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 Off the record, Tag Leo | May 25th
Murad Hassan
 Posted: May 20 2018, 02:43 PM
Quote
Evolute
36 YEARS
APD
Carrier
199 Posts
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Lugia is Offline



It had been a whirlwind of nine days.

First, he’d gotten called in to work on a high profile murder case. Then, he’d believed the guy was innocent, and had multiple people come in to tell him so. Then he’d told his lieutenant his thoughts—leaving out Leo’s shapeshifter theory but bringing up video editing and a lack of physical evidence—and that had gotten him kicked off the case.

And maybe for a couple of others, that would’ve been it. But he took it as maturely and calmly as it could, then worked out his frustrations at the gym. Then he and Jane went for a drink. She told him to let it go, try to move on, and added that it should apply to everything else in his life.

Unfortunately for both of them, Murad was particularly bad at letting things go. So rather than taking down his case wall, he went for it with a vengeance. He went to talk to Omri. He took a couple of days off from work, because it wasn’t like he could do much else to tank his reputation at this point, and went to the Institute, the DEA. But they didn’t have much to say to a no-name carrier who worked at the APD. He tried distracting himself, but that didn’t work.

He needed other help. Help that had more experience with this than he or Omri had. So here he was, at an appropriately late hour for the doctor, he came knocking on Leo’s door. He looked…almost better. His hair was styled again, swept back from his face. His jawline was clean of stubble, and his clothes were clean and unwrinkled. However, the look was…softer. His clothes hadn’t been pressed, his hair looked like it could still move if someone touched it, and there were deep circles under his eyes.

So in better shape but exhausted. That summed it up nicely.

Part of him wondered if his going to see Leo had more to do with it being Leo than the case. It hadn’t been that long, the last meeting they’d had had been almost friendly, and Murad was the type to linger over something he shouldn’t.

But right now, he was cut off from APD resources and he needed all the help he can get. If that help came from a cartel doctor who had probably been investigating on the sly, he was willing to give it a go. So at nine PM, Murad stood outside Leo’s door with a case of beer in hand and a crooked smile.

“Hey,” he said. “Need to talk to you about something.” He cleared his throat. “Not about…us. Mind if I come in?"

@Leo Dobrowolski
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Leo Dobrowolski
 Posted: May 21 2018, 01:45 AM
Quote
Evolute
32 YEARS
Cartel
Tier 4
180 Posts
If Leo touches a person's bare skin (alive or dead), he can tell you everything about their physical history. Medical conditions, healed breaks, pregnancies, surgeries, anything that has affected their body in any way. He can also feel anything they are currently feeling - pain, nausea, breathlessness etc, as if it’s his own body.
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@Murad Hassan

It had been a long week.

Patients, civilian and Cartel, had been inundating the clinic. Leo felt like he’d spent every waking hour treating people, with barely enough time for paperwork, and only a few snatched minutes every now and again for his research into what might have happened to Vels. By the time Friday came around he was exhausted, grumpy, and not inclined to suffer fools gladly. He just wanted to go to the regular Friday-evening poker night with some of the Cartel guys, and forget about -

Neighbours he really should not be thinking about

- everything. But Leo was acerbic at the best of times, and thinking about Murad just made him even more antsy. So while he could usually get away with being his usual sarcastic self and making people laugh, tonight he had said exactly the wrong thing to exactly the wrong person. He was now sporting a fairly impressive bruise on his left cheek.

Leo had lost his taste for poker after that - so he’d come home to sulk by himself, ice pressed to his face, and decided to do what he always did when he needed to forget something: he worked.

He’d been gradually accumulating research on shapeshifters. At this stage, Leo didn’t even know if he was on anything approaching the right track - but he couldn’t just sit and do nothing, could he? Vels was being unjustly imprisoned. Leo hated feeling useless, more than he hated anything in the world. At least this way, he’d felt like he was doing something. He’d left a few papers out for Murad to find, earlier in the week, but hadn’t heard anything from the other man about the case. Nobody at the poker game had seemed to know anything, either, though there was a rumour that there had been a staff change on the case, which made Leo worry. Had he once again managed to get Murad in trouble?

He was deep into sifting through various documents on his laptop when the knock at the door made him jump. Leo got cautiously to his feet, and checked through the spyhole warily - when he saw that it was Murad, he didn’t know if it was dread or relief that made his stomach do that stupid swoop/jump thing it always did when he saw the detective. He felt a rush of adrenaline, and cursed himself for it. You are not a fourteen-year-old with a crush, idiot.

Leo opened the door with a slightly hesitant smile. “Hey,” he murmured in reply. Murad looked...better. Much better than he had done. Need to talk to you, he said, and Leo’s eyes flicked from the man’s face to the peace-offering of beer in his hands. Not about...us, Murad added, and Leo gave a short nod, tried to name the feeling that welled up inside him at those words. “Uh - sure. Come in.”

Too late, he remembered the ice pack in his hand. “And before you worry - I said the wrong thing to an asshole,” Leo told him with a lopsided grin, pointing to the bruise on his cheek. “It’s fine.” He reached for the beer, pulled two cans out and took the rest of the pack through to the kitchen. “You want anything?” he called, placing the cans in the fridge. When he reappeared, it was with a fresh ice-pack from the freezer, and a curious expression.

Just as he sat down on the couch, Leo remembered what had happened the last time they’d been sitting there, together. Idiot, idiot, idiot. But it was too late now - he couldn’t move without looking even more awkward than he already felt. All he could do was try and pretend everything was normal. “What do you need?” he asked, snapping open one of the cans and placing his new ice-pack against his cheek. “Everything OK?”
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Murad Hassan
 Posted: May 21 2018, 02:33 AM
Quote
Evolute
36 YEARS
APD
Carrier
199 Posts
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Lugia is Offline



It was the papers that had lead Murad back to Leo’s door. The research had been good, albeit brief—thorough, with details Murad had suspected he’d have a hard time finding. He’d been leaning a bit too heavily on the CSIs and the investigators he worked with, and had forgotten old habits it appeared.

That, and Murad liked working in a team. Alone he was on the near side of reckless, temperamental, likely to overlook things. Working with others made him slow down to detail his thought process, think back on what he might’ve overlooked.

But he hadn’t responded to the papers because…well. What he’d told Leo was true. He couldn’t officially use anything that he was given by Leo, even if it was “anonymous.” He couldn’t even use anonymously sourced documents unless he was really careful in using them to find the real data. So he’d stuffed it in a drawer while he set the back of his brain to figuring out how to make use of them. And he hadn’t said thank you because, well, it was painful. And he was worried that he was going to make more of a fool of himself than he normally did.

While Leo was reflecting how much better Murad looked, Murad was blinking at how much worse Leo looked. He was more scruffy than usual (if that was possible) and looked exhausted. And then there was the large bruise on his face and the ice pack in his hand. “Who’d you lose to?” he said, automatically, pointedly not following it up with and whose ass can I kick? “Uh, thanks,” he said, a bit belatedly, as he stepped in. He glanced around, noticing the papers and the computer. Leo had been busy, it appeared. And doing more research. Good. It gave Murad some hope that he could find help from this quarter after all.

But that bruise…was not good. He lifted a hand as if to check it himself, then lowered it, setting the case of beer down on the coffee table and then sticking his hands in his pockets. “You should get it looked at. Had a friend who got punched like that, ended up fracturing his eye socket.” He cleared his throat. “But what the fuck am I doing, giving you advice. I’m just gonna, uh.” He motioned to the couch, and then settled onto it. “I’m good, thanks though.”

And then Leo had to sit next to him, and Murad was pretty damn sure he was blushing. He turned his head away for a moment until he regained his composure. Then he leaned back against the arm, to ensure there was space between them, and shrugged. “I need your help. I got pulled off the case, but I still think he’s innocent. I wanna find a way to prove it. I’ve talked Omri round, but your…expertise would be helpful.”

@Leo Dobrowolski
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Leo Dobrowolski
 Posted: May 21 2018, 05:11 PM
Quote
Evolute
32 YEARS
Cartel
Tier 4
180 Posts
If Leo touches a person's bare skin (alive or dead), he can tell you everything about their physical history. Medical conditions, healed breaks, pregnancies, surgeries, anything that has affected their body in any way. He can also feel anything they are currently feeling - pain, nausea, breathlessness etc, as if it’s his own body.
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@Murad Hassan

Leo grinned. “Who says I lost?” he asked, mock-outrage filling his expression. But he couldn't keep a straight face for long, and after a moment the rueful smile was back. “The hazards of hanging out with criminals,” he explained. “I was bitchy to him, he got pissy with me. But while I use words, most of the other guys prefer fists.” He gestured to his face by way of demonstrating his point. Different styles of arguing never ended well for him. For a moment, it looked like Murad was about to reach up and touch him - Leo's stomach swooped again, and he looked away when Murad's hands went into his pockets instead.

It was still oddly nice to be worried about like this - though Leo had never been one to pass up the chance for sarcasm when Murad trailed off. “Nah, man,” he said with a smirk. “Carry on giving medical advice to the doctor.” But the mischief in his blue eyes belied any sting there might have been in his words. He was still allowed to make jokes, right? It wasn't flirting. Not at all. They were just...slightly awkward friends.

Slightly awkward friends...who'd previously had sex.

It was fine.

Was it his imagination, or did Murad shift away so that they weren't touching? Leo turned so his back was against the armrest, one leg drawn up underneath him so that he could face the other man - and reduce the risk of contact. It was hard to sit on the couch and not remember pulling Murad’s shirt over his head, or moving to straddle his lap.

Maybe this had been a mistake.

Easier to concentrate on the matters at hand. As Murad spoke, Leo's eyes widened. “You got pulled off the case?” he asked in disbelief. “Fuck. Why?” and maybe he was the conspiracy theorist that Murad had laughingly accused him of being, because his first thought was that there might someone interfering. Leo's opinion of the police force’s morals was still fairly low. Murad was a worrying exception.

“You got Omri to talk to you.” There was even more disbelief, now. Leo raised his eyebrows. “Seriously? Are you fucking magic? Omri Kim, really?” Omri disliked the authorised more than most people even in the Cartel did. Maybe his loyalty to Vels was the only thing that could override his mistrust of the cops. Leo leaned back, impressed, and gave a low whistle. “Whatever they're paying you, man, it's not enough. You are clearly a wizard.”

Leo took a thoughtful sip of beer, the ice pack still pressed to his cheek. “OK, how can I help? Omri knows Vels way better than I do, he's a better place to start than I am.” He grinned. “I've been working on my tinfoil hat, though. Got a lotta research on shapeshifters.”

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Murad Hassan
 Posted: May 23 2018, 02:02 AM
Quote
Evolute
36 YEARS
APD
Carrier
199 Posts
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Lugia is Offline



For a moment, the grin that Murad flashed at the man in return was almost like his old self, full of mischief a hint of what he called “charm” and others called “cockiness.” “That shiner and the fact that I’m pretty damn sure you can’t punch to save your life,” he said. “Is that a valid enough reason for you?” But his smile faded as the man spoke, and he shook his head. “I don’t know—never mind.” He didn’t understand how a guy like Leo, who flinched at raised voices and was always ready for a punch, could spend time with people like that. But that was definitely not something he could express.

He snorted as Leo spoke. “Bet I have more experience in fist fights than you, though,” he said, dry. “Besides, I’ve known my fair share of doctors. They’re fucking bad at taking care of themselves. You gonna tell me you’re any different?”

This was flirting, and he knew it—or at least, the style of flirting they had, which was part banter, part challenge, and pure sarcasm. It couldn’t go anywhere, though. And he was pretty sure they both knew it.

Although if he got fired—no, c’mon, why would he even think about it?

He snorted again. “’Cause I thought he was innocent and I said so. They had video proof and an angry group of judges.” He shrugged. “Doesn’t take a genius to see where that puts a disgraced cop on the wrong side of his lieutenant. It’s laziness and a focus on revenge. Don’t put on the tinfoil hat yet.” He wasn’t taking it…well. But he couldn’t afford another bender and he was tired of getting depressed. He’d much rather be proven right instead.

Leo’s skepticism earned a slight chuckle. “I don’t know if talk is the right word. Grunt, maybe. Told him I believed his boss was innocent and wanted to work with him—weird dude.” He paused. “Fucking scary. I’m not used to being loomed over like that. And right now, I’m on leave. So nothing.” A brief, mirthless grin. “By choice this time. But we’re gonna do some digging. I don’t need Vels knowledge from you. I need the shapeshifter research.” He leaned back again, folding his arms loosely over his chest. “Turns out after I got that promotion, I lost all my investigator braincells. Was hoping you could help with that. So whatcha got?”

@Leo Dobrowolski
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Leo Dobrowolski
 Posted: May 24 2018, 01:43 AM
Quote
Evolute
32 YEARS
Cartel
Tier 4
180 Posts
If Leo touches a person's bare skin (alive or dead), he can tell you everything about their physical history. Medical conditions, healed breaks, pregnancies, surgeries, anything that has affected their body in any way. He can also feel anything they are currently feeling - pain, nausea, breathlessness etc, as if it’s his own body.
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@Murad Hassan

“If you could feel someone's pain if you punched them, you'd be shit at it, too.” Leo was smirking. It was almost a relief to get this Murad back - the one who bickered and cracked sarcastic jokes. Things had been so awkward between them, the last two times they had met. Maybe they would be able to be...kind of normal. “At least I'm crap by design.” The other man started to say something, but cut himself off - Leo raised his eyebrows. “What?” he asked, a puzzled smile coming to his lips. “Go on.” Then he smirked. “You don't know how I manage to piss off so many people? All natural talent, man. You may be in more fights than me, but I bet I randomly get punched in the face more than you do.”

He gave an exaggerated huff at Murad’s assertion that doctors were bad at taking care of themselves. But there was no real way to reply to that - and anyway, Leo realised he'd have to push past the warm feeling that had taken up residence once again inside his chest. It was so rare that anyone checked up on him. He was used to being the one who looked after people. All he could manage was: “Fine, I'll go to the hospital if it keeps hurting.”

As Murad explained why he'd been kicked off Vels’ case, Leo's smile turned into a frown. “I'm sorry,” he said, shaking his head. Suspension, then removal from a case. Murad had to be upset, for all that he looked a little better than he had done a week ago. Leo bit his lip. “That fucking sucks, man. I'm so sorry.”

Leo chuckled at the other man’s description of Omri. “He’s a pussycat once you get to know him,” he replied, the glint in his eye making it very clear that he was joking: Omri was no such thing. “He’s loyal to Vels before anyone else, he’ll probably do anything to help. You’re lucky you got him.” He reached for his research, and when Murad asked whatcha got? Leo was suddenly all business.

“OK. So I told you last time - there have been four recorded shapeshifters at Carrie. Of those, two could change their whole body. Luckily for us, Carrie are fuckin’ thorough: they did tests, and neither of them could change their DNA. They could mimic people perfectly if they studied them for long enough, but every time they took their DNA it came back as the shifter’s.” He sat back, put the ice pack down so that he could pick up a sheaf of paper. “You can’t access current records without a warrant, but anyone who’s dead is essentially public domain for researchers. But.” Leo sighed. “I personally know of at least one kid who’s escaped from Carrie.” He narrowed his eyes. “And we’re still off the record, remember?” It was dangerous ground, and he knew it - all he could do was hope that Murad was worth the trust he kept putting in him. “My point is, you wouldn’t know that because you can’t access records. They’re embarrassed, so they wouldn’t even say that kid is on their books unless the cops were asking. Which means - if there’s one, there might be others. And one of them could be what we’re looking for.”

He passed the papers over to Murad. “Any questions?”
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Murad Hassan
 Posted: May 25 2018, 12:02 AM
Quote
Evolute
36 YEARS
APD
Carrier
199 Posts
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Lugia is Offline



Murad chuckled. “Nah, probably wouldn’t be. Got punched too often as a kid to let that keep me down. But at least you don’t deny that you’re shit.” Yes, maybe they’d be almost normal. That was an encouraging feeling. Maybe it might be normal after all—or eventually turn out well.

No, probably not well. Because he knew what the well was that he wanted. And it wasn’t something he was going to get, even if he was fired. It had all been a little too much for that.

He wasn’t going to say what he’d been thinking, so instead he flashed another smile. “No, I knew that. It’s cause you’re a smartass and always say what you think is the smartest comeback. I have no doubt that you’d get punched in the face a hell of a lot more than I would, even when I was a beat cop.”

Was it weird to feel oddly pleased when your not-quite-ex agreed and didn’t fight you wanting to take care of him? Murad didn’t quite know the answer to that. But he also wasn’t the type to fuss that much, so he just nodded once. “Thanks.”

“Why? Not your fault. Besides, they’re fucking wrong.” It was said with just a little bit of heat and frustration, and then he shook his head and let out a breath. “It’s not really fine, but I’m handling it. Now I just need to prove that they’re wrong.”

The look that Murad gave him was very expressive in its disbelief. “Yeah, that bit I know. Plus, he knows his way around the shadier parts of Vels’s gig. I don’t…want to know the details.” He held up a hand. “Based on everything I’ve gathered I know enough.”

But then Leo was all business, and Murad leaned back again to observe it silently. As he’d suspected, Leo had been thorough in his research and, unlike Murad (who understood DNA only because he stayed awake for any of the classes that involved solving crime), actually understood most of Carrie’s notes. His brows climbed. “You know a kid who escaped from Carrie? What, was she born in a bus or something? I thought every kid was tested when they were born. Hell, that’s how my so-called dad walked out on us. But relax.” He shook his head. “Some kid not being in the system isn’t in my job description. Even if I did walk in on her, I wouldn’t report her. That’s the DEA’s job.” His smile this time was mirthless. “Lucky them, right?”

There was silence for a moment as Murad mulled over his words. “Guess just one,” he said. “How do we track someone that can look like anyone? You don’t happen to have some magical DNA scanner that can pick him out in a crowd, do ya?” Murad sighed. “’Cause that’d be nice.”

@Leo Dobrowolski
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Leo Dobrowolski
 Posted: May 25 2018, 01:46 AM
Quote
Evolute
32 YEARS
Cartel
Tier 4
180 Posts
If Leo touches a person's bare skin (alive or dead), he can tell you everything about their physical history. Medical conditions, healed breaks, pregnancies, surgeries, anything that has affected their body in any way. He can also feel anything they are currently feeling - pain, nausea, breathlessness etc, as if it’s his own body.
Sandrine is Offline


@Murad Hassan

Leo grinned when he was called a smartass. “Guilty as charged,” he replied, blue eyes taking on a more humorous expression as he continued. “Though - actually - I'm gonna blame this one on you. All your talking about not doing myself down or letting other people walk over me...kinda stuck.” Though if a bruise on his face was the reward he got for it, maybe he'd be better off keeping his comebacks to himself, next time. “Turns out some guys react badly when you point out the fact that they've been a dick.” He replaced the ice over the bruise, which was starting to ache again. Leo grinned. “Or maybe I just need to stop antagonizing guys with multiple tattoos. He is a dick, though.”

He gave a shrug. “I know, I’m just...sorry. For you. It’s bullshit.” It was good to hear that Murad wanted to channel that anger into something productive, though (if you could call trying to solve what looked like an unsolvable case ‘productive’). That was a much healthier reaction than getting drunk and not eating properly, which Leo had surmised had been what the detective had done previously.

Murad held up a hand to prevent any disclosures of Vels’ business, and Leo chuckled. “You’re safe with me, man, I probably know less than you do at this point. I make it my business to know as little as possible about what actually goes on.” That way, if asked, he could be honest - and nobody would view him as a person of any value. Kidnappings were rare, but they happened. Leo didn’t want anyone to think he would be worth trying to get information out of.

‘Even if I did walk in on her, I wouldn’t report her’. For a moment, he looked at the other man’s face, tried to work out if Murad was telling the truth. Not that you would know, he reminded himself. You’re clearly no good at reading him, after what happened. But Murad didn’t look like he was lying, and he’d been honourable in all other respects - so Leo nodded to show he believed him. “Why do you keep saying ‘her’?” he asked with a grin. “Carrie know the kids exists, ‘cause of the tests, but they can’t track people after they leave. So their existence is recorded, but there current whereabouts is unknown.” He held up a document. “Which is exactly what coulda happened with a shifter. If they’re alive, they count as a current patient - so there might be a record of them, but it would be off-limits.”

He took another swig of beer, and sighed in answer to Murad’s question. “I’m pretty sure our only hope is a warrant,” Leo replied, expression chagrined. “If they exist, and there’s a file on them in Carrie, there’ll be DNA samples as well - and other information. What their normal form is like, that kind of thing. The question then would be, how to prove they did it.” He chewed his lip, thoughtfully, reached up to scruff a hand through his hair. “Or we get into Carrie and there’s no file at all, and the whole shifter thing is a dead end. Which is a good thing, I guess, ‘cause it rules it out. What do you think?”
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Murad Hassan
 Posted: May 26 2018, 05:12 PM
Quote
Evolute
36 YEARS
APD
Carrier
199 Posts
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Lugia is Offline



Murad blinked at him at the statement—although it might’ve been because when Leo got that glint in his blue eyes he got distracted. Better not to share that one. That was a vulnerability he couldn’t afford, and one that wouldn’t help either of them in the long run. But despite the flash of the smile and humor, Murad didn’t smile back. He didn’t really like the thought that his words or actions had caused him more pain. “Yeah, that’s a downside,” he admitted. “Maybe pick which guy you’re gonna pick a fight with next time. Get him drunk first.”

“Yeah, it’s bullshit.” The heat was gone now, and he just looked tired as he leaned back, seemingly mulling over whether he wanted to say more. Eventually, he just offered the man a smile. “But I picked how this was gonna go a long time ago. Guess it’d be stupid to pretend I was something else now.”

Murad snorted. “Got it. You’re a lackey.” He didn’t mean it to come out quite as harshly as it did, and he waved a hand. “Don’t mean it like that. We’ve got—had—terms for the different levels of involvement in the Cartel. We got a lot of lackeys, not a lot of people actually up there in the food chain.” He studied him with a measured gaze. “They threw a lot of them at us, you know.” You could end up being one of them, he wanted to say, but he didn’t. Not that the words weren’t hanging there anyways.

The kid was a safer topic, and Murad latched onto it with a quick smile of his own. “Guess ‘cause I’m socially aware, unlike some prick for a doctor that I know.” He tilted his head to the side, going lost in thought for a moment. “Warrant’s not gonna happen,” he said at last. “I wish it would, but it’s not possible. But maybe there are other methods…” He fell silent again, then shook his head and straightened up. “No other way to get into Carrie, then, huh? It’s either a warrant or, uh, other means.” Which he couldn’t tell Leo about because the last thing he needed was the guy getting dragged in as a potential witness. It wasn’t like their association had been a well-kept secret.

“Thank you,” he added after a moment. “I’m pretty sure the cartel has ditched Vels after this, so I know you’re doing this out of the goodness of your heart.” He paused. “What little of it there is. You gotta tell me how far you’re willing to go for this one, though.”

@Leo Dobrowolski
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Leo Dobrowolski
 Posted: May 27 2018, 05:23 AM
Quote
Evolute
32 YEARS
Cartel
Tier 4
180 Posts
If Leo touches a person's bare skin (alive or dead), he can tell you everything about their physical history. Medical conditions, healed breaks, pregnancies, surgeries, anything that has affected their body in any way. He can also feel anything they are currently feeling - pain, nausea, breathlessness etc, as if it’s his own body.
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@Murad Hassan

‘You’re a lackey’, Murad said, just dismissive enough to make Leo recoil a little bit. ‘They threw a lot of them at us’, he added, and Leo’s eyes narrowed. What are you trying to say, detective? he wanted to ask - but he also had the feeling that he knew. Guys who took the fall, prearranged to spend some time in prison. Leo took a thoughtfuls tip of beer, his eyes still fixed on Murad’s face. “It’s not what you think,” he said after a moment’s pause, mistrust in his voice. “They get looked after on the inside. They have people waiting when they get out. It’s not -” He shook his head. “Forget it.” How could Murad ever understand? He gave a thin smirk. “Besides - I’m not a lackey. I’m an investment. Free medical care. In the Cartel, but not of it. I don’t do jobs.”

He raised his eyebrows. “I didn’t give you a gender,” Leo countered with a grin. “What’s socially aware about picking one out of the air?” But his smile vanished when Murad said that they’d never be able to get a warrant for Carrie’s records. The phrase ‘by other means’ gave him a very bad feeling indeed, and he shook his head. The idea of breaking into Carrie was unthinkable - the idea of straightlaced cop Murad being the one to do it, even more so. “No, no - Murad, please don’t tell me you’re thinking what I think you’re thinking.” He looked horrified. “This is not worth losing your fuckin’ job over, dude. OK? And that’s exactly what would happen if you did something like that.”

And there it was again, Murad putting down the Cartel - and Leo knew he had to, knew it made sense because he was a cop and he was supposed to hate them, but it was followed immediately by ‘what little of it there is’, and sometimes Murad was so deadpan that Leo was hard pressed to tell if he was joking. The words weren’t accompanied by a smile. Leo sat back, eyes narrowing again, mouth drawn into a thin line. “OK, first of all - we haven’t ditched him. This isn’t the fucking Godfather, OK? The Cartel is not some kind of organised group with lawyers and shit. You say we’ve ditched him - what evidence do you have for that?”

He shifted, set his ice pack down on the coffee table so that he could gesture with his free hand. “And second of all - can I get something straight? Set some terms of fuckin’ reference for this conversation?” Leo was scowling. “Here it is: nobody joins the Cartel if they got other options. OK? They don’t. You join because you’re at fuckin’ rock bottom, because you don’t got a choice. You keep saying that we’re all a bunch of assholes, but when you talk to me you gotta remember that these are the people who fuckin’ took me in when I had nowhere else to go. None of the people who work for them are there because they had any other choice.” He had a moment to consider that maybe having this argument with Murad was not a great idea - but after the evening he’d already had, he figured: fuck it. He might as well get punched again.

“So you can stop acting all holier-than-thou and behaving like we’re inherently bad people, OK? We’re just people. We need to fuckin eat, same as cops do. We join when we’re desperate, and they are the last fuckin’ safety net in the city. Cops wanna wipe out the Cartel? Great. Make the city a place where nobody needs it. Until then, stop talking shit about my family when you don’t know anything about them.”

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Murad Hassan
 Posted: May 27 2018, 10:33 AM
Quote
Evolute
36 YEARS
APD
Carrier
199 Posts
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
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Murad shook his head. “You might be surprised about what I think. The last one I booked was fifteen. Told me his family and his girl would be set for life and since he was a minor, he wouldn’t stay in for long.” He wondered if he could expect Leo to get how exhausting that was—booking kids who didn’t know any better, who could’ve been different, hell, who weren’t even guilty for crimes because you had no other choice. More than once after sentencing he’d gone to throw up. But it did look like Leo had taken it personally after all. His mouth thinned as he watched the man, then he nodded slowly. “Okay,” he said, and his voice was…calm. Mild. “I believe you.” And that was it. What else could he say? He didn’t agree with Leo but the last thing he wanted or needed was to get into an argument about whether the Cartel would throw him under the bus or not.

But he hadn’t quite realized what a rosy picture Leo had of him. He looked horrified at the idea of Murad—well, he hadn’t even clarified what he was going to do, had he? Breaking in was one option, yes. Bribery was another, and far more likely. He also could use contacts that he or perhaps a friend of his on the force had to get the information. “Leo, if I don’t prove I’m right on this, odds are I’m dead in the water anyways.” He ran a hand through his hair again, disturbing the loose styling until he shook his head to put it back in place. “More than that, they’re fucking wrong. And I’m not gonna let Vels rot in prison because they say he killed a guy.” He grimaced. “I’d rather book him for something he actually did. I’m already bending the rules by talking to you and Omri, okay? That line’s already been crossed. One more step over isn’t gonna hurt that much.”

And it wasn’t like this was his first time bending the rules like that. Murad had a very active moral compass. It just wasn’t always guided by the law. Sure, he wouldn’t seek out places where people were actively breaking the rules, because then he’d have to deal with the awkward conversation of you were there, what did you see? But bending it a bit to make progress? Well.

However, it looked like they were onto another sensitive conversation, and this time Leo was angry. Murad opened his mouth to explain that yes, they were in fact an organized group with lawyers and shit, and he knew that because he’d talked to them on multiple occasions—then shut it. He had been joking with the heart line, but that had apparently been too far, and he’d known that eventually they were going to have this conversation. He leaned back, arms resting on his knees, keeping his posture loose and open and just letting Leo talk. People got angry a lot in his line of work. Best thing he’d found was to let them spin it out until they lost steam. And when Leo did eventually wind down, he gave it a beat, maybe two, before speaking. And when he did, his voice was soft.

“I know they don’t. I’m sorry.” And he meant it. His issue with the Cartel was not with its individual members, but with the group that created them. “If I had my way, that’s what we’d be doing. But the people at the top aren’t just trying to get by, Leo. They keep people down, they help keep the city down. And unless something happens, nothing’s gonna get fixed. I’ll keep arresting stupid young kids who don’t know any better and had no where else to go. And they’ll keep joining, hoping for something better. It’s heartbreaking, don’t you see?”

But that…cut a little too close to home. He cleared his throat and looked away. “But we’ve lost the point, which is figuring out how to get Vels out.” He reached for the papers and shuffled them neatly, then rose to his feet. “At least we’ve got a good start on that one. Thanks. I should, uh, go."

@Leo Dobrowolski
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Leo Dobrowolski
 Posted: May 27 2018, 11:55 AM
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Evolute
32 YEARS
Cartel
Tier 4
180 Posts
If Leo touches a person's bare skin (alive or dead), he can tell you everything about their physical history. Medical conditions, healed breaks, pregnancies, surgeries, anything that has affected their body in any way. He can also feel anything they are currently feeling - pain, nausea, breathlessness etc, as if it’s his own body.
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Leo listened closely to Murad’s assurances that this was something he needed to do - but he wasn’t sure he believed them. Surely presenting evidence for a case he wasn’t even supposed to be working on would be just as bad as anything else? Wasn’t it illegal, or some shit? Surely the cops wouldn’t react well, even if Murad was one of them? But Leo didn’t protest. Murad was an adult, and Leo had to treat him like one. He had to know what he was doing.

Why do you care? he wanted to ask. Surely any other officer would have been delighted to get this case dropped into their lap - it was a perfect frame-up. Even if Vels hadn’t done this murder, he had done others. They would have snapped him up immediately. But Murad Hassan had to be the most infuriatingly moral person Leo had ever met. Wasn’t that what Leo liked about him, so much?

And you can stop right there, he told himself sternly. Idiot.

Murad let him rant, and by the time Leo had exhausted his store of words he wanted to curl up into a ball. The way the detective was looking at him was...Leo bit his lip. There was something an awful lot like pity in Murad’s hazel eyes. He was wearing an expression which clearly said ‘I know more than you do’. As the other man spoke, Leo looked away. It was too much to hear. They keep people down. Leo swallowed. It’s heartbreaking, don’t you see?

He wasn’t right. He couldn’t be right. Leo couldn’t meet his eyes. Murad cleared his throat awkwardly and Leo finally looked up at him. He tried to work out why the words had made him feel quite so small.

“Keep them,” he said when Murad shuffled the papers. Leo reached for the rest of the file and held it out, waited for Murad to take it from him. His cheek had started to throb - Leo picked up his ice pack and let the cold sink back down into the centre of the bruise. ‘I should go’, Murad told him, and Leo gave a shrug. “Sure,” he replied, when what he really wanted to say was Don’t go. I don’t know what to think, right now.

But he didn’t say it. He let Murad go, and he drank the rest of his beer, and when he went to bed it was with the words it’s heartbreaking, running through his mind.

Don’t you see?

--
@Murad Hassan - and that's a wrap!

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