Your Sympathy For Vigilantism Worries Me


elisabeth_icon.gif leland_icon.gif

Scene Title Your Sympathy for Vigilantism Worries Me
Synopsis Leland comes looking for help with a case and well… as usual, they're coming from different angles.
Date June 22, 2009

Nite Owl

Leland is here already, seated at one of the booths and fluttering at a sugar packet. This isn't exactly a gourmet spot, but the coffee's good and so is the pie. The grumpy cop looks a bit agitated and keeps glancing around the room. Liz isn't late - he's early, but the case he's working on has him more on-edge than usual.

When she comes in, Elisabeth pauses in the doorway. It's been months since she darkened the door here, and she waves to Tom through the kitchen's pass-through window. Something gets said in the kitchen, and it makes Liz laugh — one of the nicest things about this place for her is that they know what she does. She murmurs something under her breath, sending it Tom's way, and it earns her a distinct snort from that direction and then business as usual goes on as the man in the kitchen hollers, "Order up!" and rings the little bell that's been there for 50 years or something. Liz takes herself to Lee's table and slides in — no uniforms here, just a pair of comfortable-looking khaki slacks and a white T-shirt topped by a navy blue lightweight blazer to cover her shoulder rig. "Hey there, you. Long time, no see," the blonde comments to him easily. He always looks mildly grumpy, so it's not a big deal as yet.

Leland is be-suited, as per usual. Lee's rarely seen without slacks and a blazer outside of his house. Though he is sans-tie right now. He rips the top off the sugar packet and looks up as Liz enters. There is a moment of pause before he drops the granules into the inky blackness of the coffee. "Got a case. Think it's about to go to the Feds. Wondered if you might have any insights. Cause I'm fuckin' stuck."

He tears the top off a little pot of creamer and dribbles it into the cup, then spins the clouds out with a spoon.

There's a pause as Elisabeth takes in that information. She remains quiet while the young woman at the counter brings over a cup of coffee and a container of cream packets and leaves again. Then she looks at Leland very seriously — it's the first time he's ever really approached her on a case. "Okay…. talk to me," she invites.

Leland looks left and right to see if anyone's listening. Even if they were, what he's about to say is in all the papers anyway. "You know the explosion with the Humanis First people? With all the guns, the old guy and the girl who got killed?" his brows lift. "And the Jersey cops? Well, it looks like this Italian kid is doing it. Got him on video. But fucked if I know why he's doing any of it or where he might strike next. I'm outta leads. Though it looks like the Jersey cops might have something to do with that little god healer, Abigail."

In truth, no one's paying the slightest attention to the two cops' conversation — as soon as Lee makes clear by looking over his shoulder that he doesn't want it heard, the sounds of the cafe vanish around him. They might have caught 'you know the explo,' but the silence field is nearly instant. Elisabeth tilts her head and looks puzzled. "I'm …. at a loss here. I saw the footage in New Jersey, and I know the Feds are already looking into Laudani," she replies quietly, doctoring her coffee absently while she listens. "But what do those cops have to do with Abby? She would absolutely not support or be involved in a move like that. No way in hell," she comments.

"I went to see her. She didn't know the cops personally. But when that kid came in with his fucking…sword on the video, he seemed to say her name. And it makes sense since I found out he used to be her roommate. She's connected to it somehow. And he knew the cops. They talked before he fuckin' murdered them." Lee doesn't realize it, but he's ripping a sugar pack to shreds. Thankfully, it's empty. "Not suggestin' she's part of it, but there is something there. And what the hell is with the confession? Buncha shit that happened when he wasn't even in the country, according to Felix."

Elisabeth rubs her forehead and says thoughtfully, "I've been hearing that the cops in question are corrupt in some fashion, though I haven't been looking into the case much, honestly. Not that it excuses anything." She pauses and says quietly, "Maybe the confession was just a way of getting people to look into the things he confessed to — a way of making us pay attention. Poorly executed and not well-thought-out, to be sure… it's also possible that it wasn't Laudani at all. Damn hard to say because the footage sucks both visually and auditorially…. I don't think my particular brand of skills will be of any help, but if you want me to listen more closely, I will. Probably a radio guy is what we really need, to clean it up." And then Elisabeth pauses, because something does occur to her. And boy, does it bring an alarmed, leery expression to her face.

"The tech boys've been all over it. You can have a listen if you want, but I think it's as good as it's gonna get. And seeing as whatever this Laudani said on the tape lead me to his old roommate? That makes me discount any fuckin' shapeshifter theories. Sides, that was personal. Just shooting them, I could see. But no one who uses a sword these days does so without wanting to feel their victime die."

Leland works his jaw to the side and drops into thought. So much so that he nearly misses that look on Elisabeth's face. But when he notices, he focuses on her and squints. "What?"

"Well… something Abby said back when she first gave her statements just popped into my head," Elisabeth says, a frown pulling her brows together. "Back then I couldn't do anything about it or even give it credence because of the source… the guy who held her hostage told her that he got her name from cops, though. Is it even remotely possible that the cops who gave Logan her name from the Registry were those ones?" she asks. "It would … explain Laudani's actions, if it were to prove true."

"Nngh." Leland's face contorts as he raises the coffee to his lips. He sips it, then drops it again. He rolls his shoulders back. "The cops in Jersey were under investigation by IA. So it's possible. But hell, don't really matter if they did it or not. If Laudani believed they did, then there's motive right there. And reason for the personal killing." A beat, "N'proof that this isn't any impersonator if you ask me."

There's a slow nod, but Elisabeth offers quietly, "Frnakly, because of everything else that Laudani's involved in, though, it's also a great way to hatch a frame job," she comments. "All things being equal, I'd say you're right — that Laudani was caught on camera, and his motive sure as hell would check out in that case. But at the same time…. he's confessed in the same breath to things we know he didn't and couldn't have done, and he's done it in such a spectacular way as to draw all this attention to himself. I have some doubts as both a cop and a person, here, Lee — if only because if I were to have gotten wind of the idea that these cops might have given Abby to Logan and gone after them to kill them…. I sure as hell wouldn't have done it in a perfect way to get caught, you know? And I do know Laudani's a pretty smart cookie."

Leland rubs fingers through his hair and massages at his temple. He's silent for a moment and bites his lower lip in thought. It's a rather juvenile expression from a man who is anything but juvenile. "Maybe he's just fuckin' suicidal and is doing what he can to make his point. And we haven't caught him. Don't know where the hell he went or where he's gonna turn up. Might just be mocking us with it."

He sits back and rests his weight against the booth. "In any case, it's gonna be out of my hands pretty soon. S'all over my head, Liz. I chase thugs. Drug dealers, petty thieves. This twisted terrorism shit and serial killing?" It requires a sensitivity and a knowledge of human nature that Leland Daubrey is too much a blunt instrument to navigate with any grace. He makes a good thug-catcher because he's something of a thug himself. Teodoro Laudani might be a lot of things, but these aren't the criminal actions of a thug. There's too much purpose, too much conscious thought.

Elisabeth nods slightly. "Ultimately, Lee…. there's not much to be done about it. Terrorism and serial killing are not your purview, and Teo…. is going to have to fend for himself on this one," she says quietly. "I wouldn't expect you to cover for him or hide anything in the investigation or …. I'm not sure what you're searching for here from me. Whether it's an explanation — and I swear to you, I don't have one — or …. absolution for turning it over… tell me what you need from me?" she asks.

Leland turns a rather dark look at Elisabeth. His face twitches. "Why in fuck would I ever even goddamn consider covering for this murderer?" His fists grip together. Doesn't matter that she said she wouldn't expect him to. The very thought of ever doing something like that grates at him. "All I was looking for was another set of ears, to hear this, to see if I was missing something in front of my nose."

He's starting to suspect she feels sympathy for Laudani, and that heckles him greatly. He stands suddenly. "I don't want him to 'fend for himself.' I want to see him behind bars. Whether those cops were guilty or not is irrelevant. He killed law enforcement officers." He leans on the table and looks Liz in the eye. "Your sympathy for vigilantism worries the fuck out of me, Elisabeth." And then he pushes up straight, then turns for the door.

Elisabeth relaxes and laughs a bit. "Okay, then…." she tells him. "Look, you brought it to me, and I handed you motive…. Regardless of whether I feel sympathy or confusion over a man that I've known in the past to be a good one doesn't matter. If he did this, and most of the evidence points to the fact that he did, he deserves jail, Lee." She shoves a hand through her hair. "Does it weird me out? Yeah, sure. Am I certain that the guy in question is actually our perp? No… but I wouldn't rule it out either. I don't think you're missing anything, Lee," she says.

"I didn't know you knew him too." Or Lee would have never come to her with this. "Fucking hell. Is this guy in bed with a bunch of cops?" Oh, if only he knew. He digs into his wallet and drops down the cash to cover his coffee with a good tip. Hey, his family's in the restaurant business. "All I see is a criminal, a motive, a crime and evidence. I don't give a fuck what his inner struggles are. I just want to stop him."

There's a brief nod and Liz says, "Then do what it takes to stop him." It really is that simple. She doesn't in the least seem conflicted about it. "Teo Laudani used to be a teacher at Washington Irving High School during the couple of years I was teaching there. Before I came back to the force," she tells him.

"I'm out of leads. As much as I fuckin' hate to say it, if I keep this case? Then I gotta wait for him to kill someone else and see if I can't find new leads. Or I can suck it up and hand it to people who're experienced in dealing with these kinds of cases." Leland thumbs through his wallet and then shoves it back into his coat. "I don't like people taking the law into their own hands, Liz. That way leads fuckin' anarchy." That would have been an insightful statement that sounded intelligent without the 'fuckin'.'

Elisabeth nods and grimaces faintly. "I'm not sure they're going to really be able to do more with it than you are, based on your descriptions of the evidence so far — nothing's really pointing where he might go next, or even if he'll hit anyone else. Or if he does and it's motivated by Abigail…. it's possible he'll hit John Logan out on Staten." At that, Elisabeth shrugs just a hint. "And we don't have jurisdiction there anymore."

"They've got more experience figuring out the psychology of these kinda people. Resources I don't have. Maybe even moles in Humanis First. Sides, it's only a matter of time before they take it. Terrorists and serial killers aren't in my jurisdiction. Might as well let 'em take it rather than wasting a lot of effort on somethin' I won't get credit for." A touch of bitterness in Lee's tone. But then, cops are historically sore about jurisdictional issues.

Humanis First. Now there's a name that makes Liz grimace. "Humanis First…. and you wonder why I might sometimes have some sympathy for vigilantes." She swallows at least one gulp out of her coffee cup, leaves her own money on the table, and shoves our of the seat. "I can have sympathy and still do my job," she tells the man. "And I've done so on a pretty regular basis, up to and including running in a guy I was fucking at the time. So don't question my commitment to the job, okay?" Though to be fair, she wasn't fucking Conrad at the times she busted him. He doesn't need to know that.

Leland doesn't have a good response to that. So all he does is grunt and rock back a step. "I'll see you around, Harrison." Perhaps significant that he dropped the familiar on that. Detective Daubrey does not believe in vigilantism. That's why he gets so angry at Felix when he goes off half-cocked, or why he heckled at Liz's suggestion of defying the word of law. The law's all he knows. He tries not to noodle on complicated moral issues. He just does his job. That's why he's not having any luck sniffing down Laudani.

He turns and starts for the door, shouldering it open as he steps onto the street.

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