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Vernon DuPuis

Once a thief, always a thief.

0 · 220 views · located in Main Street (Continued)

a character in “The Multiverse”, as played by NotAFlyingToy

Description

The Roomies wrote:Look me in the eyes,
You know damn well,
What I've been trying to tell you,
I won't back down.

You must have me confused
For somebody who loses.
Because I don't back down.


Image

So begins...

Vernon DuPuis's Story

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Character Portrait: Vernon DuPuis

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As the feline woman moved towards the storefront, Vernon made his move.

Quickening his pace to a near jog, he shouldered through the day-crowd of Wing City, patting each and every one of his pockets as he was brought closer and closer to the target. Wallet, keys, phone, badge. Wallet, keys, phone badge. Wallet, keys -

"Rivvora," he snarled, when he was at her back, his countenance darkening.

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Character Portrait: Vernon DuPuis

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She was headed for the alleyway - for sure escape - and he pursued, weaving and shoving at the people that filled in in her wake. She was sleeker, smaller compared to his frame; he had to resort to actual brute force to make his way after her, leaving men, women, and child sprawling on the street as he zeroed into her presence.

When she reached the alleyway, he ducked behind her, drawing his weapon and his badge, aiming it at her back.

"You move one more step, Sabetha, and I'll gun you down where you stand," he snarled.

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Character Portrait: Vernon DuPuis

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The gun was ramrod straight, eyes hard and quiet as the man held his distance, too aware of knife wounds on cops to move any closer towards her. The way she was looking at him had each concern of his vindicated with the hard look in her eyes, the deadly way she held herself.

"You've done a great many things," he spat back, keeping the gun steady. "I'm not here to kill you or arrest you, however. I'm here to give you a simple choice between two very specific options."

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Character Portrait: Vernon DuPuis

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"That's right," he said, simply. He didn't know what the hell she meant by the last bit - had another cop already come to her with one of these things? - but he didn't let it distract her. She was a thief. A criminal. He felt his flesh crawl at the thought of her breaking the law, his hands twitched to make sure he had his wallet, keys, change, gum - but he refrained.

"You're going to walk down to the WCPD, identify who you are to the local desk constable, and turn yourself in for any number of your crimes. Or, you're going to draw this out. I'm a man with a lot of free time, kitten, so I'll chase you if I have to. Either way, you'll be behind bars for the rest of your miserable, flee-ridden life."

He lowered the gun, easing off of her now that he had her ear. "Is that clear?"

The setting changes from main-street-1 to Psychiatric Assessment Unit

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Character Portrait: Vernon DuPuis

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The moment he had recieved the news that Harpert was in the hospital, his fingers had been curled around a bottle of hooch, his unshaven face dramatic and dark in the light, eyes searching the board he had hung on the wall of his apartment. There were three names pinned to the top of the board; three individual pictures pasted underneath, strings and lines and dots connecting them in a complex web that only he understood. When DuPuis looked at this as a man, not the something-more-than-cop he pretended to be, he could see the mentality of a lunatic. Of a person who linked events, books, scraps of evidence between people that had nothing in common. Nothing but the little boy that they had left alone.

When the drink was in him, he didn't count the number of breaths he took, didn't have to flick the lights on and off, on and off until they hit the prime number, abstract in his head. When the drink was in him, he didn't think about the crawling sensation on his skin whenever he thought of that boy, that girl, those needles that had punctured their skin.

When the drink was in him, he could slip into the darkness. He could appreciate - bask in - it.

And then the call came, from one of the female cops on the WCPD. One of the bleeding heart types who saw a little too far into him, guessed at his motivations. He had stood holding the phone in one hand, bottle in the other, as she told him about Casper Harpert, OD'ing on smack and being moved to the hospital. As he listened to the words, he saw his pale, small hand clutching a much bigger one, pressing it to his tear stained cheek. He heard the sounds of rushing cars, blaring horns.

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Character Portrait: Vernon DuPuis

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The next day, he was striding into the Wing City hospital, a small bag with him, something jingling within its contents. His free hand tapped at his pockets, checking each and every one for wallet, keys, change, and badge in a rhythmic pattern. He hated hospitals.

As he had once - wallet - done before, he stepped up to the receptionist of the - keys - Psych Assessment unit, his - change - posture ramrod straight. Slowly, he withdrew his badge, showed it to the - wallet - nurse stationed there.

"My name's Vernon DuPuis, ma'am. I called earlier this morning about a patient you have in care - Casper Harpert?"

The woman directed him to the room that - keys - the boy was in, and it seemed like time didn't take any meaning. He had been thanking the nurse one moment, the next, he was standing outside the door of the kid's room, his eyes not focusing on anything, his vision hollow and blurry.

Is mommy dreaming, dad? Is she dreaming of heaven?

She's dreaming of somethin', Vernie. That's for sure.


He lifted his hand and knocked.

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Character Portrait: Vernon DuPuis

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The door slowly opened, and the officer's face poked through the crack, not saying a word. He stepped fully into the room, making a show of closing the door, keeping the privacy, even as he was unwilling to step away from it. He leaned back against it, the bag in his hand swinging gently as he folded his arms across his chest. His hand itched to feel if the keys were there, to scratch at his arms at the sight of the scars up and down the teenager's.

Like always, he resisted the urge.

Vernon's eyes casually, easily, slid to the boy's face, taking him in slowly. "The hell do they feed you guys in here, anyways?"

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Character Portrait: Vernon DuPuis

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Vernon took the hit, and shrugged it off with a carefulness that belied the angry words the two had exchanged upon their first time meeting. "When a witness has a health emergency, the leading operative on the case is notified. The last thing I'd do to anyone in a position such as this is laugh, Mr. Harpert," he said, easily, casual. Real casual. "But I'm not giving you any pity, either."

Without further ado, he tossed the bag towards Casper, the bag rattling with metal sounding clinks and clanks as it sailed towards the young addict. "Brought you a gift. Figure you need something to do in a place like this. My mom always did."

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Character Portrait: Vernon DuPuis

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Vernon nodded, expecting the rage to come pouring out of the teen, remembering a time when it was feminine curves and a deep voice that had raged and hollered and thrown the toys back in his face. Time and time again, he had left in tears. Time and time again, he had returned with more.

His voice was calm and slow, a performance perfected through years of the same song and dance. "You're unreliable," he said, simply. "You couldn't tell me where Price was last time, and the only lead I have from you is that Price wants to get back at you. You're right; he can't get you in here, so you're about as safe as I can make you. But I have no tape recorder, Mr. Harpert."

He spread his hands, his jacket falling open, revealing a collared shirt and a vest. "I'm not pulling a trick on you, and if I were, I could do a damn sight better than wandering into a ward to interrogate an OD recovery. One who's clothes don't look like they fit," he added, raising a brow at the shirt on Casper's back.

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Character Portrait: Vernon DuPuis

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Vernon lifted a brow, easily. "I think you're remembering that conversation quite differently than I do. I seem to recall that you didn't want my help, had some sort of chip on your shoulder about a cop coming to sniff around. You don't get to accuse me of leaving you 'alone' when you show the guy who's come to ask you questions nothing but the bottom of your boot."

He folded his arms again, leaning against the doorway. "You've got a shitty attitude, kid. And one day you're going to wake up and realize that the world isn't out to get you, and that this tough-as-nails snarker routine won't get you anywhere but on people's nerves. Don't use the puzzle; fact is, I brought it. Fact is, I had a brother your size, and I'm going to bring his old clothes, too - you don't have to wear them, either. But recognize this for what it is - an olive branch."

The cop swiped a thumb over his nose, inhaled through it, and crossed his ankles, awaiting the response.

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Character Portrait: Vernon DuPuis

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"Bribe you for what, exactly?" Vernon said, undeterred. "What could you possibly have that I want right now, Mr. Harpert? You're at the bottom of the barrel, sitting here after an overdose, your life circling a drain while you still tote around a ridiculous stubborn streak and a penchant for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time."

He shook his head. "Threaten you? I told you a fact. I told you that you wanted my help, because I could put the bracelets on Price. That's truth, Mr. Harpert. I asked Gabby questions, and she answered them; there was no altercation, and somehow she managed it without blowing up in my face about it."

He lifted himself from the door, then. "You've got some growing up to do. And if this doesn't make you wake the fuck up and smell the roses, then I'll bring those puzzles by your headstone."

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Character Portrait: Vernon DuPuis

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The cop watched the boy's face for a long, slow moment, his eyes darting around each and every striking feature. There was something compelling about the young man that he couldn't quite put his finger on, but it certainly made his spine stiffen and his interest pique. With a finger, he reached to touch the panel surrounding the room's light, itching to flick it off. Then on. Then off. Thirty-three had been his number in grade school, thirteen his number in the academy. He'd gotten it down to three.

"You're going to need that fire to get through the mind numb, and you might find yourself turning to those puzzles before long. If you think being in here's bad, the worst is to come. Don't make it a revolving door, kid."

He opened the door to Casper's room, moving to walk out.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Casey Delancy Character Portrait: Vernon DuPuis

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She was dressed the way anyone might expect the Wing City Police Chief to be dressed: pressed slacks and dress shoes, her blouse tucked into the hem with her gun belt slung on her hip. She had her arms lightly crossed her her chest, a contemplative look on her face as she gazed out across the gardens, watching as afternoon sunlight began to give way to twilight hours.

She glanced at her watch, the speeches whirring through her head as she looked at the clock face. He wouldn't be late. He wasn't the type of man to be late.

And she was going to make sure he remembered every minute of this conversation.

It wasn't every day that the chief of police - especially one of a hell-hole like Wing City - asked you for a personal visit. Because he hadn't dropped by the station in a good while due to a long overdue vacation, he figured it was more of the usual station bullshit. Hello, how are you, are you still doing police work for us, what cases are you working on, et cetera. After this long affiliated with a city's police department, it wasn't really all that unusual for the chief to raise an eyebrow at some of his tactics.

But to his knowledge, he'd been fairly on the level.

With a sigh, he pulled up to the curb of the meeting point, reaching over to his glove compartment to ensure everything was still intact. Papers, file folders - two on Casper that he'd gotten from some old files - a big picture of Price, and his pills nestled on top of the whole wad. He unscrewed the top, swallowed two of the white little pills dry, and stepped from the vehicle.

His dress was the usual; T-shirt, dress shirt unbuttoned, sweater unzipped, leather jacket over the whole mess. He liked layers; made him feel safer, made his skin crawl less. The pills shook around in his head, making him lucid and the world slower, easier, as he approached, a hand out toward her in a friendly wave.

"Nice to see you, chief," Vernon said, sliding both hands into his pockets to resist patting for his wallet and badge. "To what do I owe this meeting?"

She glanced his way, her smile frigid and her eyes totally unyielding. "Let me preface by saying that whatever's said here stays here. It's off the clock. Just a casual conversation."

She swallowed the anger she felt under years of disciplined acting, recognizing that DuPuis had been doing precisely what he'd been doing for years, that he was set in his ways, that what she had to say probably wasn't going to affect a single damned thing he did in the future. It didn't matter. He needed to know that the way he'd dealt with Casper was certainly not okay, and not just on a professional level, but a personal one.

She stifled the maternal flare, and turned to face him more fully.

"How goes the Price case?" she asked, tilting her head to one side. "I know you've visited Casper Harper a couple times, once most recently while he was in the Psych ward."

Her eyes narrowed.

If Vernon saw or felt the signs she was throwing off - the very obvious signs - he didn't show it. He leaned against a marble pillar, crossing his ankles, and watched her for a moment. This certainly didn't seem to be headed in a good direction.

"The Price case is going as well as to be expected. I've spoken to Mr. Harpert on two seperate occasions, and have been pulling discreet surveilance for weeks as a safety precaution, as it was my associate's concern that Price was a dangerous individual. Mr. Harpert hasn't been threatened while I was on watch - but I couldn't be on watch all the time."

He looked down at the grass, silent for a moment, gathering his thoughts. "I've seen him again on a personal level - I guess I was driven there to sort of make up for not being there to help him when he OD'd. It didn't go as expected, unfortunately. I know what the kid's going through."

He winced, rubbing the back of his neck, feeling a weird prickle along the base of it. "My mom went through the same thing. In and out of rehab. It's all in the file. Anyway, Price is a ghost at the moment. I'm starting to send out feelers for that Batman villain of a girlfriend he has, but so far the trail's not being very yielding."

"Price showed up at our home two nights ago." Casey told him. "Threatened Gabriella and myself before making off into the night. I went in to talk to Mr. Harpert shortly thereafter, to see if anyone had come along to visit him who he wasn't expecting. I found out something interesting."

Her brow narrowed. "Casper was relaying the conversations you two have had in the past, and while I understand that he can be a bit difficult to communicate with at times, is it true that you threatened him?"

Both eyebrows raised at that, and Vernon stiffened into a standing position, watching her carefully.

"Absolutely untrue," he said, simply. "He decided that I was untrustworthy and beneath his time, so I told him that he wanted to talk to me, since I was one of the few people who could put the cuffs on Price. He inferred this as a threat, which I didn't correct."

"I seem to recall a few choice phrases." she told him. "Bottom of the barrel mean anything to you? How about the implications that somehow, because Casper's had a history of drug use, he's somehow inferior?" She took a step closer.

"And what of Gabriella? Do you recall the conversation you had with her, Detective? You must think highly of yourself if you continue to look down your nose at kids who have fallen on hard times."

She removed her gunbelt, unclipped her badge from her blouse and set them both aside.

"This isn't officer to officer, DuPois, this is a woman insisting that you quit using tactics of degredation and fear to get the answers and the cooperation that you want."

The other cop's face was impassive, as he patiently waited for the woman to finish. When she did, he spoke.

"He's breaking the law. That little thing that both you and I swore to uphold when we went through training. So yes, I do believe that he's inferior. As to Gabriella, I find 'hard times' a relative term. Both of these individuals used illegal substances for a high. That's the fact. You know this, too, but because you're close to both of the examples, you're now up in arms. The fact that you're standing here, accusing me of things I did based upon the testimony of known abusers speaks my case for me."

He shook his head. "I don't pretend to be a servant of the law when it's convenient for me, Chief. That's the difference between me and you. If you want to be a bleeding heart case for these kids, go at it. But you won't judge me on my stances, or my methods, anymore than I judge you for letting your personal feelings get in the way of duty."

"There is nothing inferior about weakness. It is in the nature of humanity. Just as your obsessive compulsion to check for your keys and wallet repetatively drives you, other things can drive other people. I've been a cop for a long time, DuPuis, and never have I had to resort to those practices in order to get the answers I needed. What's interesting is that people tend to respond better to those who treat them like people and not like a case file."

Vernon smiled, simply. "If you believe that, chief, you're in the wrong line of work. Our job isn't to wax poetic about if it was right to do something or just to do another. Our job is to find people who commit crimes. Our job is to arrest them so that they can't do any more."

He cleared his throat. "If my checking for my wallet and my keys was shooting heroin, I'd be just as expectant to go to jail as I expect they will be.

"And as for your preferred method," he continued, "what works for you, works for you. You don't know me personally any more than I know you, and you're judging my character on three biased accounts. Who's treating who like a person, Chief?"

"You heard what I said," she replied, her tone cool. "You won't treat Casper that way again. Understand?"

Vernon smiled again. "Oh, I understand, Chief. I'll make you a deal. The very second that Mr. Harpert shows an inch of respect towards me without snarling like a rattlesnake, I'll show him the same. But he started the precedent - both times - of the conversation. So it's not me you need to speak to about my treatment of him."

"If you're really going to demand respect from a child, then I will certainly do my best to culture him to respect his elders. But what a fine example you set in the meantime."

She sighed, tilting her head to one side. "Thanks for coming out. The talk was great."

Vernon laughed, deep and low as he turned to walk away. As his hand patted against his wallet pocket, he turned towards her, the smile still on his lips.

"There's a reason I'm not a kindergarten teacher, Chief."

He stopped then, turning and walking backwards from her, his countenance suddenly serious. "And you shouldn't call Mr. Harpert a child. A kid like that grows up fast."

"A kid like that needs to be offered an opportunity to be a child again, if they want." she replied, more to herself, and as she watched him walk away, she thought on the offer she'd made to Casper the other day. Sometimes the right answer was to give them the chance to start over.

The setting changes from wing-city-gardens to Sol Avenue

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Character Portrait: Vernon DuPuis

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Sometimes life threw you a bone, it seemed - especially when the man you'd been tailing for a good chunk of the season appeared in your rear-view mirror when you took a turn past Sol, your back seat laden with plastic grocery bags and a single styrofoam container of Tikka Chaplee from that afghanistani place across the road that you can never pronounce the name of.

Detective Vernon DuPuis let his feet and hands steer the yellow convertible further up the road, allowing Price to melt a little further into the distance as his heart rate began to climb, his fingers and hands getting sweaty. He had no time to prepare, no time to go through his slow rituals and breathing excersizes. All he could do now was react. All he could do was try to get the mark.

This is where mistakes were made, he told himself sternly, parallel parking into a spot between an unmarked van and a motorcycle, three blocks away from where Price stood. When the hunt wasn't prepared for, when the crooks caught you by surprise, it was where you slipped up. So don't slip up.

The last time Price had seen him, he'd been in uniform, in a patrol car, and had a clean shaven face and a hard attitude. Now, he sported a short beard, his hair was longer, and he was dressed as casual as the detective could be. Flipping the hood up on his sweater, attaching sunglasses over his eyes, and checking, double checking, triple checking the safety on his sidearm, he stepped from the car - narrowly avoiding a moving van that hurtled past his park job.

With measured, quick steps, the cat closed on the mouse, his hands in his pockets, fingers twitching, palms sweating, as he watched Price relax against the fence.

He had to play this right.

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The voice was met with a quick grin and a slowed pace as Vernon reached to adjust the sunglasses. "Oh! Mistake, friend, mistake," he said, keeping his voice high and chipper. "Was 'spectin' you tah be someone else I knew. Don' worry ab- waaaait a ticket."

Vernon leaned closer, stepping around Price, his hands loose at his sides, wrist brushing against the side of his gunbelt, making him hyper aware of how vulnerable he was making himself.

"Thinkin' I recognized ya from the..." A pause, look around you, Vernon. Thaaat's it. "y'know. The back streets? You were - that is to say, you had some..."

Vernon made himself perk up, stepping a little closer. "Hey, you got any on you, man? I could use some - jonesin', you know? You got somethin' I could snag for fifty-five?"

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Character Portrait: Vernon DuPuis

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The gun was out, and immediately, Vernon's hands were in places that were automatic to him; one hand held in front of the gun barrel, the second hand held away from his chest, between his heart and the potential gunshot. He made his eyebrows lift in panic and surprise - easy enough, since both emotions were already swimming through him - as he took an instinctive step back.

"'Course I'm carryin' heat," he snapped, voice high, tinny. "The hell do you think I do, comin' up on a potential deal? Shit, no need to lose your shit, man. Just wanted some fuckin' rock."

The gun burned on his hip, but the eyes behind the glasses forced himself to remain cool, bide his time. He didn't have a badge on him, and he was carrying his civvie wallet.

Just needed to bide his time.

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Character Portrait: Vernon DuPuis

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Vernon moved fast.

As the barrel pushed into his hand he shoved it upwards, twisting his body as he did so. Stepping around to Price's side, he snapped his free hand forwards in a rabbit punch, aimed directly at the man's throat, not as powerful as he'd have liked to have done, but hopefully enough to have Price off balance, pliable.

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Character Portrait: Vernon DuPuis

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The second the man hit ground, Vernon stepped backwards, his own hand whipping out his pistol and pointing it at the prone form, stance wide, both hands leveled on the gun. His hood had flown off, revealing the shaggy main of hair that framed the sunglasses, the pistol never wavering as it centered on Price's chest.

"Difference between you and me, Price?" He said, softly, "I won't get time for shooting you. Toss the gun away."

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Character Portrait: Vernon DuPuis

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As the report of the criminal's shot erupted into the city, Vernon fired back, squeezing off two rounds as the bullet tore through the cartiledge and bone of his right ear. His own two shots were aimed towards Price's abdomen - though both were shaky due to movement and being hit - as the cop shrunk backwards instinctively, putting distance between them. His hip slammed into a free newspaper stand, and he took it for the cover it was worth as bullets sunk into the car behind him and the paper stand in front of him.

Sliding around the stand on his side, his jeans torn by pavement and blood staining the ground, he uttered a curse word as he tried to line up another shot at the man, managing to squeeze off one more respectable shot from his new position.

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Character Portrait: Vernon DuPuis

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The shot pinged across the top of the newspaper box, forcing Vernon to sprawl forwards on the pavement, his head up and squinting at the license plate of the car as Price sped away. Climbing to his feet, Vernon squinted, bit his lip, and fired a single, final round of the battle, aiming for the back left tire...

The shot went wide, slamming into asphalt as the car sped away.

Vernon was up and running, dialing three digits on his cell phone as he rushed back to his car, his head throbbing, ear ringing and releasing a painful high pitched sound as he ran.

"This is DuPuis, Vernon. Suspect heading down Sol Avenue, license number Five, Queen, Omaha Charlie Six Six Kilo. Shots fired, officer wounded. Pursuing now."

He knew, as he hung up, that it would take too long to get his own car out and chasing him down. He knew, too, that the plates he'd run would turn up nothing but dust - Price would either ditch the car or it wasn't his to begin with.

And he knew, even with WCPD's response time, the perp was long gone.

As the adrenaline faded and Vernon got back into his car, peeling out of the space to put up a token pursuit, he realized the worst had come to pass.

He had Price within arms reach, so close he could've hugged him, and the fucker had still gotten away.

As Vernon tossed his now-safetied pistol onto the passenger's seat, he began to pat his front pockets, rhythmically, in time, to keep the frustrated tears, the anger, the self pity at bay.

Keys. Change. Keys. Change. Keys. Change.

Keys.

The setting changes from sol-avenue to Wing City

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Character Portrait: Vernon DuPuis

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The apartment building looked nice enough from the outside. Greek influenced architecture, tall archways, glossy white stone. It was certainly the last thing you'd expect someone like Vernon DuPuis to live in; giving off the stench of the trendy, throwback vibe that teenagers loved these days.

On the third floor, second door from the left of the elevators and with the only working fire escape (both things insisted upon by the tenant) there was a door that didn't fit into the decor. While the rest of the doors were homey, brown and cozy to fit into the soft lighting, this door was black, reinforced with steel and held no less then six locks of various shapes and sizes. People on the third floor jokingly called this the 'paranoia door', though they were careful not to say it too loud when passing, and especially careful not to say it around the tenant.

Vernon heard them anyway, and he also didn't care. Long ago, he'd accepted the fact that his need for privacy and security extended far beyond what was considered normal. He also knew that with the right medication, diet, excercise and counselling, he could improve his life.

The fact was, he didn't want to.

Beyond that door was a space that was meticulously tidied, with the small exception of a small space around a cork board, hanging in the hallway, that was run bare with boot marks. Inside the small space, sitting rigid in a wooden chair, sat the detective, staring into the wall where a television was supposed to go, his eyes glazed, glass of water in his hand untouched, ear covered in gauze and still copper with blood.

The knocking shook him out of the place his mind had traveled, gave him something to do with his body, his hands, his feet. He placed the glass of water next to five others on his kitchen counter, and unlocked the door with six decisive twists.

Opening it a crack, he raised an eyebrow in surprise, then smiled.

"Chief. What can I do for you?"

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Character Portrait: Vernon DuPuis

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Vernon nodded, though his eyebrows drew together in confusion. He opened the door wider, revealing his outfit - dress shirt, jeans, and a silver cross on a chain around his neck - and the clean, dark space around him. Wordlessly, he flipped three switches on, his hand trembling with the urge to flick them off. And on. And off. And on.

He resisted, tamping it down, winning another battle in the constant war he waged.

"Come on in, Chief. Apologies - though I can't begin to guess what for - are best done in the privacy of one's home."

He stepped aside for her, still clutching the doorknob.

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Character Portrait: Vernon DuPuis

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He smiled - a genuine, blooming smile, one that didn't grace his face often as he closed the door behind her, leaving it unlocked. Stepping away from it and past her, he glanced towards the cork board - covered up by a white sheet - for exactly five seconds before turning back to face her.

"That, Chief, was precisely what you should've apologized for. I was worried that you'd apologize for thinking with emotions and heat, which would've been a shame."

He gestured towards the sunflower with a wave of his hand. "May I take this from your hands? My place could use the colour."

He hated colour. Hated it in his space, but the last thing he could afford to do was snap off this olive branch she offered.

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Character Portrait: Vernon DuPuis

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Vernon took the flower and plopped it into one of the five glasses of water, making a show of tilting it so that it leaned away from the floor, so that it wouldn't fall over or he wouldn't knock it over or god, how he wanted it out of his home.

"Isn't really much to tell," he murmured, lifting one of the glasses and not moving to drink it. "I was on my way here with groceries and takeout - General Tao's Chicken, highly recommended - when I saw Price leaning against a wrought iron fence."

He finally took a drink, paused, took a second, paused, took a third. Quick, animal, bird-like movements that made him feel embarassed, helpless. He could never stop the urge when drinking. It's why he didn't like to do it.

"I pulled over without calling for backup - my first mistake - because I figured I could get some information out of him solo. Most of the cops in my organization do the same; try and pump them. I approached as one of my undercover characters."

Drink, pause, drink, pause, drink.

"Price is more cautious than I gave him credit for," he muttered, with a wry grin, his fingers trailing to his earlobe.

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Character Portrait: Vernon DuPuis

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Drink, pause, drink, pause, drink, and the glass was finished. He set it aside next to its four full brethren, his hands curling into the lip of his counter as he watched the Wing City Police Chief wander around his space. This space hadn't seen anyone but him in a long time, and it made his gut clench slightly to see her filling it so easily, wandering and taking it in.

He felt unsettled.

"That's an excellent thing," he said, relaxing his grip. "For both of you. Anyone who can lift him up in these passing hours is needed."

He spoke of someone who was matter-of-fact, practical, and wondered if she'd know that the words weren't kind, or fluff. They were simply the way he viewed the situation, and were derived from past experiences.

"Not an easy road you choose, Chief. But it could very well be the best choice."