2010-09-21: And Nothing But



Date: September 21st, 2010


When it comes to the Execution case, Detective Powers takes things into her own hands — including the main suspect, Consultant Miles. A game is afoot, and it is delicious — but the aftertaste is bitter.

"And Nothing But"

Police Station

Maggie's paperwork catch-up is about as exciting as she looks doing it. She has no qualms with the work but, today, she's on a level of high alert that goes beyond her light desk duty. A few dedicated checks and words are printed on a form, then she lifts her head, taking in the gradually increasing bustle of the station with a sweeping glance; so it goes. Every so often, one of those upward glances — nothing special about it — is met with a raised eyebrow by a passing officer.

Reason being: it's not her desk she's using. It's the desk used by consultant Laurence Miles.

Casually, the detective swipes a folder — that, at least, is hers — off the desk and twirls the office chair about half-circle, papers fluttering. She props a boot-clad ankle up on her opposite knee in a casual and not a hundred percent lady-like pose, black on black the same as her structured blouse. She bites the end of a pen — ownership questionable — between her teeth lightly and resumes her on-and-off work-and-watch.

The bustle is as always; officers here and there, suspects passing through with their usual elegance. Somebody's broken the coffee machine, and somebody else is swearing to find someone to pay for it. If there are a few extra glances given the way of the detective in a consulting chair — well, it's nothing that hasn't happened before, and now she's earning it with her turn at the desk of someone no one's quite sure if she's on or off of a relationship with at any given moment recently.

This game of Maggie watching the station and the station occasionally watching back sees the clock tick away the next five minutes without gratification for either viewer. Certainly no one bothers approach the desks at all, so it can't be that serious.

But sudden, then, when a voice pipes up from immediately behind the detective: "You take my name, now my desk— is nothing sacred?"

Laurie wears the sheen of hypocrisy well. Also, the quite fitted navy t-shirt, vaguely patterned only for impression of detail, and the grey, blue, and yellow scarf knotted loosely at his neck. The clothes remain the most visible; by the time he's looked at, his face is blandly indifferent. Except the unforgettably pink with yellow stars large-sized band-aid plastered over the left side of his forehead.

The detective's folder, held open just so, shuts with a sudden jolt and rustle of papers. It's all the fluster evidenced for her surprise; she spins the chair to face the source of the sudden voice properly and greets him with nothing by way of any expression on her part, either. "There you are," she singsongs, managing to make something so melodic sound serious. Laurie — specifically, the pink and yellow band-aid on his forehead — then gets a notable study before Maggie lets her foot fall from her knee and starts to gather up the work she toted over.

No sooner does she have the materials situated in one arm does she shove decisively away from the desk and reach down for something else, on the floor. It's hefted up, her leather satchel, grasped casually at her side. Maggie quickly move right alongside the consultant, an intent lean in her stance, possessed of a look that pierces right into Laurie and says, unarguably, that she wants something. "Can I steal you for a few minutes," she says, flatly, in a hurry. "There's something in it for you."

"Here I am…" not something he has a huge opinion on, by the sound of it. Even though logic dictates it being his chosen destination in order to end up there. On the vacating of his desk, Laurie does not immediately push into the space but lingers solidly. This is eventually beneficial to the detective when she comes in on him, a movement he wasn't following with his eyes and has to catch up to now with a dry glance. Piercing into him at this point is as to stepping into a fog — during a blizzard.

Uninterested hands, hanging disinterestedly from his belt loops, tug at their spots there as his gaze — and, by association, the point of his chin — goes from a focus on her, to a less than convinced study of her satchel. Upon returning to her face, what expected skepticism is still just an affable breeziness, heedless of her hurry. "I don't know— do you think I'll fit in that bag?"

Spoiler: "You're not going in the bag." Maggie's hurry slows temporarily and her intensity redirects ever-so-slightly into a closer study of Laurie himself. Skepticism finds her features; she narrows her eyes, pushes right past it. "Oh, look alive, Miles," she encourages, smirking as a counter to his present lack of general enthusiasm. "We're going to play a game." She lifts that bag over her shoulder, clutching its strap for the short time prior to her hand going on the move again — to Laurie's elbow, quite prepared to escort him arm-to-arm to somewhere of her choosing. Perhaps accounting for the resistance she seems to expect, it's not gentle.

"You're just worried I might see something— " But as quickly as the bag was important, it's not anymore. A sort of sulk sits over Laurie's features when she's eying him — only to have everything lighten with the startle of interest. And then darken again with the shadow of distrust, though not a very serious one. "You never let me pla — okay!" Being forcefully pulled forward certainly does wonders to alleviate disbelief. But, lest his bafflement be mistaken for that lost enthusiasm, his planted and unyielding limbs continue, after that first tug, to make her do all the work. It makes for a very stumbling couple of initial steps that lend perfectly to the helpless — but somehow practical — way he glances to the side at a passing officer as his heels briefly dig in for dramatic resistance as he regales informatively, "She really wants to play an alone game."

Detective Powers, in turn, regales the passing officer with a look that doesn't seem to place her in a game-playing mood; but it may partly be Laurie's fault as she's forced to haul on him like a mother with an unruly child at the supermarket.

Thankfully, it's a straightforward march to her playing field, and not far: a door just off the Homicide bullpen especially familiar from recent days past. She lets go of Laurie's arm to open to door and flick the light-switch on just inside. Forcefully determined to keep the ninja consultant in her sights and where she wants him, Maggie turns about to give him a distinctly and darkly warning look before she reaches to grab that scarf of his as leverage to make sure he gets inside, so she can close the door.

It's like something out of an old black-and-white slapstick; arm released, Laurie naturally turns, fully and dreamily prepared to meander off at the detective's expense when the warning — missed — is followed by his scarf being tightened about his neck and used as the crooked staff to whisk him in the opposite direction. Like he's being yanked off-stage — only… he's being dragged possessively into a private room and the door shuts behind him. If memory serves, slapsticks wouldn't have earned this rating…
Leaving the imagination to do wonders outside, Laurie is fully aware of the actual interior — and its lack of pillows and mood music — as he goes willing with the pull on his scarf, if only to spare the soft and innocent material from the violence. Following up with a few extra steps after Maggie goes to close the door, he's quite securely inside the room when he rounds out that hum of protest he'd had going. "I see those How To Get A Guy's Attention books have been working out for you…"

To such a comment— Maggie stares straight-faced, blatantly not amused. This little room is, on rare occasions, used to talk to witnesses and families when there's no other space; were someone to visit it, they'd likely be confused by the faded numbers and words not yet fully removed from the widest wall. Right now, it seems more likely to transform into interview room for an interrogation. At the behest of two fingers behind her, Maggie locks the door with a decisive click. There she stands, holding assorted work files against her side and staring down Laurie — who she does not appear happy with. Her next command — while still being a command — is, however, calmer than the forceful pulls it took to get him here. "Sit down."

The fingers responsible for all those confusing words and numbers curl inside a pocket where a light bulge identifies that they've a target there, rather than just leisure. Laurie's eyebrows tick upwards, timed to the sound of the lock; he's unmoved by her stare, her discontent — and, most especially, her command. Though only one foot vaguely slips aside from pointing into the middle of the room, the rest of his body is twisted so he can face the detective at the door. Slowly, his elbow pulls back, drawing his hand from his pocket, and a clementine along with it. Giving the tiny imitation orange a rub against his shirt, as if it were pretending to be an apple instead, he eyes Maggie only half-lidded; his head tipped lazily downwards, and his gaze following idly after it in a moment. "Aren't you going to tell me the rules?"

Maggie's glance to the Clementine dredges up a hint of private amusement in her eyes; it's fiercely cast aside. Rule one: "You're not going to need that." Rules beyond unusual citrus bans will have to wait — the detective holds up one finger lightly to delay the game a moment. He doesn't want to sit; she'll sit. She slings her bag off her shoulder and drops it on the corner of the table, opening it to slide the folders and files inside; they're unimportant for this. She eases down onto the table's edge beside it.

"Alright," she sets in sternly, a cue to begin. "Since you can't be serious…" Maggie nods; it's to herself, looking down and then up toward the ceiling to recalibrate. She takes a breath in, softening up some of that tension.

She reaches back into the satchel until, with a crumpling of paper, she finds what she's looking for. A brown paper bag is revealed and for that and she promptly turns the bag upside-down over the open space of the table. Candy pours out in droves. Happily individually wrapped in plastic and coloured foil, they're all chocolates with tantalizing and sometimes and unusual flavours and ingredients: salted caramel, peanut butter, macademia nuts, truffles, star anise, vanilla milk, passion fruit — to name but a few.

But— but the clementine… Laurie, all poised and ready to peel this orange wonder, stares forlornly at the made forbidden fruit — okay, see, now he just wants it more. Mouth opening as if to defiantly plunge into the clementine, skin and all, he's diverted by a need to tilt his head side to side in weighing at her cue. Since Maggie finds interest in her bag, he regains his efforts. A finger curls into the clementine, nail biting the outer edge and beginning to define a crack in the fruity armor. His other hand soon joins in an overly done gesture of getting at that started break—

And then somebody smacks the pinata. Raining, cascading bits of chocolate and unique colorful choices hold the consultant's staring, blank attention. Comprehending, and yet…

It takes the entire package being upended into an exquisite pile Halloween dreams about before, a frozen spectator only, Laurie springs to life. First, with a jerk of elbow and flick of wrist, he chucks the clementine without a second thought over his shoulder — sorry, honey, you've been replaced. Second, opting not to go for the permission he shouldn't receive, he goes right in for one of those truffles that fell near the outskirts: a wounded animal separated from the herd.

It doesn't take a detective's sensibilities to predict Laurie's swoop in for the treats; it only takes knowing Laurie even a little bit. "Heeey." Maggie leans toward the oh-so-exciting spread of candy and expediently smacks at his hand, a smile easing out natural as anything around all of her weightier mood. "Now just a second, hang on. You don't get those for free." The rules begin: now. "The game is…" she begins to slowly, gradually explain, casually laying it out. "I ask you a question — and if you answer," she plucks a random candy from the pile and holds it up, "you get a prize. If you don't — no chocolate." The candy drops back into the colorful pile. "And so it's fair… I guess we'll take turns." A reluctant-looking pull of her mouth follows that rule, but fair's fair. Blue eyes track the candy-mongerer. "Can you play that game, Miles?"

"Hey!" Laurie's is an echo of hers off the sound effect that matches the verb that now has his hand smarting. The offended hand jumps into its fellow, reddened skin hiding behind unharmed fingers. "Oww." Pain — however unlikely — doesn't make him entirely tolerable to then entertain a listing of rules. Curiosity, fittingly, does him in in the end. Unhurriedly through a similarly time explanation, his hands cease their joined comfort and composedly fall to familiar pockets. His own color of day eyes betray the zeal behind the listening; based, however, on even recent events, this reveal could be just as controlled as not showing at all. Her answer, her only answer — and yet all she needs — comes in the form of the consultant easing forward, canting just slightly to the side, and dropping. He lands on the chair before the table, angled to the table-perched detective. And he drapes an arm around the back and is quite comfortable.

Maggie appears content enough with this result — she straightens up where she sits having started to slouch and tips her chin up with a small pleased smile. Granted, the look turns almost devious. She knowingly eyes Laurie, rule-breaker that he is. "Okay…" It's a bit of an awkward start when no question follows. Despite being the gamemaster of the day, Maggie seems by-and-large unfamiliar with the process. No matter; before long, she settles into a considering stare that runs a track from Laurie's face, down, and back up — the game is afoot. "Tell the truth," she warns. "Did you match your scarf to your band-aid?"

Devious she may be; Cheshire is Laurie. Not to her question, but the three dangerous words that precede it. "Ah ah ah," he chides her, a guiding finger ticking back and forth to illustrate her wrong-doing to the most smug extent. Yet he manages to keep this smarmy quality from a more sympathizing, but altogether unyielding, tone: "You can't add rules after the game's begun." Or— afoot, as it may be. But in a gamely manner unhindered by this singular reminder, he doesn't rescind his acceptance to play but becomes twice as comfortable, with a leg he pulls up by a hand to rest ankle against knee; it's much how the detective started the day. "Clearly not." The mentioned scarf is given a thin plucking, "There's no red tones in this at all." Now— he'll be having that truffle.

Good catch; Maggie's brows raise, as if impressed by the observation on rules about rules, as it were. All the same, her gaze, once those brows fall, is pointed — tell the truth. Even for this, the easiest of starter questions. When Laurie gives his answer and takes his prize, she grabs the table's edge to ease back further, sliding black denim along the table — getting comfortable herself. "Alright," she accepts. "Your turn."

And his prize is his prize. Laurie makes a happy art out of peeling away the expensively printed trappings towards the actual truffle hiding underneath all that decoration. He desires, in no way, for this all important investigation to be interrupted by something like— a tur. Glancing idly upwards, he sets her off with a fleeting, dismissing wave of the tops of his fingers before they're fit to peeling. "Pass." Paper orange like his first treat surrenders, exposing chocolate that is popped so fast into his mouth it pretty much defeats all the ceremony just before. He smiles so contentedly around the chocolate ball, letting her see, before lips close down on a bite.

"What makes you think you can pass. You can't pass on asking," Maggie calmly protests, sounding personally rather unconcerned, but rather, instead, as if reading from an invisible book of rules that she's just here to enforce. "That isn't how it's supposed to work. I read it in a book." The small smile appears makes light of herself for that, not utterly serious. And quite temporary. She allows— "The next round, you should play fair. How did you hurt your forehead?"

Laurie's mouth pulls down: wry amusement. "Apparently, I can…" He doesn't push the deviance, only adjusts his shoulders on the chair to get a good comfy grip on his hands on his perched leg. To her question, he looks more thoughtful than is likely necessary for the straightforward-ness, but he makes a good play at it anyway. "Ummm," very natural sounding, but hardly expected to be taken as serious, "I didn't." Big blue innocent eyes blinking at her, he rolls a finger towards the chocolates — pointing, not taking. Yet. Mother, may I.

The verdict is out due to the questionable last minute addition to the rules: the truth. To Laurie's big blue eyes of innocence, Maggie has narrowing blue eyes of suspicion — an expression seen only in the instant before a flash of movement. A brash and quick grab flies to the beacon of colour swathed over the side of Laurie's forehead, Maggie trying to make her own determination. You know that saying about ripping off a band-aid — do it fast.

Fast supposedly being the easier, optimally less painful, route; the large medical accessory still makes a mighty rip under Maggie's less than gentle administrations. Tipped finger already angling for the prize despite lack of permission, it's interrupted — but briefly. Having been staring at Maggie, Laurie cannot have been completely off-guard, and his sole defense is only the objecting turn of his head away from the pull — not enough to affect the outcome. When she comes away with the bandaid, its former purpose is clear: broken skin around a heartily sized bump. Even so, not even a lick of guilt at this supposed outing, as Laurie grits his teeth in an imitation hiss and gingerly prods, with a hand wrapped around a cherry delight, at the revealed skin where the edges of the once-there patch are faintly visible. "Was that completely necessary?— that's not my question, don't answer that— yeesh," his hand comes away hesitantly, "If I thought you were going to do that, I would've just used the towel again…"

"Sorry," Maggie murmurs. After a thin-lipped frown, and another regard of suspicion, she leans the short distance to attempt — with contrastingly ginger but not quite committed motions — to thumb the bandage back on with two fingers on either side, skeptical of this task throughout. The same calm, explanatory tone eases back when she replies regardless. "For not telling the truth — that was your consequence," she says. "I'm full of them. Your turn."

Awkwardly eyeballing this reverse on the bandaid, Laurie waits all the way through her attempted application, hands passively in his lap. Until she's done. Then he rips the thing right off again and, repositioning into a lounge, crumbles and stuffs it into his pocket, where the hand then stays. "You're a little overeager for punishment; I didn't lie." Plain as day, and not particularly accusatory. Only light, he's almost politely excusing her for her outright behavior. "What's the name of the game?"

Nearly rolling her eyes, Maggie's gaze slides off to the side for a moment at this bit of cleverness. "Alright," she says patiently, "someone else hurt you. You know if you walked into a door, it's not the door's fault."

Maggie places her hands beside her on the table and straight-forwardly addresses the question directed at her. "The Truth Game," comes her uninteresting answer — but it's an answer, and apt enough; her gaze steadies and there it remains on Laurie, honing in on truths when there aren't many to be had. She reaches for a prize, fingertips on the wrapper of whichever chance chocolate she touches. Already, she's onto her turn. "Do you care," her posture cants ahead, focused completely on the consultant, "that you might be arrested for homicide?"

"There you go again, taking the furniture's side…" It's not even half-hearted complaining, merely said for the sake of saying as Laurie glances off his hand to the wall, his head drifting to an angle. While he's thus, the evaluation of Maggie's title passes. The general down turn of his mouth seems disinclined, but he shrugs more generously. It isn't great; he doesn't hate it. He's more interested in charting her choice — or disregard of one — towards the chocolates.

As fast as she asks, he smiles: beaming, really, with a ray of optimism. "I try not to let my attitude become the negativity through which my day is ruined— you should try one of these." Plucking one questionably more fruit than sugar, he displays that particular wrapper at her for memorization. It's all as casual as daily conversation as he goes at the package, giving her an idle glance, "What are you doing this weekend?"

The reply from Laurie, a light answer to Maggie's dark question, earns only the faintest increase in intensity from her. It's accepted. She glances from the candy Laurie displays down to her hand over the pile of on the table, and heeding, casual, changes the course of her trailing fingers over the plastic-and-foil wrappers. A likeness to the one memorized is chosen instead.

Her reply isn't instantaneous. Maggie visibly tracks the days of the week — the amount of time to the weekend; surprised to find it there — oh right, the weekend — and pulls up some mental to-do list. "I don't know." But she can use probability to make a clearer answer. "Probably working," she determines without an ounce of complaint, "that could mean anything." Truer words have possibly never been spoken. She could stop there; she goes on to give a private bonus answer. "And there's a painting I want to finish."

This round is a play-by-play of days. Her question for Laurie goes back in time instead looking of ahead. "What did you do all of yesterday?"

Laurie's taken a small nibble off the chocolate from last round, allowing him to extend his enjoyment of it over the time it takes Maggie to answer. The heat of his hand through the wrapper inevitably requires it to be peeled away and the rest popped into his mouth before too long. He has no qualms, however, sucking melted chocolate coating off his fingers — and it's this that he's doing when the detective speaks. The tip of his forefinger pressed to his teeth, Laurie smiles around it for what is the truth's truth.

Fingers… clean-ish… he drops the hand against his leg, using it to bolster the ankle that wants to slide to the floor. Soft taps against the jean fabric of his pants, he also respects her question with a good think that spans before the hours spent here to those of the previous day. It isn't half so long as her, the wait, but the reply's also considerably shorter. "Breathe." That tap tap taping picking up a flavor of enthusiasm, his reach for a candy is actually second to the lively, "Would you paint me a picture— if I asked you to?"

Maggie is slower about her collection of prizes, picking a belated second while Laurie talks, idly setting them aside on the worn leather of her bag. She's less amenable to Laurie's answer this time, a trick answer but no less true — clever, her look says before settling herself with answering his lively question, which takes the sharpness out of her eyes, and leaves her gaze muted, somewhere else in thought.

"I guess I might, yeah. Maybe," she says amiably after that drifting pause, a hint of a smile matching, disappearing. "It would depend." And another candy is taken. This one she pulls open to reveal the white chocolate inside. "If I were to paint you a picture right now," she puts forth, "and it took me a month to finish it— " she cuts herself with a considering head-tilt, " —actually, it would probably take longer. But, theoretically, a month from now… where do you think you'd be?"

"Physically? Emotionally? Ideally?" Laurie chirps these out rapid-fire, no emphasis to any from his side. "Maybe where do I think I will be?" The wordplay almost sounds like an exit strategy; for appearances, he nearly seems to take it. "Haven't given it much thought— nah," fast as it's out of his mouth, he gives an idle bat of his hand, "That's a lie." Which came off tonally identical to his truths. The more sincere match to her latest, now that he's decided to, indeed, be truthful, gives him furthered pause. Cocking his head heavily to the side, his body shifts to that arm of the chair, putting all pressure on that elbow spread along it.

"Hmmm," is thoughtful, "hrrmm…" as it turns less satisfactory. Ultimately, one pinned by his body weight, the other free-roaming, his hands spread in his most common display of helplessness. "I think," is deliberated, "I will be where my choices," a little stab towards himself then radiates outwards to the yonder, "and those of the people with whom I have surrounded myself, have put me." A calming answer for himself, he clearly does not expect the same for her. Pulling back on the resting arm, his hand braces to his chin in casual poise. "I'm not a fortune teller, Powers. But perhaps you could consult one of those next."

"I don't believe in fortune tellers." Maggie isn't satisfied by Laurie's interpretation of the future; she becomes more focused on him for his mix of truth and vagueness. She sets aside the candy she'd gotten to, and her hands spread apart midair, not in a helpless gesture but one that sets the tone— it prepares for when the detective's determination rises sharply, as urgent as she started out with.

Maggie slides off the table, palm pressed flat and braced against it as she stands facing Laurie, making a looming presence of herself, the demanding interrogator— but her insistences are laced with a sincerity most suspects might not hear. "This investigation. Where all roads lead to you. There's something— something— " Unshared thoughts and even theories liven her gaze, which seems to darken under a stormy brow. "If I just had one clear thing— " she pauses just to re-enunciate that point, "one clear thing to go on in all of this…" For all her determination, she doesn't sound hopeful for the answers she's actually looking for.

Maggie stands there, a partial blockade whose responses aren't responses at all but her same intense regard. If there's any change at all to be seen, it's a subtle hardening to some of Laurie's words — it'll all be over soon. Hardened— not cold.

A blockade is only one if you let it be. Straightening to find that there is a detective in the middle of the road, Laurie contemplates her only a second before turning again — towards the chair; he wraps a hand around its back and swings a leg over the seat and arm. Pushing off from there requires a bit more effort, evident in the distracted, breathier way he speaks, "We all— make mistakes." Once he's over the chair — 'lo and behold — she's put him near the fallen clementine. Every problem, an opportunity in disguise. He bends, there, to retrieve it.

Laurie prepares to stand and Maggie takes a small step, a shuffle to the side, not to politely give him room— instead, in conspiracy with the table and chair to triangulate on his position, with her at the point, making a further barrier of herself. Clearly not appearing reassured — perhaps less — both arms fold, so tight that muscles jump sinuously were black material doesn't cover forearms. "I defended someone once," she delves into history, something personal under this steely tone, "and I was wrong."

A blockade is only one if you let it be. Straightening to find that there is a detective in the middle of the road, Laurie contemplates her only a second before turning again — towards the chair; he wraps a hand around its back and swings a leg over the seat and arm. Pushing off from there requires a bit more effort, evident in the distracted, breathier way he speaks, "We all— make mistakes." Once he's over the chair — 'lo and behold — she's put him near the fallen clementine. Every problem, an opportunity in disguise. He bends, there, to retrieve it.

"We don't all make mistakes that get people killed," Maggie counters evenly — still unmoving, only watching Laurie's retreat. She makes no move to stop him after that; she makes her own preparations to leave, turning to touch the satchel on the table, keeping her head down.

"I had my own rules today." A declaration from Maggie that is without sheepishness. "That if you answered enough questions … whatever the answers were— " She moves to sweep the unclaimed prize candy toward her, and along with the pieces she won, it's collected into the paper bag, swift and organized. "I would let walk out, and what happens — based on… your choices — would happen. And if you didn't…" Everything disappears into her satchel, and she hefts it over her shoulder. "Well it doesn't matter," she dismisses this last rule, disregards all of them.

She steps away from the table toward the door but pauses quickly, turning with a raised hand holds a glinting bit of gold. "Hey," a soft call to attention, "you forgot one." The gold-foiled candy is tossed toward Laurie — white Chocolate Macadamia, as it happens — and she turns, frees the door's lock.

There's nearly a buzz behind that door as it unlatches— a nervous hum just beyond that barrier that keeps them alone, closeted. It does not creep inside to them — yet — only waiting for the first handle's pull.

Laurie does not immediately oblige this atmosphere; he's paused where he claimed the clementine, only instinctively raising a hand to catch the white chocolate as it arcs in at him. With it settled into his palm, he gives the candy a very shortly intrigued glance. "Don't much care for rules anyway…" In the end it's caught, pocketed — one for the road. But now that leaving's no obstacle course, he makes less of a push to do so. The clementine, with its pierced and imperfect skin, is rolled and tossed between palms, his blue eyes charting the movements as he performs them.

No weight of the earth sags his shoulders. There's no shadowy strain burying wrinkles in his forehead. He does not sigh. It — him — all packaged into a neat bundle of compartmentalization… that frees slightly — like the lock on the door. "Your clear thing— " he says, helpful, like maybe she's forgotten it on the table when she was sorting the candy back in. Raising his head, his hand, he swipes a thumb under his nose casually. "It's you."

Even when the answers weren't enough, nothing surprised Maggie, not much seems to at all— but every now and then

Her grip on the door — the way out — is synonymous with her quick over-the-shoulder look at Laurie — the way back in. Clear and quizzical, these contradictions in her look share equal space, perfectly balanced between knowing and wondering. The detective's mouth firms against the questions of the latter. Question time is over. "This really isn't… my favourite kind of puzzle," she comments, light but edged. With a twist of her hand, a swing of the door to reveal the station proper and her steps out, the barrier between here and there is broken.

Answer time, too. All time. What more light may have been shed metaphorically bends to the dull fluorescent of the police station, illuminating the crisp, perfectly lined suits of the men standing triangularly right outside the inner sanctuary. This trifecta of authority does not violate the barrier — and Maggie could skirt around them with some impolite effort — but stare unerringly inward to the target of their pose, the man carelessly dragging his fingers around a little clementine before he returns the gesture.

A man who everyone knows is, but the head FBI agent still confirms with a demanding, "Laurence Miles."

First out the door, the visitors are instantly unwelcome to Detective Powers, as if she was the man they're looking for and, so directly spoken to, she backs up, revoking the step she took until she's standing affront the doorway. The instinct isn't one of retreat, in the end. She stands defensive— tentatively protective. The men and their motives — the telltale preparedness of the pair behind, the leadership of the man in front — are tested with her strong stare, through which she addresses them professionally: "Agents. What's going on?"

Practiced, sweeping gazes by the two men in back position with their hands resting not shyly against their weapons search Laurie, the item in his hand, the possibles in his pockets — that scarf — the cool, unattached way with which he regards them in return. Nobody moves after Maggie chooses her side, maintaining a tense, wary balance, in the middle of which is the detective. Without even considering looking her way, the man in charge replies politely but firmly: "Ma'am, we're going to need you to step out of the room, please."

"Yeah, Powers," pipes up Laurie, flicking bits of orange peel out from underneath his fingernails — instantly the least concerned and least professional entity making up this stand-off. But the undercurrent of dark skirting by beneath his humor is what makes two hands on guns tighten instinctively. "We wouldn't want me to have any hostages for this."

"Only criminals take hostages, Miles." Perfectly even, this smooth, cold statement from Maggie is detached, in part, from the man actually in question: her unblinking focus remains solely on the FBI agents wishing to torpedo into the room, even as she addresses the unconcerned presence behind her. "Are you going to admit to being a criminal?" As if she didn't hear the lead agent's command that she step out of the room, or is blatantly unconcerned by it, she doesn't move — not even an inch.

Impasse; nobody wants to be the first to surrender ground, even if that means taking new. Muscles coiled in constant possible movement makes everything twice as focused. "I believe," regards Laurie coolly, "They have to accuse me of something first."

No tick in the lead agent, but he does reposition his arms ever so slightly as they hang, hands clasped in faux-casualness — not like the real disregard he stares at in the room. "Detective," it's said very like to ma'am. It has completely different implications. "I am asking you to step out of the room."

"I heard what you asked," Maggie says in a slow, obvious manner so as to point out how much the agent truly didn't need to repeat himself. She stands firm and unwavering, showing zero signs of intimidation; the impasse extends. It can't go on forever, though, and it is reluctantly the detective who makes the first move. It isn't to step away, but to turn — back to one side of the doorframe, facing the other — making passageway. Her gaze drags off of the FBI presence into the room, to Laurie, subtle animations of her face expressing thoughts— aren't you going to do something?

Repetition was for her benefit, not the agent — regard he's only too ready to set aside when the way clears. Not in the preferable manner, but time has wasted enough in this play for standing. Clasped hands begin to part as he nods to his left shoulder and then his right, signaling the other two men to sweep around him as they all advance, a circling, surrounding maneuver — a hunt. "Laurence Miles…"

… looks away. Turns. The consultant breaks that iron-clad staring contest between him and his accusers, to turn his head swiftly to Maggie. Only fleeting seconds to spare makes his voice a hurried sentence of random sentiments, "Sorry you're offended by me— " despite, he hasn't stopped being light, casual, " —I sent you crazy, but if you don't make the same mistake, there won't be a third."

His head whips forward as the last word's barely out; it's to greet the head agent who heavily takes the last step to stand the several feet away from Laurie he deems necessary. Hands from the front have ventured to his back, one near the hip and the other all the way around where his fingers flex under the fall of that crisp suit jacket. Handcuffs hang there, at his belt. Off his impatiently expectant face, Laurie raises an inquisitive eyebrow that only worsens the scowl forming around the agent's mouth — he's had about enough of repeating himself. "Laure— "

"Yes, yes," the consultant interrupts him flippantly, twisting towards the table in a swift move he's only too aware compels the agents on the sides to remove their firearms the first inch from loosened holsters. But all that happens is he gently slows, and then sets the clementine, peeled, onto the table. Upon turning calmly to face fate, Laurie rolls his wrists out, displaying their undersides, and his empty palms to the man of the law. "Fine. If it means so much to you— I'll be your date to the dance."

At the moment, there isn't a vast amount the detective can do about this turn of events, however predicted. So she stands at the threshold and she watches, her discontented interpreting of Laurie's random sentiments bringing stitches to her brow, in much the same as her powerfully thoughtful criticism of the agents does next. The same discontent doesn't quite carry into Maggie's voice as it drifts into the room with the men and their ready weapons and ready handcuffs like it belongs there. And shouldn't it — this is her territory. "Where's Agent Hamm," she asks, only slightly challenging, "I thought he was supposed to be in charge of this."

Some ungenerous grunt about Hamm, being around, and there shortly comes out of the agent — haha… shortly: Laurie enjoys it — while his hands maintain a constant motion of unclipping cuffs and coming to claim the consultant's so readily available wrists. Wrists that, as Laurie hears the other agent's name, begin to fold in automatically to his idle attempt to get a look around the other man's shoulder with fondly overdone enthusiasm, "Oh, is Hamm here— ?"

Yank— the wrist is snatched by the FBI, the man coordinating Laurie to turn around by compelling the arm behind him; he exercises an ounce more force than is strictly necessary, pressing the consultant against the chair arm as one and then the other ends of the cuffs — click, click — lock into place. "You're now in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Investigation," not so much quote for quote the usual rights, spoken more proudly — and just as condemning.

But the procedure. The meticulous cop watching this scenario unfurl step by expected step narrows in when there is — to her — a hitch: the lack of an official statement beforehand; no stated reason for arrest. It earns the agent speaking a look akin to suspicion. "You gonna put him in the back of a mysterious van now, too?" And the source of doorway commentary isn't through yet, going on with composed reminder the FBI surely doesn't want: "And you didn't answer." Maggie folds her arms in a stiff pose familiar from earlier, toughness a natural substitute to helplessness.

Cuff security is checked, and then checked twice. "Yes, detective, that's exactly what we're going to do." Sarcasm or sincerity blend together in the lead man, his head lifting with the effort of his answer but eyes not bothering in finding Maggie. Rather, he secures determinedly on Laurie, both with that professional glower and the grip on an arm he uses to bodily put the consultant where he's wanted. "You know what's next, Miles…" is low, entreating — short of pleads. A simple suggestion that this not be more difficult than it has to be. Knowledgeable on his charge — he leaves optimism out of the equation — and only preys on common sense (still not optimistically). Except that she speaks up again, Maggie is all but nothing in the room. To her next, the lead agent has gotten into position, indicating his fellows close rank, each taking a hand to Laurie's upper arms just before where they're forced with an awkward twist behind his back. "And yet— " without looking, the agent addresses the odd person out in the room, " — I heard you ask — come on." (END OF POSE MISSING?)

Maggie steps aside. She becomes a reluctant sentinel by the doorway instead of inside of it, prepared to watch the procession that will take Laurie away; turning her head to the side to watch as it does. Her stillness is something of an illusion, tightly coiled as if ready to fly into motion.

The proceedings have long since garnered attention from around the station; any looks that come the detective's way come up against a hard and unwelcoming wall. But she doesn't spend much time looking outward, or further, now, at the agents— just at the man in handcuffs (which first earn an eyeing of their own as well), and for him, something softer slips through— something conflicted— something melancholy. A steel-trap grasp of either arm digs frustrated fingers down to bone.

It isn't just Maggie. As three strictly suited FBI agents stride from the private office into the bullpen, all station eyes are on Laurie, the convicted consultant. The staring goes beyond unabashed; it is outright, blatant — a mismatch of shock — I laughed at his jokes — scandal — one of ours — and the quietly nodding heads of those who knew, told you so. That one's a bad egg; it's as clear as the handcuffs on his wrists. A huddle near an ambiguous desk belonging to one of the group, Kotowski and his gang stand, the usually joke-faced detective's arms crossed in indecisive anger towards, not only the suspect, but those escorting him.

Coming in off the streets, several uniforms at the ends of their shifts hesitate in the hallway, knowing the tune of this march too well. Among them, Officer Parker stares with wide eyes that betray no judgment — really, almost as if he doesn't comprehend. So different from across from him, where the chief shadows his own door for once, beside Sergeant Gartland's wisened and unsurprised observance. Smug, he is, but, at the same time, disappointed to be. Under his arm, a stack of file folders, stuffed to brimming, and otherwise unremarkable except for the blaring CONFIDENTIAL red stamp across each front. He and the chief exchange a look worth a conversation between them before the higher superior vanishes, closes his door to the whole affair.

Through the weave of frozen spectators at a freak show, appears shortly now — Agent Hamm, at Maggie's elbow. Harried in truth, but with a stoutly, stubbornly professional exterior, he gives a burst of head-shaking to head-off anything from the detective, herself. "I'm sorry," immediately, sympathy from a distance — an agent's apology, "Powers. I really am— the blood was his."

Maggie's reaction is instant— instinctive. She immediately jolts away from the agent with a snap of her head— the opposite direction. It's a motion that pulls her attention off the procession; and as such, she only finds staring colleagues. A thrum of forceful tension visibly runs down her— muscles tight in keeping what's in in. Half a success: in all but the eyes she then concedes to turn on Agent Hamm for the first time.

"Sometimes," she says slowly, somewhat distant to the man she addresses, "the only choices you have left aren't ones that you want to make at all. And sometimes… they're the right choices." A pause in the wisdom, a distraction; beneath brows that tilt upward in a sad sort of regret, she looks back through the station. To Laurie, being led, to a show that surely must be almost over. Maggie's soft voice, when it picks up, is lowered. "But— other times … the only choice you can make is a bad one."

A shift; Maggie hardens like the cop she is, grabs the leather strap at her shoulder and turns.

Hamm is not as tall as the other agents. He makes less of an imposing figure, simply not commanding the same immediate attention through physicality. But his suit is as pressed, and his mouth tightened as grimly as his fellows even while he is not a participant — anymore. Hands tight, unnaturally tight, on his hips are sole indication. A glance off his shoulder notes Maggie's movement — doesn't follow it. That's all for the doorway, the last arch before station becomes parking lot… an indistinct FBI van.

"… It's right by the law."

The show is over; it's all over, and the station stutters to find its momentum, a tape skipping time before, surging past the problem area, life rushes in. Crime never stops. Nobody has vast time to spare over another unsatisfactory end to a case — a case no one even realized was going on. This, or the mere nature of the thing, does taint the remaining work period with smatters of out-of-place talk, and brooding around vending machines.

It's passed between partners during long patrols, discussed aver the heads of confused suspects, batted around between shots at the range, speculated in the presence of the deceased in clinical labs, and pulled out of those few who are hunted down for having been there that one night

By end of day, nothing's CONFIDENTIAL.

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