk into the joint. He's been here for awhile, and he'll continue to blend into the background of the eatery until the other two agents need him. He pokes at his food more than he eats it, his dark eyes presumably people watching.

Jasmine's reaction is about as well as can be expected, anxiety, nervousness, increased heart rate and facial tics. It's not hard to recognize a woman who has a drug habit and hasn't had a score in a while, all the more compounded by the troubles she seems to have found herself in. The only answer she can give Allison is a nod, then awkwardly scooting in to the far side of the booth, closest to the window, to allow the two agents space to scoot in and sit down with her.

"You promise to— to get me an' my boy out've here?" Therein lies the first of many details that Jasmine did not mention over the phone, a boy of any kind. "It ain't safe here, it— I don't wanna' wind up like Tony, I— please." Blue eyes surrounded by smudged mascara and eyeliner stare up at the pair of agents, yet unaware that Bryan Buckley is actually one of them.

The brunette agent slips into a seat across from the hooker, though she angles her chair so she can see the door and window, one hand resting on her upper thigh just inches from the gun at her waistband in case trouble should come looking for them. "If the information is good, we can get you into the witness protection program. New identity and even a job where you don't have to turn tricks," Veronica tells the blonde. "We didn't know about a 'boy.'" She assumes it's a child, but it could be the woman's name for a beau. "This is a child we're talking about? If he's your kid, it's doable. If it's your boyfriend or something, no such luck."

While Veronica slips in across from the woman, Allison sits next to her. Easier to ensure that she can be clearly heard. She nods agreement with Veronica's words, keeping her pale gaze on Jasmine. "Cooperate fully with my associate, and we'll do what we can," she orders the woman next to her. For it's no less an order for the gentle tone.

"My son," Jasmine explains with a slow nod of her head, "he's— he's only seven. I just— I need you to promise me you'll get us out of here before anyone realizes what I know." Jaw trembling, Jasmine offers a slow shake of her head, blue eyes flicking towards the window as a car rolls past, then back to Veronica, then Allison.

"They'll kill me if they find out I knew… if— if they know what I know." Swallowing anxiously, Jasmine reaches out for her soup spoon, but her hand is too shaky to hold it straight and the broth she scoops up around the soba noodles inside the bowl sloshes back down inside. Frustratedly, she wrenches her eyes shut and makes a strained noise at the back of her throat, one hand coming up to cover her eyes, shoulders tense and trembling, threatening a sob.

At the clear signs of nervousness and fear, Veronica glances at Allison and gives a little nod to indicate the other agent should use her power to relax their informant. She's little good to them if she can't manage to string two words together without dissolving into tears and tremors.

"We'll get you out," Sawyer says reassuringly. "We need to make sure the same thing doesn't happen to someone else — you're doing the right thing. I know it's frightening and it's a huge thing to ask, but it's really important. We'll make sure no one hurts you or your son. Why don't you start with telling us what you know about the senator — what did he tell you about his ability? When's the last time you saw him?"

There's a silent sigh, and Allison returns Vee's nod. "You're calm. We're here, so there's no reason to fear. You will answer our questions without tears or hysterics, to the best of your ability," she says, shifting slightly in her seat to face Jasmine a little better.

Artificial calm feels like sedatives in her veins, for all the Jasmine's own mind has been turned against her in the production of seratonin to lighten her mood, it still feels like an artificial mood elevation. Anxious by the presence of silvered eyes beneath Allison's brows, Jasmine instead focuses on Veronica, her hands still giving subtle tremors every now and then as she says what is most unfortunate.

"Tony didn't have an ability."

Just when the rabbit hole looked to have bottomed out, it's just taking a twist in another direction.

"T-Tony wasn't one of them," sounds a little derrogatory when Jasmine says it. "I— I was Tony's girl at the Dagger, I knew him good and he paid really well. Most of the time all he wanted t'do was talk, sometimes he'd bring me flowers… he— was really lonely. Said he had a lot of pressure at his job, stuff he didn't wanna' do."

Looking over to Allison, Jasmins briefly shakes her head before looking back to Veronica. "When the Dagger got burned down, Tony was worried about me. He— he came t'see me at this motel I was staying at on the south side of the Rookery. Some people busted up in to the place, they— they killed Tony right in front of me. It— " Jasmine's brows furrow and as she turns her head to the side and threads one lock of blonde hair behind one ear, Allison notices something.

Jasmine is marked.

"Tony died last July," Jasmine murmurs as tears well up in her bottom lashes, "I hid. I ran. I didn't go to nobody 'cause I didn't know who did him. But then I saw on the news… saw somebody found him dead and I just— I panicked. Ain't no way he was alive… I saw it." And yet here Jasmine is, alive and well.

When it was clear that the murdered man without a face had worn two faces, this was one of the scenarios that Veronica had considered — that Portman's face was being worn by Charles Renton for some reason. The other scenario of course was that Renton's was being worn by Portman. The former seems to be the case here. Veronica frowns.

"All right. So you witnessed Portman's death. When did you see what looked like it was him again — and what sort of story did he give you?" she asks, tapping an inquiry into her cell phone for the lab— does Portman or Renton have medical files anywhere accessible prior to July 2009, and which if either matches the blood found at the scene?

"And do you know Charles Renton?" she adds, as if a second thought.

That mark has Allison sitting up a little straighter, and looking a little more interested. At first the bombshell she drops doesn't click because of that, but then she's looking at Jasmine's face and blinking. Then she glances at Veronica, murmuring, "She's marked."

"I— I never saw Tony after… after what happened at the motel." Jasmine rests her head down in her hands, eyes closed and voice small. "I mean he— he was dead. They shot him, right there in the room, I— I saw him die. I didn't even know anything was going on until he popped up on the news again and… and I… I'm afraid they know I was there, I'm afraid they know I'm still here on the island. I— I didn't know where to hide from people like them."

Swallowing tensely, Jasmine looks up and furrows her brows, looking to Allison and then Vernica. "I ain't never heard of no guy named Renton." This only further complicates matters.

One brow rises at the news that Jasmine is marked, and Veronica nods to Allison before turning her gaze back on the prostitute. "The people that did this — were they Staten types, or, more like…" she frowns a little at the allusion, "Men In Black types? Suits, business wear, like Feds, you know?"

"What's your ability?" she adds, and then with a rueful smile, "for your own safety, I need to know. And we'll need to know when we make you a new identity. What about your kid, is he like you or do you know?"

"Answer her question fully and honestly," Allison tells Jasmine, eyes still that spooky silver. "And did you hear the men who killed Tony say anything? Anything at all?"

"I— I don't know who they were," Jasmine offers quierly, her eyes shut and trying to dodge the question that she feels so compelled to answer, jumbled in the priorities of which one she should explain first. "They looked like— I don't know, they were guys in suits. Maybe they were Linderman's boys, maybe they were Feds, I— I dunno. I…" Jasmine looks aside, then looks back to the agents. "I ain't never told anybody I'm one'a them," and she sounds so hapy about it. "But I can disappear, like… go all invisible. I've been able to do it since I was a little kid, back before anybody else ever knew about us. These guys, when they kicked in the door I was in the bathroom, so— so I opened up a window like I'd run outside, and just hid… hid in the shower."

Jaw trembling, Jasmine looks around and lowers her voice to a whisper. "Tony knew the people who came after him. He called one of the guys there Pierce, and they had an argument. They were shoutin' about like— somethin' Tony was all on about, about how Tony was changing his mind about being for the Registry thing they got people like us on. They— they just shot him right there, right in the head."

Jaw trembling, Jasmine looks away and down to the floor. "I heard the gun go off, heard them call for some people to come take the body. I… I don't know," Jasmine murmurs with a slow shake of her head, "I don't know. I hid after— after all that happened, then the Dagger burned down and then… then I just sort've— then I got back to my life. But I ain't got money to go anywhere but here, if I leave the guys I work for'd kill me. I— I need your help."

How many times can one guy get murdered? Veronica frowns. This case is giving her a headache. "Pierce," she echoes. Men in suits, and Jasmine's marked.

"All right." Her fingers tap on her Blackberry keys, pulling up from the database a photograph of Jason Pierce, Operations Director for the department of Homeland Security. She lets it load, then glances back at Jasmine. "So you didn't see the body?" she reiterates.

The brunette agent then turns her cell phone toward the prostitute. "Was this man one of the men you saw that day?" Vee asks, then scrolls to pull up next Renton's mugshot she'd found when talking to the DoEA undercover agent. "And have you seen this man before?"

"Wait, did you just hear the gun go off, or did you see them shoot him?" Allison asks, nodding to Veronica's similar question. "We need to be sure that it was actually Tony that was killed, and not someone else," she explains.

"I… I heard the gun go off, three times. Then, I saw it— I saw them take it outside, they had to go by the bathroom. There was so much blood and… I— I saw— " Jasmine just shakes her head slowly, not wanting to finish the sentence because the implication of proof of death is enough for her. When the blackberry is lifted up and a faces are shown on the screen, her expression scrunches up and eyes grow a little wider.

"That's— that's him," Jasmine offers in a hushed murmur, "that's the guy who was in charge." Curling her fingers towards her palm, Jasmine looks down to her cooling bowl of soup, then back up to the blackberry again. "I've never seen the other guy before, I dunno…" there's a subtle shake of Jasmine's head and she looks back down to the soup. "Sorry…"

Veronica loses her cool demeanor a touch, reaching up and raking her hand through the hair at the back of her neck. Her brows quirking together with worry, she turns the Blackberry, scrolling it back to the prior picture so that Allison can see it, though she gives the woman a look that she hopes comes off as don't say anything more.

"So he was dead," she concedes, though of course she has her doubts. "All right. So that happened last year. You've had no contact with the senator since then, you've just seen him on television? Never saw him around Staten here?" Veronica clarifies. "Have you heard from anyone anything about who might have wanted to kill him — this time around, that is, even if you yourself haven't spoken to him at all?" Her mind is reeling. Did a DHS agent knowingly murder a senator, so that another supposedly dead man could run around with his face, perhaps due the agency's bidding?

She types a query back into the email to the lab: Did you receive last message? Needed ASAP. Like, yesterday.

The picture is glanced at, and Allison returns Veronica's look with a nod. So while her eyes keep their metallic sheen, she doesn't actually anything more for the moment. Instead she's frowning a little and listening intently.

We've got something interesting. We checked records of Portman and Renton's DNA on record. Portman's corpse matched Portman's record. Nothing to compare Renton's against, but it did not match Portman's.

"I didn't— I didn't know there was something… I mean, this was someone pretending to be Tony, right? It— he was dead, wasn't he?" Sliding her tongue over her lips, Jasmine looks down to the soup bowl again and exhales a shaky breath. "I don't know anything else, there were four of them when they showed up. They— brought Tony's body out to a car waiting outside and put him in the trunk. I— there were probably other witnesses but, but it's the Rookery. People get stuffed into trunks here… no one speaks up."

Shit. Veronica's brows furrow and she nods. "All right," she says with a nod. "You've been really helpful, Jasmine. Couple more questions, all right?" Her mind is ping-ponging around, vacillating between two option — should she go the legit route to get this woman protected, or see about dropping her off with the Ferry or possibly Cardinal and Harrison?

"One more question, unless my partner here has any for you," she continues, glancing at Allison, and back to Jasmine. "Do you know a bookie named Fritz? Beard, kinda frizzy hair, a little … twitchy, maybe?" Her dark eyes study Jasmine for the prostitute's reaction.

Allison thinks for a moment before she shakes her head. Seems she doesn't have any questions for Jasmine, not right now anyway. But, like Veronica, she watches Jasmine, not just as an agent, but as a psychiatrist.

The invocation of Fritz's name has Jasmine raising one brow slowly. "Fritty? Yeah, yeah I know Fritty. He does bookie work down at the dog fights. He's one of my, uh," Jasmine looks down to the bowl, then back up to Veronica, "we got a business relationship." There's something of a knowing, though embarrassed, smile offered at that. "He's a nice guy, he treats Osiris really well…" Yes, the woman names Jasmine named her son Osiris. Maybe it isnt just a prostitite alias.

"M'sorry I— I asked all this stuff, I mean… for like, protection? But I got a kid to think about, y'know? I— I ain't got mister Logan and mister Muldoon t'look out for me anymore. I… I gotta' be careful, for his sake."

Veronica taps her short nails on the back of her Blackberry a few times, thinking. "You know where Fritty lives, or did he always come to you?" she asks after a moment. She can't see how this all connects — was Fritz hired to kill Renton, who was wearing Portman's face, after Pierce and his men killed the real Portman? She shakes her head, then flips the phone to scroll through the numbers, considering. Ferry or Cardinal… the legitimate route isn't going to keep this woman safe.

"How long you have the mark, by the way? Do you remember getting it?" She glances at Allison, giving a small nod at her to prod Jasmine's memory, if it's something in the subconscious rather than the conscious.

"There's nothing to apologize for," Allison says, shaking her head. "Especially not if you can continue answering our questions. Think really hard, ignore any previous commands to forget how you got the mark, and remember, tell us."

"The… mark?" There's no recognition from Jasmine at that, though the motion of one hand up to her neck is subconscious. "Oh the— I don't know. I only noticed it a couple years ago when someone asked me about it when I was getting my hair done. I think I might've tried to get a drunken tattoo or something and… maybe came to my senses partyway through?" There's a crack of a smile as she rubs the side of her neck. Whatever suppression is there, likely from the Haitian, Allison's hypnosis certainly isn't going to peel back that big of a psychic scab.

Realizing there was another question asked, Jasmine glances back up to Veronica and Allison, then looks at her reflection in the cooled surface of her untouched soup. "Fritty always came to the Dagger back when it was open. After that we used motels… you know, middle-ground. I dunno where he lives…"

"All right. I think that's all the questions I have, Jasmine," Veronica says. She glances at the other agent, then back to Jasmine. "I'll make arrangements right away. There are a few pieces to put in place." Namely, getting rid of Buckley and Richards so that Sawyer can bring Jasmine to Cardinal's safekeeping until they can figure out if Pierce was indeed Portman's murdered. If so, why? And how doez Gregory Fritz fit into all of this?

She reaches into her pocket to pull out a bill to cover the woman's soup, and then some. The woman can have another bowl of noodles. Next, she writes something on the napkin, and hands it to the hooker. "Thank you again, Jasmine. You've been tremendously helpful. I'll be in touch." She nods to the napkin. "We'll use that word when I call to arrange the time and place. If we don't use it, it's not safe and you should run."

The word is scarlet. Later, she'll give a different word to her two cohorts, should they happen to ask. She rises and gives a nod toward the door to Allison.

Allison rises as well, giving another reassuring smile to Jasmine. "Stay out of sight, and stay safe until you hear from us again," she says before starting towards the door.

Looking up at Veronica and Allison as they leave, Jasmine is decidedly quiet, her hands folded on the table and eyes briefly flicking down to the napkin the 'safe word' has been written on, without yet turning it over to look at. Her smile is a timid one, a smile that implies the safety of her family is at stake. Unfortunately, the situation that Jasmine has found herself in is apparently more dangerous than even she is aware of.

Jason Pierce is the Operations Director of the Department of Homeland Security, and if he performed an execution of an American Senator in order to perpetrate the replacement of a government official with a shapeshifter is so high in threat that it practically signs death certificates for every single person aware of the situation.

Unfortunately for Sawyer, Richards and Buckley, the prostitute they came to see today isn't the only one in danger now.

Just by knowing, their lives are at risk too.

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