2010-05-07: Couples Counseling



Date: May 7th, 2010


Sydney does not have the easiest job in the world.

"Couples Counseling"

Hope Hearth Distress Center

Greenwich Village, NYC

It's a beautiful day for therapy. Well, Sydney thinks so, anyways. She sits in her chair awaiting her first ever dual session with Maggie and Laurie. Her usual pencil skirt has been matched with a thick black belt around her waist and a white blouse. She'd told Tara to let the pair in whenever they arrive, and sits poised with her pen ready for action. She glances at the couch and vaguely remembers needing a new one. Oh well. One day soon, maybe. Now that she's consistently back at work she'll have time to figure all of those things out.

Crossing her ankles she dates the top of the pad of paper before waiting.

They're supposed to go to this thing together and they arrive together: via the dark blue car that belongs to one of them, the woman who emerges and shuts the driver's side door. "If it wasn't against the law to make someone ride in the trunk— "

Moments later, inside Hope Hearth…

Heading past the front desk on Tara's welcome is Detective Powers — a fitting moniker since she has literally just driven off of the job and hasn't had time to remove the black shoulder holster fitted over the grey button-up shirt she wears, replete with a firearm. Despite this somewhat imposing combination of accoutrements, and despite the fact that her passenger is like a small child in the car, Maggie seems in relatively good spirits up until it's time to walk through the door to Dr. Falkland's office. She pauses there before her knuckles give a couple of light raps on the wood. A glance is sent back with a lift of her brows and a roll of her eyes, as if to say "here goes nothing", before she opens it up.

"— then got stuffed in there. It's not as bad as one might think, except a bit cramped in the leg department."

The story with which the detective was being regaled on the walk over ends conveniently as Laurie crosses the office threshold. His unmistakably purple shirt, though a dark one, is tempered by a silken silver scarf and the sleek shiny black of a leather jacket. His jeans could say anything for where he was previously, but the fact is it was also work. The one sign on him is a flyer he stole from the breakroom billboard; it's rolled up and sticking out from his jacket pocket alongside what appears to be an issue of Us Weekly.

"Tara, lovely Tara, hello~" He whistles happily, jauntily strolling behind his ride, slowing as he comes to Tara's desk in order to turn sideways and rap his palms against her workspace. The receptionist gets a smile, a half-nod, and then he takes long steps to catch up to the opening door. Palm out, he plants it against the wood, taking the weight from his partner and waiting for her to enter first.

At the sound of the knock, Sydney chimes lightly, "Come in~" while standing from her seat. Nope, there's nothing nerve-wracking about this for her, it's all about the pair of them here in her office. "Welcome! I'm glad you could both make it," Like they really ever had a choice. She motions towards the couch, "Come please, have a seat. You both know the drill." She's absolutely beaming. Yup, she's pleased as punch that they both came mostly because it gives her a measure of satisfaction.

"Do you need coffee? Tea?" Nope, she hadn't offered it last time. But then, last time they were mandated to be here. This time, she kind of mandated them but not really. After asking the question she sits down in her chair again. "It's great to see you both. How've you both been doing?"

In goes Maggie first, a wash of monochrome in black and grey, in comparison to the man who trails behind. She has a small polite smile for Sydney, which flickers toward broadening at so much beaming welcome. "Hi, there… no— thank you." The drill, for Maggie, is to promptly sit down — she does so on the far cushion of the couch and immediately remembers this particular piece of furniture.

"Tea!" Laurie chirps, this smiling image of carelessness, "Would be fantastic. Thank you." As per form, he declines following Maggie to the couch and instead strolls immediately to Sydney's desk as before. "Lookit that," he mentions, reaching out to prod at one of the foreign toys, "Still here." The aside is with a leaning back glance over his shoulder to Maggie, checking to see what she feels about such Kinder decoration. Looking forward again — well, at the toy — he adds, "I'm peachy. Powers? Wouldn't take a break if she could catch one. How are you, Doctor Sydney Falkland?"

Sydney smiles brightly as she once again stands to her feet and steps towards her desk from which she pulls out a kettle, a couple of mugs, and several different kinds of tea. She disappears altogether from the office for a few moments, kettle-in-hand before returning and plugging the kettle into the wall. "It'll be a moment or two," for the tea. She sits down again and crosses her ankles before poising her pen. "I'm well thank you." She glances between the two of them, already fascinated by the interplay. Ironically Laurie is almost soaking this up. Or he's trying to distract her. Either way. "And how is the case load? I know things must be intense for both of you in homicide?" It's a pleasant enough question.

From her reserved pose on the couch, sitting straight, hands on either side of her as if she's just about to push back and sit more comfortably, though she never does, Maggie switches back and forth between watching Laurie's antics (she seems to have no particular opinion on the desk decorations; her brows lift at Laurie instead) and the therapist. "There are a lot of open cases," she replies evenly — not especially pleasantly, as it happens; there's nothing pleasant about Homicide.

While Sydney was out of the office, Laurie seems to have tracked his way around it — what Maggie was privy to was a trek behind the desk where he, testing out the therapist's point of view, raised curious eyebrows at his partner before quickly stepping away. Now near to the couch, he pivots to face Sydney, hands sliding to his pockets, the one almost dislodging the magazine there. Glancing sideways and down at Maggie, he seems content to let her field that one.

"Personally distressing cases?" Sydney asks quietly as she probes for more information. She scribbles a few vague — nearly illegible — notes on her pad of paper before recrossing her ankles. "And how exactly does your working relationship work? I recognize that Miles has very different ideas of how to pursue and resolve a murder case than conventional protocol — "

The detective's reply is clear-cut. "No. No personally distressing cases. Just cases, Dr. Falkland. Murder cases. All murders should be distressing." Though barely a glance is given sideways, a splash of colour catches her eye nevertheless. "You're losing your magazine," Maggie helpfully, but idly, points out to Laurie before seamlessly moving on to answer Sydney; sort of. "We both do our jobs."

"You might say it… works," Laurie adds on with that grin that pauses, fading vaguely as Maggie's words sink in. Twisting his hand in the pocket, he fishes the magazine out just before it tips out itself. Eyeing the extremely gossipy celebrity news blasts on the cover, he mentions to the room, "I like to check out Who Wore It Best." His accompany smirk could go two ways: either he really enjoys revealing this tidbit, or he's bull-shitting. Suddenly, an idea sparks and he bounces the reader in his hand, tossing it open. He has to take the other hand from his pocket to flip the pages towards the back. "You know, there's horoscopes in the back of this thing… hold on."

"I'm sure you both do your jobs really well, but that's not what I meant Detective Powers. You're partners… but you both don't do the exact same thing all of the time. It's unlikely you do — an improbability of sorts. Like I'm a therapist and my colleagues and I have a lot in common, but we don't — " the kettle begins to whistle " — all conduct sessions the same way." Sydney rises to her feet and trails over to the kettle and unplugs it before putting water in two mugs. "Would you like… orange pekoe, green tea, mint tea, or mandarin oolong?" She opens a package of mandarin oolong for herself.

"Usually when two — or any number of people work together, the point is to get different points of view and different— skills … to work toward the same goal. And … we definitely have our … differences— " Pointedly, though not with any particular antagonism — fact is fact — she glances up at Laurie flipping through the magazine. She states simply: "You could say it works." Almost an echo of Laurie. Almost. Less laissez-faire than her counselling buddy over there, Maggie glances off to a wall for a moment before a slightly hard gaze returns to Sydney.

Take this moment, for instance: Maggie answers the questions, and Laurie… gets distracted by women's fashion. After a necessary foray into Best and Worst, the consultant's gaze shifts up — for the tea. "Surprise me." Thumb scatters a few more pages by and, with a soft noise of triumph, he folds one end over another and snaps the magazine to attention. "Here we go. Libra — that's Doctor Falkland," added for the benefit of Maggie, "Look, it even mentions work. Difficulties at work," he squints some to read the colorful print, "Your patience may be tried sorely by a… distracted co-worker."

"But whose role is what?" Sydney asks as she makes Laurie a cup of mandarin oolong. It's her favourite. She sits down after passing Laurie his tea. "What difficulties at wo — wait, no, that's not relevant!" she insists. Before sipping her tea and sitting down. "Do you feel your working relationship is effective or do you have conflicts because your different styles and approaches to solving caes?"

A vaguely questioning look is directed up at Laurie. Maggie's furrowed brow and hint of curious amusement either wonders does he really know the therapist's birthday? or whose role is what? Before answering the pose questions from Sydney, she finally sits back against the couch; it's hardly a comfortable pose, however, and her arms come to cross, one hand lightly wrapping around the opposite bicep. Another statement is delivered: "He promised not to break protocol."

"It's a little bit relevant," Laurie ventures, releasing a hand to demonstrate this amount to the therapist with pinched fingers. The raised hand turns into the one to accept the cup of tea. Whilst Maggie repositions herself on a couch that just isn't worth it, he paces a few steps this way and that, filling the unanswered pause with, "What if I feel the conflicts are effective?" There's a beginning to lifting the tea when Maggie's reveal causes his head to jerk rather suddenly to turn to her.

"How is it at all relevant? I don't see the connection?" the therapist narrows her eyes. "In what ways do you feel the conflicts are effective, Miles?" Sydney asks with a very small smile as she drums her fingers on the arms of her chair and sips at her tea — watch out, it's hot. "And what do you feel about the conflicts, Detective?" Progress is where it's at.

The sudden look from Laurie is met with a much less of a reaction from the detective, whose gaze is calm and clear; to Sydney, when she slowly draws her eyes back, there's a hint of annoyance to be found, betraying that she doesn't especially want to be here, subdued, but present. She only stares for a long moment, perhaps choosing her words carefully, though her face shows little of the challenge. "We get results." (Usually.) Her straightforward reply, this time, has a follow-up. "Even when things get— I mean, I don't know if… conflict is… the right word…"

Laurie returns to the task of trying to the tea, hot or not, before clearing his throat. "I wasn't saying I do, Doctor Falkland, I was asking what if — and how come," a gesture of the magazine between the two of them, "She gets to be Detective and I'm just Miles — no wait, first — 'conflict' is too negative." Echo echo echo… "There's 'incompatible' in the definition. And as the stars tell us," ahem ahem, here's the Us Weekly presented like a thesis, "This couple — Detective and Miles — won't find it easy to get along when they first meet, but they do share a lot of common interests that could help them develop a lasting relationship. That's lovely. That should be on our file."

"I actually caught that," but had hoped that wasn't what Laurie was asking. Sydney sighs heavily. Why did she put herself through this again? Never in the history of research and policing have two participants been so evasive. "… I suspect, Miles, you don't get along with many people because you keep them at an arm's length for their own protection. I haven't decided whether you believe you'll inflict emotional or physical damage, but damage nonetheless." She's scratched the surface of this before.

"Are you both evasive on purpose or is this entirely accidental? I'm only asking because I can pawn you off to a hardass colleague. And believe me, neither of the colleagues I have in mind would hesitate to pull either or both of you off duty."

"Ah— " The zodiacal proclamation distracts Maggie with a small bewildered squint of her eyes — but she's soon delivering quite a similar look to the therapist on the analysis of Laurie's behaviour. She seems mildly discomfited by it, tightening her arms across her chest and glancing away as if to allow the statement privacy.

Abruptly, however, her features harden as her head swings back toward Sydney. "I'm not being evasive," Maggie counters instantly, and if that was being evasive, she's not aware of it. A smile, more taken aback than sincere, appears and disappears. "We might have been through some stuff but I'm more than capable of performing my duties," she insists, passionately steadfast, and looks to Laurie, markedly less defensive."…As far as I know," she studies him, "we both are." Back to Sydney. "I'm honestly not sure why we have to do this. We're also capable of working things out ourselves."

From over the top of the magazine, the comically poised eyebrows flatten out as an unamused warning per Sydney's words — except the threat is not carried through; it's lacking the same in Laurie's mouth, which remains curved upwards contentedly. So, really, he just goes from entirely grinning to smiling plainly. His, "You should tell me. When you do decide," is, however, somewhat aloof.

Markedly, the magazine, the smile, the wavering attention span take a backseat when he looks over to watch Maggie go on the defensive. When she's looking at him in turn, the smile is softer — not quite reassuring, but on that path. That entirely changes the moment they're both eyeing the therapist again and he announces a carefree, "I'm being something besides evasive on purpose. And she's perfectly truthful about three out of four of those. Is this the part where you ask us what the other's favorite ice-cream is to make sure we're not trying to trick the government into letting me stay in the country?"

"But you are being evasive, Detective. I've done — and really have had — a lot of therapy in my lifetime. Evasive people give one word to two word answers. Open people talk more. Nervous people talk the most. — Or they clam up." Sydney shrugs as she scribbles a few idle notes down on her notepad. "Evasion and evasive tactics take different routes. And unfortunately, Miles is exceedingly good at toying with me." She clears her throat, sips at her tea and refocuses.

"And no, I'm not interested in knowing your various ice-cream flavours and the like. What I am interested in, and have actually got a taste of is your interaction with one another. That's why we're here. To determine if the partnership should continue. Believe it or not, this isn't only for my own edification." Although there are certainly personal motives and there's something fascinating about having them here at once. Sydney scribbles a few more notes.

Maggie eases back out of her forward lean unfolds her arms, her hands planting on her knees. A small frown touches her features. Some of the detective's defensiveness lingers and as she stares down Sydney, considering, it seems a challenge for her to voice any kind of reply. Her silence isn't a nervous one, per se… "I don't know what else to say." …we're back to evasive. She is, however, sincere in the statement. "I'm willing to cooperate, I just— " She turns her hand over, palm up on her thigh in a slightly helpless gesture, and looks to Laurie, expecting one of his interjections.

"I think that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me," Miles declares, enjoying the moment with a taste of tea similar to the therapist's grasp for calm. Something in Sydney's next words gives him pause, a couple thoughtful blinks afterwards pass the time from this immediate reaction, as he shifts his weight with the forward-tending confidence of someone with a point. Good or not remains to be seen.

"Three," he spouts off, rolling out thumb, pointer, and middle to get to that number, "You will come for monthly appointments along with Detective Powers. This is solely for me. I feel that your partnership makes for a fascinating case study and beyond that I believe there's something to be learned about police work." Reveling in the recital, he settles to the side, fingers falling to the couch just behind Maggie's shoulder. "You sat in with both of us already, Doctor Falkland. If this was your idea— how else did you expect it to go, exactly?"

"Yes, I did sit with you both. And while there is some personal motivation behind it, it's not solely that." Sydney scribbles a few more notes before sighing and standing. "I cleared you for duty against my better judgment." Frowning, she scribbles a few more notes. "My expectation was that you cooperate. Thus far — " she clucks her tongue before sighing. But then there's other things going on with her that are throwing her off her game. Among which she considers herself the worst parent (foster parent?) in the history of the entire planet. And that's a lot of parents. "Perhaps we should wrap up for today — " the lack of progress alone is enough to set her thoughts in that direction. After uncrossing her ankles the pad is set down on the small table next to her seat.

Whatever the detective might have said in response to Sydney has been re-routed by what she apparently said before; thanks to Laurie, Maggie gives the therapist a decidedly irate eye and says: "You wanted to use us as a case study?" Her anger — that small flash of it — immediately cools down, but she remains hardened in her own study of Sydney, even throughout a smile that tries to be apologetic. It is genuine; it just doesn't quite make it to the forefront. "With all… due… respect, Dr. Falkland— at least half of us are answering your questions," she says calmly. No jab to Laurie intended even though there should perhaps be one; it's just a statement. "I don't mean to be evasive, I didn't think there were any wrong answers in therapy."

Sip, sip. if they're going to be wrapping, then Laurie should like to finish his tea first, and he indulges this during Maggie's reaction. Even at the point where a defense might have been required, he has none; her statement is also true. "She's getting answers just as much as if twice as many of us were giving them," trace bitterness becomes noticeable in his tone, and it probably doesn't have anything to do with the flavoring of his drink. "That's what therapists do, see. She's been writing things down," he lifts two fingers and juts them lazily in the notepad's direction. "I wager it doesn't just say 'giggly fluffy bunnies' on there. Except perhaps in the margins. I'd see nothing wrong with that." Glance to Maggie seriously. "Who could take offense to fluffy bunnies?"

"I'm surprised Miles didn't tell you that part ahead of time considering this component was negotiable — " Sydney tilts her head slightly. "And no, there are no wrong answers, but there is evasion. We all have tactics." At this she outright stares at Laurie. Although if Syd is entirely honest with herself, her tactics occurred when she decided to sit in the therapist's seat rather than that of the client. She arches her eyebrows at Laurie, "Yes, it's my job to 'read between the lines' — that's what we do. Believe it or not, very few people say everything they mean ever." Now she's standing. "But like I said, that's quite enough for today. Particularly as Mister Miles has just taken to critiquing my notes." She manages a polite, yet serene smile.

A quiet stare beneath a furrowed brow is all Maggie has to offer, from Sydney to Laurie and back again. From fluffy bunnies to the therapist's finality, her expression veers little. She pushes her hands against her knees and rises to her feet, glad to stroll away from the uncomfortable couch. She does pause to give Sydney a small smile, a measure of politeness she can't help but offer before she leaves. Like her gaze, it falls away by the time she reaches the door of the office.

"Ohhh, I believe it," says the behavioral consultant whose job is suspiciously similar to hers, even as he flashes a smile for all the times she looks over at him so strictly. Laurie catches his partner quietly departing out of the corner of his eye, glances there to see, and then returns to Sydney. With Maggie at the door, he hovers just so in the room, his attention somewhere just off Sydney's shoulder: considering, debating saying something… "Ah," nope it's gone, "I'm sure your penmanship is lovely." Which is as good as goodbye. Settling the tea cup down, he strolls towards the door — in fact, right at Tara's desk, where he leans over to claim a root-beer sucker from the bowl of such in front of the receptionist. "Forgot this before," he mentions, winking at her.


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