Learning Curve


magnes_icon.gif vincent_icon.gif

Scene Title Learning Curve
Synopsis Vincent helps Magnes to distinguish the difference between what's right, what's legal and what's likely to get you canned.
Date October 12, 2009

NYPD Headquarters

It's common knowledge within the department that summons to show up in Detective Vincent Lazzaro's office at Headquarters are bad news, almost without fail. For all that he's only been back from a year long medical leave for a month or two, his name still rings familiar through florescent lit halls and cramped offices. Officer Varlane received a request to appear at some point early this morning, approximate time 3:15 PM.

It's now 3:14 PM, and Vincent is occupying himself with the click click-click click click-click of the end of his pen while he waits. His office is small, as most of them are, made all the more claustrophobic by blinds closed white over glass panes to allow for maximum privacy. His desk is clean — almost suspiciously clean, in fact, in that it's devoid of everything short of a laptop, a pen holder and an open notebook. Vincent himself is similarly austere, in a way. His wire-frame glasses are polished and the warm grey of his suit is neatly pressed over a pinstriped white shirt and a somber tie. What little hair he has remaining is shaved down into a shadowy stubble around the back of his head to match the five o'clock shadow he's cultivating around his jaw. If not for the scarring carved in an oddly clean line up under his left sleeve cuff and again across his right temple, he might look like the sort who's never bothered to set foot out of his office. Of course, there's the gun holstered up under his suit coat to consider as well.

Magnes is in uniform when he enters Vincent's office, removing his hat as he nervously looks around. He's vaguely dirty from aiding in the removal of rubble again, but he's been back for a while. Inhaling and exhaling, the first thing he asks is, "So, am I fired?"

"To be entirely honest, Magnes, I don't know. I'm an investigator with the department; not an executive. Close the door behind you, please." For all that the imperative is a bit clipped by force of habit, there's an underlying warmth to Lazzaro's tone. And black as his eyes are behind the glance of office light off his glasses, there's no disdain lurking in them or anywhere else on his expression, for that matter. "I'm here to talk with you. Where the NYPD takes it from there is largely up to them. And you."

A vague click-pen gesture indicates the single chair poised opposite his desk. Have a seat.

Magnes closes the door behind him, then walks up to the chair and ridgidly takes his seat, struggling to keep eye-contact. "Alright, so, which thing is this about? I mean, I really can't guess which thing I did that I'd be getting fired for…"

"At the risk of sounding trite, why don't you tell me which 'thing,' you think this might be about, and we can move from there." Despite the 'why,' the absence of a lift at the sentence's end marks it very clearly as a direction where some might confuse it for a question. As for eye contact, having whiled away many an hour having uncomfortable conversations over this same desk, Vincent has no trouble maintaining his end at all, but he doesn't force it either.

"Alright, well, I'm guessing the Glenn Beck interview. And I just wanna say that despite what mistakes I may have made, I've never gotten anyone hurt, and at my own risk of sounding, well, like something, I think I've done a lot more good than bad." Magnes explains while finally attempting to keep his own eye contact, to be taken seriously!

"Duly noted." And it is, though Lazzaro makes no open move to scribble any of that down just yet. "I would like to ask you about the interview, actually. You mentioned that you had been kidnapped, at one point, and tortured. A caller who identified herself as Abigail — who I presume to be the same Abigail Beauchamp who filed a report with us regarding her kidnapping, you may correct me if I'm wrong — discussed the same incident with you."

A quick flip of notebook paper to a page already covered in his tidy scrawl seems to confirm as much, because he looks up again with more certainty on the matter than he started with. "While I realize you were not an officer at the time, I suppose the question now is why she filed a report and you did not."

"I figured it was alright, since Abby filed her report. I mean, I admittedly experienced things a bit differently than she did, but I wasn't registered at the time. I was terrified of registration, I'm still terrified as registration, but I bit the bullet and did it anyway because I wanted to make a difference, I saw it as a necessary sacrifice." Magnes sighs, almost relaxing back before realizing the situation, then quickly sits up straight again, nodding affirmatively. He's still alert! "I guess since registering, it just never crossed my mind to file a report now. And come on, John Logan runs a strip club in broad daylight, we know where he is, we know what he's done, but he's still out there. He's untouchable by the law."

"Do we know? We have a single witness statement from a twenty year old girl who came in claiming to have had her tongue cut out of her mouth. While she was registered as a healer at the time, she later tested negative for any evolved ability and requested that documentation of her prior registration be removed. There was no follow up investigation. No physical evidence. There were never any photographs. There were never any more witnesses or complaints filed." Lazzaro reads off the non-support as if from a list of what's not there while looking at what is, brows lifted dark over his glasses.

"I'm not sure you could even convince a judge to issue a warrant to bring him in for questioning with what we do have. And while that may not strike you as fair, it is what's legal. You can't — just go on the radio and name names where there isn't — anything. That isn't the way the world works. That isn't the way policing works. Do you understand what I'm trying to tell you?" Yes, no, maybe so? Lazzaro looks tentatively hopeful on the other side of his desk, brows canted up towards a vague peak while he flips the notebook back over onto its blank side.

"That even though I saw all this stuff happen, my word means crap?" Magnes asks, clearly not a happy camper about something he already knew, but, still. "So, what, the NYPD just wants me to be quiet? I mean, do you honestly think we're gonna get evidence and witnesses from Staten? What do you want me to do? John Logan's just, out there, likely living a much better life than me or Abby."

"Yes. That is exactly what I'm saying. Your word is crap, Varlane, because you didn't file a complaint with the department after it happened, which might've given the case some weight at a time where there was still concrete evidence to look into. Instead, you went on national radio months later and publicly accused two men of committing a crime that you have no evidence to back up beyond your own much delayed word. If they can somehow prove that what you said is false to a judge's satisfaction, you may be found guilty of defamation. You may have to pay them for what they've done."

That first you is bolded and underlined by a blunt (but short-lived) jab of Vincent's finger across his side of the desk. That same gesture molds up into a brush that removes his glasses and presses at his eyes until conservative lenses are set aside and he's left to size up Magnes without benefit of their screening influence. "Laws defining criminal procedure are in place to protect people and their constitutional rights. Noble intent is not enough; you cannot bend them because you don't like the way they apply to a single case. Not without implying that you think people that you believe deserve it should be put away without due process, which is precisely one of the things you spoke out against in relation to a facility you referred to as Moab." There's a pause there. Vincent looks like he needs one to steady himself, so.

"They should've taught you all of this in the academy. I'm not a teacher. I'm not a psychologist either, but I'd like to try something nonetheless, if you'll let me. Are you familiar with the idea of word association?"

"Yeah, I mean I have a therapist, she tells me about things even if we don't do them." Magnes hunches over slightly as Vincent's explanation of the law weighs on him a bit. It's hard to say what's going through his head, though one expression can be interpreted as urgency. "I don't know what you expect me to say right now, but I'd let them throw me in jail before I pay Logan and Muldoon anything. So, what were you gonna say, about word association?"

"Alright," says Vincent with an air of finality that might qualify as relieved, if Magnes happens to be paying close enough attention. Moving on from one thing to the next. "Simple enough. I give you a word, you give me the first few words or thoughts that pop into your head. Let's start with 'badge.'"

"Cop, uniform, police." Magnes answers simply enough, his mood shifting to a more casual tone now that he doesn't appear to be under intense scrutiny… well he doesn't think at least.

"Alright, good." Lazzaro even makes a note, there. Though about what, there's no telling. "Next word is 'Humanis First.' Well. Two words. You know what I mean."

"Emile Danko, AK-47, sniper, person of interest, threat." Magnes says the words pretty quickly, trying to make sure they come out fresh in his mind, so it's safe to say he didn't give them much thought.

Scratch scritch scratch, Detective Lazzaro takes more notes. Even neutrality creeps gradually back in to replace the tension that had been building in his shoulders as this line of questioning goes on, meanwhile. Apparently it's easier for him to think about as well. "Norman White."

"If you have the shot, take it." Magnes quickly brings his hand up to his mouth, then clears his throat. "I, uh, sorry, that's what someone told me a few days ago, when we were discussing Norman White." If that's true or not is up in the air, especially given how uneasy he is about slipping it.

Vincent does the thing where he opens his mouth, thinks better of whatever he was going to say, and closes it. He doesn't think to write anything down this time, which seems slightly unusual in the grand scheme of their talk so far. Instead he hesitates, possibly on the borderline of simply pushing onwards to the next word. But — no. He can't quite let it slide completely. "Do you mind if I inquire as to the context? It sounded on the radio like you might have had some personal contact with him or members of his following."

"I was talking to a close friend, we were kind of discussing ethics and what she'd think of me if I did something like shoot Norman White, or Emile Danko. I've never killed anyone in my entire life, but I just had to know her opinion. And well, she basically said just that, 'If you have the shot, take it'." Magnes explains, sitting back, he has to sit back now, the general thought of Norman White and what could have been prevented already buzzing around in his head. "And I may have had minor contact, I simply wanted to see what he was gonna say up close. Sometimes I go on Staten, knowing police normally stay away. I just wanna be there sometimes, y'know? If I hear something's going on. If I have the ability to go there, and very few other people will, what else am I supposed to do?"

"Understandable," says Vincent, who finally does start writing again after he's had a moment to let that sink in. "You wouldn't be the first to attempt to satisfy your curiosity off the books. You know. So long as you're responsible about it and don't deliberately cause trouble. The next word is, 'Phoenix.'"

"Orange, bird, graffiti, fire, well-intentioned, Jean Grey." Magnes answers, the word apparently having some mixed associations for him, though on this he seems to hesitate a few times.

"Ok." Just 'ok.' Hard to read beyond pressed suit and the flat line of his brow, Vincent glances over what he's already written once, then click-clicks his pen into tiplessness. "Have you had prior contact with anyone associated with Humanis First or Phoenix?"

"Yes." Magnes vaguely answers, not specifying one or both as his eyes suddenly rise up to momentarily focus on his pen. "Why? And if you're wondering, no, I've never been a member of anything that I can remember."

"I know you're not a member of either organization. But I am curious to know if you might consider yourself to be on good terms with people who are members." Vincent could probably be more pointed there, but he isn't. He asks as if he might ask about a credit card offer, or the coupons in yesterday's paper (if there were any good ones.) The fact that he lifts a brow in the face of Magnes's sudden interest in his pen probably has nothing to do with anything.

Anything to have a reason to avoid eye contact, which Magnes promptly makes anyway. "Considering they've shot me twice, I don't think I'm on good terms with Humanis First. I may be on good terms with some members of Phoenix, but I'm certainly not turning them over for spraying a little graffiti. I didn't make friends knowing they were in an anti-government organization, but you can see how that might conflict with my personal life." he explains, attempting to squash any thoughts of backstabbing or betrayal.

"I'm getting something of an idea, yes," confirmed a little flatly, Vincent sets down his pen entirely so that his right hand is once again free to push up over distinct features and expressive brows. Currently they are set to 'blackly amused exasperation.' Which suits him quite well, actually!

"Magnes, off the top of your head, can you name five famous uniformed officers? No movies or television. …Or comic books."

"Umm, man, I don't think I can." Magnes frowns, hunching slightly, at least not trying to lie his way out of the situation! "Did I screw up? I mean, was this like, a test to see if I'm a good cop or not?"

"No. The fact is, there aren't many. I — can't even name one, actually. Aside from you," a lazy gesture of the hand that was at Vincent's face indicates that this should be a given on its way to reaching down after his discarded glasses. "And there is a reason for that. Good officers do what they need to do without making a public spectacle of themselves and their links to anti-government organizations. Like it or not, you are a representative of this department, and of this city. Anything you say and everything you do reflects upon us."

"Just throwing it out there, but I didn't rip a bunch of muscles in my body and get shot taking down a chopper for fun." Magnes is quick to defend, but doesn't appear overtly upset about it or anything, tapping the arm rests of the seat with his fingers. "You're the only one who knows so far that I know anyone in Phoenix, I only told you because I wanted to be honest. I wish I could promise that I won't end up fighting some super powered guy, saving a bus load of children, or whatever else that'd likely land me in the news. I don't want to be in the news, or in the public eye or whatever, I only did the interview because I felt like some issues needed to be addressed, and I wanted reporters to leave me alone. My girlfriend should be able to come over and see me without having to wade through reporters, and since I did the interview they've left me alone."

"I know you didn't. But there are instances — and I'm learning this as well, don't get me wrong — there are instances where what is right and what is legal are not always the same thing." Glasses pushed back up onto the bridge of his nose with paired fingers, Vincent glances to his watch, and then the door, which (fortunately) no one has seen fit to knock at yet despite the time. "I like you, Magnes. I think you're a good kid. But I also think that you're a terrible police officer, and your learning curve has not improved greatly over the last month. Off the record, short of some miracle of PR or corruption behind the scenes, you will probably be fired."

"I guess this is kind of like when I was partnered with Aude. I didn't wanna cuff that woman because I didn't think it was right. But…" Magnes' gaze averts to the desk, disappointment washing over his features. "What am I supposed to do? I mean, if I get fired but I keep going out, stopping choppers and stuff, either they're gonna start calling me a vigilante and arrest me or something. But I can't just sit back and not use my ability when people need help."

"I don't know. Self-restraint and subtlety have served some better than others, but sooner or later even the careful ones fall under suspicion. The risks you are willing to take in light of substantial costs are up to you. It's always been up to you." Earnest after a bland fashion, Vincent look Magnes over one last time, then opens a desk drawer to drop pen and notebook into its depths and out of sight.

"On that note, unless you feel up to giving me the names and descriptions of every member of Phoenix you are in contact with, I have what I need for now."

"I don't know, I'll talk to my girlfriend about it. And can you do a favor for me? I know you won't get anything out of it, but…" Magnes leans in to whisper, to solidify that this is a super ultra secret request! "Can you find out who got me into the academy? I'm kind of curious, I have no idea who set everything up, and if I'm getting fired, I figure now is a better time than any to figure it out."

"…I can look into it, yes," assured after a loaded pause, Vincent knits his brow at the opposite wall, then looks to the door again. Someone got him into the academy? "I'll let you know if I discover anything relevant. In the meanwhile I hope the end of you week is better than the beginning."

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