2010-12-16: Follow The White Rabbit





Date: December 16th, 2010


Faced with what she considers a grave injustice, Maggie isn't about to just stand back. After appealing to a fellow woman, she goes back once more to try and spur the unaffected affected, Laurie. And do a little late gifting.

"Follow The White Rabbit"

NY Psych Institution

"Are you sure he's not in?" The desk of Detective Powers sits empty. The woman herself has since abandoned it in favour of traveling through the building — and multi-tasking as she goes, her cell phone to her ear as she hangs to the side of the elevators off the bullpen. Nothing new there; seeing Maggie busily coming and going in the middle of the day (or the beginning, or the end when most others on her shift are going home…) is commonplace. Not many pay her conversation any mind as they, too, come and go — cops and every other branch of the law have seem to have some reason or other to pay a visit to Homicide today. Maggie is presumably waiting for the elevator doors to open, but she faces away from them. Maybe they already have. Maybe they're about to. Maybe they are. It doesn't matter; her multi-tasking isn't as adept as usual, it turns out. The last time she looked, traffic had thinned— now her attention is not truly on anything but the phone.

"Is he out working on— no, I'm sorry," she apologizes to the person on the other line. Her free hand wraps about her neck from behind. Politeness keeps her voice friendly on the surface, but it can't be denied that there is a troubled, insistent motivation behind them. " — I can leave a message. Tell Dr. Miles it's Detective Powers, and… that I'd like to meet with him about M— about … Laurence … again," she says with a dutiful, "Thank you."

"— appeal today; it's fine, I'll take it myself." Exchanging the requisite pleasantries, Jocelyn parts ways with the faceless detective a few steps from the bottleneck the hallway becomes when infiltrated by ill-working, often running elevators. A couple of tidy steps forward get her out of the way of most traffic, but not all and she only does her best at tucking in partially before unwinding her hands from across her chest and loosening the folders there to be glanced through. Every crease of the page matches one on the ADA's face, though she stands no less tall than usual, in telltale cyan heels. Her pencil gray skirt is more on par with her line of work, but the undeniably pastel yellow shirt is a beacon of sunshine in a dreary, winter-bogged office. If only the same cheer could be said to play on her face; she goes so far as to nibble at a undone nail while surveying the balanced paperwork.

Being overworked is no friend to concentration, as even the other woman in the hallway knows, but Jocelyn dictates her attention quite remarkably on the briskly typed lines — or would; except that, in the tiniest bit of quiet granted through the halt of her heel clicking, there's a familiar name from familiar lips. Stark curiosity glances the ADA the cop's way, but as her eyes wander to see Maggie holding a cell-phone, she pushes her gaze back onto her own things.

Before the phone is even disconnected, barely away from her ear, Maggie snaps back to the here and now with a look to her surroundings that is so hyper-aware it verges on suspicious — making up for those few minutes her caution slipped. The bright ADA is quickly in her sights. She's surprised to see her there, though not unpleasantly — at first, she's simply a blue-eyed deer-in-the-headlights as her phone lowers bit by bit.

"ADA Danvers," she says across their distance, the same brand of vexed politeness she had for the person on the phone. A sequence of sentiments not normally present for the ADA flash past as she regards Jocelyn— wonder, skepticism, consideration, something that might be hope. Conflicted, all. After a moment, and a few taps of her thumb against the cell, Maggie heads closer. "Did you hear…" A glance is directed at that phone; she dismisses it into a back pocket. "Do you know what's happening," she clarifies quietly, "with Miles?"

Jocelyn is secondarily surprised to be addressed, though not widely. "Detective Powers," she nods, glancing between detective and seemingly unmoving elevator. Loose blonde hair fans out at each turn of the head while it escapes from a less than powerful powerbun. Her attention, teetering on the edge of neatly polite, focuses as she's being sked. A betraying flicker — Miles — is a gleam of concern that bites her teeth into the lower lip she sucks in to disappearing. Every line taxing the beauty out of her faintly pretty face seems to move in synchronization with this exact concept.

"S-some," she admits, very slowly, enunciating the word with great deliberation. Defensiveness molds her shoulders back, and she eyes Powers anew with the same narrowed scope the rest of the bullpen is afforded during a brief intermission looking out there. No one is looking back; everyone has other business to deal with. "Dr. Francis called me after the barfight— I didn't know you'd met Jeffrey…"

Observantly attuned to Jocelyn, Maggie meets the defenses with none of her own, only an acknowledging nod — edged with a distance unease — at the mentions of Dr. Francis and Jeffrey. "For… better or worse…" she answers carefully, also deliberating — she manages to at least sound diplomatic despite the questionable nature of her words. Diplomatic attempts fade in favour of candidness; with a downward twitch her of her mouth, she frowns and her jaw tightens. She looks from Jocelyn to the elevator for a few long, dragging moments of silence before the doors concede to slide noisily open. A sole officer steps out and marches past. Maggie gestures, hovering a hand behind the other woman's shoulder to encourage her onward inside, with her.

"There have been … some consequences," Maggie announces. The controlled evenness of her voice only makes these consequences seem dire; ominous. Reaching to keep the elevator open with one arm, she looks steadily across at Jocelyn. "I think that you should hear them."

* * *

Days since Maggie's last visit: one.

Yet here the detective is again, bright and early. As she walks the halls of the facility that have become quite familiar these last weeks, she is unescorted, her visits down to a routine by now — effectively safe-guarded as usual, leaving her black jeans and red button-up shirt harmless. She even smiles at a patient and nurse whose names she doesn't know but whose faces she recognizes — "You're late for breakfast, Jimmy," the nurse escorting the older man is saying as they head down the hall opposite. "Why can't I skip breakfast like— " "Oh don't you even start."

Empty-handed, the folders Maggie has been bringing for extra aid in casework lately are nowhere in sight this morning. She walks with her hands her pockets, her trek becoming meandering once she passes Laurie's room empty room and turns down a less familiar hall (an act, she's no doubt learned, more likely to earn her an escort). Tilting her head this way and that every time she passes another hall, she's on the lookout.

There's no one around to direct the wayward wandering detective at this hour; after passing Jimmy and his nurse, there's been no one else at all. Doors are naturally open in every hallway, but now it lends an air of strange abandonment, with every little white-walled hovel turned out of its occupant, like an alarm. The only emergency, however, is making sure that the absent-minded residents complete each of the morning activities most of them would otherwise forget or ignore.

Or skip. A notion not entirely separate, either, from the activity that takes Laurie away from the convention of eating breakfast in the morning. After a couple of turns, Maggie's reached a back portion of the hospital, and from there becomes audible the stomp-stomp of rapid footfalls. Light, and unburdened by the clomping of footwear, they're yet distinctive in the area because— well, there's nothing else. Eventually, the siren's pull of their lone sound leads to a glimpse of the runner sprinting on around a corner where she glances.

A second pair of footsteps add to the light rhythm as Maggie's wandering shifts to a brisk walk to find the runner. Her footsteps are slower but heavier in a pair of boots okayed by security — and in that, familiar; not exactly standard wardrobe in this place. Reaching the corner, she pauses, really in no position to catch up at this pace; so she breaks into a jog. "Hey!" she calls down the hall, higher-pitched as she kicks into exercise, "Wait up."
Laurie's head rears back and then swivels to look over his shoulder, without breaking the even stride of his running. But only so far as that; noting the booted, blonde pursuant, his gait begins to slow down — naturally, and eventually, evening out to a jog like hers. He doesn't stop, only offers her a better pace with which to join — as he takes another corner sharply — is continuing exercise.

He looses her for a second, around that corner — her pace falters as if reconsidering this foray into jogging, checking her watch. Maggie appears by Laurie's side a moment, however, falling easily into place upon the unlikely track. "I wasn't really— planning— on a morning run today…" she comments idly aside. She tips her wrist toward her to glimpse her watch again, though she certainly hasn't forgotten the time already. "Where's the finish line?"

She's given a second glance only once she's come up alongside him. Her heavy boots lend her a little height — and certainly more sound — than the padding of Laurie's barefeet on the cold floor. "You know," commented between breaths, the steady pumping of arms at his sides, "You come here often enough, they'll just get you a room." The second time, he joins her in eyeing the watch on her wrist, eyebrows drawing down curiously, but not devoted to the cause. Asked, he brings his head forward, as his mouth turns down and his shoulders hike up: there is no finish-line. "Are you late, for a very important date?"

Quite accustomed to jaunting around in boots, Maggie's jog is as uninhibited as if she were wearing running shoes. "No." Not yet, anyway— she's upbeat enough with a bit of a smile for Laurie's quoting. "I'm just dropping by today," she informs him casually. "Before … well," she looks across at him as she runs; several paces fly by, "Uh, I can't be sure… what's going to happen so I thought…"

Paces that bring them to the end of another corridor, around another corner. If Maggie kept track of how she got here, she's now performing some kind of jogging figure-eight through the building. More personably, Laurie's glance drops again to her, comfortable enough with the format not to have to look ahead every second. Softening around the eyes, he's otherwise jovial in a more generic way than those meaningful blues. "I'm as stable as a rock in a crazy house. What do you need?"

"Good to know…" Maggie catches another look sideways before looking ahead, her eyebrows arching ever-so-slightly for awhile as she seems to consider the likelihood of conversing while jogging; she gives in. "Well for one— " she says between breaths, skirting further glances at Laurie, gauging, " — to tell you that Ms. … Danvers…" This glance stays longer, "… knows what's going on, with your father, and what he's trying to do in court. I thought you should know. She seems singularly minded."

Laurie appears also singularly minded; his gaze straight ahead now after his offer. He's bending an attentive ear, but otherwise clocks another lap about. It's for what he hears that his eyes remain pinned forward until, a couple of not at all telltale normal paces past Maggie's last word, the exercising patient comes to a complete and immediate halt, stopping him right up in the middle of the hallway. His arms come to a slower, swinging stop at his sides, hands at his waist where they bunch up the loose fabric of his hospital tee.

The unplanned halt sees Maggie taking longer to cut off her momentum. She zips just past Laurie and swings around, slowing to stand in front of him, looking on with concern. Her own hands flatten at her hips, where her belt would be. "Are you…" An eyebrow flickers upward, concern etching further. It's hesitant. She's hesitant, but clear of mind. "Are you okay? If she does… do something about all of this, if she can even a little, I'm … you know, I'm glad. The principle — it's right. It's the right thing. For anyone."

Soft pants, in and out, are Laurie's only cues. Stopped off of the controlled pattern of exertion, he eases slightly out of breath, his stomach shy to rise. With his head tilted, pointing his eyes at some odd angle to the floor past Maggie's shoulder, he has the lightly creased forehead of thought; his mouth is a direct line, when it doesn't open here and there on the odd, heavier breath. Several standing seconds — his head cocks, he sniffs determinedly — okay, that's how it is nearly spelled out on his face — and then, with a sudden sway to the side, he's off again as if he never missed a beat.

Maggie chases to catch up — and onward. Canting to the side also, she jogs around Laurie, getting in front of him— red means stop but she doesn't get in his way, trotting backwards for a moment at a hurried clip to make sure, bright-eyed on him all the while. "Penny for your thoughts, Miles?" she asks, the soft breaths of healthy exertion breezing through her words. She's circling as she speaks — weaving out of the path to his opposite side where she tries to fall into a rhythm.

A rhythm that Laurie keeps up effortlessly, feet pounding along as if nothing Maggie could do would affect that pace; but it's more diligent to the task, than antagonistic, and as she settles in near his side, he remains with most of his focus on the make-shift track ahead — and holds out an expectant hand.

"I— " Considering this very literal interpretation, Maggie goes along; she started it. She, in fact, reaches into her front pockets — a task which requires her to slow down while she searches for loose change. She certainly comes away with something, since she catches up yet again with a closed fist. "I only have a nickel," she announces, planting the shiny coin in Laurie's hand, "which is worth more thoughts anyway. Keep the change— oh, wait." Jogging haltingly, she pulls out another payment — a tiny, plastic-wrapped red-and-white candy cane that has seen better days. This, too, is offered over hand-to-hand. "Is this overkill— they were handing them out on the street."

Laurie's palm accepts the offered coin, then he twists his hand around, fingers rolling in to slide the nickel up between them, nestled against his knuckles. He gives the coin a good, solid, and skeptical examination, then slips it into the corner of his mouth for an experimental nibble. Afterwards, it's promptly tossed over his shoulder where it pings and scatters to the spotless hallway floor forlornly.

"Seventeen minutes and forty three seconds," at first just an awkwardly bland announcement from nowhere, this one is followed by others that he rattles off just the same: "Absolute phenomenon, right, right, left, bacon and cheese, purple definitely. Oooh…" the last, as he twists to notice her second offering. It's plucked up with efficient enthusiasm, the same that begins to tug the wrapping off with practiced form. "Now I can whittle the tip into a point and stab people…"

Asked and answered. Maggie's amusement is clear, if subdued; a small smile, mostly in her eyes, before it's overshadowed by curious suspicion over the seemingly random announcements — lending well to her reply of, "Please don't do that, it might be traced back to me and then I'll never be allowed back." Her smile broadens — she's joking — and she reaches for Laurie's elbow, her jogging momentum dawdling down as she tries to take hold of him and pause his laps. "Hey, Miles— "

Laurie's body instinctively wheels to the side as it's aimed for, rolling him smoothly away from her touch — but not necessarily its influence; he does slow, and then halt under the subtle twisting that was escaping the reach. It's really almost as if she had taken his elbow… only her hand remains empty as his arm falls to the side. The other is holding that potentially dangerous weapon as it nudges the red and white into the corner of his mouth, prepped to shape it for its gruesome future giving people slightly obnoxious but surprisingly stinging pricks. Blinking blue eyes, he watches her expectantly.

As she stops, and her hand, empty, flows into a natural gesture toward Laurie and pauses mid-air, Maggie's amusement is well on its way to fading — and making way for something more serious than nickels and candy canes. "I have to get going," she says, but she has more on her mind than her day's schedule.

"Before I go…" Glancing sideways for a second, her lips follow suit in a sort of conflicted pull. Laurie's expectancy pays off — she talks. "Someone I knew— " An instinctive flicker, a blink; someone, " —used to say… sometimes the hardest things and the best things are the same." Again, she reaches — the destination seeming to be Laurie's unburdened hand — but he remains elusive to her. Her fingers clasp the air stiffly, a tiny, short-lived gesture, quickly passed by in favour of her other hand giving him yet something else. This time, from her back pocket: a small white envelope, unevenly folded over. She hands it toward him, but keeps a deceptively tight grip on it herself. "This doesn't necessarily mean I'm going to give you anything for the other forty plus years," she says, her tone joking, but her eyes immovably fixed on Laurie with something else.

Again, a natural pull away. Laurie's hand slips just out of reach, conveniently at the right time, swaying at his side and then following the motion to sit his knuckles against his hip. Relaxed — unattainable. It's the fingers on the candy cane that uncurl, leaving it dangling precariously there. The possibility that is that envelope is traced with a thumb only; he makes no bid to wrestle it from her yet.

"Ummm…" he glances over that area he rubbed, as if his finger went through and now he can peer blue eyes inward. "Gift certificate — boring, I'm starting again — recipe. A hand-written quotation— ooh, a fortune!" His eyes alight enthusiastically, energizing a light bounce off his heels, "A subscription notice to GQ! Plane tickets to Disneyland!" Excitement becomes suspicion, his eyes narrowing as he bites a lip and eyes her with all of this new-grown skepticism: "… A picture of the Ugandan orphan I'm now responsible for…?"

The wariness melts away. "Oh, hey," a hand darts out, slowing as it lays protectively, soothingly over Maggie's. Though not quite; his hand doesn't touch hers, only giving the illusion of doing so. He levels also on her a straight look of upmost concern, tinged with a plea for hope. "Now, if these are free hug certificates, I don't want you to be offended if I don't immediately redeem one… as I am currently sweaty and exercised."

Amusement colours Maggie's face with a smile, along with upward arches her brows that place skepticism upon his guesses like little exes crossing off every item on the list — it seems none of them are quite right. Her focus appears to have largely shifted for this entertainment, but a glimmer lingers — serious, observant… "Is that why," she inquires bluntly and, to test this theory, the words have barely left her mouth before she's challenges Laurie with a high-speed grab of his person.

While he was clearly more taken with guessing than charting their inevitable, and obvious, wrongness, Laurie's last remark left him watching Maggie for signs of hug-disappointment — a much dreaded and terrible affliction, judging by expression alone. And his eyes never leave her. Even as his targeted arm swoops upwards, cutting above Maggie's grab in one smooth motion that passes them past each other. His hand comes around to his front, and he slants his wrist importantly out in front of him. It is short a certain time-piece, but that leaves him examining his freckles with no less studiousness as his gaze drops from her to there. "Didn't you have somewhere to get to?"

Laurie's evasion earns a narrowed, discerning look from Maggie, and a hint of a smirk besides, not to mention a shake of her head — barely, an impression of pale hair moving. "You got close," she commends good-naturedly and goes on to clarify, "with your guesses. But it was really very last minute; I didn't have time to organize a trip to Disneyland on such short notice." Had she, in fact, tried. She glances away as if to look down the hall the way they came, though her sights don't reach that far. On a determinedly bright smile, the folded envelope is pushed at Laurie with a crumple of paper as its benefactor steps back to, in fact, go.

"That's a little concerning…" Laurie notes lowly over his possible correctness. And the hand posing as having a watch slips forward to accept the paper between the tips of fingers. It's more of a pluck than a grab, and the envelope is passed more securely into his grip while Maggie's departure is charted. "Trips to Disneyland don't need organizing," he comments offhandedly: idle wisdom, "Only doing."

"Do you know what else they need?" Maggie says in return over her shoulder, her long strides now carrying her away in the opposite direction, "For the person on the trip to not be a psych patient." Idle wisdom thus countered with idle logic, Maggie sends a warm, humored and — for the moment she eyes him — pointed smile back to Laurie. It's then eyes ahead as she moves on to navigate halls of nearly identical blandness.

The envelope left in Laurie's possession (a touch beat-up from being folded and carried in a pocket) is plain, save for the front. Maggie's distinctive printing, barely a hard edge anywhere, has graced the white paper: Laurie Miles. Unlike her practical scrawling over work notes and forms, however, this ink is a little prettier — it's marker, and it's purple, a light whimsical shade. The envelope is sealed with a gold sticker in the shape of a star.

"Disneyland doesn't discriminate," mutters Laurie, though Maggie is far beyond hearing his low rambling, "It's the land of happiness…" His distraction is in turning the little purple-scripted envelope over and over in his hands a few times after the one cursory examination. The next couple of rotations seem more compulsive than necessary, and when he lands back on the writing, there's a perk in his mouth for one or another detail. A smile never makes it out; it's only a perk.

Positive, nonetheless, the patient drops his chin to give his own self the same once-over. A soft hanging tee, baggy but simple slacks… His bare toes curl into the floor helplessly. Envelope is eyed again, his lips jutting out apologetically as, simultaneously, an eyebrow raises in decisive futility. Nothing to be done for it; the already folded offering is slipped inside the mostly snug fit of his pants at the hip. One half sticks out over the plain grey fabric until he rearranges the tee to settle on top.

Then a single bob up for momentum and it's the soft patter of feet on tile for the next twelve minutes, fifty-three seconds.

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