- Rough Draft
- Work in Progress
- Discussion - Murder
- Hate Crimes
- No Beta
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Action Adventure
- Alternate Universe
- Crime Drama
- Urban Fantasy
It was a long night.
It wasn’t just that he was afraid, afraid for his life and afraid for every single non-mage who had ever been publically nice to him. It wasn’t just that the life he had worked so bloody hard for was now over, destroyed, even if the court found him not guilty. It was not even the realization that Danny Price actually hated him. He’d known the partnership had not been Dan’s idea, that they were partners in name only, that he distrusted Tony. He had not known that he was hated.
The worst part was that he had so much trouble controlling the claustrophobia that battered around in his body, like a wild animal trying to get out of a trap. It felt like he was being beaten from the inside, muscles fighting something that wasn’t even there, heart pounding, sweat pouring off of him. It was exhausting.
He tried curling up on the cot, arms wrapped around his head, knees to his chest, eyes tightly closed, mind desperately imagining open fields and a fresh breeze. When he had to he lay out straight with eyes open to reassure himself that the cell walls, while far too close to him, were not actually closing in. Then, when the shaking in his body became too much, he curled back up on his side. He tried getting up and pacing a couple of times, but that led to such an increase in panic that he was afraid he would lose it and start attacking the bars, so he stayed on the bed and tried to force his mind to concentrate on who could possibly be accusing him.
He went over the past few months in his mind. He and Dan had been assigned to Robbery/Homicide the entirety of their partnership, though they’d worked mostly low-level robberies, a fact that had been a constant source of loud disgruntlement from Dan.
There had been a few homicides, though. He’d used his magic to find the person who had gripped the throat of a murdered prostitute. He’d followed a set of footprints invisible to non-magical eyes. He’d found everything that had been touched by a person wearing leather gloves in the back room of a small bodega that had been ransacked after the elderly proprietress had been bludgeoned to death, making it clear that the killer had been after something more than the money. He had, he thought, sighing deeply, used his magic from across an alley to shield against shotgun pellets that could easily have killed his partner. But mostly he had just been a detective, doing detective stuff, backgrounds, financials, phone records, interviewing witnesses and interrogating suspects . He had a real knack for putting odd bits of information together. He was good at this and it had nothing to do with his magic. Yes, he’d worked harder at it than anyone else, but he’d been doing that since he’d gotten out of the academy. The others had friends and family. They had actual lives. Tony didn’t. So he worked. He’d bloody well earned his gold shield, no matter what anyone thought.
What he had not done for almost six months was use his magic on a non-magical person. The times he had in the past 3 and a half years could be counted on the fingers of one hand and every single time there had been exhaustive paperwork to confirm that he had had the permission of the non-magical person in question.
So it was a frame up.
He shouldn’t be terribly surprised. He was the first mage in the state of Maryland to be allowed into a police department, not as an Associate Mage, but as a regular cop. A couple of states in New England and several western states had allowed such things but the deep south and the midwest were adamant that mages should stay in their traditionally acceptable roles, finders of things and people, assistants of various kinds, and makers of magical items. Even in states where it was legal, there was still a great deal of opposition to treating a mage like any other person. He was determined to help change that.
He had been treated like every single kind of shit throughout the academy. Not everyone treated him badly, to be sure. Some seemed to go out of their way to be pleasant to him, and most of the others had just been afraid of him. He could feel their fear at first, but most of them relaxed after a while. He made it a point to ignore the hostility, be bright and cheerful with them, downplaying his power, sometimes acting like a clown, and never letting them see anything magical, except when absolutely necessary.
He knew he had allies somewhere up in the hierarchy. There had been a couple of quiet, off the books talks with some assholes during his rookie year and the “pranks” had slowly died away. Then he’d been placed with a guy named Omar Breitburn after his rookie year. The big man was a legend in the Baltimore PD, though he was getting pretty close to retirement. Omar did not give a single solitary damn about magic. He told Tony that as long as he was a good cop, Omar couldn’t care less “what you get up to in your personal time.”
It had been a good partnership. Omar was pretty old school up to a point. He had taught Tony a hell of a lot about how to read people, how to maintain situational awareness, the importance of watching each other’s back. That was reinforced the week after being assigned to Omar, when they had had to wait for too long for a backup, resulting in Tony getting shot (luckily just a graze) while pulling a terrified woman away from her homicidal ex. After getting Tony into an ambulance and turning the scene over to the officer-involved shooting team, Omar had walked into the bullpen and punched Bill Williams in the face. Hard. While the chaos broke out around him, he looked at Bill’s partner and said, “I thought better of you.” Then he walked out, going to the hospital to make sure his partner was okay.
After that people mostly left Tony alone. Omar was a legend for a reason, and it was well known that the only thing he hated more than a dirty cop was a cop that didn’t support other cops. The word had gone out. Over time, most people began to accept his presence. Many didn’t like it, but they had things to do and they got on with it. When Omar retired a couple of months after Tony was promoted to detective, he had stood with Tony in the bullpen and loudly told him to let him know if there was ever a case of a slow backup, and he would see to it.
Tony’s promotion caused another wave of disgruntled colleagues expressing their outrage but the only actual problem had been the “pranks” intended to make sure he knew how unwanted he was. He’d ridden them out, determined to be the example that would make it possible for other mages to choose their own profession, their own life.
And now he had failed at that goal.
As the night went on he found that his exhaustion was making it harder to control his panic. When they brought “breakfast” at 7:00, he was sitting on the edge of the cot, face buried in his hands, rocking back and forth.
Tony found he could not even look at the nasty scrambled eggs. With the idea that he had to eat something, he tried the toast, but it had been soaked in some sort of butter substitute with a greasy, metallic taste that made it hard to get the first bite down. He didn’t try another. It occurred to him that by the time they got around to executing him that it might be doing him a favor. His love of good food was going to be a real problem while he was in prison.
Danny Price stood and watched as the three visitors signed in at the front desk. The woman was obviously the MC rep, the guy in the good suit was obviously a lawyer, but he didn’t know who or what the other guy was. He was a few inches taller than Dan, late forties or a bit younger, solidly built, with grey hair cut in a short military-looking haircut that did not particularly flatter him, and striking blue eyes. He was dressed in grey slacks, a light blue shirt and a light grey sports coat, all of which were neat but clearly not new. There was a slight flair near his right hip, indication of a gun in a hip holster. Jerry was letting him into the building armed. So, almost certainly a LEO of some kind. Dan scowled, wondering what was going on.
Jerry looked up and gestured. Dan walked forward and Jerry introduced him. “This is Mr. Carter, attorney for Dinozzo, Ms. Sciuto, representative from the Magic Council, and Special Agent Gibbs from M.C.I.S.”
He shook the lawyer’s hand, and nodded at the MC rep. She was something to look at, about 30, attractive, slender, dressed in a long black lacy dress that was a bit too big for her, cut to show off her quite respectable breasts without actually showing them. Her black hair was up in a pair of pigtails high on either side of her head. She had dark red lipstick and fingernails and a spider web tattoo on the side of her neck. But the thing that really struck him was the other tattoo. In the center of her forehead was a thick black vertical line. At the top was two short lines at roughly a forty-five degree angle, making the whole thing look something like an arrow pointing upwards. He’d met quite a few MC reps in his time, but never one of the upper echelon. He took a deep breath. He knew almost nothing about MC structure, but he did know that only the higher-ups wore runes on their foreheads. He wondered why Dinozzo rated such from the Magic Council. His uneasiness skyrocketed. It was beginning to look like this was going to get messy.
He pulled away from her bland gaze and turned to the other man.
“You’re with that new federal agency, right?”
The man nodded, handing him his credentials. Dan squinted at them, then handed them back. “Magical Criminal Investigative Service.” He wasn’t very successful at hiding the sneer that wanted out, nor the fact that he was trying to see the back of the man’s right hand. “You a mage?”
Dan let a little surprise show. “So how are you supposed to go up against rogue mages if you can’t fight fire with fire?”
With something that wasn’t quite a smile, the man said, “I manage.”
Dan stared at him a moment, then shook his head. “Come on up. I’ll get you into an interrogation room and send down to get Dinozzo up here.”
Before he could turn away, the woman said, “You’re Anthony Dinozzo’s partner, aren’t you?”
He frowned. “I was.”
The M.C.I.S. agent said, “You think he’s guilty?”
Dan met his gaze and said, “Yeah, I do.”