2010-08-24: Absolution



Date: August 24th, 2010


He said...


Maggie's Apartment

New York City

Various signs of Maggie's earlier return home from work this evening are scattered across her warm and colourful one-person apartment: an empty glass on the coffee table, next to a sleeveless hardcover book with a bookmark a couple of chapters in, a fan that rotates this way and that trying to cool the place down, a desperate job it is far too small for. There is no sign of A/C, and she's kept her windows firmly shut.

No sign of Maggie, though, until she emerges from another room to retrieve that glass and bring it to the kitchen. Post-work sees her — theoretically, since there is no one else here — in more casual, moveable black pants and a structured ash grey tank top. The sheen of sweat she's acquired could as easily be from exercise as from only sitting in the heat; there's no telling. As water is poured from a cold pitcher, however, there suddenly is someone here — a knock to the door alerts Maggie to the presence with a momentary look of surprise.

It's with a glass of water in hand that she peeks through the peephole into the hall — having to lean down to be level with it.

A peek gives her a somewhat warped vision of the hallway, distorted by the tiny round viewer. But Laurie is easy enough recognizable, especially as he, a second after her own look, glances to the peep-hole on his side. Common sense, and construction, say he can't use it from that way, but his eyes stare defiantly in with a knowing that surpasses every day sense. An arm is still rested against the door from his first knock and he separates two fingers now, rapping knuckles in an extra little tap-tap. "Heyy, Powers…"

His eyes fall right after, making their own kind of invisible gesture to his other hand twisted to resting against his hip as he stands sideways there. Those fingers, curled against his body, also have two fingers free and something clutched within those.

To the heat he presents a lack of jacket, though his t-shirt is inescapably black interrupted only by the patterns of some manner of cartoon figure. Sunglasses push the hair away from his forehead, though it never needed much help with that.

Confirming the identity of her visitor prompts a curious pause in the occupant, her fingers lingering for a second on the door locks. It's a short pause, all told, and after a series of those locks are undone with a matching series of rattles and clicks, the door eases open. Laurie receives a cheerful enough greeting, a quick, expectant smile and inquisitive glint in her eye skirting around concern (and something quite near suspicion). Maggie's free hand — the other holding her glass more or less on her hip — moves up, then down to hit against her leg in a manner of simple wave. "Heyy, Miles…" For a moment, she is even more watchful. "What's up? You're using my door. What's the occasion?"

"Ohh…" it's hardly an answer as it is a stalling prelude to an answer. Laurie passes inspections down both sides of the hallway, but they're empty — as he has to already know. Coming off of the lean now that the door's open, he is forced to change his stance to face her and that brings the item at his hip around to the front. "It seemed like the thing to do at the time — I've brought you something," this to describe the trim white paper bag, top folded into a handle, of which one side is offered at her; it's weightier than his very slim grip might suggest. Something else floats in the air besides the consultant's breezy tone — heavies it, creates an atmosphere.

It's not unfelt as Maggie takes the bag handed to her, looking at it with a skepticism tainted by that quality the consultant has brought with him, the weight. She smiles again all the same, though it could only tangentially said to be that, only consisting of a quick move of her lips and a scrunch of her chin. Her fingers only curl around the top of the mystery gift — or whatever it is — for now as, lacking two free hands to open it, she turns back into the apartment. "Well— come in," she offers easily on her swivel and drifts inside, freeing a path in.

The second she's placed both the bag and glass on the counter by the island stove, and starts to pry open the former, the fact that she realizes there is something more going on colours a look over her shoulder.

White of the bag gives way easily, having been folded so neatly, it nearly undoes itself at first tug. Inside, sharp contrast to its innocently colored surroundings, is something prominently red — with a few tinges of black, and bright white print that most noticeably jumps out with 'STEPHEN KING'.

But the longer look for the present's donor shows him to have not budged from right outside the doorway. Devoid of something to hold, he's found perches on both hips and an eye for the wall next to her apartment, denying even a look inside to go with the determinedly polite, "I'd rather not."

The discovery of the book prompts a not-quite-smile similar to the last, though this one lingers more, and turns, almost, into a frown — but of course none of this is visible to Laurie, who stays at the door not looking in. All that is obvious is that Maggie remains inside a moment after the crinkling of the paper bag ceases and after he's spoken. The only words she has are hugged to her chest as she strides back to the entryway, her arms folded over the novel. A shoulder is leaned against the foyer wall before the closet, some few spacious paces from the door, and she only watches the consultant expectantly. Waiting.

For the first time complete & uncut. That's what it proudly states under the bold author's name, right above the black-printed title, and where Laurie stares, reading needlessly, when Maggie presents herself in front of his doorway post. It's four hundred pages thicker than the one that has passed previously between them. Even the generous space left from the door hasn't eased a hanging cloud that's since ventured into the detective's apartment. But it's not an atmosphere at all, is it; it's a scent. Timed to this sense of revelation, Laurie's hand breaks his pose to thumb at his nose, a bit of sniffling here and there no more than his usual. As much as his mouth works, lips pressed forward and together, and as much as his eyes venture off the book towards the ceiling — the hallway's — he's a blank slate for emotions. Just mannerisms, factual as his eventually voiced, "So," colloquial, even, "— this isn't working." Twitch of his lip, that focus on the exterior; he could be talking about the cream color of the outside walls. He isn't: "I don't think we should keep being partners."

Instant tension thrums Maggie's neck, every line visible given the cut of her shirt — modest, but free of collars. There is no matching tension for her face; yet. Her chin tips up and, after a moment, back down in an unsteady, belated finish to nod acknowledgment. But not acceptance. She straightens away from the wall and her still gaze increases tenfold in its study, searching for signs of anything other than Laurie's blank slate. Her search turns up suspicions, and one brow begins to raise. "And why," she starts out ambiguously low-voiced, "would you happen to think that?"

A shrug, up and down; it's at least as denying as her nod even as not a particularly negative response. "I guess this time," he mentions after a languid pause, and now a shift of weight that exhibits more… sway than typical. "It really does only matter that I do." He's never really stopped scrunching his mouth, and the edges have begun to take on a bitter quality held that way. Minutely aware of it, he thins out the expression, simultaneously giving his head a soft shake: now it's negative. "Anyway, I told the captain," his wrist flicks at the floor, tossing some nonexistent item at his feet, and calling attention to as he turns his heels preparatorily. "I'm riding with Kotowski tomorrow." His head raises, eyes ceasing their endless wandering to find hers — and he, quite pleasantly, smiles. "You have a good evening, Powers." And he twists to follow readied feet: to leave.

The unmoved calm of Maggie's features has faded, and for every bitter or negative nuance of the man at her door is a regretful or wondering one — arriving now, delayed. There's a pause, strong arms tightening in their fold around the Stephen King novel — allowing Laurie the time to turn — before she speaks up on a new, adamant track, enunciating every word. "I hope you haven't decided this… because of the other day. Because I have a long history… of being misunderstood."

His one step has Laurie at the very edge of the doorway and his hand jumps to the frame to hold himself there at the sound of Maggie's voice. More of an automatic reaction; he doesn't instantly acknowledge her, or steady himself in that spot anymore than he has to. "… Regretfully," not that he infuses any of this into his speech. Only a downward turn of his gaze, this time in avoidance, marks the truth: "… the opposite." A push off from the door frame, he aims to leave a second time.

Surprise isn't among the sentiments that appears on the off-duty detective's face, not exactly, but she seems anxiously side-swiped by the answer all the same. An uncomfortably tense shift of her shoulders precedes her arms unfolding, the book at her side. Laurie can attempt to leave all he wants, but as long as he's here, in earshot of Maggie's home, she doesn't quiet; she steps to the doorframe to touch the door, either to keep it open or close it afterward.

"Then maybe … " Maggie starts off slow until her words become a little more raw, "…I don't understand, Miles." They're almost foreign words, don't understand. "Maybe you've made up your mind," is spoken coolly in comparison to, "I'd like to know… why. I was taught that you get your partner's back, even if it means putting certain things — problems, or doubts, or… concerns — aside for a minute."

It's at the frame, there where the consultant was just, that the heaviness in the air is so recognizable: it's alcohol. In the air — from the man who's now several strides away. As before, talking causes an instant physical reaction. One shoulder juts up, his hand coming into the air by it and slightly above. Falling after, with one finger almost pointed. There it is. Step, whirl. Now, facing her, the flat line of his mouth is grim humor, lightened by acceptance. "Yeah, I— " hands clap together near his mouth, "— didn't think that would work. Umm. Look at it this way— " To visually aid in this new endeavor, he reverses his leaving to bring him up to Maggie. They're back at the doorway.

His hands still at his mouth, he presses fingers against his lips to gather thoughts. Then, tilting the tips of his fingers away from his mouth, "You do. Follow your partner through hell and high water… and you do." Here hands part, opening up towards her shoulders, encompassing that which is her in a gesture, "Mostly— but, Powers. If we're not partners— " followed by a soft 'ah!', because didn't he solve this one a second ago? — and those parted hands reach in, breaching the space he would not walk to cup either side of Maggie's face very, very gently. "I absolve you. Go," a jerk of the head, light-hearted towards her apartment, "Be free." To hands moving away; safe to bet he will be also, again.

Nothing about Laurie's reasoning seems to go over smoothly; the opposite is true — Maggie picks up suddenly sharper criticism of the man at her doorway, acutely discerning through every word and gesture, and as a result, out-right defiance shines through. The touch to her face — or rather, the words that accompany it — instantly harden her features exponentially, completely resentful. Hard-set and true as her reaction is, it lasts only for a couple of seconds: as Laurie says those last words and heads off (again), putting her on the verge of reply, she is instead left standing, features stilling, only watching the departure of this unconventional colleague of hers.

Maggie shuts the door behind him, and, after fastening the various locks, treads into her apartment. "Free", though — not exactly. She comes to a stop past the narrow foyer, bites down on what she didn't get to say; steels against it; keeps walking, fast at odds with the colourful cozy home.

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