2010-10-04: Home Sweet Threatened



Date: October 4th, 2010


Motivated by concerns — and her superiors — Maggie follows up on Laurie after the incident, only to find that he's rooted into not doing anything at all. Now that the word's out about the former agent's work, however, not everyone is content to not react.

"Home Sweet Threatened"

Laurie's Apartment, 12B

"Miles!" shouts a familiar voice. Maggie's voice is hard to mistake and, in theory, calling a person's name is hard to ignore. In theory. Maggie is on one side of the door, and the resident is… dubiously on the other. Verifying Laurie's presence may, logically, be part of why the detective is in the hall outside his apartment, knocking on his door in the middle of the day with a firmness gained from the multiple softer knocks prior leading up to this resolute pounding now.

Whether she's on-duty or off is left to the imagination — the trappings of her lawful work are, if indeed present, hidden under the zipped jacket she wears. If so, however, just barely. Lacking the worn loose-fitting brown leather that had become her most recent norm, the replacement is the same material but black, newer — less abused, at least — and trimmer. "Miles, if you're in there — I know you're in there because essentially, you never leave…" she entreats both determinedly and a determined effort to be courteous, "could you please open the door…" Maggie pauses her adamant greeting/beating of the door and, for now, steps back waiting, a hand reaching into a jacket pocket.

No resident answers — at least, not from inside the intended door; a few glances are given all the ruckus lately from other doorways — but there is not exact silence from the apartments, either. Muffled quick-tempo'd music, so different from the opera of before, can be heard between door beatings, interspersed with the occasional rumble of a possible voice.

Maggie waits it out a few moments, listening to the faint noises from within. It's not quite impatience that makes her appear, to the empty hall, slightly aggravated; it's something more hard-set. It affects her voice not at all when she steps close to the door once more and leans toward it to inquire with more concern, "Miles…?" She waits, head tipped toward the door…

Waits, waits…

Then an announcement: "I have a key." As told by the detective, it's a statement more than it is a threat — but the jingle that follows is threat enough that she's serious about this key. Unfurling her hand to reveal a cluster of keys taken from her pocket, she extricates the one that is not like the others — it doesn't belong to her. "If you don't answer the door," now that's starting to sound more like a threat, "I'm coming in to make sure you're alive!" Voila, Maggie puts key to door with a distinctive metallic scrape. "So you better be decent in there…"

To all of this, the concern and waiting, announcements, noises, and threats — muffled music and the occasional rumble of a voice. Soft impact noises here and there, too strange to quite sound like anything that should be bumping around in a normal apartment. And none that register what's going on at the door.

Maggie stalls further by leaning an elbow into the doorframe just above her head, dragging fingers through plain straightened hair. She takes a slow breath in, transforming it into a sigh as lock and key work together to make her an uninvited guest. She might have gotten her hands on a key, but it wasn't offered. The door swings open, the keys disappear with a jingle, the door is closed behind her. Those sayings about a person waltzing in like they own the place and making themselves right at home … don't apply to Maggie. Less than at home, not looking especially triumphant, she doesn't get as far as the end of the entry hall before she stops with one shoulder against the wall, arms folded, looking in.

It's been some time since the detective's set foot in the residence, but what's there to notice with the keenness of her profession is not that boxes and cases labeled possessively by FBI case numbers have been unpacked and cleared— they haven't; most of it has been shoved off to the side in reflection of where it once might have belonged. Such as, the particular boxes in which have been crumpled flyers and print-outs of exotic locations — some with added notations by Maggie's own hand — are sitting against the wall where the decorations once hung. But that space has been since taken over by the rectangular shape of the TV using one of those boxes as a rest. Some kind of blocky video-game animation, portraying a variety of oddly dressed snowboarders cascading down a pixelated mountain-scape, is what's making the noise, both the music and the occasional thump of the main character tripping over a rock or speeding her way directly into a tree.

This might have to do with how the controller, hooked by wire to a Playstation 2 on the floor, is dangling quite uselessly over the arm of the couch. That particular piece of furniture is also not where Maggie last saw it, but has been dragged half-heartedly to face the wall with the television, knocking the coffee table also to the side where it remains, vaguely in front of the couch at an unnatural angle.

The last notable addition — an electronic keyboard — is resting in Laurie's very lap, as the consultant is slouched along the curve of his couch, his feet propped up on the bent coffee table. Fingers of one hand dip without conviction against random keys in front of him as he blinks half-dozing at the animation constantly playing on the wall. By some miracle, the other remains slouched into a proper sling against his side.

If he's moved from that spot recently, a questionable feat at best, it hasn't been to tidy up the place, or to stop the rampage of ripped-out notebook pages from adding a second layer to the wallpaper. Though a variety of books look to be ripped from shelves, there's blessedly little evidence that any of them were mistreated to create this paper-setting. It's not that the place is a sty; but it suffers under too much living of his particular kind.

From the adamant banging on the door to standing here now, Maggie has toned down several notches, a completely quiet presence unobtrusive to the noise of the videogame. There's a certain determination about her, an unshakable concern in the way she first eyes Laurie and then his living space, but she's now faster to look relieved — sort of — than she is to shout.

"I think you're losing," is helpfully pointed out by the intruder, a hint of question to her voice, not for the game but for its player — and his state of wakefulness. Under the weight of reluctance, Maggie moves off the wall, quiet boot-steps treading through the apartment toward the end of the couch. She's distracted by looking at the notepapers but, approaching closer, she's intent on the slouching consultant. "I'm really sorry for barging in … like … that — alright— I've never seen anyone look so bored. Get up."

Merely blue eyes move to acknowledge that he now has a visitor treading into this personal space. Laurie shifts narrowly to the uselessly untouched controller, up to Maggie there, and then ultimately returns to the flashing television screen. "My mind," he mutters more to the constantly looping animation than her, " rebels at stagnation…" But to her apology, a flash — a spark — alights across his face from his eyes as they revel in the slow clicking of that mind rebooting to some revelation. The one that "Mmmm! Powers, you're here!" It's not as though she's been standing there several seconds already! Or was previously pounding on his door! Nothing like that. To her command, though, he vehemently shakes his head, fit to sinking even further into the couch if not for the arm he wrestles into the air to gesture enthusiastically to her. "No, I'm quite all right where I am— come here, come here, sit down."

"Clearly." So all right where he is that he didn't get up to answer the door. Maggie complies with the request to sit — to an extent; she leans into the arm of the couch, bending a leg up on it by the abandoned game controller to sit half on the furniture. Less enthusiastic, and not so cozy, her other leg props her there more than anything. "I hope your leg isn't worse and that's why you didn't get up." Or— that might be a more acceptable explanation. She gives him a closer, but— now that she's closer— more reserved study. "How are you?"

"Come on, Powers," enthuses Laurie continuously, knocking aside any of her words with his own. A fierce twist finally dislodges his position from the couch, though a certain laziness clings to all of his movements, creating a sloth's touch to usual gracefulness — plus, there's just no natural way to reach around with the opposite arm and try to tug the detective onto the actual couch seat. He's awkward and he knows it, abandoning the effort soon enough, and especially when the keyboard begins to slide off his slanted lap. The leg in question is paired with the other in jeans; he's managed to wrestle both arms into the loosest blue button-up and only one arm into the baggy grey hoodie around that — all apparel that makes him appear even younger than the tire in circles around his eyes.

Maggie, a stark contrast not only in pose, but in the new fitted leather she's zippered into, raises a singular eyebrow at Laurie. "And play videogames?" she asks with the vaguest smirk at the edges of her lips — that's what she thins of that. She angles slightly toward the lounging consultant, hardly settling in; she does, however, brace both hands against her denim-clad leg and lean ahead, a practical slouch of her own. "I'd rather offer to do…" Maggie's gaze travels around the apartment, faint skepticism unmasked, "…something to help you out. It's hard getting things done when you're one arm down. I know. I broke my arm once too." Herstudy continues to roam as she goes on. It hits the kitchen. "Cooking was almost the toughest."

"No— " he insists, mulish but more encouraged by her continued refusal than irritated, "This is something to help me out. Really, the only thing I'm having a hard time with." Besides dragging himself from where he's planted into couch fabric, but his arm does not take the entire weight of the blame there. "Powers— " emphasis through his straining to get his left arm around his body again. Now he gives the spot right beside him a hard, indicative slap with the full of his palm. "I need you."

Maggie gives Laurie a lengthy look. The spot beside him is given the same consideration. Up her eyeing of the couch, he's given another long stare. At the end of this cycle arrives a sigh, perhaps ever-so-slightly dramatized, but — smiling a little smile after all — she's good-natured enough about agreeing. She gets to her feet to properly ease into the seat, hands planting on her thighs. "…Okay, what do I do."

The way his face lights up at her arrival is akin to giving a child the perfect present on Christmas. On the very instant Maggie touches to the couch, Laurie's got half the keyboard shoved onto her lap, giving it a few adjustment wiggles once it is. "Here, here, here, and here," is the swift instruction, the several keys meant touched in overly quick succession "Here— " The last is not a key but his left hand seeking hers, winding her fingers intimately for the very practical notion of setting them where they belong in the chord. Eyeing the keys before, his glance follows up her arm to her face. "Got it?"

Maggie blinks in rapid succession but follows along with every indication, her fingers flexing and extending under their direction by Laurie's hand once set without quite accidentally depressing the keys. "I— yeah," she confirms agreeably, "sure, I got it— " she looks from the placement of her hand to Laurie to find him looking at her, and can't help but smile a bit more, enthusiasm infectious, though hers is tinged with some hesitance. Her brows lift high and expectant in prompt. Next step?

Some of Laurie's joy has smoothed out of its purity, finding purchase in the same, prompt and factual manner that he shifts their hands to the next keys on deck. Fingers trace along hers, sweeping under to push a forefinger onto a black key or bumping pinkies to spread them further down. He's done it all fast, automatic — and by feel; his eyes have locked to her where she smiles, that dimple of her cheek. Suddenly, his hand has vanished from hers, choosing the more efficient route of merely giving each key a nimble tag. "Then here, here, here, here, and here." Tone as pragmatic as his tapping and the softly intent look on his face free of overdone emotion. "All in doubles," he goes on, "First position and second position first, then after the transition, first and third. Then— ehh, that'll be good enough. Here we go." His hand drops to his own half of the keyboard, entertaining a little trill.

Maggie is a devoted student to this endeavour now that she's a part of it, quickly taking in the steps presented. The simple trill of keys encourages her smile a little bit, but not to distraction— she's focused on her perfectly positioned hands and the chords they're meant to play. "Got it — but you're going to have to be gentle with me, it's basically my first time," she warns, though it really sounds nothing but optimistic. The keys are played once somewhat experimentally before the second press of her fingers cues the music more boldly.

To Maggie's press of the chord, he adds between five playful notes of his own, two skipping after one, and the other three keeping up a beat that her second chord hits on evenly in the midst, weaving their playing already together. This same happens a couple of times, warming his fingers around the melody — and hers to the idea of playing — before, into this simplistic back and forth, Laurie tips his head thoughtfully to the side and adds: "Je m'baladais— sur l'avenue~" Dancing fingers on keys as light as the absently sweet way the foreign language rolls out to the hop-skipping tune, " —le coeur ouvert a l'inconnu…" It continues along to the bouncing ball of his knuckles until, in a spare empty beat of his, he slides aside to knock — playfully, but meaningfully — against Maggie's, before his hand returns to take up the melody again.

A cue, it's taken or not; he wanders on through the song. Till, just a flash — a winking moment of a smile spared for her — and then his head tosses back for a livelier chorus, fingers changing where Maggie's also should. "Auuuux, Champs-Elysees…" and on. The French is interrupted once into a bubbling peal of laughter when she's, not wrong, but slightly late on the cue thanks to an untold instruction, and the merry noise flows smoothly enough back into singing. Singing, and a little instrumental portion after Elysees that could be the ba-da-ba-dah-dah of a trumpet imitation.

It rounds out into a slower pounding on the keys, that Maggie's left to pick up on rather than know, and then a last hit and he's trailing off to, "… vous voulez aus— Champs-Elysees…" To his hand sliding in a regretful slowness off the keys and against his thigh. Some part of his smile drifting at the edges of his mouth as he turns his head to eye her both gratefully and distantly. "Thank you, Powers. You're free to go."

The detective either has some skill or ear for music, or she's just good at following directions in this arena as in other things. As her hands also slide from the faux-ivories onto her lap after the slowing of tempo has faded into silence, she turns the smiling face she's worn brightly throughout the song — seeming on the verge of laughter she's too focused to allow — toward the more masterful pianist. "That was wonderful— you're welcome— " Her far hand rises to brushes a couple of fingers at her temple before she points at Laurie. " — but, if you recall, I wasn't free to arrive in the first place. So." She clasps the regretfully non-melodic areas of the keyboard, prepared to move it. "I know there's more you could use a hand with. I'm not taking no for an answer. Come on, you have to start getting back on your feet some time. When's the last time you were out of this apartment?"

"Uh— uh uh!" Blurts out the note of whiny protest, too lazy, perhaps, to quite be so punctuated, but vaguely enough felt as his keyboard is meant to be stolen from him; it's quite a different noise than the fantastically more fluid singing of moments before. His working hand takes a last plunge at the keys, pounding out a sour and doleful note — making it seem as though the keyboard feels the same way about being separated from its master — and secondarily re-emphasizing that which had been noticeable during his instruction to her; disfigurement on most of his fingers near the knuckles, that telltale shine of recent burn. "I use a hand with a lot of things," he agrees, in order to disagree, "A few of which shouldn't be shared." As to leaving, he only surrenders the keyboard in order to slump more determinedly where he sits and make a general nnnnn.

Indeed, woefully to Laurie and the keyboard, the instrument is set on the angled coffee table. To this purpose, Maggie is leaning ahead when she glances back; what is first a pointed study of his hand is promptly ended thanks to his commentary. "Well," she dismisses to go on, elbows on her knees, smile faded, but leaving her still good spirited in its absence despite an underlying doggedness to the way she says, "I'm going to go out on a limb and say you haven't been to the store. And haven't used your kitchen very well." She twists away, maneuvering a hand into her pocket pull out a small notepad affixed with pen (NYPD issue, no less) which she then flings lightly sideways at Laurie. "Groceries. Make a list."

"And I certainly don't need relationship advice about my kitchen." The single worst of Maggie's growing offenses, it's still said with very little actual malice; that would require working past this display of, now sullen, apathy — a feat seeming more unlikely with the loss of the keyboard. Her flung notepad has barely contacted before it's snatched up and loped straight back at her, regardless of whether she's paying enough attention to catch it, and with only a slight handicap from being tossed left-handed and at a strange hand-over-body curve. "Get your own."

The notepad is grabbed out of the air through a last second reflex of Maggie's with some crinkled paper to show for it. "I have my own." It's disappeared back into her pocket like it was never tossed around, and the woman slumps back against the couch herself. Her pose is more firmed, however, neck held straight as she looks across at Laurie for awhile, a small arching of her brows the only mark of her inner workings. "Did the doctor say how long you'll have that thing— " a glance to the supportive trappings at his arm, " — on?"

"You have your own apartment, too." Politely; you know, in case she'd forgotten. Deprived of something to play his fingers against, Laurie spreads his hand to his side, tapping fingers against the less musical fabric of his couch. Even the trapped hand, in that contraption to which Maggie refers, gives a few efforts towards pattering out a tempo on his chest. Ahead of him, he glues onto the screen. The same portion is showing as when the detective entered; as it turns out, it's not game-play at all, the abandoned controller meaning nothing to its ongoing activities. "Ohhh…" Laurie's head dips to the side, the laziest version of glancing over he can achieve. His eyes never quite make it to her, though, before he's cocked it back enough to find the television. "He figured he'd find it in the trash can outside of the hospital's back door…"

Maggie tenses slightly; partially covered when she plants her hands more firmly on her lap, the prelude to pushing briskly to her feet. But not to immediate full height: she grabs the keyboard, and turns to place it in the spot she abandoned, replacing herself with it. For this, a thin smile is sent Laurie's way; he's a kid who has convinced their guardian he's not grounded anymore. In setting the keyboard down, her grip touches a button, a number; one of the pre-programmed tracks bursts into life— perhaps less cultured than Champs Elyssees— an electronic keyboard rendition of Can You Feel the Love Tonight.

The wince that follows looks like a toothy smile more than anything. Maggie lets the silly accident be, letting it carry on — and she talks over it as she wanders away from the couch. "Your doctor isn't much of an optimist, is he." Arms folding in the confines of leather, she moves toward the television, concurring idly, "I do have my own apartment…" Butbut— the comment seems unfinished. Her arms uncross almost as fast as they crossed. Slower, she reaches down toward the purpose — the unpacked box that sits there. She touches its edges; then the contents, but only so far as to carefully tug out enough paper to reveal 'UGANDA' in her own print. "…but," there it is finally, "this apartment needs much more work…"

Now a full variety of mismatched sound-effects fail to complement each other in the not overly large apartment. Laurie does his part; where the keyboard's been set down, he scoots himself over an inch and stretches that left-handed reach to irresponsibly ratchet the volume higher. People can surely hear The Love Tonight, as it dominates the sound spectrum. Since he's already half-tipped, the consultant is tempted to remain that way. Though it forces one of his legs to uncross, flattening to the floor in support, and half-revealing the thick copy of Les Miserables he'd been using as foot-rest. "This apartment is done," even in not bothering to raise his voice above the music, he isn't entirely inaudible. Eyes on the keys, he adds a couple of stray notes to the automated tune, harmonizing lazily. "It was never meant to be retained this long…" Mutter, mutter; he's barely acknowledged her since she abandoned his precious couch… though a narrowed glance up does quite keenly mark which and where she's getting into his boxes.

Maggie only touches the contents of that one box here and there — only that which she's seen before, digging no deeper, her exploration cautious and reverent to things that don't belong to her. She's thoughtfully turning a travel brochure over when her gaze slips back to mark what Laurie's up to as he marks the same in her. She straightens away fromthe box and her gaze evenly remains for a moment — more serious than the light tone she uses in response to his muttering. "Why," she asks; not really, "police-provided housing is so lovely…" With a quick flash of a smile, and a jingle — adding to all the rest of the sound effects — she whisks keys out of her pocket and holds them up, the most pertinent displayed foremost. "And so secure. After all." Just as quick, the keys disappear.

This display does not visibly amuse Laurie. From eyeing her, he doesn't anymore, letting the keyboard regain the full of his already questionable attention. Words are given but a low snort of reaction before, hitting a key similar to his coinciding, "hmmmm," he adds only: "Yes…" Devoid of judgment yet, he seems to have leapt very abruptly from praising her appearance to caring little that she exists. Plunk, plunk, plunk…

To Laurie's neutrality, Maggie only stands there more and more out of place; particularly now that she's gone rather silent. Her own expression is steadily neutralizing. She leaves the box and its contents alone and taps her thumb against her jeans several times in a contemplative rhythm unrelated to any of the apartment's sounds. After a span of looking toward the exit, she decisively strides toward the couch.

"When I broke my arm," she begins purposefully as she appears to loom in front of the couch potato, "After the first little while, I wasn't in a position to sit around and do nothing for very long. And it was good. It meant I didn't get lazy. I could get back on my feet faster. There's recovery and relaxation and then there's— you are being lazy," she states plainly, but livens as she encourages— or— orders, "Come on. I said I'm not taking no for an answer. You have to get back on your feet." Maggie stretches an arm toward Laurie, as much of a gesture to move as it is lending a (skeptical) hand down. "Get up. There's food in it for you. Unless, of course, you have other plans that don't involve what you're doing right now."

Without quite lifting his head, he eyes her, blue squinting from underneath drifting eyelashes. "And I'm doing it rather well, if I do say so myself," he compliments self-rewardingly, transforming accusation to a neat little smile that doesn't reach those same narrowed eyes. To repetitive orders, Laurie tosses his head to the other side. What starts out a generously considering noise becomes one of measured content. Thrusting a shoulder against the couch, he re-angles himself straighter, allowing his good hand to slap onto his chest, moving fingers entwining with immobile ones. "You know, I just— I'm good here."

Conveniently, his hands are both occupied when hers comes into the picture. Looking past it to her face, his chin tipping up slightly, he rewards her with utter pleasantness. Marred only briefly by a tug of eyebrows together as his eyes shift focus off her in momentary distraction. "Oh, or were you including knows in the no you weren't taking— you don't know, no know, you dun-no— in which case, I can rephrase." He's settling into this a second when, suddenly: "Or maybe it's not for an answer," fingers surrender other fingers so he can demonstratively point downwards for this, "It's part of the answer. For my answer, yes, but for an answer, no. And, really, only a relative— no? — Being not a no, but a know — in which case, you may accept it and, thus, I am not rephrasing."

Maggie's hand draws back, naturally enough, to rest at her hip as she regards Laurie from above, and she's without complaint for his continued lounging — despite her encouragements to get him moving. Now, Detective Powers is normally pretty sharp — a quick learner, as even the prior musical interlude suggested somewhat — but somewhere in the midst of Laurie's wordplay, she completely loses him. He's treated to an expression that is barely a defined expression at all but the mystified in-between. "I— " she starts, brows curving in. She begins to dip her head in a nod indicative of following… but no, not quite; she gives Laurie a distinctly weird look instead, less critical when it's paired with the reappearing trace of a smile.

"Hey, I'm … yeah, of course, alright," she says on a more easygoing note, accepting; to the first of his replies, not the rambling second— not that she makes a distinction. "Sorry— for…" Maggie pauses to search for words, her choice bringing an uneven, self-disparaging twist of her lips as she looks at the ceiling (the resulting face happens to be less than grave). "…being a strict school teacher…" Slipping her hands into her back pockets, Maggie adopts an idle stroll along the length of the couch — not unlike she's going to sit down, but she drifts past, only teasing the cushions with a brush of her jeans. Like her, her gaze wanders.

Sights as seemingly unmatched as the sounds fill the apartment. Though a wary and generous closer study might suggest a hidden organization in the space, its exact details and purposes remain privy only to the creator. Small instances stand out to those with the patience and eye to find them, however: the papers, fluttering with the breeze of people's movements, though not stacked in any normal convention can be found to have what appears — to the mere talents of the naked eye — to be matching distances between each other — diagonal, vertical, and horizontal. Books torn from the shelves could be stacked randomly on open surfaces — but are they. The lone manuscript left to adorn the shelves, besides a haphazardly balanced couple of cookbooks, is Der Fliegende Hollander.

A low bemused chuckle follows her away from the couch where Laurie stays, and the soft rubbing of the couch in little, unremarkable movements. Nearby, there's the piping of a third misplaced melody — The Entertainer — this one being reproduced as best a cell-phone can. But it's cut abruptly short when Laurie's hand, diving half-heartedly into the folds of the back of the couch beside him, comes away with the prize… sweeping it up not to his ear, but his mouth where he can speak right into the piece. "Looks like I'm not here right now, but should you feel so inclined, leave a message after the obligatorily obnoxious noise." And his thumb jams a random number to create a beep. A gentle plopping as the cell-phone lands to his side with a toss, still on, and destined to slide eventually where it was found.

Still, he doesn't move. But the apartment continues to show signs that he once had been. Besides the books and papers, the kitchen is not untouched. It celebrates a certain order and cleanliness over the bizarrely patterned living section, but with tiny signs here and there of current use. Also, above the sit of the counter separating one room from the other, there's the visible neck of a tall frosted bottle. But the last thing to have been added is the most traitorous — a take-out bag. Right above it, taped to the hanging cupboards, appears to be a scribbled list — maybe a recipe.

Maggie drifts from this nearby point to that nearby point, her wandering taking up time more than taking up a mission of snooping — though she hardly misses a detail; interrupted when, at the buoyant ring-tone and Laurie's non-automated response to it, she glances back with something almost like amusement. Almost. There's a raise of her brows for it, before she turns away — again looking around with the same hands-off, casual exploration. But it doesn't take long for her curiosity — or perhaps need to keep on the move; she's quiet on the subject and, in fact, quiet as a mouse in general — to get the better of her. She treks slowly toward the kitchen. She pauses there, sharp-sightedly reading the paper on the cupboards from a distance.

Odd, perhaps, to have so much paper in the apartment of a man who could copy a stack of reports from one glance — but this particular note is not taken down in a recognizable hand of Laurie's. Swirling, but confident, its strokes define a very different message: Dear Mr. Miles, since you haven't found it necessary to answer any of my phone calls, I'm extending a different kind of offer. If it's to your liking, perhaps you'll meet with me in a location I think you'll enjoy in all this. It goes on to describe, not ingredients, but directions. The same handwriting can be seen on the outside of the paper delivery bag now, illustrating directions for getting it inside to Laurie's place. This angle also presents a better view to the frosted bottle — just clear, it turns out, with the printing SQUARE ONE // Organic Vodka. Only a quarter of the liquid remains sitting inside square sides; the same height as the orange prescription bottle next to it.

"Dear Mr. Miles…" Maggie reads out-loud on her second appraisal of the note, with added commentary, "…well that's mysterious." The sly tone of mystery dissipates from her voice a moment later, switching topics when, actually moving along to reach out and tilt the neck of the vodka bottle back, she says offhand, "I didn't know there was organic vodka…" Not that she sounds particularly intrigued; she's more focused on eyeing the prescription bottle beside it. Tight-lipped to the combination, however, Maggie only glances back to gauge whether she's talking to herself or not. She doesn't seem to mind either way; kitchen abandoned, she starts to wander back toward the apartment's tenant.

This prescription bottle, unlike its predecessors, is made out to Laurie in his own name. Used, the cap is vaguely askew, suggesting it would fall off when touched. "A different kind of offer," Laurie chimes in from his spot; he's following what she's doing, after all. When her footsteps are heard again, he's seen to twist, throwing his arm over the back of the couch to force his body that way, watching over it. "Ah, yes, that… I have had a… bit of that…" he mentions, low-voiced in the forcing of the recollection, but not as sheepish as required. His mouth tweaks at the edges as though to wince or pout, but he never goes the distance, only eventually putting out more happily when he can't find it in himself to feel bad, "It also comes in cucumber."

To Laurie's admittance about the alcohol, no comment; but a skeptical twist of Maggie's features describes her thoughts on the rest. The flavour, the vodka, somewhere in there is something she doesn't care for. She moseys closer toward the couch, sneaking nearer to the spot she'd left; there's a pause bordering on too lengthy before her hands slip from pockets to knees and she sits back down. On the edge, it can't be too cozy, but she angles to lean slightly against the arm of the couch. "What sort of offer?" she asks, curious, though not full of imperative: casual. "If it's from someone from press— they can be determined…"

"Oh, they can be very determined," is agreed heartily, the detective's movement easing Laurie's pose against the back of the couch as he drifts to follow her. The keyboard has hence run out of demo fuel, but its video-game companion blares on. A pixelated woman in an orange tank-top (on a snowy mountain?!) collides especially hard into a mountain wall, berating herself in soft television mumblings as she leaps to the right-side of her snowboard afterwards. Somewhere sinking into the folds of couch, Laurie's phone announces it's call to have been dropped with a dejected beeping.

Fully ignoring both of these things, the consultant rests sideways to his former position, blocked into place by his elbow. "If I was going to guess— " he goes on, eyes briefly sharper to the prospect of intelligent thought, " —it's to heeeeeerr — house. Yes. She has a house. Somewhat away from the city, even though she works obsessively late," his hand dashes through the air, so confidently outlining what he can't see but designs now in several motions. "Ironically, there'll be a fence." A bit of a sniff; he thumbs at his nose and the arm drops as a result, shifting him towards his former place. Paling in enthusiasm, his voice fades off as his eyes are deflected to the television screen: "… she's banking on a chance of snooping in her things being a fair trade…"

"She's confident." Not commending, not degrading; an observation. "A fence — that's specific." A rustle of leather marks Maggie leans an elbow back onto the arm of the chair, bracing her. Edge-of-seat, jacket on, her ready-to-leave appearance is at odds with casual voice, engaged eyes — they leave when Laurie's do, to the television, but find no interest in the video game character and quickly return to the non-pixelated person in the room. Gently, doubtingly inquiring, she goes on, "Will it work?"

"Not necessarily…" To this evaluation of his mystery inviter, Laurie does not go on but is sucked into the distraction of his television. Miles of fake slope go by before the light crease between his eyebrows even suggests he's thinking over a response. Lower lip tucking in to make his mouth a line of indecision, he at first appears just ever-so-perturbed — and then ever-so-uncaring. Fabric shifts under his fingertips as he plants a hand, simultaneously swinging the leg still stretched out, until now, onto the floor. The motion turns him away from her, his hand reaching out towards that side as his body turns. He's brought to his feet by this momentum, the hand coming away with an item that had previously been resting there, hidden partially by his body: the cane, by which he now balances his first step on a, possibly also sleeping, leg. "I don't know," he pauses to eye just past Maggie, his voice note-to-pitch as curious but wary as hers— a pause that allows him to be stuck there further by the once-again blaring of his cell-phone ringer. "Will it?"

"Will it?" Maggie asks in repetition; of herself, and him, plain in her rhetoric. She shifts a few moments after Laurie does, a tensing on top of what was already automatic physical tension just being here sitting on the edge of her seat. "I can't say I see the point," she adds, dimly a lean toward no before she leans ahead and up to her feet. Though standing, she remains not quite parted from the couch, as much lingering there as she appears ready to push off the furniture and out the door.
She's not prepared to follow the man, however, only to watch where he might go with that cane of his — a new object marked only with a mere glance by Maggie. "But I'm not part of the equation, am I, so…" After a momentary look for the source of this new round of ringing, she gives a small smile on the side of nonchalant — despite curious eyes. "You'll have to finish solving that one yourself."

The new object is swung around to under his arm to regulate the availability of that good hand towards retrieving the alarm-sounding phone. "Nahhh," Laurie decides, mouth pulled to full dismissing of both her and the call — which he ends by a vaguely violent jam of his thumb to the 'end' key. This person doesn't even get the benefit of leaving a fake message. The cell-phone, itself, is given a twirled toss to land wherever it pleases. "Later. It's not like she's going to get bored any time soon…" Just a partial glance to her, acknowledging that he's speaking to the detective. Then the cane comes around to its purpose, pushing down to aid steps as he walks — quite easily; in fact, almost cheerfully.

Coming around the space of that counter, the hand clutching round the top of the cane lays it against the same leg. Thus freed, he stands heavily on one foot and goes right for the organic bottle of vodka, drinking glass be damned; he takes it right by the neck for immediate access. Shaken first at Maggie, "Until they find someone more contrary than me, of course," then raised to be tasted.

Maggie tracks the man's objective before he reaches it; by the time Laurie has his hand on the bottle of vodka, the detective has already set to work on quelling the more opinionated aspects of her expression. A twinge slips through, however, and try as she might, now that the downturn of her lips is out there, even her steel will can't create the faade of being completely impassive to Laurie's questionable decisions. She watches on the verge-of-a-wince, the lingering air of someone knowingly waiting for a person to stick their hand into a volatile electrical socket while, themselves, unable to do anything about it.

And she doesn't do anything about it, save for her ongoing, transparent battle to withhold comment. It's comment of another sort she switches to: that of a Devil's Advocate. The devil, in this case, being the press. "Weeeellll…" Maggie tips her head to one side. "There might… be some point in speaking to the press— "

CRASH. More based in reality than the sounds coming from the TV, the shattering sound of glass interrupts, close but muffled. Another room— another apartment? No; the following thud of something heavy hitting the floor is near and present. It's certainly coming from what might be the bedroom.

Frozen for those first couple of seconds, Maggie stands assessing what just occurred with not only a look of surprise in the direction of the noises, but one of guilt, as if her thoughts could have actually caused this violent distraction. Of course that's ridiculous; leaning down quickly, a quick trek of her hand by her calf soon means she has a heretofore hidden weapon in her hand, and once it's in her grip, she immediately looks to Laurie.

Vodka sprays in a couple of miscellaneous drops on Laurie's shirt — mostly catching the sling — as the bottle is more forcefully separated from his mouth than intended. Patting the back of his hand against his mouth, the consultant's face creases at the destructive suggestion of the noise, but certainly not to an amount that should be really expected at the violation of one's housing. With a soft clink of unbalance, the vodka bottle is left to its post on the counter and Laurie leans into the outcropping to eye that area beyond the couch and past the TV-ridden wall.

When his eyes trek from the hidden source to Maggie on her reaction, he finds her weapon more immediately than her face and a quick, raised hand shows one finger demanding her patience, the others curling lazily into his palm — really, nearly joining this one, in the looseness of the gesture. In the silence this has hopefully inspired, he waits. Several seconds. Then— shrugs carelessly and looks to where he left his alcohol off to.

The detective has patience, and she utilizes it naturally throughout those several seconds of silence. The small gun in her hand, a compact feat of human engineering and firepower, is held as still — as still as Maggie stands waiting and listening. But at the end of several seconds, when Laurie carelessly turns, her concern remains much less abated than his. Her attentions leave the bedroom door so she may blink at Laurie and roll her eyes to the most extreme. "Miles," she says in an adamant, whispered call to arms.

Silence from the other room turns to near silence. The settling of glass — only distantly audible from Maggie and Laurie's side of the door; perhaps moved by a breeze. A faint shuffling; the tiny noises are distorted by the sounds of the city that are faintly more prominent now as they leak in from what must be a broken window. A few seconds later, the shuffling sounds — vaguely — like footsteps.

To this, Maggie raises her brows at the apartment's resident and regards him steadily for a moment longer. The noises necessitate her to set patience aside. She winds away from the couch to the bedroom door — to her, a mystery door. Like her steps to get there, her grasp of the doorknob is quiet and careful. But before it's opened, she glances, again, to Laurie.

Laurie's just where she left him, loitering in the same unmoved position against the counter, his hand acting out a bid for, not only the vodka he half-heartedly holds onto, but a small digging about to see if it's truly the last of its kind. Upon being propositioned for further reaction, he seems to at least feel that request; he even glances up to meet hers in a very timely fashion. But, seeing the hand on the door, he's no more perturbed than from the seeming footsteps that inspired it. Instead, he briefly abandons his personal needs to point a finger towards the back corner of his apartment. Actually angled at the edge of the former travel wall, it is perhaps better to expect it to be indicating some place beyond, in the other room: the location of the window, broken as it may be.

Maggie takes the gesture for what it is and gives a nod; at least she has that. The sounds that may or may not have been footsteps have ceased in the interim; she listens further and they still don't return. It's with suspicion for the relative silence, not relief, that she carries onward. The door swings open a crack and she immediately lets go, both hands focusing on her weapon, and her gaze focusing inside. She nudges it open a bit more with her foot— onward into the unknown alone.

The broken window, a spray of obliterated glass, the heavy brick that broke it on the floor are briefly obvious. Barely a glimpse of the room that surrounds the signs of invasion is allowed. No sooner has the detective stepped in than she's repelled out — by the door. Or rather, it's a presence behind it that knocks her back, forcefully, but not enough to knock the woman down; the angle is not perfect, but it does prompt something of a shout and Maggie takes a stumble back, her forearm thrust against her forehead.

A commotion arises inside, too, a blur of dark clothes and a less stealthy pounding of feet making for the window. The jolted door wanders open. " — think you have a visitor — " mumbles the recovering detective, already careening back inside.

There's little to deter the detective once the door is no longer an obstacle. A bed of standard fare opposite to the shared wall of the two rooms; it's made up as though it's never been used. No dresser, even, to block her view of the average-sized window, and the small alcove meant to be a seat just beneath its frame— now littered with its glass. Utilitarian is even too complicated to describe this room, blasted of all personal touches or signs of use besides a half-open closet door suggesting continued space beyond. No— a lie; a few things provide a bit of color here and there, but details that require a more devout study than Maggie's time-frame currently allows.

For her, it's empty space in which to more easily follow the figure — who, for all intents and purposes, is now a suspect, and she chases him like one. He's already made a rush to the window he came from. The metallic gleam of a ladder can be seen just outside.

He comes into focus: a rail-thin Hispanic man in blue maintenance uniform he looks too young for. If he happens — like a brick through a window might suggest — to be here because Mr. Miles, there, has wronged him in the past, his hate isn't up close and personal. When, as he's grabbing for the jagged window-frame and swinging out, his unfamiliar face looks past Maggie — to the doorway — the hatred in his eyes is secondhand, bound by an allegiance to whoever sent him up here.

When he was sent, however, no one must have figured on there being two people to potentially contend with; as if the one resident of this apartment wasn't bad enough. His cowardly — or perhaps just freedom or life-preserving — climb out that window couldn't be any faster, loyalties be damned. He nearly knocks the ladder over on his way down, with the detective kneeling onto the window-seat in the afternoon light the man was so bold to invade in. She's hurriedly tucking her weapon into the back of her pants in order to grasp at him, shouting — "Hey!" — as he climbs down. She's assailed by a string of vicious Spanish insults, none of which are actually directed at her. She gets his sleeve, the ladder rocks more, she loses her grip— Laurie's home-invader might be in the wind after all.

Laurie's a much closer target for that hate now, having made it around the counter and to the doorway with a stealth unnatural to any number of his physical predicaments — up to, and including, that he's managed to keep ahold of the sloshing vodka bottle, now vastly towards empty. Her call to arms earlier clearly acted out more like the qualification for a drinking game.

Against the paralleling action taking place on the ladder, he ambles with less urgency to the sill, sliding in neighbor to the struggling Maggie. Cane against the edge of the window seat, he leans as far as possible over the edge to get a real, curious stare at his would-be assailant. His mouth works as though over some return words, but there are none. Just a lightheartedly drawn study— fragile in interest, utterly lacking in academia. But narrow eyes are made thinner by some manner of concentration despite.

Maggie doesn't find anymore purchase on the invader, but she does hold onto the ladder itself, a strong and, in fact, somewhat threatening grip — she's in control of the thing that keeps him in control of his escape. As Laurie appears to look down at the man halfway down with some consideration, he has a partial match in the detective. Her eyes, too, are narrowing in some manner of deliberation; hers is more vested, overtop a contained anger.

The man is still yelling on his way down, non-inventive insults and threats on a repeating Spanish cycle — filling up the silence of the two above, as if it's any defense against any last-ditch efforts. "My brothers know where you live — we know where you live!" he shouts, this time in English. Somewhere nearby, a car engine revs ferociously to life. Maggie leans slightly out the window, a knee crunching against glass on the seat.

They're side by side watchers at the window as the intruder makes for his colorful escape. No response, no twitch from Laurie for any of it; he's poised as far as he pleases to be over the rail, and seemingly content to watch. It's to the English that he sparks to life — that revving of further existence in the distance. Though, perhaps, sparks is a bit strong. Shoulders indicate a readjustment as he settles into a position just off the one he'd been at. To his and Maggie's side where they lean, his hand lifts. In it, the vodka bottle.

It comes up between them, held before by a hardworking pinkie, and his whole hand joining the game as he hefts it into a better grip. Brought up at the same time, this fluid motion can hardly be called warning; more of an instant's preamble to the then skillfully aimed toss that lobs it at the offender's retreating head. All to the same, vague look of contemplation and— after a moment, whatever the case, his light: "Well… yes."

The young man is struck down like a target at a carnival game. Just like that, he's taken out by organic vodka. His incessant yelling is cut short and he falls the rest of the way to the ground, landing on his back with a stroke of blood at his crown. The bottle fares worse — it shatters beside the falsified maintenance man, and as he struggles to get up, he scrapes his palm against its shards— before falling back into groaning stillness.

A dark decade-old car takes off down a just visible parallel street, its engine matching that which came so strongly to life moments ago.

Maggie lets go of the ladder and cranes her neck out, a minimal effort, to get a good look at everything. She stares down for awhile, perhaps watching to see if the guy moves again, her mouth slightly open in her study, before a — not disapproving — glance to Laurie, "Good aim." Then to his left arm, "Or— maybe lucky." A smile hints at showing, but doesn't quite survive. She steps back, brushing a few fingers over her furrowing forehead, and whisks hair behind her ear, an instinctive move that she stops halfway through when it reveals hints of healing bruises at her temple. Once again, she peers out through the now very open concept window thoughtfully, reaching for one of her jacket pockets. "He wasn't exactly very capable, was he," she comments. "By now, the Housing Bureau police are probably already on their way, but I'll… call this in."

A quirk of his lip; an ehh. After staring several more points without reaction — perhaps for the same reasons as Maggie — Laurie backs off from the window with this ehh. "On second thought," he mentions, only bothered enough to say the words, not to sound like he feels them — much; it really is too bad: "waste of vodka." Distractedly, to this ideal, he steps off from that side of the room entirely, gathering up his cane for a bit of languid lop-sided walking through the stale bedroom interior and back to the room full of life — too much life, really. Especially in contrast. After a bit, he can be heard to be rustling about with the rattling open and close of cupboards, wood thumping against wood.

Maggie is, thus, left to her own devices — in this case the device is her cell phone, and the murmurs of her voice drift out into the rest of the apartment as someone, somewhere, is informed of the hateful break-and-entering and threats. As well, getting her bearings now that she's alone in the bland room minus Laurie, when her phone slides away, the detective she looks at the bedroom as if for the first time. Not entirely untrue.

Her skimming glance lands here and there where things fill the emptiness, perceptive but never lingering too long on the thank-you cards or vase or folded paper she finds. She pulls her brows together in faint curve — disapproving, pitying? Swept aside, in any case.

Most of Maggie's attention returns to the outside, down below, and there it remains until a commotion of officers appears not long afterward. She waves to them — alerting and thanking them more than saying hello — and expediently moves from one room to the other. She closes the door behind her, capturing cold air which then rushes out to chill the apartment further with October. "That probably won't be the last time," she says, a dull statement of the obvious. "I'm going to…" she trails off, finding Laurie.

Finding Laurie who has, unsurprisingly in all things, victoriously found himself another bottle of— something. The label is not turned towards Maggie where she enters. All the cupboard thumping working out, the alcohol-happy consultant is poised as she looks with the bottle already at his mouth; only, it's the cork he's got his teeth around, instead of lips to liquid. It isn't even a cork meant to be screwed off in such a manner, but a mishmash of movements later — he paused briefly upon Maggie's failed statement — and the bottle comes away, opened.

Laurie's glance to the side allows him to spit the cap into his sink, where it rattles against the slick gray (completely bugless) surface. "Wasn't really the first," he informs her helpfully. And a toast of wine to that. "Mmm!" comes muffled against the glass as he breaks off an aborted sip, bottle lowering guiltily. Not for the reasons she'd like: "Do you want some?"

"Oh— " Maggie lifts her hand in a small dismissive gesture at the offer. "No…" Not even a no thank-you as she regards Laurie and his bottle stoically a few paces out, somewhat off-put. "I was going to go," even as she says so, she contrarily strides into the kitchen, tucking her hands into her back pockets, "but your window— it's not really… this apartment isn't— " The typically clear-speaking detective halts; she shakes her head— though, glancing away, it's not exactly at Laurie. "I don't know that you can stay here, Miles…" she sets in quietly, "do you have somewhere else you can go for awhile?"

Shrugging off the loss of Maggie's decision, Laurie is halfway out with a 'bye-bye' when the detective does not, in fact, leave, instead prompting eyebrows to lift in a delicately pointed manner. They go on to indicate that Maggie should, over her stilted sentences, but he does not continue to pressure her. Glances away only miss him taking that gulp of wine he skipped before. The bottle's hauled away with the same hand that daps at his chin, more thoughtfully than usefully; he didn't actually slobber. "Oh, I know," he assures her warmly, tipping the wine idly back and forth in the one hand that can clutch it. "Why should I go anywhere else? This place is great. And now— " the wine bottle is used in a swinging gesture to the bedroom doorway, red liquor dashes about the sides of similarly shaded glass, "A soft breeze. I always thought this place was too closed up."

"Yeah— but…" Maggie's voice takes a lighter turn, even if her watchfulness keeps a certain serious hold over her demeanour. "It'll get cold. You know birds will come in." Birds and vindictive gang members. "Anyway, this place is provided by the department… they don't want you — or anyone — in an unsecured part of housing. They'll want to get the window fixed, increase security at the least."

Her head tips in the general direction of the door — soon, her body starts to follow. It's only a lean toward leaving, an impression; her brows raise with a sort of skeptical expectancy — bearing somewhat of a resemblance to hope — at Laurie. The detective's shoulders rise, made particularly angular by the structure of her jacket, a loose shrug as her hands stay firm in her pockets. "So… come on, what do you say, Miles, before someone comes down to kick you out for awhile — I can drive you somewhere; get something to eat."

"Yeah, but— " besides a cheek-twitch of a chuckle at some imagined scenario where his bedroom was swarmed by birds, Laurie narrows in not on the spoken but the unspoken — and you'd think a swarm of vindictive gang members would be less amusing: "You heard him," bottle and cane both in hand, it's a very busy point now to the back room, "His brothers know where I live."

There's no need to weigh a verdict already in. Without the burden, there's no hesitation towards his preparing a response but the rise and fall of the wine bottle. Resolutely, convicted, yet still so unabashedly unconcerned: "I've done all the things they're coming after me for," he eyes Maggie sometimes, but mostly the door off to that other room. A wide swing and the wine bottle finds a sittings spot on the counter, "Might as well give them a fair shot at it. And, I mean, here they're clearly beating Team Reporters. How would it look if I just skipped off now." The glance is to her now, seemingly sincere in questioning as it is casual in attitude.

While Maggie's regard is pointed — honed by that underlying seriousness of hers — it is with a casual air of her own that a hand emerges ready to point at Laurie in light gesture. "That— " A smirk hints at the furthest corners of her lips, resting there throughout, " — might be fair… but if you left, you'd be a moving target. More of a challenge." And as she takes one measured step backwards, both defined brows arch as if in challenge of another sort. It's good-humoured in nature, despite her eyeing of the very off-of-work consultant — but it's a challenge nevertheless: whatever his responses, she can keep on going with her arsenal of logical reason.

There's no need for an arsenal— what is this, a war? No, Laurie is far more civilized when he gives a soft shake of his head that defuses challenge. Defuses, but doesn't ignore. After a careful study of Maggie has wrapped up, lowered brows narrowing eyes to contradict her raised ones — and possibly solely for that purpose — he gives a particularly usual sniff, coinciding with the gentle clink of the bottle as it's rested on the counter, but not released. "I believe," he cites, without direct accusation, "you planned this whole thing." His eyes flickering back to her have an air of both discouraging and approving, depending on how one squints. But, shrugging to indicate that one point is no greater or less than the other — and with the corners of his mouth shrugging to match — he slides as best a caned man can out of the kitchen area. As his thumb plants a cork into the top of the wine bottle, while it remains knocking gently against said cane to every step, he smiles carelessly at his regained companion. "Lead on; I follow."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License