2010-11-29: Alice's Looking Glass



Guest-Starring: Dr. Jeffrey Miles, Neil the guard

Date: November 29th, 2010


Creative interpretation of the law allows Maggie into wonderland, but not past the glass.

"Alice's Looking Glass"

NY Psych Institution

"Good morning Dr. Miles." She's back. The only thing Detective Powers wants to get off her mind has to do with her purpose here today. That purpose is very much in hand as she stands tall in front of the all-important psychiatrist's desk, hands in her jacket pockets. Her pose easy and confident, she looks much the same as last time save for a few notable differences: that red winter jacket is unzipped, and past the layers of a white button-up and grey vest, the badge of her authority greets him straight on, hooked to the top of her jeans — sans belt. The smile she gives him isn't that of good morning sunshine, but it's pleasant and polite; it's her eyes that hold that bit of I know something you don't know.

It stays exactly there, not affecting her voice — more politeness; professional — as she states, "I'm sorry to interrupt your morning; I know it's early, and you're busy. Your patient…" Of which he has many, but only one that they share a common knowledge of. Pointedly, Maggie produces a hand from her pocket, handing an old, outdated, empty prescription bottle across. It is not made out to the patient they both know — not exactly, at least. The name printed on the label is 'Carl Saquine'. Her eyebrows rise ever-so-slightly, quite knowing. "He's a witness. Now I could bring him out of the center to be interviewed, or…" She waits.

"Ah, it's Detective Powers today." And not just that she's here. The situation has chosen the address it seems, and Dr. Miles abides, while tipping back in his chair to afford the tall detective proper regard after her entrance. He stood again upon seeing her, but sits now, settled and at home in his own office, even so confronted. No flickering challenge in those old eyes, only the stable suggestion: there is no such thing. Down, little puppy. Down. Bypassing that subtler language nipping at his intellectual heels, the man returns her cool politeness. "Apology accepted," intercedes her demand, snipering some measure of control out of Maggie dictating the momentum of the conversation.

To the produced pill bottle his eyes gently fall, scanning another point familiar between them: the medical professional who issued it. "Must be a fragile situation for you," he waxes sympathetically, now alighting on the pseudonym. "He is, indeed, a witness. To many things. Not all of them that we would refer to as 'real'…" He hasn't gone to retrieve the prescription; he gives her an okaying nod to return to her possession, however. Thank you it says, for showing me that, you can be done now. "The defense must be anxious to hear if he's capable of testifying…" His chin raises, marking the empty spots about her. "Did you— bring your doctor with you?"

It's Maggie's turn to give the psychiatrist a certain expression — a subtle but pointed smirk that dismisses his many little measures, gestures and words. She looks at him quite clearly. "The situation is fragile for you, Dr. Miles, and your center," she retorts unsympathetically. "Carl Saquine— " she reaches to reclaim the bottle, but her intent is not to take it in hand, but to shove it along the doctor's desk toward him. Were it full, it would rattle. It's quick, sharper than her words, which — while bold — remain even, rational. And controlled. " — doesn't exist." She straightens. "That's the only thing that isn't real."

"Oh my, you seem to have me by the metaphorical balls; I suppose the only option is to give you free access to speak with our patient. The one— Carl. Saquine." A pleasant lilt through the sharpness, it accompanies the wry tug of Dr. Miles' mouth. "But this isn't the full truth, is it, my dear." Plucking up that accusatory prescription, he calmly turns to the side and lets it plop — thunk — into his trash can. "You don't want to smear this name around anymore than I do. You're protective. His partner. You have each others' backs… this intimidation tactic isn't all you, either. The confidence is." His eyes narrow in squint, aligning his mouth high near his large nose. The first time he's had to look concentrated to think; but it's more than that — a study, a complete scan of Maggie up and down, inside and out.

"But," he announces, quietly intrigued, firm; "It's that you would twist the tactics of a job that you take to both skillfully and emotionally — all to speak with a man. They come and go — men," he, almost happily, certainly fervently, jabs a pen in the air, "But this one you follow. And that is why I seem to have no other choice but to allow this visitation. Very well." His other hand falls to the phone, comfortably cradling it without picking up, and an expectant smile finds her. "Where best can we suit your needs for this interview, detective?"

Maggie is very quiet throughout the observations of Dr. Miles, the assessments she does nothing to express her agreement or disagreement with; she seems to study him while he studies her, or at least she tries. She does a good job of it, but it is not complete — her wide open eyes are too wide open, too perceptive and understanding of his words to turn their gaze outward only upon him. She tenses, slightly, her mouth thinning to a tight line; nothing more, until his expectant question. "You know your facility better than I do, doctor," she offers politely, the smile to match flickering away before it quite makes it to the fore. "Somewhere we can speak without too much interruption."

"That I do," Dr. Miles' mouth spreads into a smile; in timing, he appears to be stealing it straight from her face. "And I believe I know just the place. You'll find it quite to your usual standards." The order, placed, assures Maggie of an escort — for which the hallway calls to serve as waiting room. As the detective is nearly there, Dr. Miles' voice: "Oh, and Maggie— the superiority that you project, without feeling — could be what's pushing people away. We'll talk on it more next time, perhaps."

* * *

They say that insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. Ushered out on the same stringing word as before, Maggie is greeted quite sharply by the same prickly nurse, and led through the halls of the same white coloring, down those same stairs, to the same door as last time. It's opened all the same, for her to catch — and this time, grabbed first by the bodyguard inside. To no surprise, he is the same guard as she met; "Neil," he greets this time, holding the door for her and giving a nod to indicate the available observation room. Beyond the tall window is current emptiness — exactly, mind-numbingly so with no figure to interrupt its dull continuance of white and tile. "This is an unusual instance for the room. Some of that ol' police work to surprise us with— ?"

Unusual police work. "Hi, Neil. Something like that," Maggie replies as she slips inside the room — once again. "Detective Maggie Powers," she offers in kind hello, a greeting that was skipped last time. Over her shoulder, the nurse is given a smile despite her prickliness, and the guard is given the same. The same can't be said for the place she enters. Her smile becomes distant, her discerning look taking precedence, studying the room in the here and now in a different light: the bare space and this place, its window calling to be looked through even into blank space. Empty and available, but she only drifts as far as the middle of this side.

"It's nice to meet you," the sole talkative guard replies, nodding his head and returning the smile with little effort. Without the attentiveness of his job, his eyes settle easily on Maggie, giving a fleeting nod to her escort. "Don't worry about her; she's like that to everyone. I suppose, I'm here long enough, I'll start hating the job, too." He resettles the broad, muscle-bound arms that make him what he is and then steps politely into the corner. "So, you think he can really help, then? Your partner? I never really heard of a detective solving cases from a psych ward before — sounds kind of like a television show or something."

Maggie, whose own pose mimics that of the guard (albeit less muscle-bound), turns her head to smile at his comment. "Well," she murmurs, considering before her reply, "stranger things have happened." On this ambiguous but no less very true statement, she looks ahead once more — seeming distracted, focused inside her head, now she's here. Waiting for a door to open or a figure to appear.

"Huh," emits the guard, not bashful of his opinions — there may be a reason he got /this/ job, "Like a police station keeping on a partner who's been committed— "

Speak of the devil: " — if it was so against the rules, it seems you could benefit by making it a little more clear next time, is all I'm saying — " Heard before he's seen, the committed consultant eventually appears, stumbling backwards into the room through the opened door. Regaining balance swiftly, he surges forward as the door's slam, hitting it with both palms just as it shuts. There's a fierce, flat-footed kick to the door bottom more likely to stub his bare toes than change its closed status. Swirling about, he paces in a tight, agitated circle reminiscent of a tiger in a zoo briefly before he wanders to the table. Both hands resting on its edge, he tips his head back, eyes drifting up to the ceiling. A deep, meditative breath drops the head again, hiding his features behind an arm.

The voice draws Maggie's attention further from the guard, honing it into the room. The appearance of the particular patient cinches the fact that, though her head is tipped to the side in preparation to speak, she won't reply. Through a flicker of a frown, she watches Laurie — yet her concentrated stare quickly studies not the figure trapped behind glass, but the make of the window itself, and criticizes the intercom beneath. As Laurie seems to settle— "Okay," she says — he's here now — and turns to Neil at his corner post. "Can you take me in there," she glances toward there.

Laurie's head gradually tilts, spying over the curve of his arm at the window through which he cannot sees, but of which he is entirely aware. Perceptiveness only goes so far; he aims right past the glancing detective looking straight in on him.

Meanwhile, inside with her, Neil gives a curt shake of his head, "Nope, sorry, ma'am, I cannot." And then he nods informatively towards the intercom system, politely forgetting her transgression of her last visit. "There's an intercom there, should you like to speak." He waits a second, and then gives a small shrug to demonstrate his helplessness, no matter what general hesitance the pull of his mouth shows over this particular ruling.

Some decision of Laurie's has sprung its course. Having evaluated the silence around him, the window beside him, and glanced once at the thickly closed door, he's suddenly begun to unroll some portion of the loose grey fabric at his hip. Besides revealing the flesh there, he also slides into his palm a thick, red marker. In the fast, calculated movements of planned activity, he pushes off from a palm, throwing his knee onto the table and then onto his feet there. From this height, he can barely stretch the marker to comfortably streak across the ceiling. "Ah—- what is this!" amazes the bodyguard, as Laurie strikes the first few lines along the pure whitened surface.

The turn of events interrupts what is a long-suffering look from Maggie off to the side, not meant for Neil, only his answer; and the source of the ruling. Her surprise is only over the sudden movement out of the corner of her eye — the antics within, well, to those, as she witnesses them, the detective only smiles like she's trying not to laugh. The guard is offered a sympathetic look, completely sincere, however. "I don't know," she admits, heading toward the window and the intercom she's meant to use, "but he's probably not going to stop any time soon, so… you might want to get in there."

Sweeping movements from Laurie's whole arm amasses a giant swirl-like shape on the ceiling while Neil waffles, visibly wavering from one foot to the other while his mind processes. "He's not hurting himself— gah!" Rather than towards the door, Neil launches himself forward towards Maggie, tapping a red button on the side of the intercom panel. Immediately, an alarm begins to sound. "Ah, so you are in there," announces the alarming patient.

The whooping of the siren quickens Laurie's movements, line after line — his mouth moves silently; lips forming: one, two, three — the door clicks to unlock, and Laurie scrambles down from the table. His aim is right up to the window through which he can't seen. Raising his arm in one huge circle, he sends a great big red one around the surface. He's just dotting the eyes when a bodyguard from the quiet room entrance reaches him, tugging down on his arm and ruining the curve of the smiley's mouth into a squiggly deformity on one side.

It takes a bit of (playful, for some) wrestling to relieve Laurie of the marker — the last impatient shove on his chest backing him right into the table. He remains there, relieved of his entertainment, and hands curling behind him onto its surface. With a sigh, he allows himself to fall uncontrolled backwards, thudding onto the surface, his legs still hanging over the edge. His artwork above him remains unfinished: G U L L I

The least alarmed by all of this commotion, save for the cause of it, is Detective Powers: she stands quietly looking through the red smiley face. She patiently waits with a restrained half-smile at odds with the vaguely disapproving lift of her eyebrows for the struggle that goes on. She leans in a moment to crane her neck curiously to peek at the ceiling, and then reverts to her quiet stance.

Quiet, until: "I have to ask you to step outside, Neil," she says with an authority she then apologizes for with a small smile his way before returning her gaze to the now decorated window. "This set-up isn't really the best and we might have to talk about sensitive case details. I know you have a job to do," she explains, eyes ahead until now; civil, Maggie means no insult, "but we'll be fine. I've dealt with people more high-risk than Miles; I can push this button— " Folded arms part so she may drift a hand toward the red alarm button, " — if something goes on in there that shouldn't — and your colleagues will come running."

Neil shoots glances between Maggie and Laurie, longer on the second. The consultant's hands are dropped onto his stomach and they rise and fall with the return of the soft, meditative breathing. Everything slows off of the high rush of his antics. Spying this, Neil gives a shake of his head, "I can't," the bodyguard walls up against her authority; a hint of pleading leaks through anyway. "I'm sorry — but it doesn't have anything to do with your ability to deal or not deal."

Maggie's regard of Neil is understanding, and again she's sympathetic; it seems they're at a standstill. "I know it doesn't," she accepts. "You want to keep your job. I understand. I don't want you to bend the rules, although they're— " The calm part of this very calm and rational response is slightly hijacked when Maggie closes her eyes momentarily and gestures a frustrated stop motion, " — ridiculously excessive." No fault of the nice guard. Calm back in place, yet frustration sneaking around the corner in every deepened line of her face, she once again faces the window.

Reluctantly, the impersonal device is activated — in fact, when Maggie's thumb jabs it, it's with a touch of spiteful violence. Much friendlier than the inception of this communication, she says into the other space, to the segregated Laurie, "Heeey, Miles." A crackle of static. "You missed some letters."

A long, iffy silence. The makings of last meeting are gearing up to repeat — recall the quote about insanity — as Laurie lies peaceful and inattentive on the table-top. But as time reaches the point of possible no return, slowly, there's reception. Tensing in his legs lets him brace against the table edge, and as muscles clench, he rises straight up from lying to sitting. His hands flopping into his lap, the grey t-shirt draping over his stomach in the looseness of his slouch. Legs bounced slightly at the end to get him to full seated, but now they hang as lazily as before.

His blue eyes find her without really focusing on her; it's through some estimation of the intercom's location and an exact knowledge of Maggie's height. When he rose, his head angled lightly, there was hesitation to his acceptance of her voice, a doubtful little tug of his mouth. Now, face wearing to neutral, he replies: "… Hello, Clarice."

"That is not funny," comes Maggie's quick reply, though it isn't a voice that sounds committed to admonishing. True to her voice, she isn't about to laugh on her side of the glass, but the expression she holds, a pull of her mouth, brows high, is on the not fully serious side of disapproving. She goes without transmission for a moment, before a more pensive question hits the intercom: "How are you?" Besides pensive, the question of concern holds a certain brand of hesitance — as if she's not expecting an answer.

Laurie's hand pops up, pinching a tiny distance of space he wishes she'd allow for the joke. But thus is the humor, and hand, dropped in order to give her concern all of the thought it— "I think I'm going crazy…" No thought; he outs with it after a low, exaggerated pull of the mouth and tip of his head the other way. When his hand comes up to scratch idly at one side, it turns his gaze to the door. Coming away from his close-cropped hair, three fingers curl in and two align towards that closed destination. "They took away my marker, so— I'm a little sad…" It's difficult to tell between play and serious thought, but he engages in one of them briefly as the hand returns a second time to its lap resting point. "… I should probably stop testing the guards so much…"

Every one of those replies is taken in and given a small, sympathetic smile, regardless of whether they're serious or not, and never-minding the fact that Maggie is invisible to Laurie. "Only if you want to stop getting into trouble for it," she points out. The communication goes dead for a brief interval as she eases off the button, but soon comes to life again, though her voice is less lively upon its return to the intercom's speaker. "They won't let me in," she states this current fact dully, but beneath this lackluster lies hints of more: the sentiment of apology and the opinion of resentment. "I'm here with Neil. I'm meant— " briefest of pauses " — to conduct an interview."

Settled so casually on the table, his only response initially is to unfold a hand in little indicating waves in front of him to her: go on. But a moment later and Laurie retracts the instruction by inserting his own words. "They won't let you in, or you won't make them let you in?" Question posed, eyes intense — it all falls away just as fast. A hand scrubs in the air, dismissing. "No, sorry— I'm pissy— you don't belong in here. Alright." His shoulders jog up and down, then resettle contentedly. "Ask."

The reply from Maggie is indistinct— a quiet "ummm" that is no reply at all. A few moments pass. "They won't let me in. At least— your father…" she trails off in silence regretful of speaking, as if Dr. Miles' name shalt not be spoken. "You don't belong in that room, either, Miles," she reiterates more clearly, focused on that which Laurie dropped so fast. Yet it would be clearer on her side of the glass, privy to all of zero observers, not even Neil — the way she her mouth tightens, and she looks down, only to look up again disconcerted, ill-at-ease to the point that that her pressure on the intercom slips off again. Too fast, it comes back on— to silence. Maggie turns her head over a stiffening shoulder and gives the guard a sorry look; the second she starts to appear imploring instead, she denies it by looking back inside. Ask— there's nothing to answer.

Fists clench, unclench; they are forced apart as violently as if relaxing were the actual mode of attack. Peaceably, Laurie's face does not follow this same track. Though his head does jerk vaguely to one side, another animalistic tick — alert. Then, after a second, into Maggie's continued silence — he chuckles. "That's sweet of you to say…" His head falls, and his hand is the first to come up, a single finger wagging at him before his face rises to meet what is, to him, a blank wall. "Neil's very good at his job," he opines cheerfully, seemingly off-topic but with a suggestive point, "he follows me around," his hand spreads to be this distance, "and when I do something he doesn't like— he makes me stop. Rather like that proofreader you said I should have. So here we are," the hands are brought together, the smack resounding in the small empty space. "Everybody has what they need."

More silence; Maggie's watchful observation only carries on, studying Laurie for long after his point is made. Neil is studied next, considering briefly before it's back to the man of the hour. Featured zoo animal on display. Tired of the window — of this tangle of circumstances — she leans against it at an angle, her head striking the surface with a light bump. "Isn't everybody getting what they want… that's what you said when you were undercover. After you got shot," she says slowly. "It wasn't true then either." A bit merrier, she tacks on, "For the record."

Silence is boring; it is epically boring. To that effect, it causes Laurie to abandon his — still only vaguely attentive — sitting pose. His formerly bad leg props up to the table edge, toes curling about cold plastic, and he lets himself fall, back to the table once more. Now at a slight angle where he can glance aside to the window should he choose. For now, he doesn't. "Need," he projects into the room, "I said need, here, Detective. Your either implies I am suggesting the same thing, which I am not— are you bored like I'm bored? It is so boring right now… I think that if you want to come again, you need to bring me something to do."

"I know, but you know what I meant," Maggie corrects in turn, though it is — mostly … partly — without admonishment. "Bored— no, I'm not bored, Miles," she says and, indeed, doesn't sound afflicted by the same ennui as Laurie. Speaking on the subject remarkably manages to liven her voice; she sounds less bored and more cheerful. "I'm annoyed, by this room…" None of that annoyance is directed at Laurie — only the window, which she taps her free knuckles against, a sound which, at the very least, is picked up by the intercom. "I wouldn't want you to be bored! That sounds completely uninteresting. I'd gladly bring you something to do," she says, sincere, upbeat — until… "If you don't meet their standards here, though, they won't let you have any visitors."

"Mmm! Fantastic— !" Legs swinging, Laurie is very quickly on his feet, clapping his hands as bare skin hits cold floor. "I knew you wouldn't." Markerless, he now approaches the thick pane that separates room from room, person from person, walking up to the mutilated smiling face. "All right, then. It's a deal. You'll bring me work, and I'll once again conform." Despite cheeriness at the initial idea, his mouth tugs distastefully at the standard required of him. When his expression evens out, he's left but staring at her — now as though through the plastic. He can see her, can't he. It would seem. "Is— that what you want," close to the divider, his hand rises. Fingers out, he meets their tips to the plastic, pressing in until his palm touches, too. "— Detective?"

Though the enthusiasm within the quiet room brings a smile to the detective's face, she all but leaps back out of her window lean when Laurie approaches — and places himself right there, looking in. She doesn't leap, but she tenses like a coil spring and steps back, her finger on the intercom button the only thread keeping her close. As rationality settles back in, however — this view through this window does only go one way… right? — she eases back to her spot.

Regarding Laurie through the marker face, her stare no more unabashed than if the view was clear as day for him as well, Maggie touches the pane that separates them. Some inches beneath the hand pushing opposite, her fingertips press to the glass well away from the bottom of his palm. "Yes," she transmits, simple, concise. "It's a deal."

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