1964-07-23 - Pay What's Owed
Summary: Captain Stacy hunts down the mutant cabbie for a little man to man chat.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
kwabena gwen-stacy 

The man stepped forward into the street. He had called the number he had seen on the taxicab, had asked for a pickup in Brooklyn. He'd had a cruiser verify that particular cab was in the area before he called.
He left very little to chance.
He checked his watch, an old reliable Timex, and waited patiently. Patience was a virtue, but for a police captain, it was a survival skill.

Waiting at a red light, Kwabena eyeballs the business card he'd acquired at Avenger's Mansion. Powered people, his own attempts to remain 'closeted', the person upstate who could 'help' him… all of these things ran through his mind until that blessed light turned green.

The business card gets shoved into a glove box, and the cab accelerates. He usually doesn't work this late on a Sunday evening… low demand, as it were, but the Ghanaian has a lot on his mind. The cab eventually pulls up to the address dispatch had sent him to, only paying partial attention to the fellow waiting for him.

The man opened the door. It's when he got in that Kwabena recognized him. Then again, it was hard to forget the face of a man whose face you almost pounded in.
The second thing he saw was the $50 bill the man was holding up, close enough for Kwabena to take.

"Please start the meter, sir. No sense you not being on the clock. This is for you, right now."

"Where you goin' -"

The question is cut off before it can truly be formed into a question; Kwabena's eyes are covered mostly by the brim of a ball cap worn low to conceal their silvery nature, because at this hour it would be insanity to wear shades. Yeah, it took a moment, but he recognized the cop.

Had it not been for the Grant being held up, he'd have likely denied the service. Instead, after a long delay, he reaches over to flip up the fare meter, the telltale chime coming moments before he snatches the bill out of Stacy's hand. The car accelerates into the quiet street.

"What is dis?" he asks, suspicion clear in his tone.

Captain George Stacy leaned back on the seat, sighing. "Head to Midtown. Let me know if we get with 5 bucks of using that up." He looked around. "Very clean cab. I'm impressed. I've seen Yellow cabs that could have doubled as garbage trucks."

He takes a deep breath.
"I felt I should speak to you man-to-man about what happened a few nights ago. First off, to clear the air…you are not under arrest, and no charges of any kind are going to be filed."

"Runs like piece of shit," Kwabena answers truthfully. "Still no reason to let oddah peopah trash taxi." Regardless, he takes a left and makes for the Williamsburg Bridge. It won't take long to get there; the city may never sleep, but there are many places in Brooklyn who at least know how to rest.

The Ghanaian can't help but smirk when he's told that he isn't under arrest. It's a brief gesture, of course. High ranking cop wants to have a man-to-man conversation… it will prove to be interesting.

"Strange things happening in dis city," is how he answers. "Can nevah tell who is up or down. I, ah, do not mean to insult, but New York cops nevah respond dat quick. Was suspect, yes?"

Stacy nods. "I figured there would be some contention about that. I also figured that you could be reasoned with. Too much goddam trouble with cops who see someone like you barreling down on them. And no, not because you're black." He pauses. "You're some kind of superhuman, right? A mutant, or something like that? Because I've seen some shit in this job, but nothing like that."

Kwabena glances toward the rear view mirror, knowing that he doesn't need to hide his eyes, but he still finds himself moving his head in a way that accomplishes that. It's a learned behavior.

"When you did not shoot? And did say, how to say it, had been 'tipped off'? Yes, dat is when I realized it wasn't you."

When asked if he is some kind of superhuman, the Ghanaian's lips press into a thin line, and it takes a long time for him to answer. "Something like dat," he quietly answers. "Is not safe to discuss. I hide."

Stacy nods, apparently satisfied at the answer. "Good. You didn't give me some bullshit answer, tell me I need to have my eyes checked, or that I'm picking on you. Because of that, I'm going to tell you what went down…and what came of it. It's a bit of a long story. If we get to Midtown, head south to the Port Authority." He pauses. "How much of this do you want to hear?"

"I don't bullshit," Kwabena answers. He keeps his eyes on the road now, as they take to the Williamsburg Bridge. Traffic is already picking up, but it's hardly anything worth shaking a stick at. "Once we get to oddah side, we will have plenty of time," he answers. As for how much he wants to hear…

Tough question. He's tried to not get involved in this stuff, ever since he drew the attention of New York's mafia. This, however, is the first time he's drawn the attention of a cop. He glances in the rearview again, considering.

"All of it."

Stacy nods. "I'm telling you because I think you, and other superhumans like you, need to know about this. May matter a little or a lot."

He takes a breath.

"Ten minutes before we show up, dispatch gets a tip about a bombing planned for a midtown pharma company. Big deal. Lots of pharma companies down there. Problem is, the caller, a female, gives more details as the call goes on. The caller finally gives enough for us to know that she's serious and where it's going to happen, and that is when we mobilize. The call was traced to a phone booth outside the Clarisin building. Only…" he pauses. "…we don't get there in time/"

Across the bridge they go; Kwabena remains attentive to the road, but occasionally, he can be found glancing into the rear view mirror with a pensive expression. "What was dat, anyway? Bunch of… green fire?"

Stacy nodded. "Yeah. Arson guys found it was a fuel-air bomb. They said it was…" He takes out a leather-bound notepad, looking in it and flipping pages. "THERMOBARIC. It was designed to incinerate all biological matter in the blast radius. It was set in a room that was apparently a holding area for various types of animals. Some kind of experiment was going on there. They found residue from various animals that were being kept there, but there were others…" He shuddered for a moment. It is unusual to see someone in authority react to something fear-inducing like that. "We found the physical remains of four animals—the chameleon, a vulture, some kind of vermin, and even skin tissue from what looks like a rhino. The lab techs were crapping their collective pants over them, said all of them were showing some kind of genetic augmentation." He paused. "I had to verify. Not 'alteration.' 'Augmentation.'"

As the story unfolds, Kwabena's expression sours. "De fuck…." he murmurs, before looking back toward his passenger. "So, who bombed de place?" he asks. "Does not sound like dis usual explosive, I hope you undahstand? Not TNT, or a bad gas line." He shakes his head while guiding the car into Midtown. "You think dis has anything to do with dat rabid dog set loose what, a week ago?"

Stacy sighs. "They identified themselves as the Friends of Humanity. But that's a crock. The four we caught were COLLEGE STUDENTS. They thought they were striking a blow against the 'military-industrial complex.' They fell apart under interrogation. The problem is, there are some things that don't fit. One, the leader. No one's seen any sign of him. Went by the name Raymond Fiegler, but dollars to donuts it's an alias. None of the students can accurately describe him. They all describe someone who is completely average. Broan hair, brown eyes, Caucasian, average weight, average height. Norman P. Normal." He pauses. "The second is a declaration from the caller. They said a cop's kid was going to die so they could be taken seriously. But there was no sign of anyone else in the building, and no officer reports a disappearance of their son or daughter."

The cab pulls up to a stop light, at which point Kwabena finds himself readying a cigarette to be lit. "Friends of Humanity? Have heard of dis befah. Is group who wants to see peopah like me off de picture, for good."

He shakes his head when the light turns green, and begins heading toward the Port Authority. "I think, detonating bomb is enough to be taken seriously. Why bring some cop family into all of dis?"

Stacy shrugged. "Ever had to put a picture puzzle together? Now, try one where you don't know how many pieces are in the box, all the pieces are square, some pieces you have to hunt for, and the picture is an abstract painting. THAT is detective work, in a nutshell. Right now, my gut says that someone wanted to cause trouble for a lot of people. Problem is, we may never know what happened up there. That bomb erased a lot of evidence. And now the company itself is filing for bankruptcy, and there is an investigation against them for illegal genetic engineering. So this is a tempest in a teapot."

Kwabena shakes his head a bit. "I would say, dey ah not lying. Question becomes, how did dey know about dese experiments?" He shakes his head. "Sometime didn't want to cause troubah; dey wanted to become famous."

Stacy sighed again. "One of MANY questions we are trying to get answered." He paused. "I want to ask you something. Do you think you and other superhumans get a fair shake?"

"Hope you can answah befah next bomb goes off," Kwabena answers truthfully. "But, I can ask around. See if anyone I know is aware of dis, 'Raymond Fielgler'."

Now, as the subject changes, Kwabena frowns. He glances to the rear view mirror again, considering. "No one who is diffahrent gets a fair shake," he answers. "Why?"

Stacy nods. "I'm trying to set up a task force. Working with the community of superhumans, make sure they are legally protected, fairly represented, and that the bad eggs are dealt with. But no one is willing to talk to the cops." He reaches into a pocket and takes out a card. "Right now, we are investigating any abuses of law enforcement, and identifying actual superhuman criminals as opposed to just criminalizing superhumans. It's not a magic bullet. It's going to take time…but it has to start somewhere."

At this, Kwabena lifts a curious eyebrow. "You know, one thing dat has kept me out of troubah? I don't get involved. I've broken dat rule in last week, and I've already ended up with a cop tracking me down." He sighs. "I suppose, am lucky it was you, not someone looking to… 'experiment' or worse." He glances back to the passenger, before turning the wheel as they come closer to the destination. "I don't know of many who ah like me. I do know, why dey might be hesitant to be out in de open with it. Dere is no law to protect peopah like me."

Stacy puts the card on the seat. "The law should be protecting everyone. You can pull over here." He puts the card down on the seat next to him. "What is on the meter?"

As directed, Kwabena pulls over. He then turns the fare meter off, gauging it for a moment. "Does not mattah."

The same $50 bill is handed over the seat, toward Captain Stacy. "You see, I almost made huge mistake. Errah in judgement. So, undahstand, I am sorry to have given you a scare." He lifts his head a bit, revealing silvery eyes. It's gonna take a lot more than this for Kwabena to ever trust a cop, but… it's a step.

"Ride's on me dis time, officah."

Stacy blinks for a moment. "You oughtta be compensated for your time. And I shouldn't be given any bennies for trying to do the right thing. I gave that to you in good faith for a ride I needed, sir. Don't make me go home to my daughter feeling like I should get special favors for being a good cop."

"At least you ah going home to her," Kwabena answers. "Had I hit you, you'd probably still be in hospital. You wanted to have convahsation? Man-to-man? Keep on doing de difficult thing." He sighs deeply. "Now, go on and take dis befah I reconsidah, dammit."

Stacy chuckles. "Okay. But no more free rides, okay?" He gets out and closes the door solidly, but without slamming it. "I might call on you again. If nothing else, to give people who might need to know certain things." A smile creases his face. "Like I tell my juvenile delinquent daughter, there are things you gotta do because they're right. That means paying a man what he's owed. You have a good night, sir."

He takes the $50, but leaves the card, a simple one with black text on white cardstock:

Capt. George Stacy, NYPD

Under it, a single stark phone number, and nothing else.

A rueful smirk forms upon Kwabena's face, for he knows his handful of delinquents, but it's short lived. He accepts the card, turning to do so and watches as the man departs. "Yes," he answers. "And, uh, to you as well."

The card is turned end over end for a moment, before it is stuffed into the glove box next to that other business card, forming a most unlikely of collections.

"Dammit," he murmurs to himself, before flipping the light on his roof open. Might as well catch one more fare before he gets that bottle of whiskey.

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