Snake Eyes
"Detective Sloan, you have a call from the M.E. requesting your presence downtown."

County Department of Coroner, 1104 N Mission Rd, Los Angeles, CA

April 25th, 12:53 PM

"Since this is a favor, I won't bite you for touching. Probably."

It'd be a twenty-five minute drive in a perfect world, but Los Angeles, and the late lunch returnees, make for a lengthy trip in to the Dept. of Coroner's where Liza Sloan is greeted by a tech and taken out of the sharp sunshine of California and into the cold, sterile lighting of death investigation. Directed to one of several labs, she's greeted with the general stank of death, of the solutions used to cover it; fluids, both nameable and unidentified, coat the sitting air. If it doesn't smell of the dead, then it smells of cleaner, and that's worse at times; overwhelming constantly. Given gloves, apron— she's decked out around the same time that M.E. Callie Holt backs in from an opposite door, pulling a metal cart piled with a covered corpse along with her. The squeak's of her tennis shoes; comfortable footwear suggestive of a job spent mostly on one's feet. With a shake of her wrist loosening her protective coat, she checks the watch there, clucking her tongue at herself as she rolls the body into place beneath a light she grabs and directs to shine across the clinically white sheet.

"Detective Sloan," she greets smoothly, peeling back a piece of the cover to reveal a Caucasian male's long-deceased face, frozen in fake slumber, his hair nearly shaven off; he never would've been handsome; there's evidence of a few old scars or scabs along his cheeks. "Meet Ryan," she pauses to lean down towards a chart attached to the bed's side, "Hansen."

"How's it goin'?" A friendly voice, tumbling out over a few bumps 'n' bruises — Detective Sloan's voice, feminine but physically naturally rough around the edges. The casual greeting's for the livelier face of the M.E. rather than the newly revealed mug of Ryan Hansen. Mid-step on her way to the body, Liza tightens the protective apron, which covers the grey of her fitted and ribbed suit jacket; the boldly coral-coloured beads of her modern necklace disappear safely beneath the less stylish gear as well, a matched set to her earrings. She makes herself as tall as possible to look straight down on the deceased. He's the reason she's here, and she's with the ACRU — this guy can't be any stray corpse. She sways in and sways back once she's made his general acquaintance. "Charmer."

"Isn't he just." A wrinkle of Callie's dainty nose as she lays the sheet along the deceased's collarbone, leaving the face exposed to the horrid lighting. "Much like his friend, still in the other room. While I set everything out," she ducks a hand under the bed to secure its position, locking wheels. "Why don't you describe to me your typical tweaker den."

Good thing it locks, as the second it has, the visiting detective is leaning her knuckles against its edge like it's no more than a random counter and not the clinical, temporary resting place of Mr. Ryan Hansen. "Uhh. Okay!" Familiar territory for the former Vice detective. Or is that once a Vice detective, always a Vice detective at heart — or in the eyes of others? "Well, you've got two types," Liza replies, shrugging casually. "One's any old hellhole where tweakers hang out and get high, which means the place is usually fucking trashed, sorry for my language." She sways back off from the metal edge, strolling around to curiously watch Callie and her work from a distance. "Then you've got like, you know, a lab, where the stuff's actually being manufactured, so you've got a bunch of equipment and dangerous ingredients, chemicals, waiting to blow any minute 'cause the cooks are usually idiots." Dark eyebrows raise: more? less?

Fiddling with the instruments of her trade, Callie keeps up a repetition of generous nods— absent, to anyone else, but it'd be dangerous not to assume the medical examiner were absorbing every word. "So, you've seen a few," she jests softly against Liza's raised eyebrows. Bending, she slips the chart up from its hook on the bed, sliding it across the deceased's chest towards the former Vice detective. "There's a few crime scene photos in there," she explains lightly before launching in, tone heavier with exposition, "Our Mr. Hansen's been in deep-freeze for, what's it say on there, a month or two? Anyway, I guess there were a few oddities: obvious tweaker territory," the photos confirm: all that Liza described, plus the obligatory dart board and porn stash. "No sign of drugs. Not anywhere on the premises, or in the bodies." Pulling her arms back from the corpse, she settles both hands behind her waist, relaxing back on her heels. "I'm to take a second look. Know you guys are, excuse my language— " a tic of her mouth up, "fucking busy over there, but I felt bouncing a little drug knowledge off each other couldn't hurt. If you're up for it, Detective."

The M.E.'s prompted Liza to smile, all white teeth and muted brown lipstick, easily amused. She looks up from examining the crime scene photos to rasp a chuckle. "Yeah, hey, I'm always up for it." While, by her voice, Liza isn't taking it more seriously than a friendly joke-challenge, she's looking at the file again with more trained eyes. "Hm! A mystery." Not all cases that more obviously involve drugs are a mystery. Most are pretty far from it. "Did you give an original C.O.D. back then?" she asks before flipping to the page that might actually say; she likes it better from the mouth than from paper.

"Not me," corrects Callie amiably, folding more of the sheet back off of Hansen's nude, unnaturally white, corpse. "They sent this over for second opinion. Original C.O.D. as you'll see listed there from Dr. Berg is cardiac arrest. The M.E.'s cop-out C.O.D. of choice." Not Holt's style; her history's clothed in a particular thoroughness, up to and including doing everything by her hand despite a registered ability for telekinesis. "He goes on to mention blood clotting and that both decedents tested positive for abilities and negative for drugs." Skepticism layers her voice, less for her professional opinion of a colleague, as that she's just unwrapped Hansen's arm and, turning it over within her gloved palms, there along his inner elbow are the lump and red streaks known as 'track marks'. "Hansen disagrees," she muses.

"Uh huuuuh." Skepticism is also lent to Liza, along with a dose of criticism — for the track marks she eyes, obvious as any red flag. "So, either Dr. Beeerg missed something, oooor…" Or, or, or — she tosses her dark-haired head slowly to either side as options leisurely ping-pong about in her mind. "New drug? Weird drug? Didn't show in the tests?" She crinkles her face up, not fond of the theory, particularly in contrast to the average mess of a drug den she glances at in the crime scene photos again. "Tested positive for abilities." Scan of the chart. "But unregistered. That is really unhelpful, Hansen," she swipes the chart just short of the body's foot, "shoulda done your civic duty."

"That sounds like something we need," chirps Callie gamely as she sets the arm back down, "Drugs that don't show up in tests." As Liza addresses the chart, she slides a second cart over laden with instruments. "I already had photos and samples taken. I don't expect a huge rush. A couple of— what's that you people call them? Anyway, drug addicts, dead in the home. If it were just the one, I'd probably never have heard of this. But two? Heart-attacks in the twenties without a presenting drug?" Fingers close around a scalpel, twirling it into a readied poise. "That's why we get paid the big bucks." The glorious life of an overworked, under-appreciated, constantly haggled and prejudiced against ACRU staffer. But there's a gleam— an honest love for work what takes over the M.E.'s as she begins to scrape for an, according to her words, second skin sample. Slightly bent, her eyes pass up against the extravagant veil of her naturally long, dark, lashes, "Sure you don't want perfume, Detective?"

Liza recognizes the gleam — she smiles at it, although she, herself, puts the chart away for now and takes a step back. Love of cutting into dead bodies: a passion Callie has all to herself. She sighs somewhat elaborately at the question, considering and reconsidering. "Naah," she dismisses with a wide wave of her gloved hand, but doesn't dismiss the helpfulness of the stuff— just, "It gives me a headache. Lose-lose, right? I'll survive." She takes to wandering around the lab in the M.E.'s general vicinity, stretching and swinging her arms. "Track-marks could be a cover-up for something else," she hypothesizes idly; with no other cop in the room with her to brainstorm with, the M.E.'s her stand-in. "Mmmm, I'm gettin' ahead of myself," she grins good-naturedly, "I'll let you do your thing."

"No, no," comes the M.E.'s murmur from inches off of Hansen's frozen corpse, "It's what you're here for. These punctures show distinct aging between each, as well as that he's," lifting one shoulder, she reaches across, turning the opposite arm across the body, "Migrated between sources of veins. An elaborate cover-up, if." Not that she's dismissing the point, merely introducing facts. With the other shoulder still raised, as she's pulling it in, she detours to gesture behind her at the back exit, "If you don't want to watch me pump a dead guy for what he's got left, his buddy's around the corner." Fingers wiggle in indication; the back door shifts wider open. "You can tell me if he looks more like a heart-attack waiting to happen. Since this is a favor, I won't bite you for touching." A beat. "Probably."

Pausing her wander and squinting in thought (elaborate cover-up, if, after all), Liza's expression turns around at the little shift of the door — her eyes widen along with the back exit. She quickly eases back to casual and smiles, looking almost wolfishly amused — that, for the lattermost of the M.E.'s indications. She's already leaning one shoulder away — the rest of her slower to follow suit as she raises a hand to wiggle less telekinetic fingers. "Don't tempt me," she jokes. Probably … not. The detective glides into a spin and does meander for the other room to check out dead guy number two.

Through the door sits a strange little waiting room; a lobby for the dead. Several gurneys in ordered rows hold tell-tale sheets over vague figures prepped for procedures later in the day. One's been pulled out from the rest, and it's here that Liza finds her dead tweaker: Carlson Hue. An exemplary model of drug-addicts everywhere, with scrawny limbs covered in old scabs distinguishable against corpse-white skin, signs of multiple piercings, and possible evidence suggesting that he'd tapped his four forearm veins to sludge and scar tissue and had gone straight to the jugular for the last two plunges. That there are even that many marks to track mean he's never been much skilled at the art of intravenous consumption; likely, just desperate.

"Hellloooo…" An idle, almost bored greeting-that-isn't drifts over the pale body as Liza looks it over, leaning in and tilting her head here and there, track-mark to track-mark, but all in all keeping her distance. She doesn't touch, as it turns out, uninspired to poke or prod what's left of Carlson Hue when he paints an un-pretty picture just laying there. She narrows her eyes at his emaciated neck, pops herself up straight, and walks herself back around the corner.

"I wouldn't'a been surprised if that guy dropped dead any day of his sad life," she announces plainly as she strolls back toward Callie and dead guy number one. "There's no doubt he used recently. Well— recently for him." Before he, you know, died and was refrigerated. "Or he tried to, at least. Looks like he jugged himself. If it wasn't his usual, I mean, if there really aren't any super recent drugs in his system— ? What's the point of stabbing yourself in the throat if you don't get a payoff. Like, he musta thought he was getting something out of it."

"Huh." The interim's carried Callie from the body to a nearby counter-top to properly store the fragile samples off the end of her tool, as well as the strain of blood. "A hallucinogenic that's actually hallucinated?" Posed somewhat as a joke, her low voice sing-song, with an after-effect dragging her eyebrows. Her mouth pinches. "Sounds like a real money-saver." And potentially fatal? Conceptualizing a method of dying that's purely in her own imagination raises goose-bumps on the medical examiner and she clucks a discomfited noise as she scoops up the samples and strides with purpose towards the connecting corridor beyond the waiting room. "We'll see."

A low "Hmmmmmm…" follows Callie. Thinking less deeply for the time being, Liza sounds less like she's contemplating someone's awful manner of death and more like she's debating an answer in a crossword puzzle — but her strides are purposeful behind the medical examiner. If slower. She tucks her gloved thumbs around her apron as she goes. "So how soon'll you know what's going on inside Hansen and his pal?" she queries, remembering something something skin samples.

"Depends on if you arrest me as soon as I start it." It— the M.E.'s led Liza into… a kitchen. Surreal already, the sleek appliances melding into the building's higher purpose except for some choice pea-green coloring; someone's idea of how to avoid uncomfortable mix-ups, perhaps, between the fridge here labeled: WRITE YOUR NAME ON YOUR FOOD and the one they passed in the hall marked: CHECK PAPERWORK TWICE BEFORE FORWARDING TO FBI. Now, Callie introduces two canisters of human extract into the employee eatery, striding up to a back counter cluttered with power cords and other safety regulations gone wrong to a two-stack of microwaves: the top one cleaner, whiter, and blinking the actual time while the bottom rung is a 70s-red with a shred of paper calling it: OUT OF ORDER.

Brusquely ignoring the sign, Callie yanks the microwave door open and gets as a result no simple caved out rectangle with a little spinning plate. It looks more like lab equipment, with partially scratched out maker's mark covered by Callie's hand and then the door as she slides the blood sample inside and shuts the contraption.

Her eyelids ride low as she glances at Liza, but the eyes beneath them reflect no partnership of shame. "Like I said… a couple of drug addicts, a dead-end case…" No one's going to rush for these two.

Liza, who's breathing a little deeper now that they're not quite in corpse central, tips her head just in time to peer into the contraption before it shuts, intrigued right from the word 'arrest'. "Uhhh…" Her expression's one of amusement paired with bewilderment that quirks one side of her mouth up and shows teeth. "Looks like you've got a little meth lab chic goin' on yourself here," she comments; there's a pause long enough to give the M.E. an encouraging bob of her chin, "Awesome."

"It doesn't make anything…" her joke angles off of humor, turning brisker, rising with purpose, "Maybe you did or didn't know that medical examiners aren't considered qualified to perform ability blood tests. Apparently, it's a violation of civil rights. So we send our samples to a federally approved center along with our pleases and thank yous and a letter defining why we believe knowing the decedent's ability-status is relevant to our case. Never-mind that we're the Abilities Crime unit. Or that the sheer hypocrisy is— " a cheap plastic chair in the room bolts upward; Callie's hand jumps to its back to still it despite that the force which caused the disturbance has already calmed. Her lips are thin but controlled. "Frustrating enough to run a technically illegal blood-checking system in my second microwave."

Liza jolts at the chair's uprising, a sudden twitch that's all the more noticeable because it leaps out of her previously loose, laid-back stance. She's new at this, and the sight of an ability in use is still weird to her eyes even in a world that's now rife with the knowledge and constant proof of their existence. Existence in her own body, no less. Hers is a hell of a lot less obvious. "Man, I feel ya," she replies, commiserating, "I'm still getting used to the unit — more like, how it works with the rest of the world. I've already ran into walls I didn't even know were there." In this case, not invisible ability-induced ones. She leans against the counter edge shared by the microwave and undercover blood-checking system. "It's bullshit. Hey — " Brow crinkling, smiling at Callie, she offers, "Power to you. We gotta do what we can, right?"

A crisp nod's more professional than the thin, grateful, smile sneaking in behind it. "Way it plays out right now," explaining lowers Callie's tone to slow, casual; she turns idly aside as the 'microwave' hums gently. "The fuss comes from families of money, or influence, in neighborhoods like the Hills worried about the scandal it would be if their bloodline was found to be dirtied. There's your Hollywood priorities at play." Lifting both hands, she weighs them side by side, "Dead relative, shunned at the next debutante ball." Rolling her eyes leads Callie's gaze unintentionally to the counter, and she pinpoints a couple of aluminum jars labeled with different coffee brands. Glancing over at Liza, "Can I make you anything?" Leaning back, she raps the legitimate microwave sitting on top of the illegal machine with the knuckle of her thumb.

Nodding and leaning heavier into the counter, Liza rolls her eyes; don't get her started on the Hills, the look says all over. She eyeballs the less illegal microwave and the jars and smiles, but waves off the offer. "Naahh," her husky voice dissuades, "even my appetite for coffee's a little sketchy after that last room. Anyway, caffeine barely works on me anymore. I think what jolt I do get is all in my head."

Callie's tongue clucks. "That's terrible." Not overly pitying, but there is a carnal desire inside the medical examiner that lurches with pain at the very thought. "But it makes me think of our bodies again," not that they were likely ever fully cast from her mind; it's too ingrained by now. "Druggies with no drugs. Placebo effect? Or something new." Lifting, her arms then cross over her apron. "If even one had already migrated to the jugular, they could've been desperate enough to try almost anything off the streets."

It takes the grinning detective a second to connect Callie's 'our bodies' to 'dead bodies' and then, with an instinctive glance and sway of her dark-haired head back the way they came, she's on board the train of thought. "Wouldn't surprise me, the shit people inject. Still though, even though new stuff's hitting the streets all the time, it's always just some more screwed up variation of what's already out there." And this isn't that, unless Holt screwed up the tests times two. "Maybe they both have a bullshit ability like mine that just messes with their systems, messes with the tests," she offers out, more casually deprecating of her own system than serious about the theory. Still; Liza shrugs and waves a lackadaisical hand. "Never know."

"Every once in a while, though it's become more and more rare, something unique will spring up. Grown in another country. Took a while to cultivate over here. But you're right about similarities. The human race is both infinitely creative and infinitely repetitive in its imaginings." And then there's abilities. Something Callie pursues her lips and draws into quiet for. 'Never know' is a flicker in her eyebrows she indulges not in words, but the brewing of a cup of coffee. It occupies her for the next ten or so minutes until both microwaves chime within a few seconds of each other. Coffee instantly forgotten, the examiner hauls open the false front, plucking the blood up and squinting into both machines. "Dratted bootlegged thing." Slapping the lower microwave with her palm harshly, she straightens. "This blood just came out negative for abilities."

Taken to wandering in the interim, Liza appears beside Callie, swinging her arms. "Well," huh, "how about that." She tilts her head back, and it falls to the side almost lazily — from that sideways gaze, she squints at the machine; squinted, accepted. Next! "What now?" She straightens, gliding a hand slowly through the air. "That is, in your medical realm of expertise."

A heavy sigh captures Callie's shoulders before she releases, flicking the blood supply idly back and forth in her hand as she thinks. "I wait on official results after all, I suppose." Annoyance darkens the rings under her eyes before she shakes it off, closing the illegal microwave and strutting up closer to the doorway, and Liza. "There's a few things I could also try…" a hand waves, stopping her from falling too far into the 'medical expertise' hole, "Nothing you need be present for, detective. I'll let you know if anything else comes up. Maybe we'll even brainstorm again." Spoken as if baiting the detective with a potential second date, as she slips out of the makeshift kitchen and back towards patiently waiting corpses.

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