sanadafaye: ([chloe sullivan] ⇆ [justice])
sanadafaye ([personal profile] sanadafaye) wrote2010-08-10 01:05 pm
Entry tags:

[FIC] Law and Order: Metropolis, PG

Title: Law and Order: Metropolis
Author: [personal profile] sanadafaye
Beta: [livejournal.com profile] simplytoopretty
Artist: The utterly fabulous [livejournal.com profile] twistedlyn and the completely amazing [livejournal.com profile] tallihensia.
Disclaimer: This story is based on the 1993 episode of Law and Order titled "Manhood" and with elements from it's remake in the Law and Order: UK episode "Samaritan," neither of which I own or have any rights to. I do not own Smallville or have any right to it either.
Pairing/Genre: No pairing. Gen, AU, Crime, Mystery, Drama.
Contains: Minor off-screen character death. Minor profanity.
Rating: PG
Spoilers: There are no spoilers for Smallville or for any other episodes of Law and Order, other than the one this story is based on.
Summary: In the criminal justice system, The People are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.
Author’s Notes: Special thanks to [livejournal.com profile] blackheart_me, [livejournal.com profile] simplytoopretty, and [livejournal.com profile] invisible_oasis. Written for [livejournal.com profile] smallvillebbang.
Word Count: 15918

Art: tallihensia | Art: twistedlyn | On Livejournal




by [livejournal.com profile] tallehnsia
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by [livejournal.com profile] twistedlyn
Click for animation.


95th AND LOHMAN STREET
THURSDAY, 2nd OCTOBER

"What've we got?" Oliver Queen asks, flashlight in hand as he examines the body on the ground.

His partner Clark Kent looks over the rim of his glasses to consult his notepad. "Officer Whitney Fordman," he reads, "twenty-nine years old, been on the force four years."

"And?" Oliver kneels, careful of the blood pooled at their feet. Fordman's eyes are still open, one hand loosely wrapped around his radio.

"He took one bullet to the stomach," Clark says, motioning over Oliver's shoulder toward the dark stain on the front of Fordman's uniform. "And one to the thigh, which hit his femoral artery. He bled to death, which would have taken about four minutes."

"Two a.m. out here in Suicide Slums? He may as well have had a bull's-eye on his chest." Oliver looks with a mounting sense of dismay at the Crime Scene Unit, only a short distance away examining a second body. "Where was the partner?"

"Name's Eli Talbert. Uniform that spoke to him says he was dealing with a parking argument near a bar on Central." Again, Clark consults his notepad. "Over all the shouting Talbert says he 'misheard the address'."

"Witnesses?"

"Officers are asking around, trying to find anyone who saw what happened," Clark says, though his tone betrays exactly how unlikely he thinks this is to happen. He looks up and around at the buildings framing the alley.

There are windows overlooking them, but shootouts and police sirens are more common in the Slums than mail trucks. Two people were shot dead not ten feet away from they live, sleep, take their meals, raise their children; and yet every blind is drawn closed.

Oliver sighs, not that he expected anything less. Every officer finds out about the Bystander Effect sooner or later. "When does anyone see anything?"

One of the crime scene investigators moves across the peripheral of his vision. He sees Davis Bloome, calmly, quietly, supervising two technicians with the word CORONER stenciled across the back of pale blue coveralls as they put paper bags over the hands and feet of the body.

"You got anything, Davis?" Clark asks. Davis turns around and finds himself looking up and up and up, the way everyone does when unexpectedly faced with The Wall of Clark Kent.

"Er," says Davis, adjusting his glasses.

"Detective Queen," a frightfully small officer calls as she approaches, clipboard in hand. "Officer Talbert is waiting just outside the tape."

"Thanks," Oliver replies. With a brisk nod, the woman walks away.

"So far," Davis continues, squinting a little as he looks up at Clark and then turns to Oliver, "eight bullets from around the scene from at least two different weapons." He nods at the body, as it is wrapped in a white sheet and prepared for transportation. "Five of them were from him."

"Do we have a name?"

"We have a driver's license," Davis informs them, frowning. "Derek Fox, age twenty-one. Carrying a .38. The other three come from a .22, so they aren't from Fordman."

"That confirms dispatch's report of a second shooter," says Clark absently. "Is there any other DNA? Trace? Anything"

Davis shakes his head slowly. "We have the plastic bag from the transaction. It's being sent to the lab now." He shrugs and adds hesitantly, "We might get prints."

In the absence of other evidence, Oliver sees no reason for them to stick around.

"Fordman's partner is waiting over there," he tells Clark. "Let's go and see how he's doing."

"Thanks, Davis."

"Yeah," Oliver offers. Davis gives them a tiny salute and goes back to work.

There's no need to further exchange pleasantries. Each of them has a job to do, a reason they're here tonight. Each of them is facing the very beginning of what is shaping up to be a long night.

Clark tucks away his notebook and takes off his glasses, rubbing his eyes.

"There but for the grace of God go I," Clark mutters.

"You start thinking like that, you hang up your badge," Oliver says roughly. He places a hand on Clark's elbow, to lead him through the safe area designated around Fordman's body.

Without his glasses on, everything is made up of the same few shades of darkness. Blurred forms clothed in black and dark, dark gray interrupted only by the steady red-blue of a police cruisers emergency lights.

A strong breeze catches the collar of his coat and chills him through four layers of clothing. Beside him Oliver shivers.

When he puts his glasses back on, the inky blackness coalescences into a Metropolis Police Department crest stretched across the broad chest of Officer Eli Talbert. Clark isn't used to very many people towering over him, but Talbert does so and makes it look easy. He's tall and solid in a way that makes bricks look easier knock down. He has the stance of a military man, and when Clark approaches hand extended, he meets Clark with a firm handshake.

"Officer Eli Talbert," he greets curtly.

Clark watches Talbert wipe his hand anxiously on one of his pant leg. "We're sorry about Fordman," Clark offers sincerely.

"Yeah," Talbert says, taking off his hat and running his hand over close-cropped hair. "He was a good kid."

"So, you got here after it went down?" Oliver asks without preamble.

"Yes." Talbert takes a steadying breath. When he speaks next, he is composed. "I was at the back of the Ace of Clubs. Shark's game let out earlier, had a few stragglers, nothing out of the ordinary. Had a taxi driver yelling his head off about a late bus that had blocked him in. Fordman went on ahead while I sorted the two of them out." He breaks off, eyes darting between Clark and Oliver's faces before settling on the ground. "I should have been with him."

"Don't beat yourself up. It could have happened to anyone."

"Yeah, but it didn't. I should have been with him -- would have, but I misheard the call." He gestures weakly to the radio clipped high on his shoulder. "I thought they said Bowman Street, not Lohman Street. I could have been there."

"Was your radio working properly?" Clark inquires.

Talbert chuckles humorlessly. "I don't know, but half a dozen people yelling in my ear didn't help much."

"Well, we're going to need an official debriefing and a statement down at the station," Clark tells him. "When you're ready."

"Yeah, of course," Talbert says, jaw clenched.

"That'll be all for now, Officer Talbert," Oliver says. He pats Talbert on the shoulder. "Go home."

Talbert nods stiffly and walks away. Like everything else, Officer Talbert fades into the darkness of Metropolis.

Clark and Oliver watch him go. Behind them, Fordman is loaded up and taken away. The crime scene unit continues to scour the scene for evidence.

"You remember foot patrol?" Clark asks.

"Yeah."

Turning to look at Oliver, Clark adds: "The part I remember most is I never thought I'd get shot."

He wonders what Fordman had thought.




FORENSICS LAB
TUESDAY, 7th OCTOBER

Television has taught the world that walking into a crime lab is a bit like walking into the Apple Store. There should be shiny doo-dads gleaming under rows of fluorescent lights and machines that receive data in one end and spits out results from the other.

In reality it's a bit more like taking a step backwards in time and entering a high school science lab, except the teacher is a nerdy little guy in a bow-tiw and all of the equipment looks to be out-dated by a minimum of ten years.

The lab technician on duty is Henry Olsen, answers to Henry, Hal, Hank, Harry, Jenry, James, Jamie, Jimbo, Jim, Jay, and Hey You. He prefers Jimmy.

"Twenty-nine. That's younger than Ol -- " Jimmy cuts himself off, probably at the looks he's receiving. He makes a kind of strangled, choking sound like he's forgotten how to breathe.

They all know what he was going to say: Twenty-nine. Younger than Oliver. A few years older than Clark, a few more than Jimmy himself.

Who was safe? Who was going to be next?

Could they even do anything about it?

Jimmy coughs. "S'no age to die, is all I was going to say," he mumbles, shuffling a stack of papers around at random.

"There's never a good age to die," Clark says in what Oliver has dubbed his 'ra-ra go-team-go hang-in-there-kitten-it's-almost-Friday' tone.

Oliver rolls his eyes. "What've you got?"

Visibly sagging in relief, Jimmy pushes off against a nearby cabinet, his chair sliding easily across the open space of the lab toward his desk. "Bag from the crime scene contained crack and had two major sets of prints. The first is from," he says, rifling through the stacks of paperwork before retrieving a folder Oliver or Clark would find indistinguishable from the rest and rolling back, "the corpse: Derek Fox, twenty-one. The other prints belong to a Wade Mahaney." He waves the folder under Clark's nose with a grin. "Record was sent over the second I was able to match his prints in AFIS."

Clark takes the folder from Jimmy only to have it immediately taken from him by Oliver. There's a mug shot attached to the inside cover. He hands it to Clark.

"Good work, Jimmy. This is exactly what we needed after an all-nighter." He stares into the face of their second drug dealer. Even if he hadn't shot Officer Fordman, he would at least be able to tell them what happened.

They were going to find this guy.

They were going to catch this guy.

"Hey, C.K.," Jimmy says casually, drumming his fingers on the table in an energetic, almost frantic manner. "Kara wanted me to see if you were still coming over for dinner Friday night."

Now, Clark loves his cousin. He does. Her cooking is another matter entirely.

Some of the horror must have shown on his face because Jimmy laughs. "I'll tell her you're looking forward to it," he says, peering into the eyepiece of a nearby microscope.

"I'll be sure to visit you after the stomach pump Saturday morning." Oliver keeps his nose buried in the report, but even without being able to see his face Clark knows he's smiling.

Clark frowns.

"She says Oliver's invited as well," Jimmy announces gleefully.

There's a sharp, unpleasant sound from behind the report, then Oliver mutters, "I'll probably end up in the room beside you," and abruptly changes the subject. "On Wade Mahaney we've got: ADW -- no conviction, possession intent to sell -- no conviction, robbery attempt -- no conviction."

Jimmy raises his eyebrows, taps his fingers intermittently against the counter top. "Lucky guy."

Clark swiftly grabs the mug shot out of Oliver's hands, ignoring his protesting squawk. "Not anymore." He thanks Jimmy and exits.

Oliver tells Jimmy to stop cackling and follows.




Metropolis is supposed to be the city of tomorrow, a place of infinite wonder. The grass is greener in Metropolis, people say, the sky bluer. Women and men are healthier, they're happier, in Metropolis.

Oliver and Clark -- the entire Metropolis Police Department, really -- know their city better than anyone. They know all of her dirty secrets, and it is their sworn duty to protect her. They see Metropolis for the dirty, soulless pit that she is.

With a collection of murderers and thieves waiting around every corner.

Right now, there's only one that they're looking for.

The streets are teeming with afternoon traffic, and they wait for Wade Mahaney outside of his rundown apartment in Bakerline. Even with the sun high overhead, the air is still shockingly cold. Clark's truck doesn't offer much in the way of protection. Oliver taps the car vent, trying to urge the dead heater back to life.

Oliver sighs. "How you people can live in this type of weather is beyond me."

Clark owns what has been voted three years running the ugliest most useless truck anyone in the precinct has ever seen.

Oliver's own car is small, silver, very fast, very expensive, and very likely to draw attention wherever it goes. Clark likes to exclaim loudly about his obvious attempts at compensating for something. Oliver likes to cuff Clark over the back of the head.

"You moved here four years ago. At this point you're one of us, Oliver. Accept it and move on." Clark pauses. "And get thicker skin."

"I'm just saying that if this was Star City," Oliver explains with forced levity. He gestures at a woman further up the sidewalk. "She'd be on roller skates. And wearing a bikini."

Clark keeps his eye to his mirrors, checking and rechecking, waiting for Mahaney to appear. "She's pushing a stroller," Clark says, in disbelief. Then he remembers who he's talking to.

"So? She crossed the street without looking both ways. I think that means she's a risk taker. Besides, moms like to skate, too."

"No one in Metropolis looks both ways before crossing," Clark points out.

Oliver makes one searching sweep of the street and turns to give Clark his most offended look. "You know, Clark, I think it's incredibly close-minded of you to assume that just because she has a kid it means that she isn't allowed to enjoy the finer things in life."

"Like roller skating?" Clark asks skeptically.

"Like roller skating," Oliver agrees with a firm nod of his head.

"Yeah, try that argument on my mom."

"Hell no. I'm trying to get an invitation to Thankgiving dinner." Oliver pauses, a horrible thought occuring to him. "Is Kara cooking?"

"It's too early to be thinking about Thanksgiving dinner," Clark replies absently.

"It's never too early to be thinking about Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey and home-made gravy, which I didn't actually know was possible..." Oliver trails off.

For the sixth time in the last fifteen minutes, Clark picks up the picture of Wade Mahaney, and just like the five times before, he stares at it hard enough that Oliver is half afraid that it might catch fire.

"And Kara dressed as a sexy pilgrim," Oliver continues with an exaggerated leer. When Clark doesn't react, Oliver snatches the picture out of Clark's grasp before he can damage it and asks, "All right, what's up? This can't be about Fordman. You didn't even know him."

"It's nothing, Oliver," Clark says immediately. For a moment his hand grasps at the air as if confused by the emptiness before it joins the other in choking the steering wheel. "It's nothing." He blinks and flushes. "Sexy what?"

Oliver grins slyly. "Is this about Mahaney? Did you want to ask him to prom, I mean," Oliver says, pretending to give the picture a critical once over, "I suppose he might be considered good-looking in some circles."

Clark completely fails to rise to the bait. There's a grim, thoughtful look on his face that makes Oliver sit a little straighter in his seat, makes the grin slide off his face.

"It's just," Clark starts, and again, his hand flails for a moment: looking for something to grab on to, finding nothing, and faltering, falling. He sighs. "That's got to be the worst thing in the world."

Oliver wills his expression blank. He knows and does not like where this conversation is going. "What? Losing a partner?"

"Yeah." Clark turns to Oliver, and immediately startles as he looks at Oliver properly. For a moment, he can only stare in mute incomprehension before the proverbial light bulb comes on in his head. His face falls. "Sorry, Ollie. I know you -- " he says, tone so thick with guilt it sounds like he might choke on it.

"It's all right, Clark," Oliver interrupts, making an effort to sound casual and only marginally surprised that he manages it. He's good at compartmentalizing things. "Carter got stabbed breaking up a bar fight. Nothing either of us could do."

"But, Ollie -- "

Oliver looks out the window.

A figure in the side mirror catches his attention. Walking up the sidewalk is Wade Mahaney. His head is down, hands shoved in his pockets, but it's clearly him. Oliver squeezes the door handle, his entire body suddenly tense.

"Clark. Call it in."

Clark is trying to take the keys out of the ignition and open the car door and activate his earpiece all at the same time. "Target sighted," he enunciates carefully into his microphone. "Coming down the street."

Clark finally manages to open his door and climbs out of the car. Blowing into his hands, he crosses the street and walks up the sidewalk, head down but keeping a careful eye on his surroundings.

1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 -- Mahaney passes the car and Oliver climbs out behind him.

"Wade Mahaney?"

Mahaney's head jerked up, doesn't know what's happening until it's too late.

Clark's in front of him with his badge out, shouting, "Police! Don't move!"

Oliver's behind him, gun drawn.

If that isn't reason enough, there are four more officers from the 41st precinct approaching from the side in full tactical gear, guns trained on him.

They are authoritative voices, an overlapping cacophony of "on your knees," "hands above your head," "get on the ground now," and "hands where I can see them."

Each one of them hopes he'll pull out a weapon or try to make a break for it.

It's an honest disappointment when Mahaney so readily complies.

Oliver holsters his gun and roughly wrenches Mahaney's hands behind his back to cuff him.

"What is this?" Mahaney snarls, struggling. Oliver is happy to add resisting arrest to his mental list of charges.

"Like you don't know."

"I'm arresting you on the suspicion of the murder of officer Whitney Fordman," Clark says, all business. Oliver searches him quickly, efficiently, while Clark Mirandizes him.

From the ground, Mahaney grunts, swearing bloody murder.




38 PRECINCT HEADQUARTERS
WEDNESDAY 8TH OCTOBER

"I didn't kill anyone," Mahaney denies vehemently, leaning forward in his seat. "You." He turns to his lawyer. "You speak cop? Tell them so they understand."

His lawyer is a moderately attractive woman in a pants suit named Corrine Hartford. Corrine Hartford looks about a half a second away from beating Mahaney over the head with her fine Italian briefcase. If she did give into the urge, Oliver hopes that the cameras in the observation room will mysteriously go out; otherwise he will have a difficult time explaining exactly why he did nothing to help. Except, of course, waylay Clark in case he gets hit with the Morality bug.

Unfortunately, she seems fit to contain herself. She says primly, "Fingerprints on a plastic bag does not even prove that he was dealing." She spreads her hands as if to say ay, there's the rub. "He bought a sandwich, threw the bag away, and someone else later filled it with drugs. You can hardly charge a man with hunger."

Mahaney slouches backwards in his chair, bright-eyed and smug. "See? She's good."

She sniffs delicately and tucks an errant strand of hair out of her face. "Thank you, now if you would do what we discussed and let me handle the talking?"

"Where were you at the time of the murder, Wade?" Oliver asks.

"Not there," Mahaney retorts with a sharp grin.

"Show me this murder weapon," Hartford interjects, "and prove Mr. Mahaney used it, or you're going to have to let him go."

Mahaney, who is nodding along with each of her words, adds, "Exactly."

"We know you fired shots, Mr. Mahaney," Clark explains reasonably. "We've taken gunpowder residue from your hands."

"But you haven't a gun to match it, have you?" she points out. Oliver grits his teeth.

"What did you do with the gun, Wade?" Oliver pushes. "Did you take it home or throw it away?"

For once Mahaney doesn't respond. Simply flashes Oliver a bright, carefree grin and raps his knuckles against the table.

"I promise you, Mr. Mahaney," Clark states, tone lower, every fiber of his being intense and focused on Mahaney. The casual slouch Mahaney had projected shifts as he inches his chair a little way backward, away from Clark. "Whatever you did with it, we will find it."

"I don't know if you two are hard of hearing," Hartford says, very slowly, "but they haven't, have they?" She trails a cold, calculated glance from Oliver to Clark and back again. "So, unless you can magically produce this weapon, you're going to have to let my client go."




Oliver and Clark stand beside Captain John Jones.

John looks older, haggard. He stares through the one-way mirror and heaves a heavy, tired sigh. "Miss Hartford is absolutely right," he says with care. He turns to face Clark and Oliver. "If we do not have a weapon, we do not have enough to charge him with."

Clark frowns. "We have security footage of him running away from the crime scene a few minutes after the shooting."

John opens his mouth, and then closes it. "We have footage of him out for a run. No connection."

The door to the observation room cracks open. Officer Andrea Rojas pokes her head in, waving a sheet of paper in front of her.

"Yes, Andrea?" John greets, stepping toward the door.

Andrea leans in through the doorway. "Hola Jefe, got word on your Lohman Street shooting."

"What is it?" Oliver asks.

"Dispatch logged an anonymous call from a witness who saw the shooting." She pauses. "I've got the phone's billing address if you want it."

There's an almost palpable sense of relief in the observation room. Oliver might have kissed her if not for two facts: the first being that it would have been considered deeply inappropriate, and the second, possibly more important, being that even in a pencil skirt Andrea would deck him if he tried.

Clark takes the paper with the billing address and looks it over. Finding the information satisfactory, he nods to Oliver.

"You're perfect, angel," Oliver says reverently as he heads for the door.

"I know," she agrees graciously, side stepping him to let him pass. "I have been telling you this for years."

"Good work, Officer Rojas." Clark, a keen observer of the rules, follows, in his head likely composing a lecture for the ride about sexual harassment in the work place.

As Clark passes her in the doorway, Andrea replies quietly, "No conoces todo en lo que soy beuna, cariño."

Clark doesn't actually flee her presence, but it's a near thing.

"What'd she say?" Oliver asks innocently as he waits by the elevator.

Clark stares pointedly at the lighted numbers as it descends to their floor, flushed to the tips of his ears. "I don't know. Something about a sexual harassment complaint," says Clark, who speaks fluent Spanish. Oliver just continues to grin. The bell rings, the doors part. Clark shoulder-checks him on his way in. "Let's go."




The address leads them to a run down apartment in Suicide Slums around the corner from the crime scene. The girl that opens the door is expecting the pizza delivery boy, but doesn't seem overly surprised when it's two detectives instead. She's young, too young for the thick, dark make-up on her face and the glare they've only ever received from tax payers, too young for the handful of petty theft charges and mug shot they have for her.

"What?" she says.

"Bette Sans Souci?" Clark asks, presenting his badge and plastering on his boyish 'golly shucks, ma'am, if you'd be ever so kind' smile that usually opens all sorts of doors for them.

She doesn't reply one way or the other, doesn't seem bothered to answer. She idly scratches a worn hole in the sleeve of her sweatshirt, staring blankly ahead.

"I'm Detective Kent," Clark says, gesturing to Oliver before he folds his badge and shoves it into his pocket," this is Detective Queen. We have a few questions for you, Miss Sans Souci, if you wouldn't mind speaking with us."

Bette maneuvers herself to stand taller, more fully in the doorway. "What's this about?"

Oliver and Clark exchange a look.

"Last night we received a call to 911 from your cell phone number. Would you mind telling us about that?"

"Wasn't me. I didn't call anyone."

Clark blinks. "You're Bette Sans Souci?"

"Maybe."

He unfolds the 911 transcript and holds it up for her to read. "This is your phone number," he states flatly.

Bette doesn't even look at it. "Maybe."

"You have your phone on you?" Clark presses.

"Maybe."

There's a crash from within the apartment, followed by a round of some incredibly creative swearing. A woman clinging to the wall to hold herself upright stumbles out from a backroom and into the hallway, one hand clutched possessively around the neck of a bottle peeking out from the top of a brown paper bag. "What's going on out here? Who're you talking to?" asks the woman, words heavily slurred together.

"No one, mom," Bette answers promptly, putting her head in her hands. "Go back to bed."

The woman about-faces unsteadily, and slowly heads back the way she came, cursing underneath her breath.

Bette sighs.

Clark and Oliver share a look. With a barely perceptible nod of his head, Clark lets Oliver take the lead.

"How old are you?" Oliver asks, trying a different tactic.

Looking up, Bette snaps, "Younger'n you, that's for sure."

"So was the man that was gunned down last night for doing his job." His caustic remark earns a flinch from Bette and a reprimanding look from Clark. Oliver presses on: "Now can I have a look at your cell phone?"

"Please," Clark adds.

Bette reluctantly takes her cell phone out and hands it to Clark. Clark barely glances at the screen before he hands it to Oliver. Clark can barely program a number into his own phone without assistance.

It only takes a moment to access her recent call list. "911, 3:47 AM," Oliver reads. "What did you see?"

"I didn't see nothing," Bette disagrees, a hint of desperation in her tone. She looks back into the apartment. "My mom says, 'don't get involved. Don't see nothing. Only going to bring trouble on yourself'."

"With all due respect," Oliver says, though there's very little of anything approaching respect in his tone, "your mother's an idiot. We all keep to ourselves, what happens to the community?"

"Ain't my problem," Bette mumbles.

Oliver holds up her phone. "It is now."

Bette makes an incoherent, distressed noise.

"Bette," Clark says softly, stepping forward, taking control of the situation.

Oliver shifts out into the hallway, out of the conversation, letting Clark take the lead. Oliver can ram his head into a persons defenses all he wants until they either wear down or give up, but Clark can talk his way through almost anything given adequate time and exposure.

"An officer was murdered outside of this building last night," Clark says and places a hand on her shoulder, stooping down to look her in the eyes. "We want to get justice for him."

Jaw clenched, Bette bites out, "Justice?" She steps out from under Clark's hand. "Where were you at when my old man got shot up outside this building? Where was his justice?"

"We can't catch all of them, Bette, and I'm sorry. But we -- we need to catch this one."

"'Cause he killed one of yours?" Bette wraps her arms around herself and leans away, away from Clark, away from the officers, away from this situation.

"He wasn't afraid to kill an officer of the law," Clark explains. "We need to catch him before he kills anyone else."

There are tears welling up in Bette's eyes. She looks away. "There were two of them," she whispers after a moment. "I saw the cop and -- and one of them got shot. The other guy legged it to the car and scratched out."

Clark nods. "What kind of car?"

"One of those, uh." Bette sniffs, rolling her eyes. "You know. 'Look at me, New Troy,' Corvettes."

"Would you recognize the man who ran away?" Oliver inquires.

"Maybe," she answers, not looking away from Clark. "If I saw him again, maybe."

"Come to the station with us," Clark requests. He reaches out, maybe to lay his hand on her shoulder again, but he stops halfway into the gesture. His hand falls to his side. "You don't have to if you don't want to."

Oliver adds, "We just need you to point out the right guy."

Bette sighs. Hugging her arms around herself, she looks over her shoulder.

Then she steps out into the hallway and closes the door.




Bette Sans Souci stands between John and Clark, face pressed close to the one-sided mirror. John doesn't need to explain to her how this works, she knows, she's seen it on television, but he does anyway.

Six men are on the other side of the glass: roughly the height, shape, and coloring of their suspect, standing side by side by side. Two of them are off-duty police officers. One of them is Wade Mahaney.

Bette zeroes in on him, locked on to him the moment the lights had come up, and she doesn't look at anyone else. She doesn't need to look at anyone else.

She stares at him. "Am I going to have to testify?"

The room is silent until Clark realizes that the question is directed at him. He isn't even entirely sure why John had asked him to stand in.

But Bette looks up at him; a soft trusting look on her face and Clark can't tell her that he doesn't know. He mentally flails for a moment, casting John a beseeching look.

John shares a look over her head with Executive District Attorney Perry White. Perry nods.

John directs her attention to him with a light touch to her elbow. He smiles reassuringly. "Just focus on identifying the correct person for now," he doesn't answer.

She must find something reassuring in his tone, because she turns back to face the mirror without another word. She sighs, lightly tapping the glass. "It was number two. I saw him shoot the other guy and leg it."

Number two is Wade Mahaney. They've got him.

Corrine Hartford swears under her breath.

"Good work," John says, resting a hand on her shoulder. He nods to Clark. "Why don't you wait outside?"

Clark ushers Bette out of the room where Oliver is waiting. Her eyes light up at the sight of the greasy take-out bag in his hand.

From the side he sees Perry's Assistant Chloe Sullivan approach. She gives him a little three fingered wave and immediately introduces herself to Bette, discreetly elbowing Oliver in the side for something he probably deserves. Clark closes the door on the entire scene. Back to business.

"What is that?" Perry asks casually. "Felony murder, twenty-five to life? Drugs, another what? Five to fifteen?"

Hartford has one hand on her hip. The other hand has a white-knuckled grip on her briefcase. "He didn't kill the cop."

Perry just stares at her, eyebrows raised. "Well, Fordman certainly didn't shoot himself."

"I'll talk to him," Hartford snaps, glaring at Perry, John, Clark, and, for good measure, the floor as if to make her known to all that her displeasure is absolute. "Save the cost of a trial. He pleads murder two and we forget the drugs. He does the twenty-five."




"So you've got a witness. I'm telling you: I didn't shoot the pig." There's a pause before Mahaney seems to catch himself and corrects, "The cop."

Pen poised, Clark gives him a stiff smile. "So why don't you tell us what happened?"

With a glance at his lawyer, Mahaney sighs. "We were finishing our deal," he explains. "Derek sees your cop come around the corner and he just went off. He's yelling, shooting -- it's like he just checked out." Mahaney makes a vague gesture that's meant to demonstrate what ‘checking out' entails. "Shot the cop in the leg first. Derek's got him down so he runs up, shoots the cop in the stomach. I think that's going to be the end of it, next thing I know he started shooting at me claiming it was a set-up. I'm shouting at him, telling him I hadn't done anything. He wasn't listening. That's when I started shooting too."

"And you shot Derek Fox," Clark says for clarification.

"It was self-defense!" Mahaney exclaims. "I had to stop him."

"Well, you cetainly did," Oliver says.

"You don't care. Nah, you're worked up about that cop." Mahaney snorts in derision, slouching down in his chair. "You boys should be thanking me, I did you a favor."

"Oh, well, now that you put it that way," Oliver replies, earnest, "we'll go ahead and let your future cell mates at Iron Heights know that they're going to have a bona fide hero in their midst."

"When it was going down, I didn't see you guys doing nothing about it," Mahaney snaps.

Clark looks up from where he's been taking notes. He adjusts his glasses. "I'm sorry; what is that supposed to mean?"

Mahaney doesn't hesitate. "After Derek," he trails off a moment, trying to find a tactful way to say ‘died', "…went down, I got the hell out of there. But when I turn the corner, there's a cop standing in the doorway. I think he's about to come after me, but he doesn't. He just stands there." Mahaney leans forward, eyes intent. "See, that's what I don't get: cop in the alley was injured. He wasn't dead. Other cop just stands there. Doesn't try to run me down, doesn't go to help. He could have been there, but he wasn't. He's the reason that cop's dead, not me."




"Captain!" Jimmy calls excitedly, rushing down the corridor. He stops just short of the trio and waves a folder meaningfully. "The bullet that killed Whitney Fordman matches Derek Fox's gun."

"So, Wade Mahaney didn't shoot Whitney Fordman."

"But." Jimmy pauses dramatically, waiting until he has their full attention before he announces: "He did kill Derek Fox." Instead of jumping for joy, which he seems to think should have been their reaction to the news, they continue to stare at him. "Gun was found in an abandoned warehouse. Mahaney's DNA was all over it and it matches the gun residue we got off him earlier," he continues, staring between the three of them as if there's some vital clue he is not privy too.

There is.

Wade Mahaney has already cut a deal with the D.A.'s office in exchange for his signed confession.

John sighs. "Thank you, Jimmy."

Jimmy looks marginally cheered up, clapping himself on the back before he marches away.

The three enter Captain John Jones's office. John immediately goes behind his desk and picks up his tin of cookies.

"So," Oliver says, collapsing into a chair, "I guess all that's left is the paperwork."

"Unless you were planning on arresting and charging Derek Fox's corpse as well."

"Just get us even more paperwork."

Clark blinks, his glasses slipping down his nose. "Well, what about Wade Mahaney's evidence?" he asks, hastily pushing his glasses back up. "The cop around the corner not going to help?"

John freezes. He carefully sets the cookie back in the tin and seals it. "Shut the door," he says quietly.

Clark shuts the door.

"Do we believe Mahaney?" John inquires softly, careful even in the relative privacy of his office.

"A drug dealer? With a record longer than Clark is tall?" Oliver snorts. "Yeah, because they're known to be so very reliable."

Clark frowns. "Why would he lie?"

"Why'd he lie before? It's just in his nature," Oliver offers glibly.

"No," Clark mutters absently, as though his mind is furiously working through some complex problem. Then he looks up and shakes his head. "He knew we had him. Telling us that there was a cop nearby didn't get him a better deal -- it didn't help him at all. So why would he say it? He hardly named names so it's not like he's got someone he wants set up."

"Who cares why he said it? For that matter, why are we even discussing this?"

"Because no matter whatever else Wade Mahaney may be, he's now a witness. And it's our job to follow it up, even if it is just to rule it out."

"Oh, so, you're going to explain that to three-one?"

"No," John interrupts. He doesn't raise his voice, but somehow makes the command clear. Clark and Oliver fall silent. "I don't want you to say anything to anyone. This stays between us three for now."

Clark opens his mouth to protest. John raises a hand to cut him off. "I want you to check the surrounding buildings for cameras. See if we can get a wider view of the crime scene."

"You are kidding," Oliver says, voice thick with disbelief. "You want to pursue this."

"We pursue it or we call Internal Affairs -- "

"And they'll run into a wall so big a jackhammer couldn't get through it," Clark supplies, trying to ease some of the tension in the room.

Oliver isn't having it. He cuts Clark a sidelong glare and says: "Maybe because there's nothing to get through?"

"A police officer has died," John says. Again, he doesn't raise his voice, but lower it. "And another officer may have stood by and watched." He looks slowly between Clark and Oliver, the reproach in his gaze clear. "We follow up on every piece of evidence we have."




LOHMAN STREET
FRIDAY 10th OCTOBER

Oliver and Clark stand in the streets of Metropolis. They are perhaps two blocks away from where Whitney Fordman died.

The world goes on.

"Security footage?" Nell Potter repeats, eyes turned away from both detectives as she locks the front door to one of the buildings she owns. She finishes with the locks and turns to face them, a small smile on her face. She shrugs. "Haven't got any."

"Mrs. Potter-Winters -- "

"Please," Potter says, her smile taking a more seductive edge, "call me Nell -- oh!" ‘Nell' fakes a bad tumble and grabs onto Clark for stability. She does a lot more groping than necessary for a woman recovering her balance. "Oh, you're so firm." She turns her seductive smile up to eleven and flutters her eyelashes up at him. "I supposed you'd have to be, running around chasing all them criminals."

Oliver, very pointedly, does not come to his rescue.

Clark clears his throat, flushed to the tips of his ears. "Mrs. Potter-Winters," he says. Nell pouts prettily in return. "Mrs. Potter-Winters, you and your husband own over half of the buildings in this area." Clark uses his free arm to gesture around them. "I can see a dozen cameras from where I'm standing. You're telling me that you have absolutely no footage of that night?"

"I don't need all those cameras," Nell tells Clark's chest, obviously thinking very little of her husband. "Some of them are dummies. And they all run to the same system." She blinks, as if awakening from a daze, looks up at him and flashes a winning smile. "And I didn't put new DVDs in the recorders," she adds self-deprecatingly.

"That's unfortunate." Clark frowns, clearly unconvinced. "Do you have footage of the night before the incident?"

Nell bites her lip, looking up at him through her lashes. "I think so."

"And last night?"

"I think so."

"Well, excuse me, ma'am," Clark says, dislodging her as gently as he can before taking a very large step backward, "are there any other nights that you forgot to put new DVDs in the recorders?"

For a moment, she looks like she might slap one or both of them. Oliver takes two hurried steps backward. His movement seems to appease her because she adjusts her scarf a bit more aggressively than is necessary and says, "I don't think so," tightly, clearly ready to dismiss this conversation. "I'm sorry about the policeman that got shot, but like you said, it's unfortunate. I can't help you. If that will be all?"

"No, ma'am, thank you for your time," Oliver says quickly.

She looks between Clark and Oliver, as if giving serious consideration to the whole ‘assaulting a police officer' business before reconsidering. She gives them a cool nod and spins on her heel, strutting away chin held high.

When she's well out of hearing distance, Clark turns and starts back towards the car. "Someone got to her. It's the only explanation," Clark calls over his shoulder.

Oliver rolls his eyes. He has to jog to catch up to Clark. "Or," Oliver says, when they're shoulder to shoulder, "she forgot to put DVDs in the recorders."

"No," Clark replies adamantly, "someone got to her first."

Oliver stops. "Okay, I went along with this because we're partners and I've got your back. But can we let this go now?" he asks. "We've got forensic evidence as well as eye witness testimony for the guy that shot Fordman. We've even caught the guy that shot the guy that shot Fordman."

Clark stops several feet up the sidewalk from him, turning wearily as if Oliver is the one standing in the street throwing around insane accusations. "Ollie..."

"Why does this have to be a conspiracy? I know you've always wanted to be the subject of a Dan Brown novel -- fine. That's your thing. But now you're seeing patterns that just aren't there."

"Oliver, I hope you're right. I sincerely hope you're right," Clark admits, frustration heavy in his tone. He reaches up a hand and tugs at the ends of his hair. "But who knows where we'd look first? Who knows our procedures?" he asks helplessly.

"I'm sorry, Clark, I just don't buy it," replies Oliver with an equally helpless gesture. "You're not going to convince me that someone hung Fordman out to dry -- that a cop hung Fordman out to dry."

"Hopefully no one did. But every cop is not the same, and if this is our one in a million shot, we have to look into it."

"Explain to me, Clark," Oliver asks, stepping forward, "why you're so keen to take the word of a drug dealer over the word of a fellow officer."

"You know that's not what this is."

"Then please, enlighten me."

Clark shakes his head. The expression on his face is one of steely determination. "This isn't about taking the word of a drug dealer over the word of an officer. We owe it to Whitney to rule out Wade Mahaney's claim."

Oliver wants to be angry. He wants to be offended on behalf of the entire Metropolis police force, for every serving officer everywhere. But he knows Clark. The Kents instilled in their son a hand-crafted moral compass that would point North in the murkiest of weather, and Clark would gladly follow his gut instinct into a pit of vipers if he felt it was for a good cause. Oliver can't see any good coming out of this, but he'll have Clark's back through it. It's what partners are for.

Oliver sighs. "How do we do that?"




31 PRECINCT HEADQUARTERS
MONDAY 13th OCTOBER

"Eleven years as Captain and I'd never lost one. Until now," Captain William Henderson says. "We're all in shock down here."

"Captain Henderson," Clark starts haltingly, "was Fordman in any kind of trouble?"

"Nothing big. He missed a couple of shifts," Henderson replies with a shrug. "What's the problem here?" He looks from Clark to Oliver, finally settling his gaze back on Clark, whom he's more familiar with. "He was a good guy. He just…had some kind of personal problem."

"Personal problem?" Clark inquires.

Henderson seems content not to elaborate.

"The man who shot Whitney Fordman didn't survive the shoot out," Clark tries, sending Oliver a meaningful look from behind his notebook. "We have charged Wade Mahaney with Fordman's murder."

"Right." Henderson nods in acceptance. "Well, if there's anything you need to make things move a bit faster, just yell. We're glad to help."

Oliver forces a smile on his face and casually adds, "Hopefully, it'd be a bit faster than Eli Talbert."

Clark says something consolatory that goes completely ignored before he simply tries to sink further into the background to observe. Oliver continues to smile cheerfully.

Henderson looks apoplectic.

"I'm sorry?" he asks slowly, in the voice of someone desperately hoping they've misheard.

"Well, I'm just saying. Officer Talbert was late to the scene." Oliver raises his eyebrows guilelessly. "Not much in the way of back-up."

"He was late to the scene and now he's torn up about it," Henderson counters defensively, choosing to ignore the latter half of his statement. "There was another back-up unit that didn't get there in time."

"Granted, they weren't partnered with him, so they weren't as directly responsible for his welfare." Oliver shrugs. "And they were a lot further away. To be fair."

"Is there something you want to say, Detective Queen?" Henderson demands, rising from his desk, palms pressed firmly against the surface. The look on his face plainly says that he's seriously considering throwing away a twenty-six year career to punch Oliver in the face right now.

"Only that you must be disappointed in your men," Oliver replies smoothly. "It's unfortunate."

"Is this about discipline? Because I don't need some silver spoon fed detective in some striped suit telling me how to run my precinct." He gives Oliver a narrow-eyed stare as if he'd measured Oliver against something and been left wanting. "Talbert's been suspended for three weeks, that settle it for you? He's a good cop," he persists. "He didn't get there on time. It happens."

"But not in the eleven years under your command." Oliver pauses expectantly. "Right?"

A sudden, perfectly terrible silence descends upon the room.

"If you want to start impugning my officers, Detective Queen, you're going to be taking your balls back in a paper bag. Do we understand each other?" Henderson says with barely suppressed fury. He is tall and lean; old enough that he's probably retiring soon. Somehow, the threat still seems perfectly valid. "Kent. You might want to get your partner out of here before he hurts himself."

Oliver pushes off the wall with his foot, heading toward the door. He nods at Henderson as he passes, and says, "Don't need an escort, thanks," in the same tones one might use when leaving voluntarily.

Clark nods deferentially, muttering vague apologies, and follows.




A lot of cops work on what is known as the Good Cop/Bad Cop system for handling interrogations, despite the fact that anyone who has ever watched a crime drama knows that it's a set-up. Clark and Oliver had worked out a few variants.

Oliver's job was to talk, irreverently and unstoppably. Clark's job was to appear contrite, and keep up a seemingly stalwart effort of trying to will himself out of existence.

Ideally, this drew the focus to Oliver, allowing Clark the opportunity to sit back, unobtrusively look around, and just observe. Sometimes they slipped up, said more than they meant to.

Clark's job was to listen. And watch.

The ride back to the 38 Precinct is quiet, uncomfortably so. A few times Oliver caught Clark glance at him, mouth open as if he had something to say. But he doesn't. They ride in silence. Oliver waits until they're inside before he finally asks: "So, did you get anything?"

Clark stares at him in wide-eyed shock.

"From Henderson?" Oliver clarifies. "Did you get anything from Henderson?"

"Anything like what?"

"Anything that might have made it worth me riling the old guy up over," Oliver suggests. "And almost getting punched. Not sure if you noticed, but I somehow got the impression that if I'd overstayed my welcome, punching was in my future."

Clark storms down the corridor on their floor, glad for the relative emptiness. "Oliver," he practically hisses, "are you happy now?"

"What?" Oliver blinks, surprised. "That's what you wanted, wasn't it?" He reaches out a hand and stops Clark in the middle of the hallway. The area where their desks are located is open and there are dozens of officers wandering though. If they were going to have this out, Oliver would prefer they have it out here. "Wasn't it?" Clark looks at the far wall, doesn't deny it. "Then, this is how we do it."

"No. Not when it's one of ours," Clark says with finality.

"So, what? Yesterday you thought the three-one was dirty at the word of drug dealer, and now everyone gets a free pass because you just remembered that they're cops?"

"No. They get what everyone else gets: some basic courtesy and a little respect."

"Let me explain something to you, Clark, so that we understand each other. I don't agree with this, but I said I'd follow your lead because I trust you." Oliver steps into Clark's line of vision, forcing them to face one another. "You want to see this through? Fine. But remember: you don't get to be the good guy while you're pointing the finger at one of your fellow officers," he explains carefully. "If you want to get tough, the kid gloves have to come off. And you're going to have to learn to live with that. Got it?"

The click of heels against linoleum saves Clark from having to reply. Andrea slows in her approach, looking between Clark and Oliver as if unsure of her welcome.

"What's up?" Oliver asks, trying to keep the irritation in his tone to a minimum.

"El Jefe asked me to pass this to you," Andrea says, holding out a plain manila folder tentatively. Oliver takes it with a grateful smile. "Quietly."

Oliver opens it and nods in approval. "Fordman's personnel files." He starts walking backward down the hallway, looking up from his slow perusal of the folder only to favor Andrea with a crooked smile. "You're too good to me, Officer Rojas," he says with an exaggerated leer.

Andrea smiles back as she follows. "Do my best."

She looks back at Clark, slouching the rest of the way down the corridor behind them. "Where did you get his personnel files?" he asks, adjusting his glasses.

"El Raton brought it," she informs him solemnly, sharing a conspiratorial glance with Oliver. "As you can see, he has a perfect record until about three months ago. Then, out of nowhere bad performance reports across the board."

"Why?"

The open office where they work is sparsely only packed at this time of the evening. Oliver immediately heads toward the corner of the room where his and Clark's desks are located. He juggles the folder as he removes his coat and drapes it over the back of his chair.

"Talking with the girls in the break room, there's something," she pauses, looking upward as if trying to draw a phrase from memory, "in the file that is not there."

"And what is that?" Oliver asks absently, collapsing in his desk chair, already thinking about the stack of paperwork sitting in front of him.

Clark looks across the partition at the stack of paperwork on Oliver's desk, reaches over, and silently takes a handful of work even though he'd already finished his case files for the week. Somewhere between taking off his jacket and motioning for Andrea to continue, his arm gets caught in his sleeve, he upsets the delicate arrangement of coffee cup and novelty fish-shaped pencil/paper clip holder, and sends the stack of files falling to the floor. While Clark crawls under his desk, Oliver clears the top of the desk.

"Ignore him and continue," Oliver says, leaning back in his chair.

"Officer Whitney Fordman was gay," Andrea reveals eagerly. Oliver accepts it in stride, but Clark startles, bumps his head on the underside of his desk. Andrea peers under to check on him.

"Go on," Clark says in a strained voice.

"He never told anyone. Was found out when another officer saw him outside of a club making out with another guy."

Clark climbs under his desk and scoops up the papers in a large, disorganized heap.

"Don't tell me," Clark says, straightening out from under his desk and depositing the heap of paperwork back to the corner it had been precariously balanced on in the first place with a thoughtful expression on his face. His fingers twitch and then he taps each against his thumb rapidly. "That was three months ago?"

"Thanks, Andrea," Oliver says, dismissing her with a wink. He recognizes the look on Clark's face now, knows that Clark's brain is running a million miles a minute. So Oliver leans around the partition and shifts Clark's paperwork a few crucial inches toward the center of his desk, waiting for Clark to draw a conclusion. "There are tons of gay cops," he states in an undertone.

"And there are tons of people that aren't happy about it."

"Look, I'm sure that Fordman got teased, he wouldn't be the first. High school never ends," Oliver says as he begins constructing something from the paperclips and pushpins on his desk. "You're too tall, you're too short, and you're too fat, you're too thin." Oliver raps his knuckles against his desk and points out, somewhat gleefully, "We called you 'Smallville' your first six months. And 'Boy Scout'. And -- "

Clark seriously considers giving the paperwork back. "Late back up isn't a joke, Oliver."

"So, wait." Oliver drops his Frankenstein office supply monster and looks up at Clark. "Now his back up was late because he was gay?"

"I'm saying it's a possibility. Oliver, just humor me, all right? I mean, why don't we check all of the facts in Talbert's statement, let him talk us through it, and if all looks on the level, I will let it go. I promise."




38 PRECINCT HEADQUARTERS
WEDNESDAY 15th OCTOBER

It's the second time they've been in the interrogation room in as many days. Eli Talbert sits on one side of the table, looking well for a man who'd just lost a partner little more than a week ago, if a bit confused. He holds his service hat in front of him on the able, occasionally fiddling with the tag on the inside.

"Why don't you just tell us what happened, Officer Talbert?" Clark starts them, pen poised over his ever-present notebook.

Talbert nods. "I was on the corner of Bowman Street when I realized my mistake," he says, his voice hollow, distant as he stares at himself in the one-way mirror. "So, I turned around and ran the other way. I could barely breathe by the time I got there," he adds, chuckling darkly. He briefly meets eyes with Clark, then Oliver, before looking down at his hands. "Fordman was on the ground, blood pooled around his legs. The dealer'd been shot in the head. I tried CPR, but Fordman was already dead by then. The other unit turned up a few moments after that."

"Thanks, Eli, you know how it is: everything by the book." Oliver chuckles as if he's actually making a joke. Talbert reluctantly joins in. "We've got to double-check all the notes, all the evidence, but, uh, if you could just look at this map for a second," Oliver asks, unfolding a map from under the table, spreading it across the table. "You might be able to clear something up for us."

"Of course," Talbert offers immediately.

"So the crime scene is here, right?" Oliver traces the path with the end of his pen. Talbert follows intently, nodding. "You said you started at the stadium, and mistakenly ran…here and then to the crime scene, right?"

Talbert hums in agreement.

"Well, just out of interest," Oliver continues conversationally, "Clark and I ran that route."

"Well, when he says ‘Clark and I', he means that he did all the running and I just stood there with a stopwatch." Clark looks up, jerks when he realizes that he's drawn attention to himself and almost knocks over a cup of coffee in his surprise. He folds into himself, making himself smaller, and adds uncomfortably, "Asthma."

Talbert stares, though it's an entirely different stare from his previous one. "I don't know where this is going."

"Well, I'm pretty sure that you'd agree that we're roughly in about the same physical condition," Oliver asks rhetorically.

"I've got a couple years on you, Ollie," Talbert says with good-humor, "You might be a little bit better off than I am."

Oliver smiles as if they're old friends, nodding his head. "But the time you got the shout on your radio," he says, "and the time you radioed back to tell them you were at the scene was, uh, four minutes?"

"If you say so," Talbert offers.

"Well, I had a hell of a time trying to get from anywhere on Central, up to Bowman Street, and then down to the crime scene in that time." Oliver sees the exact moment the implication sinks in, when the warm smile slides off Talbert's face. "4 minutes," he repeats, keeping his tone light, "I mean, it took me 8 minutes, and that was at full tilt." He smiles. "If you weren't so sure, I'd go so far as to say that you'd have to be Warrior Angel to pull something like that off."

"Well, I probably never made it all the way up to Bowman Street," Talbert amends. He chuckles nervously. "Just felt like it, you know?"

The easy smile on Oliver's face freezes. He can feel the gears and cogs shifting around in his head, forming a picture he doesn't like. "You said you were on the corner of Bowman Street," he repeats.

"Yeah. I might have gotten a bit confused," Talbert says defensively.

The ensuing silence draws out uncomfortably long. The hum of the fluorescent lights overhead and the steady tick-tick-tick-tick of the clock are the only sounds in the room. Talbert begins twitching in his seat.

"Yeah." Oliver leans forward, smiling with renewed effort. "Well, you know what, Eli, they're serving you a disciplinary."

Talbert stiffens. "Why is this suddenly a disciplinary?"

"Procedure," Oliver says easily like he's sharing a joke, "I mean, your signed statement and your memory don't seem to be in agreement as to what happened that night."

Clark jots something down on his notebook and looks up. "We, uh," he says, "we may need to ask you back for a few questions just to make absolutely sure."

Oliver regards Talbert with the same easy, friendly smile he's worn for the entire debriefing. "Now, is there anything else that's confusing you?" he asks.

"No, Detective," Talbert answers curtly. "My statement is to the best of my memory." He pushes his chair back and stands, face cloudy. "If that will be all?"

"Oh, yes, of course," Oliver allows, gesturing to the door. He waits until Talbert is mid-flounce before calling him back. "Tell me something, Eli. Did you like Fordman?"

Talbert turns to look at Oliver over his shoulder. "I'm sorry?" he asked coldly.

"You were partners. Did you and Whitney Fordman get along?"

"I didn't know him that well. The other night was the second time we've ever been out on the beat together. He was younger than me. We mixed in different groups," he says, listing more reasons what would have sufficed.

"And did you know he was gay?"

Talbert turns around fully, now, a scowl heavy on his face. "No. I didn't know that. Really? Was he?" he asks in a completely uninterested tone.

Oliver nods affably. "Got an opinion about gay men in the police force, Eli?"

"Not especially." Talbert shrugs. "Sorry, how does this relate to Fordman's death exactly?"

"No, you're right, Officer Talbert. You're absolutely right." Clark stands quickly, interrupting before Oliver has a chance to get them into anymore trouble. Clark offers his hand. "That'll be all for now."

Talbert leaves without shaking it.

Clark chances a look in Oliver's direction. "I thought you weren't going to goad him."

Oliver shrugs and doesn't apologize.

Perhaps their most effective interrogation technique worked so well because it was the way they normally behaved.




It's the second time they've been in John's office in as many days. It's considerably warmer than the interrogation room, considerably more comfortable. This time, it's John on the other side of the table and neither Clark nor Oliver feel very much in charge of this interrogation.

"The more you look at Eli Talbert's account of events, the more it falls apart," Clark says earnestly. His glasses are skewed at a hopelessly useless angle, but in his haste, he doesn't fix them. "The evidence backs up Wade Mahaney's statement."

John flips idly through their report. "This…does not give us motivation. There is no history of animosity between he and Fordman or he and any other gay officer," he says diplomatically.

They are interrupted by a knock at the door. Andrea pokes her head in before entering just enough to pass Oliver a slip of paper. "Here is the information you wanted."

Oliver reads it once, twice, and sighs. "Thanks, angel," he says, just like he's said a thousand times before but this time it doesn't hold the playful edge he usually infuses it with. He sounds tired.

Andrea nods and quickly backs out of the room, shutting the door.

"All right. Maybe you're right," Oliver admits to Clark.

"I am praying I'm not, Ollie, you've got to believe me," Clark replies, leaning forward.

"What do you have?" John asks, nodding at the slip of paper.

Oliver nods. "Eli Talbert is Branch Chairman of something called the," he pauses to consult the paper given to him by Andrea, "the League of Faith for Christian Officers." He looks from Clark to John. "It's a hard-lined religious group within the station. Apparently a lot of the older, uniformed movers and shakers are members."

John tilts his head. "Is that all?"

"No." Oliver pauses again. "They bar membership to all gay officers saying that it, whatever, it doesn't fit with bible teachings." He nods to the door. "Anyway, Andrea did some digging for me and it turns out that Whitney Fordman is a former member." He doesn't need to, but he takes the opportunity to remind them, "Talbert said that Fordman never admitted to being gay."

"It is the best way of putting people at their ease," John says thoughtfully. "Especially your immediate superiors: be like them. And until three months ago, he was."

Clark goes slightly red as he says, "Spotted off-duty with another guy."

"And that would greatly upset Eli Talbert."

Oliver scrubs a hand over his face. "But still, piss him off enough to leave a man to die?"




OFFICE OF PERRRY WHITE
EXECUTIVE DISTRICT ATTORNEY
THURSDAY 16th OCTOBER

"Let me go ahead and repeat this just so I can make sure we're all on the same page: you," Perry White says, the generally added ‘morons' is rather implied at this point in their relationship, "want to charge a serving police officer with murder."

Clark and Oliver had entered the office shoulder to shoulder. Now, Oliver is drifting around the office, admiring a bookshelf straining under the combined weight of books and the layer of dust on top of them.

"If we can't police ourselves, if we don't, how can we expect the public to trust us?"

The room is silent for a moment, broken by the labored whir of Perry's antiqued desktop computer and the hard candy rolling against his teeth.

"You've got to imagine the fallout from this shit storm," he says to either Clark or Oliver, staring hungrily through the glass wall that, when he gets deep into a case, usually keeps him from stacking paperwork into the hallway. "Wouldn't it be better to call IA? Keep it as an internal disciplinary issue?"

Clark looks to Oliver for help. Oliver is intently staring down at an Elvis bobble head as if any minute it's going to look up and tell him that he ain't nothing but a hound dog.

He's saved from answering when Chloe backs into the office bearing a sheaf of papers in the crook of one arm and a cup of coffee in each hand. She thrusts one in Clark's general direction, making him scramble to catch it.

"I didn't ask for -- " the rest of his protest is ignored.

"Perry." She stands in front of his desk, depositing the bundle of work in front of him. She adds firmly, "Review and sign before the end of the day."

Perry breaks the lustful gaze directed at the mug still in her hand to spare her a mutinous glare. "I'm not a child, Sullivan. Fork it," he demands.

She sets the mug down on the corner of his desk and gives his paperwork a pointed look. "Today."

It takes a surprisingly short amount of time before his need for caffeine wins out over his dignity and Perry scrawls a messy signature along the bottom of the topmost page.

With a satisfied nod, Chloe turns away, unwrapping a light scarf from around her neck and looping it around a peg on the stand by the door.

Perry takes a sip, making several disgusted faces. "First the damn nicotine patches and now decaf. I can't drink decaf. Is this decaf?" he asks, drinking it.

"By order of your wife," Chloe replies with a sweet smile, hanging up her jacket as well. She offers a vague greeting, probably meant for Clark and Oliver but mostly directed toward the first cup of coffee now in Clark's possession. She frees it and crosses the room, pulling a worn briefcase from under the table there and settling to work.

"IA? Internal Affairs?" Perry asks, easily picking up the thread of their original conversation. "The guys whose job it is to handle things like this."

Oliver snorts. "Why?" he says. "So they can give him a slap on the wrist or try to write it off as one big misunderstanding?"

"Why do you do your job, Mr. White?" asks Clark, quietly.

The question is asked innocently enough, though Clark Kent probably knows more about Perry's time in the private sector than anyone else.

Once upon a time Perry had been one of the most sought after lawyers in Metropolis. He had a view of the Metropolis Harbor and his name stood tall and proud as one half of the name on the side of the building, along with his partner William Clark. The men of Clark & White dealt with undeniably guilty men, bartering pieces of their souls for a truly obscene amount of money. Before his move to Coast City and Perry's defection to the side of truth and justice, in Metropolis going to jail had simply been the thing of poor people.

Now he has a few dozen flimsy business cards that read Perri White and his office doesn't have a window. He has Elvis memorabilia tacked to the walls and a pair of tennis shoes his soon-to-be-ex-if-he-keeps-going-the-way-he-is wife made him buy in hopes to promote a healthier, more active lifestyle. They now have a very active life on a largely unused file cabinet as a paperweight.

Perry does his job because law is all he knows and he's damn good at it. At least when he works in the District Attorney's office he can sleep through the night with a clear conscience.

"I do it to make a contribution." The King smirks at him from behind mirrored lenses. Perry flicks him in the pompadour. "Make a difference."

"And you do a great job." Clark pays the compliment with absolute sincerity. His grandfather, William Clark, had been able to pull sincerity on like a winter coat and drop it twice as fast, but not Clark. "However, let's assume that someone here, someone in the District Attorney's office was wrongly prosecuting people. What would you want to happen them?"

"Kent," Perry says firmly. He can feel the speech coming.

"No, no, no. Come on, be a sport, Perry." Oliver grins, but there is nothing amused in his demeanor. He tips his chin forward, eyes hard. "What would you want to happen to them?"

Perry flicks the pen in his hand thoughtfully, rapidly tapping the end against his desk. He sighs, slowly, giving in to the inevitable. "I would want their crimes exposed and punished," he admits.

"That's exactly what it is for us," Clark says earnestly. "Eli Talbert is using the uniform as a shield, hiding it and trying to justify leaving another officer to die because he was gay."

"How do you expect me to get a murder charge on late back-up?" Perry inquires. "Do you at least have medical evidence?"

Oliver nods. "We spoke to the paramedics and the pathologist. If Talbert had helped Fordman even a few minutes earlier, he might have survived."

Perry tries not to focus on the operative words ("might have might have might have might have", in his independent days he'd have ripped apart anyone that dared utter a "might have" in his presence).

But more than anything, Perry understands the need to get the truth out, which is what prompts his nod.

"We'll take a look at it," is the best he can offer.

Clark's face splits into a wide, grateful smile. "Thank you."




Chloe's office is just large enough to accommodate a desk, two chairs, and a low filing cabinet. Clark leans against the edge of her desk, using her phone to check in with John.

"No, no, yes, John." He pauses, listening intently. "No, Oliver's in there now. He's talking through possible charges with Perry...Yeah...No, I haven't forgotten." He sends a quick smile to Chloe as she returns to her desk. "Will do. Bye."

"That John?" Chloe asks politely, as she sets her laptop up on the desk beside her desktop computer.

Clark returns her phone to its cradle sheepishly. "Yeah," he replies, picking up the rubix cube she keeps on her desk that he's never been witness to her actually working on it. "It's like having two moms."

"Does he spit in a napkin and wipe your face?"

"Can't go anywhere with him."

It only takes a moment to figure out where to twist to get them in the correct order. He can do that in his head in a matter of seconds, so he idly turns it over and over in his hands. The repetitive motion is comforting.

"That was quite the impassioned speech you gave in there," Chloe continues, booting up the laptop.

Clark ducks his head, a pleased little grin on his face. "Ollie's been coaching me on my public speaking."

"Ollie can teach rhetoric. Ollie can't teach passion." Her expression turns wry. "Unless the girls downstairs are to be believed. They say -- "

"Please, don't. I need to be able to work with him."

"Don't want to be distracted by thoughts of, uh," she says, tapping below her bottom lip, "pouring chocolate in the dimple on his chin and licking it off?"

"I thought we were so careful," Clark replies dryly.

As if he can sense them talking about him, Oliver looks up and sees them watching him. He grins widely and waves, indicating that either the talks are going really well or soon Clark is going to have to go in to forcibly drag him out.

"You know we'll do everything we can, Clark," she says, booting up her desktop as well. "You know how the D.A.'s office works. You can only get a job here if you enjoy long walks on the beach and battling corruption, be it in the police or wherever else it may take you."

Clark grins. "Let us know if there's anything we can do to help."

"Don't get excited. I said what we'll do what we can. But we have to get it by Kahn first."




OFFICE OF PAULINE KAHN
DISTRICT ATTORNEY
FRIDAY 17th OCTOBER

"The defense will pile up ballistics, forensics, and eyewitness testimony from Derek Fox's fellow drug dealer. Fox fired the bullets that killed Whitney Fordman. Eli Talbert did not cause Whitney Fordman's death. It's a non-start."

"I disagree, Ms. Kahn," Chloe says immediately.

Kahn raises one eyebrow, regarding Chloe over the top of her glasses archly. "Oh, do you now?"

Pauline Kahn is an independent woman who has forced her way up the ranks by being damn good at her job. She's intelligent, she's resourceful, she's fierce, and most noticeably she's blunt. Such qualities are necessary for a woman in her position, and she wears each trait like a badge of honor.

If they want to try this case, she is going to make them work for it.

"The bullet shot by Derek Fox may have caused Whitney's injury," Chloe concedes, "but it was Eli Talbert's omission to act that caused his death. If Talbert hadn't decided to just stand by, Whitney could still be alive."

"Let's say that Eli Talbert was there at the scene while Fordman was still alive," Kahn says, stroking her upper lip absently. "Not that we're saying he was. There's no tangible evidence."

"You know as well as I that Kent and Queen don't shout fire when there's just smoke," Perry cuts in derisively.

Kahn doesn't blink. "Let's say Talbert was there," she repeats, "and he had decided to give Fordman aid. As you said, he could still be alive, or he could have died anyway."

"If he was there," Chloe agrees plaintively, "it was his duty as a police officer to try. We won't know whether or not he would have been successful in saving Fordman's life." She leans forward in her chair. "What we do know is that his decision to remain inactive led to Fordman's death."

"We do not prosecute anyone unless we have a rock solid case," Kahn says, "If you want to prosecute this officer on murder two, you're going to need something more than circumstantial evidence and your best guess."

Perry would never try a case that he hasn't given his absolute all to -- he may only be making just enough money to live on, but that doesn't mean he doesn't prepare every case as if he's going to war -- but he can't help but to tease: "Don't tell me you're scared, Pauline."

Kahn shoots him a cold look. "Of watching one of my best prosecutors fall flat on his face? Of course not. I'm more worried about the damage you'll cause on the way down."

"But gay officers have been out of the closet for years, you say?" Chloe interrupts, effectively changing the subject before they descend into petty name-calling and kicking each other in the shins. "Whitney wasn't."

"That doesn't give us motive," Kahn says. Then adds thoughtfully: "Bill's done an excellent job as Captain. The man's been decorated more times than my living room." She sighs and removes her glasses. "He didn't notice anything?"

"Despite what you might think about Bill, he's hardly a mind reader, Kahn," Perry says.

She doesn't rise to the bait.

He sighs. "Look, I don't like going after cops any more than you do. But we're talking about one man here, not the entire police force."

"Not once the press gets a hold of it. People'll be Twittering about it within minutes, and pretty soon he'll be held up as a representative of the entire police service."

"Tweeting," Chloe corrects absently. She receives twin sets of blank stares. "It's called tweeting," she repeats. "People will be tweeting."

Kahn stares at her a moment longer as if to fully convey exactly how unimpressed she is with the concept.

"By prosecuting him, we'll show that he's not," Perry says. "As an officer, Eli Talbert had knowledge and experience. His refusal to assist cost Fordman his life. I'm not gonna let one bigoted cop destroy the reputation of the entire police service."

"And you want to prove this with a cop killer as a witness," Kahn says, but she sounds determined. She puts up a hand before Perry can issue a rebuttal -- which he'd fully planned on doing. She nods. "Get me anything better than that."

Perry catches Chloe's eye and gives her a hard stare. She stares right back, unwavering. He glances back at Kahn and nods. "From your mouth to the King's ears."




"Sullivan, I want you to talk to Captain Henderson."

"Should I have him come down?"

"No. Meet him on his turf...





"Captain Henderson, you have to admit that this case has more loose ends than a yarn factory."

"I've been at this station since you were in diapers. You think I'm proud of this?" Henderson asks. He rearranges the papers on his desk with suprising intensity, glaring at her all the while. "I had one of my best officers suspended."

Chloe pauses, considerate. She's used to her age/gender/hair-color/check-all-that-apply being some kind of problem, so it's easy to tune that part out. Yes, and one of your cops died, too, she thinks.

She asks, "So you thought he'd done something wrong?"

Henderson shakes his head curtly. "I think he was sloppy."

"And you're convinced that's all?"

"What else could it have been?"

"Why don't you tell me?" He doesn't, just gives her a thoroughly unimpressed look that says about all he means to say on the matter. Chloe didn't think that one would work either. "So, are you a member of the League of Faith for Christian Officers?"

"No. And I'm not a member of PETA either," he adds glibly.

Chloe doesn't let it deter her. "Do you think it's reasonable for them to refuse admission to gays?"

"It's a club. Clubs have membership rules. I can hardly stop them." He pauses for the first time, considerate. "Do I think some of the officers here aren't wild about gays? Yes, I do," he says flatly. "Just because people talk crap about people in their private lives does not make them bad police officers. If I think for one second that it affects the job, they're gone."

"Do you think Eli Talbert talked crap about people like Whitney Fordman in his private life?"

"You mean, do I think Eli left Fordman to die?" he asks with a sad, slow shake of his head. "Just talk to the people that live around here. Ask them about Eli. They love him and they feel safer when he's around."

"Any of them gay?"

"You'd have to ask them."

"You didn't answer my question," she presses. "I notice you posed a question and didn't answer that one either."

Henderson stares her in the eye, he doesn't hesitate, doesn't blink. "He says he misheard is radio. I believe him."

Chloe smiles thinly. "Would you mind if I talk to the officers that knew Fordman and Talbert best?"

"You want to talk, do it. Just don't destroy anyone for politics."

"Never was one much for politics," Chloe says with an insincere smile. She rises from her seat and offers him her hand. "Thank you for your time."

Henderson rises to meet her, gingerly shaking her hand. "Glad to help."




"Talbert said he'd only been paired with Whitney twice, find out who his regular partner was. Talk to them. Hell, talk to anyone Talbert was close to...




"Eli's looked after me ever since I joined. He knows everyone," Officer Dan Turpin explains, stars in his eyes. "Every corner of this station."

Chloe has to rush to keep up with him, cursing the pace of long-legged people everywhere as he moves down the crowded Metropolis sidewalk idly checking parking meters. "Danny, what did he tell you about that night?"

"Nothing," he replies promptly.

"Nothing. A man died and he didn't even mention it to you?" If Chloe weren't paying keen attention to the length of his stride, she would have missed the falter in his step.

"Maybe in passing," he offers weakly, speeding up as if hoping to lose her.

She raises her eyebrows skeptically. "In passing?" she repeats.

"I knew you'd do this." Turpin stops in the middle of the sidewalk, spinning on his heel so fast to face her that Chloe almost barrels into him. "Why are you trying to set me up?"

"Danny," Chloe says, "I'm not trying to set anyone up. All I want is the truth."

"No. You don't. You just want to set him up. Why are you going after him?" Turpin asks, standing toe-to-toe against her. Pedestrians walk around them, eyes averted, attention on their own problems.

"See, nobody gets it: it could have been any of us," he continues fervently. "I've got a wife and kid at home. Now we're gutted for Fordman, we are, but we can't bring him back. That dealer killed Fordman and there's no amount of talking about it that's going to bring him back." Turpin looms over her, a heavy frown on his face as he looks down at her. "End of discussion."

She gives him a firm nod, and he turns away, heading up the sidewalk and disappearing into the lunch time crowd.

Chloe breathes a sigh and takes her hand off the can off mace in her pocket.




"While you're at it, check Fordman out. Find out whatever you can. There are one-hundred and forty officers in that precinct. Someone has to known something."

"If someone so much as sneezes in that precinct, you know I'll find out about it."

"What the hell are you standing around for then? It's allergy season. Keep a hanky on hand."





Officer Maggie Sawyer shrugs, casually sipping from the lukewarm cup of coffee Chloe had brought with her in order to score the impromptu interview. "I don't know what you want. I wasn't on-duty when it happened," she says.

"Can you tell me about Whitney?" Chloe inquires.

"Whitney was a good guy -- great guy to do foot patrol with." A soft, fond smile spreads across Sawyer's face; she was probably unaware it was even there. "He always had a million and one stories about this wishy-washy girlfriend he had in high school. Said she was bad enough to spoil him for the rest of us."

Chloe smiles along. "According to the rotation, it looks like you two were paired together a lot."

"Yeah," she says and snorts, looking away. "Keep the gays together or whatever. You learn to expect it."

"Is that why you transferred?"

"Listen," Sawyer says slowly, lowering her voice, "I've still got a career to build. If it looks like I'm snitching on someone, trouble will just follow me." She catches Chloe's eye, meeting it with a hard stare. "I've always wanted to be a cop. I want to stay a cop."

"Is there any reason you wouldn't?" Chloe asks.

Sawyer finishes her drink in one quick swallow before smoothly tossing it into a nearby city bin. "Time's up."

"Maggie, wait," Chloe calls, grabbing Sawyer's arm when she turns away.

"That's assaulting a police officer," Sawyer tells Chloe firmly, brushing her hand off.

"We're investigating whether Whitney Fordman was left to die because he was gay," Chloe rushes to explain. Sawyer stills, expression going blank. Somewhat encouraged, Chloe asks, "Is there anything you can think of that might be relevant?"

Sawyer takes a deep breath and slowly looks up and down the city block. Chloe steps closer.

"There was a...flyer stuffed in mine and Whitney's lockers," Sawyer says quietly. She unsnaps the button on her breast pocket, removes a square of paper, and thrusts it into Chloe's hands. "That's why I transferred."

"You've just been carrying it around?" Chloe asks as she carefully unfolds it. The paper is faded and heavily creased from frequent readings.

"I like to carry it as a reminder," Sawyer responds, looking away.

"Of?" Sawyer doesn't answer. She doesn't have to. Chloe reads the front page straight through, then skims the words on the inside. Her hands are shaking. "Maggie, who wrote this?"




OFFICE OF PERRRY WHITE
EXECUTIVE DISTRICT ATTORNEY
TUESDAY 4th NOVEMEBER

"'...and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burning in their lust one toward another'," Perry reads, in a distant, monotone voice. He paces the length of his office. "'Men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.' Romans 1:27."

"And, just in case that isn't accessible enough for you, there's a helpful translation on the inside cover."

Perry does check the inside cover just to see if it's really there.

Into the ensuing silence, Chloe says, "Jimmy in the crime lab found Eli Talbert's DNA all over that leaflet."

Kahn sighs. "I would assume Margaret Sawyers is as well."

"He did find it, yes, but," Chloe says sweetly, "Margaret Sawyer's work computer wasn't the one the original copy was found on."

"Takes a special kind of bigoted idiot to write this shit where anyone has access to it afterwards." He reads another selection: "'
In Romans 13, the Bible tells us we are Ministers of God. We have rules beyond the duties of the force. The homosexuals apply for promotion when they don't belong here
'," and tosses the leaflet away in disgust.

"This isn't motive," Kahn says, gingerly examining the leaflet now in front of her on the table. Perry huffs, joining her on the sette.

"But it establishes intent," Chloe argues, "and state of mind."

"And what connects state of mind to the crime?" Kahn asks, raising an eyebrow. She regards Chloe coolly from across the room, "No, come on, Sullivan, you've got flour and water. You want to make bread, what are you missing?"

Chloe's nostrils flare, and she flushes as she often does when caught off guard.

That meant Perry could take the lead in the conversation without feeling as if he were stepping on her toes, and Chloe could stay silent. "Eli Talbert failed to act as a reasonable, sane officer of the law should in the circumstances," he answers smoothly, drawing Kahn's attention.

Kahn presses her lips together in a firm line. "And did he cause Fordman's death? No," she continues without waiting for either of them to respond. "There was a bullet that took care of that."

"Officer Talbert could have prevented it," Chloe repeats, frustration heavy in her tone. "That's criminal omission."

"And we're back to taking the word of a drug dealer," Kahn says, and sighs, pushing her glasses up to rub her eyes. "If you had something concrete, you could try prosecuting something other than bigotry. But you don't." She looks from Chloe to Perry, and stands. "You don't."

Perry knows where this is going. "Pauline -- "

"You gave it your best shot, Perry," Kahn says as she heads toward the door. She even sounds sympathetic. "But as much as it pains me to say it, you're just going to have to let this one go."

"Miss Kahn, please," Chloe tries, rising and following her out into the hallway, Perry behind them both.

"I said no," Kahn says firmly, turning around to face them. "I'm sure you have plenty of other work you can be doing." She gives a pointed look to the many stacks of paperwork scattered around the room.

"I'll get to it," Perry says unconvincingly. Then adds in a firmer tone: "You want something concrete? Give us a couple days."

"Perry."

"A week. If we don't find anything, we'll drop it."

Kahn knows that it is unlikely that he'll let it go that easily. Perry will stand stubborn in the doorway until she relents. And if there is anything that Kahn has learned about their relationship, it is that she will relent.

After a lengthy stare-down, Kahn finally huffs and says, "You have until the end of this week."

Perry scoffs. "That's hardly -- "

"After that, I'm pulling the plug. Believe it or not, the world hasn't run out people for you to prosecute," she say and walks away, summarily ending the conversation.

Perry immediately turns back to his office. "We've got three days. Tell me something good."

Chloe bites her lip and follows him. Over the course of the last few weeks Clark and Oliver have smoothed the way for her to talk to dozens of officers, but something about her conversation with Officer Turpin stays with her. Something tugs at the corner of her awareness, prompting her to say: "There's something Danny didn't tell me."

"Who?"

"Talbert hasn't had a regular partner in years," Chloe explains, taking the seat opposite his desk. "He just takes on rookies out of the academy, trains them up and sends them on their way. Then there's Dan Turpin. Talbert's been his mentor since he joined."

"And there's something he didn't tell you." Perry's expression is indescribable. He stands behind his desk but doesn't sit down. One of his hands comes up, absently rubs at his chest as he directs a dispassionate glance across the clutter on his desk. Suddenly his head snaps up, eyes meeting hers. He plants both hands on his desk.

"Wring it out of him," he says firmly.

Chloe is all too happy to comply.




ACE OF CLUBS
1001 CENTRAL AVENUE
THURSDAY 6th NOVEMBER

The Ace of Clubs is hardly the type of place Chloe frequents. She isn't one much for bars in general, but the lighting here is dim and the air is thick with cigar smoke. She turns down several drink offers from shady looking men before she finds Dan Turpin near the back, leaning over the pool table.

"I just want to keep my head down. I don't want to upset anyone."

"I'm a little upset that I had to dig out my winged Converses to find you, but somehow I don't think that's what you're concerned about." The joke is lame and Turpin doesn't so much as look over at her. He simply lines up his next shot at the pool table and pretends that she isn't there. Chloe tries a different approach, rolling a cue chalk over in her hand. "We're just talking, Danny, why would you be upsetting anyone?"

Turpin sighs. He backs away from his shot, picks up his beer instead. "I wasn't there that night. I don't know what happened," he says, and takes a generous drink.

"Then what are you scared of?" Chloe asks.

"Nothing. I'm not scared."

"Is it because you'd be out of a place in the police if you upset Eli Talbert?"

Turpin looks at her sideways. He frowns. "You're putting words in my mouth."

"I'm not," Chloe says quickly. "I'm just trying to understand."

"No, you're not." Turpin drops all pretense of playing pool or drinking his beer. He leaves both at the table and walks away. He doesn't seem surprised when Chloe follows him to the bar. "You don't want to understand. Eli's a good guy. He looks after a lot of people. And he's been good to me."

"All right then, was Fordman one of the people Eli looked after? Was he good to Fordman?" asks Chloe with forced casualness. When he doesn't look at her or respond, she raises her voice. "Danny, I'm not asking about what else he's done, who else he's helped, who else he's been good to. Right now, I'm asking about Fordman and you have a duty as a police officer to tell me, Danny."

Chloe doesn't quite regret her words, but thinks she may have pushed him too hard. His walls are rebuilding and when he speaks, she already knows the words that will come out of his mouth.

"He didn't tell me what happened that night," he tells his shoes. Then he repeats it: "He didn't tell me anything."

"Well then, Officer Turpin," Chloe says, and enjoys the way he winces at the use of his title. "I suppose I have no further questions. Have a good night." It takes her a moment to recognize the pain in her hand as the stolen cue chalk digging into her palm.

"Wait," Turpin says. He scuffs the toe of his worn boots into the carpet, not meeting her eye. The seconds drag out uncomfortably long before he admits, "He asked me to get something for him."

Chloe tries to keep her tone neutral. He isn't look at her, but she nods anyway and asks, "What was it?"




DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
CONFERENCE ROOM
FRIDAY 7th NOVEMBER

There's a television at the front of the room. On the screen is a city block like any other, recognizable by the derelict buildings painted in graffiti. There's a man in the scene, standing in a doorway, face draped in shadow.

The bronze Metropolis shield on his chest glitters under the streetlights.

"There were three different cameras from around the scene," Chloe says. There are six other people in the room and not a single once reacts to her words. They all stare riveted at the screen where the man simply stands, doing nothing.

After a terse introduction, Turpin had retreated to the corner of the room, distancing himself as far away as physically possible without actually leaving. "Eli sent me to talk to the building owners to get the footage before anyone else did," he explains to the whitewashed walls. "He told me to destroy it. He said things might get...misinterpreted."

"And what was the correct interpretation?" John inquires, his mild tone hiding the anger pooling in the pit of his stomach. "According to the transcripts of the calls, this is after Whitney Fordman had been shot and was begging for help."

"He stood there," Clark says. He pulls off his glasses and rubs his eyes. "He just stood there and waited."

Oliver leans back in his chair, breathing a deep sigh. "How long?"

"I counted five minutes," Chloe responds.

"He left it up to God," Turpin says in disbelieving tones.

"What?"

"I was just gonna toss it out, you know?" Turpin scratches the back of his neck and shrugs. "I don't know why I watched it. But Eli just...he lost it. Told me to hand them over. When I said no, he tried to explain," he tells them, the group, acknowledging their existence, their judgment, his own naivety for the first time. "He said he'd 'left it up to God.' He didn't get a sign from God, so he didn't go to help." His eyes turn upward. "He said he thought it was God's will."

John and Kahn share a complicated look, a language born from working side-by-side for years.

John tilts his head slightly, raising his eyebrows. Is it enough? he doesn't ask.

Kahn gives an almost imperceptible nod in reply. We'll make it enough.

John understands. He quirks his head and turns to Clark and Oliver. "Pick him up," he says flatly.

The man on screen checks his watch again. With a nod to himself, he straightens his jacket and walks out of frame.




When they come for him, it's with more fanfare than he deserves.

Talbert takes one look at Clark and Oliver approaching, and he breaks away from the water cooler prattle to greet them.

"Is this how it happens?" he asks lightly, as if asking for the time.

Oliver takes out his handcuffs. "Elliot Talbert, you are under arrest on suspicion of the murder of Whitney Fordman -- "

"No cuffs," Talbert interrupts in almost a lofty command. He holds his head up high, jaw set. "I'll go with honor."

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