Paper Trail


henry_icon.gif hokuto_icon.gif

Also Featuring:


Scene Title Paper Trail
Synopsis Two Company agents investigate a murder that happened in Central Park over a week ago.
Date March 12, 2010

Central Park

Under the gray light of open skies, Central Park looks like something out of a children's fairy tale. Stickbare trees claw up at the skies decked with heavy white snow, while thick flakes fall steadily like some too-picturesque snow-globe depiction of winter. Lamp posts lining the shoveled and snow-blowed walkways through the park are covered with frost and decked with icicles, and it feels like winter may never let go of the city. It's almost spring and it looks like the north pole here.

In this early morning hour, only two people are out on the southern edge of the park, bordering the closed off section near the ruins of Midtown. Twenty foot high concrete barricades loom in the far horizon like the walls of some dystopian castle, search lights cutting thorugh the snow where Homeland Security checkpoints going in to the ruins keep watch for pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

But before that area is reached, 100 cares of scarred wilderness belonging to the park remains. Inplowed pathways trodden down by foot traffic from vagrant residents living in shanty towns on the border of the ruins proper. The largest of which is a veritable tent city situated primarially beneath one of the derelict foot bridges that crosses thorugh the park.

Here, a sixty foot tall chunk of concrete and rebar thrown by the explosion three years ago rises up out of the snow, frosted and decked with freshly fallen powder. Not far away, burning steel drums are surrounded by the huddled masses spoken of by poets, warming cold hands over open flames. Blue tarps are dusted with snow, hung on clotheslines or on makeshift wooden frames made from debris of burned out buildings salvaged before the barricade wall went up.

Here, some fifty homeless gather together from the society that has lost touch with them. It's perhaps not surprising that the two people headed into this part of the park aren't dressed like federal agents today.

Hokuto Ichihara looks equal parts salvation army and goodwill, with her brown tweed overcoat, bright yellow knit cap holding down umkempt black hair and a brownand canary yellow striped wool scarf that would look more at place on a wild-haired man come stumbling out of a blue phone box.

Angling brown eyes over to the gentleman at her side, Agent Ichihara quirks one dark brow on their way towards the shanty town. "I… recommend you do most of the talking. I figure you might be able to identify with thes epeople a bit better? Most of them, from what I have dreamt, are war veterans— Iraq and Afghanistan, some from the original gulf war. You have, ah, some common ground?"

Common battleground, more like it.

And Webb is rocking the homeless veteran look, within reason. He's got a worn olive drab parka on (hood down, lest it fuck with his peripheral vision), grey wool gloves and hat, sweat pants. Cleaner and in better repair, and far more pink with health underneath all of it, than most of those they'll visit today. He clumps along in waterproofed combat boots, slants a look at her out of those sky blue eyes. "Yeah," he says, heavily, jamming each hand into the opposite sleeve like a monk. He glances around at the figures trying to capture the warmth from each fire. "There but for the grace of God….." HE doesn't finish the sentence, but wonders of her, quickly, like the question escapes before he can rein it in, "You ever walked in my dreams?"

One dark brow up beneath the trim of her knit cap, Hokuto looks askance at Henry with a feline smile as her head quirks to the side. "Maybe," she implies with a waggle of her brows before picking up her pace, moving around a tree with swno-sagging branches, towards the edge of the shanty town. Brown eyes are more settled now on the tired homeless than on Henry, and her coy answer is par for course with the dream walker.

Entrance into the shanty town's periphery is met by crooked glances and nervous stares from most of the people huddled together for warmth. Hokuto can't help but arrest her forward momentum once the first volley of narrowed eyes and distrustful stares come her way, and she hesitates until Henry catches up, offering him a nervous look.

"Most of the people here saw him— our target— that night…" Her voice is kept low, leaning in towards Henry as she speaks, hands tucked into the pockets of her jacket. Hokuto stays close, familiarly close, the way someone's girlfriend or wife might, shoulder to shoulder, head angled towards Henry. She's playing the role that fits best today.

"Who should we talk to?" At the question, it's clear to see much of the congregation of homeless are clustered into small cliques within their own homeless society. Under the footbridge, there a small fire pit beaten out of the concrete where a young woman and several small children sit on upturned milk crates. Away from them, a group of three tired and weary looking men in their mid forties with thick beards pass around a bottle in a paper bag, using a busted television with a fire burning inside for warmth. Then there's a group of ten or so twenty-year olds huddled around a burning barrel, hands warming over the fire, laughing and snappily conversing with one another.

Who looks like they might be …..well, fuck. Any of the men especially might've been fighters. Since no one group looks like an obvious target, he doesn't single one out. Rather, he heads for a little open space, squares his feet, and simply says, aloud, "HEY! Name's Webb. I usedta be 3ID back in Iraq, but I got up close and personal with an IED and that was the end of that. Anyone got a drink or a minute for a fellow veteran?" Not that he -wants- any of the rotgut they're probably passing around. It's funny how he pitches his voice - not a bark or a shout, but somehow it penetrates much further than it should, not too much muffled by the snow that's already fallen.

"Heh— " it's all of the aborted attempt at dissuading Henry from doing exactly what he does that Hokuto can manage. Her brown eyes go wide and she creeps up towards him with a sheepish expression, reaching out to rest a hand on his shoulder and try to play the part of some concerned associate. Teeth toying on her lower lip, she catches Henry's gaze and makes a motion of her eyes over her shoulder towards the men that were sitting and drinking around the burning television. One of them's raised a hand, waving Henry over with dirty fingerless gloved hands.

What Henry sees over Hokuto's shoulder are the twenty-somethings around the burning drum watching Henry and Hokuto more carefully. Henry hasn't been in this line of work and not seen that look before, the vulturish carrion-packing expression some vagrants get when they smell money or blood in the water.

It's too bright out, too open, and too uncertain for them to really make pickings of the pair, but Henry can tell that they might not have been so hesitant were it dark out. Giving a nudge to urge Henry back towards the men around the burning television set that seem to be willing to offer him a drink, she couldn't be any more nervous.

And….while Henry's not Evolved, there's a transformation nonetheless. Like….he just added ten pounds of muscle and an attitude. It's just something in the body language, a look in the eyes. He crunches towards the one who's lifted a hand, narrowing his eyes at the older man. "Hey," he says, more softly. Not looking at the crowd of gangrel youth, but aware of them nonetheless.

"Hey man," a scraggly white-beareded man with creases at the corners of his eyes and a somewhat Santa Claus quality about his whiskers notes with a tip of his head to Henry. "Thought you two might be squatters from Thomas Jefferson lookin' for hand outs." Homeless people fighting over turf, that's novel. "Any boy from one've the sandboxes is good on me, got us a fresh bottle of Wild Turkey, have at." Offering out the paper-wrapped bottle to Henry, the gruff looking man offers eyes up towards Hokuto. "This your lady?"

"Of course." Hokuto too-quickly chimes in, nervously smiling as she takes a few steps to the side, looks around and then stands behind and beside Henry. "We— met when he was overseas. Ah, Korea." Brown eyes flick to Henry with a oh god don't make me talk look on her face. Grumbling out a laugh, the grizzled old man nods his head once, still urging the bottle up to Henry.

"Name's Claremont, pull up a rug and get warm. Got ourselves somethin hot on the tee-vee." The grizzled old man offers a wheezing laugh and shakes his head, brows creased together before he exhales a sigh and brings one hand up to rub over his knit-cap. "Where're you two kids comin' from?"

And Henry, god help him and all his intestines, takes the bottle and takes a decent swig from it. Flames do not shoot out of his ears, nor does he choke. He grins like it's the finest Kentucky bourbon, and hands it back. "No. I got a shelter. Decent squat," he explains. Hokuto's explanation has him settling a hand at the small of her back, that ancient gesture of possession. Me have woman at home in cave, sometime let her out for air. She can slap him for harassment later. "Near Midtown. Just far enough that my dick doesn't glow in the dark when I piss, let's put it that way. But I'm curious. I heard an old buddy of mine was here, and got killed. Jimenez was his name."

Brows furrowed, Hokuto does her best to play along, after all this is in the line of duty and for a good cause. Claremont furrows his brows and purses his lips when the name Jiminez is mentioned, and he takes the bottle of Wild Turkey back, swigging from it himself before looking over to a younger man, probably in his 40s, listening to the conversation. "Harry, s'at Jiminez kid the one that got killed up past the bridge?" Claremont cocks a brow, watching his drinking buddy with an uncertain look

Bobbing his head, Harry nods repeatedly, fingers plucking at the wrapper of a Three Musketeers' bar as he does. "Yeah, yeah that— yeah that's the kid. He trued to mug some dude up ont he other side of the bridge," there's a jerk of his head to the footbridge and the glow of the fire pit inside. "He came here droppin' money off to some girl who used to live here, stupid fuck laid like a few hundred out on her and then took off."

"Right, right…" Claremont grumbles, swirling the bottle around in one hand. "Yeah that was like a couple weeks ago or something? I dunno, I heard all sort's of screams out that way, the cops showed up later. Sorry man, your buddy got himself fried by one've them Evo's."

There's a little chagrined cluck of the tongue from Henry, and he shakes his head, the picture of rue. "Man, fuck. I told the little bastard if he kept up with that John Dillinger bullshit he was gonna buy the farm. I -told- him." Henry's oh so open face is the picture of rueful dismay. "But I always thought he'd just, y'know, stop a couple. Not get reamed by Wolverine, or some shit like that. What -happened-? And he left a girl behind? She still around? I owe him….and now I can't repay him. So, I should pass on the debt, take care a' his survivors."

"Girl's name was Patricia, she had these two little kids, probably no more'n ten years old? She blew in from Jersey, lost her home when the fallout landed over the city. Says she'd never seen that guy before— old guy— white hair, really neat clothes, dressed like a cop or a banker or something." There's a shrug of Claremont's shoulders as his nostrils rankle and he takes another swig from his bottle. "Cops were swarmin' all over this place once somebody called 'em when they found the body… wasn't pretty."

Hokuto offers a look towards the bridge, teeth toying with her lower lip as she considers what Claremont had said. "Did— " she offers a look back to the older man. "Did you go out there and find him before the police arrived?" There's a quirk of one brow raised, and Hokuto's dark eyes angle towards Henry before settling back on Claremont. The grizzled old man rolls his shoulders and drinks deep of the bottle, offering her a more scrutinizing look now.

"And what if I did?" He asks with a sharp tone of voice. "Cops ain't never done nothing for me. I used t'have a good business down in Chinatown, before the fucking cops and feds decided to drag their turf-war with the Triad into my front door. Maybe they saved my ass from those mafioso fuckers, but they ruined my business, now fuckin' look at me."

Henry's voice is soft. Not quite -tearful-, because that'd be playing it a bit highhanded. But….there's that tightness that men get when they're holding back grief. "….I heard it was ugly," He says in the whisper of a man who almost doesn't want a real answer. "I….did he go easy? You know how it is. You lie, when you write their wives, their mothers. 'It was instant. He didn't suffer. He never felt a thing' You can't -tell- them that their baby died choking on his own blood from the shrapnel in his lungs." There's a distant look in Henry's eyes, and a shudder that's out of time with mere physical chill. Cue the CHARLIE'S IN THE TREES flashback. But Henry drags himself out of it before it can really take hold, and looks to Claremont pleadingly. "I'm sorry, man. What happened to you?" he asks, tone far more matter of fact.

Hokuto looks away and down to her lap when Henry starts to go all Heart of Darkness on her, either out of some semblance of the act or perhaps because it freaks her out just a little. Claremont seems less phased, swigging off of the whiskey bottle before offering it back out to Henry. "Just got fucked by the man, dry and hard, you know how it goes." Creasing his brows, Clarement offers a look over to Hokuto, then back to Henry with a huff of breath. "All I know is I heard him scream, buddy of his actually called the cops. I wasn't gonna. I laid low when they showed up…"

Reaching into his jacket, Claremont produces a wallet, waggling it around in his hands. "Fuckers didn't know I grabbed this. No cash in it, but it might've been the guy's who killed your buddy. What's inside might be kind've interesting to you." Claremont holds the wallet up, then arches a gray brow.

"But a'guess that depends on what it's worth to ya." Of course, Claremont wants something for it, nothing is ever easy.

As if he can't help himself, Henry literally makes with the grabby hands. Not an actual attempt at a snatch, but that involuntary gesture. He sticks his hands back into his pockets immediately, looks chagrined. He offers a shaky laugh that comes out in puffy gusts like a steam engine starting. "I've got a little money," he says. "I got my dad's watch. Jimenez was a stupid fuck, but ….that doesn't make it right. I wanna know who did it. Maybe can't ever -do- anything, but I want to know. Unless you got something else you think I might have?"

"Keep the watch, fork over the cash and it's yours." Claremont explains with a waggle of the wallet. "I got my own mouth to feed too, and if this means enough to you, its yours, otherwise…" He makes a motion like he's going to toss it into the fire inside of the television, and at that Hokuto lifts up both hands and makes a pleading expression, dark eyes angles towards Henry. She doesn't want to make the same mistake of pulling out her own wallet here, not to mention the Homeland Security badge she's got inside of it that might get seen.

"He'll pay." Hokuto informs flatly, nervously, looking over to Henry with brows furrowed while Claremont ovvers a cackling laugh, curling his fingers around the wallet again and holding it snug against his palm. "Right," the old man grumbles, looking from Hokuto to Henry. "Looks like the missus wants to find out who did this too. Just fork over whatever you've got on you and the wallet's all yours friend."

Which proves to be about eighty bucks. Henry's pale and tight-lipped as he hands it over. Happily, his wallet's in an inner breastpocket - he can pull out his money without revealing it. The bills are as grungy as you might expect, if he's been hoarding them carefully for days. But he doesn't protest or whine. Just looks at Claremont pleadingly.

"All yours kid." Claremone treplies with a smile as he folds the money against one hand and offers the wallet out with his other. "No identification in it, but there was a receipt." Claremont notes with a raise of his brows, bearded smile a bit lopsided as he counts the money out with an appreciative expression, then tucks it into his jacket pocket with a few pats. When Henry folds the wallet open, paperwork crinkles around inside, a long and folded receipt just like Claremont said tucked into where the money should be.

Removing it and unfolding the paper, it's a slip from the "Speakeasy Hotel and Casino" a shit-hole dive hotel down in Red Hook. The receipt looks to have booked a hotel room for three weeks, and the timestamp at the top of the receipt reads: 16:27 — 03/01/2010. Hokuto leans over, eyeing the receipt with a crook of one brow and a slowly drawn in breath, the exhalation that comes next brings a squint and a side-long look afforded to Claremont, and then the paper again.

"That's… more than I expected." Hokuto admits in a quiet tone of voice, glancing over at Henry from the paper with an approving nod and a surprised smile. She'd expected he wasn't much more than a jarhead, turns out he's actually got some wiles up there too to dig up that clue.

That's the joy of coming off as dumb muscle. You're underestimated every time. "-Thank you-," Henry breathes, like Claremont didn't just gouge the fuck out of him for some clue and a scrap of worn leather. He slants a look at Hokuto, dubiously. "Well. Jimenez will be avenged," he says…..and while it's quiet, it has the air of a vow.

"Thanks for— for helping out." Hokuto quietly notes with a raise of her brows and a tip of her head to Claremont. The old man shrugs his shoulders, exhaling a gruff breath as he looks to the crackling fire in the television, lifting his bottle of whiskey up to his lips to take a long swig from it again. Hokuto's dark eyes move to Henry as she stands up, resting a hand on his shoulder and curling fingers against the fabric of his coat.

"Thank you for dinner for a few weeks…" The grizzled old man adds, making a toast motion with his paper wrapped bottle. "Get your asses out've the cold if you can, it's gonna be a fucker of a night, I can just feel it in my bones." Grimacing at his crude commentary, Hokuto ducks her head down into another nod and gives a faint tug at Henry's shoulder, slowly stepping back in the snow as she looks around at the shanty town, then up to the overcast skies and falling snow.

It's scary, being out here in active duty, but at least Hokuto knows from working with Henry today, that they can make a difference, and make progress, if they try hard enough.

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