My Brains Are Turning To Tapioca


elisabeth_icon.gif terry_icon.gif

Scene Title My Brains Are Turning To Tapioca
Synopsis Studying for the detective exam
Date April 20, 2009

Crown Heights Precinct

The break room at Crown Heights is far from spacious. It almost looks like it was added as an afterthought, once all the offices, desks, and the holding cells were built into the Station. Along one wall are a refrigerator, and a pair of vending machines, one dispensing sodas and waters, and the other dispensing an assortment of snacks. Scattered haphazardly through the room are a pair of mid sized, round tables, and an assortment of chairs, ranging from folding metal chairs in silver and red, to wooden chairs that look like they've seen better days.

Sitting one one of the red metal chairs, legs tucked under a table is Terry. A pair of pencils rest on top of a notebook, opened up to a blank page in front of him. A small stack of papers that bear printed words, and diagrams sit next to the notebook, with a few of the pages spread out on the table around the notebook. He is currently resting his forehead on his left hand, and tapping the eraser of a pencil against the notebook, fingers causing his hair to stand up even more messily than normal, and apparently focused on a diagram on one of the loose pieces of paper.

Carrying a backpack and a tray with two cups of coffee in it, Elisabeth enters the room and heads directly for him. "You look like I feel," she comments. "Thought I'd find you in here. I forgot how much I hate school." She smiles and plunks herself and her stuff down on the table. "Have some coffee. Did you actually get anything studied this morning?"

As Elisabeth talks to him, Terry leans back in the chair, and drops his pencil down on the notebook. He smiles a little, and then reaches out to take the coffee, and shakes his head. "Nothing," he says, and chuckles. "Only thing I learned this morning was that those wooden chairs aren't as comfortable as they look." He glancse at her backpack, and then back to her, and says, "I didn't even study this much in school. This might kill me."

Opening up her backpack to set a notebook, a pen, and a binder on the table, Liz nods slightly. She makes no move to open any of them. "I slept on top of the study guide last night," she admits. "Kept hoping I'd wake up and be smart by osmosis." She rolls her eyes and takes her coffee to sip from. "I have a friggin' degree in criminal justice and a minor in homeland security, and half this stuff still has me going what. the. fuck."

Terry smirks, and then nods his head. "I guess I'm pretty screwed then," he says, and shakes his head. He lets out a quiet sigh, and then spins a couple of the loose sheets of paper around, so that they'd be facing her. On them are diagrams and text describing crime scene analysis, and various procedural notes. He pushes them across the table towards her, and says, "this crap is driving me insane. It's all memorization, but I've always kind of learned by doing, y'know? I wonder if they'll let me learn on the job at all." He chuckles, knowing that'd never happen, and then says, "anyway, I think that's going to be important, so I keep hitting my head against it."

"Nah, you're not screwed. It's just the minutiae of the test… like any test, they're trying to cover all the bases, but you already know how the actual work goes, right?" Elisabeth looks at the diagram he's studying and asks, "Where are you stuck on this one?"

Terry reaches across the table, and points at the center piece of paper. On it is a long list of steps to be performed, and things to be checked in investigating a crime scene. "There's like… eighty steps there," he exaggerates. "I mean, Hell, I've secured crime scenes and catalogued evidence for years, so that stuff's no problem, but the rest of it…" He shakes his head, and then says, "it's way too much to memorize. Anyway, that on top of everything else…" He trails off, and then says, "anyway, I think I'm going to cover those three, and maybe a few more things, and then hope they don't put the rest on the test."

"There's not eighty steps," Liz scoffs and looks through the example he's working on. "And like 80 percent of this, you already do without even thinking twice. Look at the list again. The only things that you don't do as a patrol officer in this instance is assess the layout of the scene. This part of the list," she points, "is all stuff you already do, you just don't usually think about it step-by-step anymore. You learned it all at the Academy. So it's really only the LAST 20 percent that you need to focus on. And be careful to read the question and answer exactly what they ask, don't overthink the question."

Terry frowns, and then looks at the list again, he sighs, and then nods. "Maybe," he says, reluctantly. He grins, and then picks up his cup of coffee. He takes a slow sip from it, and then puts it back down on the table, making room for it by pushing some of his papers further away. "I'm a straight C student, or at least I was in High School. Tests, lists, memorizing crap. Not really my thing." He shrugs, and then glances at her backpack. "How 'bout you, how you doing? Did sleeping on the book help?"

Elisabeth chuckles. "Not a freakin' bit," she admits. "So here's what I propose. We've got some time to spend pop quizzing one another. And maybe I've got the advantage on you because I've actually worked several cases where, in spite of not having a shield, I got some field experience. Maybe we can help each other by running through scenarios and seeing if we can get at least close to right?"

Terry considers her for a moment, and then picks up the cup of coffee again. "Do you?" he wonders, and smirks. There's a hint of a competitive edge in his voice for a moment, and then he shakes his head. "Alright, maybe," he admits. "So, pop quiz then." He reaches out for his papers, and starts gathering them up again, stacking them in a neat pile and setting them on top of the pile he already has. "Who starts?"

"Well, I don't know that I have an advantage of any kind — I only know that I got to do some field work, so I figure Myron pounded certain things into my head without me even realizing," Elisabeth says with a grin. "Tell you what, you start — let's start on the spots you're having trouble with. Maybe I'm having trouble with the same ones, maybe not."

"Alright," Terry says, and then lays his pencil down on the stack of paper. He starts listing out the details of a crime scene, double homicide. He describes the neighborhood, a middle class part of town, and the layout of the scene. Elisabeth is not the first one there, a patrol officer is. The scene has been locked down, and forensics is there, starting to take down readings and the like. However, in an effort to make things easier for forensics, various things in the home have been rearranged, including placing the murder weapon on a shelf, instead of where it originally lay. "And this is where you step on scene. Go ahead." He picks up the notebook, and his pencil, and waits.

Looking at him, Liz immediately asks, "Who moved the murder weapon?"

Terry thinks about that for a few moments, and then says, "the Patrol Officer. he wrote down where it was, though."

Elisabeth considers the situation and fires off several more rapid-fire questions based on his scenario. "Was the weapon moved before or after forensics got here? Are there photographs of it in situ? Did the officer bag the thing before it was moved? Was he wearing gloves when he moved it?"

Terry fires answers right back at her, and then says, "no photos. Written description. Forensics had a chance to look at it where it was, but that's about it. Gloves, yes, bag, no."

PUlling her own notebook to her, Liz jots a few quick notes. And then she says, "Well, the first thing I'd do is ask the forensics tech whether they want the weapon back in its original position, or as close as we can manage, so we have as accurate a crime scene as possible. The second would probably be to pull the uniform aside and mention that unless the victim was still alive when he secured the scene and the weapon needed to be moved during life-saving efforts, he shouldn't ever move ANYTHING until it's been photographed. And when stuff is moved, it should immediately be bagged. Because now any particles that might be taken off of it could be potentially ruled out as evidence — how do we *know* that fleck of paint came from the floor and not the mantle where it sits now kinds of crap that defense lawyers LOVE to try." She considers. "Much of what comes next would come from the forensics tech. A preliminary time of death, preliminary cause of death if it can be ascertained, the tech's best guess on things like …. right- or left-handedness based on direction of blood spatter, things like that. Whether the body was moved. Whether anything else in the apartment was disturbed, whether they can tell if anything was taken, that kind of thing. After a thoroughly walk-through of the preliminary findings, I'd ask the uniforms whether they've canvassed this floor, the ones above and below, for any sounds or activities that were out of the norm. We'd need to pull last calls in and out of the place, last calls into and out of her cell… start contacting her friends, people she knew, putting together a timeline as near as we can manage of her last hours."

Terry smirks, and then nods. "The uniform moving the gun was the only obvious mistake in securing the crime scene. Forensics says the time of death was early this morning, though that's only a guess, really. Blood pattern is still a mess, because this was a /double/ homicide. Man is on the floor as well. Wedding bands on both, presumably husband and wife. Uniforms say they talked to the nieghbors, who heard gun shots at around Forensics' guess for time of death, and saw a car driving away from the scene. White sub compact, we'll say Toyota Camry," which, she may or may not know, is the most commonly owned car in New York. "No liscence plates, no description of the driver. According to the neighbors, before the shots they heard shouting, but that was nothing out of the ordinary. Apparently these two got into a fair amount of fights. They chalked it up to the Mr. and Mrs. going at it again, right up to the shots and the car."

Elisabeth nods slightly. "Obviously we'd have to check and see if the building has security footage of the lobby or exits, and we'd have to get a uniform to check each of the doors and stairwells, see if maybe the guy trailed blood somewhere, that kind of thing. But now it all turns into legwork, I think." She pauses. "Did I miss anything?"

Terry picks up his piece of paper, and runs the eraser down the list. Occasionally he mouths a word or two to himself, and then says, "nope, not bad at all. Obviously you picked up the gun right away, and I was trying to get you to step on Forensics' toes here and there, but you did good. So, my turn?" he wonders, and then puts the piece of paper back down. He picks up his coffee, and leans back, keeping himself from being tempted to cheat.

Elisabeth nods quickly. "All right… here's one of the examples that I was stumped on for a while." She yanks her binder over and opens it. "911 call from a phone booth reports a fight in an apartment two blocks from the phone's location. Uniforms arrive on the scene to find two women dead, a window on the fire escape broken and glass on the escape itself. Both women are clearly dead of multiple stab wounds, no pulse, no breathing. The uniforms secured the scene, and one of them is talking to a neighbor in the hallway when you arrive, taking a statement. When you step in, the two women are laying at diagonals to one another, and forensics is just getting started. The tech tells you it looks like maybe one of the women walked in on the first one being killed, because her purse is scattered across the main entry. Uniforms scattered all the stuff to hell and back when the busted in the door, so pattern there will be useless. There's no weapon, and drawers through the apartment appear to be rifled."

Terry starts his own line of questioning now, shooting off questions as quickly as they're being answered. "Where are we at in securing the scene? Uniforms on site, nobody's touched anything, moved anything without forensics' say so?"

"Aside from the mess when they kicked in the door, and someone smearing some of the blood that had pooled just inside the door, the uniforms secured the scene fine. The tech will tell you she's also got someone heading for the pay phone to brush for prints."

Terry nods his head slowly, and then says, "then first thing's first, gloves on, get IDs off the two deceased. Send them back to HQ, run a check on them. Then, sweep of the apartment. Anything broken, or obviously missing, figure out what we're dealing with here. This a B&E that went south, or did our perp come here to kill?" He pauses, looking like he's thinking, and then says, "glass from the window… broken out, or broken in? You said some on the fire escape, any broken so it looks like our perp stepped on 'em? Went out that way?"

Elisabeth smiles slightly. "Interesting that you should ask, it's mostly broken outward, but there are a number of bits on the interior floor too. If you had to guess, it does look like the perp broke the window outward." She stops short as she starts to say something else, and then continues, "Although it looks like jewelry cases and such have definitely been manhandled, you won't be able to tell if anything's missing until you get an inventory. As you walk through the place, it certainly looks tossed, but nothing looks like it's been taken. There are photos on the wall of both girls and various friends and probably boyfriends… it looks like they take a lot of vacations together. Their names come back clear from the HQ check — nothing more than a few parking violations. The uniform who was talking to the neighbor when you came in brings you the neighbor's name and the fact that only one of the girls seemed to have a boyfriend. The one who was probably already in the apartment."

Terry nods his head, and then sighs. "Alright, well, send someone to find and get in touch with the boyfriend. No custody, but make sure he doesn't leave town, see if we can get a story from him. Someone else, notify the parents of the owner of the apartment, or failing that someone she was close to. Get the bodies off to the morgue once forensics is done with them. I want to know if it was a knife, and if so, if it came from the apartment. Get a statement from all the neighbors, and start working on known contacts for both the deceased. If we're lucky, we get a confession from the boyfriend as soon as he's asked. Otherwise, we need to figure out why someone wanted to kill her." He pauses for a moment, and then says, "we need to get security feeds from the building, or failing that, the parking lot, and we need to get statements from everyone in apartments above or below. This guy went out through the fire escape, so maybe someone got a look at him." He chuckles, and then adds, "and I'm really thinking the boyfriend, and that he came here with a plan. Likely a first offense. Folks that know anything about murder would know that going through the fire escape is the worst way out."

There's a thoughtful look, and Elisabeth considers. "All right." She checks the binder and then asks with a grin, "Anything else?"

Terry looks down at his coffee for a moment, and looks thoughtful. After a few moments of that, he shakes his head, and says, "no, I don't think so. I imagine I'm missing something, though." He lets out a quiet sigh, and then dakes a long sip out of the cup, before putting it down on the table.

Elisabeth shakes her head. "Nope, not really. In this instance, I don't think you missed anything too major — it could have been major in a different case. The locks and latches of the window were easy to use and you didnt mention checking them. So I think it's interesting that you assumed he went out as opposed to that being a point of entry in spite of glass also on the floor…. If a guy's gonna go OUT a fire escape window, why would he break it? There's a notation here that you're in fact right — in this particular case, he did go out the window and the reason was because the lock on that window was defective. Something the building manager got nailed on, by the way, since it was a fire code violation." She grins.

Terry smirks, and then shrugs. "Like I said, it looked like whoever it was on their way out. Anyway, check the locks," he scribbles something on his paper while he talks, and then nods again. He chuckles, and then said, "I didn't really assume he went out, either. Just good info to have. He breaks in, assume it's a stranger, he breaks out, assume he was trusted enough to be let in in the first place. That, and stabbing usually means it was personal. Stabbing more than once, angry."

Elisabeth nods. "Yeah, definitely that. And as a rule of thumb, when you're talking stabbings… more than four or five stabs USUALLY will mean someone very very close to the victim. You're right that the boyfriend was the culprit, according to the notes."

Terry nods, and then puts his pencil down again. "Man," he says, letting out a low whistle. "You sound like you've been doing it for years." He grins, and then leans forward on the tale again. "Good to know I got it right, though," he adds. "And I guess it gets more complicated when you take SCOUT into account, eh? An Evo standing on the outside could make the glass shatter like that, or even open the window, depending, and then that same scene would've been all kinds of different."

Blowing out a breath, Liz admits quietly, "it's the taking the Evo factor into account that I'm actually worried about. I mean… the test hasn't caught up to the reality of that so far, given that they basically test using old cases." She grins a little. "And I definitely haven't been doing it for years, but I listen a lot."

Terry only smirks in response, and spends a few quiet moments scribbling on his notebook, occasionally peeking over it to look at one of the papers on the table. Finally, he glances up at her and says, "there's a lot that we do that hasn't caught up yet." He looks back down at his notebook again, and then scribbles something else down. "But what can you do, right? This world's always been full of liars, thieves, and boyfriends who'll stab their girlfriends, all that's really changed is that now they're doing it in different ways, and can blame it all on folks with mind control."

Elisabeth grimaces at that. "Yeah, no joke." She glances at him and shrugs, offering a smile. "For what it's worth, I think you're gonna do fine. Really."

Terry nods his head, and smirks. If she only knew. "Maybe," he says in response. "I have a lot of spare time on my hands though, y'know? Gives me plenty of time to worry, and when I'm feeling constructive, plenty of time to study." He shrugs, brushing that off, and then scribbles something else down in the notebook.

Elisabeth hesitates and then asks, "Mind if I ask you a question? Cuz I'm all nosy and stuff." She grins a bit.

Terry glances up at her, the look on his face saying he's trying to figure out her question before he says anything. After a moment of that, he shakes his head, and says, "I don't. Normally I'd play some game like, every question you ask me I get to ask you one back, but I guess it doesn't matter. What's up?"

Elisabeth chuckles. "Ask what you like. If I can answer it, I will. Or I'll tell you to mind your own business. I just wanted to know how you were getting along in the bullpen. Make sure you're doing all right, you know?"

Terry frowns a little at the question, though he doesn't really look upset. "Fine," he answers, sounding as if that might be all he wanted to say. He scribbles something else down on the notepad, and then says, "I'm on my third partner since I got here, and there's a smartass here and there, but fine."

Elisabeth raises both her eyebrows. "Christ, Collins…. your third? What're you doing to them?" She's sort of teasing, but not really. There's genuine concern in her expression for his situation.

Terry shrugs, and writes something else down. It looked like that information may have bothered him for a second, but he's clearly over it now. "Nothing," he says, matter of factly. "Your little fight with those two in the stairwell set most people straight when it comes to actually causing trouble, so that's good. Plus, no one wants to outright say they don't care for us, but that doesn't stop people asking to transfer."

There's a wince and Liz says quietly, "I'm sorry." She shakes her head. "You know… When I first joined the force, I thought 'this is gonna be great!' cuz you always get the impression that cops and soldiers are like these close-knit groups of people. And there was a certain amount of harassing just cuz I was a girl, but I had their respect. And the ones I had the respect of still respected me when my status became known. The others? Honestly, Terry… there are more days than not when I wonder who the hell let the bigots loose with badges. And how we missed that it was such a big problem. I don't think it's everyone — not even close. But there's enough to make it pretty rough lately."

Terry shrugs, and then nods his head. "Yeah, I've got friends among the veterans. Hell, I told a bunch of them about what I could do before we had to Register." He chuckles, and then says, "I mean, there's never been a lack of folks giving you a hard time for something or another, so, it's nothing I can't handle." He scribbles another something in the notebook, and then falls silent again. He seems relaxed. Confident. He really does sound like he has it all under control.

Elisabeth nods to him and smiles. "All right then." She looks at her own books and grimaces. "I don't wanna do this today. I have this driving desire to play hooky and go grab a burger or something. Wanna go?"

Terry stares over his notebook at the pages scattered across the table for a long moment, before he lets out an exasperated sigh. "Yeah," he says, and then flips the notebook closed. "I really do. If this thing's gonna kill me, I may as well not help it." He grins, and then slides a duffle bag out from under the table. "You have some place in mind?" he adds.

"Sure. Nite Owl. Best burgers in town, bar none." Elisabeth grins and sweeps her stuff back into the backpack, grateful for the company in ditching the study effort. Cuz about now, her brains feel like they're gonna ooze out her ears any second. "Know it?"

Terry nods his head, and then slides his papers off the table, putting them into the duffle. "Sure," he says, smiling, and then pulls the zipper closed. "I've been there a few times." He stands up, and fusses around with the chair for a moment before sliding it back under the table. "Drive, or subway? 'Cause if you want to drive, I'll need a ride. My car's in the shop."

Elisabeth shrugs easily. "If we're ditching, let's drive — just in case that turns into a bad idea," she comments. Cuz… it could. One or both could get summoned back to rioting in the streets to something. "C'mon. Tell me what your dream job would be," she says, apropos of nothing. "If you weren't being a cop, if you had all the money in the world, what would you do with yourself?" Cuz it's the farthest thing from studyign that she can think of.

Terry raises an eyebrow towards her, and then falls into step behind her. They'll likely get an odd look or two from the night shift, with her reputation and the conversation they're having, but Terry doesn't seem to notice, or care. "Dream job?" He shrugs, and then says, "with enough money, I wouldn't have a job. Unless I can get paid money for skiing and hiking and that crap, I'd rather not have to show up at work. You?"

With a laugh, Elisabeth admits, "It's stupid, but if I were rich? I think I'd still be doing what I do. I just wouldn't WORRY so much about smacking some people in the face."

Terry nods his head, and then shrugs. "Maybe," he says, sounding like he's really thinking about what he's saying. "I've had some doubts about whether or not I should have come back. It just doesn't feel the same as it did before." He falls silent for a moment, and then says, "I guess if it happened right now, though? I wouldn't leave either. Not without trying to set it right, first." With that, he falls silent again, and follows her out to the parking lot. He's talkative, for the night, though he doesn't really say anything else that's substantive.

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