2010-04-24: Cake Or Death



Date: April 24th, 2010


After The Warning, Maggie heads to the gym only to be interrupted by sparring of a couple kinds.

"Cake Or Death"


The predictably consistent wallops of a boxing glove striking the matching bag are particularly loud and distinct in the empty space. The police gym is not fancy. In fact, it's pretty old, poorly lit, and a standard — not very large — size, but it serves its purpose well. It's serving its purpose for Detective Powers at present, who happens to be the only one using it. And that suits her well.

Smack. Pared down to a trim heather grey tank and dark blue — police blue — gym pants, Maggie's black boxing gloves deliver punch after punch. She hasn't been here long enough to work up much of a sweat — distinctly strong arms typically hidden under blouses only have only gained a faint glisten — but if she keeps going at it like she is, with such teeth-clenching focus, she will soon. He assault of the punching bag almost seems angry. Speaking of therapy

In empty rooms, everything echoes. And the equipment that the station could afford doesn't exactly fill the space to brimming, so there remains a good deal of resounding noise when someone else comes into the gym — and at a jog. Laurie isn't dressed like he means to be here, in a white dress shirt unbuttoned enough to show that the undershirt beneath is light blue (and goes so well with his eyes, he's been told). However, he enters with a purpose and a raised voice.

"Powers! Hey, Powers. Powers, there you are." And, as he slows around the edge of other items to come up by Maggie's chosen punching bag, he also has a little plastic plate in one hand. On the plate is a very generous piece of what appears to be a piece of cake, also generously frosted, colorful, and probably taken from the exact middle of the larger whole based on the fraction of the picture seen on top. The piece of cake is stabbed through with an also plastic fork that sticks up from it like a flag-pole.

The noise of the door and quickly following footsteps immediately get Maggie's attention via a swift glance over her shoulder, but she returns to giving the worn punching bag a few more good hooks and jabs, her exerting breath sometimes nearly as loud as the strikes. It's not until Laurie has been standing there with cake for a baker's dozen seconds before she steps back. The punching bag sways slightly and she steadies it with a boxing-gloved hand. "Hey…" A dull and faintly thin-of-breath greeting, followed by: "Is it someone's birthday?" Colourful cake with pictures always have a purpose.

Laurie has absolutely no problem having some moments alone with the cake, relieving it of some of that frosting burden the good old-fashioned way. The finger's still in his mouth when she greets him, so he wiggles the remaining on that hand as a rather unique wave. "Hey…" An emotion-perfect imitation of her own, and only slightly lower in pitch. "Iiiiitt's… a retirement cake," comes the announcement as he gives the cropped picture a critical look. "This used to be a badge." His head tilts upwards, catching the movement of the punching bag and then, slightly nearby, the empty space that is no one else occupying the gym. "I'd hold that for you, but I wouldn't want us to fall into a pattern of you swinging things at my face." He squints distastefully on one side, tweaking a nose pink and bandaged. "I read today that surprises nourish our relationships."

"Oh. Don't tell me it's your retirement cake, Miles," Maggie says, not seriously, save for a single critical look — but that turns into an eyeing of her handiwork on Laurie's nose. She cringes and smiles at the same time, the combination of which winds up looking especially guilty, a look that's been sent his way about thirty times since the incident in her apartment. While she stands vaguely bewildered by Laurie's last statement, the mid-exercise detective brings an forearm up to swipe over her forehead and nudge away a few stray wisps of blonde that had begun to cling to her skin. It stays raised as she replies, "I only like good surprises."

The story of Laurie's bruise has been lauded since the first day after, with the nosiest (ha) officers approaching Maggie with incrementally more exaggerated stories of why she delivered the blow. In fact, the strange fixation on the injury has been seemingly keeping all other questions about the incident at bay, even as some looked like they wanted to ask more — leaving her most of the time with ridiculous re-tellings rather than interrogations. From those with no authority over her, at least.

Standing there, Laurie just breaks a bright smile below the site of the damage, "I've lost my faith. I no longer believe in retirement. It's only a myth to fool the naive." All delivered as cheerily as wonderful news, before he takes a couple of steps towards her, preparing to take the fork into action. "Alright. Open your mouth. You'll be surprised how good this is for store-bought cake."

Speaking of surprise— "Ah! Miles I don't really— !" That would be a sound of protest from Maggie before the course of the little plastic fork gets too far, considering she leeeeans back, but just as she's bringing a boxing glove up protectively in front of her chin, she incredulously bites down around the glob of frosting and cake. She eyes Laurie with some consternation. It's properly downed before she speaks up. "I am, surprised, yeah, definitely," she says with a lilted chipper and exasperated voice. "Did you come here to— listen," she starts more seriously and gradually maneuvers a glove off. A slight feat, wearing two, but they're velcro instead of traditional lacings. "Have you spoken to Sergeant Gartland or— well anyone lately? There's some concerns."

Against that look, his grin only grows, merrily watching as she swallows around the colorful bite of cake and pure sugar. Laurie's eyes drop when the subject comes around to him, in guise of the fork getting put to using sawing away at the cake piece for another mouthful. He takes an inordinate amount of time getting the portion properly on the fork, easily allowing him to keep his gaze away from her for the duration of the switch from cake to concerns. "Did I come here to listen? No. No, I did not." He answers quite seriously, at the same time undercutting what she was trying to even say. Following the end of her words, his head pops up: a look of complete surprise. Too complete. "Well, I'm speaking to you right now!" Gasp! Then he slides the fork up and into his own mouth with a shrug, "There's always concerns," around the fork, but at least not the food.

Laurie's antics of avoidance, or whatever they are, gain a tilt of Maggie's head to the right and something like a frown. With a rip of Velcro, the left glove comes off entirely and she tucks it under one arm. "They're sending us both for psych exams," she announces frankly. "The sergeant seems to think you'll quit before that happens." The detective studies the consultant critically, warily, with quick sweeping glances from his face to down no farther than the retirement cake. "He says you're reckless and unnecessarily violent and he wants you gone. And a cowboy. I might be paraphrasing." But not much.

Her eyes' cautious patrol of his face is not much rewarded. Void of even a micro-expression to betray himself, Laurie is able to stare across at her with not even a hint of judgment in either direction. Nearly, he makes it to the end of the information — nearly. The word 'violent' is the trigger, for what it's worth; the slightest twitch, his chin makes a miniscule movement to the side. What might have been a similar reaction in his lips he allows to become a smile again, covering the action, but it isn't as bright as before. For all that? "Mmmm." Just a noise to acknowledge he heard, as he delves a second time into the dessert and takes a few idle steps towards the punching bag. "Done already with this thing? Here, have some more cake."

Maggie continues to watch Laurie until she turns her attention — in part — to the punching bag. "I don't want cake." With her right hand, still protected by the boxing glove, she gives it one strong, especially expressive hit. The blow lands solidly. If it were a nose, it would have been even more broken than Laurie's was. Now she's done — for the time being.

When she pries strap off the glove and sliding it off afterwards, more than the wrappings are revealed; her right hand is fixed with athletic tape, too, to make extra sure she doesn't completely destroy her wrist. She strolls off to the side where a low bench lines one wall and tosses the gloves there, only to walk back and attempt to take Laurie's dessert away the flimsy little plate drooping in her still-wrapped hand. It can barely be said that she outright snatches it away; her tactic is much less rude. She tugs on it. Didn't Maggie just say she didn't want cake? "You should just do it, it'll show the brass you're cooperative," she says, more casual than the topic might deserve. "I don't like therapy either but it's not that bad."

"Not wanting cake is a terrible sign. You should make sure to talk about that." Absently, Laurie extends an arm to bring the bag to a stop after Maggie's full-blown attack on it. He's distractedly eyeing the worn material when she returns, glancing over with curiosity as he feels the new claim on the plate moving it in his hand. Head tilting in his watch on her, he jams the fork back into the now broken cake piece but doesn't fully relinquish his grip on its placeholder. "I'm cooperative?" Surprise, consideration; he weighs out the sound of it as he says it. "I don't know, the sergeant sounded like he had everything under control. You can put 'cowboy' on a psych report, right?" Maybe it's off her expression, or maybe he knows she won't back off so easily. He adds: "You know, I don't actually have anything against therapy."

"You could do well by convincing them you're cooperative," Maggie points out— or advises. "Are you saying it's not a big deal, then? So go." The woman, though she doesn't quite shrug, tips her head again to one side, lifting one bared shoulder. Only then does she claim the fork, stabilizing the plate just so in order to slice off a little corner of what's left of the cake. "I have to," she adds with very subdued, but nevertheless existent, resentment before eating the bite of pure sugar.

"Everything's a big deal to somebody," is his non-answer at first. "And I didn't say that." With returning bemusement, Laurie retains half-control of the plate even as Maggie delves into the treat aboard, the small item dictating the amount of space between them as he surrenders no ground. "And, technically, you don't have to," laid out like a guilty truth, he squints apologetically for his own nit-picking. "You feel heavily compelled." On topic with that, he makes another faux-ending pause, as though fully intending to not give her any more room on this. But then, chin lifting, he levels, "Are you asking me to go?"

"Heavily compelled to keep my job? Yeah!" Maggie replies with a slight raise in enthusiasm. . "I just think…" The cake becomes a momentary distraction, but after one more bite, she relinquishes the fork, setting it down neatly on the plate. "…if you want to stick around, it might be a good idea to show you can follow the rules." She takes a step back next to the punching bag and finally starts to unwind her hand wrapping. "All of them, not just some."

"You like doing your job," Laurie considers, putting a steadying thumb over the fork so he can bring the plate safely arm's length away to a stand filled with weights. It's balanced precariously on them, but seems like it isn't going anywhere. For now. "You assume that I do, too, that I would like — to stick around. So you want me to say I'll follow rules; you want me to lie to them." The consultant, though, steps also towards the punching bag, pressing hands on either side and leaning around part of it playfully to eye her. "Maybe I don't want to. Maybe, this work is a self-inflicted punishment I will carry until one of their reasons to kick me out finally sticks."

Maggie, tugging at the last of her hand-wrappings, only regards Laurie — his "maybe" confession, playful or not, prompts a sober expression. Thoughtful, about whether or not he's telling the truth. She heads away from the punching bag to drop the fabric on the gloves. Underneath the bench is her gym bag, but she makes no move for it — she's not done with the gym already. "Well, that doesn't sound very rewarding," she says lightly with her back turned, spoken just mildly enough to be low on judgment, as is: "It almost sounds like you need therapy." A pause; she whirls around. "I wouldn't ask anyone to lie…" But?

Laurie laughs; he actually throws his head back and guffaws loudly and merrily during her pause. "Nicely done, Powers." Straightening somewhat onto his own feet, he gives the punching bag a light smack. "Unfortunately, in nature there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are consequences. We pay as dearly for our triumphs as we do for our defeats." If Maggie's devoted enough to keep that critical eye up, she will get a reward, though — a flicker of something dark and brooding in bright blue eyes. It rings falsely with the merriment on his face before it's gone. On her whirling, that silent trail-off that begs for the question… he asks a different one instead: "So?"


Good question. Whether or not she saw that brooding look — with her whirl about so late, it's debatable — Maggie's study of the consultant is considering either way. She folds her arms, one athletic-taped thumb tapping on her elbow, a hard edge to the straight line her lips have become. Sharing none of Laurie's merriment, she looks generally discomfited all around. She looks at the ceiling; not entirely out of place, as somewhere above it might be the sound of pigeons.

But then, as if encouraged by a lengthy torture, she reluctantly comes out with, "Sometimes you're kind of unbelievable." In the complementary sense, not the exasperating sense that might seem better suited to him. "You're a good consultant Miles, it would just be a shame for the department to lose you so fast." Whether most of the department realizes it or not.

A finger crooks back to point at himself incredulously, with Laurie incapable of taking even the complementary version with any form of visible seriousness or respect. "I'm a terrible consultant." Or acceptance. "I never tell you anything!" But he's grinning again, and he slides away from the punching bag, hands moving to each of his arms as he tucks under cuffs and shoves sleeves to elbows on both sides. "But you liked that story, thought it sounded good?" Brief glance up to her then down. "I think I might use it later. Everyone loves a good deep-seated issue."

Giving a preparatory sniff, he brushes cautiously along his nose and then weaves his hands together, bending the fingers of one hand back until several knuckles crack. "You were working out before I came in here," he mentions casually, unlinking hands to gesture at her bag — the one she hasn't picked up yet. "You shouldn't stop."

The detective seems, initially, unimpressed. She purses her lips as exasperation takes the place of complement again, but a smile is fighting through, and it shines — for an instant, paired with a roll of her eyes. "I won't. I'm not," she assures Laurie. She was thrown off of her boxing, at the very least. She glances back at the punching bag and, as if to explain, says, "My sparring partner is on vacation." Another example of everyone she works with vanishing? Maybe. Maggie's hands go to her hips, resting there. So casual, the pose is hardly challenging, however. "You distracted me — with cake."

"You let yourself be distracted." His counter is not very much accusing, mostly because it's difficult to sound disapproving when cake is involved. So that's why the last minute clarification of, "With cake," sounds so much like an allowable excuse. Someone being on vacation, however, is not. Laurie's tsk-ing noise is full proof of that while he wanders towards the weights, runs fingers along a few of them. On the next couple of steps, he glances away to the opposite wall. "Vacation," sighed, "That's almost as bad as retirement." His hands come up, spread wide and casual… then one swings towards her, showing Maggie the back of his hand. Curling two fingers in, he beckons her charge.

"What?" Maggie's eyebrows lift, skeptical at first, though all things considered — a certain fracas in recent weeks, for example — she shouldn't be. "I thought you'd be scared of getting your nose broken again," she says, though her tone is one of joking; she's not honestly sure if Laurie is scared of anything. She sets her feet apart and adopts a more taut version of his stance before taking the beckoning bait, coming at him fists raised — she should have kept her hands wrapped, after all — with increasing speed. It's not her fists the detective uses, though, but a particularly high kick.

Right before Maggie moves, Laurie's poise is yet casual — or so it might seem to the idle observer. In reality, he's set his feet, balanced his weight, and fully deliberating on every choice she makes. At the sign of her body moving, his arms come up high also in reaction, both to the attacked side and fists crossed to block the swing of the leg. Twisting his wrist on one hand, he makes a grab for her ankle while her leg is still raised. Since this started, the grin's vanished, but the way he only means to use the grip to bat her leg back down, it still feels playful — cheeky.

Right before Maggie moves, Laurie's poise is yet casual — or so it might seem to the idle observer. In reality, he's set his feet, balanced his weight, and fully deliberating on every choice she makes. At the sign of her body moving, his arms come up high also in reaction, both to the attacked side and fists crossed to block the swing of the leg. Twisting his wrist on one hand, he makes a grab for her ankle while her leg is still raised. Since this started, the grin's vanished, but the way he only means to use the grip to bat her leg back down, it still feels playful — cheeky.

Down it goes but, before her foot has even hit the floor again, Maggie is making a grab for Laurie's wrist — and her grip, and intent, takes the side of forceful far above playful. The second both feet are on solid ground (somewhat solid ground; there is a thin mat), she wastes zero time and pivots quickly and swipes with her other leg at the back of the consultant's.

As soon as the lift of her knee reveals the movement, Laurie's leg also rises, swiftly matching the kick and then getting higher so that his foot can get on top of hers, pushing forward with a strong step aimed to get her leg not only down again but twisted more awkwardly in front of her. The wrist in her grasp tugs brusquely away at the weakest point, the thumb. Then twisting the hand underneath hers, he aims palm to her shoulder for a push; not a big push, but possibly combined with her off-balance from the leg-drop.

It seems to work. Knocked off-balance just so, Maggie is shoved back enough to trip her up and bring her down abruptly to one knee with a hard sound of objection, and she regains her balance with a hand — the non-taped side — going to the mat. But Laurie may not have done himself a favour by sending the detective down there, though, because he'll suddenly find himself with a sharp elbow pounding toward the sensitive back of the knee — aiming to bring him down, helped by the fact that she grabs for his opposite ankle.

Victim to inevitability, the knee buckles, bringing the weight of Laurie forward and making it difficult to do much for the other leg. Though he falls heavily onto one knee, the motion becomes quickly controlled as he leans in, sets an arm on the mat, and rolls out of grasp and, for now, out of grasping range. Coming up to a much steadier position on one knee, he shakes a head of hair mussed by the trip across the floor. His dress-shirt may also not be enjoying this new past-time it's discovering.

Though she sports less untidy hair and attire much more suited to action, Maggie finds herself in a near identical pose across from Laurie, for as long as it lasts — which isn't long. She hops back to her feet athletically and raises her fists, stepping closer but only to circle him slightly, just out of reach. She eyes him rather guardedly, all that short while — but she is nothing if not determined, and sooner than later she's charging into the risk-zone to basically straight-out tackle Laurie, firm on her feet and high on strength.

He stays on his knee a little longer, watching her keenly and bouncing up to his feet only slightly before she begins her attack. Though Laurie surely sees the tackle coming, he doesn't step around the motion; he raises an arm to come around behind her as she approaches, but he wholly accepts the move otherwise. They both go down quite naturally, but if there was some kind of back-up plan in the man it's immediately knocked out of him.

Hitting the mat is never really gentle, but there's a certain lack of contingency in just… being down. It could've been her angle of attack, or some happenstance, but Laurie wheezes on impact a bit more than even such a straight-up tackle would suggest. The hand he might've meant to spin Maggie with darts instead to his own body. Eyes lose focus distractedly, breaking some cardinal rule of the fight.

He might be the one to fall, but the takedown is so instant that Maggie goes down nearly as hard, with a grunted mmph. She has the benefit of being ready, however, and her hand has already moves to pin down the arm of Laurie's that would have been used against her — and it also supports some of her weight, though so does the rest of the downed consultant. Her weight does double duty to pin him there for the time being.

Maggie seems legitimately surprised that she took Laurie to the mat so easily, having anticipated a sneaky move to fend her off like the last few. In that hard-breathing moment, shoulder-length hair falling forward, wide-open eyes staring down as if defying him to move, she gives pause. But not a long one. Shoving Laurie's shoulders in her method to push to her feet, she offers her left hand down as if to help him up, sportsmanlike. "Not bad, Miles."

He isn't looking back at her as she stares, not even as her hand comes out in front of him; his eyes have rolled up to the ceiling. Another wheeze. So when his fingers leap up to grab her wrist, it might come as even more of a surprise. The pull he exerts on her is harsh, dirty — nothing sportsmanlike about it at all — his only goal to bring her down to the floor as fast and as uncomfortably as possible.

As soon as she falls, Laurie pushes off from one side, rolling with the momentum of pulling her down so that there's no pause between her hitting mat and him ending up on top of her. While legs pin her arms to her sides, he rocks forward and his hand, the one he'd brought to his own side for something when he was down, appears at her throat: all in the same fluid roll he started when he grabbed her.

But it isn't just a hand anymore; it's cold steel of a switchblade at her skin. Held reverse-grip, the weapon could easily draw blood with the tiniest forward movement from him, and in the current instant, Laurie doesn't look too far from the guy who's used to doing just that.

"Hunh— !" If Maggie was expecting the positions to reverse, it doesn't matter. She can't do anything to stop it. Somewhere in the midst of being dragged forcefully down and hitting the floor hard, she fights it — a look of frustration twists her features angrily even as she wheezes against the air going out of her.

But it's the switchblade that really gets her.

The look she seethes up at him through squinting eyes is incredulous, heated. Who uses a switchblade in the gym? No, Laurie is not sportsmanlike at all. Armless for all intents and purposes, she struggles, but stills her resistance when she realizes, very quickly, that the sharp edge of blade is all too close to her throat. Blue eyes widen and flash, just a little, with alarm. Behind Laurie, she starts to slide a knee up ever-so-slightly. "M-Miles— " she rasps through clenched teeth. "What the hell are you do— doing?!"

The blade is quite illegal, especially for an officer, but that's the least of its violations at this current moment. It moves in a slow arc along her throat, as though measuring out its path… slipping towards a vein. Staring at this promise of violence, Laurie's eyes only dart to hers at the sound of her voice. Ferocity behind his narrow blues that matched her own is blinked away.

Just as suddenly as it happened, Laurie flies off of her, backing up and right into the punching bag. Absently, he turns to steady himself and the equipment. The switchblade has magically vanished; he uses both his hands to rub along his jaw, though one falls away to his side, flirting with the idea of pressing against his abdomen but always stopping short of commitment. A forced chuckle. He can't hold it because it's now clear that he's still breathing abnormally, and this affects his go for breezy speech, too. "Can't ever let your guard down, Powers," he chides breathlessly, "Not in this line of work."

Maggie scrambles back the second Laurie springs away, facing him in her backwards, kicking crawl along the mat. She never takes her eyes, darkened by the inward cinch of her brows, off of him — keeping her guard up, after all. A hand goes to her throat and her fingers curl there as she watches him, critical. Too critical to miss any little sign.

"I wasn't letting my guard down," Maggie defies as she gets to her feet. The fingers that hovered at her throat sneak to the back of her neck and curl into her hair — by now it's mussed. "You … were fast. That's fair. You won. But you don't bring a knife in here, I didn't need the lesson." If it was a lesson. "What are you even doing with that thing?"

As the moment fades, the signs begin vanishing. One after another, as he glances away with affected sheepishness, coughing perhaps out of this same show-off guilt. Laurie's hands part, coming up to either side as he leans heavily to one. That show of innocence he likes using the most. "No more, it's gone. Promise." And it is; there's no sign of it, though now it doesn't help that his shirt's mostly fallen out and hangs over his pockets.

Issuing her a careless grin, he steps around the punching bag and closer to where he left the cake, where he entered. Idly, he reaches up to tug at the front of his hair to fix the assorted strands.

Maggie doesn't believe it for a second and her frank look at Laurie says as much. Her hands go to her hips again and she watches him amount before her arms swing at her sides and she strolls to the bench where she left her things, crouching. Glancing Laurie's way somewhat sharply, she opens her mouth to say something or other, but falls back on tugging her gym bag out from underneath the bench instead. She doesn't remain one-hundred percent silent as she packs away her boxing gloves, however. "I can report you, you know," she comments. "For having that blade, and the gun." Can; hasn't. "Remember that."

While she's attending to the gym bag, Laurie is over by the weights — but it isn't the leftover cake he puts in his mouth and swallows; he's slipped something out of his pocket, and from the slight jerk of the chin back it may be easy to guess what. A frankly baffled look is passed over to her when she speaks, even if she isn't aimed to see it. "I haven't forgotten it," he says slowly after a moment of consideration. He eases to face her, hands falling into his pockets comfortably — maybe. "Have you?"

Maggie zips the bag up a touch roughly — but she's calm when she stands, hefting it over her shoulder. She looks straight at Laurie again, rather pointedly, in fact, while her features remain especially neutral. "No. I haven't." She looks away , and keeping the bag's broad strap steady with her grip, she strides toward to the door of the gym.

"Powers— "

But, a frustrated afterthought, it isn't enough to carry far, and Laurie stays in his spot rather than pursue hers. He doesn't even check her progress across the room, only immediately turns away with a tired hand across the bridge of his bandaged nose. There's a quiet moment then slam into the punching bag. The beaten thing swings wildly a little bit, the chain clinking and squeaking loudly, but it has no satisfaction to give. Slam slam slam… none of them are helping. Eventually he surrenders. On that. Whirling about on his heel, he swings wildly for the wall instead. And though the thick structure seems to yield absolutely nothing as well, the solid impact and the flare of pain in shocked knuckles becomes yet welcome.

Sometimes, that's all you can get. Oh, and there's cake.

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