- Rough Draft
- Work in Progress
- Discussion - Murder
- Hate Crimes
- No Beta
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Action Adventure
- Alternate Universe
- Crime Drama
- Urban Fantasy
Just before lunch, they sent one of the rookies down to get him out of the cell. He remembered her because she was barely at the lower limit of the size requirement, genuinely cute in her uniform with her black hair in a ponytail, and looked like a cheerleader, full of bounce and enthusiasm, though in her case the enthusiasm was genuine.
She was not enthusiastic now. She was trying to look professional, but her eyes were a little wide. Tony knew she was afraid. She was something else, too, but she was definitely afraid. Tony felt a flare of anger that, for the moment, let him forget the claustrophobia.
She had Tom open the door then said, “Please turn around, Detective DiNozzo. I have to cuff you.” Her voice was clear, authoritative, professional. Tony smiled and did exactly what she asked of him. He was kind of proud of her. He noted that Tom had not stayed to back her up while she interacted with him.
He said, “Where are we going, Officer?”
“Your MC rep is here, sir.”
Tom yelled from back at the entrance to the cellblock, “Don’t call him sir, Rook. He ain’t no sir.”
Tony felt her flinch slightly. Tony murmured, “Don’t worry about it. Treat me like a prisoner. That’s what I am.” As they passed Tom, Tony saw he had his hand on his weapon, holding strap on the holster unsnapped.
As they opened the stair door, she said. “I was taught to always treat everyone respectfully, sir. Whether they deserve it or not.”
They went up the stairs slowly. She kept a hand on his arm, apparently to help him with his balance, which he appreciated. The cuffs and the fact that his whole body was thrumming with fatigue made his balance a little precarious.
When they reached the landing on the third floor, she stopped, put her back to the wall near the door and waited for him to turn to her. Looking him in the eyes, she said. “They sent me down for you by myself because I’m a rookie and I’m nearly a foot shorter than you. They told me if you did anything that scared me or gave me any trouble at all, I should just shoot you.”
Tony grimaced. “Sorry about–”
“They’re hoping I’ll do it.” Her voice was tight with anger. “That I’ll just kill you because you scare me. They chose me because I’m new and I’m a girl and I’m shorter than pretty much everybody.”
He sighed. “You don’t have to be afraid of me. They bound my magic. The only way I could hurt you is physically, and frankly, I think you could handle me while I am cuffed and this tired.”
She looked puzzled. “Wait. If they can just bind your magic, why don’t magical people just get bound so they can live normal lives?”
Tony leaned back against the wall. “There are a couple of answers to that. One is that if my magic is bound too long, I’ll die. Another is that being a mage is what I am. You probably had some trouble in the academy because you’re a girl. Why don’t you just cut your breasts off and stick a sock in your pants, so you can be a “normal” cop?”
She stared at him a long moment. Then she sighed. “Yeah. I get that. It pisses me off that they want to use me to kill you. I don’t care if you actually did it or not, you deserve your day in court.” Her eyes met his again. “Makes me think they don’t have much evidence, at least not evidence that an unbiased person would accept.” She shook her head. “Those bastards. I swear, I am starting to wonder about this cop thing. I’ve never wanted to be anything else, but…”
“Cops are human,” he said quickly. “For good and bad, cops are human.” He sighed. “Listen, your rookie year is important. It’s when you find out what being a cop is really like. You also find out that some cops are raging assholes. And some cops are corrupt. And some cops are bigots. Just remember that it’s only some cops. Most cops are ok. Not perfect, but not too bad. Just never let them turn you into an asshole, or corrupt, or a bigot, and you’ll do fine.” He hesitated. “You need to learn not to say things like that, though. Keep it to yourself.”
She shook her head again, “I don’t like this. Being a cop is supposed to be an honorable profession. I think someone is lying. I’m going to look into it and–”
“No!” he said sharply. “Stay out of it. I mean it. Let me take care of myself. I have allies. But even if they end up convicting me, you need to stay out of it. We need good cops. We need strong cops. Strong cops learn to choose their battles, Officer Martinez, or they get to be dead cops real fast. This is not your battle. Wait for your battle. It will come, I promise you.”
She looked at him for a long moment and then smiled slightly. “I sure am going to be pissed if it turns out you’re guilty of hurting someone, sir.”
Dan watched the kid bring DiNozzo out of the stairwell and frowned. His former partner was smiling. He glared at the rookie, but she didn’t seem to notice. She was accompanying DiNozzo like she’d been trained to do, looking pretty damned professional, so Dinozzo’s smile must have been an attempt to seem at ease. It might have worked better if he didn’t look like he’d had no sleep at all. Good, he thought.
“I’ll take him from here, Martinez. You can get back to those files.” He took Tony’s arm and jerked it hard enough to make the cuffs bite into his wrists.
At the door to the interrogation room, Dickens, who was probably going to be his new partner was standing, looking annoyed. He said, “That stupid MC bitch said she wasn’t going to spend time in the Interrogation Room. Said it had bad vibes or something. The Loo said they could use Conference 2. Their getting the video set up now.”
Dan growled and gave DiNozzo’s arm another jerk, more or less dragging him down the hall.
When they got to Conference 2, Murdoch was standing near the doorway, along with Lieutenant Fox. Neither said anything but Murdoch pointed to the door. Once inside, Tony saw Eddy, the tech guy, working on a camera and microphone set on one end of the long table. There were three others already in the room. The lawyer was a guy he’d never met but had heard of. Ted Cooper was supposed to be a bit of a powerhouse when it came to Mage Rights. Tony had no idea how he had gotten here. The Magical Council, maybe?
Before the others had gotten all the way in the room, Cooper said, “Let’s get the cuffs off, please, gentlemen.” He heard a bit of a snort from someone behind him, then hands were at the cuffs and he was released. He brought his hands around, deliberately refusing to rub his wrists.
There was a grey-haired guy in the corner, but Tony paid him little attention, as his eyes were drawn to the MC rep. She was tall, pleasant-faced without being especially beautiful. Her black hair was braided into two pigtails perched high on her head. Her dress was high-collared black lace that fell about 10 inches short of the floor, covering the tops of a pair of knee high boots with ridiculously high heels in black patent leather. The sleeves were three-quarter length, leaving the Mage Mark on the back of her right hand in plain view. In her hands she carried a closed parasol that looked as if it, too, was black lace. Her makeup was deliberately pale, her fingernails and lips were painted a red so dark it was almost black. Her eyes were a pale green, surrounded by dark makeup. The spider web on her neck peaked above the lace collar. The sight of it made his stomach roil a little. But then there was the rune on her forehead glimmering a little with magic.
Holy shit, he thought. Words from several languages spiraled in his head, m’chawi, sorgina, sixir, bruja, and most importantly, Magistra defensor. She could not be more than 30, if that. It seemed impossible. And what the hell was she doing here?
He had to admit he was a little stunned. They stared at each other a moment, until he blurted, “Where’s your pointy hat?”
He heard Dan make a noise behind him as she grinned merrily at him. Her eyes were full of humor. “That would be just a little too on the nose, don’t you think?”
The sound that came out of Tony was a little too much like a giggle. He managed to get it under control before hysterics took over. Behind him, the Lieutenant rumbled, “Sit down, DiNozzo. Eddy, you got that ready?”
Tony didn’t notice what, if anything, Eddy said in response because a wave of almost unbearable claustrophobia hit him. He literally gasped, tried desperately not to lose the control he’d maintained since the afternoon before. If he ran, or tried to run, or attacked someone, or did anything but what he’d been told, he knew the cops behind him would shoot him, even in front of this woman, whose authority they did not recognize. He sank down into the chair that faced the camera directly and clenched his hands together on the top of the table. They were obviously shaking and try as he might, he could not stop them.
A soft voice said, “May I?”
It was the woman. She had reached over the table, just short of his hands, hesitating. He nodded, knowing that anything that came out of his mouth right now would sound completely freaked out.
Her hand dropped onto his joined hands, cool and dry. There was a moment of stillness. Then the horrible sensation of being wrapped in something almost too constricted to allow him to breathe bled away. He took a deep breath, and opened eyes he had not realized he had closed. She was smiling gently at him.
“My name is Abby Sciuto. I am here as a representative of the Magic Council.” Her voice hardened so suddenly it startled him, “Now. Tell me who put that horrible geis on you.”
Tony couldn’t help glancing at Murdoch. The woman followed his gaze and her eyes narrowed. “I see,” she said, and Tony was very glad she was not looking at him like that.
Murdoch said, “I put a standard binding on him. It’s required by law.”
She straightened and took a step forward, “A binding is required by law. Not THAT binding. What is the matter with you?”
Murdoch backed away a step. “I was following procedure.”
She took another step. “Only following orders,” she said, nodding. And then she smiled at Murdoch, and Tony saw his face pale. Her voice low, with a little twist in it, something like an almost subliminal whine, she added, “Sucking up to them, hoping that if you are a good little mage they won’t do to you what you just did to him.” She shook her head, her contempt clear, but to Tony there was a touch of pity there, too.
“I did nothing wrong.”
She smiled at him again, and this time the pity was more obvious. “Did you not? Then why won’t you look me in the eye?”
Murdoch swallowed obviously. He took another step back, his hand came up, fingers flickering. To Tony’s eyes a pale blue shield snapped into place. Sciuto’s head tilted to one side, her eyes serious. She touched her own forehead, finger touching the rune that was tattooed there.
Tony said, “Leadership. Rationality. Honor. Justice. Self-sacrifice.”
Murdoch threw him a wild and furious glare, “Fuck you, DiNozzo.” The shield was wobbling. Tony couldn’t help the smirk.
Sciuto said, “Enough.”
Tony lowered his head to stare at his hands on the table. They were no longer shaking. He took a deep breath. His magic was still bound, but at least he could breathe.
Murdoch was blurting, “You have no authority over me.”
Sciuto shook her head. “I said, enough, unhappy child. Be quiet now.” Her voice was so low Tony wasn’t sure the men at the doorway could understand what she said. She turned to Lieutenant Fox. “Is it common practice here, to try to freak out a mage so you have an excuse to kill them before you have to actually put them on trial?”
He scowled at her. “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
She stared at him a moment longer. Then her shoulders relaxed a bit. “Interesting. You really don’t.”
He bristled and Dan took a step forward, nearly shouting, “You dare to use magic on him right here in front of us?”
“No magic needed,” said the grey-haired man in the corner. “I could see he doesn’t know what she meant, and I haven’t got a magical bone in my body.”
Tony had forgotten about him. He looked now, wondering who the hell he was.