2010-08-14: Excursion



Date: August 14th, 2010


- A running or going out or forth; an expedition

- A journey chiefly for recreation; a pleasure trip; a brief tour; as, an excursion into the country.

- A wandering from a subject; digression.

The next steps in catching the copycat require time to complete, and for Maggie and Laurie, it means an interlude from the investigation.


Metropolitan Correctional Center

New York, New York

The intense interview is behind them, and they're now on the other side of the door in a vaguely more open space, escorted by guards — this is the side of freedom, although the sense of freedom doesn't truly exist anywhere in the federal prison. Technically, Detective Powers isn't the one affected specifically by closed-in spaces — but she couldn't have wanted to be in there any less than she did, by the end, a fact that wasn't as obvious inside as it is now, outside. Free of the cell-like room, a sense of relief visibly washes over her from head to toe. It does not leave her relaxed by any stretch of the imagination, however.

Silent toward the events that occurred within, Maggie presses a hand to her head, allows her eyes to close to a brief moment, runs her hand through her hair— and it's off to the races again.

Last step towards a real freedom is actually the surrendering of one — the badges that allowed them to come and go in the prison are now paramount to going. Stamped upstairs and then downstairs, the ident cards are processed all over as many times as might be needed to notice the little name mix-up around the woman brushing her hair so tiredly, but it all goes by flawlessly, and with a smile from Laurie.

As he rejoins with the detective, his jacket slung over his arm and one hand idly picking at pockets to replace things that had to be taken out or searched, he's easy-breezy. On the surface. Mostly. "Well," his hands drift to his pockets so naturally, leaving the jacket hanging over his right wrist for now, "I think that all went rather well."

But ahead is another ordeal on top of a plate of them so far. Cell, to elevator, to the inevitable detective's car: he takes in a deep breath of the space which they have now.

* * *

The dismal, blocky building that is the Metropolitan Correction Center is becoming a not-so-distant memory as the car of Detective Powers winds through a loud, crowded Manhattan. She's been on the phone almost non-stop since she retrieved her things from the prison; there's a lot to do in light of the visit, and a lot to catch up on even from the short time she was radio-silent. She can't do everything — but she can delegate. As such, the words exchanged with her colleague have been minimal, her business-like tunnel vision taking over, her multi-tasking only including talking on the phone and driving. Combined, these two things are illegal — unless you're a cop.

By now, the afternoon beats down on the dark blue vehicle like a blight, the day's ninety-something degree heat in full effect. It would be cooler, if the A/C was being used to the best of its ability; instead, all of the windows are rolled down. No breeze drifts in and the car is nothing short of sticky — and to think it's not even a heat wave yet. Maggie hangs her left forearm out the open driver's side window, the long sleeves of her thin grey shirt rolled up past the elbows. She must not do this often, because there's nothing even vaguely resembling a tan on that arm that now challenges sunburn.

Finally, she gets off the phone — with the station, this time; "I'll talk to you soon, Sergeant." — and doesn't immediately start using it again.

If there's a judgment dealt to the time period it took the detective to get off the phone, then it isn't one that the passenger's side is upholding. Since climbing into the vehicle — hesitation free — Laurie's made himself comfortable and stuck to that. He's also somewhat stuck to the side of the heat-ridden car in some places, but while he only has to remain in the vehicle, it makes little difference. Like Maggie, one arm is slung out the window, his reaching a bit farther than hers, his fingers against the dim paint job. Whole body rocked in that direction also allows him to have a shoulder up on the window frame and his face tilted outside, watchman to the landscape as it becomes less barbed-wire fences and more of a city under fire from the sun.

Aiding this mode of kicking back is that he's spread his legs up onto the dashboard quite without shyness. The tip of his tennis shoes even make a smudge where they rub against the window whenever the car rides upwards. To some kind of suicidal effect, the slung jacket has since been re-shouldered, putting him in three times the layers under the hotbox conditions. A slight sheen of reaction to the weather is all that shows on him; that's been true since they left the prison.

Not that this should be mistaken as silence. "Khaki's an interesting choice, really. Everyone's expecting orange, of course, I think they'd be rather surprised sometimes to see what correctional facilities are churning out now that's different from what you see on television. But khaki," he shakes his head a little before relaxing it back into that tilt out into the world, "Makes me think about school…" Just as fast to raise again, so he can glance conversationally over at Maggie. "Did you wear a uniform on the days you weren't skipping class?"

"I didn't go to a school with uniforms." Good thing; she might have had to wear a skirt. Maggie answers easily enough without taking her eyes off the road — not that the car is moving very fast. "I read that some prisons are using hot pink," she adds just as conversationally. "As an incentive to not commit a crime." Despite this sudden trek into uniform fashion, her tunnel vision into the realms of law is still in effect, and her eyes narrow straight ahead over a faintly dark expression as her thoughts cause her to deliberate down a more serious road. Granted, her eyes also narrow against the over-eager sunlight, and she interrupts her own thoughts to implore politely and skeptically, "Can you see if I have sunglasses in my glove compartment?"

"Hmm!" Just a prim little noise, revealing nothing but probable mischief over Laurie's thoughts on uniforms versus not. Afterwards, one eye squints shut, but not against the sunlight; he throws his head to the side a moment later, bumping temple to headrest just to square a look at the detective. "The Paris Hilton holding cell doesn't count… Powers," a thought occurs as he's lifting his chin, making it tilt ever so curiously, "Have you been stealing my magazines?" An accusation for another day. It's too easily forgotten in the wake of attempting to wrestle the glove compartment open around his own body. Finally, he's forced to draw his legs down and in front of the seat like a civilized person (someone would be proud). "I would've taken them down…" he begins to mutter but calls himself up short with a real occurring thought this time. One that sends him glancing over at Maggie with eyebrows of renewed lowered-ness.

A little hum in his throat. Rather than the car at all, he reaches into his own jacket insides and pulls forth a brown-shaded, slightly patterned, and altogether rectangle pair of sunglasses. And then — even when these are offered aside to her — he, indeed, leans in to snap the glove compartment latch. With an excited crinkling of plastic, two of the Gummi Frog packages already attempt to escape, even without Laurie's help scooping one up. To the tune of popping one of the bags open, his wary words contrast his less than hesitating way of digging right into the goodies. "What terrible deed do I suddenly owe you?"

Maggie glances over — really, for the first time in some while — and drops her cell phone somewhere between the seats in order to pluck the sunglasses that are not hers. They're given an outright look of doubt, but on they go. In no way do they suit her, but they perform against the sun … mostly. She adjusts the rectangular frames a couple of times as her eyes go back to the road. "None please," she defies any terrible deeds as her eyes, now hidden, go back to the road and a smile twinges over Laurie's discovery that her glove compartment is crammed with candy. Bribe candy. "The candy is free as long as you don't eat it all."

The car stops in traffic. "You know…" Maggie starts pensively with only faint reluctance, testing the waters of that something more serious than magazines, sunglasses, and treats. He might know, for all she knows, about what she's preparing to say; it doesn't especially matter, in the end. She sets into a steady-tempered explanation. "I went to the District Attorney's Office myself to convince… the law… to come down on Roberto Harlin. I got the warrant for the gang bust from…" As 'the ADA' and 'Ms. Danvers' suddenly seem too formal for the person she now knows to be Laurie's ex-wife, she soon finds the easiest alternative to easily fill in. "Jocelyn. The FBI wasn't going to move in — not for awhile, and you were in there, and I don't know how long it would have taken. I basically had to fight them. At every step." Maggie is soft- and even-voiced, even throughout: "It was very frustrating." But for all that she went off pushing the system with her own agenda of justice, there's no ego in her recounting of it, only the opposite. "I should have tried harder — sooner."

Faint disappointment only slows Laurie in eating the Gummis — not all — before he's returned to form, murmuring something unimportant but vital to recognizing that the consultant has chosen not to ford the river to Maggie's serious side of things. In the midst of her talking, he's got his shoulders hunched over and is wrist-deep in the digging out of particular colors of bouncy sugary frogs. His playfulness is only hindered by a frog's shape having less capacity for ideal wriggling. Somehow, though, he perseveres — there are several squishy varieties of frog trying to take the leap from Laurie's mouth when he chances a glance over at the detective to deliberate over doing anything at all about the topic at hand.

Ultimately, she must have won over sugariness, because he thoughtfully swallows first. Meaning nothing for the tone of his light-hearted voice. "ADA Danvers takes her job very seriously," he contributes helpfully, tilting a hand towards her before it goes frog-diving again, "Like you!" Not exactly on key with her softness, or her meaning, Laurie nibbles experimentally at a yellow one and then pushes aside a few others to go green instead. There is where all his concentration and casual blue eyes rest as he shrugs against the seat. "Oh, I'm sure it would've taken just as long as the FBI wanted. I was basically told the same, only in not so many words and with a kind of overly done yet apparently natural bad boy Southern accent. Imagine," plucking at frogs makes him take longer between words, forgetting himself sometimes between, "my… surprise… when the police showed up."

Meaning to flash Maggie a big smile — hey, you're the police! — upon looking at her, he finds that his gaze has softened out of his amusement some. A froggy in his cheek gets shoved in for a serious swallow. His lower lip rubs unhappily against his upper as he contemplates and then, gently: "I'm sorry to hear it was so frustrating. But if I know you, you did your best by you."

Maggie turns a smile on the passenger for a moment, gentle and expressly appreciative, though tightened by the same hints of regret — and maybe guilt — that push her, softly, to insist further. "There should have been something more I could have done… if I'd made it all happen sooner, while you were… in there…" An ambiguous there, a there full of oppressive walls. But she trails away from the if-only-maybes of it all, moving onto a commentary on the FBI instead. "I'll be happy if I don't have to go near the Federal Plaza any time soon. At least until it gets a new Director."

The car gets on the move again, too, and in looking ahead, a frown touches the driver's face; her driving is serene, however, and purposeful in her direction. A few turns maneuver the car this way and that … lo and behold, deja vu: this isn't any logical course to the familiar police station, nor is it the way to Laurie's apartment or any stop in-between.

"Powers!— " The name is, of all things, laughed out of Laurie who however proves his current sincerity towards the conversation by pausing in gobbling up more frogs. "My side of things doesn't affect how well you did your job. So I was in there," not ambiguous at all, his version of the word has been attached with no such deeper meaning, "So what." His laissez-faire interpretation of things makes his careless tone almost insulting of Maggie's guilt by dismissing it so blatantly. But, eyes regarding her hands as they're occupied by the wheel, and his own dropping oddly next to her on the divider between their seats, he briefly entertains her moment of regret. "Whatever happened, whereever I was… was my own doing."

Fingers flex against the car interior, just short of lifting. But he ends up using the right to fetch another stray gummi, "Awww, Mason?" is expressed, toying with the flexible treat, "But he's such a puppy."

From Maggie, there's glance over, at one of Laurie's movements. Whatever look she may give him is hidden by the glasses he gave her — if even it would make a difference; at the least, she doesn't appear offended by the nonchalance of her passenger. As her attention shifts again to the road, lengthy fingers extend and flex once over the steering wheel, and her head nods to one side, where it stays for awhile as if in light deliberation.

"Remind me to never get a dog," Maggie comments lightly, if faintly embittered. "Some people don't deserve to be where they are," she adds, certainly adding Mason under this category; he must have earned the poor opinion, but her reflection is slightly distant. On its decisive path toward its driver's secretive interlude, the car is led through turn that has the scenery shifting into the part of the city seen earlier in the day.

"Never get a dog." His hand branching into the space between them retreats, nearly as quickly as it settled there. By now Laurie's begun to angle himself to his former place nearer the window, now bracing an elbow on that sill to stare out towards the passing horizons. It lends a certain pensiveness to that carelessness — something more to weigh his words with than the importance he fails to give them on purpose. "And how and by what authority would we judge which ones of them do or don't?" Just as thought. Gone as the fleck of dust he removes from his jacket shoulder and releases out the fully open window. He applies no real challenge to the question: just one of those. Same as: "Maybe it's all their own doing." Or is it the same at all.

The thoughts are just that as Maggie drives on quietly — by appearances, she can't truly be said to pay attention to her passenger, but behind the shades, who can say; defined brows dip toward the edge of the plastic frames, however. She manages to get to 79th before traffic slows again, and she rests one elbow on her door, toying at random with the top corner of the open window space.

"Sometimes," she begins to offer with the same lack of weight — just a thought, or at least it starts that way… "Circumstances and what someone deserves or not don't really line up as much as they should." As soon as she's spoken, the she tips her head back slightly, looking past the glinting cars ahead of hers, and immediately, suddenly—

"Oh," Maggie exclaims as if she forgot and was reminded of something important out of the blue, which she now has to remind Laurie of in turn — and so, she turns her head to look straight at him. Completely deadpan, she informs him: "I'm kidnapping you. Aren't you going to call the police?" On the heels of this serious announcement, she flashes a short-lived but very upbeat, dimpled smile — hey, she's the police, remember! — and promptly re-focuses on the street naturally as can be.

Laurie certainly startles at the exclamation — though, how much of it is sincere and how much is a performance of his usual caliber is left up for debate. Either way, the elbow slips off the window-sill at his start, vanishing the support against his resting cheek so that his chin jabs against the edge of the car before he reforms his balance. Rubbing at the sore jaw, the consultant begins an at first cautiously slow then increasingly faster shove up straight in the seat and then away from it, leaning his weight out over the floor of the car as he surveys the car with bewildered eyes — now obviously exaggerated.

"How did I get in this car? Is this… candy you've given me?" An accusing look at her clever but silent (and delicious) accomplices, the frogs… of which very few remain at the bottom of the bag, "Oh my God, it's just like they always say! Why didn't anyone teach me the behavioral warning signs?" His voice rising wildly in pitch and anxiety to match the feverish words, he finally reaches such a range as can only be described as bad acting. Not that it started out with so much believability in the first place.

Instantaneously after the last word, the mood is gone without a trace. Now as dry as the detective, he reasons, "On the other hand, it's not like I had plans for anything." Only a tiny little hint of sarcasm, nudge, nudge. As he falls into his seat compliantly, he does, however, quite dig into the side of his jacket and pull out his phone to hold at his lap. "Carry on."

Maggie is suppressing laughter and the smile that goes along with it, up until the point the bad acting stops — then she turns a truly apologetic tug of her mouth toward Laurie, for taking up his time — no more or less now that it's not strictly for work purposes. At least the kidnapped consultant won't be left wondering where she's taking him for much longer. The detective's car is already turning toward the side of the street — the fence that signifies the outskirts of this particular edge of Central Park in sight on the passenger side — and proceeds to rather expertly parallel park. "It'll just take a minute," she says in optimistic pledge. "Then I'll stop monopolizing your day, I promise."

The engine has barely died down before there's an unbuckling of Maggie's seatbelt, a buzz of the automatic windows, a jingle of keys— as she makes to climb out, she nods her head toward Laurie's window in signal to get out of the car— off we go.

"Do you think the fact that I misspelled 'help' will make the Sergeant not take this emergency seriously?" Shooting Maggie a quizzical and worried look is interrupted by Laurie's secondary action of following her nod to his own window, and the indicated door. Thumbs sneaking away from the keys of his phone, he slides an arm to replace it into the pocket while the other hand undoes the lock on the car, swinging the door open with a push and an extra nudge from his foot also. This plants his stance almost immediately outside of the car before the door's fully open. He pulls himself upright the rest of the way by grabbing the top edge.

There's somewhat of a hover in that pose, held onto the door, but then he commits to the destination by stepping out of the way and letting the car be shut. Striding further up the curve and onto the first signs of park territory, Laurie rests his hands where he always does — pockets — and takes a sweeping, all-encompassing look at the place before turning, with pessimistic wryness to Maggie, "I don't suppose telling you that dumping bodies in Central Park is so overdone will stop this?"

To which Laurie only gets a faint pursing of the detective's lips, a small knowing smirk, in response as she winds around to the wide sidewalk. It's off that ambiguous and not particularly reassuring response that Maggie heads onto the path leading in.

Afternoon in Central Park is a bright, cheerful contrast to the place they traveled from so recently. It's scattered with people who, on a first impression, couldn't be thought so consider the events and insights of the day possible, or at the very least, they wouldn't want to; serial killers who torture women and oppressive jail cells are the farthest things from the minds of the New Yorkers escaping to the greenery.

And though Maggie knows better, knows the reality of the day, what's passed doesn't seem to weigh her down now… yet her path isn't meandering by any means, and her strides are purposeful and quick. Trees— grass— a statue. So far, nothing exactly stands out

Open sky and open park put a sign of life on Laurie's face different than the one he wears from to day; not that he's any less good at keeping the facade, there's just — something about being in the out of doors. Even in the heavy presence of the weather, he stretches his arms leisurely above his head, eventually crossing them behind his neck for lazy support. Starting off, he whistles. Aimless of melody, here and there he picks up something recognizable, but it mostly flits about, unwilling to tie down to a single tune. Only as two finely built joggers pass by does his head turn — and his whistle appreciate.

Off a lingering glance to match their own cast over firm, tank-top adorned shoulders, he spies forward to find if he's still following Maggie. His gaze never seems to wander much ahead of her. "To my shrink," he projects forward enthusiastic and whimsical, "I leave all the answers to questions she never thought to ask." Wait for it: "Written in code in a padded trunk at the bottom of an undisclosed body of water." Ah, a reminiscing sigh. "My handler gets a mix-tape I created especially for him because it plays on endless loop…" His once wandering eyes burrow in on Maggie's back to some purpose that puts an affect — unnameable but softer than joking — to, "And to my esteemed partner…"

What? Maggie's inheritance remains a mystery when a flicker of movement or a trace of color, who knows what it needed to be: the point is, Laurie's glanced away, faded off of talking, and his arms even become slack in his inattentiveness when he wavers in following. The sign right before he moves off in a non-detective approved direction.

Maggie is attentive even when it's not with her eyes (though the change in the prior whistling did prompt a subsequent watch of the joggers herself — though not quite as lingering). Whether it's Laurie's inheritance list trailing off, a shift of gravel under his feet, something cues his partner to his wandering. She spins easily around, stopping in the middle of the path broad-stanced, giving just enough of a pause to hone in on his direction. She steps toward him — following him instead. That's not how this is supposed to work… "I think you're going to make it out of Central Park alive."

No one ever said Laurie did well with supposed to — all those rules and regulations. Staring off to that which pulled him away from the plan, he's nevertheless stopped to accomplish this. Stopped and been taken away by some fleeting fancy, it doesn't seem as though he derailed their route on purpose. "When we love anyone with our whole hearts, life begins when we are with that person; it is only in their company that we are really and truly alive." Pointed, perhaps, if not in the speaking; he does immediately turn over his shoulder to see Maggie there. And blink out of his whimsy, "Hmm? Ah," as though just remembering she's there. "What will you bet me?" Too fast after for this first one to be meant to be answered, he looks expectantly past her where she'd been going. "So…? Are we… going?" Maybe a little on purpose…

The quote, and Laurie's whimsy, is met with a wondering tilt of Maggie's head and a vague lift of brows as if meaning to determine where he went just now in his wandering, physical and otherwise. Boots turn back around on the path and she leads the way — this time with a look over her shoulder to, maybe, keep Laurie on track — around a bend. "Nothing," she answers decisively, if belatedly, on the matter of even joking bets.

The park is spacious to begin with but now, as Maggie leads the way into new territory — off the path, straight onto grass — even the looming trees become a thing of the past. Here, in the very heart of the park, and thus the heart of the city itself, whole vicinity completely, utterly opens up: a vast expanse of green pasture, open in every direction and only blocked eventually by distant trees below the city's skyscrapers.

Maggie walks a good dozen paces onto the field's acreage before she comes to a stop. She pulls the borrowed sunglasses off and blinks, not unpleasantly, in the sun that means to wash her pale face in its rather tremendous brightness. "It's fifty-five acres of just … space," she says, reflective; a simple field, and she looks out into it with pure admiration. "The Great Lawn. I know it's not a big secret, or anything, that it's here… but…" Lips press together, momentarily disappear, before she goes on. "Everything else in this city is walls. All of these buildings, and thousands of people just … forced together with no room to breathe, and you can't see the horizon. Where I'm from… it's all beautiful plains and," a fond smile, "wide, open space for miles where you can see the clouds forever. In contrast… New York can be like a prison." Only now does her gaze find Laurie. "So… when I miss home. And I can't leave the city. I come here."

She isn't the only one. In the warmth of the day, picnic blankets and frisbees abound, people here and people there, all strewn across the landscape rivaling even the allure of a good beach. For the wanting, Turtle Lake glimmers off to one end. Yet shared or unshared alike, Laurie takes his first step onto the grass as reverent as though treading into the most private of sanctuaries. Serenity does not clear his face, nor the sun bother it; he gazes out somewhere in-between. Found by Maggie, he's taken a few more strides forward and still looking that way. "Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage." Turning, his vision changes from the panoramic required to take in the whole Lawn, to a distinct touch of blue on Maggie alone. Only her, in all the park — in all the cage of New York. Haloed by the sun, he smiles not to match its brightness — his lips stay closed — but in a wistful sweetness meant only for the singular target of his gaze. Only. "I like that."

Such a personal touch, sincere without needing to be serious, to come from the consultant. More than the view is seen clearer beyond the trees.

And just like that, gone. Head moving idly forward, he breathes deeply but forcefully, inflating his chest and motivating his hands from hanging to propped at his sides. Past all the other people, their signs of merrymaking, the grass, to a truer horizon than usual, he squints. Nods towards that far point even while turning to issue Maggie a second look, shallower, and more touched with mischief. Back to form, he could be said to really be grinning more this time around.

"Race you."

Drawn from her content regard of Laurie's reaction, the suggestion — race? — is met with skepticism, although the faint raise of Maggie's brow for it is paired with a tiny, close-lipped smile that has nothing to do with the thought of running across a lawn the size of fifty-odd football fields. It's lingering in its softness even as looks out into, again, the panoramic view. She brings her one palm across her forehead and her stance cants backward slightly, shifting weight to her heels. That smile stretches out — somewhat half-heartedly — and for then, at least, she actually looks as tired as she must be after being awake for more hours than she's been working with the consultant. If there's to be a race, she has no kind of head start.

Nevertheless… "Race." Incredulous, she looks to Laurie again with a more distinct arch of her brows. "Is that a challenge," she — yes, challenges, though in no way does she really seem committed to serious competition, "'agent'?"

It can be assumed that Laurie has thoroughly gauged the distance he's proposing they travel — and that he's similarly aware that neither of them would make that distance in any sort of reasonable time. If at all. But, although his jaw presses briefly upwards in an unfelt grimace at her choice of title for him, he gamely proceeds to tug one sleeve of his jacket off. Eventually, the quality material is released to crumple carelessly on the green lawn, followed by the vest. Whether she plans to follow him or not, the former agent clearly means to accomplish some kind of activity here. "It's also a word," he responds, "Or an act," with eyes following to her he notes and then matches her eyebrow. "But I don't know, madam DA. Do you feel called to engage in a contest or fight?" One to which he nods again, towards the end of the field. Go on, then.

Maggie takes another good look around the field, and she crosses her arms as though put-upon. There is a small grain of truth in the move; she glances down at her watch before twisting her wrist, and the time, out of sight. "Only if it's fair," she states with a measure of good-natured challenge. Preceded by the jingle of car keys she still clutches in one hand, along with sunglasses, she pushes her already rolled-up grey sleeves more snugly past her elbows. With the impression of a smile — and a bit of reserved playfulness sparkling pale eyes — the detective gives the distant point a similar nod. "On three."

The validation given to her watch does not go unnoticed. "You have time to live a little in your life," he admonishes, batting a hand in the air that, if he were closer, might have knocked the offending arm away. "I already gave my time away." Rather than the accusatory nudging of before, he twists his bare wrist to show it's freedom from the weight of a timepiece. He also gives an odd little tap to his chest where there might be a pocket on other styled shirts. Since this polo type also consists of no sleeves, he rightfully has none to roll up and his only motion of preparedness is to widen his stance. "On — one," an unusual way to start the count, he yet waits long enough after to be sure that Maggie is clear on the uptake, "Two," eyes on the prize might be the popular vote, but Laurie only dimly glances that way, preferring to mark his opponent instead… and, as he lifts as many fingers in the air like the dropping of the flag, "Three." He doesn't leap out of the gates like a shot; he waits the millisecond to judge what she's doing first.

Even though she cued the countdown, as the one-two-three is spoken, Maggie gives a small roll of her eyes, good-natured, playing along, but wondering what she's even doing — despite the admonishing that gave her an answer. In that millisecond of a pause after "three", she happens to do exactly the same thing as the consultant — which means he's the recipient of a suspicious glance, just a flash, before she abides by the rules. "Ohkay." Off to the races, that's how it goes, isn't it? However taxed Maggie's body might be by lack of sleep, it doesn't show at all in her athletic burst forward.

Laurie's enthusiastic whoop follows her out, right before the consultant, himself. Shooting forward with similar — and perhaps more abundant, all things considered — energy, he's hot on her tail and he lingers there for a length of controlled pacing. The heat is swept off by the breeze of their own movement, giving a relief that will turn to worse conditions once the weather or lack of sleep catches up, but is for now an airy blessing. Other people might glance over, too, but for that stretch of all-out running there, it's them. Them and the heart-pounding, leg-pumping illusion of being able to go anywhere if the speed can just be kept up. Somewhere between stable breaths, Laurie is laughing.

But like the turn of the tide, things change; Laurie starts to gain on Maggie from when he was holding back. And as he comes upon her, he veers closer than strictly necessary than for just racing. In fact, with a reach, hands grab for her waist — to spin her in the completely wrong direction.

What must those scattered around the field — some just far-off dots of colour — think of the two just running across the green like kids when their ages average 40.

It's with the well-paced strides of someone fairly used to running that Maggie races across the lawn, not laughing but smiling through steady breaths. Less the hard-pounding sprint use to chase down a suspect, it wouldn't be hard to imagine a baseball diamond up ahead instead (there may even be one); but her run isn't even quite as focused as that, either. She could go faster — run harder — if she tried. Before she ever gets the chance, she is, of course, whirled off-path by Laurie, her earned momentum interrupted and redirected. It could easily be said that Maggie does not run like a girl, but her reaction to Laurie's intervention is to shriek like a girl as she curls in at the waist and finds her footing in the opposite direction.

No marked change in the behavior to reassure viewers yet. Hands almost caught when Maggie doubles over, Laurie's touch slides around her side as he slips away, spun by his own trick. Undeterred, he takes up a backwards jog, arms bent leisurely at his sides. Compared to before, this pace is a pleasure cruise. Joy also flushes his features, his cheeks warmed by it as much as the sun. His breath is barely able to escape past consistent laughter, the loudest of which was actually a bark of surprise at the detective's noise. Breathlessly, thoughtlessly, he throws his head back and wiggles his fingers tauntingly at her; he goes so far as to pat his thighs like calling an errant puppy. Out with a laugh, barely planned, it's nearly just a 'ha' itself if it weren't for words wrapped in the moment: "C'mon, Mrs. Miles!"

Straightening up, Maggie reels around, running her one empty hand through her hair and honing in on the laughing consultant. The run's brought just a hint of colour to her face — on the apples of her cheeks that now raise high because of a fully bright, open smile. It hesitates only slightly on the moniker she's given before she remands, brows raised: "That was not fair— " Her breath catches up to her in heavy healthy breaths, a laugh somewhere in there eaten up by an breathy sound. "You're the breaking the race rules."

The now very off-duty cop takes a solid stride and picks up her run, a track that catches her up with her moving target, Laurie, not to pass him in any sort of race, but to shove at his nearest shoulder in reprimand or payback; in reality, it's more like a play-move of a roughhousing teenager. "Cheating."

"Oof!" Not only did Laurie not boost his speed even plainly seeing Maggie's approach, but he does nothing to avoid the then retaliation. Forced off the rails of his jog he stumbles unreliably off to the side, a few twists of foot over foot. On the recover, he's facing straight again, "Screw the rules!" Aligning with the detective, it would seem it's also 'screw this actually being a race' between the both of their actions. But it's far from over. Reaching over, his face paused in a constant laugh, he gets a touch of antagonism — and a touch on her. Jab; he's reaching at her side, "What? What's cheating?" Another, a feint, "This? Is this cheating?"


"You've— " After the first reach and touch, Maggie makes quite the diligent effort to avoid every single ensuing jab, even the false ones; quick reflexes curve her sides this way and that, stepping backward where she can, swaying here and there with varying results. Throughout, she manages to point out: " — You've gone and thrown the game, now." Matter-of-fact, though a smile persists. "I don't think there are rules to cheat anymore."

When she's still prompted to dodge Laurie's ongoing endeavours, it seems to become more than clear to Maggie that he is relentless in this new made-up sport, and she outs with: "You— gosh— " A look of annoyance — possibly over-exaggerated since she's still smiling — flares in her eyes, and she finally lurches ahead to makes a grab for one of his hands, meaning to tangle it up and put a stop to it.

Some moments wouldn't be possible without an exact symphony of coincidences managing to line up. For instance: that if Maggie were to lurch forward just as Laurie was pulling backward, with her fingers sliding into his exactly when he begins to retreat that hand, his elbow twisting while hers leads, with her body ahead of her feet opposite his equilibrium… it's entirely possible they would both fall down.

Lurch to feet — it happens just like that. A combination of happenstance timings and Maggie's grab pushes Laurie to the grass with all the force of their running speed. Although slowed from any more competitive sprinting, it still succeeds in downing him quite successfully with a hard hit to the back that he laughs through even when the impact sucks the breath and noise out of the merriment. Slamming to the ground, he isn't alone; their entwined hands come first, hitting — his knuckles to the dirt — next to his head.

But the laughter is marred at the corners by a wince breaking through. He sucks in what air he can catch only to wheeze, not really unexpectedly after the exertion and fall. After all the tumbling, his shirt has partially ridden up, exposing his stomach, and he automatically brings a hand there — not necessarily his hand — to press against that tender spot next to the ribs.

What does one do to stop from falling? Naturally, they hold on to something — but in this case, the result is opposite to intent. The things she was holding — her keys, his sunglasses — get lost; the only handholds are more hands, and Maggie's tightening grip does nothing to prevent the inevitable — or help it after the fact. With a sudden, jarred bark of mnnhh, she's down.

Realizing this, residual amusement not instantly shocked away by surprise starts to fade in order for her to breathe out a "sorry," as she's poised looking down at Laurie from just above. It isn't the controlled pin of a spar, but a more haphazard sprawl of weight on weight. The hand that isn't necessarily Laurie's doesn't only automatically find his stomach, it has to find his partner's — there, forced against his, breathing, one layer of fabric between. Maggie is quick to realize the injury, and is just as quick to try to disentangle her hand from it; but in her attempt to do so gingerly, skin splays against skin. All a matter of seconds. Muscles are only just now starting to consider reacting to the thought of being vertical.

It's bad skin, wrong; unable to ever properly have time to heal thanks to frequent re-openings — tear after tear — from a hard foreign object nestled just where Maggie could feel it with only the pressure of her own weight as she tries to righten. That, and how tense the area suddenly becomes under her splaying touch. Mmff is the noise Laurie makes when it's touched, cueing him not only to his instinct to put his hand there, but that it isn't his at all now present — also, Maggie's on top of him. The laughter's frozen where it once played, giving him an air of confusion on whether this is still part of the fun. But past flexing his fingers and sticking his elbows to the ground to give her freedom and room, he leaves the disentangling procedures to the detective.

Disentangle she does, the unintended touch sliding off. Maggie spends one swift moment deftly finding her center and the best place to press her hands on the ground on either side — a venture that has her looking down just off to the side throughout. There's a pause — just a brief one — as she seems to realize their closeness, not for the first time in the last few seconds since it's kind of obvious, but certainly more distinct. The look in her eyes attributed to it is undefined and calm; too calm, and more still than most people's might be in her particular position, visible when, with a small swing of hair, she looks straight into the consultant's nearby face. It turns studying. "You okay?" Hesitation; and then a burst of energy prepares Maggie's arms to push her up. Her arms, in fact, do all the work, lifting her solid, not inconsequential weight off Laurie easily. Up, and off — she swings her body to the right.

One eyebrow down, one side of his mouth bunching; Laurie shrugs with his face when she asks — ehh, it says, no biggie. "Peachy." That doesn't lessen the obviousness of the whooof of air when she leaves and he commences breathing. Panting, really. The run and the sheen of sweat from doing it on an open lawn under the sun complete the image. There's also a bit of grimacing when he flexes that viewable stomach in order to push first onto his elbows and then into a more reliable sit. Unnaturally sensitive to the symptoms, he holds his pose, staring into the dirt near his feet as he sorts out his next deep breaths with more respect to his condition. Or — perhaps — as the perfect set-up to a maturely accepting: "I guess I am getting old."

Groups of eyes here and there haven't given up watching the two adults playing as children. Laurie meets each of them in gaze, several are far enough away not to consider consequences and so keep unabashedly staring. Despite this observance, the consultant observes away from to tilt imploringly at Maggie, instead, with hopefulness on the edge of being crushed without one gentle word of hers to fix everything — "Promise you won't tell anyone else."

Maggie, who winds up sitting with her legs out in front of her, her knees drawn up slightly, experiences none of the laboured breaths that affect Laurie. She's perfectly quiet, in fact, save for a jingling noise: the keys and glasses she sweeps up from the grass. While she listens, observing the kids that observe them, she adopts a more relaxed pose, the inner edges of her boot soles together and her knees loll out to the sides until stopped by the limits of denim. It's temporary; her hands are poised against the ground. "I promise," she assures warmly after Laurie's plea, glancing slightly in his direction; more specifically, his area of concern. "Your secret is safe with me. It's not like I can judge, I'm— " she shoves off the lawn, springing up with the most subtle of winces, "going home — to sleep."

Cleared in front, knees tuck towards chest and then he rocks forward — launches. Maybe the swiftness of the act hides the extra wince it causes (and what a pair they make). In an instant, he's upright, tugging a few too many times to get wrinkled shirt fabric back doing its job. A palm smoothes the spot then flits away, visibly carrying focus elsewhere, moving with no real other purpose — especially upon critically noticing Maggie's zoning in. Eventually, the hand is used to bat the air in the direction from which they came. "A noble cause I could hardly keep you from longer than necessary," he voices importantly, adding to that with a nod that turns his head to her. "Go on. I'll walk."


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