2010-10-04: Appetite



Guest-Starring: World's Greatest Grandmother

Date: October 4th, 2010


Maggie can lead a Laurie to water, but…



Following the leading lady means a trip out into the world — and into a city staple. The cafe Maggie's led Laurie doesn't fit the profile of a coffee house; it's not— though it serves a great deal of coffee, just as common are the piles of food crammed behind the glass counter, stacked on top and being constantly prepared. Sandwiches, pizza, smoothies, sweets— something for everyone.

Nestled beside the bigger, epicurean grocer it belongs to, the whole place looks more like a cafeteria with its bland tables and no-frills, straight-to-the-point set-up— made for people to run in and run out in the midst of their busy days. What it lacks, it makes up for in an atmosphere that can only be described as New York. The boring furnishings aren't boring at all, not when the place is so completely colorful with people from all roads, a hustle and bustle of noise and life from customers and staff alike. It's at a casual counter facing the window, looking out onto Broadway, that a spread of food has been claimed; for Maggie, at Laurie's left, that means a bagel with cream cheese (some say they're the best in the city) and a cup of coffee.

Laurie has a cup of coffee too, whether he wants it or not.

Maggie hasn't been the best conversationalist, but she has her chin propped in her hand and wears a small amused smile as she looks past the man at her right: where a tiny Asian woman pushing seventy and wearing a World's Greatest Grandmother sweatshirt as well as, perhaps, the world's largest bifocals, has been chattering at him for at least five straight minutes.

" — when my grandson broke his arm it snapped like a twig! I said, that's what he got for buying one of those new cars, they're made of plastic, look like toys, crumple all up when they're hit by something big as a truck and you know New York drivers— I told him, Jon, that's my grandson, I said, Jon, you should get a real car made of metal like they used to be or maybe a truck so you run someone down next time!"

It's a tune that fills the space around Laurie, peripherally affecting Maggie where she listens, but not demanding her attention in the same way. But where others might allow it to remain that way — adding only, out of sheer habit or base grudging, some bland noises of agreement — Laurie is fair permeated in listening. It's as evident in his eyes as the subtle way attentiveness makes his whole body turn towards the elder. The fingers of his working hand alternatively support the tilted lay of his head or, as the woman goes on about metallic cars, adds a fifth sugar lump to the coffee he's yet to taste.

After the plop where it disturbs the cream-lightened surface, the concoction is idly stirred. "Hmm hmmm," he vibrates out contentedly, "And the ones who have wisened up merely opt to go around~ on their motorcycles." The hand moves back to support his head, twisting the cane where it's tucked between arm and torso, only scant inches from jutting out behind him into the way of other patrons.

"As for this," he postulates aside, vocally sucking importance out of putting attention on the injury even as his fingers hesitate; he grips them in the air near his contained arm, "Just gave it a little— crrkt," tongue and throat mimic the snap of bones as he twists his miming fingers with a jerk of violence. "To get the sling."

"Motorcycles." The World's Greatest Grandmother clucks her tongue, chastising all who dare take to the roads on those deathtraps on wheels. "They're even worse. Zig-zagging around the city like that. There should be a law! There is a law. If my Jon ever took to the roads on one of those, he deserves to get into another crash and to be cuffed on the ear besides. Oh," she frets regretfully, "I shouldn't say that, but you know, a grandmother worries."
She leans over the counter to include Maggie, then; the old woman is so petite, she can barely see around Laurie's intent form, but she cranes her short neck to its limits. Those bifocals of hers must be as powerful as they look; she assesses Laurie's companion, too, has been roughed up as of late. "Were you two in a car accident? Oh don't tell me, it wasn't a motorcycle accident, was it?"

Maggie's attention, which had momentarily drifted away upon inner distractions, away from the bustling, casual Zabar's and the conversation next to her, jars. "Uh— " She looks up from her coffee. It's not only the question that breaks the quiet, amused-from-the-sidelines pose she'd been crafting over her lunch; it's also the timely vibration of her phone inside her jacket, barely audible, but felt. She reaches for it as she answers the World's Greatest Grandmother, her voice reserved. "Oh, no…" Definitely not a motorcycle accident. Definitely.

Immediately on the inflection used by the older woman, Laurie's patiently attentive face splits into a devilishly pleased grin; it could only have been the reaction he'd been looking for. Or maybe he would've taken any. The flash of amusement is, however, just that— a flash; gone as soon as it appeared, he reins himself into cool reflection. "Oh, no accident," he describes solemnly for the unfortunately concerned grandmother. In the same moment, mindful of Maggie's distraction, he sits back and twists. His hand tucks into his own shirt — he never got a jacket of his own around that arm — and tugs out a flask.

Around his next words, he unscrews the bottle with his teeth and liberally applies the contents as though it were more of the cream he's exhausted. "She beat up a very large man who wanted to cuff me on the ear. As you can see, I'm completely useless, myself. Though I promise that I've never gotten into a motorcycle accident that I did not allow for giggles. Though that hardly makes it an accident at all, does it… There we are. I've never been in a motorcycle accident. Only incidents. Cheers!" To which he's lifted the flask, in order to eventually replace it in his pocket, all the while smiling with absent charm, as though he'd forgotten he'd put it on.

Maggie's cellphone becomes persistent — but when the faint buzz turns into a ring, it barely even interrupts the bustle of Zabar's. Maggie is further delayed, if briefly, by eyeing Laurie for incidents versus accidents; a look that's too knowing on her part. He's eyed as much for his shenanigans with the flask once it's out in the open— the illicit thing that it is here. Her tongue is figuratively bitten.

Glancing to the phone, the caller ID is revealed: Chief. The name on the phone is a premonition toward the conversation to follow; Maggie sits up and excuses herself to take the call. Drawn away from Laurie and the chatty woman, who she issues a polite smile, a more rigid demeanour then tries to swallow her up.

"Powers." Maggie wanders a few steps, cupping one hand over her ear to block out the liveliness around her. She doesn't turn her back on Laurie for too long — he's kept at the edge of her vision, unless he moves; and there we have the point of watching him.

Laurie's newest friend is left squinting behind her glasses, trying to sort out what must be a fascinating story. Unlike Maggie, she's caught between chastising and being swept into her conversationalist's charm— but the famous Jon swoops in moments later, a college-aged young man bearing a family resemblance including eyewear, making to steal her away. "Gran, I'm sure this poor man wants to mind his own business— "

"I was just bragging about my favourite grandson!"

Grandson is ushering grandmother off into the swarm of hungry New Yorkers when Maggie strides slowly back to her spot — a short call, all in all, and one that seems to have left her with some lingering discontent. She sets the disconnected phone down on the table. "That was technically for you. But— well, no one could reach your phone…"

Beaming in unaffected friendliness at the both of them, Laurie neither protests nor pushes as to the issue of his being bothered, or, ultimately, being left alone. In the turn that's allowed him to more openly, and physically, greet the young man, he's gotten a bit waylaid in the flask — his fingers curling, lingering around that inner pocket. With Maggie's turned, the only movement that he succeeds in is bringing that hand to his mouth again, propping his chin, with two fingers drumming over his lips as they vaguely part in that continued smile.

In being ushered off, the grandmother invites Laurie to try an uninterrupted drink of his highly seasoned coffee. Grip looped around it, the cup is raised just as far as it can barely go in the span of time Maggie sorts herself back in. Dash of the cup against the counter, untasted coffee splashes. Laurie gives a hard swallow that's as much that as it is the remarkably not-innocent innocent noise of interest he makes at her news, all the while glancing out the front window. "It does sink into the cushions something awful…"

Maggie gives a scarce but discerrning glance sidelong at Laurie as she settles in — as much as she allows herself to settle. She winds up a slightly incongruous image to the lunch spread, not as relaxed as a casual lunch should warrant. She's a puzzle piece shoved awkwardly into the wrong spot, but determined to remain nevertheless.

It helps, however, that unaffected by her mood is her attraction to the popular brand of New York bagel, with its copious amount of cream cheese, that sits half-eaten in front of her — it gets her attention for a few bites before she looks to Laurie again. A thumb poised at her mouth from her last bite, her eyebrows raise high, peaked with curiosity, skepticism. "They definitely don't want you in your apartment for a day or so; the word off-limits was involved," she delivers in neutral verdict. "So you'll need somewhere to stay."

Stretch of his shoulder, allowing one hand to reach across the counter, tapping worn fingers against polished surface. The other makes a twitch of itchy, stiff arm against its setting. A resettling of Laurie's mouth is only an act of boredom as he considers words— forgets to say them— picks his way back to the conversation again. "Isn't really mine if they can limit me from it," he muses, off-handed, tipping his head to follow his thoughts; in his mind, some picture forms that keeps his eyes trained ahead of him beyond the city, "Suppose the hallway wasn't a terrible size."

Maggie squints ever-so-slightly at Laurie's logic, and ultimately seems to find no fault with it — except, that is, for the latter declaration. While his focus is on a distant point, hers is closer, cutting straight to him instead. Her thumb curls to the knuckle, pressing against her lips pensively while she considers and weighs. "The hallway might be fine— for a hallway," she says, casual and flippant in comparison to her thinking pose— which breaks as her hand drops, going for her coffee. It's less flavoured than Laurie's, though it is chock-full of cream and sugar. As she watches him over her cup, white emblazoned with bold orange ZABAR'S, a certain decisiveness firms her voice. "But you're not going to stay there. If you need somewhere— you should… have somewhere— to go, Miles, I'll… take you." She sips her coffee; gives Laurie a considering, slightly circumspect, raise of her brows. "Somewhere."

"Don't sell it too short, now," he warns good-naturedly of the considered hall, though not with a committed amount of conviction. Laurie seems to find her thinking pose an interesting spectacle once his gaze floats over there. "I'm not? Perhaps not…" Flipping through the alternatives in his mind briefly makes those eyes distracted, but they stick well enough. A few of his fingers stray to the coffee cup of his, always tapping never claiming. Despite the surface being so oft disturbed by additions, it's yet to actually be consumed in any manner — though not without several appearances of trying. "You're right," he determines after a moment, firm, level — and with a glint in those eyes as he licks his lips around a more mischievous smirk threatening to appear. "I do happen to be in possession of— an address."

The promised mischief, the glint, reflects not at all in the face regarding Laurie; Maggie's is flat, and she eyes him with undisguised suspicion, no amusement. "Are you," she says, her voice just as flat as her expression, "and what address is that. Well." She slides off of her seat to her right — beside Laurie — and tucks the phone she'd left out into her pocket. "How about…" She makes a casual reach toward that cup he's been tapping, fingers spreading above it it like the claw of a carnival game grasping for a prize— to, ultimately, try to slide it far out of Laurie's reach. "…We talk about it in the car."

Laurie, fingers closing over empty air, observes this repossessing of his coffee cup with open-mouthed incredulity, flattening out soon to just a soft sheen of suggested annoyance. "Hey— what— I wasn't—…" The complaints that air at the same time fade out as the opposition lightens away from his face. In this new casual determination, he loops his arm around the one of Maggie's, fingers knocking hers from the top of the cup in order to slide it back the other direction. "I wasn't aware there was all that much to talk about," he comments aside, rearing his head back in speculation.

"Alright, hey, fine," Maggie says, annoyance kept beneath her soft voice, not fully breeching the surface; her jaw clamps down. Unwilling, at present, to struggle back-and-forth, she draws her arm back to herself. The cup and its questionable contents are left alone. "Nnno, you're right; driving, mostly— " she chirps and sits back down, backwards — her back faces the window looking on Broadway, and she leans against the counter's edge, resting her elbows on it for this temporary but comfortable pose. With a twist, she reclaims what's left of her own coffee. "Whenever you're ready," she says, just short of blithe.

Oh, whenever he's ready, now is it? Amusedly marking this new turn of events, Laurie openly tests it by gaining quite a comfortable lean to his spot. The cane, dislodged from his arm, is given a better setting and then he goes about spinning, playing with, and stirring the cup of coffee through several long, very drawn out, minutes. There's a small bit of humming from his direction, once in a while the formerly injured leg bounces restlessly in its spot, heel hitting on and off the crossbar of his seat. He does nothing to acknowledge his merrily waiting companion, having drifted into his own designs. Finally, after what could have been five minutes — of fifteen — he gets an honest grip around the drink.

The capacity of Detective Powers to be incredibly patient has been noted. She's utilizing this patience now. She's in a quiet zone, still and calm in comparison to the more active presence next to her. The hints of annoyance clinging to her have even had time to fade out; she seems to be ignoring Laurie, perhaps even pretending, for all intents and purposes, that he isn't there. She focuses on everything else: nursing her coffee, regarding the crowd that makes up an imprecise line near the counter, watching the men, women and children come and go, and seeming really quite content to do so.

And then she comes to life again. "Did you know— " Maggie strikes up the second Laurie grasps his cup, as if picking up a thread of conversation from thin air. "It's actually illegal to bring your own liquor into a non-licensed establishment?" she asks conversationally — after all this time — with a bit of matter-of-fact optimism. She twists behind her to set her empty cup down, which serves as the only warning before she stands up, sudden, fast, with a jarring brush against Laurie's good arm. "I'm afraid, Miles, I might have to confiscate that and escort you out of here." It sounds nearly playful. It's not quite. "Unless— " Well aware that she might be irritating — so is he — Maggie flashes the tiniest of smiles. " — you're ready to go."

The hand on that cup pauses, flexing, not releasing. His bumped arm bounces and straightens only, after a moment, dropping away towards his side. As quickly as she appeared, he's there, reaching without shyness into the detective's space to grab the edge of her jacket, parting the black fabric to get an unobstructed view at her belt, the absent spot where a badge might be, the holster of that weapon from earlier. Whatever he finds — or doesn't — informs the same puckered disinterest. Retreating from flashing the woman, "I, in fact, do," relays Laurie calmly, nodding somewhat graciously for her obvious looking out for him, "Which is whyyyyyyy— I left the wine in the car."

Having been staring with the same look that doesn't count acknowledge that he knows where he is, his glance up to Maggie is markedly more sharp. Head-tilted, mouth drawn all the way to one side. Irritating; he doesn't smile. Then he does. "Come now. You didn't drag me alllll the way out there so that you could have a bagel." Then he doesn't. "Did you?"

Maggie cants back, only to be obstructed by the seat behind her. She lets out a quiet, defensive "hey" and smoothing her jacket down past a flash of brighter fabric and her empty belt: no badge, no gun — no holster, even, not there. "Well," she considers aloud after a moment, "they have really good bagels here. But no, no — you're right." She smiles for an instant, but gives Laurie a look that's faintly reticent yet. "For the record," she adds, lifting a hand in light gesture, a suggestion of scolding, "it's also illegal to carry unsealed bottles of liquor in the car. And that's— it's my car."

"Well," Laurie voices as if he were instead saying duh, "That's why I left it out where everyone could see it. Otherwise, it might be like you had something to hide." Not a trace, not a hint of teasing; he seems to be completely honest, if a little bit slurred on the ends of words. Smiling all those warm fuzzies at her, his grip renewed on the cup, he lifts the coffee up between them. "Cheers!" And aims to take what would be the first, real sip since they sat down.

His aim is free to land true without interference from Maggie. She doesn't stop him … this time. Instead, she glances for a moment — the length of the half-aborted roll of her eyes — out the window in the general direction of the lot her car was left in. She also does not share the cheers or the merriment that usually accompanies such a call. She has an excuse: her cup is empty. "Cheers to … what, exactly?" she asks simply once she regard has returned to Laurie. No sarcasm to be found; only honest curiosity. She doesn't sit back down, but she does settle against the counter again in arms-crossed repose.

Up, down. The coffee portion of this drink has long cooled, made easier for gulping. As it's resettled onto the counter, Laurie's hand trails absently to his other, sneaking into the hammock-setting of the sling to give the hanging arm a rub here and there. Eventually, his fingers end up on his thigh, drumming out something unfamiliar on his leg. It bounces once or twice, accompanied the first time by a shrug. "Nothing in particular, Powers… I happen to like the sound of the word."

Laurie's reply is accepted with a downturn of Maggie's lips and a faint wrinkle of her chin; vaguely disapproving of the empty cheer it seems to her. She sets into thought, concentration taking over her features quite seriously. Her searching of her mind has the result of silence — she seems to stare distantly into the cafe, rather than engage in any sort of conversation — until it comes to her. "The best way… to cheer yourself…" As she tries her hand at quoting, Maggie's frown takes an almost reluctant turn upside-down. She breaks her pose to harmlessly cuff Laurie's nearby shoulder with a fist. "…is to try to cheer someone else up."

The tapping has invariably drawn further down his leg, straying to his knee. Fingers curl in, latching onto the fabric above the spot, scratching away here and there. Laurie's interrupted in this when he pauses all general movement in the wake of Maggie's fist. His glance having bounced there, it hovers, then wanders up to her without his head following. Rather than muster thought, he seems to have to muster the bother to say it. "Also, I hear tell the bagels are really good."

Laurie is treated to another cuff to the shoulder — this one harder. It too is harmless, however, but the force Maggie shoves at him with is reproachful. Watching Laurie, his movements, she sighs, not that it can be heard — pressed upon by tension, swept away by the constant noise of Zabar's. Just as soon, she places an opposing touch onto Laurie: a grab of his arm, her fingers curling onto his shoulder with well-meaning, but very firm, intent. "I hear— you have an address to get to," she announces somewhat dully. "Come on— c'mon." She stands up straight; he's a hand-hold. "It's time to go."

"Up!" Laurie easily agrees, near simultaneously fast-grabbing that coffee to drink the rest of it down, and pushing around and out of the seat to follow her lead. The empty cup is still rattling from being placed down so quickly as he swings the cane out from under his arm, the bottom rapping onto his floor and supporting his hop to his feet. There's a slight sway to way he rises so fast, but it's more fluid than a bid for balance; he's ready.

Make that almost ready. Maggie swipes the uneaten Panini from Laurie's place at the counter upon a paper plate and — since he's bound to the cane — takes it with her. "Don't forget your sandwich."

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