A Dream Job

July 14, 2015:

Wilson Fisk hires occult investigator Ruby Rowe to investigate a pair of problems, one old and one new.

Fisk Towers, New York City

Glass, fine art, crime.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Ruby Rowe's penchant for the exotic and long-standing name earned her a call from a man representing Wilson Fisk. One might think that there isn't much crossover between checking up on deadbeat werewolf dads for clients in custody disputes and, well, anything that Wilson Fisk, Humble Spice Merchant and Gentle Philanthropist is likely to get himself mixed up in, but Fisk is a man of diverse interests living in a very, very strange world.

A broad overview of his employer's needs - a private investigator to look into a kidnapping that the police may not be able to touch, some insight regarding an unrelated matter - would've been shared over the phone. Also, a fairly ludicrous quote just for meeting the man - in his office, rather than hers - regardless of her usual fees.

Provided that the terms were acceptable, directions would've followed: rather than something like 'enter Fisk Towers, go to 66th floor, sit in waiting room', she would've been given a rather more circuitous route involving adjacent properties, a service elevator, and several cameras. Eventually, they lead to an office with a glass wall looking out over the city, several pieces of artwork, a huge desk surrounded by chairs, and Wilson Fisk in a leather throne behind it.

If they were not acceptable, Wesley may have a little more negotiating to do.

But at least those other details are there for later.

-

Ruby Rowe has been in a dry spell lately. That's how she's often lived - feast and famine - it's why she bought a house in '59 and has lived in it ever since. A fixed address in the Bronx. She has the same telephone number she's had for most of a lifetime. A human lifetime, anyway.

That figure would replace her busted up Prius. "I'll be there."

She was amenable to the figures. Fisk probably knows that, even if the details get a little murky, Ruby Rowe seems to be pretty fearless about physical danger. Not quite a Man Without Fear, of course.

The roundabout route was acceptable too. And so it is that she walks into that room, in a beaded dress and a cloche hat. She doesn't even have a weapon out, though it is clear she is… hesitant. Cautious might be more accurate. Not fearful.

"If it isn't Wilson Fisk," Ruby says with a smile even so. Stepping forwards, she moves towards a seat. "Ruby Rowe - but I suppose you know that. It's a pleasure to meet you." Her eyes cut to the side, and she asks, "Izzat a Picasso, there?"

-

Fisk's eyebrow arches as Ruby enters, but his expression is otherwise neutral. The seats on the other side of the desk are identical, made of carefully curved metal cylinders with plush black leather padding attached to them. Reasonably comfortable, but lacking armrests.

"Indeed," Fisk says with a glance towards the gently illuminated wall-section where Jacqueline with Flowers hangs. "One of the first I bought myself, once I had the means— something to remind me of my wife, and how far we'd come together." Since Ruby took her own seat, Fisk just folds his meaty paws atop his rather bare desk and fixes his gaze to Ruby, appraising her. "You come well-recommended, Ms. Rowe— provided that one knows where to look, anyway. I appreciate your taking the time to see me; I trust that regardless of whether or not you decide to accept my case, you'll do me the courtesy of keeping my confidence regarding what we discuss here tonight."

-

Ruby takes the one on the left. Fisk mentions his wife. Ruby files that one away, leaning back in her chair slightly. It's faintly insolent, but it could also simply be relaxed. "Of course," she murmurs to Fisk, lowering her eyes slightly. "I can tell that you're a man who values his privacy VERY highly."

And if he wants her to go learn how to kill the President that's a bridge to burn when she comes to it.

"Do you mind if I smoke?" she asks, before continuing onwards: "I'm a little surprised at the interest, even so. Flattered, obviously…"

-

A drawer opens and a crystal ash tray is set out, nudged towards Ruby.

"Your family name has managed to survive for quite some time in your field, which tells me that the women of your family tend to know their way around an investigation. This, along with your familiarity with exotic cases leads me to believe that you would be well-suited indeed to solving the problems that presently vex me."

Fisk reaches into that same drawer, withdraws a file folder, and sets it near Ruby. It is fairly thin, consisting of a dozen or so typed and hand-drawn pages. The typed pages describe a dream in which Fisk experienced a number of vivid and terrifying sights. The images are a bit sketchy, and were done by at least two different artists. They all depict roughly the same tall, fair-skinned brunette in a purple and black ensemble that includes spiked shoulder guards and a flowing cape, albeit with some variances in detail, perspective, and so on.

"Some months ago, I experienced a series of vivid dreams linked by a particular piece of imagery. I cannot yet guess at the source: an opportunistic mutant or scientist, perhaps, or a drug fed to me while I was unawares. An extradimensional psychic entity, perhaps." This, he gives just a little bit of extra weight as his eyes narrow on Ruby. "I have taught myself the art of lucid dreaming in an effort to investigate the matter myself, but thus far, my efforts have failed; I believe that you may have the experience and skillset necessary to help me get to the bottom of the matter, however."

His fingers tightly lace atop the desk as he then lets out a slow, weary sigh.

"The second problem concerns my wife," he continues, tone growing grave. "A little less than a week ago, she was kidnapped by members of a drug cartel and held hostage until I paid for her safe return. It is my understanding that any police efforts to investigate the matter are doomed to failure, as the NYPD's jurisdiction tends to be rather lacking in Central America and the DEA is disinclined to intervene without the promise of a significant bust. I find this to be unacceptable, and while I cannot bring her kidnappers to justice, I refuse to allow them the pleasure of anonymity. I would have you find her kidnappers' names and whereabouts; any further information regarding their activities, or the activities of their organization would be a bonus."

A small, wan smile cracks his severe features.

"My hope is that given enough gift-wrapping, I will be able to find an agency willing to do the right thing."

-

Ruby adjusts her seat nearer to the table, fishing out a cigarette and a lighter. She smiles with a certain slyness at the mention of her family name.

Then she looks down at the file folder. After a drag and an exhale, she picks up the folder and flips through it. Including the images. "Hell of an outfit," she murmurs, before looking back up when Fisk continues to recount his situation. She seems subtly approving at the mixture of matter-of-factness and acceptance of the unusual in that recounting.

The second story gets a flintier look from her. After that, she flicks ash into the tray and rests the folder on her knee.

"Do you believe these two incidents are directly connected, Mr. Fisk? I don't see a connection, other than yourself of course. I'm just sorting out my angle of approach here…" She takes another drag and exhales up towards the ceiling, continuing afterwards, "As for your wife - this is an unusual question, but it's part of my methods. Do you have the clothing, or personal effects, she had with her, while she was being held?"

-

"Doubtful," is Fisk's answer to the first question. "If there was an intelligence behind the dreams, it was either a poor or an impatient one: I've not made any decisions since that could be seen as favoring or benefiting that intelligence, at least to my knowledge. I'm essentially asking you to work on two cases at once." After calmly spelling out the obvious, Fisk waits a tick to see how she takes it before assuring her that, "You would obviously be well-compensated to make up for the increased draw on your time and resources."

Once that's out, he opens another drawer. Out come a pair of shoes, a tube of lipstick, and a dress that is entirely too nice to be balled(or even folded) up in a desk drawer.

SOME TIME AGO

"— am sick of being some silly PAWN in your disgusting GAMES— !" Vanessa Fisk screams while hurling a shoe, a tube of lipstick, and a compact out of her bedroom. The shoe hits her husband right in the belly, but the rest sails past him. "'For the detectives'," she sneers. "I am not the ignorant little waif you married, Wilson; if you can't bring yourself to let me have a real life, at least have the decency not to lie to me!"

NOW

One of the shoes has a bent, almost broken heel and the tube is cracked.

"I made certain that they were set aside once she was returned to me," Fisk murmurs. "We agreed that it was for the best, if the authorities were ever going to find her captors. Before we knew better than to harbor such hope, of course."

-

Ruby seems to accept this, with a small nod. "It's possible," she continues, "that the entity has some long game or is working for a third party. I've run into that before." Then out comes the shoes, the lipstick, and the balled up dress.

Ruby parks the coffin nail on the lip of the ash tray and stands up, reaching forward to touch the shoe.

The impulse there is sharp and clear. She grimaces just a bit. Then the dress, which she fingers silently for long moments. Impressions flow through her, time itself moving backwards. Anger. Confusion. And then something else - a man with a skull for a face! Tentacles! "I'm getting something," she says, sounding distant.

And then the last bit - and Ruby lets go.

She touches the lipstick faintly. To Fisk, she says, much more matter of factly, "I'd like to hold onto this one if you don't mind. The dress, the shoes - obviously, I don't want to contaminate them." More than she already did, anyway.

-

"What do you intend to do with it?" Fisk wonders with an arching brow. He starts putting things away, leaving the tube for last while Ruby explains.

It was a curious display. Fisk watched her paw his wife's belongings with silent, studious interest and attempted to piece together what he was seeing— and, more importantly, whether he was being hustled or not. There weren't many clear answers on either front, though.

-

"It's a kind of intuitive forensic analysis," Ruby says, looking upwards. "It's a part of my toolkit. I can skip it, if you want." I do have a big lead already. "But it could slow things down."

-

Fisk does not seem particularly convinced or placated by this description, but after another second of peering, he lets it all go with a wave of his hand and a, "Yes, fine; she's on vacation at the moment, anyway. She certainly won't be needing it." His hands knit again.

"I would appreciate it if you looked for leads in the dream case first, and kept me in the loop regarding any findings, there— as your schedule allows, obviously. While finding the men who assaulted my wife is of the utmost importance, so is keeping my psyche safe from intruders. If there are no good leads regarding the dreams in a couple of days, leave them be for a while."

-

"I understand completely," Ruby says, withdrawing a small plastic baggie from her purse and picking up that lipstick with great caution. (The plastic is actually a bakelite film that, in her limited experience, is pretty impervious to emotional radiations. It could be superstition. She does it anyway.)

"Couple more questions for you. This file - it lists the times and dates when you experienced these dreams? And will your fellow Wesley be my point of contact?"

-

"Yes, Wesley will be on call to handle any and all concerns, barring an emergency," Fisk replies with a firm nod while shutting the drawer. "You may speak to him as though he were me. As for the dreams…" His eyes turn towards the folder as his hands fold atop the desk. "There are no individual times, but they all occured on the night of May 21st. I went to bed at 10:54 that evening, but I couldn't tell you when they began."

-

"You were in the city at the time?" Ruby asks, as if for specific clarification.

Past that, though, she seems to have everything she needs. She straightens with an air of conclusion. "I suppose the only question left is compensation - but that might be a thing for your fellow as well. Hopefully, this will turn out to be nothing - someone playing a prank in Mutant Town, maybe."

-

"Indeed, in my apartment."

Wilson stands as she straightens and smooths his hands down his grey suit. "We could discuss the details of compensation if you like, but yes: Wesley is well-equipped to go over all of it with you. Should you require an advance to cover expenses, we - or you and he - can negotiate something agreeable." A hand stretches across the desk.

"Thank you for your time, Ms. Rowe; I have the utmost faith in your ability to bring me peace in these matters."

-

Ruby reaches forwards to take the hand. No hesitation. She can remember shaking hands with a guy from the Bund. Her hand is a little cold.

And also, she thinks, this might get me that little cottage in France. "It's my honor, Mr. Fisk. I hope we'll get it wrapped up and you can rest easy by the end of the month."

But who knows?

Other, of course, than the Shadow.

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