The Rest of the Story


elisabeth_icon.gif vincent_icon.gif

Scene Title The Rest of the Story
Synopsis Vincent has questions. Elisabeth has answers.
Date October 12, 2009

Central Park

Tattered though Central Park remains in the course of recent history, aspects of the setting will remain forever familiar. The sluggish lap of scummy pond water against muddy shores, for instance, remains mostly unchanged, as does the drowsy piddle of ducks bumping paddle-boat like around the surface in the chilly grey of early Monday morning. Leaves are still changing in the trees. There are still park benches.

Vincent is seated alone on one of them, cheap coffee steaming warm on one knee while he waits. He wears no hat despite the cold, bound up instead in a black overcoat and knit gloves both several shades darker than the warm grey of the suit visible underneath. His breath fogs like the coffee in streaming bursts while he watches ducks do their thing and occasionally draws out a cell phone to tamper with it.

Clouds stir into a solid, creamy cover overhead, filtering sunlight down to a mute muffle against the briefcase stationed at his right foot and the bare sheen of his skull. True to his word, he's alone, and also true to his word, there is no tell-tale mechanical hissing, buzzing or clicking around his person that might point to clandestine efforts to monitor the conversation he's waiting to have.

Elisabeth is just paranoid enough to listen to his vicinity, in fact. She's dressed in what amounts to uniform for her these days — a pair of black slacks and black ankle boots topped with by a charcoal-gray wool jacket. It's not cold enough out for a hat yet, and the sleek gloves she wears won't impede her movements if she has to make them. One hand is shoved into the pocket of her coat while the other carries a large cup of coffee or perhaps coffee-like substance from one of the large chains. She makes no attempt to act furtive on this morning jaunt to the park. Truth be told, she seemed puzzled by his insistence on meeting her somewhere other than his office. As she comes to a stop in front of him, her only comment is a mild, "Good morning, Detective Lazzaro." At the very least, she looks like she may have gotten some sleep since he saw her last, though there's a strain in her expression that could come from what she's seen this week or could be from having to meet with Internal Affairs.

"Morning," echoed politely enough in turn, Vincent sizes her up from his lower vantage on the bench without making any move to stand. "I thought the ducks might add some atmosphere to the whole clandestine meeting thing, and then I forgot bread." He is apologetic. Sort of, anyway, in a tip of his head and his brows.

Overall he looks much the same as he did the last time they spoke. A little shorter than average, secure through the shoulders, dark of hair and eye and scarred thin across the right temple. Corporeal as the bench he's seated on, too. No ethereal drifting or foggy indistinction. "Have a seat."

Walking to the bench to settle herself in on the other side of him, Elisabeth studies the ducks on the water. "I wouldn't have expected an IA meeting to be in any way clandestine." She smiles faintly, a little wryly. "So tell me what it is that I've done that has the commissioner concerned and I'll do what I can to answer those concerns." She sips from her coffee cup and meets his gaze straightforwardly as she does so.

"Traditionally it wouldn't be." More intent upon the ducks than he is her to start, Vincent is quiet for the time it takes him to sit himself up a little straighter against the bench's rigid back. Upon closer inspection, he's less polished around the edges than he could be. The makings of a two or three day old five o'clock shadow is hatched in around his jaw, and he hasn't really touched his coffee.

"I'm not sure you understand what it is that I'm offering to you. Maybe you simply aren't interested — which is fine. Entirely your decision to make, but one that makes me avoidant of elaboration." Which is a whole lot of dialogue without very much actually said in the course of it. He taps his thumb idly alongside his coffee cup.

"Let me put it this way, Elisabeth. You're a good cop, and you have been an asset to the department and the city, but things are changing, and they will continue to change. For the better, I hope." Again, he's dawdling, and again, he pauses — this time to look directly at her, eyes black and expression somber in its flat sobriety. "What I am offering you is a reprieve. If you are willing to be honest with me outside of the context of the investigation I will be heading."

In part, she probably did misunderstand… because Elisabeth goes still under his regard. She studies his face and says slowly, "All right. You asked me to talk to you off the record… and I'm willing to entertain the notion that whatever it is that you think I've done or whatever answers you want from me are important enough to probably give you. So… ask me what it is you want to know. And I'll give you what I've got."

"Good," says Vincent. Great. He finally sips his coffee upon receiving rough agreement, so far as such things can be relied upon without recordings or the signing of papers. Thoughts are gathered, words are considered. He takes his time. "We can start narrow focus, if you like. What is your relationship with Norton Trask?"

Of all the people he could have asked about, that one was unexpected. "He's a friend," Elisabeth replies promptly. "We were in the same counseling circle after the Midtown Bomb, spent a lot of time talking." She hesitates and then admits, "He was the first person that I told my Evo status to — he'd just gotten back from Registering. Bad tour, from what I understand. We helped each other out with the backlash of Midtown and such."

"He's missing again, you know. Like he was after that initial series of incidents with the Vanguard. Lau mentioned that you covered for him from time to time." Matter-of-fact, Vincent asks with all the flat absence of affect that he initially broached the subject with. He doesn't care. He's just saying. Perhaps a little pointedly, mind, what with the way one brow lifts and his regard of her angles a little sideways. "Homeland Security is looking for him."

There is a pause while Elisabeth considers what she's going to say next. And then she says quietly, grimly, "I covered for him because the night of the bridge incident, he was out there. Helping people, trying to save people. And he went off the bridge when it collapsed. I … didn't expect him to be gone so long — I figured he would either wash up alive…. or his body would. So I told his captain that he'd had some kind of emergency and … paid his rent and such. He was kidnapped into the cage fighting ring out on Staten. I guess he thought he'd lose his job if he told people that, I don't really know. He was… in rough shape." She looks at him squarely, though, and says quietly, "I don't know where he is this time. We've spoken a few times since he left the force after that second disappearance, but he…. " She shrugs. "He seemed lost."

Vincent listens without any change in expression, which is either a testament to his sincerity re: non-judgment or a testament to his having heard all manner of wild things from the mouths of fellow officers before. His mouth has set itself into a flat line and his black eyes blink rarely behind the set of his glasses. In the end, he makes no comment one way or the other. He doesn't even nod. "Agent Felix Ivanov also took part in an incident that night — his at Eagle Electric. I believe he was awarded a medal for the actions he took there, apparently alone. Would you say you're friends with him as well?"

Considering the rumors at the precinct that she and Ivanov are lovers, it's not as if she can deny that. "Yes," Liz replies mildly. "I'd say that I'm friends with the man. Can't tell you much about the Eagle Electric thing, though — I haven't really talked to him about it."

"Okay," says Vincent after still another pause, breath fogged out after acceptance in a sigh that rolls more visible than audible through thinly parted teeth. "So far we have established that you have or have had close ties with Trask and Ivanov, both of whom — like you — seem to have been gifted with advance or specialized knowledge of an organized Vanguard attack against New York City. And both of whom, again, like you, have vanished for days at time. Sometimes with a cover, and sometimes without."

It's a little unsettling, really, the way he speaks, like he knows more than he is letting on where he can't possibly. The way he's looking at her doesn't help much either. Not quite parental, but close and calm enough to evoke similar sensations of 'I won't be mad,' accusation in the way his eyes root unwaveringly to her own. "You can begin to see where suspicion might take hold in the absence of the complete story."

Although she smiles, Elisabeth isn't amused at all. "Both men you've asked me about have extensive street contacts, as do I. I turned all the information I had on this attack over to Will Harvard as I came into possession of it, though." She grimaces. "And yeah, I know… that's pretty damn convenient considering the man can't back me up one way or the other, right?" She sighs. "But it is actually the truth. I gave him every bit of information I had, and he told me it wasn't enough to move on. So I turned what I had over to Ivanov in the hopes that he'd be able to do more with it than I could. Turned out… between us all — cops, Feds, street contacts, we were able to avert it."

"'Convenient' seems like the word of the day in regard to this entire situation. Particularly in reference to nameless and faceless 'street contacts,' — and I would hesitate to use the plural in the context of inter-departmental cooperation, by the way, where there were apparently only three of you…" Lazzaro trails off long enough to square his shoulders to her a little more directly, left elbow lifted and propped up across the bench back between them while he reconsiders wherever he was intending to go with that.

"When it comes to heading off coordinated terrorist attacks — the bombing of bridges, and the potential for massive loss of human life…" Again, he trails off. Only this time, he smiles too. That same half sliver as before, cynical amidst a forced effort towards tolerance.

"I'm not sure what sort of logic you're employing that would make you think that the department will be satisfied with vagaries in light of the fact that a larger disaster might have been averted. Protecting informants is noble, but there comes a point where the threat has passed and people begin to wonder. Important people."

Elisabeth looks at him and says, "You said you wanted the entire story. The entire story starts when I came back to this job after the Vanguard nearly killed me at Washington Irving, Detective Lazzaro. Along the way, I found out that I'd managed to make the acquaintance of some people who knew people. I cultivated those contacts because … well, in point of fact, they were small fish in a much larger situation." She looks tired, toying with her coffee cup absently. "It has become a mutually useful arrangement. I've looked the other way about the fact that some or maybe even all of them are unregistered out there and I haven't arrested any of them for petty crimes stuff, and in return, they feed me information. Like the Vanguard stuff. Like some stuff about Moab escapees and even time traveling Evos." She looks at him. "I can't…. " She hesitates. "I won't name names. I'd really like to keep my job," she tells him finally. "I'm pretty damn good at it, and I've busted my ass for this city and its people. Both on the job and off of it. If you need to come at me because I won't give names…. it's up to you. If 'important' people up the pipe want to know what actually happened out there, I'll tell you and you can pass it on. But at least half of what I say to you, I doubt you'll believe anyway. Christ… I don't even believe me half the time, and I've lived it, Lazzaro."

"I see." There's a long void of silence, of course. One is probably to be expected after that delivery, nameless and devoid of specific details as it is. Vincent sits quiet and still, coat rustling only when he turns his head enough to take in the pond again. Frigid wind stirs patchy furrows across the cityscape reflected in its surface — the air not yet cold enough for the edges to have iced over.

"I can vanish in a puff of smoke. Midtown is a crater; we have police officers who fly and investigators who manipulate sound waves with more than simple speech on an every day basis. The full extent of what I am willing to believe may surprise you."

Level as ever, he finally glances once down into the murky brown of his increasingly lukewarm coffee, then to his watch. Whatever it says is enough to make him frown to himself before he looks up at her again. "My concern is first and foremost the safety of this city and its people. Secondarily, it's the integrity of the department. Moral and structural. Anyway. I would like to know what really happened, and how others within our ranks might be involved, but not this morning. People to see, reports to write." Careers to ruin. His smile is marginally more genuine when he reaches down for his briefcase, even if it is a little sideways. "I appreciate your trust thus far. Please contact me about an evening when you have time to talk, and I will clear my schedule. You have my number."

Then, all at once and without warning, he falls away into a thatch of grey smoke that thins rapidly into nothing at all mere seconds before a beat cop in uniform blues yawns his way around a band of greenery across the pond's far shore.

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