Luck Gandor crossed another name off his list.
Barely past noon, and already he'd expended over half of his contacts in the Russos' precinct, each more disappointing than the last. Earlier, Luck had attended a breakfast meeting with one of the homicide sergeants he knew, and directly afterwards, he stopped into a coffee shop and "just happened" to run into a prosecutor with close ties to the precinct. They had been his two most promising leads - reputable men with keen eyes and a favorable opinion of the young district attorney. And yet, when he'd tried to slip in a question about the recent psychological studies, or even hinted at Ladd Russo, both of his acquaintances shut down entirely.
For the rest of his contacts, meager as that number was, Luck opted to place phone calls, under the pretense of needing information for some state-issued forms. He weaved inquiries about the going-ons of the precinct in between meaningless small talk, deftly striking for information before retreating to a safe topic once more. His skill at eliciting facts from his targets was what defined his success as an attorney; he knew the perfect facade, the precise wording, the exact timing required to convince anyone to spill information for him.
"So why am I turning up nothing?" Luck asked himself, leaning back in his office chair and staring up at the ceiling. With his eyes, he traced the pattern of thin, dark cracks that split the old, white tile like hairline fractures. He knew each line, every break, better than the creases of his own flesh. Luck's eyes narrowed. Was he imagining things, or had the ceiling splintered more since yesterday?
He shook his head, telling himself it was only the lack of sleep seeping into his sense of perception. Or perhaps he spent too much time cooped up in the office. Luck wanted to call up Keith, who always proved a steady rock during times of uncertainty, but the last time they'd spoken, his older brother alluded to being caught up in a departmental mess. Luck took the news to mean Keith would be tied up for a while, but it was always hard to tell with the quiet man.
Only a few more names remained on his list, but he doubted any of them would speak up. They'd been long-shots, men he barely knew, but that he figured he wouldn't have to call on anyway. Times like this, he wished he maintained more associates outside of his brother's precinct. About half his lack of contacts came from his disdain for the higher-ups in the Russo precinct. The other half came from the general resentment towards Luck. Hard to make friends, when everyone assumed his familial ties had landed the excessively young man his position. They weren't entirely wrong, either.
Luck returned his focus to the list, running a finger over the smooth graphite of the next scrawled name. A smear of gray sunk into his skin, like a monochrome branding. He wondered if perhaps no one divulged information because there was no information to be had. What if he'd been correct all along, and this was some ruse on Eve's part? Or she'd simply been mistaken, her judgment tainted by her brother's predicament?
That appeared the most likely answer, and he wanted to doubt once more his own promise to pursue the matter. But when it came down to it, he craved a task to throw his mind into, to distract him. Despite its logical issues, he'd thrown himself into the investigation, almost hoping it would consume him. All in all, that was the greatest source of his disappointment in his lack of success.
His office phone, which sat atop his desk, let out a shrill noise. Luck winced, and made a mental note to get it repaired. He wondered who could be calling; his schedule was fairly clear for the day, and he hadn't been expecting any calls. Any number that wasn't previously cleared by him automatically went to his personal assistant, so if his desk phone rang, he knew it was either someone important or one of his close friends or family.
He picked it up and leaned back in his chair. "Hello, District Attorney's office. Luck Gandor speaking."
"Interesting - I see I've caught you in, Mr. Gandor. And here I'd planned to leave a message. Well, no matter."
The moment he heard the familiar voice, Luck's blood turned to ice, goosebumps travelling over his skin and a chill running up his spine. Even his heartbeat, which had been so unbearably loud lately, seemed to freeze for just a second.
"Mr. Sukiart. To what do I owe the honor of this call?"
It was a voice everyone connected to the department would recognize at once, a name that everyone knew but few ever wanted to speak aloud. Ronnie Sukiart, technically the head of internal affairs for the Martillo Department, unofficially the man who held the career of every city employee in his hands. He stood as head of an interdepartmental task-force that was kept hushed, one that gathered information and acted as a watchdog for the police force as a whole. Rumor was that the instant anything happened that could be deemed troublesome, Ronnie Sukiart knew everything there was to know about it. No one knew how he kept tabs on so many people so immaculately, and it lent an air of mysticism to the intimidating reputation of the man.
To receive a call personally, Luck couldn't help but think that had to be bad news. He hadn't cleared Ronnie's number to come straight through to his office, and he had no idea how he'd circumvented that. If it was an intimidation tactic, it achieved its goal. Luck's fingers clutched the phone receiver so tightly, his knuckles ached.
From the other side of the line, Ronnie answered, "Hm, so you have not guessed already? Or perhaps this is one of your 'polite' gestures. No matter. I don't wish to waste words. This is about your inquiry into the Russo precinct."
Luck breathed a sigh of relief, and he felt the warmth return to his body. Was that all Ronnie wanted? He'd braced himself for the worst. Whatever the problem was, if it related to that, it would be easily repairable. It seemed Ronnie's reputation proved accurate. Luck had only been looking into the matter for half a day, and already, Ronnie had caught wind of it.
"I'm afraid I don't know what your concern with that is." Luck responded, careful not to deny Ronnie's assertion. He harbored no doubts that Ronnie possessed proof, or at least extensive evidence, of Luck's actions against the Russos.
"No? Let me make it simple. You'll have to stop asking into it."
Stuck in a difficult situation, Luck bit his lip, looking again at his list of names. He didn't want to stop the investigation, even if it hadn't been turning up any actual information. At the same time, refusing to comply with Ronnie Sukiart would most likely end poorly for him.
Steering away from having to give a direct answer, Luck said, "And may I ask why?"
"Are you asking me to reveal confidential information? How bold of you. Well, no matter. I cannot do that."
So that was it. "Confidential information" implied a secret investigation, and if it was internal affairs conducting it, then there was trouble brewing somewhere in the Russo precinct. Luck must have stepped on some toes, and now the watchdogs wanted him off their turf. Luck sighed. Oh, how he hated politics. By accepting the position of district attorney, he'd essentially condemned himself to dealing with political maneuvering, but that didn't mean he enjoyed it any.
"Maybe we could strike a deal. Trade information. I have some news that you might be interested in obtaining." He said, thinking of Eve. To have Ronnie on his side would be of enormous benefit to his endeavors, and if it went well, it'd be smart to have such a man as an ally.
"You mean information about the Genoard siblings, I presume."
The statement was all that was necessary to kill that trace of hope. If Ronnie already knew the two Genoards were tied up in the Russo precinct's issues, then he undoubtedly also knew the specifics that Luck had to offer.
"Fine. You've made your point, Mr. Sukiart."
"And yet, you have not given your answer. I thought you more keen on the situation's importance than that. Well, no matter."
"If you cannot even tell me what the 'situation' is regarding, then I do not see how I can be confident enough to give an answer."
"That's no concern of yours."
"It is when a young girl comes to my office, afraid for her career, because she's convinced someone is keeping this under wraps."
Luck's voice turned sharp, to show that he was not going to simply back down. The NYPD's internal affairs had no jurisdiction over the district attorney's actions. How far out of its boundaries had this interdepartmental effort gone? His accusation rang clear. He had no reason to believe that Ronnie wasn't the one orchestrating the cover-up.
"...I see. Let us just say that the Russo department is under heavy observation at the moment. Your obvious maneuvering could draw attention to our own actions."
"Not good enough. Tell me who you're investigating."
"You don't know yet? Hm, of course. No matter. It might as well be everyone, Mr. Gandor."
"That doesn't make sense."
"It doesn't have to. Now, will you desist, or won't you?"
"I can't. I'm sorry."
A long silence overtook the other side of the line, and Luck felt drops of sweat form on his forehead. He knew he ought to agree with Ronnie and drop the matter; it would be the best move for his career. But thinking about Eve's persistence, and the strangely stone-walled responses he'd received to his questioning, Luck couldn't in good conscience let go of the matter. Besides, he didn't appreciate being ordered around, regardless of how powerful the person giving the orders was.
When the reply finally came, it was with a darker tone. "I see. I didn't want to have to do this. Well, no matter."
Luck's breath caught. "Do what, exactly, Mr. Sukiart?"
"This call could have been about one of two things. You are happy that it was about the Russo precinct, yes? But it could very well have been about your other issue."
Slowly, Luck said, "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Ah, so that's how you are handling it? Well, no matter. You know what you've done. I won't say it aloud."
"If you know, why haven't you done anything?" Luck said, and he found his throat suddenly dry.
"We have our reasons."
"So I take it this is a threat, then? Surely, you can come out and say that aloud."
"A statement of fact. You can draw your own conclusions, can't you? Well, no matter."
"I think I'm done with this call."
"That seems the case, yes. I trust you will not get in our way in the future."
"Of course, Mr. Sukiart. But please understand that I am very displeased with how your team is handling this investigation."
"No matter. If you stick to your word, this information on you will be discarded. Good day, Mr. Gandor."
The other line went dead, leaving Luck sitting there with the receiver still stuck in his hand, the object pressing deep into his palm and leaving a dark impression.
How much was he expected to believe? After all, anyone could claim they had some vague 'information' on another person. Without proof, Luck had no reason to believe it was anything but a bluff. But he thought back to that voice, to the certainty that lent such incredible gravity to Ronnie's words, and he knew, in the depths of his heart, that Ronnie spoke the truth. Internal Affairs, for whatever its outrageous breach of protocol and limits, had dirt on him that could ruin his life.
Panic wanted to set in, but Luck was well trained in keeping his cool. The only indication of his frustration was the intensity with which he squeezed the phone receiver, the tight clamp of his jaw that made his teeth grind painfully together.
A choice opened up before him. He could pursue the investigation, and risk not just his career, but the entire life and spotless reputation he'd made for himself. Or, he could drop it, and completely abandon his conscience and sense of morality, not to mention betray the word he'd given to Eve Genoard. At this point in his life, Luck felt he only held an iota of ethics, still had only a scrap of the integrity he pretended to hold so dear. If he gave this up, no matter how inconsequential the investigation actually was to him, then he'd be letting go of that remnant of morality as well.
From his shaking hands, the phone receiver slipped, falling to the desktop with a clatter. Luck barely registered the noise, though. All he could see was his fingers spread wide apart, held in front of his face, his life slipping through them. Could he rebuild what he'd lost with this investigation, this one choice made out of personal conviction rather than professional necessity? Would he ever have the chance again, if he forfeited this? And even if some dirty information on him got leaked - could he not look to his actions done to fight this corruption as his redemption?
Luck buried his face in his hands, and he groaned. Everything was falling apart around him, and he was powerless to do anything. Even if he wanted to continue the investigation, he had no more routes to pursue, no other ideas upon which to act. Everywhere he turned, he was faced with a dead end. Just a week ago, he'd been going about his business like usual, and now he couldn't go a few minutes without something going wrong.
Unwilling to stay and sulk, though that's all he wanted to do at the moment, Luck got up from his seat and went to inform his assistant that he'd be out for a walk. Maybe some fresh air would help clear his head, help him make a decision. He could only hope so, anyway. Though Luck couldn't help but wonder if clarity would ever be in the cards for him again, once this all blew over.
'If this all blows over,' He corrected himself.
Shrugging on his jacket, Luck left behind the cracked ceiling and the shrill phone and the smudged list of crossed out names, to venture instead out into the familiar commotion of the city streets.
A/N: Sorry updates have been slower lately. Also, as a side note, I couldn't find a clear consensus on how to spell Ronnie's surname, so I settled on the one I found given most often. Well, thanks for reading!