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[personal profile] undivinecomedy
Saturday, 12November, 06:34:23
West End Avenue and 85th Street, Manhattan, NY


I knew that a human being was capable of going approximately 336 hours without sleep before the body's vital functions began to shut down one by one. Staying awake for 22 hours straight and then only sleeping three before rising for another day was not life-threatening, but it was still probably one of the most unpleasant things I wound up doing on a somewhat regular basis. The life of a cop was not for the weak of heart or body, I had known that when I took the job, but there was a reason sleep deprivation was a form of torture.

It didn't help that I was awakened half an hour before my alarm by the insistent cries of my roommate.

"I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times," I said, covering my face with a pillow, "I will give you breakfast at 7am sharp and not a moment before, Yamato."

The cat made a point of sitting on my abdomen and meowing loudly again, and I tossed the pillow aside, glowering at him. His yellow eyes always looked a little too bright against his rainy-day blue-grey fur.

"Do you spend the day contemplating new ways to raise my blood pressure, or does it just come naturally?" I asked him, and he hunkered down and tucked his legs beneath him, squinting his eyes at me. I sighed, figuring I might as well just get up. I was already awake, anyway. However I made Yamato wait for breakfast until after I'd taken a shower, just to show him I would not be manipulated into feeding him early, even under penalty of torture.

Slicking my hair back and swiping my hand across the bathroom mirror to clear away the condensation, a towel wrapped around my hips, I leaned on the counter and stared a moment at my reflection, frowning. It had only been about four hours since I had left Dante's apartment, but it sort of felt like it had happened weeks ago. We had always had a bit of an ideological disconnect, my brother and I, but it was hard to imagine that we had really come to this. I supposed I could understand that to him, it had looked as though I had simply meant to follow in our father's footsteps, and I could easily grasp why that would lead to resentment--Dante had always been one to damn first and ask questions never. I still wished he would have just talked to me about it. We hadn't been close since we were very young children, before our personal divergences had become so apparent, but if he wasn't going to make any effort to meet me half way, then neither would I.

I robotically got dressed, barely paying attention to which shirt and slacks I pulled from my closet--not that it mattered; everything would have matched just about everything else either way--and then nabbed Yamato under his ribs and slung him over my shoulder to head out to the kitchen. He complained loudly in my ear, but made no effort to retaliate. His bark had always been worse than his bite, as it were.

Setting him down on the kitchen floor, I pulled open the pantry and grabbed a tin of cat food, popping it open and scooping it out onto a plate. That was when my phone rang, and it actually startled me so badly I sliced my finger open on the sharp edge of the lid of the can. I swore under my breath and set the plate down in front of Yamato, sort of cradling my bleeding finger in my other hand. I had left my phone in the pocket of my coat when I'd come home, draping it over the back of the couch because I was just too worn out to bother hanging it up. Retrieving the phone, I recognized the number as Mary's.

I flipped the phone open. "What," I grunted into the receiver, and I could practically see Mary's eyebrow arch.

"Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed," she said, and I rolled my eyes.

"If you have nothing useful to contribute I'm hanging up."

"Someone posted your brother's fees," she said then, and I paused a moment to indicate surprise. I knew already, of course, but I wasn't about to tell her why.

"And?"

"So he's gone," she said, and I sighed when I heard her take a bite of something. Probably one of those infernal bear claws she liked so much. Even on the phone, she was going to talk with her mouth full; there was no reprieve.

"And?" I was getting impatient.

"Well you don't have to bite my head off," she complained. "I just thought you'd want to know."

"I appreciate being apprised of the breaking news."

I hung up the phone. I was not in the mood for Mary's enthusiasm today.



A paper Starbucks cup was placed on top of the stack of reports I was reading, and I lifted my head. Mary was dressed a little differently today--she was actually wearing a suit. It was cream-colored with pinstripes; a jacket and a short pencil skirt with a slit up one side. It looked kind of expensive. I was a bit surprised.

"What's the occasion?" I asked, and she folded her arms. The shirt beneath the jacket was still unbuttoned too far for my taste, but she obviously wouldn't be arsed to fix that.

"You sounded like hell on the phone, and you look worse," she said, and then jerked a thumb over her shoulder. "The coffee here would probably just give you the runs on top of everything else, so I thought I'd procure something consumable."

"I..." I had meant the suit, not the coffee, but I supposed I appreciated the sentiment of the gesture. I preferred tea over coffee, but at this point I probably could have done with a caffeine IV in my elbow, so I accepted the offering.

"What'd you do to your hand?" she asked, and I glanced at the thin bandage around my finger.

"Epidermal incision," I replied.

"Paper cut?"

"Feline feeding accident."

"How is Yamato?"

"Grumpy and impatient as ever," I said, surprised yet again that she remembered that.

"You taught him well," she said cheekily, and sat down on the edge of the desk. Her skirt was too short; I could see far more of her thigh than was appropriate in an office setting, but I didn't have the energy to chastise her. I threw back a gulp of the coffee and found it was actually quite palatable. Twisting the cup in my hand, I checked the grease pencil writing on the side. A mocha. She had gotten me a mocha. I gave her a look, and she just grinned.

"What, too manly for a girly drink?" she chuckled. "Come on, I know you still like chocolate."

I just grunted, going back to the reports, and she slid off the desk to return to her chair, a portfolio in her lap and her own coffee cup in her free hand. There were a few minutes of silence, and then she spoke up again.

"So Wesker's goons went to arraignment court about half an hour ago," she said.

"Mm," I replied, not looking up.

"They plead guilty to the gambling and money-laundering charges."

"Mm."

"The trial's in two weeks, bail's set at $450K each, since they're all probably a flight risk. No matter--one of the flunkies with tenure will pay their way out and we'll never hear a word about where Wesker himself is, in the end."

"Mm."

"He's not necessarily our guy, though. There was nothing to indicate he was at the scene of my father's death."

"Mm."

"Also aliens landed on the roof last night and have taken over all of the rookies' bodies. We'll have to eliminate them before the invasion spreads."

I glanced up at her, and she pursed her lips.

"Well, at least I know you were actually listening."

"Mm." My eyes went back to my reports.

"Is that all you have to say?" She leaned forward, frowning at me. "I know you're not into smalltalk, but this is ridiculous."

"You were doing so much chattering I figured I had to balance it out," I said, and she rolled her eyes.

"Somebody needs a nap," she said.

I ignored her. I had a two-year-old case file that had been sitting on my record like an open wound, I had reunited with my not-so-dead brother only to discover he was still nothing but a huge pain in the ass, I hadn't slept hardly at all the previous night, and we'd hit a dead end on the captain's case. Why she thought I would be up for idle conversation today, of all days, I couldn't guess.

The words were blurring together again, but I was sure there had to be something I'd missed. There was no way someone was going to get away with killing my captain--killing someone's father--on my watch. I didn't consider myself a vigilante; for the most part I honestly didn't like people, but serving and protecting had always been something I could stand behind.

"Vergil."

People were foolish. People were weak. And if weak, foolish people got into trouble on their own, that was their own fault, but preying on those who didn't have the power to defend themselves was disgusting.

"Vergil?"

I hadn't been able to protect my family. I hadn't been able to protect Mary's. The least I could do was bring those who had destroyed them to justice.

"Vergil."

I looked up. Mary's brow was knit.

"Are you okay?" she asked, and I just peered at her a moment. I supposed that depended on how one defined 'okay', but I wasn't about to own up to anything. She narrowed her eyes. "You never even ate anything yesterday, did you?"

"What are you now, my babysitter?"

"Well clearly somebody has to keep an eye on you," she said, and I just grunted again. Her voice was starting to give me a headache. She scoffed--"Men are so helpless..."--and then got to her feet.

"Where are you going?" I asked, watching her saunter toward the door, and she glanced back over her shoulder with a wink.

"To get donuts," she said, and I sagged a little in my chair.

"I don't eat donuts."

"I know," she said, and then winked, turning back to the door and waving over her shoulder; "they're to shut me up."

I propped my elbow on my desk and rested my temple against my fist, shaking my head. Between Mary and Dante, I was certain I was going to just have a stroke.

"Long morning, detective?" sergeant Langdon's voice piped up from the doorway, and I greeted him with a halfhearted wave.

"Long yesterday that didn't really end," I corrected, and he pulled up Mary's chair and sat down, propping his ankle on his opposite knee.

"Heard your long-lost brother was dragged in last night," he said.

"Don't remind me," I replied, rolling my eyes and taking another sip of my coffee. "I kind of wish he'd stayed dead."

"You don't mean that," Christopher chided, and I sighed.

No, I didn't mean that, but somehow believing he was dead was better than knowing he was the complete delinquent I had tried so hard to keep him from becoming.

"This him?" he asked, and I watched him pick up that photo from the corner of my desk again. He gave a low, appraising whistle. "Damn, you two look like twins."

"We are."

"Oh." He tilted the photo, then looked at me. "I think you've really fine-tuned your scowl since this was taken." I just looked at him, and he turned the photo to me. "This was a good start," he said, pointing to me in the photo, where I was sort of glowering at the camera; "you definitely had a good foundation, but over the years you've really brought out the true soul of that Evil Eye."

"Whenever you're done."

He set the photo down in front of me and got to his feet again, sliding a thin tri-folded stack of papers across my desk at me. "Here," he said, tapping two fingers on the folded paper and grinning at me. "I don't care if he's not the one who took out the captain, I want Wesker to go down. I know the captain would have wanted it, too. So don't say I never did anything for you." He chuckled to himself. "Nice bling, by the way," he added, gesturing at the photo again.

"Bling?"

"Catch you later!"

He turned and headed back out the door--he never stayed in the office long. I guessed that was a perk of being a detective instead of working a beat; I had a desk--and I waited until the door had swung closed before unfolding the paper and skimming it. A search warrant? For a pawn shop in the Bronx? It wasn't an address we'd checked out before, actually; it was in a different area of town.

There was a Post-it note stuck to the last page of the document, with Langdon's scrawl scratched across it. 'Look for unregistered weapons; someone ran out of cash collateral at the last poker game.' Well, criminal possession was a felony--it would get Wesker into arraignment court and would probably get him a hefty bail payment requirement. We could tie him to several smaller charges, too, and the more charges we could cram into his trial the longer he would be off the streets. The trick was going to be finding him.

At this point, I didn't really care about him anymore, but I knew the captain had been tailing him. Maybe I could do the captain this last favor before getting back to figuring out who killed him.

I stood up and swirled my coat onto my shoulders, and then something in the photo caught my eye. I picked up the picture and brought it closer to my face, then found my mouth involuntarily twitching into a hint of a smile. Dante and I were both wearing what looked like big, chunky necklaces. Bling. Right. I'd forgotten about those. The photo had been taken shortly before our eighth birthday--Mother had given us those amulets. They were actually two halves of one whole antique talisman our father had brought to America when he'd immigrated from Italy, and he had entrusted it to her. When she had discovered that it broke into two identical pieces, she had then given the amulets to us. There was a symbolism to them that I hadn't quite appreciated at the time...

I wondered whatever happened to them. I hadn't brought mine to London with me; it was probably still at the house in the Hamptons.

Suddenly, I had to know if it was still there. I wasn't sure what it was that catalyzed the sudden need to know, but I grabbed the warrant, stuffed it in my pocket, then grabbed my keys out of the top drawer of my desk. I would catch up with Mary later. Right now, I had to make a small personal detour.



I had forgotten how long the drive between Manhattan and the Hamptons was. At least it was overcast--I don't think I could have tolerated direct sunlight sitting in traffic for an hour and a half. I was exhausted, irritated, and I was pretty sure I was developing a migraine, but by the time I really started to get angry at the rubberneckers and people driving ten under in the left lane, I had already passed the halfway point, and turning around would have been counterproductive.

I hadn't been back to the house in over a year. Something kept telling me I should have just sold it, since nobody lived in it anymore; it was really just taking up space. I couldn't quite bring myself to do it, though. My father had bought that house when he had come to America from Italy. My brother and I had grown up in that house. How could I just turn it over to someone else? Dante had always been the sentimental one, but somehow the thought of not having that house anymore left a bad taste in my mouth.

It was one of the older properties in Southampton, built in the style of an English manor. The paint on the porch was flaking, and the windows all looked frosted with neglect and dust. In a way, I almost felt guilty for letting it fall into disrepair in the first place, but as compulsive as I may have been about keeping a clean apartment, I was no caretaker. I had no idea how to maintain a house: I had to call the super to change the filter in my air conditioner.

When I first came home from England to find the house empty, I hadn't bothered to take significant inventory. All I had known was my brother obviously hadn't been in the house for a long time. I had swept all of the unanswered letters into the hall closet and left for Manhattan. Only when I came to the apparent conclusion Dante had died did I go back to the house to see if any clues as to what had happened had been left behind. Most of the house had been left the way I remembered it, but a few things were visibly missing; they had all been expensive, though I couldn't recall anymore just what they were. It had looked like a robbery, and even now I had only a few more answers than I did then.

I wasn't here for answers this time, though. I was here for that amulet our mother had given me.

My old room was still untouched. It seemed odd to me that my room hadn't been burglarized when most of the rest of the house had. Granted, most of my possessions were of scholastic value rather than monetary, but there was still something suspicious about it. Walking into that house was like walking back in time, but walking into my old room was like walking into a wall. Almost everything I owned now had been bought new when I moved to Manhattan; I had brought very little with me when I moved to the city. It wasn't exactly that I had wanted to forget, but something in me didn't want the daily reminder of what we'd once had, and what I now lacked.

I checked the drawers in my dresser, a few boxes in the closet, and a handful of other places I figured the amulet would have been left, to no avail. Much more space-efficient than my brother, I had kept my room very neatly organized, but the amulet was nowhere I might have left it.

Reaching into my pocket to retrieve my phone when it rang, I shook my head hopelessly. Mary again.

"What."

"Where are you?" she asked. "Salazar and I already ate all the donuts."

"I'm in the Hamptons," I replied, and she made a surprised noise.

"How dare you go to the Hamptons without me?" she gasped. "No fair taking a vacation in the middle of a case, Vergil."

"It's not a vacation," I sighed, kneading my brow again. That headache was coming back. "I had to pick something up from my parents' old house, that's all."

She harrumphed, and I was sure she had just folded her arms and now her cleavage was hanging inappropriately out of her shirt again. "Well, you could have told me," she complained. "I'm supposed to know where my partner is."

"You're not my partner," I replied tersely, realizing an instant too late that it probably sounded meaner than I intended for it to.

She seemed undaunted. "That's not what you said last night," she said, and I could hear the grin in her voice. I rolled my eyes.

"I told Dante you were my partner because otherwise you would have been fair game," I explained long-sufferingly, and she sighed.

"You have absolutely no sense of humor," she said. I didn't know what she meant by that. "I appreciate your stepping up to defend my honor, though. Who knew you were such a Paladin?"

"We have to go back to the Bronx," I said, pressing on through the inane musings.

"Eh? Why?" She sounded disappointed, like she'd been hoping to join me in the Hamptons instead. I guessed I wouldn't have put that past her, to be honest.

"We have to check out some pawn shop by Exit 13," I said. "Langdon got us a warrant."

"Warrant?" she said. "There's more?"

"Your father had to have been following Wesker for some reason," I told her. "He had taken a personal interest in him, and he would have wanted to catch him on every possible charge." I paused. "This one's right up your alley, anyway," I added, and she 'hmm'ed.

"Is that so?"

"Seems we're looking for more guns," I said. "Someone ante'd up with firearms instead of cash, and they were tracked to Delavall and Hollers."

"I guess we'll take what we can get." I heard her shift a bit, perhaps moving the phone from one shoulder to the other, and then she said, "When should I expect you back?"

"I'm leaving now," I said, digging my keys out of my pocket and heading back down the stairs to the main level of the house. "I should be back within two hours, providing the general populace remembers where the accelerator is."

"Then I'll meet you at Delavall and Hollers," she said. "No sense backtracking to pick me up."

"I didn't know you had a car," I said, furrowing my brow as I closed the front door behind me. I knew she wasn't foolish enough to take the subway into the Bronx.

"I don't have a car," she said, and I paused, waiting for an explanation that didn't come. "See you there," she said, and then the call ended.

I folded the phone closed and shook my head, getting back into the car and giving the house one last look. I hadn't found what I was looking for, but that seemed to be a trend recently. Not looking forward to the drive back, I started the engine and turned out of the drive, headed back toward the freeway.

Hopefully the search at the pawn shop would be more fruitful.

Date: 2012-11-07 04:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tioprerar58.livejournal.com
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