Riding In Cars With Strangers


gretchen_icon.gif koshka_icon.gif

Scene Title Riding In Cars With Strangers
Synopsis Koshka tries to be a law abiding citizen, but the law apparently has other plans.
Date March 16, 2011

NYPD Headquarters

There isn't much to look at, in here.

By now, most respectable police stations have a room set aside especially for the Registration process, albeit an optional one — some do it at their desks, especially in the cases of the Non-Evolved. It's where Koshka finds herself, and has continued to find herself throughout the past half-hour, when the policeman took the test, glanced over her paperwork with a troubled furrow developed in his forehead. Would you like a glass of water? he'd offered, but only after he'd stood up and announced he just needed to make a phonecall.

The glass of water sits to her right, on the table. After he'd left it behind, she had heardthe audible click of a door lock.

White walls, but no movie-esque double-sided mirror. A camera in the corner. A Registration poster tacked to the white wall, and a few flyers. Negoxan, the best new thing, being the shiniest pamphlet atop where they keep the tests in a locked metal cabinet. There is no clock on the wall to tick, but she has her effects, time-telling things like a cellphone, maybe a watch. He's been gone for thirty minutes.

Filled out to the best of her knowledge and delivered with a grin that did little to warm her expression. Koshka had finally given in and made the decision to register, deciding to take her personal fight against the system to another level now that there was more involved. Reasons she couldn't begin to explain besides life being a touch easier with legalities. It left her nervous, antsy, and questioning why she'd come alone when there had been offers to accompany. Like the choice to Register, it had to be done alone.

The anxiety has been left to increase and fester. The door locking more ominous as the seconds tick by. Stubbornly the girl has tried to play it cool, the glass of water ignored and her cell phone looked at only twice. But thirty minutes is a long time in a teenager's mind. Once that mark has been touched and passed, Koshka looked at the door.

Rising from the chair, she tries the doorknob. She has to, they might have forgotten, gone home or to lunch and left her without a second thought. But it's locked as that frightening sound foretold. With a sigh, Koshka returns to the chair, giving the glass a small nudge and a dubious look. Thirty minutes is an awfully long time.

As if summoned by magic, the door shifts not a few moments after she's sat back down from trying it. But who comes in is not the weary police officer, but rather, a willowy young woman who looks fresh out of university, her long brunette hair pinned at the nape of her neck, her clothes professional yet easy. She carries a file, the one that contains Koshka's papers, and when she enters, she closes the door shut behind her. It doesn't lock, this time.

"Hey," she says, with a reassuring warmth to her. There's a badge at her belt. Department of Evolved Affairs. "My name's Gretchen Berg, and you must be— " A tilted glance at paperwork. "Bethany?"

She hasn't been forgotten! The relief is short lived as Koshka looks toward the door, expecting the officer who'd taken her paperwork and finding someone else entirely. Taking in the professional appearance, eyes staring at the file in hand and then latching onto the shiny glint of a badge at the woman's belt. It makes her just a touch wary, visibly so. But it could just be nerves for the situation. She half rises from her chair, then decides to remain seated, folding her legs to sit crosslegged upon the seat.

Koshka suppresses the sarcastic expression that generally accompanies her given name. Barely. A tight lipped half-grin moves into its place instead. "Yeah… er… Yes, ma'am. Bethany Ruslan."

When Gretchen sits down, it's with the tense kind of body language that suggests she's prepared to leave again at any moment — just a temporary stop, a quick conversation, but on the bright side, maybe that means Koshka can leave quicker. "Okay, Bethany," she says, her eyes on the paperwork rather than attempting to make eye contact once that smiley introduction completes itself. "I know you've gone over some of this stuff with the officer so I'll try to be quick—

"Can I ask why you chose now to Register?"

If this question is double-edged, its sharpness is concealed with an open curiousity, a flick of a glance, an encouraging smile. She adds, like a gentle reminder, "We've had the all-encompassing Registration system in place for a while, now."

Arms wrap around her knees and draw them inward, while Koshka cranes her neck just a little to look at the paperwork. Her fingers lace together and knuckles whiten slightly, just a small sign of tension in herself. A different kind of tension. She hesitates over the question, sitting back properly and looking toward the glass of water again, then back to Gretchen.

"I didn't know it meant kids, too," Koshka explains with a shrug. It's a lie, an easy one. She knows full well that it's been written in law for a good six months or more. But there are things she can't fully admit to. "I just… I thought when I turned sixteen I should do it. Because… I mean, I thought it was optional for kids before then."

"Weeell," Gretchen says, with a tip of her head, eyes back down on paperwork. "The only difference is that you don't face the same consequences as adults — or, rather, your guardian gets penalised. But I see that you don't have one listed?" And now there's sympathy in her thin voice, her head ducking on long neck and an inquiring raise of a shaped eyebrow. "Would you like to talk about that with me? It doesn't have to be today if it's not a good time to have that discussion, but it's why I'm here."

"Do I have to talk about it," Koshka asks. She hesitates a moment, biting down on her lower lip. Then, "I can pay the fine, though. There's a fine, right?" She hesitates again, shifting uncomfortably in her seat. She'd thought there was just a fine to pay, paperwork to fill out. Strange to run into questions about it. Maybe she hadn't thought it all the way through, or should have waited a little longer.

A brisk shake of the Department of Evolved Affairs agent's head swings errant locks of dark brown, as drifty as seaweed. "We don't have to talk about it," Gretchen assures, but there's a tone in her voice that tacks a today at the end of that phrase. She smiles, and flows to her feet. "I think we're about done here. The DoEA will process your ability description, maybe call you in if they need any further demonstrations, and assign you a tier and a card within a few working days, easy as pie.

"For now, I need you to come with me." She starts for the door, then, her steps sharp, hand reaching for handle.

Koshka lets out a slow breath. Not too difficult, little nerve wracking. Her head nods in understanding of the technicalities, arms unwrap from around her knees and hands, still laced, fall to her lap. No problem at all. A grin surfaces, still with traces of uneasiness from the whole ordeal. "Great. It'll be in the mail? Or do I come back to pick it up?" Once the DoEA woman has passed her, the girl unfolds herself from the chair to follow. Hands go into her pockets and shoulders rise a little.

"You didn't give us a mailing address," Gretchen points out, leading the way into the hallway where two police officers wait, their casual chatting coming to a halt to give the two their mute attention, barely glancing to Koshka's face. Guard dogs. "So I don't think the mail's going to be a viable option at this point. If you'd like to reconsider that part, of course, we can talk about it in a couple of days once you're properly settled in. If you have any personal belongings you want to have brought back."

"This way, please?" One of the officers indicate she follow Gretchen, so that he and his partner can fall into line.

Oh yeah. Koshka rolls her eyes, the expression cast downward lest it be taken wrong. She glances in the officers' direction when their talk cuts off, but the notice is in passing. Her attention is more firmly pulled back to the woman she's following. Settled in? "Wait, what? What do you mean? Settled in where?" Her steps slow and come nearly to a stop. The teen looks from Gretchen to the two officers again, confused.

"Harbor Court Homes," Gretchen says, intending to fling that comment over her shoulder, but a glance shows Koshka's near halt, and it has her giving a dark eyed glance over the teenager's head towards the cops, as if to check that they're there, before looking back to the girl. "No where bad — Staten Island's Reclaimed Zone has been the safe territory this city has seen since before 2006. You're a minor and a formerly Unregistered Evolved, and as far as I can tell, a runaway. In the name of protection, we need you somewhere safe while we work through the tangles."

She shrugs, a gesture that bounces her ponytail. "With any luck and if there's nothing for us to worry about, this will be figured out in a few days. For now, I'm gonna have to ask that you please don't make this any harder than it has to be."

"What? Can you really…" Koshka turns to address the two cops. Not really expecting to find any help there, or any answers. "Can she really do that?" This time, she glances over her shoulder to the DoEA woman, brows arching toward her hairline. "Why do I have to go anywhere?" Obviously she's doing alright for herself, clean, mostly well fed, a home she won't admit to having. Her eyes turn back to the officers behind her, then past, considering her chances at running.

Gretchen takes a breath, as if she was hoping Koshka wouldn't go there.

"You're being detained on suspicion of failing to Register as an Evolved, despite your voluntary appearance today. We need to be able to investigate this properly, and that in combination with your inability to cite a legal guardian or permanent address leads us to make sure you're properly placed." That glance for escape, or at least the one that strays towards any possible exit within the police station, does not evade her notice. "I'm not a cop, and I work with kids, which is why I picked up the call today — I want to make sure the right thing happens by you."

Or at least, by someone. "We can continue this conversation on the way there."

Koshka's mind grasps for something, anything that could fill in the blanks. Anything that could possibly keep her from being detained for whatever reason that won't put anything else at risk. Her hands slowly come out from her pockets, the gesture more noticeably uncomfortable. It's obvious, in her mind at least, that she's a place to stay even if there is no address to go by. And with her dad somewhere, no word from her mom in almost a decade, nothing comes firmly to mind.

"I was always told not to get into cars with strangers," the teenager states, in all seriousness. It's the only thing coming to mind. "Even if they're not offering candy." Another look is directed past the cops, and a second later Koshka tries for the slim chance at escape.

The last thing she sees is Gretchen's eyebrows gone crescent in surprise that an escape is attempted at all. Especially here. "Bethany, wait— !"

But the policemen aren't that surprised in that they respond with physical instinct, one spearheading the grab that clamps hard on her arms and uses her own fleeing momentum against her. As if stilts were kicked out from under her, Koshka feels her knee connecting hard with the floor, while her arms are pulled back not gently, but not overly aggressively either — as firm as necessary, to click cold metal around her slender wrists, and hold them tight.

"Well, that was unfortunate," Gretchen comments into the air. "Shall we go?"

Apparently, wherever they're headed is equipped to deal with people who need cuffing. "Just a minute, ma'am. We need a hit of adynomine over here!" barks one of the officers, and through vibrations on the ground, Koshka can feel rather than see back up approach.

Surprise lights across Koshka's face, regardless of whether she'd believed the attempt would work or not. Surprise is replaced by a wince as she's taken down and then cuffed. There's no struggle after that, rather the disbelieving strain against the metal around her wrists. She sucks in a couple of quick breaths, the sort of frantic panting that comes with trying to suppress fear.

Fingers stretch and then clench into fists. "No don't," Koshka asks of the floor. Her eyes slant sideways, trying to see the officers, see what's coming near. "I just…" She lifts her shoulders, giving the barest of tugs against the cuffs.

What comes near manifests as the bite of a needle suddenly delivered into her upper arm, soaking muscle with negation fluid that instantly closes its trap on her powers. It's over as fast as it starts, and smoothly, she's hauled to her feet. Maybe surprisingly, the pale moon of Gretchen's face is etched with sympathy, worry lines, but professionalism smooths them out again, and she casts the girl a crooked smile, before her attention wanders back for the cops.

A nod exchanged, before they start for out — rather than through the front entrance as intended, they head for the back, Koshka dragged unstoppably long — and not just out of the building, but off the island entirely.

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