2010-12-23: Cowboys & Aliens

Starring:

Maggie_V5icon.pngLaurie3_V5icon.png

Guest Starring:

Tobias

Date: December 23rd, 2010

Summary:

Maggie, Laurie and Tobias travel to the home of Maggie's old partner, who happens to live in her hometown. Not that they see any town; prime grounds for alien life.


"Cowboys & Aliens"

Echo, Wyoming

What Maggie neglected to mention when she said they were going to see her old partner, the father of the missing woman, was that they'd have to leave Cheyenne to do so. Tobias seems to know where he's going regardless; the squad car has left the city behind and takes a long, straight road out of civilization. Slow-moving vehicles disappear. Buildings disappear. On either side is nothing but wide, open space that seems to go on forever, peacefully irreverent to all else. In the distance, the cloudy shape of the mountains seem closer already; a striking view if only it were clearer, but night has seemed to have hit in full, even though it's only supper time. Winter has laid a claim over the land. The snow has stopped save for a few flurries in the dark; the calm before the storm.

Maggie is quiet; even when someone in the car speaks up, her answers are subdued or non-existent. Fifteen minutes out, the car turns onto a narrower road in arguably worse shape than the first, and the headlights briefly illuminate a green road sign that says only:

ECHO
POPULATION 201 ELEV 1452 M

Pulling in towards a small point of warm light just beyond the town limits, the car comes to a stop — not outside their destination, however. No, it's a small, ramshackle building surrounded by nothing. It could be a throwaway from another era — the Old West on the side of the road, surrounded by dust and snow. The only clue that the dull wooden building is functional is the electric light on inside, and the new gas pumps set up outside. Tobias comes to a very apologetic stop. Soon alone with Laurie, Maggie is still quiet; until Tobias heads into the gas station, and she gets out and climbs into the back with the caged-in passenger, as natural as anything; like purposefully choosing to sit in a mobile jail isn't weird at all. "You looked like a prisoner back here."

A more relaxed prisoner has never been seen; Laurie portrays his suggested appearance in location alone; happily, he's spread out about the length he's allowed, with no armrests, no separators, no fellow passengers— until Maggie invades. During the ride, she might as well have been invisible — non-existent, to match her answers. The consultant had on and off casually grilled Tobias on personal details, favorite foods, movies, and if he believed in the existence of aliens. Once, the radio was requested on — though any receivers of the police variety are beyond stealing, behind bars. Now, his legs bend, pulling out of the opposite seat's leg room; his elbow's been rooted on the windowsill, and his cheek planted near his knuckles, allowing a view out when he tilts his head to the side, temple against glass. The twisted pose, and his recoiling from it now, makes obvious the lack of seat-belt to restrain movement.

His allowing of her to take space also coincides with a sideways glance that way, his face rotating along his supporting hand. Nothing in his expression changes much for her entrance, or her comment. But, after a low hum, he concedes, "Mmm, you too," as if she had thrown out a compliment, instead.

Maggie neatly takes up residence on the side she's claimed, against the door shut so securely behind her, but angles toward the (other) seeming prisoner. She settles into a comfortable pose not unlike his, though not as sprawling as his was at any point; instead of resting against the window her cheek rests upon her hand, her elbow up atop the back seat. She looks past Laurie, out into the desert-like expanse.

Save for a distant murmur inside the gas station and the wind distantly whistling or battering against the car, it's quiet. The lack of anything for the wind to blow gives the wide open space the illusion of being completely still until, now and then, it finds a patch of snow to whirl into the air. "I love it out here," she states toward the middle of nowhere beyond Laurie, only to look down a second later. Quieter: "Sometimes." Maggie pauses; her voice keeps softening down bit by bit. "Thank you for coming."

Retreated, Laurie's leg take up as languidly in their newly defined space. Though bent, they fall about unsupported— the puppeteer has released the strings. His gaze is also for the great beyond; he slides his hand away from his chin, "I'd like it better out there," and he raps knuckles definitively against the window. Irrelevant to her quietness, he speaks normally: bored, poised at the edge of carelessness. In fact, her thanks brings on a very dismissive roll of his lips: pffft. But merrily, "You just haven't given me a chance to make you regret it yet." To which he turns and flashes a sparkling smile at her.

"Mm," Maggie gives an amused little murmur that doesn't quite disagree or agree, only acknowledges. Laurie's merriment is met by a less sparkling smirk, and a roll of her eyes — but her look lands on him contented, indifferent to the possibility of regrets. Shifting to better face her own window, hands falling to curl onto her lap, her look out the window and the land beyond is conversely unsettled.

Tobias happens to be moseying out of the old gas station counting his change at that moment. Once he makes it to the car and thuds into his seat, it takes him a second to realize the visiting detective is missing. After a moment of bewilderment, he catches a belated glimpse of both of them in the back seat and clutches his chest. "Christ! I thought for a second you were abducted by aliens." The car revs. "Don't scare me like that."

"Oh, she was," chimes in Laurie, without missing a beat. His elbow breaks off its tired pose of the window and he heaves himself up a little more enthusiastically, "But she's back now." Obviously: though, his vaguely serious intonation does nothing to acknowledge this. "Possibly changed… — putting herself back here with me doesn't bode well," he confides leaning into the bars that keep him from the front of the car, and Tobias. Fingers lace into the barrier forlornly. "If she suddenly exposes her new alien organs to painfully devour mine, I won't blame you if you save yourself."

Tobias pulls away from the station, eyeballing the rearview mirror. They start to glide back onto the dark, desolate road; Maggie seems fine with staying in the back. "Is this an episode of the X-Files?" he queries in an overly nervous voice. "No — Scully doesn't devour Mulder. We're good. Right?"

"I'm not an alien," Maggie calmly reassures, her troubled stare outside becoming distracted in order to focus on the apparent conspiracy theorists she's riding with. "I know that's just what they'd say, but I think you'll all be just fine," she says considerately; then, without a change in her calm tone, deadpans, "I guess you won't really know until it's too late." She coolly returns to window-gazing, the straight-and-narrow road ahead giving no promise that civilization lays beyond like the sign said.

"Come on, Smith Sonian," warns Laurie to Tobias, lowering his voice — though not enough that it actually discludes Maggie, "It's widely known that aliens wrote the X-Files to pollute our understanding. I mean — just look at her — if that isn't the face of someone coldly plotting to hunt men, I don't know what is. And, think about it," he shifts forward, forever thwarted by, but forever tempting, the car barrier, "She only had one of those cookies. Who does that?"

Though Maggie seems, at first, in her own world looking out the window, a hand bracing her head's natural lean, she belatedly she blinks to activity. She turns cheek from knuckles to regard Tobias and Laurie — mostly Laurie — with the face that, evidently, plots coldly the hunting of men. "What— my face looks like what?" she questions ingenuously, though the more pertinent matter is— "You took one; but I never saw you eat it," she tells Laurie, "maybe we're pointing fingers at the wrong candidate."

"To be perfectly honest with you guys, I'd buy either of you as alien shapeshifters. I just hope this barrier holds until we get to the Forresters', I'm leavin' you there. I'm savin' myself," Tobias says with just the right amount of joking to not be serious but just the right amount of seriousness to confirm that he really would turn tail if this were actually to occur. He leans over the wheel, squinting into the night— tiny flecks of light up ahead. A town? UFOs? "I didn't sign on for extraterrestrial invasion."

"Maybe we're pointing fingers— " begins the mockery of Maggie's turnabout, but, as Laurie performs this, his eyebrows cut downward in worry, and his hands perform a pat-down near his pockets. He slides back from the barrier to rustle his coat aside. "Wait a second…" A diving hand pulls out the mentioned cookie — indeed, whole. "Oh my God— it's right here in my pocket— who am I." The clear — and clearly too enthusiastic — panic rises in his voice.

"In my experience, human Miles is always hungry," Maggie states in a light, matter-of-fact tone indulgent of all this overzealous panic. "I think you'd better eat that cookie." That said, her humour seems to, sadly, run out; either that or her true outer-space visitor self is plotting the death of the men. She looks only out the window. Her point of focus, the real reason for her return to silence becomes obvious: the points of light widen ahead of them, a distant security floodlight and house lights at the end of a long, well-used, dirt driveway of a large, wooden-fenced property they'll come upon soon enough.

Moments pass… Tobias smacks the steering wheel in realization. "Smith Sonian!"

Turning it over once, then twice, Laurie eyes the cookie with an undue sullenness; but he doesn't want to, teacher. "Eh," he evaluates, despite the goody's crisp and previously warm deliciousness, "I probably crave the taste of other things now," it's so difficult to be an alien, as his weary, somewhat contemplative, voice projects — a lower mutter, yet, punctuated by an absent, "Clarice." Cookie vanishes — into pocket, and Laurie leisurely returns to his former pose, legs flopping. But now his hands remain enveloped in coat fabric and he's less interested in the scenery as it becomes household, instead. When Tobias acts, Laurie blinks lowly at him, contently unmoved. "Nah, I can do better…"

Maggie shoots an quick look to Laurie upon "Clarice". Again she looks out the window; as they turn down the driveway and the car bumps along it, she sits up into a straighter pose; preparedness, anticipation.

Welcoming them inward is a an archway of natural wood that yawns over the end of the driveway. Decorated on a happier day, it's been entwined with pine garland all the way up. With effort, the top has been decked with a pair of old bells in a bundle of red ribbon and Christmas greenery; maybe even mistletoe. Despite the picture-perfect holiday welcome, and despite the drifts of snow that have been wind-swept against it, it's no Santa's workshop that lies silhouetted by the archway.

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