Newt truly didn’t know how he managed to get himself into these situations.
Well, that’s not quite true. He knew, technically, how he’d come to be sat in a chair in a grimy warehouse, wrists bound, longing for the comfort of his creatures and a decent cup of tea.
He had been in America not a day and a half when he caught wind of an unfortunately successful smuggling operation involving occamys. He did what he usually found worked best in such situations—he played the role of a wealthy, bumbling, british collector, and quite well he’d like to think. He’d convinced the smugglers that he had found them by stumbling through the proper black market back-channels (not entirely a lie), and arranged for the purchase of one of three occamy eggs, actually intending to steal away all of them when the proper moment arose.
It had been a solid plan, a decent, wholesome one, given that he’d had so little time to really think on it. The occamys had looked ready to hatch in a few days—Newt knew he had only a small window to save them. This had led him to be slightly more hasty in his attempt, not noticing that he’d left one of the smugglers unaccounted for.
Needless to say, he was now thoroughly irritated with himself, snatching anxious glances at the eggs that he had almost successfully stashed away in his pocket. The smuggler who had caught him in the act shifted slightly on his feet and blocked Newt’s view of them, so he was instead greeted by the sight of a grungy black cloak, lank dark hair, and a cruel smirk.
He eyed the man warily. There was a coldness in his gaze that worried him. It was at moments like this that Newt wondered why people feared magical creatures so. No creature of his could ever display such calculated malice. The man’s wand raised slightly, leveled mere inches from the bridge of Newt’s nose. He was close enough that Newt could smell his breath, and he fought the urge to turn his head away, to move at all.
He felt that taking his eyes off the man, even for a moment, would be very ill advised.
Discreetly, he pulled at the ropes around his wrists. He had been working them for a few minutes, and he believed them to be loosening. Still, his arms were already aching and the oppressive chill in the air didn’t help. It was likely past midnight by now, Newt considered gloomily. This really wasn’t how he’d wanted to spend the evening.
Once again, he found himself with a limited window of opportunity. Only he and the man in front of him remained in the storeroom, but the other three men he had met with were in the adjacent room. He had thought they all were in the other room, but live and learn, and all that. Hopefully.
As much as he liked his odds against one man instead of four, he thought he knew why the man hadn’t alerted the others to Newt’s attempted theft. The man had been leering at Newt the whole evening, his smirk widening whenever Newt had accidentally caught his eye.
Newt pressed farther back in the chair almost unconsciously, and the man tilted his head, gaze sharp. “You are a pretty little thing, aren’t you?” he murmured, more of his hot breath ghosting over Newt’s face. The man crouched down to eye level and trailed a hand over Newt’s leg.
No, he couldn't say this had gone well at all.
Desperately, he pulled at the rope one last time, bemoaning the fact that he wasn’t dealing with manacles instead—Pickett might’ve helped out then, but the bowtruckle was busy cowering in Newt’s pocket, and really, he couldn’t blame him. He maintained an agonizing few moments of eye contact, attempting to keep the man’s focus elsewhere while he twisted his wrists violently, and just managed to hold back a shaky sigh of relief as he felt enough give to slip out of the binds.
However, the man’s wand was still aimed at Newt’s face, and his other hand almost painfully clamped on his thigh. He fought a shudder at the contact and tried to keep his mind free of the panic that threatened to overwhelm him. He just needed some kind of distraction, something to draw away the man’s attention for just a moment—
From the other room came the sound of muffled shouting, and the man immediately released his grip and turned his wand on the source of the noise. The smuggler had the presence of mind to mutter, “wuh?” and then a spell hit him square in the chest, sending him flying into a large shipping crate. Newt turned his head away from the explosion of wood and dust, and looking back, eyes wide, thought that of any divine intervention he could’ve received, this had to be the best it got.
Shooting up to his feet, he murmured a quick accio for his wand and leapt over the debris, heading for the occamy eggs. He shoved them into the pocket of his coat once more and thought, finally, when—
One of the eggs rattled tellingly, and Newt froze. It simply wouldn’t do to have them hatch in this place. Merlin forbid one might accidentally imprint on one of these men, who would exploit them and do them harm. No, Newt had to get to his case.
Practically as he finished the thought he heard a cracking sound, and he let out a huff of exasperation. It was, unfortunately, quite dangerous to apparate with creatures like occamys while they were in the process of hatching. “Alright, alright,” he murmured, drawing the offending egg from his pocket, “I suppose when you’re ready, you’re ready.”
He had found that speaking helped to draw occamys from their shells, so he continued to whisper encouragements. He glanced around, hyper aware that any moment that the smugglers, or the person who’d bested them, could emerge at any moment. He could still hear muffled curses from the other room, so he hoped he had some time. The tip of a beak tentatively poked through the shell, and Newt smiled, briefly forgetting urgency for the wonder he always felt in these moments. “Hello, little one,” he said, beaming as he received a gentle squawk in answer.
He met the young occamy’s eyes and she doubled her efforts to break through the shell. After a few minutes, she had managed to escape her confines entirely. “Well done, you,” Newt said softly, and as the occamy wound herself around his wrist, the last chunk of the egg hit the floor.
At the same time that Newt winced at the echoing thunk the silver shell made, a voice, level and calm, commanded, “stop right there, and drop your wand.”
Newt glanced up to see a man with dark, intelligent eyes, slicked back hair, and a handsome face. This man must have been the newcomer who’d incapacitated the smuggler. Newt spared a second to think huh, because he looked so very familiar.
Then, he felt another egg rattle warningly, and before the egg could crack he was gone.
He saw the wizard lunge with his wand, trying to pull him back, but Newt didn’t worry. For all that there were many who had more power than him, none had ever matched him for speed.
He did wonder, fleetingly, what would have happened if he’d stuck around, though.
It was mid afternoon the next day by the time Newt had finished helping the occamys through their hatching, and had integrated them with the others. He went about his rounds giving a hearty greeting to each of his creatures in turn, gifting an extra helping of food due to his absence the night before.
Pickett was still steadfastly ignoring him (though Newt could hear him grumbling in his pocket), and he couldn’t really blame him. Last night had almost been disastrous, and if that wizard hadn’t come along... Well. Newt would’ve liked to think he could’ve handled things, but one really shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
He emerged from his case and into the dingy flat he’d rented out for the week. Newt glanced around at the grimy walls, frowned, and absentmindedly conjured a spell to clean the place up a bit. As exhausted as he was, he had no real desire to stay cooped up there for the entirety of his stay. There was a whole city he had never been to before and had yet to explore, and it was waiting for him beyond the walls.
He only hesitated when he glanced down at his case, wondering if it would be more dangerous to leave it there, or bring it with him. In the end, he decided to leave it, though he cast a disillusionment charm on the door on his way out.
Newt hadn’t really taken the time to look on his first run about the city—he’d been too concerned with the broken latch that’d almost given him away and the need to find a safe place for his case. Now, though, he finally had the time to take it all in. He’d been in cities before, though not very often. One didn’t tend to find many magical creatures in such populated areas.
Newt gazed at the towering buildings and the endless bustle of automobiles and moving bodies with wonder. He had been to marketplaces in Cairo, had ventured cobblestone streets of Europe more times than he could count, but everything in New York was on such a grander scale, it was absolutely breathtaking. There was so much sound and life in this place. It was very different from the plains and jungles he usually found himself—in those places there was life if you observed closely, if you knew where to look. Here, people unabashedly existed in enigmatic chaos. Newt found it quite beautiful.
He bought a newspaper on a whim, curious to see how the muggle world of New York was getting on. Newt had quite a bit of muggle currency to spare, as he often met more muggles than wizards on his travels. He flipped through the pages slowly, sparing a glance at the pictures in confusion before remembering, ah yes, they wouldn’t move of their own accord.
Newt stumbled upon a bench near Central Park and read, content in the fact that, for the rest of the day, he had nothing pressing to get done. Who knew when he would next find himself in New York? He might as well make the most of his stop here before he headed to Arizona. He became surprisingly saddened to hear of the passing of Harry Houdini, the article being not quite front page news, but still a key feature. He had heard of the man in passing and thought it a bit melancholic that the magician gave muggles their own taste of a little magic, only to die quite young. Despite this, it was refreshing to read a newspaper that wasn’t littered with troubling news of dark wizards and fanatic followers. In fact, the muggle world seemed to be doing quite well by comparison.
After a time, Newt’s stomach growled loudly, startling some pigeons that had settled nearby. It had been a while since he’d eaten, even by his standards. He wracked his brain, trying to remember if Theseus had ever recommend any places to eat in New York. His brother often found himself here to delegate with MACUSA, so Newt was sure he must have told him something of the like. The only place he could remember, however, was an establishment Theseus had mentioned offhand with “decent whiskey and entertaining people.” It didn’t quite sound like Newt’s cup of tea, but it was all he could think of, and he rather thought asking one of the grouchy looking New Yorkers passing by was beyond him at the moment. He tended to mumble with strangers and he’d found it got on people’s nerves.
Shrugging, he began to make his way with a vague, general knowledge of what he was looking for. With a bit of helpful magic, he was able to find the poster he was Theseus had described in a rather damp looking back alley. It read “Beguiling. Enchanting. Alluring.”
Newt stared at it for a moment, bit his lip, and when his stomach growled again, he rapped his knuckles on the wall. A pair of eyes revealed themselves, and Newt smiled nervously before glancing away. “Hello. Um... might I come in?”
The eyes narrowed with the sound of a scoff. The hidden doorway opened slowly, the sound of music nearly masking a muttered, “ain’t no way he’s an auror.”
Newt stepped inside and murmured his thanks to the man behind the door, who growled at him in response. He made his way over to the bar and smiled at the house elf he’d found there. “Hello,” he said cheerfully.
The house elf looked at him suspiciously. “Ain’t I seen you from somewheres?”
“Um... no, I don’t think we’ve met, unfortunately,” Newt said, taking a seat at a barstool.
The elf squinted at him, but seemed to agree, saying, “what’ll it be?”
“I-I don’t suppose you have anything to eat?”
With a raised eyebrow, the elf snapped his fingers, conjuring peanuts and small pastries. “Thank you...um, I’m terribly sorry I never caught your name,” Newt said apologetically.
The house elf stared at him. “Greg,” he grumbled after a long moment.
“Ah. Well, thank you, Greg. My name’s Newt,” he replied as he offered a few sickles in payment, which prompted an even more grumpily perplexed look before the elf accepted the coins and turned away to take the orders of other patrons. “You don’t happen to have any tea, do you?” he asked after a moment, only a bit hopeful, but judging by the snort in reply it was a pointless request.
Taking in the room, Newt ate his fill, quietly content to listen to the music. The house elf entertaining truly had a wonderful voice. His gaze wandered and he took in the many wanted posters on the walls. He thought it a bit ironic that so many decorated the walls when, clearly, the patrons of the establishment weren’t exactly of a law abiding sort. It was a speakeasy after all.
His eye was caught by one of the few posters that did not have a picture, but rather an auror’s sketch. He couldn’t really see the figure depicted—a large fellow sat in front of it, but he caught sight of the reward money: fifty galleons. Not quite a big fish, yet Newt was still intrigued by it. He leaned over to see more, caught sight of the edge of a blue coat, and thought, huh.
Then, a small scuffle broke out across the room, and Pickett broke his silence to give him a piece of his mind in the form of an irritated grumble and a series of chittering. Newt shoved the rest of the small pastry in his mouth and made his way around the commotion thinking that perhaps the people here were a tad too entertaining for his liking.
There was still some light out, so instead of apparating back to his small flat he decided to stroll there. Now that the rush of the workday had passed, people seemed less harried and more content. There were many people flooding in and out of small theaters he walked by, and he thought it might be interesting to see one of these pictures he’d heard so much about. But he’d left his case for as long as he felt comfortable, and thought, perhaps the next day.
He had nearly reached the small neighborhood of brick buildings that signaled his flat when he heard shouts coming from the next block over. Newt frowned and picked up the pace, passing his flat and coming across the sight of a large, black mass like a small hurricane bursting through one of the buildings. The sight of it, however brief, was enough to send Newt’s heart plummeting into his stomach. The explosion of debris was so violent that Newt had to duck behind the corner he had rounded, eyes widening when a stray brick shattered against the fire escape above him.
Heart hammering, he approached the wreckage cautiously. There was a thick cloud of dust in the air, making it hard to breathe. Some muggles were gawking from a healthy distance, as he was, but most were running, no doubt fearing further disturbances. There was no sign of what had caused the damage, but Newt knew what he’d seen. The obscurus had looked much the same as the one in Sudan.
Newt swallowed hard and shook himself. He had no idea where he could even begin to look for the source. Sudan was one thing. New York was another. He supposed MACUSA was the only place he knew of with enough resources for a search. This needed to be addressed immediately—the longer an obscurus poisoned the host, the more violent it became.
Newt knew who he needed to find. Theseus had said if he was ever in America and found himself in trouble, he should contact the director of magical security. Newt had never met him, but if Theseus trusted the man, that was good enough for him. It would have to be.
He wouldn’t let New York become another Sudan.