2010-05-07: Driven Together



Date: May 7th, 2010


Who needs therapy.

"Driven Together"

Greenwich Village, NYC

There are no words about how the little therapy session — key word little; it was cut pretty short — was a waste of time, or wondering about its repercussions out loud, or commentary on how she feels no more counseled now than she did beforehand: Maggie sits in the driver's seat of her car neutrally, as if this was only a small errand in her day. A pointless detour she'd rather forget. The car door has barely closed, air rushing in after it's only just been shut, and already Maggie's started the car. "Buckle up."

Complex adjusting of the seat position happened the first time Laurie got in the passenger side, so now he slides into the spot comfortably and at home. Certainly at home enough to toss the Us Weekly up on the dash and then kick up a leg to brace his foot against there, too. The sidelong glance at Maggie for her instructions is affected by the bobbing white of the stick end of his sucker as the candy part is held inside his cheek. "Buckling up," he announces, very purposefully yanking the strap around his body and giving it a deliberate *click* into place.

Some kind of multi-tasker — or just very accustomed to being ready to speed off — Maggie has somehow managed to already have her seatbelt on. The "buckle up" warning certainly because she's about to speed off, however — on the contrary, she eases out of the tight parking spot onto the Greenwich street quite serenely. "The funeral for one of the Japanese gang members is in… " She twists one wrist just so while clutching the steering wheel to check her watch. "…a couple hours. I'll be heading over to see who shows up. If you plan on coming— " An up-and-down glance is sent to Laurie and his attire. " — you're not wearing that."

The immediate jerk forward from Laurie isn't because of any fierce driving from her, but his secondary movement with the seat-belt where he wraps the shoulder strap around his shoulder and behind him, out of the way. He follows up her glance with one of his own. "Telling me how to dress already, Powers? I haven't even gotten you to come out for a meal yet." That it's said airily means nothing for his sincerity, seeing as how this is the sum of how he sounds a majority of the time. His defensive hand against the scarf is a bit more appropriately ruffled. "And I like this."

"The idea is to not be obvious. You stick out like a sore thumb," Maggie points out, eyes on the road. The statement is just that, rather than any observation on fashion. The consultant's happens to be more flamboyant than hers. Then again, it's not hard to outdo Detective Powers in in the wardrobe department. A hint of smile tries to mar her otherwise neutral face until she makes a turn — literally, around the corner of the street Hope Hearth is located. Then, prompting: "So tell me where I'm going."

"You look like a cop," Laurie replies instantly in as factual a manner as she, his head tilted lazily to one side as he watches the road, the passing scenery, the building they're leaving. Sucking in a deep breath makes him look like he wants to stretch out, but there's just not the option in a car. Instead, he leans over to operate the window, letting in a whoosh of air from the outside. "Where… do you want to go?"

Maggie's head tips to one side for an instant, conceding to the fact that she does look like a cop. He has a point. She'd probably stand out too. Despite the question of the destination hanging in the air, she's taking them somewhere — the default route to downtown, back the way they came, which means gradually into traffic. "Thailand, but we can't always go where we want," she states lightly before — with a glance and lifted brows to Laurie — laying it out slowly and plainly for him: "I'm your driver. There's almost two hours until the funeral where I have to be. I was going to go back to the station. Do you want me to drop you off anywhere?"

"The truth is the truth is the truth," he agrees, a bit sadly, over dream destinations — of which a recent visit to his apartment has shown he has plenty of those — and Laurie turns away to plant an elbow against the windowsill. From here it's less traffic and more sights, people and places. "If you're my driver," he muses momentarily, "Then you… will just take me anywhere I ask you to." His words end with a questioning uplift, but it isn't enough to really merit a full question mark. Rolling his cheek against his knuckles, he eyes her. "Yes," he then decides firmly, "Drop me off anywhere— except the station— and that immediate street corner. This, of course, means the next street corner is completely allowable, but then who will you have to entertain you?" His big, ridiculous grin suggests he may actually be prepared to be pushed out of the vehicle this instant.

"The radio." Which is off. Maggie's eyes roll to the side to counter the giant grin with a long-suffering look, though it winds up not especially long at all. "Okay," she agrees with a you asked for it variety of smile, tapping one hand on the wheel. Wherever she has deemed to be "anywhere" remains to be seen, however. They're not there yet, which — as the seconds stretch on and the car rolls along the street — means that it's not the next street corner.

She drives past it, as well as past the iconic arch of Washington Square Park somewhere off to their left. "What were one and two?" This curious question comes out of essentially nowhere, Maggie's eyes still on the road as traffic and a stoplight soon causes the car to halt slowly. "Three was monthly appointments with me."

Careful, that smile only encourages him. Laurie did, after all, ask for it, and he resettles excitedly in the seat— essentially just as unable to stay still as the ride over. Eventually, he uses his raised foot to nudge the magazine, pushing it off the dash where it catches it before it hits the car floor. "They were the stipulations that came before three," he responds easily, opening to some useless article or another. The decorative print causes him to squint, which, in turn, causes him to glance away from it. "So. I'm sorry."

"I figured." And… "What are you sorry for?" A question on the heels of a question, from Maggie; not a probing interrogation, it sounds casual even if her interest in the answers is somewhat vested. Since the car has come to a momentary — or not — stop in a snare of noisy New York traffic, she leans an elbow near her window, leaning her head into the L of her thumb and pointer finger as she looks across to the passenger. Maggie squints against the sun, rather than a magazine. "I feel like we're kids who got bad grades on our English tests."

"English in particular for any reason?" Laurie swiftly rearranges himself to be eyeing her more intently, unintentionally ruining their mirrored poses as soon as they match up, "Powers. Did you ever get a bad grade on an English test?" Honestly— scandalous! The redirection seems to have swept the question session under the rug as the consultant chooses to continue in another vein. There's a low hum as he plays with the magazine more than commits to its words. "I always tested well." A stray piece of personal information, like he's telling her the time.

"I— yeah, once or twice," Maggie openly admits and, knowing her reply doesn't exactly fit her image these days, her voice takes on an amused tone. "But only because I skipped them." Scandalous indeed! With those odd bits of personal information swapped, it's both hands on the wheel again for the detective as the car ahead starts to move. The fact that Laurie didn't answer her question doesn't go unnoticed — she frowns, for an instant — but Laurie not answering her questions is too commonplace for her to repeat herself. Instead, she says, "You would test well. You have a tremendous memory." What seems a compliment is followed by a narrow-eyed study between navigating the street. "You quoted Dr. Falkland word for word back there, didn't you? That was weeks ago."

"Skipping," Laurie repeats, clucking with his tongue, "You know what they say about kids who skip school." And the therapist thought they had communication issues! Look at all these new things being disc— oh yeah, the skipped question. He flits right by the void it's left, and the frown it's created even briefly, his head turning so that the knuckles rest under his chin and he's conveniently gazing off into the sky during her drive-interrupted study. "I did," he confirms without the weight of ego, same as any time he speaks about himself… which is rare anyway. "I find its more effective. People can't wiggle out of their own wording as easily… but, yes, that'd be… exactly why I tested well." Guilty cough. "I was kind of bored otherwise."

Makes sense; a trace of a smirk still lingering after the talk of skipping school, Maggie nods her head a little, the way people tend to do when they understand or at least think they do. She's quiet for a small spell as buildings switch to different buildings when she turns down another street, closer and closer to the heart of Manhattan. It is still exactly the same route that took them to "therapy" to begin with. She hangs on to her pensiveness and backtracks, instead, to ask, "So what is it they say about kids who skip school?"

Laurie tips his head to look her straight-on in order to say: "They aren't really there." The calm landscape of his face survives a second longer before the grin, the completely accepting of what he just said grin, ruins the effect. With this to sink in, he presses into the back of the seat, letting one foot finally join the other on the dash, doing his best to cross legs and — completely, entirely — keep the soles of his shoes from getting crud on her window. "I hope you're going to—" His hand, coming up, pauses just before rapping against the window, "Mmm, no. Not ruining the surprise." Or the sheer familiarity of this route they're taking. Again, the topic settles, lulls.

When he speaks again, it's his turn to backtrack: "The idea seemed intriguing, if not the forum. That's why I willingly let her waste your time like that." A dismissive wave of the hand in the space between them. "I'll just suck it up, do my part. Take this whole session thing off the table."

"I agreed to it." Faintly cynical, that answer, but only just. No one person is culpable. Maybe Dr. Falkland. Maggie glances to Laurie and his odd pose with a mild straightening of her mouth but decides not to lecture him on car-riding safety. If silence can be characterized as thoughtful, Maggie's is now, as she continues to drive. In the dispersing traffic, a likely to be momentary thing, it's clear sailing and the car rides in one smooth straight line. Outside is much louder, the sounds of the city filtering in through the one open window.

"It must be hard sometimes," she observes suddenly, quietly, in comparison. "Remembering every … detail." A significant pause spaces one statement with the next as if they're unrelated. They're not. "This thing with the gangs— whatever war is going on between the Yakuza and whoever else," she prefaces with a serious calm. "You know, we're probably going to need you … more. Than ever."

"Of course you did," Laurie's retort is somewhat that, teasing, but also a bit flat as if to deny it as a working defense against his offer. The indication does not seem to be that he will drop the topic, yet silence there is. Through it, he gnaws on the quickly diminishing sucker, occasionally working it around his mouth but mostly settling his fingers along the edge of the open window to feel the breeze outside of traffic.

Curiosity turns him to her at her prompting speech and he continues to use it as a shield to deflect any reactionary second emotions for the conclusion. "It comes naturally," he voices, not at all following her cue of low-toned seriousness until the meatier matter at hand is revealed. "Than ever? That sounds extra serious." Not exactly reverent to her sentiment, "I suppose I'd better stick around to see this out, then. Can't just have people needing more than ever just willy-nilly all over the place. Irresponsible."

"We can't have that," Maggie echoes in a milder version of Laurie's reply, not quite so serious a sentiment as she voiced a moment ago. Aaand turn; the car is guided through another turn. Now this street is even more familiar. The police station is practically around the corner, but their destination — not the police station, Maggie is playing by the rules despite all appearances — is further delayed by a stoplight and a horde of New Yorkers crossing. "I just mean you have some expertise in the area," she offers her slightly delayed, simple explanation of a reply with a casual air, only then looking over with an arch of both brows, encouraging him to agree. It's true, after all, isn't it?

He could taunt her over how close they're getting — or how he thinks he knows her game — but he did already say not to ruin anything. He could equally glance over to retort, reply, redirect — tactics Laurie has been pressing since day one. But her casual air is, for once, not reciprocated as the consultant has turned moodily away from her to the window. His knuckles braced over his mouth, he doesn't even have to pretend to smile behind them. There's but a half-hearted attempt to mutter a once-used, "An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes…" There isn't even an effort to make it sound like he's saying this for her benefit.

The momentary stopping of her car allows Maggie the time to continue watching Laurie and the shift in him. Her brows remain arched, keeping the lines in her forehead furrowed in place, but her gaze — somewhat reluctantly — darkens. "You know… Miles…" This serious trailing off is interrupted by the light turning green. The mere two second delay in the car moving enrages the driver behind them enough to honk, which Maggie takes serenely, going on her way without blinking. She sits back straighter in her seat, letting her long arms extend as much as they can while she's at the wheel. "You're not the only one who can analyze behaviour," she states, calm, observant, her usual, even if her words aren't quite. "You're just better at it."

Contrary to the one who has more reason to react, Laurie jolts up in his seat at the sound of the honk, able to maneuver quite specifically thanks to his not-quite-applied seat-belt. It's unclear his intention, but when he shoves partway out the window to get a really good look at the tailing car, he refrains from at least shouting anything. When he's extricated himself and is sitting again — sort of — something merry but not quite hitting all the happy notes plays on his face. "That's good. Otherwise the FBI might be in a bit of trouble. Though you probably shouldn't let that second part get back to them. I might have peeved them a bit going out consulting." He thinks. "And sending them that fruit-basket."

The tiny roll of the detective's eyes, as well as the little downward pull at the corners of her mouth, should fully express: that's not what I meant and you know it. She also glances in her rearview window rather pointedly, still much less concerned that anyone is on their tail; there's not. The road rage of the random driver has passed.

The car turns one last time and the precinct is even in sight, but Maggie, carefully, parks the car on a corner a dozen or so buildings short of it. The car comes to a halt and she twists — against her properly fitted seatbelt, which happens to be the same dull grey as her shirt — to rifle two-handedly through the tenuously purse-like bag wedged between the seats. From there, several bills are presented to Laurie.

Out the window to her left, the round emerald green beacon of Starbucks looms.

"Make sure you get enough for everyone."

"Everyone?" He isn't incredulous, Laurie just wants to make sure he's getting her order right. Turned around in the seat so he can face her, he's leaned forward some, his eyes wandering momentarily off to the side as he calculates— how many people are at the station? If he knows what kind of drink they all like?— whatever the case, he looks back at her fully contented with his mission.

His hand coming up as though to take the money, he waits poised over hers, his fingers fitting loosely against her wrist. "I will…" He announces importantly, deliberating pronouncing each word for her memorization — though his delivery makes it sound a bit more like rules to a game he's teaching her: "… pay for all of it. If you can tell me what I was thinking just then. Your analysis."

Taken by surprise, Maggie gives a twitch of her fingers, the money folding back towards her. "Just when?" Despite this stipulating question, it's clear that the gears in her head are already at work; she doesn't wait for an answer, she doesn't expect one. Staying very still, she studies the consultant's face unabashedly. Meanwhile— "And not everyone, just… you know. Homicide. I used to always bring the coffee before I moved to this station— " Studying, piecing her thoughts together all the while, she now cuts herself off and determinedly attempts to lock eyes with Miles.

"You were scared. No… you are scared," Maggie says evenly. Her tone puts it without question. "You wonder if maybe you're more than an expert. In gangs. In whatever you were supposed to be pretending to be. It's affected you." Suffice to say it's not just one moment that brought her to this bit of insight in whole. And, admitting to skipping tests, now cheating the game, Maggie is a rebel today; she's using more than behavioral analysis to come to this conclusion. She quotes all too true words she heard recently: "Sometimes things that you do, they follow you forever."

Having thus issued the challenge, it would be senseless of Laurie to do anything but meet her gaze when she seeks his with it. There's a tick above his eyebrow, minutely tugging just that one down on the word scared, the mere sound of it. Even with it, the neutral but invested listening remains in holding pattern, testament to exactly how long this man has been pretending all sorts of things. He flinches exactly none, which is a tell in and of itself. It's only as she comes to an ending, words that aren't quite her own, that his gaze breaks from hers, flickering to the dash — far away. It's almost instantly understood that he knows exactly where that came from.

A breath, a trace of a smile considering having it out. Then his fingers curl in and he pulls slowly and pointedly away from her hand, and her money. "You make me sound very deep," he finally speaks, a lop-sided grin accompanying him mostly out of habit. "Annnnnd you've also been thinking about this too much. Relax!" Hand comes forward, as if to take that cash after all, prove her wrong: instead, he aims to thumb her playfully on the nose. "We've got a funeral to go to, after all. If I'm not there, you'll know I couldn't find someone nice as you to bum a ride off of." Now it's the regular smile; charming, so disarming.

The touch to her nose happens to be an effective way to break Maggie's serious and keen, miss-nothing stare — it's interrupted by a few sudden, bewildered blinks. Relax! As if on cue, she does; she settles back properly in her seat, a thin smile spreading — astounded, incredulous, or amused, the verdict's out. She shakes her head, though, and eyes him pointedly sidelong — she knows she hit some truths.

"I wonder why that would be," she then says, quite rhetorically, with a nod of her head toward Laurie and an clarifying glance to the dash he likes to use as furniture. "You better be there … I want you to keep an eye out. But are you getting coffee or not?" Maggie plants one hand — left, sans money — along the many automatic controls on her door, a few fingers tempting the door locks. "Otherwise, if I take you back to the station right away, you have to promise not to hover while I do my paperwork. I have an hour. It has to get done."

Laurie takes her nodded direction as indication that he should lean to the side and brush her dash off lest he have gotten any dirt from the bottom of his shoes on it. "You have to change. You better be there," he rails off with affected exasperation, "Go get my coffee. This is something of an attitude you're working up, Powers. We wouldn't want to wound this lasting relationship we're developing after it wasn't easy to get along at first meeting."

Satisfied with his clean-up, he brushes his hands together, then on his jeans and maneuvers himself backwards, hand behind him, till he can unlatch the door while still keeping an eye on her. Hand poised on the handle, he need only supply the tiniest amount of backwards momentum to tumble outside. But: "Ah ah ah, partner. Tell me you like my hovering or you might hurt my feelings." He'd look more preparatorily wounded if he would let go of that grin.

"Miles!" Maggie punctuates her shout by bringing her free hand up on the steering wheel and looking to her wristwatch, and, to add insult by injury, revving the car's engine just slightly. Evidenced by the nearly warm smile that has been drawn out of her, she's exaggerating everything just a tad, but she also wasn't lying about needing to get to her paperwork — and on a time limit. "Okay— okay," she breathes, gesturing around her grip on the wheel. "Maybe your hovering is not so bad, I like it— " An odd statement coming from Maggie, especially easing out so naturally; she doesn't even pause. " — but it is counter-productive." The variety of bills are waved briefly at Miles. In other words: get out of my car already. "Go!"

Maybe it's the genuine surprise at her apparent confession, but Laurie's only response is a fluid push backwards that, at first looking rather like he's just going to somersault onto the concrete, ends in him standing outside the car door, his hand on its top. "I happen to think it makes quite a production," he gets out after he's made a surrender of the passenger seat. "But fine," a last lean in to grin at her, "Go do your precious paperwork. All by your lonesome. You clearly like it better," he doesn't sound bitter enough for all this, only amused, "See if you don't miss the other more when it's gone." Beat. "Getting coffee. For everyone. In Homicide. Except the people you chased off the force."

A nudge from his palm snaps the door shut; he trots around most of the car before it's fully closed, swinging an arm to rap against her side window companionably before it makes it towards that large green sign of consumerism.


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