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Thursday, 03November, 11:04:47
3rd and E 137th, The Bronx, NY

I only had to work with Mary Arkham for about five minutes to know I didn't like it. I would admit that she was a good cop, but her methods were completely askew from my own. She was impulsive and sharp, acrid and almost caustic in her questioning. After she frightened our first two informants so badly they refused to say anything more until she got her gun out of their face, I had to step in and literally forbid her to speak while I drew further information out with a but more finesse. She walked with a kind of driven purpose that I'd only seen in animals stalking prey, and her face seemed consistently pulled into a suspicious glower, as if she were under the impression that the whole damn world was just waiting for her to drop her guard so it could stab her in the back.

To be honest, it was a sentiment I rather shared a lot of the time, but there was nothing subtle or discreet about her reactions to life in general. I found myself thinking that she might have had a pretty face if she stopped scowling long enough, but I had yet to find any evidence that she was capable.

After prying her off of a tall broad-shouldered black man with more hair on his chin than on his head, I excused us from the immediate scene and pressed her against the side of the nearest building.

"Are you trying to completely compromise this investigation?" I hissed, and she narrowed those fiery eyes of hers and bared her teeth.

"You know the people who live around here don't give a damn about the cops," she said, her voice a low growl. "They couldn't care less if we find what we're looking for, and I wouldn't be surprised if they turned right around and informed the people they just told us about that we were coming for them!"

She reached up and shoved me backward, and I yielded only because this argument wasn't worth it. Stepping back and putting my hands up to let her move away from the building, I simply warned, "Tone it down."

"Or what?" she asked, sauntering past me, a hand on her hip. She was wearing another one of those completely vestigial plaid skirts over her slacks again.

I whirled on her and took her chin in one hand, bringing her face close to mine.

"Or I'll continue investigating your father's death without you," I snarled.

"You wouldn't," she challenged, and my grip on her jaw tightened until she squeaked in pain.

"I have neither the time nor the patience to allow you to continue obstructing this case with your temper," I said. "You were on thin ice from the beginning--any fool can see you're way too close to this--but I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and let you investigate because I know how exactly how you feel."

She knew. She knew my parents were dead, and she knew I'd taken the specific assignment to gang-busts in an attempt to wheedle my way into information about the mafia presence in the city because of it. I knew exactly how she felt, and she knew it.

I released her roughly and she backpedaled--one step, two--and then lifted her hand to rub her jaw, glowering again.

"Don't make me regret going out on a limb for you, Mary," I said as she walked away from me, "or so help me I'll pull you off this case so fast you'll be back to sorting heroin needles by lunch."

She might have muttered something I couldn't make out, or she might have said nothing; I didn't really care. All I knew was I had never managed to get heartburn before eating lunch until now.

In the end, it didn't really matter whether or not she scared off our informants, because by the time we ducked into a diner to get out of the cold and get something to eat, we were really only two paces beyond where we'd started.

"Four hours wasted," she said, sliding onto the bar stool at the counter and plunking her chin into her upturned palm. "If I didn't know better I'd say we had less information than when we started."

The way she stuck her lower lip out and drew her eyebrows together so her forehead crinkled reminded me of high school and how everything was a crisis when you were sixteen. I had forgotten for a moment that Mary was only two years younger than I was.

She sullenly ordered a turkey sandwich on pumpernickel and an orange soda, and I studied the menu a little longer while she went back to pouting. I mostly ignored her, focusing instead on the listed ingredients in the chili. Something had been niggling at the back of my brain for a while now, and I couldn't quite figure out what it was; it was irritating.

"That's so odd," I mused, and her angry eyes were on me again.

"Pumpernickel isn't so odd," she countered, and I shook my head.

"No, not your strange taste in bread, I mean something's really bugging me about something the fourth man we spoke to said."

"If I'm not mistaken, something seems to be bugging you all the time, Mr. Congeniality," she replied, and then thanked the woman behind the counter as her orange soda was delivered.

Still ignoring her, I ordered the chili, against my better judgment. I was not, however, feeling quite so intrepid as to try the coffee. The waitress slid me a glass of ice water, and I left Mary waiting for a moment longer before turning to her and gently waving one hand for emphasis.

"The fourth guy we talked to, the one with the plaid shirt and the--"

"I really don't need to recall all your compulsive details, detective," she said, glancing away when her sandwich arrived and pulling it closer to her. "What'd he say?" she asked, chewing thoughtfully on the pickle that had accompanied her lunch.

"Wesker," I said; "he mentioned someone named Wesker." I pulled the little memo pad from the pocket of my coat and flipped through a few pages to the notes I'd taken that morning. "Here it is. Wesker. He's a guy who runs a gambling ring and a couple of sleazy pawn shops up near where Boston meets 95."

"And?" She plucked the olive-adorned toothpick from the top of her sandwich and handed it to me. I found myself momentarily surprised that she still remembered something so trivial as the fact that I liked olives.

Popping the olive into my mouth, I continued, "I've heard that name before."

"And?" I really wished she wouldn't talk with her mouth full.

"I can't remember where."

"Way to go, Sherlock."

My chili arrived. One glance at it told me I'd made the wrong decision. I took another sip of water and got up from my seat to head for the door.

"Wh--hey! Vergil, where are you going?" Mary threw one hand in the air like she was hailing a cab, and sort of waved it at me.

"Back to the station house to find out why I know that name," I said, and pushed the door open and head back to the valet lot where I'd left my car. A moment later she came running up behind me, a takeaway box in one hand, her drink and a covered styrofoam cup of my chili in the other, a plastic spoon caught in her pinkie. I had no idea how she was actually carrying all of that in the same hand without dropping it.

"You could have at least paid for your own damn food," she complained. "Leaving a lady to pay your bill is bad form."

"Then I guess you just earned yourself a cup of chili," I said, pulling the valet stub out of my pocket along with my keys. I needed to dig a little deeper in this Wesker character--something told me he was going to be just the break we needed.

"Your desk looks like nobody works here."

Mary was polishing off her sandwich as I went through the files in the bottom drawer of my desk, looking for any sign of the name Wesker or the gambling and pawn tycoon up north.

"I prefer to keep my desk neat," I replied tersely. "I'm sorry you disapprove of organization."

"I don't," she said; she was talking with her mouth full again. "I just think you're a neatnik, and I figured I'd bring it to your attention."

"I appreciate being apprised of the breaking news."

The name had stuck out because that area was really in the jurisdiction of the 47th Precinct, or possibly the 45th. It was nowhere near my home area, and was almost out of the Five Boroughs completely; why did I know the man's name? Where had I seen it?

"You sure you don't want your chili?"

I lifted my head and gave her a level stare, then just went back to rifling through the files.

"Right, then, you had your chance." She spun the spoon between her fingers and pried the lid off the chili. I considered offering her a TUMS from the bottle I kept in the middle drawer, but decided against it. She'd earned her agita.

Six minutes later I had reached the end of the files with no luck, and I kicked the drawer closed with a snarl.

"Why isn't it here?" I stood over the desk a moment, my hands planted firmly on the edge as I glowered at the big calendar I had written all of my appointments and case numbers for the current month on. "I know I've heard that name before."

"Would you chill out?" Mary waved the spoon at me. "Maybe it wasn't one of your cases."

"I don't have a partner," I said, shaking my head. "The only other person I would have any significant joint investigations with is the ca--"

The captain.

Spinning away from the desk, I strode to the far side of the room and reached for the door to the captain's office. All of the files he kept in there would have to be reorganized and redistributed anyway; there was no reason to leave them untouched. There was no reason to feel like I shouldn't go through that door. Something about being in the captain's office once after his death, however, left a heavy film over my conscience, like I was trespassing.

I pushed through the door anyway.

Everything was just how he had left it when he'd headed out last night. ... Had it really been just last night? Somehow it seemed like it had been days ago. I rounded his desk and dropped to a crouch by the file drawer, tugging it open and flipping through the files. I was a bit dismayed to find that they appeared to be in no particular order.

A few minutes of digging, however, and I'd found what I needed. There it was: Wesker, no additional name given. Pawnbroker, loan shark, gambler, and all around slimeball, believed to be based out of the 47th Precinct area, suspected gang ties. I recalled now that the captain had taken a special interest in this guy--he didn't usually go out on field investigations himself, but whenever anything about this Wesker fellow came across the desks, he insisted on following up personally.

I found myself wondering if Wesker hadn't taken a bit of offense to that and finally decided to put an end to it. There was only one way to find out.

Rising and bracing one hand on the desk, I was startled to notice that Mary had joined me in the office at some point. She was standing, silent, before the captain's bookshelf, her eyes on the small collection of personal effects he had kept there: a commemorative paperweight for ten years of service, a fancy letter opener in the shape of a sword, an old family photo. Mary had only been about twelve in that picture.

She lifted her hand to touch the frame, and I just watched her for a moment. Then I said, "I'm sorry." I paused. "For your loss," I clarified, as if there was anything else to express condolences for.

She looked at me, her expression unreadable, then looked back at the photo.

"I wonder sometimes," she mused, "whether or not I really knew Jonathan Arkham."

I furrowed my brow and shook my head. "He was your father," I said, a little bemused by her words. Her gaze was piercing.

"I knew my father," she said, and then shook her head, turning away from the bookshelf, "but I don't think I knew Jonathan Arkham at all."

I watched her leave the office, something raw and aching in her movements, like she was trying not to limp through cold bruises, and when my eyes strayed back to the bookshelf, I frowned. The photo had been turned face down.

[Next Chapter -->]

Hello, readers! Welcome to our fic. :D We are Freya and Kari and we are very happy to be here writing this fic and sharing it with you. We love feedback, so if you have any comments, please don't hesitate to make them! All updates will be made to this journal, so if you would like to know when the story has a new chapter, you are welcome to friend and follow. Thanks for reading!
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