Date: April 26th, 2010
All questions will be answered — with more questions.
"Curiouser and Curiouser"
NYPD — Evidence
The voice of Detective Powers rings out cheerfully from one quiet room to the other; this part of the station isn't exactly bustling today, which is just what she wants. The desk of the woman attending the Evidence Room is bypassed as Maggie enters the room where the actual "evidence" is stored; the secure metal gate is bypassed net. An officer just leaving the rows is just leaving as she comes in, and she holds the cage door open for him and gives him a friendly, courteous smile in passing until he's out.
Thus solitary, she falls back on a more serious manner and heads straight for a certain shelf of evidence boxed away. Typically, she'd go straight to what she's looking for — but in this case, what she's looking for doesn't immediately jump out. She stands back away from the row and looks it over. Idly, the sleeves of her gunmetal grey dress shirt are pushed up, fidgeted with; keen eyes skim the labels in front of her until, eventually, she spends some time moving down the line, long fingers reaching out to curiously trail over the stored boxes.
Once upon a time, the evidence room was in perfect order with everything in neat rows by their nu— Not true. The room's never been perfect, but it's hit an especial low lately what with budget cuts and forced time off. It's easy to see why evidence could be misplaced; there's a whole row in the back of personal belongings that have never been and will probably never be claimed.
The numbers on the boxes Maggie inspects go back about half a dozen years, disregarding those that are out of order or shoved in the wrong place temporarily. There's a couple all nestled together, their shared label stating them to be from a case that never got much of anywhere— over a gang. So's the couple next to them. Beyond that, the usual suspects of the NYPD: murder, larceny, rape, and arson… boxes upon boxes of proof that humanity is capable of all manner of ways to hurt each other.
There's a number, a name, and a placement that Maggie is looking for. She remembers; she made a mental note of what the box looked like, of where it was on one specific shelf the day she was in here with Laurie. It might be nothing, it might be irrelevant to her concerns, but something compels her to pursue her curiosity through the years of criminal evidence. Gradually, her brows draw in, the lack of order in a few places leaving her dissatisfied. She winds up pulling a few boxes out and reorganizing their placement, leaving the shelf tidier than she left it.
It's the boxes of gang-related history that get most of her attention, though, and she pulls one out, propping it on her hip atop the thin, generic leather belt cinched around her waist while she skims the labels of its brethren the shelf with her fingers.
The one she's got, and most next to it, are light against her grip and thinly packed. There's been contraband running through the system a while, but it's never enough to make it stick more than a few petty arrests — minor players taking the fall for lieutenants. It's always been difficult to crack that kind of organization in crime.
But it's only through Maggie's diligent need to clean up that she finds what she's specifically looking for; the box she memorized. It's been shoved carelessly behind others, near to falling off the edge and disappearing in-between shelves entirely. Getting to it might involve arms longer than Maggie's… or a precarious perch on the shelves themselves.
She almost misses it. It's after she peeks in one box, at its sparse contents and the story it tells, and nudges it aside that she realizes a path has been cleared to another. Its label practically calls out to her from above, filling her memory with a flash. Maggie abandons the shelf in order to set the current box in her clutches down, moving it down to a gap on the shelf below for now. Now, she happens to be both tall and long-limbed, and she certainly tries to make a reach up and back for the evidence — but her fingertips don't make it.
Not to worry!
Maggie skirts around the aisle to relieve the room's small table of its rickety metal folding chair. It really is precarious, the chair's metal legs protesting against the floor with noises reminiscent of nails on a chalkboard after she steps up on it. Her arm and shoulder practically disappear saving the box from being ancient history.
It's a fight, as if maybe the box was hiding and is loathe to be brought into the light. At one point, it nearly slides in the other direction for all her efforts. But then— fingertips grasp, loop into the cut-out handle at the edge. She's got a grip.
BANG. At the front of the room, the metal gate snaps shut with its typical heavy-weighted slam. There are a few possible footsteps, just enough to let the detective know that she isn't alone in the room anymore.
With a "mnnh!" of both effort and victory, Maggie hauls the box toward her. She becomes very aware that there's someone else in the room with her — but she makes sure she gets the box safely to her edge before she straightens atop the shaky chair. As she leans back (ever-so-slightly) to try and catch sight of who it is, she nudges the box into a slight spin, hiding its categorization from view.
Leaning back, besides bothering the chair she's on, earns Maggie a glimpse of the hallway between rows of shelves across from this one, and the table she deprived of this pinnacle of seats she's using as stepping stool. Into this view, with long strides, appears none other than Laurie, right up to the table, where he drops a packet of papers down all bound together with a couple of clips. An apple is carelessly tossed down alongside the thick article.
For a couple of seconds, face darkened in concentration by drawn brows, he's absorbed in the words on the page, fingers splayed beneath the chosen paragraph. But then, instinctively, his head raises and he glances in her direction.
It's only after the Evidence Room's other visitor glances in Maggie's direction that her chair decides wobble and screech against the floor especially loudly. Isn't that moment backwards? The glimpse Laurie gets between the shelves might seem to defy gravity: legs in black, a torso in grey, a flash of blonde higher above, elevated too tall. Watching him, she only entertains the notion of staying quiet for a few seconds; after a careful climb down with the help of a shelf lest the chair slip, boots hit the floor, and a pair of bright eyes appears between boxes between aisles, across from the consultant. "Miles."
Silently, Laurie's gaze takes in the sight of her hovering above her regular height, then it flickers to the end of the aisle where a sign attempts to summarize all the numbers lined up there. He returns to her as she gazes back at him through slits of slate gray metal and the uniform white boxes. The hand on top of the stack of papers flatten against them, slides absently towards him; he ends with a swift motion, a typical motion, of hand into coat pocket. But the fingers are out again too fast for it to be a pose. Easily, attention redirects to his own material in front of him. "Powers."
That's all the greeting Maggie gives. She leans her forearms into the edge of a chest-level shelf on her side, almost a casual pose. The detective's calm and watchful gaze is nearly cool. It leaves Laurie a few times to rove to the article he toted in. "What are you working on? Does this mean you passed your psych eval?"
Laurie spends all the time he's given pursuing those papers, his hand trailing down the sheet; if it's an indication of where he is on the page, it's faster than one might expect. Skimming, perhaps. He certainly turns a couple of pages before there's that subtle chin lift to indicate he's heard Maggie speaking. Without turning from the reading, he raises a hand and tips pointer finger at her, one little movement seeming to say: that's it. Except: "Either that, or I'm in here when I'm not supposed to be."
Both possibilities. "I'm not sure which I'd gamble on." A mouth that had been so straight dimples into the faintest of smiles before the glimpse of Maggie winks out. She disappears from the small window of space only to reappear around the corner in clear sight, arms folded across her tucked-in shirt. All she does is watch — not even casually. She flat-out stares at Laurie and the stack of papers; but then, that's barely unusual. Detective Powers is always taking everything in (despite sometimes not seeing what's right in front of her).
"And gambling," Laurie levels with her seriously, "is an addiction." There appears to be a chair missing from this table so, unhindered, the consultant takes up the stack of papers and, in one spinning movement, throws himself up onto the table itself. His legs swing over the edge like a child, the article coming into his lap and the retrieved apple to his mouth. The red skin of the fruit slides against his teeth in a shallow bite then the hand holding it hovers vaguely near his jaw. When she's been given ample opportunity to stare, he pipes up: "You're doing a fantastic impression."
Maggie blinks a few times — much more than she had been, throughout her staring. "Hmn— ? I'm not." She eases out of her standstill and a few brisker steps take her to the table — next to Laurie, though she doesn't sit on it, only curls her fingers around the edge behind her. Her head faintly turned toward him, she looks at him sidelong and less intent. And at the article, as she tips her head down. "I don't gamble." Statement of fact.
Laurie doesn't cease tracing those pages, turning them every so often; with the right hand occupied by the apple, he licks his thumb and flips with the left as well. "Ah, not an impression. Therefore, there really is a question you'd like to ask but reminded yourself would not be answered." Biting, chewing on one side of his mouth, he turns his head to her, then dips chin in indication of how there's plenty of room next to him up here. The movement also allows him to look at her down his nose like a reprimand. "Then, you're quite sure you'd gamble on neither and were only leading the expression on. Tch." Back to the article.
The man with the apple receives a gradual brow lift from Maggie, who stares at him not out of the curiosity that brought him in here, but out of bewilderment. "Ye— yeah…" True enough, he's got her on the last comment. But the detective is less interested in what she did or didn't do with her words and what Laurie is winding with his at the moment. She sits on the table after all, right at the corner, as much distance as is physically doable. She shifts slightly after the fact, testing whether or not it's anything like the chair. "But really," a light tone, followed by a serious one, "what are you up to?" Pause. "I must have forgotten to remind myself I wouldn't be answered that time."
Better form than its seating, the table holds steady to both their weights. So far. Laurie certainly feels confident enough in it to shift about, sliding himself backwards some so that his legs only dangle at the knees. "I am reading," he informs her plainly, "In the Evidence Room." Eyebrows up. "There, was that so hard?" Though he's smiling a bit beside himself when she makes that remark. As he relates this hobby, his hand splays along the page to show that it is this, exactly, that he is up to. Up close, the words are not formatted like an article at all, but more like a story — script-like. Along the top: Der Fliegende Hollander.
Laurie's smile is not remotely contagious until Maggie happens to discern the text on the pages — then she smiles, somewhat despite herself. "The Flying Dutchman?" Knitting eyebrows relax and spring up, instead. "Was the break room too busy for you?" she asks — two parts joking, one part chastising — rather than questioning his apparent choice of reading materials. "You didn't say how your psych eval went," she adds, sternly; she doesn't expect a straight answer, but gives him a strong prompt with a pointed, expectant look.
When she translates the title, for no discernible rhyme or reason, Laurie looks away. His open and friendly glance shades, avoids her, and his hand tightens where it rests against the material. "You might be surprised how few people actually utilize this room," he tells her, a few notes short of being accusing, as he relinquishes his grip and sets the libretto aside next to him, puts the apple on top. "That's probably because I was never planning to," is mentioned for her prompt, a look he's late to catching thanks to a roaming glance around the room first. As his hands settle into his lap, he takes a second to gesture at her — it's the first time he's prominently used his right hand, therefore the first reveal of the extent of swelling in his knuckles, angry red spots where the skin cracked after bruising. Involved in talking, he only wiggles the hand and pulls the corners of his mouth dramatically down in intense hesitation. "Ehhh… you won't like what I have to say."
"Probably not." Maggie bends ahead a little, holding onto the table's edge, causing her to have to look behind her slightly at Laurie. She makes zero note of any observance: the telltale signs of things obvious and things not so much… she barely seems to have noticed the avoidance, the near accusation, or the evidence of a hard punch — except that she has reverted back to her wide open stare, her blue eyes still waters. "Has that ever stopped you before?"
He chuckles, guilty, caught. But when Laurie's also blue eyes lift to hers, he says in a rare melancholy, "Honestly, yes." Hands coming together in front of him, he first lifts his shoulders in a slow shrug, dropping them and leaning forward; when the hands do come together, they do so with no heeding of the more than likely tender spots. His preparation towards telling her involves adjusting his legs against the table, settling his posture in as if for a long haul. "Someone," he delivers importantly, "is going to ask you to do something you don't want to."
And, throughout, Maggie's stance remains: calm, watching, listening. She tilts her head toward her shoulder, at his honest response, and it stays there slightly crooked. His eventual answer — such as it is — is met with a follow-up of her first. "Probably." The exchange prompts a flicker of a smile at very corners of her mouth. "But that's just inevitable. It happens all the time," she adds easily. "I didn't want to see Dr. Falkland," she says, in example. "I did anyway. And … I was cleared. Are you going to tell me what … someone … is going to ask me to do?"
That finger comes up again, wagging at her: you're so on top of things, Detective Maggie Powers. "I am not," Laurie decides in a fittingly decisive manner as he stares ahead of him at the shelves upon shelves of criminal evidence. "I'm going to make someone else do it. I would much rather," he swings his head to look to her, "Tell you something you'd like to hear." The suggestive space he leaves, only eyeing her expectantly, is ambiguous. Is… could it be an offer?
Forgive Maggie if she doesn't seem motivated by this prospect — that would involve being able to better predict the things that come out of the consultant's mouth. Curiosity does glint, though. She sits up straighter, sliding a couple of inches back so as not to crane her neck, the table's protest only a quiet one. Her gaze transfers from Laurie to the rows of evidence, a belated and much more short-lived echo of his stare at the boxes a moment ago. "Are you."
Laurie hums in response, the noise vibrating low in his chest. Then, after a second, he puts his hands on the edge of the table and pushes himself off and to the floor. Stepping at an angle, he's able to face the things he left there, picking up first the apple to pocket it and then, once again reverently, laying a hand over the libretto. "Well," he says, mouth pulling up to accept the flickering shame of this loss. Though he speaks casually. "It was a thought."
Unfinished thoughts are one of several ways to bait someone who is innately curious; another way is to tamper with boxes of evidence from the past. Maggie doesn't say as much in so many words, though she does say: "It wasn't a no." Otherwise, the woman only sits there on the table, her head to one side in an inquisitive tilt.
That particular row where Maggie originated Laurie hasn't looked back at since. Now, backing up several paces with his packet of reading gripped resting in one palm, he regards her and her alone — after a brief respite to the ceiling. "I realized," spreading his hands helplessly, "You'd never asked your first question."
"I thought I asked my fair share," the detective counters plainly, no opposition in the contradicting answer that might have a barb to it. If someone else had said it. Maggie pushes from the table and slides to the floor as well, stepping ahead — and past Laurie — to slowly walk to the end of the row. "How would you know I had a question if I didn't ask it?" she ventures with her back turned.
"But that first one was going to be the most interesting," Laurie tells her confidently, stayed in his spot to glance along and then over his shoulder at her path past him. "I could give you a long technical answer," is said as he swings around on a step, not quite facing her back but aiming idly to the side. "But it'd be easier just to ask— am I wrong?"
"I happen to like long technical answers sometimes— " Maggie says, spoken like a true lover of knowledge. She cuts herself off in the midst of turning around, her arms coming to fold one over the other as she looks down the line of evidence at Laurie. "No," she then answers, simple and truthful and neutral. "What were you doing," she continues just as plainly, factual and without judgment, "the last time we were here? You were looking at evidence— not from any current case. Some people… think you're using police resources where you shouldn't be."
His head drops, not out of any embarrassment or guilt, but on another soft laugh; a humorless affair, it only acknowledges a certain wryness of being right. "Hmmm… that might not be one you'd like to hear, either." Laurie prefaces, bringing his hand to trail along his jaw in thoughtful measurement of what to say next. After proper calculations, he makes the final step in the arc to face her again. It's a quiet sort of stare, non-binding and asking nothing of her. "It'd be alright," he announces from this position, "You were under extreme emotional and physical duress. People say all manner of things they don't mean to come out alive."
The admission — as much as it is one, just another warning about an answer she won't like, conveniently minus the actual answer — prompts a narrowing of Maggie's eyes, concerned. It's fleeting, due to what Laurie states next. After a quiet spell, standing motionless, she pipes up ingenuously with, "What?" But it isn't as bewildered as it could be.
"I'm only saying," Laurie continues along amiably, bypassing any other emotional markers of the winding, unusual conversation. "That no one would blame you." While not parting, his lips do curve up to give her a friendly smile, a notion of content. The toe of his right foot slides around, preparing for a step away from her and the evidence. Musing, "I think I might… try the break room after all," he completes the turn to leave.
Curious. And in Maggie's case, answerless, but the seeming end to the maze of exchanges brings a partial, undecided smile to her face in turn. She spins her back to the corner of the shelves, anticipating Laurie's walk past. Instinctively, when he makes the move to leave, her gaze shoots behind her for one subtle instant: through the shelves to the aisle she left, the box she found, though it's blocked from her view.
She's going to have another chance at personal time with that box. Laurie walks straight past her, rolling up his stack of papers to better hide them in the folds his jacket pocket. When his hand comes out, it still has something in it. And that instant she spares for the shelves better really be an instant, or she's going to get smacked by the fresh, unbitten apple being tossed at her from the side. Laurie strolls the rest of the way whistling an overture until the clang of the gate marks his departure complete.
A distinct thwack of the apple instantly being caught assaults the emptying space — Maggie must have good reflexes. She's left alone with a bright red apple in hand and snooping to continue. After watching the closed gate for a moment or two, she does just that.