2011-01-03: Fresh Start, New Faces





Rose Miles, Benjamin Miles, Agent Dean Baker

Date: January 3rd, 2011


It's a new year at the NYPD, and there are a few people to put into place for it. Most of them revolve around a particular consultant, who manages to find none of them particularly new.

"Fresh Start, New Faces"


The bullpen is its usual bastion of activity — business is sometimes loud business when you get so many cops in the same room. The clock hitting a certain hour seems to have flipped a switch to make everyone's lives suddenly busier, and to-do lists longer, as if they weren't busy already.

The particular strides of Detective Powers dominate an otherwise sparsely inhabited hall en route to the bustle. Back in the swing of things after the holidays, she is on the ball today; when isn't she, when there's work to be done. Of course, the swing of things has a habit of changing around this station — but she's got her routine, and procedure is procedure. She sports her comfortably untidy ponytail, and the leather jacket she wears is much better suited to her purposes — and comfort — than the gown of recent times. It's unzipped, however — for now, she's in, a file in hand. Out-of-place to the productive norm, however, is a strange little puzzle box grasped in one hand… but it's ignored in favour of the file in her hand, studied as purposefully as she's walking. No mind given to the path ahead of her, as if she has an extra set of eyes — or just has her course habitually plotted to precision.

One of these things is not like the others. A face that is neither victim nor suspect, seeking no assistance from the constant bustle of men and women in blue; there's a break in routine waiting for Maggie, at the detective's own desk. And it isn't entirely unfamiliar. The long fingernails draped over the corner of Maggie's furniture, warming the detective's personal chair, belong to Rose Miles. Today, she again is not alone; on her knee, bounces a bright-eyed, blond-haired child not older than twelve — and probably closer to ten — entertaining himself with a couple of conjoined paper-clips while his mother pays very careful attention to her nail-color. Woe; it's beginning to chip at the top of her pointer finger. Won't be going to that parlor again, no sir.

Several seconds past and she pries herself off of her beauty examination. To twist her wrist up off its resting place and check the time on the illuminated screen of a couple years old iPhone. A heaving, long-suffering sigh.

Maggie navigates no less than four uniforms veering in all manner of directions without visibly looking up from the file as she strides into the bullpen. It's when she comes upon a desk — not hers, but an empty one nearby, belonging to one Detective Ryan — that her sharp-focused gaze lifts. Surprise hits her full in the face, so unexpected is the sight at her own desk — and she's had some unexpected sights at her desk before, usually due to a blood relative of the woman currently responsible for this one.

"Rose," the detective greets the drop-in, not unpleasantly, but certainly unsurely. She's searching, already, for the reasoning here. It's the file's turn to be bypassed, laid upon Ryan's desk where he's bound to see it; it's all eyes on Rose and the boy as Maggie approaches her desk, smiling congenially, especially at the smaller guest who gets more wondering study than the adult. "This is a surprise…"

Addressed, the younger blonde generously rises from her examination, leaving the artfully painted nails laid crisply on the desk, as though owning it. "Oh, it's Maggie Powers," she returns amiably, a tint of scandalous excitement in her voice, and her grey eyes wandering the detective up and down. Boredom is erased off her face, but not cynicism, where she paws the iPhone's slider to reveal the hourly digits, and gives a passing look around the station — lingering here and there where certain nicer-figured male professionals shadow the room. "Don't mind me, I'm just waiting for Laurence, who couldn't be on time if the city depended on it."

The child on her knee mutters something slurred in the pre-adolescent language of mispronunciation. His preoccupation with the paper-clips pauses only long enough for him to get a very unimpressed glimpse of Maggie and her complete lack of— hold on what is this colorful thing in her hand.

It's the little things in Rose's acknowledgement of her that bring a subtle crinkle to Maggie's features, skeptical and wondering to the point of almost being amused. It doesn't last, and she's whisking closer to her own side of the desk, occupied though it is. "You call him Laurence," she observes outloud — sounding no more than the passingly curious statement it is. "What's he supposed to be doing here?" she asks on the subject of the apparently late consultant as if she has no idea — because she doesn't — with an idle glance around the busy station.

There is a colourful bit of something in her hand, isn't there; Maggie only seems to remember it on noting the child's attention, turning it in her hand. A warmer query, "And who's this?"
"That's his name." Some detective Powers is; Rose's reply tends towards haughty in its matter-of-factness, but the absence in which it does so suggests no outward malice from the woman. "Showing up would be a good start." Never particularly out of straight posture, Rose nevertheless stretches further up at Maggie's nearness, observing and, unrelatedly, tugging her notably designer purse higher onto her leg — the boy has nearly knocked it off in his squirming. "This is my son, Benjamin. Say hi, Benji."

"Hey." A young, shy voice, befitting his round face, Benjamin's stunted reactions to the conversation leave his age even further up for question, bringing sharp contrast to the way Rose is clearly of a mature year, herself — though she keeps herself in wrinkle-defying make-up, and there's nothing remotely matronly about the low V-cut of her neckline, or those club-ready pumps on her lightly crossed feet.

None are details disregarded by Maggie; some detective, indeed, clear-eyed observation of the pair is ever-present. In fact, she seems to take in Rose more, now, than during their first encounter. "Hi Benji." Though warm and friendly — immediately fond — Maggie's voice lacks the particular tone people often take with children of any age. Comment from Rose on Laurie's name, or tardiness, are left alone in favour of addressing the Miles sibling in more businesslike tones: "Can I show you to a room while you wait?" She starts to shrug out of her jacket; to do so, she places the puzzle on her desk. Shedding from the leather, she's left in a grey long-sleeved shirt and a prominent shoulder holster for her weapon; a natural companion piece to the confident bearing she wears, here in a familiar habitat. "There's a meeting room that should be free…"

It doesn't take half an instant for Benjamin's eyes to become super-glued to the visible weapon; the paper-clips never had a chance. Not just out of wondering fascination does he stare at the deadly item, though. There's a strange and mature consideration for the gun's capabilities. Rose glances skeptically for the puzzle on the desk, including that it was even placed there to begin with. "Thank you, I'm fine," she announces, dragging her eyes from that to its owner, a weary but meant smile perking her lips briefly as she runs a hand through the side of her unrestrained hair. "It'd be much to easy for him to ignore a whole room tugged into some corner of this dreary building." She gives a pat afterward to the boy's leg, and he obligingly shifts his weight, sending reprieve to certain sleeping sensations that his presence is causing in his mother's thighs. "No— I'd much rather wait at his desk."

Maggie is — somewhat thoughtfully — noting the boy's observations as she folding her jacket over her arm, which happens to hide the weapon at her side, when her motions slow to a full out pause. On a blink, she turns a look of faint incredulity and confusion on the other woman, poised to speak up.
Rose isn't slow; she picks out the look on the same whip-quick way that she was keeping an eye on Maggie's actions around the desk in the first place. But there's still a lingering naivety in the way she quirks that peeling-nailed forefinger over her shoulder to other desks beyond — and a group of officers doing a fairly poor job at keeping themselves to themselves, or their sniggers off their faces from behind their coffee cups. "They told me this was his desk…"

Comprehension arrives with the slow travel of eyes from Rose to the cluster of officers, where Maggie lingers there with a moment of censure. Back on Rose, however, trace skepticism hangs on, but she's quick to nod and smile a bit. "It is," she states clearly, "… but only when he steals it from me." Smiling further, she leans a hand on her desk's corner near the flat-screened monitor there. "I have to use my computer for a minute," she says and she tips her toward the desk she left the file on, offering, "but you're free to borrow Detective Ryan's desk and blame me if he comes back…"

Rose has the grace to look fleetingly embarrassed, but it's gone quick as it came. "Well." Recovering, she sweeps up her purse, with the other arm cinching around her boy's stomach, bunching his t-shirt and jacket and exposing a bit of tummy on her attempts to lift him and herself off the chair. Rather than wiggle, Benjamin simply allows his weight to drag him through Rose's grip, his flexing feet plopping onto the ground. Since the weapon's vanished, he's keenly eyed the area it disappeared under as if with x-ray vision, then begun to stare at his hands the way a typical kid his age would — if it contained a Gameboy.

"So, Detective Ryan," the wily mother, child ignored, tests out on her tongue like it's the sound of an exotic dish; she eyes his desk up and down the same. "— good lookin'?"

A body is added to the others milling busily in the station — which wouldn't be much cause for note, except that this one angles leisurely right in for a particular circle of desks… and swiftly reconsiders the notion at what he sees there. Laurie, coming up towards the backs of both occupied women, stares at their close stances, those moving mouths, for what is a single, definitive second before making a very clear about-face to go ahead and put some distance between him and whatever that is.

Carrying on unawares of the fleeting presence, a quiet murmur is Maggie's answer to Rose's question. It's not actually an answer at all, only a hesitating, unenthusiastic avoidance of one. The smile that follows a little dismissive of the girl-talk. She just sinks purposefully into her freed seat, drapes her coat over the arm — there's the service weapon again at her right — and brings the computer monitor to life. As the NYPD logo appears, her attention drifts a little to Benjamin with a mild curiosity; gentle, at least, not probing. She whisks the puzzle box up and holds it out. "Do you want to try it?" she asks placidly. "I haven't been able to figure it out yet."

Undeterred — though, perhaps, also unimpressed — by this lack of sharing on Maggie's part, Rose sinks languidly into Ryan's chair, seducing the seat with a slip and wiggle back and one long leg arched over the other, displaying those high heels. "Hmmm," is all she voices on the matter, indulging a glance around that's completely missed her target. Benjamin does not instantly reclaim his mother's knee. It takes him a slow, but now unknowing, second to acknowledge that the box is being held out for him. Gaze drifting from the difficult blue contraption to the clearer blue of Maggie's eyes, he pins her with a very serious, very calculating read: "You know that's cheating."

Meanwhile, there's no easy escape for Laurie; where he goes to leave the blondes, he finds himself walking towards yet another obstacle better left avoided. The door to the elevators swishing open, the faces inside regard each other in conversation enough to miss the squint, grimace combination as the man hefts in a second eighty-degree that brings him striding that exact worn path the way he came. It's hardly the lesser of two evils; it's merely a choice. One that, the closer he gets, he deigns to greet with a smile and buoyant step that speaks no measure of the conflict getting him there.

It's Benjamin, peering Maggie down, who deflects to the corner-of-his-eye glimpse of the dark-clad consultant first. The transformation on the child's face is instantaneous and worthy of the epilogue of a Disney movie; he's fit to bursting his round face with a wider smile, eyes alight. "Uncle Loz!" Shot as from a gun, Benjamin tears the remaining distance Laurie has left to cover, nulling it void in his childish excitement. Bending from his great height to the child's, Laurie scoops arms around the boy, whisking him smoothly into the air, up and speedily around, until he's dizzyingly ended up tucked horizontal along Laurie's back, his face peeking out sideways as he tries to squirm — utterly failing — and giggle. The end of the blur is deceiving; Laurie's eyes have already fixed onto his sister's, a silent initial greeting passed between them in a subtle, micro-expressive code. "Rose."

"Laurence." Rose sweeps out of her second borrowed seat, and a paper from out of her purse. It's a newspaper, today's; there's still a headline featuring a certain holiday escapade, though more notably it's used as an opening for continued speculation on the behavioral man.

Standing corrected, what was destined to be Maggie's agreement with Benjamin is swept completely away when he is. Uncle Loz! The explosion of happy energy that occurs the moment Laurie appears (and stays) brings an instant, warm smile to her face. For him, for the child, for their antics — her amusement runs high. A glance shoots notably to Rose's newspaper, but doesn't linger. "Hey Miles. I found your family again. What are you doing here?" she adds her pleasantly casual and distracted greeting to the mix. Distracted, that is, as she makes an attempt to perform a task on the computer that demands her time; Laurie and his nephew, however, seem to demand her attention. Whatever she's trying to do on the computer, it is, so far, a terrific failure.

"Finding implies losing," mulls Laurie, grimly cheerful in a nearly menacing contradiction — and without his eyes wavering from his sister's. She, in turn, fights down shoulders that have defensively raised. Now, using a child's nature to be oblivious to the crinkling tension between adults, Benjamin happily struggles against his beloved captor, quite unable to gain even a little edge even where Laurie looks to be applying what is no actual effort in keeping him there, tucked at his side. It's a side that, beneath white collar, grey sweater, and darker coat, has sustained the most recent of old injuries, but is allowed to be batted at quite enthusiastically by the boy without Laurie's wince.

"He hasn't seen you in a while," Rose comments, her arms beginning to close over her chest, allowing her to tip the newspaper curiously up towards her face. She examines it without really seeing; the pages are already known to her. "Except when you manage to get your face plastered all over the public," hands on either side of it, she snaps the paper to attention, turned to accusingly face him with — himself, in black and white. "Without, might I add, regard for who else has to share your name."
"I will write all sixty-six thousand, nine-hundred and twenty-two letters of apology…" Laurie's lips press together, as his gaze veers to the side in rapt, hesitating consideration, "… if you spring for the postage." Flicker; eyes up. Chin follows — smug, high. He's thinking, then he's thought, and he knows: "This is for the wine, isn't it."

"It was quite expensive." Similar smugness defines Rose's arched eyebrows, not defeated for her brother's swift deduction — or hinted accusation. Her strong stance weakens some, however, when her opponent shuffles a couple of steps and then, hoisting child higher against his hip, opts to wander off the battlefield entirely. Melting out of her defense, Rose leans, clinging to not looking desperate, to watch as Laurie goes. "Hey! Creeper? Where are you going with my kid—?" Admittedly — the first time she's acknowledged Benjamin really being there with him, it's as he's disappearing.

"There's a room over here with crayons in it," calls Laurie half over his shoulder, half not bothering to look — though he gives her the benefit of freeing a finger from Benjamin's hold to point, "But they won't let me back in unless I have a child with me, for some reason." Sheesh! But now!— he has such a golden ticket. Debate runs over Rose's face; then she runs after.

"It's because you write on walls," is the sole addition from Maggie, spoken rather flatly non-judgmentally despite. Drifting out of a still amused but rather tight-lipped expression (that had conveniently sprung up right around the mention of wine for no reason at all…), debate runs over her face as the train of Mileses departs. Eventually she seems to decide there's ample supervision around for the visiting civilians and consultant. In relative (very relative) silence, she's quick to settle in and get back to work. It takes hardly any time at all once she's focused, and winds up rising from her desk anyway seconds later, casting a glance for where the family has gone.

But it's from the opposite direction that the detective's second distraction comes — the direction, conveniently, from the elevators — the distraction, another blonde: Jocelyn. Neither is she alone, hosting another for the line-up of new faces to be paraded past the Powers work-station today. Next to the primrose dressed ADA, the man is no more than the woman's height, in a grey suit that, while fitting him, he does not appear home in; it lends him a wholesome, country boy air in the big city bustle. Completed, by his mousy blond hair, unstyled by the grading system of the usual greasy slick-backed business types, and wide, kind eyes. But he's no boy; there's age around those eyes, as well — or, as he demonstrates on approach, are those smile-lines.

"Detective Powers," greets Jocelyn first, tapping the man on the arm and stepping ahead to touch the detective's shoulder, guiding her to this angle. "Hey— there's someone I'd like you to meet…"
"Dean— Dean Baker." He moves forward, forgetting his hand in his pocket, releases, and then juts the arm out between them in a sort of sweet clumsiness.

Maggie has barely taken a step sideways from her desk when she's prompted away; what is it about today. Caught mildly by surprise, she briefly bears evidence of being in limbo between one thing and the other: where she was about to go and the new interruption in front of her. But it's short-lived, and retracts none from her perceptive study of both familiar and unfamiliar figures, nor the polite but innately and immediately sincere smile she's soon wearing. "Ah— hello! Maggie Powers." She reaches out to shake this Dean Baker's hand, her shake full and friendly but not as firm as it could be. "I'd say nice to meet you, but…" She sends a questioning look to Jocelyn sidelong: who is this guy and why would you like me to meet him…?

Jocelyn's on top of this one. Her lips are baited by the smirk she doesn't want to appear unprofessional with, but the wink-nudge remains in her eyes, if not physically acted out. "Agent Dean Baker," she layers importantly on top of the modesty of the man leaving this key factor out, "is the new Director of the New York branch of the FBI. We had some— meetings earlier, and I thought I'd just show him around a little, since he didn't quite meet everyone at the charity event." Something moves behind the merriment of Jocelyn's eyes; it's gone in a flash — that has her clearing her throat a little, hand touching her ear in an unconscious tell.

"I…" Director Dean Baker retreats from the handshake to clasp his hands bashfully together with a small clap. "Have nightmares about using dinner forks for my salad now. Which— I'm thinking, is probably not the first thing you should hear about me. It should be official, and involve the word 'jurisdiction' at least once— but I'm still getting my legs, so you'll have to excuse my lack of badge-flashing."

"Director!" A realization rather than an address of the newcomer with proper title, it's nearly exclaimed, as though through pleasant surprise— or relief. Maggie's amused smile is tempered by a sense of professionalism, not wholly unlike Jocelyn's is, but a friendly air remains for both visitors; though, thus introduced, Director Baker is regarded all the more. Her hand freed, it joins the other en route to her pockets — hers dark denim in a sea mostly stocked by pressed uniforms and business wear. "No, that's— it's good," she assures. "Not … to insult the Bureau's past, but this is already a better first meeting than my experience with the last director." That is, in fact, an understatement. "As long as you're not here because you have me on a watch-list…"

"That is definitely not why I'm here," assures Agent Baker warmly — very warmly; perhaps, very quick to separate from any and all associations with that 'last director' — without outright saying it. But, one side of his mouth droops faster than the other in a bit of good humor. "Though, if it were… that's still what I would say." Sweeping his hands to his hips, his action brushes his suit jacket aside to reveal that glint of authority previously missing. It lends a more sobering note to the end of his joke.

Jocelyn's hand finds its way to his arm, a gentle pressure to gain a glance, "I'll go tell the chief we're ready." Murmuring assurances not to interrupt any on-going affairs, Baker watches her go for a couple of steps before returning to Maggie. "I'm actually hoping to clear up some of the— more gnarly moments in burrough-Bureau history. I like all my law enforcements— you know. Working towards law enforcement. So, on behalf of that purpose, I'd like to apologize for any former grievances on my predecessor's behalf."

Two sets of eyes are briefly on the ADA; in Maggie's case, a wondering — even, very lightly, speculating — glance follows Jocelyn and stretches beyond to the direction of the chief's office. She's brought quickly around by the agent's words, readily accepting of them. "That's certainly a purpose I can get behind. One I might've pushed a little hard under the last administration over there…" she admits — unapologetically. She turns slightly, a hand planting on her nearby desk as if to push off soon; even then, her clear eyes then consider this new face with a renewed round of assessment. "That's why— " A nod of her head the earlier way of Jocelyn, " — the chief? You're joining forces? So to speak."

On Baker's mouth opening to answer, thought and amusement delaying him once, he's interrupted. Following their magic act at the charity ball, Jocelyn's exit again makes way for Laurie's appearance — sans child, sans mother — but now, in his hand, is the newspaper, slightly rolled into his palm. He's slapping it absently against the side of one leg when he wanders up, making his come up short at noticing Maggie's company twice as noticeable.

Slapping stops; every leisurely swing, in fact, comes to a steady, dedicated cease as he plants two strong feet beside the detective, eyes narrowed so precisely in on that flash of visible badge at the man's hip — the weapon holstered in standard fare behind it. The calculating look on the former consultant's face at once flashes cold, tinged with a twitch of the lip that reminisces the beginnings of a sneer. "FBI," he notes, though lightly, his usual — all of it aimed towards Maggie, who he bias his weight at afterwards for a whisper that is not even the slightest whispery, "Is this guy bothering you, ma'am."

A subtle change overcomes Maggie, slightly re-routed by Laurie. Her push-off from the desk becomes a lean into it and, listening to his "whisper", a near-conspiratorial smirk just barely purses her lips. She directs an overly weighing raise of her eyebrows at Baker, as if considering his level of bother. It doesn't last long, though— a smile eases into place and she shakes her head. "No," she says to Laurie, dismissing in favour of the genuine, "Director Baker here has been very nice."

Halted, but personable, smiling has frozen on Baker's face as he waits on a more formal greeting by this new company. It never comes; Laurie, forcing cheerfulness past what is detectably growing distrust, without any effort now to conceal his volume, says overly smoothly, "Yeah, well, I don't like the look of him. Nice is a terrible word." An eyebrow peaks, challenging. Vague struggles see Baker keeping his expression open, high eyebrows wanting to pitch downward to respond to that tone — but he holds out, clinging to politeness, and an undertone of knowing that lets him keep that composure.

"You're Laurence Miles." Here, his hand extends. Laurie contemplates it. He contemplates his mood more: neutrality, his want for a higher ground, territorial, and, at last, bland. But not out of acceptance. There's no padding over the menace, more dangerous in its calm than if he had shouted: "I think you're late for a meeting."

The exchange between the two men — spoken and otherwise — is regarded with perceptive but completely quiet calm by the detective. She waits a moment before adding words of her own, set neutrally apart from theirs. "Thank you for stopping by," she expresses in polite appreciation — also excusing Baker so he can get to that meeting which, perhaps, is for the best. She turns half-way away from the others, anyway; a desk drawer takes up some of her focus, opened and sifted through upon some sudden remembrance of what it holds. "Oh, Miles— I have something … "

"Actually." Baker's built up nerve in the last second; his hand pops up, palm haltingly pointed at Maggie, though neither man forfeits their staring contest by looking over. The hand drifts out between them a second time, solid — speaking clearly it's not going anywhere. "I'm supposed to bring you in on this, too." The inside of Laurie's cheek sucks in where he bites on it. His hand is a flash of movement, catching Baker's around the wrist hard — too hard. They could sooner be arm-wrestling than hand-shaking.

"So bring me." Both bodies tense without trying to make it obvious, noting, speed-reading every muscle flex of the other. Laurie's weight rises; Baker flinches in his hand. A test, one side to the side. The strain of both hands staying so precisely in one spot gives the illusion of the air around them tensing, too, creating a kind of gravitational pressure between two opposing forces, willing the other to bend first.

The contents of Maggie's drawer aren't of any urgent importance; she stops to lean her palms on the edge of her desk, gauging Laurie and Baker as they're pulled into some manner of quiet gauntlet. Her gaze is at first calm, but in eyeing them in further criticism, anticipating directions this could go — reading them like they read each other — brows inch, and her expression stirs pointedly between them to say the comment she doesn't actually voice: am I going to have to break this up, boys

Holding… holding — tenser. The Director tests a short pull then — yanks. Tumbling forward, the clenched hands remain between them — crushed into the space between sweater and suit when, rather than take to the floor kicking and swinging — each opposite arm loops around the fellow's shoulder in an expressive, laughing embrace.

"Jesus Christ, Miles!" Baker snorts, dwarfed by the consultant but keeping his own as he delivers a hearty slap to Laurie's back. "You don't call; you don't write. You exhort millions of dollars out of that class act Mason— and don't even say hi? I remember when you used to call me 'sir'."

"Why would I call you 'sir'. That would make it sound like I respect you," accuses Laurie cheerfully, pulling out to a straight stance with a bright face, free and clear of any signs of aggression — or that any ever existed. His hand scopes out the make of Baker's digs, landing on the badge last. "I seem to recall you saying you were never going to accept a promotion."

"Yeah, well— you and your big flashy antics shook things up a bit. They seemed to think I'd be able to do some good. Anyway, aren't you retired? You suck at it."

"I do… I do…" Laurie's wistfully thoughtful face drifts off to the side, meaning that he spots Maggie and her stalled 'something' there. This earns her a gesture, as he regains a step closer to her side. "Have you met Detective Powers? She'll be handling all my reunions from here on out — today's just a test run."

Baker's nod to Maggie, apologetic with its friendly, is accompanied by a flick of his finger, as though he had a hat to tip at her. "I did— I did meet her; she seems very bright." Beaming smile to her. "I can't even imagine what you have over her to make her keep standing next to you."

To this, Laurie sniffs; he settles his weight more evenly, preparing for some practical lecture with both hands. "… — I have a picture of her in a very terrible police hat. — With, like— " He begins to make several in and out motions near the side of his head, " — this kind of very thick braid coming out the side here…"

Criticism gives way surprise and a roll of Maggie's eyes— which gives way to an amusement that brightens her face. Despite smiles — or really, one with the same amusement — a hand flies from her desk to attempt to deliver a smack to Laurie's arm, not especially lightly, either. "You thief!" The detective turns back to the closer gathering and straightens, gesturing dismissively as she smiles to correct, "No, I'm not being blackmailed…" But mysterious reasons for why she keeps standing beside the consultant must continue to be imagined, as she moves on to question Laurie, "What's happening, are you… working— ?"

Laurie takes the hit; it allows him to whine dramatically, "Oww. Why is everyone hitting me today." The newspaper is recovered in a timely fashion from under his arm, crumpled into near ruin, and possibly relieved from another person who was once using it as a weapon. Tugging his sleeve, he rolls it over his arm, grimacing, pouting, inspecting the area for damage done. Instantly — as though cued — he straightens to attention to deliver: "She's being braidmailed. Wait— am I?" Accusingly, the not-hired consultant inspects himself, turning his feet over — did he step on some work? Is it on his shoe now? An expectant look is eventually raised to Baker, who attempts to shrug off his responsibility; a good sign of how well he will do in command, surely.

"That— is up for debate. So, come on," hands rested at his side raise, beckoning the taller man, "Let's go talk about what a big giant spectacle you are, and how that makes everyone around you have to do more work. You know— " Paused, before his turn, he rounds such a pointed finger on Laurie that the consultant balks with uncertain eyebrows. "It was always supposed to be you who was made director one day."

"… And now look at us. Guess I really am smarter than you…" But the reminiscence has made a younger man of Laurie. Shrinking in some past deference, he slips into step to follow behind his former unit commander without argument.

Maggie is left with her idle fascination with the two former colleagues — a watchful look only turned on them once they're on the way to the meeting. A quicker jostling of her desk's varied contents puts what she's looking for right in her hands this time.

"Hey." Baker and Laurie gain a shadow; the detective is at Laurie's side. Not intending to interrupt for long, she just walks with them briskly. "This came for you— " A flash of colour and paper in her hand, "They didn't know where to send it, so they addressed it to me here, along with mine." A customized postcard leads the way: a photograph of a happy, smiling young woman and a familiar Labrador Retriever on the front; she's wearing a medal, so picture perfect it could make one's teeth ache. A newspaper clipping from a faraway publication, the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle is offered along with the card, the headline prominent: Merry Christmas: Returning Cop and Former FBI Agent Stop Killers, Rescue Local Woman.

"Maybe you can give your sister this article instead," she suggests, only bordering on a joke. "They quoted Tobias. I think he was heavily edited. The card; it's a thank-you." A curt nod; she's good to let them be on their way.

Laurie's hand stutters, hesitant to take such a blatant sign of gratitude. Fingers divert to the newspaper, spread out for pursuing by all eyes, as Laurie walks in the middle of the impromptu mobile gathering. "If they took out the aliens, I'm calling conspiracy…" Baker's hand intercepts the space, dragging the tips of his fingers under prominent words. "Oh hey, are you 'Former FBI Agent'— " Making several immature noises, Laurie bats his superior away, "Local Woman. Stop getting your Federal cooties all over it."

On the verge of parting from their temporary third, Laurie's focus is ahead, but Baker twists around him to snatch up the thankful postcard. Without any regard at all, he yanks open Laurie's side jacket pocket with two fingers and stuffs the gratitude safely inside. "Did I hear your sister's here— ?" Their voices drift behind them as they pull ahead.

"Mmm," Laurie vocalizes regretfully, even through his lingering bewildered distraction on the praising article. "Turns out, there's an ancient ritual involving wine and cursing the Devil that summons this banshee to your side…"

When they're greeted by Jocelyn and the chief at his prominent office door, all are enveloped inside, bringing the station to its mid-point. Phones ringing, radios buzzing, and the constant parade of stomping feet in near matching utilitarian wear. The halls of the working blue filter faces of every kind by, but no more straight into Maggie Powers' desk; work can be work. In the settlement, Detective Ryan happens by to collect his paperwork, sipping coffee — black, no sugar — and speaking in monotones. As he turns to leave, eventless, a rookie's voice lifts above the day-to-day.

"Did anybody lock a blonde woman in Interrogation A— ? Yes?"

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