Thought Project: Vicsuragi - Chapter 10 - pterygoidwalk (2024)

Chapter Text

ELECTROCHEMISTRY: Look around. Everyone has a drink but you. You need to get into character like your pals. Go over to that bar and get a damn drink in your hand. You’re looking more like a pig every minute you stand here.

DRAMA: Immerse yourself in the role. The character you hunt would never make themself apparent to the likes of you as you are now. Look miserable. Well, more miserable.

BARTENDER: The bartender looks out of place here-- like she was plucked from the lobby of a nice-ish hotel and pushed through the veil of darkness to serve vampire themed co*cktails. She hones in on the hungry energy coming off of you. A pair of young men glare at you from the end of the bartop when she ignores them to serve you. “What can I get you, honey?”

ELECTROCHEMISTRY: A beer! No, some tequila shots! Ask if she’ll let you do a shot out of her belly button.

PAIN THRESHOLD: The droning, pulsing music is overwhelming. Skip the beer. Something with a burn to it will ground you.

“What have you got for rye whiskey?” You try to say over the noise. Unfortunately the bass rumbles at the same frequency as your voice, so all the bartender seems to pick up is “Rye whiskey.”

BARTENDER: Without another word she nods and turns away to grab a bottle from one of the work lockers-turned-liquor cabinets behind the counter. She pushes a plastic cup across the counter to you, filled with a few fingers of whiskey. A bill asking for far too much is tucked under the cup. She accepts the sweaty bills you pull from the holster under your chaps by tweezing them between the very tips of her fingers. These are not the first damp reál she has received tonight.

The whiskey goes down easy and fortifies you. You hold onto the empty plastic cup, completing your disguise as an old drunk goth trying to relive his youth.

DRAMA: Project your longing for something stronger outwards. Liquor isn’t enough, you want to do a bump in the bathroom with someone half your age. You want to cry in a stranger’s arms. You want to forget tonight.

HALF LIGHT: Too passive! No, you are a wolf in this flock. Stop trying to lure and start stalking. Your two packmates are ahead of you in this.

DANCEFLOOR: People move in and out of sync with the music as you writhe your way into the crowd.

LIVELY YOUNG MAN: You don’t notice him until you do. There’s a slim sem*nse man in layers of glossy black vinyl in your path. When your eyes meet his, your breath catches. His cheekbones are outrageously sharp and dusted with glitter. His upper body pops to the bass beat, never losing the rhythm, while he assesses your appearance.

CONCEPTUALIZATION - [Failure]: Our outfit is so half-assed compared to his ensemble. I’m sorry, I’ve embarrassed us all.

LIVELY YOUNG MAN: Not quite. You’ve passed *some* kind of check, because he nods and faces you fully as he moves. His arms raise and swirl the air. Metal studded straps on his arms catch the purple light and dazzle you.

PHYSICAL INSTRUMENT: Oh? Is he trying to intimidate you? This is an awful lot of posturing for a dance off.

VOLITION: He’s trying to dance *with* you. This is promising. If you boogie with him for a minute, you could get to talking. Talking leads to questions, and you’re here to get some answers.

HAND-EYE COORDINATION - [Failure]: You can gyrate your hips and do some bobbing and weaving, but it doesn’t match his ethereal gothic undulating. You may someday bring disco to this club, but not with this patron.

LIVELY YOUNG MAN: He laughs, flashing a gap-toothed smile that you can’t help return even though you know it’s at your expense. Like a black candle flame, he flickers and vanishes back into the crowd to find someone he can move with more fluidly than you.

ELECTROCHEMISTRY: That overpriced cup of whiskey barely warmed up your Disco Ganglia. You know the moves are in you, but you need help getting them out. How’s the bar situation looking?

BARTENDER: The bar looks like a distant oasis over the crowd now that you’ve migrated to the dance floor. The woman polishes glasses during a lull in demand. It would be easy to wriggle back over to her.

ELECTROCHEMISTRY: The whiskey was a dumb idea. Too much money for something that barely hits. You need to order their cheapest vodka if you really want your dancer’s legs to limber up.

JEAN VICQUEMARE: As soon as you emerge from the thickest part of the crowd, your satellite comes surging through the dark to intercept you. “Kitsuragi’s in pursuit.” He barks in your ear and points you towards the staircase Kim has just leapt the last few stairs of.

OVERCOATED FIGURE: A few paces ahead of Kim, a figure in a long overcoat sidesteps through a group of exhausted dancers and deeper into the crowd.

JEAN VICQUEMARE: He pushes you towards the chase. “I’ll flank to the right. You head left and see if we can corral him to the emergency exit.” You can see the fire door propped open in the northeastern corner of the building. The green Exit sign has been covered, breaking safety regulations.

PHYSICAL INSTRUMENT: At last, some action! Get hustling!

You bully your way through the crowd, making enough commotion to catch the suspect’s attention. You see him, scrawny and haunted looking, swivel in place to make a dash for the emergency exit.

HAND-EYE COORDINATION - [Failure]: You are not having an easy time maneuvering through all these people.

KIM KITSURAGI: The suspect slips out the door, and Kim follows so closely the door hadn’t even started to swing shut. His raincoat flaps behind him. You see a flash of iron and bakelite under it as he clears the threshold.

JEAN VICQUEMARE: He follows close behind. A few club goers complain about how forcefully he pushed through them in his haste.

By the time you shoulder check the emergency exit open, Kim already has the suspect huddled on the ground amidst a stack of rusted barrels he attempted to climb.

PAIN THRESHOLD: He’s got a nasty welt on the side of his head now. It isn’t clear if he got that from falling, or if the lieutenant struck him.

HALF LIGHT: Kim has his gun drawn. Draw yours too.

You wrench it out of the damp confines of your chaps, but keep it pointed at the ground.

JEAN VICQUEMARE: His gun is still tucked in his sweatpants. He’s folding the suspect forward and pulling his arms back to cuff his wrists together.

HUNCH SUSPECT: He’s babbling, incriminating himself further. “You misunderstood me, man! I was asking *you* if you knew where to get some. You speak suresne? I thought *YOU* were the dealer!”

KIM KITSURAGI: The lieutenant scoffs and reaches into the inner pocket of the suspect’s long coat. He pulls out a fistful of tiny, clear sachets containing yellow powders and crystals.

HUNCH SUSPECT: “That’s not mine.” He looks over his shoulder at Jean, jerking his head towards Kim, “Tell him that’s not mine. I’m just a middle-man.”

JEAN VICQUEMARE: Jean shrugs at him and replies in some Graadian language you’ve never heard him speak before. It sounds like he’s going “nyam pats nyam neh.”

HUNCH SUSPECT: He rolls his eyes. “f*ck’s sake.” He looks to you next, takes in your put-on, Vespertine swagger and gets desperate. “I can tell you where I got it. Just let me go.”

KIM KITSURAGI: He speaks up before you can. “You’re going to tell us regardless once we get you back to the station. Now…” He lifts the man up by his bicep and recites the suspension of his Wayfarer rites.

HALF LIGHT: You did absolutely nothing to contribute to this arrest, congrats! You’re going to get fired. Start thinking about a new career, or get better at pilfering food from dumpsters.

VOLITION - [Success]: You were the one who found this lead in the first place. You’re fine. Now is not the time to spiral about your job. Help your boys load this guy into the car.

You and Jean bring in the suspect for questioning. While Jean does the initial paperwork, you pop into your office for a moment to grab a spare set of normal-- well, *du Bois* normal clothes. Kim hurried to his place after dropping you off to change into more appropriate attire. The suspect is left to stew in one of your cramped interrogation rooms until he returns.

KIM KITSURAGI: When he comes back, he's in dark slacks and a white dress shirt, tailored to fit him better than the standard uniform. He's rolled his sleeves up to the elbow.

ESPRIT DE CORPS: He wants to look like a cop for this.

SUSPECT "OHM": The suspect is a man in his early 30s with a fake ID that lists his only name as "Ohm". Ethnically Samaran, but likely Revacholian based on his accent and mannerisms. Average height and build, largely unremarkable. No tattoos, nothing to indicate any kind of besmertie affiliation.

HALF LIGHT: He's got prey-animal posture, though. He's not a dealer, he's been roped into this life recently. Probably being blackmailed.

SUSPECT "OHM": Even though he's trying to appear nonchalant, making a show of checking his nails and giving pointed looks at the clock on the wall, you can see the haste in his movements. He's watching each of you very carefully.

KIM KITSURAGI: Leave it to the lieutenant to start this off smoothly. He leans back and taps his pen on his knee thoughtfully. The angle he tilts his head at causes the overhead light to shine on his lenses. "You know, I'm surprised la Puta Madre hasn't put a stop to your little operation. Jamrock is their turf, from what I understand."

SUSPECT "OHM": "'Cuz it's not *my* operation." He spreads his hands emphatically, holding them a few inches apart to illustrate his small role.

JEAN VICQUEMARE: He hangs back, leaning against the wall, lurking. His voice is low and accusatory. "You're just a distributor."

SUSPECT "OHM": "Lower than that. Really. I'm just a pusher."

DRAMA - [Failure]: It's unclear if he's downplaying his role to get a lighter sentence, or if he's being honest.

AUTHORITY: He doesn't have the bearing of a man with any influence over others. Regardless of where he specifically stands in the hierarchy, it isn't high up.

You lean forward in your seat across from him. Good Cop is on stage. "If you can give us any details on the people higher up, you may not even be sent to jail. We could walk it back to community service. And," You are confident about the blackmail idea, so you tack on: "We can ensure your safety if there's a concern about retaliation."

SUSPECT "OHM": He goes quiet for a long time. "It wouldn't do you any good if I did. I promise, you can't go after the people making this sh*t. It's not like a basem*nt meth lab or anything."

JEAN VICQUEMARE: "So you know how it's produced."

SUSPECT "OHM": "No. I just know that the RCM's not going to be able to do anything about them."

You look him in the eyes, almost pleading. "Come on, son. Who is 'them'?"

SUSPECT "OHM": He matches your pleading look with an equally desperate one."Look, I can't-... Listen. Hunch is a byproduct. It's not made on purpose. It’s on an industrial level."

You, Kim, and Jean all exchange looks with each other.

REACTION SPEED: You all can feel the suspect starting to close off. He's becoming very aware of how much info he's giving you, and is going to shut down at any moment.

KIM KITSURAGI: He's cautious about following this line of questioning. "You collect your product from dead-drops. We've found your pick-up sites. How do you know where to go?"

SUSPECT "OHM": He groans and crosses his arms. He's starting to retreat, but a part of him doesn't want to. He doesn't want to be mixed up in this mess anymore but he isn't convinced the RCM is going to help. "I get notes. Typed. Giving me a rough location. I never see who drops them off, there's no handwriting or anything to analyze."

"And what do you do with the money? How do you get it to them?" You ask.

SUSPECT "OHM": "Same thing. Dead-drops." This was the last straw. He runs a hand through his sweaty hair and gives the three of you a desperate look. "I really, really don't know anything! I need to make a phone call. I need a lawyer. I'm not talking anymore."

JEAN VICQUEMARE: This is normally his cue to play Bad Cop. A little extra intimidation to scrape whatever info he can without explicitly violating the suspect's right to silence. He stands up straight and takes a step towards the table, but Kim puts a hand out.

KIM KITSURAGI: "You have the right to request a lawyer." He bows his head in admission, "We'll end the questioning here. A sergeant will escort you to the phones." He snaps his notebook shut and rises from his seat.

ESPRIT DE CORPS: Don't pout-- you were lucky to get as much out of him as you did before he realized he was incriminating himself. There's plenty for you and your two hound-dogs to chew on.

JEAN VICQUEMARE: All three of you step out of the room, with Jean the last to go. He calls over sergeant Fisher and tells him to book the suspect, let him call a lawyer and schedule with a judge to figure out bail.

While he handles that, you retreat to your office with Kim.

KIM KITSURAGI: Despite how long a day it's been, he's chipper about this. He wags his notebook at you, smirking. "He was a chatty one, wasn't he?" He opens it up and shows you pages of notes-- more than you realized he was taking. It's a lot of shorthand, but still fills multiple pages regardless. "I'll transcribe this and write up a report. I'll need to get Jean's input too, so could you send him to me if you catch him before he leaves?"

CONCEPTUALIZATION: How nice, he's going to do all the drudgery for you.

ENDURANCE: Sounds like you can clock out early and get some rest.

AUTHORITY: Alright, I've had it.

AUTHORITY - [Success]: He is in *your* office, dusting off *your* typewriter, and-

-- THOUGHT PROJECT: VICSURAGI --

- BREAKTHROUGH IMMINENT -

AUTHORITY - [Success cont.]: -telling *you* to call over *your partner* to get input on *YOUR* case.

PHYSICAL INSTRUMENT: It’s true. The bino has been trying to usurp you the moment he first got here. The pissing contest with 57 never ended, he just took a more covert approach.

HALF LIGHT: Your job was already in peril, and you unwittingly invited your replacement. Times have changed; The RCM wants boring, predictable cops more than rock-stars like you.

HALF LIGHT: Put him in his place before he takes yours.

You put a heavy hand on the desk, pinning the blank report forms. "How about *I* write the report? So I can at least look like I contributed to this case." Your tone is extremely pointed.

KIM KITSURAGI: His eyebrows shoot up from behind his glasses at your attitude. "I... mean. You can if you'd like to. I just figured it would be easier if I did it, since I took all these notes." He frowns and tilts his head at you. "Are you feeling alright, detective? You look tired."

"Tired, yeah... I am tired." You drag a hand down your face. The stubble on your chin scrapes your palm.

RHETORIC - [Failure]: You don't want to come down on him too hard here. I don't think he's been doing any of this on purpose.

"Tired of third-wheeling my own task force, thanks to you."

RHETORIC: Oh. Hmm.

KIM KITSURAGI: His concern is turning into impatience. "I don't follow, Harry. Are you upset I've helped too much? I am, *literally*, just doing my job."

RHETORIC: A half-truth, and you both know it. He has other cases to work on. He joined this Hunch investigation weeks after you initiated it.

KIM KITSURAGI: He continues. "I understand you feel sidelined, Harry. I can see why. But please, my close involvement with your work is temporary."

LOGIC: He's been saying that for months.

"You've been saying that for months." You gesture at your little desk calendar, "I think we're past the point where you need to 'babysit' me."

KIM KITSURAGI: He winces at that, and scratches the buzzed hair on the back of his neck. "Khm. I do apologize for that. But I haven't been doing this to undermine you. I wanted to help you and Jean. Coming back to the role of double Yfreitor after your amnesia was going to require some extra support."

SUGGESTION: Of course he brings up Jean. Needle him about that. Getting your primary support system onto his side would make discarding you from the task force that much easier.

"Jean! You have completely wedged yourself in the middle of my partnership with him." You start to pace around the office, making him track you. "But why? Because every time I've asked you, you insist you don't want him in your decomptage. Are you just weaning him off of me?"

KIM KITSURAGI: At this he actually puts his hands up, pushing them down in a placating motion. "It isn't like that at all. I could see he was struggling too, and I didn't want things to fall apart before I could get settled. I think the two of you make an excellent team-- when you're getting along."

"And we were!" You spread your arms in front of your push-pin-pockmarked map of Jamrock, "This Hunch case was really getting us both back in the groove! Your sh*t at the packaging plant threw us off. I still don't see why you even needed to get involved."

EMPATHY - [Failure]: Ooh, his face went dark at that.

KIM KITSURAGI: In a move you're very familiar with now, he removes his glasses and wipes them with a handkerchief. You can't see his expression, save for the wrinkles on his forehead from furrowing his eyebrows. "I was worried about him." He replies softly, like a confession. He puts his glasses back on and stares you right in the eye.

You shake your head and shrug. "But why? Why not take over the rest of the unit instead of him specifically? Why-"

--THOUGHT PROJECT COMPLETE--

-VICSURAGI-

Beneath the repression lays a compassionate and understanding heart. Behind the depression is a loyal and romantic soul. They find respite in each other from the thankless hardships of militia work. Two pairs of tar-spackled lungs share the same breath for a moment. It may not last forever, it may not even last another month. But for the time being, they’re making each other happy.

+2 Empathy towards Lieutenants Kitsuragi and Vicquemare.

EMPATHY - [Success]: Ohhhhh. Duh.

PHYSICAL INSTRUMENT: HUH? JEAN? With *KIM*?

ELECTROCHEMISTRY: Oh my god. What is their sex life even like? Do you think they just reason each other into cumming? You should think about this some more.

THOUGHT PROJECT: PRECINCT SIXTY-NI--

-thought discarded-

VOLITION: No, come on.

Before you can stop yourself, you point at Kim and gape in shock. "You're f*cking him!"

KIM KITSURAGI: To his credit, he barely reacts. His reaction is so non-existent that the stillness of his face is a reaction in itself. It takes a moment before he can say anything, his parted lips refusing to move. "I'm what?" He finally asks.

ELECTROCHEMISTRY: It's so obvious now. He's been schtupping Jean silly. No wonder the big grouch has been so doting to him.

"You've been sleeping with Jean."

KIM KITSURAGI: As before, his face keeps still. He crosses the room and eases the door shut, drawing the blinds over the little glass window. He stays facing the door when he finally speaks. "I'm not going to ask how you know. You *are* a detective, and you've spent enough time around us both. I shouldn't be surprised."

HALF LIGHT - [Failure]: Watch out, he might threaten you to keep you quiet about this. Does he have his gun?

VISUAL CALCULUS: No, his holster is empty. He took it out for the interrogation. It's locked in his desk.

KIM KITSURAGI: When he finally faces you, he keeps his chin up. His posture is stiffer than normal. He says nothing, waiting for your reaction.

EMPATHY - [Success]: This could cost him his job. He barely trusts you to be reasonable about this.

ELECTROCHEMISTRY: Obviously, affairs between officers aren’t uncommon. But he’s not expecting to get as much grace as the white male officers tend to get when they pursue the women they work with.

LOGIC: Which is silly. Unlike those guys, he isn’t destroying a marriage, or getting Jean pregnant and forcing him out of work.

SUGGESTION: His overbearing assistance had nothing to do with your perceived incompetence-- he’s a boy with a crush.

“You’ve been helping him because you love him.”

KIM KITSURAGI: He starts at this, and looks away from you. “Uhh. ‘Love’ is a *much* stronger word than I would use.” He recovers his posture and continues to watch you carefully. “But. I do like him, yes. The extra effort I’ve been putting into helping you two wasn’t entirely selfless. The Hunch case stalling was upsetting him, and eating up his spare time.” He shrugs, “I wanted to spend more time with him.”

ESPRIT DE CORPS: This is also why he truly doesn’t want Jean in his chain of command. That would put him in a direct line of authority over Jean, making the ethics of having a relationship with him questionable. As it stands now, he and Jean are on roughly equal footing as separate lieutenants.

PERCEPTION (HEARING): A knock at the door startles you both.

JEAN VICQUEMARE: “Are you two in there?” He tries the handle, “Why is the door shut? It’s me.”

KIM KITSURAGI: He unlocks the door and ushers Jean in quickly so he can close it behind him again. He turns Jean away from you to explain the situation he’s just walked into. “He knows. About us.”

JEAN VICQUEMARE: He looks from Kim, to you, and back to Kim. “... I thought he already did?”



PERCEPTION - [Failure]: You and Kim both stare at him in shock. He looks shocked back at you.

JEAN VICQUEMARE: “Yeah,” He starts, “He’s Harry. I figured he knew from the first week. I’m not normally able to keep anything from him. I thought he just didn’t want to acknowledge it.”

“I… really didn’t know. I had no idea.” You pull your desk chair over to sit heavily in it.

ENDURANCE: This has been one long-ass day. Frankly, you’re too exhausted to be bothered by this revelation.

LOGIC: Your two coworkers sleeping with each other doesn’t bother you nearly as much as having missed it entirely. This does not reflect well on you as a detective.

INLAND EMPIRE: This was a tremendous blind spot in your personal network. Find out what you missed. What clues you didn’t pick up on.

“So…” You wag your finger back and forth between Kim and Jean, “How did this even happen?”

KIM KITSURAGI: There is still tension in his shoulders. He’s not thrilled you know about them. He certainly doesn’t want to give details. Before he can drip-feed you any vague tidbits about his courtship tactics, Jean cuts him off.

JEAN VICQUEMARE: “Come on, Harry. You want to do this now?” He sighs, pinches the root of his nose, and rolls his eyes. “Nevermind that we have a suspect in custody right now. Sure, dig into your coworker’s love lives. It’s only been, what? 14 hours since we clocked in?”

CONCEPTUALIZATION: It is genuinely hard to figure out how these two, of all people, could have gotten themselves together like this. Both of them prefer to focus on work at work.

EMPATHY: Kim specifically has said that he tries to not foster deep friendships with coworkers. You’ve caught a few hints at a social life that involves no one from the RCM. It’s strange he wouldn’t pursue a civilian for a relationship instead.

DRAMA: But you know better than anyone that you can’t control what the heart wants, even when all the other parts of you insist that you shouldn’t, that you musn’t.

ELECTROCHEMISTRY: Most of the time that just makes it more fun.

REACTION SPEED: There were probably hints you missed. You were actively avoiding Jean for the first month after Martinaise.

AUTHORITY: That was the critical period of time where Jean was considering severing your connection. He sought out lieutenant Kitsuragi’s help, and propositioned him with a partnership.

ESPRIT DE CORPS: But the lieutenant convinced him that it would be best if they didn’t pair off -- not professionally, at least. This conversation was probably had over a few drinks, off-hours.

ELECTROCHEMISTRY: An uncharacteristically dirty old man move on Kim's part. I’m a little impressed. He got a whiff of adoration from a younger man and pounced on him.

INLAND EMPIRE: He’s been lonely. Finally making a name for himself in his long overdue lieutenancy took an unreasonable amount of hard work. He had to neglect his social life to pull it off. He simply doesn’t have the time to maintain a relationship with someone unwilling to come second place to his job.

VOLITION: They have been waiting for an answer from you for a few minutes now, while you’ve been chewing on this realization. Let’s keep it to one question, and then get back to work.

“I guess I just want to know,” You scratch your head, glancing between the two of them, “what if you two break up?”

KIM KITSURAGI: He gives you a sardonic smile, teeth clenched, “We continue our work and keep things professional,” He directs his grimace at Jean, “I’d hope, at least.”

JEAN VICQUEMARE: “I’ll take a day off to eat a pint of ice cream and write poetry about our doomed romance,” He makes a show of dusting his hands off, “Then back to the grind. I don’t have the time for *more* emotional bullsh*t at work.” And with that, he claps his hands together. “On that note: I’d love to keep putting this f*cking job before my personal life, but I do need to sleep. Can we get this report written up?”

With Jean on the typewriter, the three of you compile a report on the undercover investigation into Dex Darq, the apprehension of Ohm, and the details he provided on his Hunch source.

PERCEPTION (SIGHT): You drop it off after one more quick read-through while Kim and Jean pack up for the night. You bid them a good night as they head out, and you just barely catch Jean putting a hand on Kim’s lower back as they round the corner out into the motor pool.

Thought Project: Vicsuragi - Chapter 10 - pterygoidwalk (2024)
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