Val was almost three blocks away before he surrendered to the urge to check out his score. He ducked into a nearby alley and leaned against a mostly clean wall, and pulled out the wallet. It was nice, smooth and clean, and it certainly felt expensive. 'Hello, rent money!' he thought as he lightly stroked the leather. His fingers picked through the inner pockets and found...nothing. No cash, no credit cards, nothing but a driver's license and a few pictures of the old guy with (Valentine presumed) his grandkids. He slammed his fist into the bricks in frustration, and shoved himself off the wall. Honestly, who the hell didn't carry at least a few bucks in New York?! It was just downright inconsiderate!
Val gave himself a few moments to cool down, and shoved the wallet back in his jacket. A few moments more saw his decision to return to the park; the urge for the night not to be completely wasted was simply too strong to ignore. Perhaps he could make another lift if the crowd was still healthy, or maybe he could get something on the disturbance for tomorrow's print. Either way, Val refused to return home empty-handed tonight.
He left the alley and broke into a light jog as he made his way back to the park. The crowd was indeed starting to disperse, but the police presence was still going strong. 'Lifting's out. Investigation it is, then.' He circled around the area, avoiding the outer ring of cops that had almost certainly noticed him leaving earlier; it wouldn't do for them to start getting curious about a guy coming and going from a crime scene. He eased through the blockades and dug his press pass out of his back pocket, pinning it on his jacket as he moved.
He probably should have left the pass in his pocket; it only served to draw attention to him faster. Mere seconds after he'd pinned it in place, a cop stopped him and started hassling him.
"Hey, pal, where do you think you're goin'? This's a crime scene, you can't just go trompin' around in there!" Val smiled a little to himself and fell into full reporter mode. He whipped out a small notepad and withdrew an uncapped pen from its bent spiral. "Really, officer? A crime scene? So, would you care to comment on what, exactly, happened here? There have been a lot of reports about a quote-unquote 'large, ferocious creature'; some are even calling it a dragon, I understand. Surely the NYPD isn't going to allow rumors like that to circulate unabated? Would you like to set the record straight?" The cop blanched at the onslaught of questions and shoved Val out of the way; like most cops, the poor fellow was obviously deathly allergic to journalists. "Ah, no comment!" The cop shouted as he turned away and stormed off. Valentine couldn't resist teasing him a little, and called out as he walked away. "Thanks a lot, officer, your assistance is greatly appreciated!"
Val tapped the pen against the pad and took a quick look around. He was virtually surrounded by cops and emergency responders, but none were paying him the slightest bit of attention. He inhaled, slow and deep, and willed himself to morph. Not much, barely even enough to notice.
But enough to give him some insight on the night's events.
His eyes released a soft, golden glow, and he bowed his head to prevent anyone catching sight of the light. His senses sharpened, and instantly he could hear the details of every ongoing conversation for almost two blocks. He licked his lips and tasted the city, heat and flesh and steel and gasoline, asphault and chewing gum and birdshit and fresh-cut grass and rubber. The world's presence telescoped above and around him, and filled him with information. His nose detected definite reptilian odors emanating from the park...and somewhere else.
He traced the thread of the scent from the park, just inside a small grove of elm, to a thicket of bushes nearby where it...changed, somehow. It became less swampy, less earthy, and a new smell intermingled with it. The new smell was almost...human. He turned in circles, careful not to bump into any of the passing officers, and followed the mixed scent. His nose led him to a nearby ambulance. No...it led him to one of the women outside the ambulance, talking to another cop.
Valentine shuffled out of the crowd and walked over, suppressing his abilities once again. The world returned to normal (well, as normal as it ever got), and he stopped a few feet away from the women, pretending to take notice of something else. He felt pretty confident he wouldn't be able to get near either of them while the cop was around, but he could wait. Patience was a virtue, and almost the only one he possessed.
As he loitered just outside everyone's sphere of attention, he couldn't help noticing that both women were striking. Hell, they were two of the most beautiful women he'd ever seen. It took nearly all of his discipline not to turn and stare at them openly, but he managed--barely--to uphold his 'casual observer' facade. He slipped further around the ambulance, out of sight as the cop began wrapping things up.
"...come downtown to the station." The cop turned and called to the others working the perimeter, "You can let them through once she's dressed!"
Valentine felt his inner newshound squeal with delight. '"once she's dressed"? What was she doing naked in Central Park to start with? Oh, this might net me a by-line after all!'