2010-04-14: And Into The Fire



Date: April 14th, 2010


So concludes Maggie's stalker situation — but before it gets better, it has to get worse.

Previously on Heroes MUSH...

Maggie holds the Smith & Wesson along her side as she hurries out — hopefully she'll be able to wield it well. She's not taking into consideration the abuse her wrist went through, it's bypassed by adrenaline. Clanging step after step, she scurries her way up the fire escape, a structure that looks rickety but is actually pretty sturdy. How far did he go? Did he make it to the roof? Does the fire escape even make it that far? Maggie is determined to find out.

As it turns out, the structure plateaus just before the roof, requiring a brief climb over a long drop to get over the edge and to the flooring. Through the time of her chase, the fleeing stalker has made it across the way to the opposite side — the opposite edge. Whensoever the first sign of her should appear there, he slips his foot backwards. There's no answering fire escape on that side to catch him should he decide to take two more. Her own gun is in his hand, pointed only should her borrowed piece be raised.

"So this is it, Detective Maggie Anne Powers."


"Into the Fire"

Det. Powers's Apartment Building

The detective looks behind her, wondering where Laurie is — hoping he's doing something useful, and wondering if she's up here alone with the stalker — before she crests the top of the fire escape. She lingers a few steps down from the plateau, borrowed gun cast downward. Ready, nevertheless. Smoldering with cold anger, brows pinched in, grim, she stands in stark contrast to a name like Maggie Anne. "Is this what you want?" she confronts him. "Why me? Why?"

"It had to be you," is the immediate response, like she should know better. "All those other ones… they don't care. They shove people aside. But you… Did you know you have the prettiest smile?" He grins himself, briefly, maniacally. The hand with the gun runs awkwardly through his hair and then back in front of him. "My smile. For me. You gave it to me." A jab of the finger into his chest nearly unbalances him on that narrow precipice. "But I saw it— you — you were looking at him and I saw it." Suddenly, frantic glances around the roof, where she is. Even some of the nearest rooftops to either side. Then the gun jumps sporadically, hoping to find something to aim at, something: "Where is he, I know he's here."

"You're delusional," Maggie replies, thick with emotion and, most of all, denial. "I don't even know your name, I didn't give you anything." She skirts a quick glance around, like he does, even with some of the franticness. "I don't… know… you," she persists, laying it out. Accusing, maybe. Not cold after all. Some part of her seems to want to understand the man as much as condemn him. "And I don't know… what you're talking about. Put…" She slowly starts to raise Laurie's gun. "…the gun down this time. Slow."

When nobody else magically appears, and it's only just Maggie after all, the man's angry tone gives way to a measure of confusion. "No, I— you don't have to be like that. We're alone… don't say those things." Spotting the raise of the weapon, he immediately takes another step backwards. Now it's one choice between him and the edge on one side, her and the gun on the other. His eyes narrow. "You're a good cop, Detective Maggie Powers. What does a good cop do now?"

What a good question. Maggie wavers, and despite herself, it's visible. She frowns tightly, blinks, the gun lowers ever-so-slightly — all little tells that add up to one thing. Doubt. "They… they try their best." The Smith & Wesson is re-steadied, only to lower significantly. "To protect. And serve."

She fires.

The aim is at his knees. She can only hope — for the sake of morality, even for her stalker, regardless of whatever hate she's built up — that if she hits, he falls forward, not backward. As soon as the shot fires, Maggie rushes ahead, trying to grab him before he falls.

He screams first.

The initial movement is erratic, his leg crumpling from beneath him as chance, wind, and gravity fight to determine his eventual direction. Mostly, he just goes down, then… forward…

But his other foot, scrambling to keep purchase, skids against the concrete and then slides off the edge. The momentum of the movement breaks the struggle — he goes backwards.

Then Maggie's there and he wraps around her with the ferocity not of one attempting to save himself, but of desiring to take her with. His dead weight with nothing between it and the street could very well do just that.

"AhhhH— " For the third time tonight, Maggie falls down. It takes her off guard, despite the risks she knew she was literally leaping into. With the man grappling onto her, she finds herself dragged and loses the gun in favour of curling her fingers into … concrete. This isn't going to work very well, she realizes, but tries not to panic. Survival instinct trumps her desire to see the delusional man out of this alive and, amidst her thrashing about, she fights powerfully to kick him off.

For a man bleeding out of his kneecap, her suicidal stalker's grip seems to have suffered none; he clings to her with all the force of this delusion she's called him out on. All around them, the familiar blare of sirens makes itself known as red and blue lights glint off the city walls. The cavalry — several stories too low.

"They'll never get here!" Her hanging company informs her triumphantly, "It's just us. It was always just us and that's all it'll ever be now!"

Crunching punctuates the end of his declaration, the sound of tread across the looser gravel of the rooftop proper. From the corner of Maggie's vision — shoes. Ones she's had creep into her view before, on a day that might seem farther away from this one than it is. But they aren't just shoes for long, Laurie's quick to slide his arms underneath Maggie's, though as he wraps around her there's something heavier, colder against her back than just a hand. Fixing his legs against the tiny walled edge that she's clinging to, he can give her something to pull on, can be that anchor.

But the weight is still dangerous. Looking past her, over the edge, Laurie's hand starts to move away from her, anticipating taking some of the support away. And as he does: "Do you trust me?"

In her struggle, clinging and fighting so hard, still trying to kick the hanging stalker away from her, Maggie is wholly relieved to see those shoes and the person they belong to, but she knows she's not out of the woods just yet. She grapples to Laurie, hanging onto his arms, desperate for the anchor — she's nothing short of woeful as she looks up at him, every feature tight and terrified, the focused anger of the brave detective pretty much having flown off the roof.

Not so tough now, her answer is nothing more than a choked cry at first, indiscernible in-between other whimpers and shouts as she tries to keep holding on. Laurie might have her, but she doesn't want to pull him down, too. "What a— what are you doing— " She seems reluctant, at first, blinking as she tries to answer clearly, but conceding, she manages to nod, hurrying to shout, "I trust you. I trust you!"

Laurie is every bit the anchor, stoic and staring beyond her over the edge whilst she gets her grip and then her words out, even as the combination of all their movements doesn't help the precarious situation much. Then comes that answer, and it's only said once before the motion is started. Laurie's hand separates from Maggie, leaving his one other grip and hers to him. But that isn't quite enough, not for what he needs to do.

As his hand moves, so does he. The struggling becomes prejudiced towards those being helped by gravity, and the whole chain of people lurches forward; Maggie slides further down and Laurie ends up tipping part-way over the edge. But in the same second, as everyone jolts into their new place, he anchors again. His hand steadies. His eyes are on the man below.

"… Hey." A greeting between friends? — A 'guess what, jackass: I'm here too'.


Then the weight vanishes and the gun's tossed to the side and Laurie's using both arms to pull Maggie back to where it's all steady.

Laurie is treated to the sound of a very scared detective in the form of very terrified and, in fact, girlish screams until she finds a solid, safe surface again. Even then, she doesn't compose herself as fast as she'd like. She's too overwhelmed. Maggie just collapses on the gravel of the roof, drawing her knees up, holding her right wrist and looking past the ledge for a moment. She can't see much, from here, and nothing of what became of the as yet nameless stalker — but she can see the reflections of the familiar blue and red lights. Lips pulling tight, she very much looking like she's trying not to cry in the middle of sobbing already, and cups both hands over her face.

Until she looks to Laurie and, against the grain of everything this night has been, smiles pathetically, the kind of sincere but ridiculous smile that doesn't know if its owner ought to be laughing or crying. "We have to stop doing this," she points out in a far too high and tremulous voice.

Those below will deal with what's happening below — Up on the roof, Laurie fell into his own half-sideways seated position as they both found hard ground again and he stays there, head ducked, and watching for her first reaction. Slowly, ever gauging her behavior lest they repeat a scene from earlier this evening, he scoots a bit closer and maneuvers to sidle an arm around her shoulder. He, at least, attempts to nudge her to leaning in his direction. Chin raised, he briefly, ever so slightly, brushes against her now wild hair.

But this gesture he aborts, conveniently timed to her talking — or perhaps startled by — so that he appears to be pulling back to look her in the eye when she smiles, jests. He gives a firm, understanding nod then lifts his other hand to describe the area around his face which, even in the night, is bright with bruising and dark with caking blood. "You should've tried getting him in the nose. I hear that's very effective…"

Maggie's smile dimples slightly before she looks away and gives a pitiable and choked laugh. "I did try. Your face was in the way." Wiping her whole forearm along her face, pale blue fabric of her dress shirt rubbing away remnants of whatever tears did fall, she sighs and clears her throat. She makes a move to get up, but stops, realizing she really has no desire to face the parade downstairs. Instead, she stretches her legs out along the rooftop gravel. "He has my gun."

"Hmmm… yes. It does that sometimes." Laurie muses, leaning off to the opposite side with this rapt contemplation. A glance along his shoulder follows Maggie's various decisions about moving, his hands draping over his knees until she mentions the weapon. Brief forays left and right and then he finds his own old S&W a bit away, on the other side of her from him. "What," he delivers airily, "would you like me to do about that?" With a sudden bolt, he pushes off from the gravel with one hand and is on his feet, spying the edge where they were only just hanging. "Cause I can…" His thumb jerks in that direction, indicating the flying leap he is apparently prepared to make.

"That's okay, I'd rather you didn't," Maggie comments lightly, but she's serious behind that — she's content with no one going near that ledge for the foreseeable future. She might be reluctant to head down, but she does get to her feet after all, crunching upon the gravel. It's a start. "Hey… what're you doing here, anyway? I mean, I'm pretty sure I didn't post an open house." She got her unfair share of visitors anyway. "Don't get me wrong, I'm glad you came." She can't help but glance out at the ledge, on that note. "You knew someone would be there, didn't you. At my apartment. You figured it out."

Laurie sucks in a breath and then releases a low, guilty whistle. Since she's standing, he takes the opportunity to stroll over and duck down to retrieve his gun. He turns away from her as he begins to holster it, but it may be easy to guess already that the weapon isn't kept by any regulation standards, in any of the common places officers keep their guns. "What are you talking about," he replies, still breezy, now even more dismissing. "That dude was just stealing my shtick. I refuse to be out— " squinting to find the right word, " —stalkered." He appears briefly apologetic for how terrible that sounded, turning away to stroll towards the fire escape. Then, as an aside, "Nice art, by the way."

Right, the fire escape. Her exit out of here. At least she's not afraid of heights; she's just afraid of stalkers who try to pull her over high ledges. Maggie, too, strolls toward the metal structure, giving Laurie a half-heartedly withering look — stalker jokes may be on the out, after tonight. "You weren't supposed to see that. It's not a gallery." It looks like a gallery. Ill-fitted to compliments, as she steps on the fire escape to make a much safer descent than her near fall, she declares, "I owe you ice."

They may be on the out, but it remains to be seen whether that will actually stop the jokes. Swinging over the edge to the first set of thin metal stairs, Laurie presses his lips together in grim thought. "If I go down for ice," he warns her solemnly, pointing below to her apartment window, "I may see the gallery again." Yeah, yeah: it's not a gallery. But then, because the tops of fire escapes on roofs two people nearly fell off of tonight is a perfect stage for his first flash of genuine seriousness… he settles his hands in his pockets and waits on that spot. "… How are you doing, Powers?"

Maggie is forced to come to a slow halt a couple of steps up from Laurie. His turn to seriousness brings hers about threefold and her features tense up. "How would you be if you were followed by not one— but two people, at least one of whom is a stalker who came after you in your own home?" Technically, she attacked him; details. Maggie finds herself actually pondering her own question; how Miles reacts to any situation might not be the best example. Huh. She moves on anyway, looking frankly at Laurie, brows slanting up and looking just a little forlorn. "I don't know what I did to deserve all this," she admits.

One of the detective's boots presses onto the next step down. "…My place is going to be crawling with cops in a second anyway." And doesn't she sound thrilled about it. "Officer Parker is probably still out cold on my floor."

Laurie certainly isn't the rule when it comes to reactions, though now he waits through most of her talking. "I didn't ask how I'd be. Or because I was looking for you to say okay." Simple facts, nothing accusatory about it, except the gentle suggestion that she didn't give him a real answer. As for the rest, he glances out into the night air tainted by police lights. "Take hope from the heart of man and you make him the beast of prey." A grim smile is what she gets, more for her benefit than that he's able to hold onto the darker mood he's been shouldering the last couple moments. "You should probably know this has nothing to do with deserving."

He doesn't delay their progress further, actually offering her a hand as though to lead her the rest of the way down, give her a boost into her own home when it's close enough. "He's fine, you know. Joe. Might want to give him my ice…"

The hand she takes, after a sober and silent pause to consider — how she isn't precisely okay, deserving, hope from the heart of man, "Joe", all that. The detective is without answer and, climbing toward the window, using the boost to quickly get back inside and part from the consultant.

It's as she expected: the open door to her colorful apartment is about to be the gateway to a slew of uniforms trying to piece together what just happened, and Maggie is fairly certain the form of the out-of-uniform officer on the floor is as she left him. She hops into her living room, surrounded by painted canvasses; and besides art, odds and ends, few of which originate in this country. What isn't of her own make (though no paintings bear her real signature) is worldly — African and South American on neat on shelves and tables in the form of statuettes and photos and artifacts, all culminating to look absolutely nothing like her staid desk at the station.

Her boots hit the carpet around the same time there's a call of "Detective!" at the doorway.

Laurie climbs in after her, hovering hunched momentarily on the sill to absorb the full view of the apartment from this particular, and peculiar, angle. The unconscious body of Officer Joe Parker rests not where she left him, but propped up against the counter, his head canted slightly to the side where it would be easy for someone to access his welfare. Since the parade of uniforms is only just about to occur, this must have happened sometime while Maggie was on the roof alone.

For a short mournful moment, Laurie stands near some of these shelves, critically eyeing the artifacts and hand poised just stopped from snatching something up for closer examination. Stopping is probably what makes him that shade of disappointed.

But that call from the doorway is not going to go away. Swerving around furniture, Laurie takes up a pace that assures he will get to the foyer first, blocking the progress of whoever's about to come in. With his arms out, presumably to assist his explanation, he conveniently blocks the pathway so that several steps forward force anyone else to back up with him. Whatever he's going on about, it's at least enough to delay them.

Laurie gets a watchful look for his observation of Maggie's eclectic decor, but as he moves to the foyer— hopefully to delay her colleagues right out the door — she jogs over to the man in her kitchen… maybe in slightly better shape than she left him, propped up as he is. She crouches down, trying to discern his state. "Parker?" she questions cautiously. " — Joe? Oookay…" Up you go, lover boy. She loops an arm under his, wincing just a smidgen at the use of her overly-abused wrist as she heaves his arm around her neck and stands up with the unconscious man in tow. Appreciative though she is over the officers being delayed at the door, she calls out, strained by the dead weight that is Officer Parker. "Miles— !"

The last sound from those other officers is laughter before there's the definitive slam of the door being shut in their face. Like an obedient dog, Laurie appears at her side at the sound of his name. Briefly confused eyes scan her current predicament. "You could've just…" He wags a hand at where Parker had been slumped just before. But with a little hop-step, he loops around the unfortunate officer's other side to accept some of that weight — ideally before Maggie does something like drop her side. "He's snoooooozin'," Laurie supplies cheerfully, "From the drugs, not from the konk." Fist raises to knock himself on the side of the head in demonstration.

"Well I can't just leave him here, he needs to go get checked out. I'm sure there's— " Maggie's step hitches, but only for an instant before she picks up her side of the weight, with only a minor lolling around of the poor man's head to show for it. " — paramedics on their way, if they're not outside already." For a more grisly job than tending to a drugged officer. For a moment, she shuffles ahead before stopping in awkward limbo. Do they haul him out, do they call someone in, do they drop him on the couch— that last option is Maggie's least favourite, even as she sends snoozin' off-duty Joe a vaguely regretful wince.

"I have an idea." Probably four of the more dangerous words ever to come from Laurie's mouth. Side-stepping some, he waves his hand several times quickly at her to tell her to step away. That's about all the warning she gets before Joe Parker is forcibly removed from any remaining grasp she might have by Laurie bending to get him around the legs and tossing the officer right over his shoulders like a big, civvy-wearing bag of meat. This sad package is strolled right to Maggie's front door; Laurie swings the door open, and deposits Joe Parker right into the astonished hands of the responding officer outside. The chosen recipient nearly goes over before two others run up to help him. The hallway clears briefly as those attend to that, and Laurie positions himself so that, if he closed the door just now, he'd be outside it. "Tada," he declares to her inside, "Fifteen more minutes to yourself."

Maggie almost protests but, with a wince still in place, watches Laurie cart the man off. She follows as far as the foyer, standing with hand in wrist, an idly protective pose more than anything truly pained or complaining (she got off remarkably easy compared to everyone else in this debacle, all things considered). "Yeah… almost. I'm obliged to not kick you out," she points out, sounding awfully woe-begotten — not hard to pull off under the circumstances off the night — but there's still something nevertheless not-quite-serious about the statement. "Ice, remember." She disappears around the corner, where a fridge freezer door opens and shuts, fast as that.

"Ah…" His exclamation of remembrance is not quite honest; Laurie didn't forget, he'd only shuffled the subject away under everything else. For all she's fast to move into the kitchen, he remains where he is with a sense of determination, though his stance is casual. Eyes up at the ceiling, mouth quirking to the side and eyebrows coming to meet the top of that nose bruising, he thinks very hard about something for a moment and then declares. "Technically, you never invited me in… so…" Everyone knows supernatural creatures have to be invited in. But also: "That's not really necessary…"

"You're getting ice!" Maggie is either cheerful around that corner or she's trying to be cheerful — while the latter is far more plausible, she actually sounds sincere, because she's insistent: one thing's for certain, Laurie is getting ice. No, two things. "I hit you in the face." That obvious announcement is spoken as the wild-haired detective re-appears in the foyer with a small bag of ice perched in her left palm, right on cue for situations such as this. She raises it as if to toss it left-handedly at the doorway, but thinks better. Best avoid a fourth injury to Laurie, just in case. She doesn't invite him in (only to kick him out properly); she goes to the doorway herself and extends the cold plastic bag. Onto his face. "Would you rather I call the paramedics on you, I thought you were tougher than that, Miles."

Since she sees to have things so clearly under control, Laurie continues to stay in the spot; he, in fact, gets comfortable. Throwing anything at him would probably not have gone well, as he chooses to extend his hands to her doorway on either side, allowing him to lean in and relax. "Twice…" he mentions idly for her statement's benefit. Unmoving when she approaches, it seems things are going to go his way until she takes it upon herself to also apply the ice. A low hiss escapes through his teeth before he transforms it into a chuckle, "I'm tough if I want ice? Are you trying to use tricky psychology on me, Detective Powers?" If she wants to keep him administered, she's going to have to keep up the effort. "I'm not tough," he shakes his head, possibly making this even harder for her. "I'm springy. And you painted all these yourself." Wait for it… "We're still stating the obvious, right?"

"Stop moving," is Maggie's answer. Applying the ice — gently, though any pressure against new bruising and a broken nose is rarely comfortable — serves double duty, as she apologetically ascertains the damage she caused. She's gentle, but she'd be a lot gentler if he didn't shake his head. "I did, yes, I did," she admits, hasty to go past that particular statement of the obvious. "Keep it there— " She pries the ice away only to step back and offer it to him with the lightest of encouraging smiles. "You'll live."

He doesn't — stop. Laurie spends a good deal of her time craning to look into the apartment, despite having just been in it, and that he can easily see over her shoulder. If either his tendency towards exaggerated facial expressions, or her gentle application is causing him discomfort, he betrays none of it. "I suppose I will." When the ice is offered, he drops one hand to accept. Too easily. The instantly suspicious movement proves itself just that. As he wraps a hand around the bag, his other one also detaches from the doorway. Having been leaning forward, he's pretty much forced to take the step towards her that he uses to facilitate gently, but insistently, reaching for her upper arm to keep her there. This bag of ice, as it turns out, is to be settled against her hurt wrist.

Touche. Turning tables. Maggie tenses only to relax and glance from the ice to Laurie with a forlornly incredulous expression — seriously? — and says, calmly, "I'm fine. I have a whole freezer of ice." The fingers belonging to that hurt side curl into the bag, crackling the ice as she pushes it back at Laurie. She looks at the floor, the threshold, and Laurie's feet. Aha. He took a step. "Now I can kick you out. Tell the responding officers and whoever showed up that I'll be down to play victim in fifteen," she says. "And go home, Miles."

"You already said I'll live." Her wound, while on a whole less visible, still requires attention, which Laurie is ready to present it with, staring only at her wrist and not at the looks she is giving him. Deciding he doesn't need to hold onto her arm anymore means his hand slides down it, fingers against her skin, until he's propping up the hurt wrist instead. The ice being pushed back at him he also ignores. Her statement, however… "Tcch, your home is prettier than mine."

But he complies: again, suspicious. Taking up the bag of ice, he also reaches quite unabashedly down and sticks two fingers inside her front pants pocket, yanking forward. Indeed, the bag is stuffed there — mostly not fitting, but sufficiently stuck enough to be out of his hands as he backs up, clapping them together and bowing slightly to her. "I go, I go. Enjoy that victim thing. You might as well. It'd be awful to just waste the evening, now wouldn't it?" And there he goes~ gone.

Maggie is left, dazed, looking down at the ice that is now … in her pants. Following a significant pause of bewilderment — during which Laurie has vanished — she reaches for it with the hand that isn't in need of it, pulling it out before it falls. Like many times when the detective parts ways with the quirky consultant, she shakes her head.

The door is reached for, ice in hand, and Maggie prepares to take that fifteen minutes to herself. Her apartment may be "pretty", but her face returns to grim and etched deeply with many a line as she starts to pull the door shut, and her shoulders weigh heavy as she looks into the empty space, so quiet now.

Door closed.

Case closed.


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