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Contrary to what people might have thought, interrogating suspects was one of my least favorite parts of the job. It was never as interesting or eventful as it was on TV, and despite Mary's goading me about it, I wasn't going to try the Bad Cop routine on the man in front of me. It never worked with this type of suspect.

Logic dictated that there were only two types of suspects: those who were innocent and those who were guilty. Of the guilty ones, I had found, however, that they tended to fall into three further categories: those who knew they were going down, those who knew we had nothing on them, and those who knew they were going down but were going to attempt to bullshit us into believing that we had nothing on them anyway. The man at the table in front of me was of the lattermost type, which I personally found to be the most aggravating to deal with, and he was really starting to get on my nerves.

We had brought all five of the trespassers we'd found in the building at Gleason and Taylor back to the station house with us, but it was immediately obvious that the skinny man with the sunken eyes and thin, shaggy hair was the one in charge. He carried himself with an authority the others lacked. The first thing he had done when we had dragged him into the box was ask for his lawyer, which told me immediately that he knew he'd done something wrong. More irritating than his immediate embrace of his Miranda right to council, though, was the fact that he outright refused to tell us his name. That not only confirmed that he knew that he'd been up to no good, but chances were that once we had his name, it would be less than eight easy steps to getting him booked.

I did so enjoy a challenge, but I had a feeling this wasn't going to be one worth writing home about.

"You know, I get really tired of repeating myself," I told him, my hands folded together behind my back as I paced around the table. "You would think with how often we tell people that cooperation really does work in your favor that someone would have passed the word along by now."

The man at the table looked unfazed. "Whether I cooperate or not makes no difference," he said smoothly; "there is nothing you can say to me that will convince me to tell you anything without the strict guidance of my lawyer." He folded his arms over his chest--oh, so I had him on the defensive already? He must have done something quite unsavory.

I paused in my steps and leaned forward over the table. "I fail to see how divulging your name will change anything," I said. "We're going to find out either way."

He met my gaze coolly, his pale blue eyes shadowed beneath his stringy blond hair. "I think it's much more fun to frustrate you," he said, smiling faintly. The hair in his face combined with the irritatingly smug attitude reminded me of Dante, and only succeeded in annoying me further.

I inhaled slowly through my nose, then turned to glance toward the two-way mirror. "Can I have that list?" I asked, my attention on the mirror, and out of the corner of my eye I saw the man in the chair squirm a bit. The door opened, and Mary leaned in the ingress, a tri-folded piece of paper in her hand.

"I found six," she said, and I took the paper from her, unfolding it and holding it at the top and bottom at arm's length as if I were reading an official proclamation.

"Six," I echoed, and looked at the man in the chair. "Well, that means I have about a 17% chance of guessing right on the first try."

He shifted in his seat, his brow furrowed in discomfort, but made no reply. I regarded Mary where she stood in the doorway, and then leaned against the wall. The captain had compiled a list of Wesker's known accomplices, but we had never had faces to go with the names. It seemed it was time to play a little matching game. There truly was no harm in him telling us his name, since we were bound to figure it out eventually either way, but now I was going to do this my way... and he wasn't going to like my way.

"Oh, I was mistaken," I said with a chuckle, and the man frowned. I tapped the paper with the back of one hand. "Two of these names are female, bringing my chances of guessing yours on the first try to a whopping 25." I watched the man a moment, then scrutinized the list again. "You don't look like a Richard to me," I mused, drawing my finger across the name Richard Aiken as if to strike it from the list.

The man's lip twitched ever so slightly. Hm. Aiken he was not.

"And you don't strike me as a Barry, either," I went on. His lip twitched again. Oh it was so interesting to watch the involuntary responses of the human face. Like breathing and blinking, facial reactions were involuntary--they could be controlled and forced, but the initial gut responses couldn't be hidden from an observant eye. Those lip-twitches had been indicative of smug pleasure--a reflexive twitch of a smile. He wasn't Richard Aiken or Barry Burton, and his relief and amusement that I hadn't figured out his name after all was apparent, even if only for an instant.

"Two names left," I said, mostly to myself, and then I looked at the man. "I have a 50% chance of getting it right this time."

The man looked a little concerned then, but only for a moment. He thrust his chin forward and narrowed his eyes. "If my name is even on that list," he said. "You could have anybody's name on there; how do you know you've got mine?"

Two names left. Moment of truth time. I glanced at the names, then at the man at the table, then back at the names, and chose one.

"William Birkin," I read off, and his eyes widened almost imperceptibly, his lips parting.

Bingo.

"So it's Birkin, then," I said, setting the list down on the table and taking a seat across from him. "That's a locational name, isn't it? It's a city near Knottingly, if I'm not mistaken." I rarely was. "Interesting; I hadn't pegged you for an Englishman--you lack the educated look." The corner of my lip pulled up slightly. "And the bad teeth."

His fist thumped down on the table. "I lack an educated look? I am a professor of virology, you worthless pig," he snarled, defensive. "My great-grandfather was born in West Yorkshire--"

Oh, it seemed he had realized his blunder. My smile broadened. "I appreciate your confirmation," I said. "It's so amusing the way some people get uppity when you insult their heritage. Or their intelligence." I shook my head. "So, William, now that we have your name and profession, would you care to divulge why you were so adamant that it remain a secret?"

"I can help you with that."

I twisted in my chair and saw Mary still standing in the doorway. She hadn't returned to the observation room? I furrowed my brow, but tilted my head to beckon her inside. If she had some insight into the situation, I wasn't going to refuse it. I made to get up from the chair, but her hand landed heavy on my shoulder to press me back down as she stalked past me. Her fingers squeezed pointedly into my trapezius, and I squinted in discomfort--something was really wrong. Mary was stronger than her small frame suggested, but if I didn't know better I would have sworn she was trying to pierce my skin.

Something had her intensely agitated, and while I would have been the first to admit that William was rather exasperating, her anger with the situation seemed disproportionate. It seemed to be a running theme with her.

"What do you say we cut the crap, Birkin?" she snarled, releasing my shoulder and standing beside me, her hands planted firmly on the table as she leaned forward. "We already know about your little alliance with Wesker, so you can save your lies."

William sat back in his chair and looked at Mary before casting his eyes to me. "I assure you, detective, that having your pretty partner question me instead won't be any more persuasive than doing it yourself," he said, and Mary slapped her hands against the table before I even had a chance to rebut.

"Excuse me, you're talking to me now, pal," she snarled, and I suddenly found myself wondering who exactly was the 'Bad Cop' between the two of us.

William's eyes lingered on mine, and I just shook my head. Mary had the floor now, and I was genuinely curious as to what exactly she had up her sleeves. While it was true there were a lot of things that pointed to Birkin being part of Wesker's circuit, everything regarding Wesker was conjecture at this point. What did Mary know that she hadn't told me?

She shifted where she stood, moving into William's line of vision and effectively blocking my view of him with her shoulder.

"Tell us where Wesker is, and maybe we'll let you off easy," she said, and I inhaled to speak before thinking better of it. She hadn't consulted me regarding any deals to be put on the table, but I had an inkling that if I dared to interrupt or bring that fact up she would probably strike me.

I would bring it to her attention later.

"What makes you think I know where Wesker is?" William asked, and I assumed he shook his head, though I couldn't see him through Mary's ribs. "I hardly know the man."

"But you know of him," she challenged, and William laughed.

"Who doesn't?" he asked. "Wesker's name is all over the belly of this city, and you know it as well as I do. There isn't a crook out there who doesn't know Wesker."

"So you admit to being a crook, then," she said, and shifted again, twisting to lean against the wall then. William didn't look terribly daunted. I personally was just a little insulted at the insinuation that knowing who Wesker was made you a crook--that made me a crook, and I resented the idea.

"Everybody in this town is a crook," he said, and I just snorted, resenting William's statement even more.

"That's a new approach," I admitted, and Mary glanced at me. There was a look in her eyes that left me a little unsettled--it was a look I recalled having seen in my brother's eyes on numerous occasions shortly before he did something incredibly foolish. It was the 'I've got this' look, and the fact that Mary was mimicking it here and now and so very perfectly indubitably meant this was not going to end well. The last time Dante had given me that look had been about a week before I had graduated high school. He had just finished refurbishing an old gnarled mess of a motorcycle into something that actually sort of resembled a motorcycle, and had assured me that he just needed a hand making sure he could get the engine started: all I had to do was turn the bike on while he checked the innards. Upon my inquiry as to whether or not he was sure this was a good idea, he had just given me that look.

His eyebrows had been burnt clean off in the subsequent explosion of the engine.

I didn't like where this was going.

She thrust her chin forward a bit--a gesture of genuine anger, which surprised me--and eyed Wesker, who was examining the scraggled tips of his sallow tawny-colored hair as if searching for split ends. His pale eyes lifted toward her from beneath the pallid fringe, and he tilted his head at her posture. She waited.

He stared a moment longer, then let his hands--still cuffed--fall to the table. "I don't know what you think this is going to accomplish," he said, his sunken eyes swinging to me briefly before moving back to Mary. "I told you already, I'm not saying anythi--"

"We already know, Birkin," Mary cut him off, her arms still folded over her chest, and William lifted a hand to scratch at the crown of his head.

"Know?" He furrowed his brow, but he looked incredulous more than worried, and a chuckle dusted over his lips. "Dare I even ask what you think you know?" There was something dangerous in his eyes--something volatile, unstable, like maybe if he stood up too quickly something would boil over.

Mary moved then, sort of sliding forward languidly, as if her spine was made of water, and she leaned her elbows on the table. "We know about your whole little plan, Birkin," she said, and I just leaned back in my chair. Mary was decent at bluffing, but I really had no idea what she was playing at, so I just kept quiet. "We know you're one of Wesker's enforcers," she said, and for the first time since he had been roughly ushered into that room, I saw a ripple of fear cross William Birkin's face.

An enforcer? Why would calling him that make him sweat? Any beat cop who had ever driven through Little Italy knew what the mob groups called their hitmen; this wasn't anything alarm-worthy. I had no doubt William was one of Wesker's enforcers--that was why we had caught him at the meeting at Gleason and Taylor. So what was it about Mary's calling him out that had him spooked?

Mary seemed to pick up on his sudden anxiety, because she leaned a little heavier on the table, her fingers threaded together. "So what was the purpose of your little meeting this week?" she asked, her hips swaying back and forth a little where she stood, like she was perhaps wagging her tail, as it were. "Planning to 'get a place ready' for another 'friend of ours'?"

At this, William's face blanched several shades, and Mary was grinning widely. I had no idea where she had dreamed up this little trick of hers, but it had certainly worked. William suddenly actually looked as though he might be willing to talk.

"Let's make this easy, Birkin," Mary said, an angry growl in her voice. "We know Wesker's the one calling the shots, so how about this: you tell us where we can find Wesker, and we'll cut you a deal. You make this difficult for us, and we'll put you away instead."

Deciding it was probably safe to chime in, I tilted my head a bit and gave William a thin frown. "Still holding out for that lawyer, Bill?" I asked, but before he could answer, the door to the interrogation room was thrust open with a clatter. Twisting in my chair, my arms still folded, I craned my neck to peer at the figure in the ingress.

She was petite and slender, with dishwater blond hair that hung in long layers at her shoulders. She was all lines and angles; her chin was sharp and her eyes sharper, peering predatorily over the tops of overpriced sunglasses that she daintily slid down her pointed nose. The woman looked as if she could puncture with a stare, pierce with a word. Dressed in a perfectly tailored pantsuit and with a briefcase at her side, I could only assume that she was William's lawyer.

Removing her sunglasses from her face and hooking them neatly at the first button of her blouse, she inhaled softly through her nose, then exhaled audibly, a hint of a dangerous grin tugging at her mouth. "I smell fear," she said, and there was a beat of silence. She glanced at me, the grin bleeding a little wider. "I love that smell."

Definitely a lawyer. My eyes slid to William, and I frowned. For some reason he looked more worried now that his lawyer was here.

Mary straightened and gave the lawyer a frown as the woman strode forward purposefully and extended one perfectly manicured hand. "Kate Boyd," she said. Her voice was milky, but still carried an edge--a broken shard of frosted glass. "I'll be speaking in Mr. Birkin's defense." She cast William that same dangerous grin, and he didn't move, as if he was frozen in his seat. "I do hope he hasn't been a... problem."

I sat forward, resting my elbows on the table as Mary shook the woman's hand and moved back to lean on the wall again. "Actually, Mr. Birkin was just about to tell us what he was doing trespassing in a condemned building," I said, and Kate clicked her tongue.

"I didn't mean a problem for you. He knows better than to say anything without council," she chided, sitting down at the corner of the table beside him. He actually leaned away from her as she set her briefcase down on the table, and I found myself wondering just what sort of relationship William had with his lawyer. I wasn't about to speak up about the merits of attorneys everywhere, but Kate Boyd certainly seemed a special breed of serpent if she was making someone like William Birkin squirm. "How much did you tell them, Bill?"

"I--"

"He was going to explain the role he plays in the administration," Mary piped up sharply, and I fought the urge to groan. Putting words in the suspect's mouth was fine until the lawyer showed up, but once council was present, it could lead to trouble. I had a feeling the 'I've got this' look Mary had given me was about to live up to its reputation.

Kate clicked her tongue again, and William winced. She fidgeted a moment, twisting the plain silver band she wore on her left ring finger--a wedding ring, I assumed. She leaned in to speak softly in his ear and I squinted, trying to make out what she was saying, but had no luck. William swallowed visibly, then nodded once before shaking his head vehemently.

"Good," Kate said, and got to her feet again, clapping William heartily on the back, her hand lingering there briefly before she leaned forward, picking up her briefcase. William winced again. Kate turned to me. "You're the lead detective on this investigation, am I correct?"

I furrowed my brow. "Yes," I said, inclining my chin a bit. "Detective Vergil Zavattoni." I didn't extend my hand to shake hers.

She seemed unfazed. "And what exactly is my client being charged with?"

"At the moment? Trespassing and possible conspiracy," I said. "He was found in a condemned building with several others; I'm sure it won't take too long to figure out what they were up to and add to the list."

Kate narrowed her acid-green eyes and stared me down for a moment. I didn't blink. She huffed. "I presume he's being taken in for arraignment tomorrow?" she said, resting both hands on top of her briefcase on the table.

"Court is at 9am," Mary said, "and we've got enough to hold him for twenty-four hours, so if you've got any..."--she made a vague circular motion in the air with her hands and rolled her eyes--"preparations to make, better do it now, unless you wanna be visiting him in the cage."

The attorney was quiet for a moment, then flipped a stray lock of hair over her shoulder and cast William one more glance. "Further preparation won't be necessary," she said, and then her expression shifted, something poisonous creeping into her eyes. "Besides, William and I already know where he's going."

With that, Kate Boyd strode purposefully out of the room, and I exchanged a quick glance with Mary, who just shrugged. I didn't like the sound of Kate Boyd's words at all, and sort of rubbed my hands together, my fingers suddenly feeling inexplicably too cold.

"I think you got screwed on council, pal," Mary said to William, who was looking paler by the second, and was now absently scratching at his arm, as if he had a bug bite. "That was the worst demonstration of lawyering I've seen in a while."

I got to my feet without a word and headed for the door, and after giving William one more look, Mary followed. The door swung closed, and she frowned at me.

"Is it just me or did he do a total 180 once the lawyer showed up?" she asked, and I folded my arms.

"That's not uncommon," I reminded her, shaking my head, "though usually a suspects confidence increases with the presence of their lawyer. I don't think I've ever seen someone react... quite like that." I shook my head. "In any case, what was all that nonsense you were spouting, anyway?" I asked, shrugging one shoulder. "A friend of yours?"

She waved one hand noncommittally. "It's just some mob-speak I picked up," she assured me. "'Get a place ready' means to find a burial spot."

"I know," I said. "I'm the one who's been investigating mob presence in the city for the past two years, remember?" I didn't believe her for a second that she had just been improvising; she'd stepped in so vehemently when she had found out William's name that it seemed extremely unlikely to me that there was nothing more than that behind it. She wasn't too bad at bluffing in front of perps, but anyone could tell she was lying now. So who was the 'friend' she'd been referencing? 'A friend of mine' was usually a reference to someone outside the mob who was being vouched for, I knew that, but I couldn't quite connect the dots she had lined up.

Honestly, I was a little more worried about what Kate Boyd had said. If William Birkin was actually a part of the mafia, and his lawyer was concerned that he was 'a problem', then perhaps it was in William's best interests to get put in jail. If you were a Problem, you were a liability, and everyone knew what happened to you when you were a liability.

It would have explained William's sudden shift into apprehensive and fearful, in any case. I turned over my shoulder to peer at him through the two-way glass, watching as he continued scratching his arm. His skin was turning red and irritated beneath his fingernails, and I frowned at the motion. A nervous habit, I supposed--he certainly seemed to have enough to be nervous about, if Kate Boyd was his best line of defense: she seemed more interested in intimidating him than sticking up for him.

Tearing my eyes away from him, I looked at Mary, gesturing toward the glass with a tilt of my head. "Let's toss him in a cage for the night," I said, stepping away from the two-way and heading for the door that would let me out of the sound-box and back into the main part of the office. "we still need to talk to his buddies, and I'd like to maybe get something out of them before their bloodsucking lawyers show up."

Mary lingered at the glass a moment, and I turned when I reached the door. She stared at William on the other side of the glass. His sunken eyes looked haunted now, and the scratch marks on his skin looked as if they were beginning to bleed. Whatever was going through William's head, I was sure I couldn't guess, but I was glad I wasn't in his position.

"Mary."

She turned when I called her name, and I jerked my head toward the door, twisting the handle to pull it open. We could hold William Birkin on minor charges, but if we wanted to put him away, or hope to make a viable play at getting him to hand Wesker over, we were going to need something a lot better than trespassing in our hand.

We still had work to do.
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November 2012

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