2011-02-09: Happy Birthday



Date: February 9th, 2011


Maggie wants what she wants.

"Happy Birthday"

Is your secret safe tonight?

And are we out of sight?

Or will our world come tumbling down?

Will they find our hiding place?

Is this our last embrace?

Or will the walls start caving in?

(It could be wrong, could be wrong)

But it should've been right

(It could be wrong, could be wrong)

Let our hearts ignite

(It could be wrong, could be wrong)

Are we digging a hole?

(It could be wrong, could be wrong)

This is outta control

NYPD Station

Dim and subdued — the police station is never without a bustle, but today it follows the trend of a normal workplace more than usual (though what 'usual' exists for law enforcement), in that it's getting late in the hour… and most people have taken off home. Patrols have left, leaving a diminished amount of blue in the bullpen, and even fewer in connecting corridors. A couple of snack machines get idle consideration, but the coffee's been drained, and no one's rushing to refill it. The most greedy hands tug at the corners of crumb-infested cardboard boxes, acting in vain hope that one of its former treats might magically appear this time. A blue-tinted smiley face drawn at the empty bottom is little consolation. Don't be greedy; remember to wish Detective Maggie Powers a Happy Birthday! They were really good cupcakes.

A missing beacon throughout the day, FBI liaison Laurence Miles strolls the ghosted hallways in the evening, a strange apparition himself — despite it having been almost a month to get used to his presence, the issuing of delegations from him — that he suddenly outranks the station. No less reason, the waning signs of violence at his mouth: roughness unlike his polished, baby blue dress-shirt, the way his eyes squint at the forms in his hand, forcing denial to their strain to pick up tiny print.

Round and round the corridors he goes, a fish in a bowl, earning glances from other stragglers who quietly take note between each other how long since his last lap. But even that fascination grows weak amongst tired officials, and, after they've stopped noticing, the consultant veers by memory alone — his eyes glued to the variety of work-ups in his hands — a different way, to a lone office. Whose? It doesn't matter; it's empty. He nudges his way around the door, uses a foot to close it, and strolls natural as ever to the desk in the back to sit. Spreading everything before him, a foot nudges a second, unneeded, chair aside — the last act of being aware of his surroundings.

Detective Maggie Powers has also been a rare sight. She's all but vanished on the day that has been declared her birthday by the many treats left around the station — by a hand very much not her own.

Life yet jostles the quiet station when, unlike the stragglers, she's on her way back in instead of wandering out; it's the end of a very long day for her as well and the station marks the final stop before home. It's the elevator she emerges from, her leather coat folded over her arm, leaving her in a black t-shirt — and a red winter scarf that's now out of place. She bears the signs of wear and tear from a long day's work, the weight of day's events heaviest on her shoulders by this hour, and sending wearier eyes into thoughtful repose a she steps off the elevator. Her blonde ponytail is even untidier than it was bright and early, which is saying something for its state of falling apart.

Still, Maggie has a certain illogical verve — her strides are no more strong and determined than ever, and when a colleague, on his way out, murmurs a "'Night, Powers— happy birthday," she's quick to smile. It springs up out of surprise more than anything else; every time, a surprise, no matter how many birthday wishes she receives.

A turn bypasses much of the bullpen and sends her down the desolate hallway. She unwinds her scarf as she goes, pausing in the idle effort when she spies a light on — more specifically, the person who it illuminates, there beyond the door's window blinds. She stops and wraps a hand around the doorknob, looking in, considers, and eases it open. "Is that Miles with paperwork? I must be seeing things. I really am getting old."

Old and older. Upon being intruded on, the man at the desk isn't immediately aware, bypassing the easing of the door and shifts in pale, florescent light at the front of the room. Not only does he have paperwork, but it's absorbing him like an obsession. He startles to hear her speak, igniting two (not an old person's speed) quick reactionary moves: his head comes up, mouth opening as if brimming with an instant excuse, and his hand smothers the upper paper with another previously underneath it.

Smiles, though; the smile is there, bright even through that moment's touch of surprise. He may have reacted fast, but he's smooth — and lazy — keeping his position leant over the desk, an elbow propped there. "Careful where you say that," he advises as a friend, "That sounds like pension talk. They'll put you out to pasture and claim you 'earned it'— hold on, is it too late to talk about my age?"

Maggie issues a quiet chuckle as her answer. Tugging the rest of her scarf uncoiled, she steps inside and closes the door despite the lack of express invitation; the empty chair sitting across from Laurie does all the inviting. Draping her things over the back, she plants hands upon her jeans and sinks down into it with a slowness rather befitting of the late hour. As she sits in a relaxed pose, legs kicked out, not a acceptable for any business meeting, there is nothing drowsy about the way she regards Laurie, however; her gaze is not only its usual finely honed regard, but pensive.

"Thanks for the… presents." Maggie is barely settled before she's leaning ahead over her knees. "Do I have to wait another year for the next move…" she asks low-voiced, expectancy directed unwaveringly at Laurie, the curve of a smile just beginning; stares, stares… and retrieves a piece of paper from her back pocket to holds it up between two fingers — describing, literally, the first move: "…of the puzzle box?"

Part of Laurie is still there, masked beneath charted expense reports, on a paper below the others, blinded by its own hiding to what's going on above. Avoiding staring where his mind's gone means meeting Maggie's eyes, a quiet night's half-attention to reading behind them. With the desk's other side nestled to the wall, his chair's only feet from it, and even closer to one behind. His right arm, rested on the desk, hand below his cheek, serves the same purpose on the side she sits — walling — and his gaze is across the light blue of his dressed shoulder.

The paper is a banner, calling his eyes to arms, though he knows by unstoppable memorization what is written there, in his neat forms: 1st step:… Deliberate, crisp instructions. He looks passingly at his papers. He looks at her. "Not if you figure it out first…" Under soft manipulations of fabric, his arm betrays a tensing of muscles, wanting to move… unable to drop its post as sentinel…

"Well," Maggie considers flatly in a voice more tired than her alert eyes would suggest; good humour lifts of her eyebrows despite her frank tone, "it's a tough puzzle to figure out," she states with a one-shouldered shrug before leaning ahead so she can tuck the paper away again into her back pocket, "I'll try my best." As she straightens back up, her eyes are chock-full of awareness: Laurie's tension, the chair, the desk, and the walls around him. It's as though she's obviously checking every detail off with her eyes, acknowledging his want to move while he's more or less stuck there. It's not a dire stare, the one she unwaveringly gives him — a lighter expression yet lifts her face — but she neither moves nor lets him get back to his (gasp) paperwork. She rests an arm on the desk close to the edge as she sits in a thoughtful silence preceding what are surely to be words. It's not restful — her thumb taps, her fingers move.

"I believe that you will." Honest, bright, and faithful — topped off with encouragement that wouldn't be found in its sarcastic companion, none of that negativity here. To properly smile at her, Laurie's fingers uncurl from his cheek, disarming his hand from propping his face and, as she comes to rest, finally letting the whole arm drop down beside. Not beside hers — the (omg) paperwork. Complex mathematical check-boxes that will let the higher offices know where all their hard-earned funding has gone. Maybe even some of that brought in on New Year's under the glistening chandeliers. But this has an FBI stamp, and requires an FBI badge: like the one Laurie hides beneath leather, in the guise of protecting it, at his belt. "There's a quote goes— " he mentions idly, his eyes falling to his work, "'People who work crossword puzzles know that if they stop making progress, they should put the puzzle down for a while.'"

"Mm," Maggie acknowledges the wisdom of the quote — idly, but interested by the words, smiling for Laurie's bright faith. He's left to his work, for several moments, before her hand is at the border of the expense reports, aiding her chair's ever-so-slight inch closer to his. "So, maybe I'm feeling— " she sets in and glances quizzically at the dull ceiling to find a word; it's clearly not quite on the mark, but she goes on, "…reflective, because it's my birthday…" She takes up the pose he just abandoned, lifting her hand to curl it against her cheek and lean. "What does it take to be considered a friend of Laurie Miles, anyway?" It's a light probe — casual, friendly in and of itself; a casualness that, while sincere, doesn't match the depth of the eyes searching upward. She smiles, hedging toward a grin of a more teasing, wry variety. "Do I have to write a note that says do you want to be my friend, check yes or no?"

The intrusion at the border is noticed — a flicker of blue — without interrupting the industrial shift of his pen here and there; actual work being done is questionable; those little ticks marks could mean anything, or nothing. But it's numbers flying by, superseding other numbers — added, subtracted, going in and coming out of each other. Flick, flick, flick… a shadow, a woman-shaped shadow, casts over the net of productivity. Again, his eyes slide to her without the nudging of his head to do the same. He wouldn't look amiss without a pair of glasses to scowl above, but he is lacking both eyewear and associated bad mood. Nothing is done to hide a mark of humor, possessing his lip into a brief, soon falling, curl. "That probably wouldn't go amiss…" he instructs in the impersonal of giving advice in a situation one is not emotionally invested in: impartial; "Have you tried asking the ones making this accusation…?"

"It's not someone else's opinion I care about." The owner whose opinion she does care about is close enough to touch. Maggie's hand swings down. Productivity is dissuaded as she lays it firmly atop Laurie's wrist on the desk. It's almost an experiment: touch him, watch what happens. Dropping with her hand is her smile; though her face does not harden into soberness — her earnest intent is too warm — her unsmiling lips and unwavering eyes commanding some form of attention. So does her touch; seeming to expect some manner of resistance, her hand already firms, holding there. "The thing… is, Miles, I'm afraid that opinion…" Another laying of hands, now; her other, his other arm. "Of me…" Intent, she leans ahead; there couldn't be a closer attention to detail, "…that it might not be a hundred percent accurate."

A few pen strokes past the point of halted productivity, Laurie remains stubborn to the last — and past, as said. But under a firmed grip, his wrist shies at writing, releasing the pen to abandonment on the desk. "By its definition…" Under the guise of turning towards her in the chair, that arm retreats, tugging from underneath her holding fingers, attempting for its own grip on the chair arm. "A belief or judgment," Feet on the floor push out, around, "that rests on ground insufficient to produce…" He rotates to face her oncoming lean like agreeing to her personal confrontation — but everything else is hidden denial: his arm pulling back, his other slipped also backwards, his feet left behind as he turns — scoots back — so that his legs stretch out to create space between them longer than her arms length. "… complete certainty." Calculated to the exact space he has. "… A personal view."

"True," Maggie concedes to agree as though they're having an intellectual debate. What she doesn't concede is space. Unsurprised by Laurie's slink away, watching it pointedly, she appears unaffected except for the fact that she follows. She pulls and slides her chair closer. His legs are not a barrier if hers are amidst them, close enough to knock knees, thighs. Her outside knee is outside his, only wrinkles of fabric brushing. "But opinions can be skewed by perception."

She shakes her head faintly; the way for new, straight-to-the-point words is cleared. They're soft, and down-to-earth. "Your view. It makes you run away," she observes, regarding his present pose pointedly. "It doesn't have to Miles, nothing terrible's going to happen if you don't. Um. Look, I know this isn't something you want to talk about." Her hand presses lightly to her chest, the prominent collarbones there above the neck of her t-shirt, the delicate, barely there gold necklace she's had since her return from Wyoming. "But maybe that's too bad. I heard some … assessments of you when you were in the psych facility," she broaches rather carefully. "I took everything with a grain of salt," she adds rather frankly — a tinge of resentment for the likely speaker of such assessments darkening her voice just for an instant. Maggie's seemingly unwavering gaze wavers after all, skirting down past her lightly fidgeting hand near her throat. "But there were some… things." Blue eyes travel up, questioning; her presence leans slightly forward. "Some things… about why you might be distant to someone…"

Protest is all in the chair, squeaky thump, when it can't scoot back any further to ease that bump of knees; similarly, Laurie's as leaned into his chair as he can go, ever casual, looking slumped and half-lazy. He's not. A spark in those blue eyes is amused, but not amusement. Darkly, short of menacing, it stirs with every sentiment, calculating. Observant and patient, he listens, granting no discourtesy but his own keen, distinct focus, and it's inescapable touch of distance in-spite of everything else. He's listening but he might not be listening.

Gracefully quiet, he cants his head only to remark, "That is what they're for…" over her facility findings. Idle, his hand near the desk plucks off the armrest surface, playing fingertips along the thick mahogany of the office ensemble. His own eye attracted by the suggestion of gesture seems to lead hers, fragile as her gaze may be after surrendering to her own throat moments ago. Pushing his weight off the remaining elbow, he rolls to a side lean, the hand coming in to pick at the button-closed front of his shirt. One ankle crosses over the other, as natural as it creates another obstacle between her and pressing in. A dozen little physical maneuvers that mean nothing, do nothing — but distract the senses. "That view," he determines, pulling cyclical that speech he's let on by with an airy light-heartedness; his hand, dipping in towards her, to indicate, seems to single out the necklace on her, calling an invisible spotlight to her preoccupation, "That makes me run." He's only clarifying, but it's hardly a question, but a platform for him to bound off of, by her say-so. His eyes have quieted. Or emptied. "… It doesn't have to not, either." She questions; she leans forward; there's nothing here — but a sweet, grateful — but ultimately dismissive platitude.

Maggie's gaze is as still as if Laurie had never moved about at all. Her idle fidgeting falls away from her throat. The placid dismissal and the sweetness and gratefulness all have the opposite effect on her, prompting a flicker of a frown of passing irritation. "Listen to me," Low-voiced, her earnestness undeterred, her demand becomes more of an ardent plea. Where Laurie appears impassive, she only becomes more need-to-know. She shifts in her seat, moving to its very edge — again, closer.

"Was it the hospital," she asks flatly, plucking from hypotheses, watching for his reaction in a sea of seeming apathy. "If you think I… double-crossed you somehow— " The wondering gnaws at her. These are not new thoughts she's voicing; the hospital was months and months ago. The concept — double-crossing — is yet foreign, however, drawing her eyes under furrowed brow off toward the desk in her struggle reconcile her thoughts. Foreign for her, that is — but when her eyes land again on Laurie, a depth of understanding is present. For him. "I hated that you were in there, that I had something to do with it," she recollects, impassioned and only becoming more, "I didn't know. I had no idea."

A quick-moving hand sets upon Laurie's on the outer arm of the chair. Sets, and slows; sliding up only as far as the sleeve of his shirt, there it pauses, but is never quite still. Never does she stop speaking: "Or is it because…" Her other hand finds strong purchase on the opposite arm of the chair, impelling her almost off the edge of her seat. "You think I rejected you somehow— is that it," her voice, though never spiteful, is gaining a harder edge. "You think I will?"

In a way, the tiny, gentle hesitations at his hand seem to apologize or warn Laurie for what follows: no form of rejection, to be sure, it's the slow, bold sweep of her hand up his arm, over the curve of muscle under material, experimental and defiantly affectionate. "Or…" No, Maggie's not done yet. Her face nears the rather cornered man; the light strands of hair that frame her face could brush his if she leaned an inch further. Steady, blue intensity stares him down. Too intense to be considered warm, the heat in her eyes incites fire. "Or is it because I care."

Laurie is not without emotion. Double-crossing: a tighten of the jaw, wry, loosened; he's aware of it and denies himself the visceral immaturity. She hated: a quick, suggestion smile, hard to hold but attempted for her, to absolve — but not forget. Her hand: … fingers half-stretched up in a too-late attempt to shield hers off, some universal pacification, have nowhere to settle but down. They do so stiffly, and slowly. That is no longer part of the alert machinations in his eyes. Neither, a second later, the safe perch of the other armrest; his territory's been wholly invaded; the hand curled at his chest, left fiddling with loose fronts of his shirt, is homeless. In only a small — but strong — set of companion ones from Maggie, all of Laurie's tiny adjustments have ceased.

Apart from retaining eye-contact, when he isn't shiftily evaluating his steadily disappearing home-field, there is no indication of a desire for participation in this theorizing. His mouth, content to be shut, does not waver with held-back arguments. Or corrections.

There's only a tiny bit of friction: Laurie's feet pushing instinctively off the toes, inching his chair that last, pathetic inch it has left before a definitive thump is noticeable in the tense quiet of forceful words, and his shallow breathing. His knees might force her back; it isn't a strong move.

And, apologized or prepped, that arm has no chance. Muscle flares with tension at a simple brush, hardening like stone into place. In this art of physical war, it's cut off from the main, left for dead — frozen — under her affectionate attack. Only this immediate separation from the touch stops his whole body from flinching backwards so that, in reality, he shows no change at all except where it is inescapably clear beneath her fingers.

There, stare to stare, blue to blue, he doesn't balk from what is the closeness of intense faces, the draw of her hair near to him — not quite. They've been here before, the memory flashes. Though his hand, flexing around those buttons at his chest, seems to remark on a key difference. "You know, I never…" he mentions, quiet after a quieter stretch, hovered in some emotional purgatory between light and meaningful, upset and glad. Pointed and… : "… wished you a happy birthday…"

Everything that Laurie does not say, Maggie studies anyway: it's as if her deep regard is looking straight through into that locked mind of his. Though a mind-reader she is not, despite the lack of the clear answers she seeks, there still exists an understanding behind the heated life in her eyes. Open, close, open — her mouth is at the whims of a tense jaw of her own, her would-be words halted by Laurie's when they seem neither here nor there. In thought, her head hangs.

Outside, a look through the door's half-shut blinds provides a striped and salacious view into in. The light in the appropriated office is a glowing beacon from the dull hallway. Long-lashed brown eyes widen in shock. The same surprise and horror that widened them upon spying Laurie being attacked in another hallway now widens them upon spying the detective in his personal space, a hand moving from his shoulder to the buttons of his shirt; Chloe almost gasps.

"There you are. Miss— ?" Chloe whirls around to see a uniformed officer holding a clipboard. It's late, he's tired, he just wants to go home and not have to deal with this late evening drop-in anymore. He doesn't even belong over here. Neither, for that matter, does the wandering young woman. "Have you finished writing your witness statement?" Immediately prepared with a bright smile, Chloe brandishes a sheet of paper and hurries down the hall toward the officer — all done! Her bright smile remains shining and intact as, over her shoulder, her eyes narrow darkly.

Inside, Maggie's intrepid touch now lays on Laurie's chest, where it's gentled at the end of her gaze. Well-aware of his tension, her palm hovers lightly, every so often flattening, fingers spreading along the fabric, around the buttons he recently toyed with, making patterns the thoughts she doesn't quite manage to voice this time. Softer — and then a grab gathers up excess material. When her head lifts up at the same moment, it seems closer, and suddenly so does she. Standing from her chair tips her further into Laurie's space; Maggie is immediately there. There is no avoiding of the fact that her stance straddles his crossed legs just by standing up, though despite her purposeful movements there exists a split second's hesitation there as she's in front of him — self-conscious — but, propelled now, there's no stopping. A knee edges onto the outer corner of his chair now that hers is abandoned. Her only direct contact, however, remains only entwined in fabric. "You're deflecting," she murmurs into this new pose. "I know you have thoughts in there Miles," she declares, heated. In there, his head: hers inclines toward it, her forehead angled above his, a breadth away. "Opinions like anyone else does even though you're not like everyone else." The rough, riling pull of his shirt is not out of any need for violence but an overwhelming and an almost angry earnestness, the intensity that she emanates with and drives her to such boldness; it threatens to knock them together. "Well I'm not like everyone else either. Just tell me."

Where did Laurie's hand go. It seems inexplicable that he would slip it anywhere else, but there, unavoidable, Maggie's has taken its place on him — on his chest. Skirting his buttons. Fingers, a woman's fingers, gentle, and inescapably of her gender, no matter how much work or trial tries to harden skin. Beneath that, Laurie's chest tightens in warning — to her, to him. A breath in that closed-off path has to extend to his ribs where, inhaling, he's prickled by a familiar and ever-existing sensation much more foreign and more home than the one of fingers, touching. Pain. A clinging, constant, jabbing reminder of what's inside him: what she's reaching for. His hand that strayed from its post rises to, more than likely remove hers, when her grab throws off the balance of power. The right leg knee-jerk reactions, rising, stopping as he catches up to the idea — that his leg, bumping her now as she straddles only enforces her position, rubbing somewhere. In that moment, it's every limb for itself; frozen, men left behind, not moving, not daring, beyond a tiny scramble of fingers to find new purchase on the high back half of the armrest. He can't physically sink any further into the material behind him; he tries. They've been here before, too, haven't they. He had a different mask.

Yet, that heat in her eyes is not completely unchallenged. To the goad, the provoking yank on his shirt, that not violence but impression of onslaught… some unhealthy, unnatural comfort settles on him. Intensity from her reflects in his and, in a second, it's not entirely just a trick of blue mirrors. Alight, Laurie's stare — twitched, plagued here and there by little notes of distress — is deep; there's something back there. But around his mouth, his liveliness thins. He's a compliant, and strikingly willing ragdoll to her rougher purchases. And pressed, he loosens his jaw, animating a couple of noiseless motions before his quiet reply, insisting on its own neutrality for both their sakes. "… Happy Birthday."

Flash; annoyance. Flicker; a smirk, amused. Happy birthday — she did walk right into his logic. The expression sits precisely on her face— a face not even slightly wavering in its intensity, further defined by shadows and light, cutting the smooth but imperfect, defined surfaces like a sculpture.

Her looming presence over Laurie is never still. Maggie is always moving — yet she doesn't move an inch. Her knee stays on the very corner of the chair. Opposite, her boot remains planted on the floor, supported by a thigh made contrarily tense by Laurie's knee, the closeness that is her fault. Her grip, so unkind to the dress shirt that probably cost more than her entire jeans-and-t-shirt outfit, remains tight. Her presence moves not with action, but with life. The involuntary rise and fall of her chest from angered lungs, and the warm breath it produces; stiffening muscles of her own that define the arm she leans on; tenseness coils in her fingers, ready to push— or pull.

"I spent most of my day— " her birthday; thirty-nine, " — at a crime scene," Maggie's voice trails down, breathy but strong, "and interviewing witnesses and suspects, people killing each other over misunderstandings and the people who're alive blaming each other, no one trusts anyone out there— " She pauses. Her eyes, engaged by his, work as heat-seeking missiles, attuned to thought. Vividly, without guard, she's puzzling him out, but is not confused by what she does — or doesn't — find. The analytical investigation cuts straight through the rest— the emotion, the powerful, suggestive stance, but so is it fueled, too. "And I get it; why would they— " Balking at herself slightly, she can't seem to quite express

Muscles flex in her neck like taut guitar chords, frustrated emotion rising. A push has nowhere to go; a pull would be to her. If she could just shake the answers out of him— make him see. Instinct draws fabric tighter; push, pull… a hard jostle encompasses both, shaking Laurie once at the behest of a strong arm, bringing her at once closer and prompting her grip to fall, only to shove and scramble at his shoulder and his neutrality.

Attuning with subtle manipulations that are, at first, invisible and then slowly relevant in the way each of his muscles begins to flex in relaxation, he adjusts — bracing — into what has become this heated, confrontational new norm. Defying convention, he eases into the shaking tension like a familiar glove, fitting in a way that lets him move when she doesn't; his leg negating its instinct with a slip down that gives him a foot on the office carpet, footing. Careful, always, he finds tiny portions of ground-gaining, weight-shifting here and there where he can grasp it without igniting the same in Maggie. This measured tread earns him a better hand-hold on the chair armrest, creeping along to a stronger position.

Bumps to the chair back also stir the wheels; they squeak in uncared for protest at their disinclination to move where the wall stops them; hustled the same, Laurie doesn't make a sound. Just the crinkling of soft fabrics on furniture, where the silken bends around Maggie's fingertips as malleable as its wearer— or.

Not entirely true, this impartiality, claim armrests that are clutched a little too harsh in suddenly appearing fists around their forms. Elbows locked into position like armaments. He powerfully forces himself not to move, and then forces himself to remove all evidence. Even that something in his eyes flickers, endangered, with the lone blink he indulges staring down the heat— her puzzlement. People who work crossword puzzles know that if they stop making progress… When he breathes, in and out, a function beneath her scrambling hand, the exhale also works for his gaze. It drops; it flutters to the desk, to the ceiling. There's no anticipated trajectory, no locking on, for Maggie's eyes to follow his in their unstructured wander. Even his head tips to the side, breaking the crisp nearly adjoined line of their face-off, his chin dropping humbly without fight. "It is— the easiest thing in the world… to lash out at someone else… You work a difficult job very well," he muses in a vein molding towards quiet, sympathetic, but nonetheless short of commitment, until: "Though I'm still sorry you had to spend it so."

All of those machinations link into a single purpose; Laurie, cornered, thrust, and shaken into only as much chair as fits his body, makes a go at standing. It isn't much more than his body weight biasing forward, nudging against hers in the suggestion of the stand— asking a small, but pointed permission. "It's been a long day…"

To her intensity, he calms; to his calm, she intensifies. Maggie's head snaps to the side as far as it can go, giving Laurie a profile of her tension, all the way up the length of her neck to where her mouth has hardened in a resolute line. The request to move doesn't immediately see results, but she sees it out of the corner of her eye it, feels it, and her whole body seems to tense as his did at the reminder of her position.

"I don't lash out," she states first of all, clarifying her disagreement as her sights swing back. "If I need a punching bag, I put on some boxing gloves." Her weight then rocks back as if to concede to freeing Laurie's way, allowing her to, sinew by sinew, straighten until it's only stiffly splayed fingertips on the arm of the chair and her knee next to him that keep her attached. That falls off. Her boot thuds against the floor. She stands, no less in his way. The way she regards him is almost sinister, and in considering, her tongue presses to one corner of her mouth.

Jumping off his shoulder, her right hand lifts — first quick, sudden, and stiff, it slows into a lingering gesture, apologetic for a brief second. Wait, it says firmly, stop.

Permission, she decides, denied.

No sooner does Laurie have time to prepare for an exodus than Maggie is suddenly there again, an undeniable force with no evidence of a skip in her momentum. "Miles, this isn't about the cases," she says ardently on a slam: her hand coming down on the back of Laurie's chair. "Forget the sympathies. This— it isn't about someone else. It's about you." Leaning, face-to-face, every unyielding, demanding emotion concentrated, her gaze is one most people would squirm under in an interrogation room. "So you're gonna answer me." Simultaneous, her left hand's knocking his chest with her knuckles when the collar of his shirt is grabbed pointedly. The consequence of a would-be answer seems, perhaps, punishable. Slowly, her teeth nearly grit, every bit of her honed on Laurie, she fearlessly asks. "Do you trust me?"

Where his ankles have uncrossed, his hands drifted down, and his back lifted a seemingly inconsequential — yet purposeful — amount from the chair, Laurie's a spring on the rebound — making, all the more, uncomfortable the full-stop she imparts to it, though he takes the ride — spring coming undone — with a graceful swoop to his previous spot, still carved out of the chair where his back hits, reverberated by the thumping on his chest, and his elbows knocking the wall when they skim past their armrests. "That sounds like it requires even more sympathy…" is the blithe murmur, his head swaying idly side to side. Not the squirming her glare should, by all rights, produce; his neck swivels smoothly, supported by careless derogatory on self.

But she receives a contrarily meeting gaze at her command. He's never forgotten she's there; that would be impossible. Crystal clear lack of conflict on his face is not shared with kneading hands. He digs around grips he can find when hers is hitting him and, to the threaten of his collar, the left hand leaps to aid — stops before its mark — and, crumpling from the fist, hits the rest.

Fearless, he meets her. Head-on to the no-nonsense, no flowery, but enormously poignant question, echoed from days and days before. Outside of the station, barely having met, he tells her he'll take her where she isn't supposed to be going: Do you trust me. The top of a roof once attached to the ideal of home, now threatened, as Maggie's entire weight hangs off of it with no support but the bias of a man trying to pull her down; then Laurie: Do you trust me. A church, sacredly quiet, while Maggie stands clutched in the enemy's embrace, it's half a dozen's men's aims versus her would-be rescuer's where one missed placed shot could end them: Do you trust me.

Here. Now. A lonely, stolen office holds onto a harsh, stolen moment without gun or threat on life… besides the menacing risk to the soft, quickly misshapen collar beneath Maggie's hold. Laurie's blue eyes watch the beleaguered detective, thinking of softening, but exercising no such thing. A swallow is so obvious in such a close space, vibrating through his throat; his chest moves. His tongue spreads over his lips, momentarily passing breath out his nose. Then, he answers as requested: "I'm sorry— " Sympathy; he hasn't purged it. Now he does. To respect her determined request, he lays to rest any grace in his tongue, speaking plain and without judgment. "I don't."

A simple question, a simple answer, yet nothing could seem more complicated. The force of nature that is one very radical detective was raging toward this one truth; so what now?

Here, upon the culmination of all Maggie's pushing, need-to-know determination, a twitch of her mouth marks her grievance, a stitch above her brows, but surprise has no place. She takes the straight answer the same way she took the question: head-on. Seeking and engaged in Laurie's eyes, his answer dances in hers, a spark burning up in the bright blue. She just takes it without argument—

— not of a conventional variety, that is, and not without anger. Not with words. She's on the verge of them; she clamps down past them. Looking at Laurie, close enough to share breath, Maggie's puzzlement seems distant, re-routed, taking a backseat to what is only a surging increase of her vehemence. Pushing against the chair to once more rock it against the wall, her muscles coil back, as if in the moments before throwing a punch. And she does collide with him forcefully, with the force of her pent-up fervor and frustration. Not with a fist, but with a kiss. Her mouth, quite suddenly, on his.

They've been here before, too. The meeting of mouths to save lives, to aid breath, to keep the other hanging on for a moment longer; this time no one's life is at stake, and it's another, this time impractical, drive that compels the woman to lock her lips forcefully against his. Her right hand finds the contours of his face from beneath, fingers sliding up his jaw at the left, practically convincing it to move.

He might've done better with the punch.

Chair and body completely overtaken by wall — and other body — there is nowhere for the pressure of the moment to go but through him. And Laurie takes it like a rock. Drive from the woman crashes onto the man, and breaks away from those unresponsive lips. Stuttering is in his eyes, where eyelids bask shyly, but do not close, masking half of his stare but keeping the rest keenly on her — on her, no move. More tense than his stroked jaw is the neck that keeps his head straight against her pushing mouthful. No give.

Evidence of fight does not surface; it's all below. Breath on breath. Almost as though she's expanding those lungs same as times before, filling with a life poisoned — pushing him into that pain, shoving him onto a spear. Impaled. Breath; pain. Breath…

Loosening in the jaw is too long after her finger's coaxing to be her reward. Cautiously, no, his lips worm their way into words around hers. Stiffly, there's no other way to do so but against her mouth, with nothing but a hard wall behind his head to escape to. So it is that, into a kiss, he mutters coolly concerned, "… detective, what are you doing…"

Detective. Narrowed eyes, focused but not, precisely, through thought over what she's doing, pin Laurie; the pause in her pressing passes to allow Maggie's words to come as breath, murmurs in rare temper against him. "I'm not on-duty." The grip of his shirt transfers quickly to her own person; she gets her badge in her hand, clips it off, and without looking, thumps it down on the desk. Point proven. Next, that hand, between them, takes a matching course for the leather encasement that hides the shiny emblem of Laurie's new position, laying claim to get it out of the way. In her brusqueness, in the moment, her intent may blur; theft of the badge translates as a tug of his belt.

Her knee finds its place on the corner of the chair again, suddenly along — against — Laurie's rigid border, challenging, encouraging— just do something. The momentum drives a domino effect: she pushes toward him, he pushes against the chair, and Maggie's touch is more or less at his throat, tipping his head back for her to chase as it knocks into the wall.

Blurs of maneuvers, desires; his head, whipping to the side to follow the thump of badge and desk is suddenly repurposed the next instant. Threat — claim — to his belt. In short, frenetic, but strong moments, mind and body disconnect. Whip of his hand onto hers; they cross at that brazen line of the tattooed leather closing around his pants: fighting her purpose, or holding her to it; the hand doesn't move, but grips too tight, and nothing is clear. Do something: like a shot, his leg compels outward, domineering hers — spreading — but also threatening to knock her to the floor… alone. Attack, and entwine, run the same gamut of rising gestures, teetering in a fervor.

None more than, where, at the head — before all else — Maggie saves her place on the chair by tipping forward — and ignites a war.

A non-participatory domino is how Laurie went backwards: pushed. Tipped by nothing more than the unstoppable force a-top him. Thud. The clamor of head, hard bone, to wall and, rebounded, has no choice but to reinforce the second kiss as Maggie came with. No choice and then— hand to throat is matched; his fingers whipping into the wavery red material at Maggie's own, clustering into the loose accessory to yank. A brisk, bruising smash of lips. Laurie's are as forced shut as they are forced to hers, both by his own abruptly impulsive power. Pull, fight. His grapple is fragile, and destructive; too wild of a tug and the scarf parts from body, pulled right out from around her neck, and is scattered, to fall like a fluttering red bloodline to the floor at their twisted feet.

Do something— yet when he does, the hard counter-collision of his lips on Maggie's seems to come as a surprise to her. Shoved by the warring force, a noise is jarred out of her throat. Her breath hitches and, all of a sudden, her hands don't know what to do or where to go — from his throat to mid-air, one hovers, and the other fights the grip it's found itself in. But it's fire with fire — nothing stops.

Vigorous, frenetic acts combine. Muscles start and stop under denim as Maggie struggles unthinkingly to find footing. Lest Laurie knock her right off balance, she leans heavily on her knee, rocking ahead again— striking him with another forceful press of those locked lips in their back-and-forth. The struggle at his badge becomes simpler, working against — with? — his grip to take hold of his belt, using the leather as leverage, anchoring him to her and hauling him toward her at once. Constant, frantic struggles of fingers, around him, around his belt, around the overhang of a blue dress shirt.

Her other hand is everywhere, on the move: commanding at his collar, tugging; pressing at the back of his neck as if she could pull his bigger form off the chair entirely, the force of her intent stronger than her — though considerable — physical strength; and then out further, quarrelling with his grasps. Her touch is fueled in the same way that her lips constantly fight for purchase.

The badge is knocked off kilter, then tumbles through the open space below armrest, to join the red scarf on the floor. Casualties of war. The belt retains its momentous post, straining under the pull versus Laurie's weight, waning in stretched increments along the curve of his hips — slipping places, opening spaces. Sans scarf, Laurie's hand grasps, reaching, to even the playing field. From off her wrist, where it commands his belt, that hand fills space, landing with a palm's wide pressure against the full of her stomach, crushing t-shirt as if to melt through to her skin. Heat is certainly present. Crash, crash; back, forth; his wide hand could almost claim her, spread, fingers splayed, but it pushes in opposition to her pull.

Hurriedly, scrambling but not fumbling, zeroed in to this one cause — as if their collision here, now — as if it would all end any second in a blaze of glory. His hand darts across her face, into her hair, locking amidst messy, escaping blonde strands in a captured ponytail that becomes wrapped through his fingers. Opposites, the constant spin of magnets as they polarize — attracting and suddenly repelling. Laurie's hand drags her head back through her hair, arguably gentle and needy, matching his lunge forward so that they're lips can never be too far, even in space he tries to create.

For a flicker of a second, in this wildly physical battle with himself, with her, their colliding bodies, he finds space separated from her to breathe, hot and with lingering attention of lips against her lower, threatening to part their enduring kiss. His thumb, escaping ponytail, massages at her back of her neck. "I'm— not right," as hot as hurried as hands, words, "this— " urged belt; stomach; hauling; hips together; "— can't be… right… I'll hurt you…"

"Mm— " A sweeping plough of a hand up the back of Laurie's neck stops its hurried, grabbing wander into his hair when Maggie stares with quick-moving, half-lidded eyes in closer-than-ever quarters. She listens to the vague protests of the familiar, near voice over the sound of her own breathing— hard and fiercely uneven. Realization floods through her smoky, heated gaze; it goes uncontested. "Miles— " she murmurs; her eyes close. "— shut up."

His words act as another gateway— for their kiss to deeply enforce her own demand, in her insistence threatening the evidence of the recent brawl that bloodied it. Her arm wraps fully up around him, an elbow locking around his neck, cradling his head. Without delay, there's another pull of the belt — it's on the move, she's on the move — she tows herself up wholly onto the chair and its inhabitant with one heave of her leg to plant her other knee up. Spanning across Laurie, rocked up against him, she's heightened slightly, her head cast down with disorganized blonde at his face. Caught up in their own invisible, combustible time limit, her arm, so recently locked about him immediately travels down, tangling again into his shirt, the buttons at the top; one button gives and her hand splays warmly inside on a flat plane.

Yes, ma'am. Sealed lips; no room for resistance; Laurie's mouth closed by hers, molded to hers, defined and blurred by every little manipulation of the jaw, as heatedly pursing hers, and as irreverent to the sensitivity. Instead, he traps her lower lip with both of his amongst the pressing, constant affection of kissing, with a glide of teeth and a nibbled, passing bait before he succumbs to the constant togetherness. In their dusky, apocalyptic world, to stop would be the end of everything.

Again on the belt, it bends to her will even as he bucks against the magnetic oppression of her body — at once, fulfilling a similar purpose in her, while fighting; that constant tug-of-war that seems to culminate in her planting him to the chair, he withdraws. Vacancy where there was wrapped fingers seems alarmingly cold in the closed space, where even clothes jump together to that electric ripple. While tee and dress-shirts wrinkle together, Laurie's left elbow has fallen to the armrest, separated from the struggle, to the dip of her hips hitting his into the chair. Legs and eyes — his not always closed — locked. She's found his buttons, and he retaliates across the way on the mashed spring she's made of his arm between them. No longer content to merely press her stomach, he grabs, furling all of that black into his hand and pulling. In his grasp, her knees bump the chair back, nestled to the impartial chair arms on one side, and his thighs on the other. Everything comes togetheralmost… the scraping, denying rub of jean on wool.

But she's been used. Abruptly, swathed in fabric becomes a hand grabbing for the dangling front of her pants, fisting all around her buckle and belt, a couple fingers slipping between the bastion of fabric and skin. She's hoisted. Not for the first time, Laurie bunches fiercely through every muscle to deploy himself in one smooth motion out of the chair, with a woman — the same woman — molded around his hips. There's something deliberately less smooth about the way she's planted onto the surface of the office desk, thrust forward on the momentum of this primal heartbeat.

Smashing bodies on mahogany, beneath them, the curve of Maggie, rare paperwork tears and overturns. A clock scatters several inches. Somewhere, glass breaks, and pens jump ship with a multitude of tiny plunks on carpet. That precious hidden document escapes out from the others, fluttering to the ground, half buried by desk's shadow where the words say Coroner's Report: Sal—

Smashed underfoot, ripped edges under Laurie's dress shoe. Pure force of motion creates separation, and Laurie, in pursuing, bangs against the edge of the furniture, now the one leaning to keep the pressure, swaying above her. A hand's leapt to her leg in the rise, aiding in the shove of her into wood and office supplies, cupping now around her knee in full possession. The other is briefly homeless, unguided, in that territory — that heat — below the buckle.

Yes sir. The hoist sees Maggie grappling strongly onto the total lifeline that is Laurie — his shoulder, and still that belt of his. Bang; the shock, and associated, undeniably very noticed touches and shoves spur a sudden and unwitting "Ah— !" to leap out of the lower murmurs and intense voice of the recent past and into her natural high — before it disappears into the unflagging kiss. She turns her cheek against his in the smallest of hurried swivels without quite severing the bond; her mouth opens, and she looks up to find his eyes, the intensity in hers remaining steady, if slightly rerouted from its angriest beginnings; then down, as her impassioned attentions renew with purpose. Encouraged retaliation.

Propriety and logic, her standards, are on a crash course remarkably far to the wayside along with the sundry things on the desk, defying most if not all of her rules on behaviour in the workplace. A workplace they are very much smack dab in the middle of despite being sequestered to this once lonely and quiet office; Maggie's sights seem not to set on the looming reminder of the door. Without looking, without thinking, the buckle in close proximity to hers is undone and tugged not gently loose — clearly not wholly the modest creature she can seem on days that are not today.

Both hands are free to take up the task of ravaging Laurie's much-abused shirt, all these things that suddenly just seem to be in the way of this surprising, driving force. In unbuttoning, some of the buttons become casualties of war as well, and her deft fingers are too quick to care while, contrarily, a whispered slew of distracted "sorries" leave her mouth. The fabric is shoved apart before a more warmhearted swipe of her hand is expressed over his face past his ear— abruptly followed by a stronger, more urgent wrap around his neck, dragging, persuading into the fit of their bodies between the push and pull.

Muffled, scratching rustles — punctuated by her Ah, he rumbles appreciatively — husky, low murmurs besides — the un-patterned heavy breaths trying to catch up to furious paces — a tense, muggy air made of panting, the sigh and crinkle of wrestled fabrics: now, into that orchestra, the strict percussion of the click of an undone buckle. Laurie's hips ride the tug into the desk's edge, his indecisive hand slammed to the wood next to her to brace where she drives him forward; hand wide, his thumb edges the back curve of her on the desk. She's thrusted him in, but he does not shy, even as that dangling, unpurposed belt gives peek to the private colors behind parted dark wool; asunder, his silken shirt slips, flashing the first of newly bared skin to the warm room where it falls off his wide shoulder past the tank cut of the ribbed white undershirt still standing between her and more of the firm, defined chest it sits tight against.

He's brought in with passionate urging, throwing his upper body onto hers, almost tempting to spill them both onto the whole of the desk — weight on weight — but his balance, swaying, stops them short. A subtle prickle of desk jabbing into him in a familiar way. On the floor, his foot twists against the crushed lvat of paperwork.

But astride the desk's surface, there are no appearances of faltering. Hauled in, his hand on her knee responds by moving. Seared to her jean as if inseparably, his palm and spread fingers push straight up her leg, partner to every womanly curve where he goes from knee to hip — doesn't stop — waist, her t-shirt invaded, he's slipped beneath and climbs yet higher. While the material falls around his arm, making his reach more secretive than her earnest attempted baring of his chest, there is no mistaking where his hand has chosen to sit, tucked beneath her breast in a steady cupping, where his thumb tempts that inside slope.

Here, a tension. Different than the others. At the edge of his mouth against hers, his lips think of moving in other ways than in searing combination. It begins as forcing her mouth open where he wants, letting him inside more than before — and pulls back in the same. "Mmmm…" a moan, a protest of thought in this action that needs none; his body revolts by pressing better into her — but, betraying, onto that hand that has no place on her body. "… I'm sorry…" it flows into their kiss, into the many mutterings she already made; an echo, only, ignorable.

It's amazing that the words are even heard; that orchestra of their moving together hasn't let up. Every new force prompts some new soft, spur-of-the-moment noise from Maggie, indulgent — the weighty press of Laurie in — or astonished — the sudden exploration of his hand into uncharted territories. But she's hyperaware of all of his body, and all of hers, if nothing else; as the strong presence under her clothes is pressed by Laurie's weight bearing down, her unsteady but healthily powerful breathing drives her stomach against his arm, warm ignited skin, athletic muscle and soft, curving give combined. Ultra-tactile, tuned in — palm, fingers smoothly follow the disappearance of his shirt off his shoulder, holding onto the contours of his arm, and past, where it secrets away, riding up her own shirt.

And thus, the out-of-place apology reaches her attention just the same as the rest— and is still ignorable. She dismisses it with a shake of her head, the intended it's okay barely distinguishable from the avid union they're making of their mouths; no apology there. Her eyes flicker to him, wondering, only to drift hazily shut.

Thud, the accidental kick of her heavy heel on a desk drawer she can't see; the desk has not received the same attention. Climbing against him, knees lift slightly, the wrap of her thighs cinching somewhere between encouraging and trapping. Laurie's chest, not uncharted territory — in fact rather precisely known, it's with a familiarity that Maggie's hand roams over the last layer — is roamed but only follows a natural course. His was up, hers is down. Torso — doesn't stop — waist, down onto the touchable material under at his hip, the foray threatening an already loosened waistline where it slides more uncontrolled; a slippery slope in more ways than one.

A heralding cacophony of loose, rattling belt-buckle, the shift of wool where it's bypassed, its zipper easing down with compliant crackles leads — but, in the flush of the moment — seems to lag behind a torrential physicality: firming, warming, a shudder. Soft sliding boxers are pittance to keep out the heat of a hand — Maggie's — finding his personal angles, until, a thrilling obliteration of all else in the intimacy of hand connecting to mid-thigh no longer guarded. Nothing's safe; everything is falling apart. The noise upon which more words might have been carried is a wonderful, pitying, agonized, and praising moan — becoming groan as his weight biases more heavily to his unoccupied hand, the one free, making him lean too greatly to one of her sides. Hand nestled to her bra-line squeezes this side he's losing connection to, short of the breast; reinforcing that she's there, he's yet lost progress.

It only worsens. That groan is another pathetically indecisive, and growing more determined, "MmmMMM…" where — gasping — he severs their seal. The kiss; it ends. Suddenly, the weight of him is freeing her, creating a line of cold impersonal air between their bodies as he fumbles over words, scrambles his hands out from fabrics and into his own to disentangle her fingers from the private lines his legs make. Jangling; one hand sorts out the belt, but can't find closure in his quickness, and her fingers running interference. His head, chin forced down to try and stave off any attempts to re-engage, to recapture those kneading lips. More self-aware than his half-closed eyes, blinking, trying not to see the shape of her legs where they are being nudged from wrapping him: "I'm sorry— "

"Ah— " Maggie's head tips back a moment, recovering from all things physical and the sudden threat of no more. Through her wide open mouth, a sharp, surprised intake sucks in the air between them — it looks emptier, but is yet hanging with the magnetic, provoked energy they've riled up, the very atmosphere Laurie seems to be trying to escape. Maggie's eyes are rounded on him, higher thoughts outshone by their bright gleaming; she only appears startled, wanting.

Suddenly, quickly, Maggie is in motion. Her hand is easily disengaged, but less willing to move from confines of that personal space when the rest is separating— she closes immediately onto Laurie's hand, curling a half-fist around it, her wrists becoming stiff against any more movement that takes him from her. Nudged, her legs don't resist, or reinforce; instead, instinctively foreseeing, preventative, lightning fast, she's pushing against the edge of the desk to try to slide to her feet in a space she can't quite fit into— because he's there, she can only go against him, on him, knocking belts and hips and crushing hands. It's mere seconds; reacting; don't stop.

Jolt of bodies, slip of knuckles, and combined hands, stiff wrists, creating little more than a brush — the lightest touch they've yet engaged here — but where it counts most. A stuttered half-gasp remains captured in his mouth where, even the small noise that escapes, is provocative enough to threaten the gleam of coherent thought in his eyes. Abandoning the belt, fuck the belt, his hand careens, already poised to grab, towards her cheek — her face — that lost kiss — no. Stiff inhale, deviant of stiff else, and he hauls almost violently backwards, denying himself and prying her hand with a shove and rattle of fingers, zipper. Stopped. "I— "

Flutter of the edges of his shirt, tossed at his shoulders, slipping anymore in the startle of his quick, fleeing movements. His feet scuff on paper, carpet, nudging into her scarf — not finding his badge, and with her landing foot coming down on his trashed paperwork — abandoned. All abandoned. Including Maggie, where Laurie shoves off from the desk, head down, offering not even a glimpse of his harsh blue eyes, but a speedily murmured, "— don't trust myself more." Defying the situation, he's said all too practical: fact. There's no room for argument, hers or his, to that patter of words timing to the thump of his fleeing footsteps. He gets hand on the door, and slinks out with such a finalized grip on the door that it shudders completely shut behind him. The office is quiet. Empty.

So fast was his exodus that Maggie's grasp of him, having slid into nothing, hasn't even swung back onto the edge of the desk behind her by the time the door is well-closed.

Body overtakes the mind, one more surprised than the next. The quick breaths, the flush of otherwise fair skin are lasting; left to cool, though they show no signs of doing so yet. Her sudden solitude is a system shock, and she stares at the door blinking, her mouth moving in subtle shapes too belated for the words they might have managed.

Clearer thought eases through and still her eyes are bewildered, even alarmed; not, per se, for Laurie's absence or parting words, but the lingering evidence that his presence was here and what happened happened. She smoothes down creases in her t-shirt, over her stomach, before she brings her hand up to bite her knuckle, then press the back of her thumb to her mouth and simply stare. The office itself slowly comes into focus, a memory of before giving way to the reality of after

Things shoved so roughly to the wayside. A disaster of a desk. Scattered items on the floor. Torn, trampled papers. Her scarf. Laurie's badge. It looks like there was a brawl. It looks like a crime scene.

She rushes to the door, not to give chase or to leave herself— no, left behind, she stays, locking it and close its blinds; rather delayed measures. She's delayed, herself, there at the door for a span where she spins about and leans against it with a jostle of those same blinds, arms folded, composing herself — in theory. Little changes except her goal. Eventually, sequestered to this borrowed office, Maggie takes Laurie's badge, her scarf, the paperwork from the floor… attention to the abused coroner's report — Salvatore — slows her as she rises, but becomes just another thing of many.

The thing about people who spend so much time studying crime scenes is that they wind up knowing how to clean them up; and so Maggie tidies the office, the evidence, though it is perhaps a rushed job. Not all the reverse engineering in the world, however, is going to fade the memory.

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