2010-09-26: Is There An End



Guest-Starring: Doctor Francis


Date: September 26th, 2010


Laurie has difficulty lettings things go the way they've ended, and Maggie is caught between aiding his stubbornness and slowing him.

"Is There An End"

Private Hospital Room

By the overturn of night into full-fledged day, it's happened as predicted; a general hospital gossip mill blowing into public consumption. Peace and quiet, for this section of the wing, are a blessed thing of several hours ago. The staff of chattering nurses and firm-voiced doctors, well accustomed to matters of urgency, are even swept up whenever they happen by the huddle of activity outside certain doors. When a perimeter for the press nonsense versus the hospital nonsense has been established, gold badges become the only currency that allows passage — but the building of such a barricade takes longer than would be liked. Then, those who abandon the more forward style of information gathering, detach into smaller predators to hunt down nurses separated from the flock: what, pray tell, was that exciting story from last night.

And the epicenter around which all of this madness has ensued… drifts on unknowing. Some muffled discussion, insistent exclamations of authority, beyond the door — but the shutters are shut and the room remains, for a moment longer, a bastion of the last hope for privacy, and quieter medical soundtracks.

The moment passes. A light clicking of the door handle and then it swings open, admitting a strictly feminine form in fittingly feminine colors into the room. Her slip inside culminating in a turn right around to stare out where she came from, the blonde is making sure to get the door shut as quickly, tightly, and with as little peek in for everyone outside. Thump it's closed and so goes the whoosh of introductory noise to what's happening there. Voices muffle, movement dims. Jocelyn twirls full-circle on a pair of elaborately high pink pumps with a little toss of her head, tight ponytail over her shoulder. "Time to start banning them like cigarettes from certain buildings…"

Crackling as she moves is the paper-bag in her hands, cheerfully patterned with the name of the breakfast establishment she purchased its contents from. But as she completes her movement and her gaze narrows in on the sight of the consultant-hugging-detective (perhaps an emotionally colored observation…), the bag is fumbled in her grasp. Dropping it, she has to dip awkwardly to recover the bag before it's lost to the floor and, even then, the contents are surely somewhat scattered. Careless to this, the click-click-clicking of her heels times with the beep-beep-beeping of the monitor as she approaches. Not too close. She's hovering a vague but wavering distance when she purposefully clears her throat.

The noises Jocelyn makes after entering, a whole slew of them, truly, are incongruous to the beeping in the room and the distant din of the hospital that has become commonplace — an increase in activity so gradual it goes unnoticed by the sleeping detective. But to the brand new presence, Maggie is very quick to wake. The pointed clearing of the throat isn't necessary: almost instantly, before even that, her eyes open. The shift from sleep to wakefulness isn't immediately obvious, however; she's less quick to stir, her gaze is pointed by happenstance on a wall, not the visitor. It takes her a moment to become cognizant of her surroundings and the new addition to them, and to remember where she is. Where she… is

Comfort interrupted, Maggie's hand raises to her face, swiftly brushing past Laurie on its way. She presses it to an eye, and swipes it back over her head, blinking heavily as her head turns just so, the full form of the visitor coming into her view. She heaves upward to sit — fast enough to appear alarmed, though at which event remains unclear: waking, waking here, or her particular place of sleep being discovered. She squints as if Jocelyn is a neon light blaring into her retinas, which is not strictly far from the truth. "Heeeeey…" her voice is husky from sleep, but friendly; if, perhaps, a touch hesitant, "… Ms. Danvers …"

"… Detective Powers…" Even professionally addressed, the ongoing skepticism in both Jocelyn's steady staring and rocky voice suggests an observation more in line with seeing Maggie as a woman in a man's hospital bed — than a detective overseeing her partner's health. But with some equally pronounced swallowing, the pleasantness is freed to the surface. Clip-clopping her way now a little closer, she veers off to one side towards the chair, finding a not-too-cluttered space on a nearby supply cart to set the take-out paper bag on. First, it's given a shake in Maggie's direction. "Just thought I'd… — well, they called me when this all went down. Big surprise," wryly, "Thought he'd be hungry, umm…"

Hungry and— possibly responsive. Her gaze flickering to the bed usurps her concentration for words, though it's unclear whether that's because of the man's current state, or the reminder of the other woman there. Having no more bag to hold onto, the brightly dressed ADA firmly tightens her arms across her chest. To focus, her head turns to the door hiding all that commotion. She comments: "… it's quite a circus out there. I didn't think anyone else had gotten through yet. Though, I suppose, you're his…" Oddly, though she looks over to the two, it's on Laurie that her eyes alight, as though expecting a quip from there, first.

No quip comes; it's on Maggie, who has no smart answer at the ready. More and more alert with every second, though some veil lingers in her eyes, easily attributable to pain or tiredness, she regards Jocelyn — who speaks a good deal more than she does to start. In her regard, she seems to sees herself through the eyes of Laurie's ex-wife — since she expedites her shuffle off the bed a little faster. The blanket is swept back, and her legs swung into the statically controlled hospital air. "I… fell asleep…" she says by way of drowsy explanation, giving the ADA a smile that could be said to be reassuring; with a side of dismissive, though not strictly impolite. Once her boots hit the floor, the detective's ease off the bed is stiffer. "I came by to check on him." And she still checks on him: turning again to face the unresponsive man, her concern is still present when she examines him in earnest since waking.

But her gaze drifts, quickly onto the task of getting her bearings. Though no windows exist in here, the room somehow looks different than it used to; an ambiguous feeling of time having passed, and Maggie looks around for the clock, though Jocelyn's well-dressed appearance, breakfast and messages is telling enough. "So if I step outside," she glances to the door, "will I be bombarded?"

"Post-haste," assures Jocelyn, a scornful eye for the door before it softens to find Maggie's stiffer movements in the room. Softens and then edges in returning skepticism she can't keep away. "So you didn't…" but what observation is made about the detective, sleeping, the time of her arrival therefore — it's kept in silence. "Anyway, the press is out in force— you know how they love to get a good scandal out of law enforcement to make themselves feel better." A roll of her eyes, matching her tone, clocks in the ADA's opinion on that. "But I don't think anybody expected it to be so crazy. Or from the FBI." She looks from Maggie to Laurie in the bed, even though the former is no longer seated next to the latter. "It was certainly… enlightening on my side, as well." Gentleness, really, settles in Jocelyn's eyes — perspective in truth — she seeks to use this sentence as apology.

But her head whips around to Maggie. Who is not the one she's apologizing to. "I came right here," says the woman looking especially put-together and prim — and leaving off that which would make this statement suspiciously close to one of the detective's. "I'm absurdly hungry, myself. I bet you are. Maybe we should just help ourselves first." To a reach for the bag, causing it to make plenty of noise in its bunching and folding, Jocelyn raises her voice just an octave enough to suggest she's making a point. Or trying to reach a deaf person.

Maggie smiles again at Jocelyn, slight, warm, and now and then wavering changeably to match the ADA's sentiments: mild scorn for the habits of the press, then gentle broadening an increment when she understands the higher pitch of Jocelyn's voice over breakfast. But her own sentiments backtrack, and it's a wondering look she gives the woman who she's never seen outside of a building of laww. It borders on sympathetic, hovers there. "You didn't— ? … " she starts out softly and doesn't finish. it's her turn to stop, to keep the rest in silence.

On a more upbeat note, her voice jumping out of its quieter, sleepier tones, Maggie agrees, "I am… hungry." But… "I should be going, though. Maybe find the doctor who didn't do a very good job at observing me for signs of a concussion," she sounds unconcerned, "not that I…" Needed it— minded— she squares her shoulders and drifts away from the bed. Dutifully: "I'll go brave the circus."

It's certainly not grateful for any offered sympathy that Jocelyn looks on that cut-off question; she gives the bag a sort of scuffle and carries on eyeing the wall and standing about as though those two words had never been uttered. "We can get the doctor in here," she manages to offer when it comes around to that, halfway convincing in sounding like she'd like that. "You shouldn't have to handle that right now." That, of course, being said circus. Fingers kneading randomly into the, now very crinkled, sides of the bag, she gives a considering hum and then shrug. With only a slight hitch: "… I think he'd… like you to stay."

Maggie stops, facing the door she would have gotten to if it weren't for Jocelyn's words, her arms crossed, opposite hands holding opposite elbows and their bandaged scrapes. After a moment, her hands run up her arms as if cold — or thoughtful. Hospital shirt sleeves are pushed up idly with the move, creating a brief glimpse of bruises that have to be weeks old, faded, healing. She turns back, her look to Jocelyn and Laurie stating her reluctance to leave anyway; some part of her still there on the bed, attached to this dim room. "I don't really need a doctor," she admits; smiling good-naturedly, she adds, "my own clothes, though, would be nice." She strides slowly in her half-laced boots toward the ADA, and there she stands. "Have you spoken to his doctor?"

"I'm fairly positive that's also what mister broken arm would say about a doctor, so excuse me if I don't quite believe it. Also, your clothes probably look like hell, too." Freshly candid, Jocelyn has no bashfulness in saying, staring Maggie in the eye where she approaches. Mention of doctor pulls a new thought across the ADA's mouth — and it isn't the concern that might've been expected. "Briefly," she informs the other, "He was in the midst of telling me how assessment was now a matter of waiting for the patient to regain consciousness…" The more she speaks, the more her tone flattens right out, and it takes her lips with her until she looks wholly not amused. And not very surprised, either. "Soo… I brought food." A calculated beat, not her gaze moving, but somehow she's known to be otherwise regarding someone other than Maggie. "News…" Wait. Nothing. "And, since you're here, detective, enough personal information — starting with proclamations of what he'd like that he wants to deny, and that he once got kicked out of a public library for— "

"That is not fair." Though muttered in the whininess expected from a small child, the statement shot out into the room is neither sleepy nor slurred. The following, "Also, you're mean," is slightly more of these things — without sacrificing any of the childishness. Throughout, the speaking Laurie looks picture-perfect like the unconscious Laurie; he hasn't twitched, and eyes remain softly closed. The beeping of the machines beside him goes on undisturbed and unchanged.

But Jocelyn whirls on her heels to face him like this, sharply cutting away from Maggie as though the detective no longer exists. "And you're incorrigible."

Maggie listens with what is, really, dubious but rapt attention to Jocelyn— once they're past the mention of doctors and the ADA tests her topics of conversation. She smiles at the interruption, unsurprised when it happens; some of the brightness and silliness of the expression is restricted, but it's still warm, and present enough to threaten the integrity of her lip where it's torn. "Hey, Miles," she sneaks her quiet addition behind Jocelyn's. The detective's arms tighten about her only to fall more relaxed a moment later.

"You know," ambles on the close-eyed consultant, "You only like that word now because I told you what it means when I won that five am game of Scrabble." Longer strings of words carry the same alertness — and a cheer unbefitting his medical trappings. Much less the injuries that make them necessary. But, remaining so diligently as though unconscious, he doesn't mark the approach of Jocelyn except by the clicking of her heels. Even then, he does nothing to escape the hand she puts out to flick him very deliberately on the ear. "Oww!" Now the eyes squint open, wincing, as he slides part of his body defensively away from Jocelyn — cowering from this evil, evil force. And, now, the machines he's hooked up to spring to catch up with the fact that everything's elevated in his being awake. "Why would you even do that…" As it were, she also chose the right side, for which Laurie has no immediate guard but the one hanging uselessly in a sling. He gallantly twitches at the once misplaced shoulder anyway.

"I'm getting your doctor," is the calm Jocelyn response. Calm to the point when she turns. Having wiped Maggie's presence out, she's unprepared to shield her face from the myriad of emotions as soon as Laurie cannot see them. Wetness in her eyes is the concern missing since her entrance. Eyes that take a second to find the detective and then she masters the art of also pretending nothing was ever visible. Composed, the ADA strikes a noisy path across the hospital floor to the door to make good on her threat.

Quiet, unintentionally made to eavesdrop, Maggie's eyes are directly on Jocelyn in that moment when she turns around, perceptive as can be, but they bear no judgment. Just as the ADA pretends nothing was ever visible, Maggie reacts as if she didn't see the truth — which is to say, she reacts not at all. On the very audible heels of Jocelyn making her departure toward the door, the detective drifts closer to the bedside, taking her place. Laurie is spared a flick on the ear from her though; her hands only hold to the bedrail. She's silent there for a moment, heavy with the aura of being about to say something; whatever she's about to say is casually whisked away with a glance to the unusual set-up at his ribs. "How does that feel?"

Revealed in his play-acting, Laurie exercises just now his freedom to — test how much freedom he has. Shoulders to the bed mattress, he rolls them to pull himself up, working to be seated straighter: by his own power. His legs under the blanket stir but, so far, do not shuck their coverings. Even the arm in the sling is given a tug against its well-meaning but disliked bindings. In the process of frowning — traces of that immaturity lasting through his expression — at the unwilling limb, Laurie glances over quite distractedly at Maggie when she asks. His eyes flicker to the tube as though realizing its existence for the first time. This requires a small think before a response. "Try to follow me on this one…" he sniffs tentatively, "It feels kind of like there's a tube in my ribs." And when that settles: "That is to say… slightly less fun than those spinning tea-cups at the amusement park. And slightly less personal than when you were doing it."

Maggie has a close watch on all of those movements of Laurie's that test the limits, though she stops nor openly disapproves of any of them. Following along with his descriptors, she gives a conceding nod of her head to the side and a small lift of her brows in sync with a small smile and a "hm" of acceptance. Got it. She looks toward the door. It may be shut, but what it represents — arrivals to eventually come through it, an unknown time limit — makes it the marker by which she gauges the direction of her words. Verdict: "Well," she says, companionable atop concern, "you're a little broken. But hopefully — they'll put you back together again."

His watch stays consistent, not falling hers to the door; he's eyes on her the whole time, and it's a weighing gaze. Weighing and — also bored. Mostly bored. The small downturn of his mouth that he allows to signify his thinking on her evaluation bodes similarly. The conclusion: "I sound like a nine-year-old's action figure that got stepped on accidentally." Affected disappointment leaks through to the one proposing such a description. "And that's a little silly, Powers — I'm clearly one of those plastic robots." Up and down her, an examination he's likely already taken the liberty of is now visualized for public benefit. "Alright— " a determined and actin-packed declaration accompanied by such a shift that he actually pushes away from the bed and, between glances at her, resumes eyeballing and tugging his arm against the sling. "— since I totally waited your minute, now you have to get me up."

Confusion lasts for a split second before Maggie, still smiling, gives a roll of her eyes not actually meant for Laurie; it's more self-deprecating toward choices of past wording he's caught her in, though not seriously. "I don't have to do anything," she counters, a protective arm reaching out to sort of hover in front of him like a barricade, hand spread in gesture. "And— " She returns his eyeing with an intent, obvious study of her own, at the end of which she announces, "I don't think you're a robot. Besides, if you get to the door— you'll only be jumped on. Apparently you're popular."

As long as she's only hovering, there's little difficulty in working around her. His good arm coming around, he gropes at the hanging sling for its first latch. Secured on it, he's started to unlatch when it's back to Maggie with a tilted head, two raised eyebrows. "… am I at least more than meets the eye?" Generously willing to accept this, but not to wait for her answer, he flicks up the first attachment and stretches, twisting to the side to find the one opposite it on the far side. In his turn, the tube is pulled along, flexing the tape that holds it in place. "Popular," he repeats — as if it was the least likely thing in the world — "Or — about to be lynch-mobbed." This time he doesn't spare a glance for her, pulling at latch and tape — and the trace of a grimace — and keeping eyes there. "I bet you'd vaguely regret it if you just stood there and let me get brutally pitchforked."

"You know what they say about press— hey," an insistent demand turns soft and fussing (but no less insistent), "hey, hey. I think you need that if you want your arm to work again." Maggie's ineffectual measures switch to something a little more hands-on. She leans into the bedrail to grab for the sling, hands getting in the way of hands as she tries to undo what he did: to redo the latches. "You won't get pitchforked if you stay in here," she reminds him. "There's something hooked up to your insides, you can't— okay, you shouldn'treally … shouldn't— just go wandering around. Your doctor will be here soon. At least hear him out so you know how much of his hard work you're undoing."

Snap of the latch into place, reversing all his hard work, and Laurie shoots an indignant look to the interfering detective. Hands for more hands; he nudges hers aside with a push of his wrist and undoes the same one with a defiant click. "Not if I unhook it, I promise not to wander, and exactly." Having been invested in the game of promptly undoing each one Maggie redoes as she redoes it, he gives pause to her last phrase. Not much of pause, but enough to restfully drape his good arm over the slung one and eye her, "So, what did the doctor say about your head?"

Maggie eyes Laurie for his stubbornness, though with more seriousness attached; with this look firmly in place, she purposefully, and just as defiantly, snaps the latch back into place again. Her hand gently rests over it this time. "That I might have had a concussion," she replies breezily, distracted and wholly unconcerned with the facts on her own well-being; her being is more well than his. "But I fell asleep and woke up, so I think I'm out of the woods. Scrapes and bruises. I'm fine." She smiles, brows briefly arching with a sort of challenge. "That means I can take you. So. If you try to get up, you're going to have to go through me."

Two can play at this game; in fact, two are. She has her hand over one, merely leaves Laurie to undo the one next to it instead with that nice snap of release. "Good thing you stayed around to make sure instead of wandering off," he commends her naturally. Snap — oh look, there goes another one, just as fast. "I'll accept that you can take me," Laurie informs agreeably, smoothly bypassing what's played in her eyebrows. His own dip, deforming that cut above them. "Not that you're fine." A third latch is detoured from when his hand jumps to his side, digging the tips of fingers into the bruising of his wound in a manner that only aggravates the swollen skin. Leaving behind brief white fingerprints, he returns to the chore of the sling without a hitch.

Maggie is quick to follow the movements that seek to unfurl the sling further; where Laurie's hand passes, hers is not far behind. "I am," she says, and glances up from her task with sincerity in her smile: really, she's fine. "I mean all things considered, I'm great." That, too, is sincere — there's not even an ounce of sarcasm or a grievance hidden. Finally, when Laurie's attention briefly jumps to from one injury to the other and back, she becomes visibly frustrated by his attempts to free his arm; with a burst of purposeful energy, she grabs straight for his meddling hand. "Miles, this is silly," she informs him, "what are you even doing, you're going to hurt yourself more."

Snap snap. Snapsnap — at some point, it sounds as ridiculous as Maggie suggests, with latches flying up and down between them. She is neither the only one growing impatient with the proceedings. His opponent's frustration flares the same in Laurie — short, but with enough intention that going from having the latches redone to having his actual hand captured sets off a spark. Yet visibly his doesn't manifest; rather, it's the beeping machine that gives him away with a bit of faster patter as he rips his hand out of her grasp, it jerking out above him, all fingers spread. On his other side, the twist from side to straight again remolds the tape holding the chest-tube oddly. "You keep saying that like I'm supposed to care." Nostrils flare… as his considering eyes show some speculation over what he's just said — was that out loud? — "Maybe you should help me then to make sure I don't."

The tension risen in shifts contagiously. Maggie stiffens for an instant, frowning tightly; her abandons the cause to grip onto the rail, a means by which to lean. There's no beeping monitor to ascertain what's going on inside Maggie; after that initial hardening, her gaze — and all else — evens out, steady, pointed on Laurie. And— suddenly, she moves off.

She doesn't help, not in his definition of the word. Maggie's purpose is not to leave — it's simply to walk around to his other side. Her purpose there becomes clearest when she presses the red button dangling at the rail of the bed. "You might not care, but nobody else in here but you — and," her very serious words are quickly interrupted by a less-than-serious glance to the door, "maybe a lynch mob — wants to see you hurt." A statement in the key of: deal with it, after which her expression softens — eyes flecked with little glimmers of compassion whether he wants it or not.

Wants to, not — he's already looked away, turning his head off some random portion of Maggie's sentiment with disregard for its meaning. "Look, that's… really not necessary," a glimpse of the button she's already depressed; outside, there's a slight rise in the general buzz, perhaps as some rippling result of her action, "And probably untrue. The likelihood that I've pissed off at least one other person in this building is reasonably high…" Light to contradict with its factual, it's an easygoing negation of what might have been earlier uttered — though he never managed to sound exactly angry even then. "Come on, Powers," he entreats with a gamely bit of smirking, "We can sneak down the hallways. Hide in supply closets when someone passes by. There's still time if you— " The end of his sentence is only a head-bob to the trapped arm.

The detective at the bedside sighs; light, there's little attached to the exhale except perhaps acceptance of Laurie being Laurie. Her hands go to her hips, impressing past the oversized hospital shirt to define them. "I might be an accessory to your great escape if it wasn't for that tube in your chest," she concedes that far, though her voice is settled in a grey area between joking and actually serious. Broken arm, impaled leg — possibly negotiable? Maggie quickly gestures near him and the tape and tubing, preventative just in case. "That's not a cue to take it out, and anyway— " Growing curiosity intermingles with chastising, narrowing her eyes and prompting counter-productive questions like, "what about having your arm in a sling actually prevents you from getting up? It's broken. Having it free is just going to slow you down." Pause. "Not that you're going anywhere."

"This old thing?" Laurie scoffs over the tube — gesturing, but generally refraining from removing it thus far, "It's really only keeping my lungs full of air and, as I recall, you did offer your services first." The leg's the only thing he hasn't gotten around to improperly moving; the broken arm, not so much. It gets an eyeful after Maggie in the long space of time he allows her to recant. When none is forthcoming, he slowly debates, "Well… the fact that it's attached to the bed is slightly disheartening…" This is reconsidered, weighed, and deemed to be fair, leading him to merely give a soft head-shake to the inquiring detective, "Also, you seem even more close-minded than usual. Just what is your beef with broken things? But fine. If you're not going to be my helper, at least be my friend and go get that food rapidly cooling over there."

Maggie looks across to the trapped arm and studies the make of it— a study that she drifts out of when Laurie's further words take up her attention. "Hey… I'm not close-minded," is what she chooses to comment on, offhand and spoken more factually than defensively, having caught that more than usual in the midst of Laurie's words. She's already walking around to the supply table the bag was left on. Her grip curls into the crinkled paper, and she brings it back to Laurie's unbroken— mostly unbroken— side. The short trip contains another glance to the door. There's a casualness to her manner when she sets the delivered food down on the edge of the bed, pries it open, smiles lightly and clarifies, "I'd rather broken things don't break any more." The contents of the bag goes untouched by her, but it at least gapes invitingly in Laurie's reach.

A bit of rustling — small adjustments; Laurie is peaceably where she left him by the end of that small trip. "Perhaps it's only in their nature." All she gets, and said rather absently; his hand's already narrowing in while she sets to opening the bag, wiggling past her retreat to pick it up for himself. It's moved closer, nestled near his chest so he can tilt the top towards himself and, with merely a tucked chin, see inside. Fingers go scavenging happily for the uppermost scone, tugging it away from the others but not completely out. Instead, he strains the very edge until a more manageable chunk breaks off. This is popped into his mouth so that, while chewing, he can investigate what other choices there are to be sampled.

No comment arrives from Maggie, only a small movement of her mouth and a mild look that doesn't quite buy into Laurie's logic; it's absent, too. She turns away but isn't on the move for long, easing down onto the bottom corner of the hospital bed, her weight just barely impressing upon the very edge. A leg stretches out in full length in front of her, her boot's heel against the floor preventing her from sliding off her perch; the other foot flops to the right beside it at the behest of a relaxed, bent knee. She gives a casual glance to the door — casual then persistent, thoughts beginning to conflict her brow. The door is both too slow to open and yet may open too soon.

"It's my job to second guess," she says. Serious, this new track. From the door to the patient busy with his breakfast, chin and shoulder parallel as Maggie regards him. "If I don't, bad things… they slip through." This is left to settle for a moment. A faintly restless touch to the side of her head brings about a visible twinge of pain, and annoyance for its presence; in its wake, the detective is further sobered, and the lines of conflict are deeper. "I'm going to hear more than one version… of what happened. And I know… I mean I've inferred— but I'd like to know … from you — how it was this all came to pass."

"This all sounds very serious…" points out the patient — and rather unnecessarily — as the first breezy warning against Maggie's current track. That moment it does not settle; it's brushed carelessly off the edge of the bed to the floor. More soft crinkling where the bag is reshaped to allow him a go at the serving-size bottle of orange juice near the bottom. Adorned with a twisty cap, the miniature-esque selection is eyed a touch critically by the one-handed consultant. He sets the bottle eventually at his side, tucking it between ribs and elbow. "I suppose…" talking pauses the process. Casual talking: the kind where Maggie might have been asking his advice, instead. "Sometimes— bad things get through anyway."

"Yes, sometimes they do," Maggie says slowly in reluctant agreement, but she's not looking for advice. She reaches a hand across to the shoulder she looks along, and fiddles slightly with the wide neck of her attire, pulling it up until it covers her clavicle. That done, her thumb taps there, marking the steady passage of thoughts. Once, twice; tap, tap. "Do you want to know a secret?" she asks, steady but more casual than she began a moment ago — there's no playfulness attached to the enigmatic question, however. Not the sign of a an exciting surprise, but her fixed gaze clearly encourages the answer — yes.

There's some awkward twisting of the arm in order to get it to multitask in both securing the bottle and letting his hand reach the cap, though none of that strain shows on Laurie's face where he's the image of neutrality. The cap is also briefly unyielding to this less than standard arrangement. Denied his orange juice for the moment, the consultant spares Maggie a glance. Eyes that search her without asking are paired with a thinly intolerant mouth. But when he speaks, he picks up the vein of her tone, not a telling one of his own: "I've got a lot of those already."

It isn't immediately off the tail of that, but a handful of lingering secrets later when the doorknob gives a twist and then the door itself opens. A middle-aged nurse shuffles her way in, a pre-existing frown painting her face to accent her harried appearance. But it isn't her annoyance at what must have been an obstacle outside that shines brightest in her eyes when she turns on her patient, and her summoner — two separate beings. The immediate nervous kneading of her hands against her scrubs is another affliction. Skirting a wide path towards the two, she tears her eyes from the bed to the monitors, all beeping normally. That sign of her profession helps ease her into a more brisk nature — as does a glimpse at Laurie's bound arm. "Were you wanting your meds now?

Smiling kindly, Maggie breaks her steady regard of the consultant to address the nurse. "I pressed the button. False alarm." The business of meds and the nurse's would-be assessment is left alone. A cautious glance of concern centers on the tube in his chest; she's quiet. Sliding off the bed, and giving the nurse an apologetic look, she whisks just along to calmly pilfer the juice. Its cap is twisted solidly until the seal crackles, and she sets it aside on the hospital bed-stand. In one hand, the bottle is casually offered to Laurie; in the other, Maggie gets a handful of bed sheets next to his pillow.

Laurie's answer hasn't deterred her, and presence of the nurse isn't taken as an interruption, but Maggie determinedly leans in to look nearly straight down upon the man in the bed, lending some atmosphere of privacy to their conversation — even if it turns out to be one-sided. As she lowers, so does her voice. "My least… favourite… technical aspect of my job…" Here comes the secret, not so dark that the nurse isn't allowed to overhear it. "…is interrogation. Not talking to people; not interviewing, or questioning, but getting people to say things they desperately don't want to say or think they can't. It's like asking for something that… ideally, should be offered."
She pauses to press battered lips together, gearing up for even more words. Her stare intensifies; yet compared to what she has to say, there's a remarkable lack of blame. The intensity is, instead, for Laurie to understand. "Miles, if you had… just told me. Said anything, even if it was that you couldn't say anything. That's all. I could have let it be and that… would be fine."

The nurse is only too glad to back off of whatever this is. "Right," she mentions with minimal show of grievance for this proclaimed accidental waste of her time — and nervousness, "Well, the doctor will be along shortly." Enough reassurance for her own self as them; she takes the first cue she can to slip right out the door the way she came without barely having come close.

It's after her that Laurie lingers on with gently furrowed brow, even when he's lost the bottle and is offered it again. That orange juice, so fought to open, goes unclaimed. And Maggie, so leaning in, is stared around until several words have passed him by. Catching up only inspires a couple of blinks, his blue eyes shifting to meet hers above. Comprehension, intelligence — not a stretch to find in his gaze — bring around that strict bar made of his mouth again. More it happens in him pressing his lips together much as she had than a real design on any kind of irritation or stubbornness. The rest of his features have nothing left to even out to. "I did." A blameless accusation; it's more meant to be the button on the end of the discussion than to open a whole new one. "It made you want to ask." Wherever the orange juice has gone — even if nowhere since — his eyes and hand wander to recover it, leaving Maggie.

Maggie lifts the bottle to meet Laurie's search of it, and she nods a bit from side to side. A flicker of a smile ghosts past, leaving no trace once it's gone. "You did," she has to agree. "But you knew it would." An exchange of blameless accusations. There's no more need for privacy, and she leans back from it. "… okay … maybe not saying you can't say anything. Not— then. Not when there was…" she trails off into, "you didn't protect me by keeping me in the dark." The misplaced detective looks to the wall she woke up to, an uprising of annoyance mingled with a sort of melancholy rising to the surface to be blinked down. "…It was a stupid plan."

"And it was supposed to be fine," returns Laurie in that back-and-forth of instances, though there's no triumph when Maggie recants. He attends to his orange juice while she's trailing, tipping it and his head back to meet each other at his mouth. A quick, clinical swallow. The bottle lowers after to rest near his collarbone. It, and everything below it to his stomach, still exposed by the unsnapped hospital wear. The cold controlled air of the ward is left to chill the wounds and bruises; perhaps a trick of the environment, the purpling seems more pronounced against possibly paler skin than when they started. Fingers tap, tap absently against the plastic of the juice container. A mere concession: "Okay."

"Okay," Maggie echoes with an easygoing nod and smile, though she still eyes Laurie pointedly, a nuance of frustration present yet — but willing, for now, to fade out. A studied regard of him and the various colours of his skin turns into a similar regard of the door. She stiffly folds her arms, holding onto bare forearms— a swift rustle of fabric all the sound she creates, only standing quietly, purpose now unclear.

Mission accomplished, Laurie looks off the detective when she concedes instead of pushes. Orange juice bottle is knocked a few times against his skin and bone before he raises for a second, longer sip. There aren't too many swallows in the bottle to begin with, and he's nearly cleared them all in two. Lowering the bottle for observation of this, he gives it a shake and watches the limited amount of colored liquid left swish about dejectedly in the bottom. A third tip back is all it takes. Then the plastic is left aside, leaning haphazardly against the bed rail. It's especially not given a very good chance for staying upright when his next move is to give a determined pull back with an arm — a 'bad' arm — that shakes the bed slightly. Shakes, because he pulls the arm right out of the bed-attached sling with some of the latches still done up — but easily enough to suggest that he'd, at an earlier point, wiggled its way to near freedom already. With minimal movement of the upper arm after that, he brings the forearm into his own chest, experimentally rubbing a bloodless wrist with his other fingers.

This time, there is no leap to stop Laurie from the ill-advised experiment with his broken arm. Quickly alerted to his step closer to freedom by the movement and shaking of the bed, Maggie stands watching with only tiredly hooded eyes and one brow arched higher than the other to show for her opinion. "You know," she declares with exaggerated consideration, "I think ADA Danvers might be right about that incorrigible thing."

With no IV — nothing pumping assistance into his veins like the tube for his lungs — Laurie's good and untangled once the arm is unslung, but for the restraints at his shoulder restricting just a bit more movement. They didn't come away with the sling; they're just attached to him. "She knows her— stuff," he mutters around a little hitch in doing so. The muttering, low quality is a more random volume choice; he speaks only with sincere sounding admiration. "Got out— " now the pause comes from effort leaking in between his words — the effort of slinging a leg over the side of the bed opposite Maggie, "— while she— could."

Maggie considers Laurie's shuffling around as much as his words, her now continual gaze tipping sideways as her head cants slightly to one side. It's come time for her to switch from one side of the bed to the other. She is getting well-acquainted with this drab room for all her traveling and enduring presence in it. She's slow about the wide circling of the bed she takes up, arms folded all the while, talking nonchalantly as she goes.

"If you ask me," not that he did, "being a little incorrigible is better than being a lot corrigible. Then it would mean you're submissive." She comes to a stop on the opposite side at a distance and lifts both eyebrows skeptically at Laurie. "Are you thinking about supply closets again?"

The sliding leg takes some of the hospital blankets with it, leaving it only to knowledge that this was the one the wooden splinter once called home. Some notion as to why, though slung, it doesn't touch the ground nor attempt to bear any weight. As he comes up from bedded to sitting, his broken arm pressed as tightly as possible against his body, the other leg follows. That tube at his side becomes the only attachment to his situation when he fists a handful of the blanket and yanks it out of the way. Barefoot from being in bed, Laurie has but one hospital courtesy above Maggie: shorts. Their nature leaving bare the rest of the leg, and available the impressively sized bandage around his knee and above. Old blood is vaguely visible beneath layers of gauze, with the fresher dressing on top. Maggie's skepticism is met — when it's met — with a smile. "Only when you're there."

"I'm not hiding in a closet with you, Miles," she refutes in good humour, though she also sounds serious on that point, "sorry to dash your hopes." Though she does not — yet — interfere, behind Maggie's steady regard is an even closer watch, critical of things like blood and gauze and the stretch of the tube at Laurie's ribs, aware of every detail in sight. Arms fall to outline her sides snugly when a few steps bring her to the bed's edge, bootlaces by now dragging along the floor. Just next to Laurie, she turns to face the same way as him; doesn't sit, only leans slightly back into the mattress. "I remember you agreeing with me once that staying and getting better was a… brilliant idea? When it was me in a bed like this." She seems to surprise herself with a sudden pause afterward, looking reflectively down. "That seems like it was— so long ago…"

"Quite brilliant," assures Laurie agreeably, tipping his head to the side to properly treat the ensuing reminiscence. "Eight months and seven days ago." His evaluation of time is dismissive; see how outdated that thinking is, it says. Both legs swinging freely above the floor, he's in a child's position. Any innocence of the position ruined somewhat by hands not idly at his sides but one bracing the wrist of the other for upcoming jolting. "You know what they say… that was you — and then…" The good hand abandons its post to rest at his side, a thumb depressing the tape at the edge of the tube, biasing it more to his skin than the equipment. "This is— now…"

Hup! In a fluid set of movements, he hauls long to the side on the tube, pushing himself off from the bed in a parallel motion to aid that — halfway through his hand leaping to the assist of that still wrist so that, as he lands on both feet equally, it's as steady as possible. As fast, the hand has to cope with the less steadiness of his left leg with a grip on the railing, instead.

With all that preparation, it can't come as a shock when Laurie finally gets up. Maggie nevertheless breathes a "whoa, hey" when he does, but she goes with the flow: an immediate hand presses to Laurie's upper back, steadying in intent more than strength; shuffling cautiously around his injuries, more solid is her new lean into his unbroken — only bleeding — side. She's cautious of the leg but, otherwise, firm. "You okay— ? Where are you going?" she asks, instead of remind him again that this is a bad idea at any time. It's not a protest this time; not a why, she literally asks: where.

Whoa is a rather apt descriptor of the swaying Laurie's leg produces, unconsciously accepting Maggie's support when he happens to slip in her direction eventually. But where the initial shock ends, his steadiness accepts the slack. Prepping for, and then removing the hand from the railing, he drops it near his side — Maggie — his palm giving her a soft but insistent pat near the hip. Paired with a testing step forward, it means to move the two of them in opposite directions — away.

"Oh, you know— " he says, vaguely huffing out harder breaths. Left whipping in the air, the tube hisses in and out dejectedly into the room. Laurie passes his finger over the tape that was left behind, patching the hole into, as she once mentioned, his insides. "— just thought I'd— take a jog." His second step is off the bad leg, showing hesitance between setting the heel and then rolling his weight over. Waveringly, it holds. "… Catch a movie." Having not yet fallen flat on his face, the consultant rises a level in confidence and his next pace is faster. Another following. "See if there's a— oh!"

Whether it originates from the prematurely moved arm or the unreliable leg is unclear; maybe it was a free-for-all. Whatever it's beginnings, the spasm clutches at muscles, rending one side stiff and the other putty. Unable to hold up under such an attack, the impaled leg folds and tips Laurie that way.

To Maggie, who hasn't moved. "A-aah— !" Hyper vigilant to begin with, she's sure to be there — right there, instantaneously that which Laurie starts to plummet toward. Her steadying presence becomes more all-encompassing to make up for what his leg doesn't support: him. Her hand at his back commits to grab to his better shoulder, a guide toward her and the bed she stands against. "No, nooo jogging for you— " she strains to say in the midst of, counterforce, taking a strong step into him to try to slow gravity in those first few seconds. Her other hand braces, and pushes, at Laurie's side near his hip — a cumbersome and rushed dance of sorts. But it's all a short-lived burst of support; the man is rather heavy and, today, Maggie is not the steadiest pillar.

Initially he fair crashes into Maggie, dragged down by that same heaviness she can't quite cope with. After that strong first hit, he's ruggedly slowed by Maggie's in-step and — blessedly for their combined paint-by-numbers assortment of bruises — able to use even a questionable catch to pull his own weight. Literally. Forcing a shudderingly unhappy injured leg to stop mid-buckle, he halts half into the fall, and half into her — the same way she leans into him. A searching, grabbing hand ends up behind her, around her back and just edging towards her waist on the opposite side. Planting his palm there once, he ends up readjusting it as soon as he has enough balance to slide his support more impersonally towards her spine. "O-Okay… maybe I was a little optimistic…" he gets out between teeth alternating how fiercely gritted. But then, against all odds and sanity, his motions all turn towards pushing — up. Moving forward. That shaking, protesting leg is forced by sheer will, and adrenaline, to plant and straighten. "But—"

Throughout this grappling for purchase and verticality, Maggie is focused. She tips her head back to give Laurie a foreseeing eye, gritting her teeth, and her suspicious logic is validated when he tries again. " — your optimism is commendable, and all, Miles," she says, coolly contrary as she repeats, "But— " Her grip tightens, partly moves— hand atop shoulder to try to push him back — and she goes forward. A shuffle and scuff of her boots begins more awkward than the very purposeful shift that puts her in a more wholly direct line with Laurie— a step of that bandaged leg would be a step straight into her gown-clad one. She's not budging. " — sit. Here. Let me help you. There's a better way to do this if you're so determined to hide from the doctor." The clock, for that, is likely to be ticking.

By Maggie's realignment, Laurie's hand loses purchase on her back and ends up grazing her shoulder, pushing his intended momentum on her more than he was trying to do. Fumbling from her tactics, he has a difficult time keeping an arm against his body that'd rather be balancing it — however badly that endeavor would go. But with a scuffling, his position is retained. And lines be damned, the leg does move forward, that bandaged knee knocking against her leg. With hunched shoulders and a subtle weave forward, his forehead might also bump her, but he aims a gaze high to the door above her head. His goal. Harder to reach with only one hand, especially when that hand's caught on the shoulder of the one opposing force; he's as much moving right into her grasp. Shaky though it may be. "I'm not— " he grumbles breathily, keeping factual as he can, "— doing this to hide from the doctor."

Maggie weaves her head away from Laurie's onward press, though the rest of her remains trying to stay strong. All told, though, she stumbles. "To catch— a movie then," she replies, her light words made heavier by the effort of keeping up her end of these two opposing forces. She smiles quickly, casually dismissive— why he's doing this isn't the point. At the moment.

"Alright," she relents calmly, "if you fall on your face, it's probably no use saying 'I told you so,' huh," she jokes as her pushing, too, relents; her brief yield against him means another hitch in her own stability, but it blends into forward momentum of another sort. She takes Laurie's hand with a tight functional grab and slips to that side, sneaking under his arm — voila, it's around her shoulders. Carry on, Laurie. It is not exactly ideal as support goes, but nothing about this picture has been ideal to start with.

In the wake of jokes, Laurie's mumbling evens out, finding purchase from more harried phrases to more controlled ones, even as effort continues to sap off energy. "It's— a little use," he opines gamely, also taking advantage of her new course in helping. Not overtly so; he keeps most of the hard work to himself. And making that leg move and that arm stiff is work, indeed. Especially when that arm around her shoulder is suddenly doing less work than it should be, loathe to administer more than small increments of weight onto the detective's battered form. "And you— haven't actually told me I'll fall on my face yet."

It's been a while since, but he smiles now, graciously; there's still time for her to correct this wordy folly, see. Until then, the one really free piece he has left is his head — he gestures it with a low bob to the supply cart. "Over there," he instructs, contradicting that goal made earlier of the door. "There'll be an immobilizer. Then you should go get yourself another check-up."

Maggie, for her part, encourages more reliance than Laurie concedes to — she pulls down on his hand as if that will help, though it begins to slacken and finally drops as she's sent on a hunt for something that looks like it might be an 'immobilizer'. It takes a shuffle and a long stretch to snare the corner of the cart and wheel it just a bit closer without having to leave Laurie's side. She smiles just a little, near to rolling her eyes, at his word games; then, "You're the one who needs a check-up. I'm fine," maintains the detective stubbornly, rummaging quickly through the medical supplies one-handedly. A more persistent and reassuring smile is turned to Laurie. "I've gotten worse. But I'll get checked out," she says more gently, sounding sympathetic toward him, "to be sure." She lifts up an orthopedic device of straps and cuffs and gives the contraption a skeptical eye before setting to the task of putting it on the consultant.

"The doctor is more likely…" Maggie goes on fairly conversationally through tears of Velcro as she very gently fits Laurie's wrist and arm to the immobilizer. She's learning as she goes, but it's fairly straightforward. Everything is on the way to winding up where it should be in securing the arm. "…to send me to the psychiatric ward than tell me I'm really hurt— after I had to explain where I was for this to happen. I had to backtrack, to explain the rest." She's delayed by a small, almost wary pause consisting of a glance up at Laurie. The rest — lingering evidence of her rough recent history that is just as hidden now as it has been. "I don't think he believed me when I said I fell fifteen stories into a pool. He probably thought I was crazy." Cued by the word, she glances down, hesitates. Lower-voiced, she breeches— "Look, everything that happened to me…" — only to trail off.

Having meant to originally travel the same distance to the cart, Laurie's left in limbo when he's blockaded by Maggie's move to retrieve it. In her stretching, she allows him the minute freedom of recovering his hand from around her. Getting onto the buttons keeping the remaining shoulder of the hospital shirt on him, he pops each one in turn. "I don't need a check-up," he insists plainly for her while she eyes the device and he's shuffling loose fabric off his frozen shoulder, "Everyone clearly knows exactly what's wrong with me." Anyone who didn't know might be surprised to see him on his feet — even shakily — and not looking worse than he does. Besides an additional paling, he's able to regard the chore of adorning his greatly broken arm with a restrictive contraption with singular aplomb. Though there's also the battle-scarred chest, exposed to Maggie's somewhat familiar eyes. Most of the attention is hard to detract from the colored and recently active arc-shaped scar at the ribs, but there are plenty others that look like they once could have been as troublesome in their time.

In a one-eighty of attitude, he's warmly cooperative to her arm-binding efforts, guiding how he can with the limb in what few times she hesitates. Having been watching this affair sharply, he notices the longer pause. His eyes lift to meet hers, delving into that wariness she offers; he raises his eyebrows far less suspiciously. "Well, that would solve the problem… though not the way I was thinking…" His head raises, eyes wandering off from her, when he wants to allow this idea some ruminating time — a little air of consideration. Still there, the hold of his jaw hardens to her continuance; it juts his lower lip out just enough, giving the more immature impression of a sulk. Impression only. The cold, harsh wash over his features is also both of his hands warping into clenched fists. It's the way his left hand recovers first, unwrapping to press at the edge of his forehead. He doesn't find her glance that's escaped; he glares at the wall as though the surface were reflective.

"I know." As confident as if she'd finished her thought, "I know." — and as guilty as sin beneath — "And I promise to take it all, just— " the hand drops away to a face transformed through tenseness to driven. Those fingers come up, splayed, between them with an open palm to pacify her. "Let me make this right first." He opts for control of the immobilizer's last needed adjustments, as well as a step towards the chair. First clearly means immediately.

The gesture Laurie gives Maggie doesn't pacify her: when she looks up in the midst of his driven turn, she seems, for all intents and purposes, already pacified; at least, there is no obvious traditional offset to his guilt. It's a soft, inquisitive look, delicate and worried, that she follows him with — literally, taking the step as well. Quicker, she beats him to the chair, rounding about him to provide well-meaning interference to his immediacy. She fusses with his supports — the last adjustment is the fastening of the wide support meant to go around the body on Laurie's midsection, but it isn't so innocuous on him. She swiftly thinks better of fastening anything so tightly around his ribs.

"Hang on," she says, disarticulating the piece from the rest with efforts that have her leaning down this way and that, intent as if she were performing surgery on tissue instead of fiber laminate. It's set aside, a tiny pause in her MacGuyvering. "Make … what right?" A better question beneath: how. Her query is quiet, a hesitant neutral, her mouth patiently pressed against her own responses. She acquires a prize item from the chair: Laurie's scarf, not triumphantly but with that same quick-working determination, setting straight to fashioning a fashionable makeshift sling. Loose-fitting, save to pin Laurie's right hand against him. It's all a swift ordeal — survey says she's done this before, though probably with a different choice of materials — that ends in her carefully tying a knot at his left shoulder. "There." Maggie gives the knot a pat of completion and looks to Laurie with a soft smile, tinged with some manner of humility. She starts to ease out of the way, back to his side.

And, easy as that — as though it were a temporary breeze, rather than a heavy-set bog of emotions — the guilt is gone where her actions do not gratify it. What little was visible to begin with, simply vanished at the first sign of her inquisition. A trick of the dim, pale hospital lighting. It's replaced by just as brief impatience when she sets about to doing what /he/ was setting about to doing, but his hands are not constantly in her way, and the one not being treated falls off her path eventually as that twist and knot is made. "This." His initial reply, steady, is left a beat on its own before he goes on, "Everything. You just said— that." A blink: a study. She's smiling; he does, too. "This and that. The grand chapter of— my life." Merrily, light; he can't shrug so well with his shoulders, so he does it with his voice. "About that promise, I— ehh, nevermind."

Patted with what he deems approval, he's moved on as she does. Laurie's side is not where she last left it. Since she's cleared the way, he makes his own to the chair and the waiting bit of damp, semi-drying clothing. Pants, too tricky, and t-shirt, too tight, are bypassed by a swiftly calculating hand, that comes away with the black fabric of his long coat. Having retained the most moisture the longest, it hangs heavy in his grip as he hefts it straight with a taut flick of his arm and then swings an open side around his bound arm. As he's grabbing about for the other sleeve, getting his fingers in place, his eyes drift up to Maggie— to find her, as much as to mutter, "I'm going to look like I'm about to flash somebody…"

"Whose fault is that," Maggie — agreeing — lightly scolds. It is a smiling comment, but distracted — by her own perceptiveness. She bears a gaze that hasn't forgotten, a sense that she hasn't quite bypassed the topic of guilt and neverminds through her sling-tying after all. She steps aside further — a placement she keeps to, at a standstill watching as Laurie attempts the coat — coincidentally or otherwise putting her roughly between him and the door. Her arms fold in today's familiar pose. "It's very generous of you," she breeches quietly, only to immediately knit her brow and raise hand from arm to wave it dismissively, "uh — what you said before, your promise, not— " she gestures awkwardly at him and the length of his coat, "with the— " Flashing? She dutifully blinks her way back to stoic— and behind that, sincere.

Maggie goes on — continuing to disobeys that nevermind. "Don't never mind. It's just, you don't have to take it all, Miles, I mean not everything," she starts out gently, tensing and studying as she does. It's an effort, this response, but she seems determined to put it forth here while the hospital patient consultant tries to dress for his dubious escape. Gentle turns to firm: "Everything— wasn't your fault, there's someone else to blame for the why. Like Salvatore. Things…" she pauses thoughtfully, drifting momentarily away into an unexpected diversion of the mind, picking words from a hazy memory," …are as they are, there. It's— how the end of this chapter was written that could have used some work." The chiding look she places upon Laurie isn't serious at first — it soon comes with the beginnings of a companionable smile — but the look firms, and deepens, pointed under the surface, almost sharp, the smile goes unfinished. "And maybe less invisible ink." Maggie's attentions roll up to some corner of the room, a finger taps against her elbow. Speech over — she quiets. Except for: "Maybe more proofreaders…"

You say, "Fine then," deliberates Laurie in a faux manner of utmost seriousness over Maggie's agreement, "Pants it is." The turn and reach to retrieve what were previously disregarded as too complicated for a one-handed procedure are now focused on, sliding him right out of having to meet that gaze, however perceptive. A singular eyebrow raises over her dispute about his generosity, and he's given long enough between her displaced stammers to glance curiously at the pair in his hands — considering them as a second option for her approval. Since the chair's there, and Maggie isn't, he drops onto the seat, one hand clamped to the arm to slow his fall what it can. All as she reveals her true purpose — not pants. Which is really a disappointment — as is her continuing inability to take directions, a talent once possessed.

Making good on preparing the water-shrunk jeans is enough of a process to keep him rudely eyeing that while she talks. It's not until the crisp, defined tensing of his neck as she mentions Salvatore that finally proves he's even listening. "Salvatore—" he declares briskly over her words, and chiding. And after one pant-leg has been thrown around the foot of his bad side, where it's then pulled to the knee as far as it will go without the companion. " —is my responsibility." Silently suggesting: so is his share of the blame. Hardened, it coordinates with the harsh tug as the second leg goes around his, evening the article out at his thighs, below the cut-off of the thin hospital shorts. It's a back and forth motion after that, with Laurie tucking his back against that of the chair, pushing all his balance into it to raise himself at the edge of the seat. This lets him drag the pants, hand darting from one side to the side, up over the shorts to where they somewhat belong, nestled along his hip-line. Indulging a short break, his hand resting elbow against the arm of the chair in support, he watches her on her last quiet addition with more studiousness than befitting someone trying to ignore the sentiment. Consideration, maybe even appreciation, flicker as a test. But each, inevitably, dies. "Your wonderfully kept up metaphor," he huffs out, returning to his process, "Sounds nice…" In the same pull as the last draw up, he himself rises, folding upwards from the legs and, with a grip on the jeans waist, causing them to fall just where they should in the movement. "But." Always that one.

On this, he's not only regained the fullness of his height, and the weight of some manner of more respectable clothing — though unzipped and unbuttoned at either end of the spectrum — but the firm line that lightly creased eyebrows and a disagreeable mouth give him. Not specifically discontent, however; it's more that it's the proverbial bottom line made into an expression. His voice, as he presents it, bears not the antagonism of argument but the bare, easy calm of complete and indisputable fact as it stands, and he stands, a few carefully measured steps taken towards her to where he can raise that sole movable arm and clap hers with his hand below her shoulder. "No, Powers." Simple. Stated. Unshakable. "No. You're not a proofreader. You— " He waffles in a way that looks nearly physically painful with clamping a jaw shut solidly on that. Ekes out, instead, "— You've given me something I just can't work with. I— " Clamp. Fingers splaying separate from her shoulder.

Maggie's gaze, up in the corner — having lingered there, perhaps, out of some modesty for Laurie's unadvised attempts to keep dressing — wavers only slightly at first, just enough to barely catch him. She remains committed to looking half-elsewhere until the clap to her arm. Even then; it's as the touch leaves the blue sleeve suddenly that her eyes come back down. They travel right past Laurie to the floor. A heavier set of blinks weigh them, tired; maybe pained, maybe neither. "I'm a fast reader," she's quick to say into the cut off sentence, her statement breezed out somewhat emptily. She's immediately reading his face when she looks to it, demanding. But around the edges of her expression — lines here and there — is shrewd wariness. Demand nor wariness lean on Maggie's even prompt: "You what, Miles."

He — "Hmmm…" — and it's grim condescension towards his own speech that she can divulge off his cover, which isn't necessarily what's going on beyond blue eyes that travel past her to the corner of the room to cater to his moving thoughts. Even that fades out, leaving the bland fact of a second ago, as his hand wipes along his jaw, pausing especially around his goatee. When it drops, those fingers find, around the protective curtain of that hanging jacket, the bruising at his scar; attracted to that one monumental spot like a magnet, he digs his nails into the swollen skin without a flicker to register the discomfort it must be causing on his face. He could be unawares; he could be somewhere else. It seems likely, what with no answer forthcoming — even a deflecting one — and no connection, physical or otherwise, to show that he's at all in the room with her.

Silence reigns — for a little while. Maggie's quiet in the quiet, its existence prompting a tightening jaw. Demanding expectation toward some kind of response quickly turns to expectation toward … anything. Her head tips down, and searching, her gaze tips up, pushing her brow up into furrows. Her arms unfold to her sides with no immediate purpose; now that the consultant is not falling down imminently, and his arm is already outfitted with the trappings of stabilization, she seems more reticent to reach out in any regard. Nevertheless, after a pause, she lays a hand against his mobile upper arm. Clamp. Unlike his, after some settling and shifting of fingers over jacket, hers stays; firms.

"Miles…? Hey…" A query as if he just fell asleep, nothing more. She visibly, but silently, begins and dismisses several notions of things to say as she regards Laurie. Now steady, and completely present where his is not, Maggie's gaze is more much knowing than the gentle curious question — a cue, a reminder — that does follow. "Where did you go?"

She clamps down; he squeezes against his own ribs. But the touch has served its purpose; Laurie's chin drops, bringing him around with a warily stormy crease at the bridge of his nose. One side of his mouth tugs up as he gives his head a short, curt shake of his head. Not that; not now. Thus dismissed— probably not ever. Now that his focus has been called to her, it's all there, brilliant and piercing in blue eyes — and accusatory in nature. But it isn't this emotion that's strengthened as his fingers curl and uncurl against broken flesh, but, instead, its steady dissipation into cool, but insistent reserve. Insisting in the revelation of her own well-meaning question: "… I should go."

Firm, completely sincere. But an inhale and exhale have passed neutrally by with only him leaning vaguely in the direction of the door. Then, his foot slides to the side. From under her hand, his arm twists, meaning to dislodge her touch; the maneuver hides behind, or is, in fact, a part of his hand's return to his chin. Fingers arcing now over his lips and pushing them closed while they press together combine into what could be the end of his talking. A step, another stops on his heel; he twists on a leg uncomfortable with that. The barrier of his hand remains, threatening to hold it all together. Inside.

Instead, some purpose flares up after that exhale, similarly filling his nostrils. "You say," he articulates, drawn out of him forcibly by that purpose. It's all said clearly, each word thought out — and at the same time, not thought about at all, or surely it wouldn't even be spoken. "You're not something that needs to be protected." The inevitable continuation is halted at, known anyway — but. His fingers regain their blocking, curving tightly. But again, they're broken; this time the hand juts out between them, all fingers together, in an empathetic gesture to accompany what is greedy in its intensity, demanding she understand: "I need you to be. The idea that— " caught in own momentum, words quickening. His hand stabs the air again here. "— there could be a time when I'm not there for you— I can't stand it."

Maggie's arms return to folding, stiffer than before, a barricade, fortified as if in defense. And so does defense flash, on her face; so does anger, surprise, and indignance, and every other expression that could, perhaps, be expected in response to momentum-filled words, emphatic gestures. She listens, watches intently — every expression, every movement immediately absorbed by clear blue eyes, every word heard. And as she listens and watches— it all smoothes out. She is left regarding Laurie clear of anything like anger. In fact it's— nowhere to be found. Her head bobs to one side and she blinks slowly, making sure it's quiet enough for her to say her part and, unforced, as uncalculated as the calmness on her face — natural — Maggie starts to smile.

"… Okay, Miles," she says almost buoyantly, with a sincerity that can't be attributed to any conceding or patronizing force; not in the slightest. She goes on plain as day, firm in her demand that he hear, too, but nothing so emphatic. "If I hadn't been… protected by you… I wouldn't be standing here right now. What I said … was— I don't want to have to be protected… from… you," she clarifies. "From whatever … darkness you think follows you around. You should know, Miles— what you said, just there— " Maggie takes a step closer in dragging boots, both brows raising slightly through the slightly uneasy pause that arrives; determined, though, she admits, "…it goes both ways."

She reaches out; her reach keeps its distance on either side of Laurie, in pantomime gesture of leading him somewhere or other. Like the door, or — as her hand sways toward another direction — the hospital bed. "And I think, maybe, that's how it's supposed to be. So, you better take care of yourself," she encourages, light, "or you're not going be much good to anyone."

"I'm sorry." Having stood, quiet and polite, throughout, Laurie's clipped apology is tight with his remaining insistence but smooth in patience. "You don't understand." Not that he makes it sound like her fault, either. His hand, with those fingers still spread wide, narrow in on his own chest where marks from smaller shrapnel and exploded glass are reminders that this all happened very recently. "They're not exclusive, those two. They're the same thing. Maybe— " His mouth winces around more personal allowances. His bad shoulder gives an uncomfortable twitch; sharing equates to some kind of physical trauma. "I lost sight of that— for a little while— but Salvatore has made things abundantly clear."

While she's close, and her hands down in miming, his raises into her personal space, framing a face battered from her fight and hair mussed from her rest on another's bed— his bed. Then the hand bats away, as if with that he could also swipe the smile from her. "And you've proven my point." Less firm, his legs in stance; but where he's wobbly he makes up in raw determination to walk around her where she stands, blocking that door.

He has, at least, succeeded in batting the smile from her face. "I understand more than you think," Maggie says slowly, belatedly, to the emptying space in front of her. There's something solid and broad about the statement; it might go beyond there here and now. She turns about in place to follow Laurie — at first with her eyes and, then, literally: she moves to the door. Boasting legs that, combined, are still less abused than only one of Laurie's, she's fast, and rounds him after he rounds her. She makes a barricading nuisance of herself in front of the door, but her hands, behind her, grip its handle. Ahead, her stare is unyielding.

"If I proved your point— " clearly skeptical of the legitimacy of this point, Maggie is nevertheless firm — but, still, rather than angry, her words take on the characteristic of unapologetically blunt, " — well you're going to have to live with being right. Now just hang the hell on a second while I go handle at least some of the circus out there." A click sounds softly behind the out-of-place detective and noise from the hall starts to filter in. "You can make your great escape." She steps ahead and the door comes with her; it's open a crack, enough for her to slip through, and with a turn, she plans to do just that.

Hobbling defeats him as far as beating Maggie to the goal, but he's there beside her as the door is touched because he needs to be. Laurie, unmoved by his apparent sentence of living with his own resolution, threatens his own stability in order to dart in and grab at Maggie's wrist where she goes to slip by into the hall. He never makes it — by his power, as he lifts his hand off course. It's just as much this as actual intention that slaps his hand against the doorway, catching his forward momentum a little harder than could be truly wanted; he looks casual enough afterward. His voice is left to dissuade her on its own, soothing and assuring in its flippancy: "You don't have to bother with them, Powers…"

The movement startles Maggie more than it should — she flinches back as if Laurie was too loud. Her own momentum stopped by his, her grip to the door handle is replaced by a grip to the fabric at her chest. It's quick to calm, flattening over her heart. "Sooner or later, they'll want to bother with me," she says in a tone not so different than Laurie's, just barely glancing at him. "Not as much as you but I can stall them. I have to get to the doctor some time, don't I. Don't worry, Miles. Don't you know I can no-comment my way through anything."

Through the narrow rectangle of a window the door is fitted with, Maggie looks out into the hall to gauge where she's going; what she's walking into. But despite her near leaving, she's not so willing to commit to what she's walking out on; Laurie and the continuous back-and-forth in the hospital room where the likelihood of his doctor ever coming seems a myth perpetuated by a certain attorney earlier. She turns toward him, prepared to say something more — but in the end, remains taciturn. A misleading appearance. A no-comment. An arm slips right under his bracing one quite inescapably. The unasked for contact is not pushing or pulling or leading anywhere this time; Maggie is just there, in a rush — a hug before she goes — but her force isn't rough to his injuries, it's exact around them.

It doesn't last long: a few seconds, all told, all of that determined, appreciative warmth forced into a brisk, courteous length of time. On its heels, however, before a left-handed hold on the back of the consultant's neck has left, a thumb branches out to briefly touch along the curve of his cheek. As it turns out, it's target practice for a light press of the detective's battle damaged lips. Chaste, then lingering, fading into… chaste again; she moves back — a few inches, looking up from where her gaze had fallen down to stare into his eyes pointedly as if she could drill some unspoken intent in.

A few seconds wherein he's trapped by a woman's affection, his braced arm betraying him in letting her in. It's the only option for his weight and, in so, he's missing what strength or mindset could force a parting; he succumbs to the hug — in pose only; everything else has gone tense against the warmth. That short, but full, span of time he stares ahead where she'd been before she'd moved. Before this. But underneath this pointed gaze, it's impossible not to contemplate a feeling — the way she doesn't squeeze his wounds but seems to fit right beside, like a puzzle piece.

Thus contemplated, increments of shifting in her position are aptly charted and, at the first one, his stiff jaw unlocks as if on a breath, "… Powers…" In time for the uncalled for — in a simple hug — rub of her thumb along his cheek that slackens his mouth, in turn. He loses his words. It's questionable in the next second if he would've had any, anyway. There's little else her move could have been mistaken for, but he doesn't stray: hasn't. Just the slight widening of his eyes that precedes their closing as lips linger. A deep traveling inhale that is telltale in the way it bends his rib improperly. The instant it's over — maybe even the half a one right before — his eyes are open, alert; he stares with a statuesque but alive calm into the way she stares at him, greedily absorbing everything sent to him while giving nothing back. As his hand on the doorway begins to clench, pushing up onto its own knuckles for some support, some grasp at movement, he gives his first expression; it's a vague grimace of concentration — nothing, in the end, to do with the way he softly mutters, "What was…"

Across from Laurie's gaze, the perpetrator of the stare doesn't let up hers— but it shines and flickers with movement. Then her response — a shrug, a smile. Neither make light of the warmth given; one shoulder remains up, and the close-lipped smile settles calmly, a hint of fondness enduring. "No comment, Miles," Maggie says light-heartedly, though more serious tones skirt beneath her slowing words, "can't you just let it be that. You can, you know." Unmoving, she nevertheless seems to still further, watching, intent through an indeterminate state of limbo; a beat— "Yeah, okay," she merrily decides for him, giving his better shoulder a good, swift companionable pat. "I'll be around," is all she adds, a casual comment another time — expressive now — before she starts to turn. Her attention goes to the door before she does.

But Laurie's trail off was not a lack of articulation in him but the redirection of his eyes away from Maggie's intensity to just over her head. His enduring silence comes from a studied neutrality off that stare that takes shape into the pinched pull of one side of his mouth, coincidentally coinciding with the pat on his shoulder, and makes him look sour for the touch. "Ahh…" his breathy, started laughter forms a merry childishness in him completely foreign to their just-before situation — but more familiar on the consultant nonetheless. "… haha…"

"Laurence Miles," announces the stout-bearded figure who's appeared in something of a magic suddenness — and has been there who knows how long. The squeeze of the medical chart against his chest, knocking a small rectangle claiming him to be Dr. Francis, betrays a more serious depiction of his frustration than even the sighing disappointment in his voice. "You are the most terrible person alive." A side step from him opens up the doorway further, for Maggie's likely escape, but also to reveal that he wasn't alone. Standing also there is his summoner, Jocelyn, whose utterly blank face speaks nothing for what she may or may not have witnessed from behind the doctor. Her hands rest crisply on either arm as she stares.

The instant of this movement from one, and showing of the other, Laurie springs with inadvisable quickness to keep Maggie as directly between him and Francis as possible. That good hand coming with a thrust off the doorway, he plants it on the detective's shoulder, twisting her to face the threat in the white coat. When she's turned, he spares a sideways glance elsewhere, though his voice projects forward: "Powers! I changed my mind— it is about hiding from the doctor. Let's do that."

If it exists, surprise, from Maggie, upon realization of the two figures, blends indiscernibly into surprise at being made into something of a human barricade. That, for a minute, delays her already delayed exit. "Ah— !" she sounds her quiet defense; quiet but more high-pitched than intended. Not intended at all, quite like the small, momentary rock backward in her untied boots as her equilibrium resettles isn't meant. "It's a little late for that now," she sets smoothly into stating regardless. "Don't get me wrong, I think we could take him…" Despite that judgment, while the hiding patient is behind her, she gives the doctor a friendly smile. Under lifting brows, she sneaks a dramatized glance of encouragement back at Laurie over her shoulder (and his hand) as she begins to lean ahead into a step toward the door. "But maybe if you're not terrible, Miles," she kids good-naturedly, "he'll give you a lollipop."

Fumbling is what a look back registers; Laurie, his face ahead with the playfulness of their game, and his good hand testing the limits of her escape… his trapped hand stretches to do what moves it can to secure his jacket around himself. What few buttons it reaches are tucked in, swathing all signs of scar and battle beneath that thick wet veil of black material and design. The same way Maggie's body was a shield, now is his coat. It fully opposes the one of the doctor's, shining a color on the whole other end of the spectrum. Though the medical man doesn't seem particularly perturbed by this — except that his patient is not wearing hospital clothes. "I'm not going to give him a lollipop," grumbles Francis, though keenly aware of their play-acting, "I'm going to give him a piece of my mind. And then a small tube that he knows where to stick."

Laurie's grimacing, but somehow still appreciative, facial response finds him slightly late in eyeing Maggie's leaning progress. Hand grasping, and then sliding dramatically from off her robed shoulder, he sighs wistfully. Body drooping in defeat, his eyes flicker over to notice Francis' tight-lipped examination of the colorfully scarfed sling on the man's arm. Immediately, Laurie's good hand juts an accusatory finger at Maggie's back: "She did it." It turns into a sort of vague whistle as his glance off the detective meets his eyes with the nervous ones of his ex, now getting a good look at him for the first time without conveniently placed blockage.

Maggie accepts that accusation the second she glances back to determine the probable cause of it — which is to say she doesn't react, save to say confidently, "It was better than the alternative. And it'll hold." Her steps weave her around Jocelyn; the woman is given a small polite nod in passing, as much a greeting — or goodbye — as it is a simple courtesy for moving past her. Just outside the door — on the other side — she turns to look back in to Laurie; a hint of that previous intentness reaches back in, blue eyes spanning the distance, and then she's off into the hospital bustle after a time away from these halls.

"I believe it's called 'checking yourself out'…" Laurie's voice follows Maggie out, though he's since ceased seeking out the detective to squint at Francis. It's an affectedly light mention; a veiled threat. "I'm an old man— as you know— and with that comes certain— " Jocelyn, too, follows out — though not close enough on Maggie to be tailing her, only to let the overheard conversation trail on a little bit longer. Afterwards, the door's too thick for much of Francis' lower, serious murmured tones to reach through. What follows, however — the pause and then the determined thud — are hinted at outside. The most persistent reporters left bustling around for last tidbits of news out of harassed hospital employees will later claim it sounded a lot like laughter after that.

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