Date: April 26th, 2010
A visitor sheds light on Maggie's past; Laurie is literally caught in the middle.
"A, S, T, O, N, I, S, H"
The downtown precinct goes about its day. For some of the men and women on the force, it's an average day. For others, it's a little unordinary.
Detective Powers, for example, is nowhere in sight.
Otherwise, it's business as usual … mostly. Nothing seems inordinately out of place. At a far end of the police bullpen, beside the coffee maker and in front of the door marked Head Det. Fuller, two men stand speaking, an interface typical of a meeting coming to an end. One man is Detective Fuller himself. He has the expression of a sleep-deprived bulldog, but his words seem legitimately sincere. "We'll keep you in mind, Detective," he rumbles. "City like this … we need all the manpower we can get. Especially with those cutbacks; you know."
"Fair enough," Sam nods as he glances about the room. It may be ordinary for Fuller, but Sam doesn't work here; not yet, anyways. Unlike the man he's talking to, Sam has a perpetual smirk complete with a face full of a whiskery five o'clock shadow. He leans back against the doorway.
"I believe I could be an asset to your force, sir. I have a nose for it and a sixth sense when it comes to character."
"Well, I don't believe in any other sense than the standard five," the older detective warns the visitor to the station. He sizes up the man under hooded lids. "Hm. We don't get a lotta outsiders. Most of our cops — they're New Yorkers. NYPD's in their blood." Minus a few exceptions. "So Cheyenne, is that right…" Fuller trails off casually, but it's more than a casual observation. "… small town, that's one hell of a coincidence, one of ours is from that same station, if I remember correctly." Sam is eyed skeptically, but all the head detective does is move to shake his hand. "'ll be in touch."
"Really? One of yours is from Cheyenne? — you don't say — who is it? Maybe I know 'em — " Sam's voice is silky smooth — his Southern accent only sneaking in on the occasional word. It's sly really. "Well, I've been considering moving to a larger station; can't say I get much action in Cheyenne these days." A toothy grin spreads across his lips. "Thanks for keeping me in mind, Sir. It's always a pleasure to chat," his handshake is firm, solid, even.
Mid-handshake, the head detective only grunts. "Hm." Cheerful guy, that Detective Fuller. He nods brusquely at Sam and shuffles on his way with a "Make a new pot of coffee, Ortega!" shouted at a passing officer, who abruptly spins mid-step to do just that while Fuller disappears into his office.
No response on the former Cheyenne resident, but then Sam knew all along. Strolling down the bull pen he glances around, inspecting each of the names in turn. Until his eyes fall on a desk belonging to one Maggie Powers. A glance is given to its occupant. "My, my, my, you certainly have changed Mags. The time has definitely not been kind." He manages a half-smirk, almost cruel in its inception.
"Well, maybe if somebody complimented me once in a while, I'd make the effort," Laurie responds breezily, "Next you're going to say I look fat in these jeans." Jeans that are on full display thanks to the way the consultant's legs are propped up along Maggie's desk, conveniently avoiding disturbing anything that's been set there. His eyes never leave the book of crossword puzzles he has in his lap; in fact, as he's speaking, he jots in the last letter of a word and flips the page to a new spread.
Sam whistles, "Well the jeans certainly don't display your girlish figure. May want to stay away from those vending machines." He continues to smirk that same borderline cruel smirk. It's a show, really. Tugging on the bottom of his shirt he glances down at the jeans. AN eyebrow is lifted at the crossword puzzles. And then finally, Sam is back-to-business, "Have you seen Detective Powers?"
Laurie winces, head tilting to the side with the motion as he hisses low for a second. "You know I… keep telling myself that…" Absent pauses are filled in by the pen jumping to each little square with a certainty that looks more like he's using a coloring book. Besides jeans, he's keenly dressed, and the white cuffs of his expensive dress-shirt look almost surreal rubbing against recently cracked knuckles. His nose is nearly back to normal, at least, as he glances briefly up at Sam and then down to the book. "Yesssss. Yes, I have."
Eyes are narrowed at Laurie. Sam is unimpressed at the response. He hmmms. "Can you tell me where she is? I mean right now." He closes his eyes and raises a hand to his forehead. No attention is given to who Laurie is, although Sam has already decided he's hot for Maggie, just like every other man on the planet. He runs a hand through his hair and glances down the bull pen, inspecting it, and glancing through for Maggie.
"Nope. Can't do that." So, really, Laurie doesn't need the attention. They both seem to return to their respective hobbies — crosswords and hoping Maggie will appear out of thin air — until, another page turned, the consultant decides to pipe up again. "I could tell you where she was a while ago, but the likelihood that she is still there is less than the likelihood that I feel like getting up to break you in there."
Sam stifles a chuckle despite the tone and the lack of cooperation. "Break me in?" His eyebrows furrow. "You don't need to break me in anywhere." Shaking his head, another fleeting glance is given down the hallway. "If I wanted to break in somewhere, I would. I'm not that desperate to see her." His lips purse as he considers how much longer he should wait around.
R, U, S, E … huh. Laurie's pen pauses as he cuts off the last line of the E, eyebrows raising slightly, leading into another glance from eyes' corners at Sam there. "Juuuuust enough to hover at her desk hoping she'll show annd not quite enough to go ask anyone else. You're right." He sniffs, rubbing his thumb against his nose and then beginning another answer. "That's not the word I'd use."
The real Detective Powers doesn't appear out of thin air — but she is on her way back to her desk, after emerging from … somewhere. Somewhere that seems to have put a briskness in her step. It's more than one thought that has a furrow etched into her brow, however.
As she makes a purposeful beeline through the station, her hair — somewhat straightened, today — flying, it doesn't take long to determine that Laurie is at her desk. No surprise. A gleaming red apple with a few bites taken out of it being clutched in one hand like a grenade she's prepared to throw is, by far, the brightest thing on Maggie's person. Her no-frills attire is monochromatic. And it would be a beacon, if it weren't for the fact that she approaches her desk head-on — facing Laurie, but looking to Sam's back.
She breezes past Sam, assuming the figure is there for the man borrowing her desk, not her. She instead moves around the corner of her own desk to address Laurie: "Joint counseling?" she half-whispers incredulously. "I — " It's only that second that she tips her head up to look across at the other man. Maggie's eyes round into an immediately dazed stare.
Laurie earns nothing more than a nod, narrowed eyes, and a skeptical frown. And then Maggie shows up. Sam says nothing as she enters her own space. An eyebrow is raised at the apple — and she's issued a very small smile. VERY small. It edges his lips as he crosses his arms over his chest. "Speakin' of the devil." His lips twitch into a broad toothy grin. He glances from Maggie to Laurie and back again while his eyes narrow further. "Hi Mags. Miss me?" it's a coy question as he straightens and lets his arms fall to his side.
By chance, Laurie gets tipped off as to the armed detective coming straight for him by that flicker of red movement; he glances up and, noticing her demeanor, puts an elbow on the chair arm, his cheek in that hand, and waits for his sentencing. Leaning slightly towards her to more suit the half-intimate atmosphere of a half-whisper, he bats his eyes completely unconcerned. "I know. It's like… do you also think we're moving too fast?"
But the transformation from woman of bland gray wrath to saucers for eyes baits the consultant's interest at last. Casting a whole new look over in Sam's direction, he adjusts his elbows and slides his fingers over his mouth as if to muffle his speech. 'As if' because he does nothing to lower his tone. "You should say 'no', he said you look fat in my jeans."
She's caught thoroughly off-guard. Thrown for a total loop. Typically, Maggie is good at rolling with the punches; the visitor seems to have trumped any typical response. She manages to glance down at Laurie in the midst of this, giving him a vague quirk of her eyebrows at— well, everything. When she regards Sam once more, her stare takes a turn from astonishment into a rare form of real hostility, but never quite loses its surprise. "… No, Sam." She made up her mind before Laurie's helpful suggestion. Just for something to do, she sets the apple down on her desk. "Do you care to tell me what you're doing here?"
"I had an interview. Believe it or not, you're not the only one who can leave the small town world for the big city. Or — did you not think I was as good a cop as you are?" Sam glances at the ceiling. "But then — I was always the one with the intuition, wasn't I?" He's smirking now.
Another eyebrow is raised at Laurie. Sam motions towards Laurie, "Where did you pick that one up?" The tone is shockingly neutral. "He's certainly… something." He manages an almost sickly-sweet smile.
Oh, mommy and daddy are fighting… Laurie's gaze slips with put-on awkwardness to the crossword puzzles and he deliberately nudges the page to the next one. Conveniently sitting, it isn't entirely obvious when his shoulders tense against the black material. Into the pause between Sam's topics, he taps the pen against his mouth and muses thoughtfully, "An eight letter word for 'throw a curve'…"
Addressed, however, he's less forced to contribute as vaguely inclined. Once again, the direction is towards Maggie rather than the male who actually spoke. "I like him," he opines, "He called me something. And he knows I like vending machines." Eyebrows raise; ehhhh, ehhhh?
On the defensive, Maggie's mouth clamps shut hard, tense, like every other of her features. Well-defined brows cinch tight. "You had forty-nine other states to choose from." Of all the stations in all the world moment over, she leans slightly onto the corner by Laurie, fingertips pressing into her desk. Her glance to Laurie expresses her flat unamusement before she sighs. She sincerely doesn't want to be having this reunion in the middle of her place of work, but it really follows her streak of bad luck— or whatever it is. Her voice moves down to its lower register with a threat usually reserved for perpetrators. " — Come on, Sam. Really. Why are you here?"
"Could ask you the same thing, Mags, or did you forget that you're not a native New Yorker?" Sam replies with yet another sly smile as his arms are once again raised over his chest. "And I like New York." He clucks his tongue, "Got a thing for the Broadway musicals. Just top notch," the sarcasm in his voice is beyond evident. As he gives the signal for perfect. "You know me, sucker for the music. I'm all about the singing and dancing."
Two Years Ago — January, 2008
A vivid sea blue washes across a white space, swirling into whorls of lavender, indigo and cloudy white. A thick paintbrush tipped with the rich colour does a sweep upward and adds to the pretty eddies of paint, creating what appears to be sky and a whimsical galaxy. It fades off into white, to the left — the dull, unpainted wall as of yet untouched by the large mural.
In an old, spacious upstairs loft, the artist steps back into a ray of dusty sunlight that shines through a round window befitting of an attic. Outside, snow covers the ground.
As the woman observes her work, a hand plants on her hip, completely hidden under the jeans and oversized t-shirt (a man's size) hanging off her tall frame. Both blue, dark, a washout in comparison to the beautiful shades of paint soaring across the wall in front of her. From behind, her light hair is long, and its waves slightly straightened because of it. A grey paisley bandana is wrapped around her head, untidily smudged by her art.
Hanging in the doorway, a blonde-haired man admires something other than the painting, he's admiring the woman, his gaze remaining on her quietly contemplating her, sizing her up, perhaps. A smile pokes out through the man's whiskers as he leans against the frame of the door. His button-up navy shirt and blue jeans framing his body in an almost crisp way — a stark contrast to his cohort's ultra casual painter-look.
He pushes himself off the frame and tugs on the bottom of his shirt to smooth out the wrinkles. Managing another smile he takes a step forward to lace his arm around her, a hand resting on her own (as it rests on her hip). Upon his approach he deeply inhales before he whispers gently in her ear, "Beautiful." His Southern accent is smooth.
Maggie's head turns toward the presence. It's a familiar one. The apples of her cheeks are already raised high because of the warm smile on her face — and one cheek happens to be marred by a smear of indigo paint. It's not the only one. She tries to be neat, but art isn't always tidy. By the looks of it, wet paint in various stages of drying all over that mural, she's been going at it for a long time. "The wall?" She sways toward the man, craning her neck up just slightly to look at his face upside-down. She pitches her voice hopefully. "Yeah, you don't think it's too … pretty, do you?"
"Nah. It's perfect," he squeezes her midsection just a little before planting a soft kiss on her forehead. "You really are talented, Mags." He's beaming now as he releases her and takes a step towards the still-glistening mural. "Almost makes me feel like I'm somewhere else, you know?" He's not much for the flowery words, it's never been his style, but his rather sheepish smile is well-earned, and his appreciation is evident in his general demeanour while he examines her handiwork.
"I guess the more important question is, are you happy with it?" his eyes sparkle with a hint of mischief, something playing in the back of his mind. He glances about the room, almost envisioning it to be something completely different than it is now, but he manages nothing more than a shrug. "The light is good in here for painting, I bet. I always knew the skylight and large windows weren't just to make the room hot," he's still smiling, but it's nearly apprehensive in nature.
"It's not done," is what Maggie has to say about that. She can't properly assess art that only exists halfway, it seems. Her smile goes exactly nowhere, warm and fond even as she studies the man rather suspiciously — curiously, at least. "What's up?" she says lightly, seeming to notice that apprehension; meanwhile, she tosses her paintbrush on the large, colorful palette that sits propped on a stool nearby and brushes her hands off on her pants. Wiping them together for good measure, she wrings them together idly, minus any signs of apprehension, in the midst turning to face the man.
"What's up? Nothing's up!" Sam replies with that same apprehensive smile. "You know, just hangin' out. Drinkin' beers. In my house. With you paintin' upstairs. Could've brought you one — a beer, not a paintin'. You know I don't paint, haven't an artistic bone in my — " And then, oddly, he's interrupted as music streams through the window. A mariachi band is playing outside. This causes the man to look at his wrist (and presumably his watch) before he cringes just a little; he's running late. Idly he brings a hand up to his forehead as he virtually has to yell over the loud band playing in his yard, "That's weird, huh?!" He manages another sheepish grin.
Maggie's smile starts to turn apprehensive after all, only because his is — but, lips pursing, it becomes silly, incredulous, as she slides a glance over her shoulder. The view out the window from all the way up here gives her no visual, of course. She reaches up, tucks a wisp of blonde hair that escaped her bandanna behind her ear, and gives her companion a weird look. "Yeah," she laughs. What's missing is: understatement. Her soft voice is almost drowned out by the music. "Now, I'm no detective— oh wait. Yes I am. You have something going on Sam, you're doing that thing where you ramble, and you're looking at your watch while you're off-duty." She can't help but start to head to the window. "Is that a band outside…?"
"It's…uh.. don't!" Sam runs to try to catch Maggie before she reaches the window, but trips over a stool containing some paint supplies, effectively making a mess of the tarp covering the floor (not that it's finished, anyways). He swears quietly at the fall, but ends up chuckling as he winds up in a mess on the floor. It's hilarious, really — now he too is covered in the blue used in the mural. It's futile, really. None of this is going the way he had planned.
It doesn't really matter what Maggie does or doesn't see out the attic window, because as soon as she hears the crash, swearing, and subsequent chuckling, she's whirling back around so fast she has to sway to steady her footing. Immediately, she clamps a hand over a widely smiling mouth. Nothing can hide the glint of amusement in her eyes, though. "Oh god," she says between her fingers as cheerfully as a person can possibly say "oh god". She jogs back and, crouching a bit, extends that hand down to Sam, revealing her smile that is looking increasingly embarrassed for him. "The floor! Are you okay?"
"Yeah, yeah, I'm okay," Chuckling still, Sam manages to regain his composure. After a moment, the sheepish grin returns as he holds her hand, but not to help himself up. Instead, he adjusts so he's down on one knee. His expression turns soft, and moderately comical as he now has a streak of paint across his cheek. He manages a small dimpled grin. "Maggie Powers," he swallows. "I'm not good at the flowery words or expressing myself. I try to let my actions speak louder and I trip over paint." His smile turns momentarily toothy as he remembers his all-too-recent embarrassment. "You are the most extraordinary woman I've ever met, and the only one I could ever imagine having a future with. I love you." The smile fades into something more serious now as his eyes soften, "I would consider myself the luckiest man in the — " he glances at the mural " — galaxy, if you'd be my wife." He runs his tongue over his lips as his throat and mouth feel incredibly dry. "Maggie, will you marry me?"
Maggie's other hand pops up to her face, knuckles not quite hiding the dimpling edges of the smile that grows again. She blinks a few times down at Sam and looks away — it's obvious that her thoughts are going a thousand miles a minute, that, despite her half-concealed hundred-watt smile, she has to think and consider and weigh options—
"Absolutely." Maggie's hand falls to her chest and presses there and splays unsteadily until she sneaks down onto the same level as Sam. Her knees find blue paint, but she doesn't seem to mind, hugging her sudden fiance on the floor. For good measure, she reaffirms through a bubbling laugh: "Yes!" She leans back to look at him. "But you know that music is kind of terrible, right?"
"Really?!" Sam's eyes light up; he's elated, ecstatic. He relaxes in her embrace, holding her close for a moment before planting a soft kiss on her lips. He breaks it moments later when he holds up a finger and extracts a black jewelry box from his pocket. "I — uh. I hope you like it. I'm not much of a jewelry guy." His cheeks flush again, as his dimpled smile softens again. He hands her the box. In it is a platinum half-carat diamond princess cut solitaire ring. "If you don't like it we can like trade it in. I thought it was pretty." He shrugs a little sheepishly again. "And the music was meant to be funny. Because it's hilarious!"
It's hilarious, she'll give him that. Smiling that smile, she nudges open the box. "It's beautiful." Maggie's voice has a reassuring nature to it, wholly for his sake. She does mean it, too. She's not much of a jewelry girl, she doesn't know what the cut is or what the carats are, she just sees the same thing he did: pretty. "Don't trade it, it's perfect. You're perfect." No one's perfect. Days like this, though, the sun shines brighter. Happily burns away the flaws.
Maybe he's supposed to put it on her now. This whole concept is rather new to Maggie, who — instead of fawning over the engagement ring — stretches her arms around Sam's neck, a purple paint-smeared hand pressing to his blue paint-smeared face to better kiss him.
"He's lying," asserts the Laurie-shaped peanut gallery cheerfully from in-between these two lovebirds. "He was desperate to see you." An allowing gesture with the pen before it slides to writing. "Not that desperate, admittedly, but the suggestion there is that some degree remains. Also, he brought up the word, not me, indicating that it was already on…" oh, wait, next clue, "his…" ah, this one's easy, "mind at the time." Scribble, scribble.
There is nothing but a steady, vivid-eyed stare from the woman for a span of time, like she can't believe this. Her eyes don't move off of Sam, but when she does speak again, it's to the peanut gallery, flat as can be. "I know." She bites her lip, forcefully thinned out in tension as they are, and starts and stops to speak again a few times. "Sam, this is a bad idea," Maggie warns levelly, still quiet, not wanting to draw attention; she has enough. "A very— bad idea. Do you understand that? Do you— get it? This isn't a joke. I mean, you could have at least gone to another precinct."
Increasingly uncomfortable, she slides what looks — imprecisely — like an apologetic look at the consultant at her desk, for unwittingly (?) being stuck, literally, in the middle of her surprise. She marches around to Sam, intent on taking his arm to go somewhere else.
"I have pull here," Sam says simply as his arm is indeed pulled and he's summoned elsewhere. "And what makes this a bad idea, Mags? The fact that you packed up and left everyone behind? With barely a goodbye?" His jaw tightens although he manages an almost snide smile despite it. "What about your friends? The people that care about you? Believe it or not, more people care than you would ever believe." He tilts his head, "Clearly you're doing real well with that here, aren't you?" a glance is given to Laurie. But just one.
It's enough. Laurie locks eyes on Sam when that pointed glance is given, needing no longer than that to decide. With no previous warning of movement, he fluidly pulls his legs away from the desk and to the floor, rising with the same momentum. It's a casual but crisp stroll to where the two are trying to wander off, his hands coming up to his waist, flaring his suit jacket out behind him.
"Yeah, hi." Don't mind him, he's just going to insert himself right into this huddle, hand raised then replaced. "I don't mean to interrupt except that I do. I thought I'd go ahead and field this one for Detective Powers— " Eyes roaming casually, he now pinpoints Sam again, a certain undertone in his voice that wasn't there before; or maybe he just didn't mean it so much.
"This?" Finger circling the general area where Sam entered the station. "Is a bad idea because, see, when you come into a place you want to work at and then immediately make a scene… well," exaggerated grimacing: a sucked in breath pondering how just to say this… "They make you go to therapy. Like, I'm talking more than once. And probably other people, too. Who are then going to blame you for it despite it being mostly not your fault. It's just… it's messy!"
The glare Maggie sends Sam is far more wounded than the aggression she intended. Just by saying what he does, Sam actually trips up her attempt to lead him away — she starts to halt just as Laurie interrupts.
"He's not wrong," she adds softly but with rancor, although Laurie gets something of a look, too. The interruption might not do much to ease the scene that's being caused, after all. Maggie shifts from one foot to the other and lays a hand on her hip, above her belt. "Just— go, Sam." Plea, command; the line is blurry. "Or talk to me outside," she says quietly. "Don't bring your ego in here, it's my place of work."
Laurie's intervention is meant with a sideglance and Maggie's words are heeded mildly. He's not wholly unfeeling. "Yeah. That's what I'm worried about, my ego," Sam's eyebrows furrow as he shakes his head. "Because my ego is in grave danger and shut everyone else out of its life." He rolls his eyes and turns on his heel, "Whatever. I'm out." Beat. "But I'm not gone. Remember that." He takes a step back and disappears from whence he came.
Laurie is always getting this look — it's like, no matter who started it, somehow… he gets the look. But he takes it all in stride, unmoving while the new guy has his last words. When Sam's quite banished from the premises, he sniffs idly. His weight shifts, subtly and unconsciously, towards Maggie. Without looking at her, and missing all traces of judgment; there's no bias in either direction: "You want to talk about it?"
Maggie watches Sam exit the police station, a hand coming up into her hair, gradually tucking it behind her ear even though it falls ahead a second later; it's an uneasy gesture, expressive, unintended. After Laurie speaks to her, she smoothly drifts out of her haze, and moves to sit — not at her desk, but at Laurie's, because it's just there and she needs to not be standing. Her elbow, only just bared by the grey cuff of her shirt, leans into the desk and she into her hand, raking her hand into her hair again. "Maybe I should save it for therapy," she jokes.
… That might be a no, but she says: "I'm sorry if he got in your way." Maggie fights to smile and gives Laurie a tiny little sweet one as a result before observing, "You always seem to have my back."
An exchange of personal spaces can hardly give the consultant pause; Laurie slides around to Maggie's desk with the ease of ownership. From across the neat set-up of her things, none personal of course, he gazes at his, just as bare, and then at her. "Ah, yes. Wouldn't want to risk running out of things to talk about."
Gripping the arms, he scoots the chair inward, elbows planted with a dull 'thud' on the top of the desk as he clasps his hands towards her. Beneath his fingers, he begins to strum through the pages of the crossword puzzle. Glimpses of sheets as they rattle by show them all to be filled.
The 'no', such that it may be, is perfectly acceptable. He'd be all but absorbed into his own past-time if she hadn't happened to speak again. "My way?" Tilt of head from side to side measures the feel of this. He opts for a dismissing tug of the mouth. "Really, my periphery at best. Anyway, it's not exactly your got to apologize for, now is it?" An idle glance is journeying down again when it suddenly leaps to her face again — the smile. Again, the head quirks to the side. Laurie's responding smile is bright, but painted with telling curiosity. "Well, we're partners. Right?"
The detective's head tips into her hand, a palm migrating to her cheek; it might be a endearing pose if she didn't lean into it quite so tiredly. She seems to zone out, on random corners of the station and on the pages of Laurie's crossword puzzle as they fly by.
"Well," Maggie starts to answer, the word coming through a light sigh. The smile flickers down, away, but there's a ghost of it left. "I guess we are supposed to be." She can't seem to help the strange look she gives Laurie next, probing, almost suspicious — she glances down only to toy with a paperclip. Repose over so soon, she pushes the chair back as if to stand, and the strained — but valid! — smile makes another guest appearance, along with a laugh. "Besides, who else am I going to work with around here," she concedes on her way up.
Flipping pages comes to an unsatisfactory end when there's revealed to be nothing left to do inside the booklet. Hand slapped down on the last page, Laurie turns attention up to his supposed partner only to see that she, also, is abandoning him. What good or bad her near suspicion might have done is moot — he didn't see. "No one half so something," he carols cheerfully to her.
Maggie skirts around both desks straight to Laurie — to grab her coat draped over the back of the chair. Her chair. She frees it with a tug. A mild smirk at odds with haunted eyes are directed down, at the man sitting there. "You know you have your own desk," she points out cleverly as she pulls the worn leather jacket on. She also seems to be abandoning the station — for a little while. A blast from the past isn't going to hinder her from working. If there's work to be done, she'll do it. And she's off.