2010-12-22: Looking For A Christmas Miracle



With Appearances By:

Dr. Bonham, Jocelyn, Kotowski & Jordan

Date: December 22nd, 2010


Maggie gets a phone call that means someone needs her help. She needs — or wants — someone's help, too, on a trip that will take you out of town. Far, far out of town.

"Looking for a Christmas Miracle"


It's nearly Christmas. The city is aglow with the season. There's a buzz in the air — sometimes merry, sometimes complaining, depending on the source. The New York Police Department tries to be in a celebrating mood — decorations from various cultures and various holidays of the winter months can be found scattered throughout the station, even in Homicide. A jar of candy here, a miniature Christmas tree there, a Hanukkah card on the bulletin board next to a greeting card signed by the mayor's office.

The early shift has turned into the late shift come nine o'clock, and even Detective Powers is about to pack it in for the evening, but her plans aren't the same as most of them when it's time to go off-duty. Everyone is tired, but there's a jovial mood about (envied by those who are still working, making Grinches of themselves by glaring). Familiar plainclothes detectives mingle with officers and technicians alike; amass from different departments to meet up across the bullpen from where Maggie shifts a few folders around in her inbox, her red coat on but unbuttoned, in a state of almost leaving.

Even the fashionable medical examiner has journeyed from her all-important lab, laughing and joking with the rest. A few highly skeptical glances shift Maggie's way on something Dr. Bonham says— the subject doesn't notice. In fact, she pays no mind to anyone until the ME is suddenly at her desk.

"Everyone who missed the Christmas party is going to O'Brien's," she says merrily only to give a cynical, disgusted look over her shoulder. "Now, I usually don't mingle with the unwashed masses unless they're safely on a slab, but…" Even the ME has Christmas cheer— "It is the holidays! And you're over here by yourself. Coming?"

"Dr. Bonham." Maggie looks up in surprise, smiling. She's not excluded from the holiday cheer — a toy reindeer sits on her desk as its sole decoration — she's just excluded herself from theirs. "Oh, no," she answers with a shake of her head, though she smiles more. "Thank you though— for the offer— have fun!"

"Other plans?" Dr. Bonham queries with a suggestive eyebrow raise.

"Um— no, I'm just going to go home actually…"

"Exciting." Dr. Bonham can't be bothered any more than that. She's used up her congeniality rations; a poor sign for her company at the party. She gives a suit yourself wave of her hand and leaves.

The sometimes boisterous crew gradually drift out. It's night and day when they do; the station falls into a quieter din of normal activity. Maggie hefts her satchel from the floor and heads for the same exit, only to be interrupted.

"Powers." The searching voice of an NYPD captain, put upon by having to find the detective in question, poking his head out of a door. "Powers, are you still here— you should pick up your line on four, I just put someone through. Called the station looking for you. Seemed pretty adamant. Told him you were off but he said it couldn't wait. Name was— Bower?"

Maggie instantly freezes in place. Blinking, mouth agape, she is caught off-guard by the name; all this coalesces into confusion the captain gets to shrug at while she backtracks, almost racing, to her desk.

Picking up the phone, she skims a finger down the list of extensions on her phone until exactly the right button is pressed. "This is Detective Powers. … Hi. I'm— I'm fine— okay…" A pained, sympathetic sort of horror gradually takes over her face. "… I remember …"

* * *

Some twenty odd minutes later, she stands leaning over her phone with the receiver to her ear for a second time, staring it down determinedly. That is, in fact, all she does until immediacy catches up with her. She dials a number and waits, giving an acutely hopeful, conflicted glance aside at nothing; her own thoughts.

The other end of the line rings on, a persistent jingle in her ear that's a lame substitute for the holiday music serenading the rest of the department right now, wherever they may be that Maggie isn't. On and on, it racks up no confidence for an answer until, suddenly, the ringing drops out for the buzz of connection. Although there's uncertainty in the voice, there's no hesitance between phone answer and voice answer. "It's… Detective Powers— right?" Jocelyn Danvers queries.

"Wh-who is this— " Uncertainty is going around. "Ms. Danvers— ?" The Detective Powers must have cinched it. Maggie blinks several times and leans heavily into her desk. "I have to speak to Miles." Though her voice is soft — too soft and wavering for her firm statement; she doesn't sound quite herself — it picks up with insistence. "Is he there…"

"Yes, sorry," the ADA apologizes a bit sheepishly on her identification, but the weakness weeds out soon. "I don't usually answer other people's phones, but I saw the ID and… eventually realized it was you…" The implication here being that Detective Powers — or her Miles-related phone ID — equals to important, because it equals to work. Which is not where he can be found: "He's not. Here. He went to some kind of after-party at O'Brien's, and left the phone."

Finding him certainly does sound important to the detective. "O'Brien's," Maggie repeats briskly, and with some measure of relief — O'Brien's isn't far. That's why it was chosen as one of the department's hangouts, after all. There's a pause that doesn't track with her urgency before she rushes out: "Thanks." Swiftly, the call is ended and she's off in a flash of her red winter coat.

* * *

The clamor from O'Brien's Pub tonight can be heard on the street before a person even makes it inside. Music — a holiday tune that's been made livelier by an Irish rock band — makes even the street festive, interspersed by the occasional shout. Maggie presses a hand to the worn wooden door and lets all that noise envelop her.

O'Brien's isn't the most authentic Irish pub, but it certainly isn't too watered down, either. Dark wood furnishes the whole place top to bottom and furniture in-between. The halls have been decked — the straight-to-the-point decor is ornamented cheerfully with the holiday works from tinsel along the bar to a towering live tree crammed into a corner. If FDNY joins the Christmas after-party going on near said corner — and conveniently, near the bar — O'Brien's might get singled out for being a fire hazard.

Maggie is a heat-seeking missile that's yet to find its target, her focus singular; her head ducks away from attention every time she has to weave around somebody. Sounds of laughter; familiar voices; a glint off of Dr. Bonham's colorful glasses at the bar; she's close. The coat Maggie has her hands in the pockets of against the white t-shirt beneath are themely as can be to the holiday spirit, but she might just be the most serious face in the crowd.

Scuff of boot against tinsel, beer bottles scooped to safety, and a roar of mixed encouragement skimming the top of already constant chatter. Shame not just to the missile; it would be a punishable offense not to seek out this one. In a clamber of agreeing, goading, and festively colored limbs, Laurie is hefted up on the bar where it meets the main floor, straight path between decorations, making him a red, white, and green landmark for the single busiest location in the bar to which all activity naturally gravitates.

Straightening into the upper hemisphere of the music, beer, and laughter filled room, he shoots a glance over his shoulder for the gleeful yelling that trails him up. No response; the obstruction clenched between his teeth prevents it. Some notion of hurry speeds him up — or perhaps it's the bartender — and he gets to his own height and reaches above. At his build, it doesn't take much of a struggle to get a hold of the ceiling — just enough to make his stance precarious, and raise the bottom of his faux-tuxedo top, flashing the entire bar with a sliver of his stomach beneath.

Tugging another decoration towards him, he wends that wire away, fashioning a hook for himself. The item in his mouth is retrieved, but before he can get it — the mistletoe, naturally — into its place, he's interrupted below. A man has ordered, and the drink is wended around Laurie's legs towards its intended; Laurie sways to one side, lifting one foot while the beer is slipped beneath its shadow, and then settling back down without a waver in balance that he didn't mean.

"Come on, Miles!" trumpets a voice from below; Kotowski is lounged quite comfortably in a booth as if molded into it. His foot, stomped into the table's edge, and his hands used to cup around his mouth, projecting his taunts appropriately. "It's a plant, it doesn't need foreplay!" The all seasonally loud-mouthed detective has nursed most of the empty bottles spread out between him, his partner Jordan, and the generic uniform holding Parker's spot. Somebody's stuck a Santa hat on Kotowski, and he's let it slip jauntily against one ear. The whole thing bobs, threatening to fall, when he laughs.

"It's a Christmas miracle!" announces Laurie for the entire bar's benefit, "I didn't think you even knew what that word meant!" Laughter erupts above the normal din, background soundtrack to Laurie's, "Alright, alright, alrighhhtt — there!"

Maggie would, of course, have to be blind not to spot Laurie — and be deaf not to hear Kotowski. The former causes a brief hitch in her step as she tilts her head slightly in noting his high purchase, but only brief. As most eyes are drawn to the life of the party, she just slips suddenly into their midst the second the mistletoe is hung.

She doesn't belong there — not just because she never is; it isn't sheer seriousness upon Maggie's face, as she comes upon them, it's something very unsettled, something she tries to fight away. In doing so, her features are never quite still, and her efforts only leave her looking terribly unsure. Out of sorts, and out of sorts that she looks out of sorts, making her more out of sorts— it's an uncomfortable cycle. Her arms are stiff at her sides. Clearly, she is not experiencing an ordinary night and — to what is likely to be exactly no one's surprise — isn't here to party.

Her attention only transiently passes by her lounging colleagues. She stops by the bar, just right of Laurie's towering post, next to Dr. Bonham who nurses the bar's most expensive drink on a napkin and squints up at him. On Maggie's part, as she turns all of that conflicted, hopeful, urgent out-of-place emotion upward at Laurie beneath her distinctive brows, the result is very accidental sad blue puppy dog eyes.

Laurie's hands mingle above him at his task, prematurely announced as it was, his mouth bobbing between traces of laughter and the biting of wayward concentration. None of it — especially the concentration — is taken all too heavily, seriously, though he is bound and determined to get the mistletoe just right where it belongs. "Thheerre…" he's declaring a second, more truthful time, when some notion — some flicker, or sense — guides him to the the wake below. What sad parting of the laughter and good cheer is Detective Powers; that spectacle of unsettled red and woeful blue, eliciting the illusion of what ghostly chains are attached, dragging such misery behind her.

Merriment is flush on Laurie's face, but it all stills contemplatively on the look on hers. His hand part in the air, drifting down to his sides, rubbing against his black jeans; he's somehow fitted a stash of randomized blinking Christmas lights around his boots, and they twinkle maniacally at her level while their owner stares downward from on high — though far less than an angel.

Around them, the party does not courteously stop, heaving onward with sloshing drinks and rousing musical numbers. And people are not so quick to merely ignore what they see — especially when they were promised mistletoe inspired antics. "Heeey," observes one alcohol-infused coworker passing by, noting Maggie's haunting of the bar, "It's the ghost of Celebrates Christmas Alone come to show us the way!" Another woman, whose wily ways include her attempting to — currently unsuccessfully — wind her way between Kotowski and Jordan. Perhaps it's her growing exasperation at this confusingly difficult task that has her aiming to rile someone else instead: "I don't think we hung that mistletoe just to look at it~!"

"If you don't use it I will," pipes up Dr. Bonham at Maggie's side, "what happened to going home?" The recipient of the comment only barely glances at her and the source of every other call. Maggie is less than stoic about her colleagues and her incongruous presence, however; nestling back her shoulders a bit defensively, her eyes only look more emotively up at the bedecked decorator. She appears uncharacteristically… uncomfortable, vulnerable all wrapped up in her too large red coat.

She barely seems to notice Laurie's actual task until she blinks and looks straight at the mistletoe, but after a brief stare, blinks back to Laurie, then down. "You have Christmas lights," she says distantly. A ghost of a smile comes and goes; she can't help the amusement for the whimsy at his boots, even if it's presently short-lived. She sways her head to one side. More to the point: "Can I talk to you…?"

Semi-reluctantly, Laurie's attention shifts to the side, finding that warm circle of co-conspirators who had been egging him on, and now whoop at seeing him look. "Less talking, more kissing!" the hollers demand, accompanied by several loud and uncoordinated clangs of various utensils — and someone's car keys — against glasses as is the tradition during certain other celebrations — at this point, they're all blurring together. "Put us out of our misery!" Clang, clang. Most can't even see as far as who's gathered about the bar at this point; all that matters is shenanigans and that theirs have stopped, dead to rights, with his all-important task finished but unconsummated.

"Yeah, okay," is what is passed between them instead, Laurie offering the remnants of his rowdy smiling to the staring detective before he drops his weight onto the bar, sliding through tinsel to get his feet on the ground. Hand behind him, he makes a half-hearted attempt to put the decorations where they once were.

Woefully, the mistletoe seems like it will have to hang in waiting for another pair to pass under it — despite the fact that Maggie steps to Laurie the moment he's down and she reaches out toward him, under the expectant eye of the off-duty medical examiner. It is, however, only a gesture to usher him elsewhere, not even making it to his arm. "Sorry for the interruption," she says, completely sincere, but overshadowed by her addendum. "I couldn't wait. It's important."

An important conversation that can't exist where they stand. It's too noisy here, and there are too many eyes besides; it's cold outside; Maggie improvises and, her gaze hunting past Laurie, chooses the short dead-end hallway next to the oversized Christmas tree. She indicates it with a pointed look and side-steps to weave around him, planning to breeze past all manner of familiar faces without a glance. The dark, narrow alcove between the Lads and Lasses rooms is in sight of the pub, but at least it's slightly quieter and, at present, it's empty.

Not quite glancing over, Laurie catches the examiner's expectant eye in his periphery, but leaves it currently at that. Ushered, he follows — then choosing to turn his head to Bonham and tug his mouth into a saddened arch over what wasted tradition hangs above his — and her — head. The expression is accented inappropriately with a wink that flops its meaning upside-down. Which is where his frown goes as they weave through the crowd; Laurie's not such a lone warrior; he pats backs, and jostles neighbors. He leaves in his wake smiles, that have then forgotten curiosity towards Maggie's less hospitable path. All in all, the two retreating are not so interesting; there's drinks and conversation to be had.

All that fades into the background chorus as Laurie pulls into the hallway behind her, the Christmas lights on his boots rustling off-time to their non-rhythmic blinking that tempts seizures. Rolling up to the spot, his arm loitering to his side to tug at the prickly branches of the Christmas tree, bouncing or twirling a few ornaments here and there. But his attention, the pull of his eyes — while appearing lazy glancing out through a downward gaze — is on her and however long it takes her to speak without pressure.

In lieu of speaking without pressure, she'll have to speak with it; it weighs down her shoulders and distracts her as she stops short of getting in the way of the doors. With crossing arms, Maggie faces Laurie, but her eyes don't quite settle anywhere, least of all him, for several moments; until they abruptly do, a flash of her focused self honing in him through her important stare. It cuts through her strangely anxious state but tenuously.

"Something … happened— " Rarely do those two words, together, mean something good. "I'm going on a trip. I'll be gone for a few days. Someone needs my help and I could use…" Blinking, she re-routes, her arms falling from their pose, allowing her hands to toy together; they're partly hidden within her red sleeves. "They could use… yours," she slowly amends. "I'd like— would you come with me?"

By contrast, Laurie remains buoyant, bobbing lightly on heels — possibly inspired by the music that still drifts through to their private corner — and nudging colored bulbs here and there. His eyes on her are more frequent than his on him, but not so attentively that he bears down on her. Not until that focus; then, his reflects hers, acknowledging her state.

Something happened; he blinks slowly. She could use — his hand threads away from the tree, fingers taking with them a striped candy-cane matching his three-colored outfit. He cracks the plastic with both, then trails his right hand to his pocket. The left continues to peel on its own as there is talk of yours and likes. By her question, he's revealed the bottom of the cane stem, which is stuck between his teeth. It bobs once as he answers, "Yup."

The easy response from the picture of holiday spirit in front of Maggie seems to lift automatically away half of her troubles — at least for the moment, when a grateful smile brightens her pale face. Instead of breathing a sigh of relief, she takes a huge breath in and holds it — as if doing so will retain this composure she's gotten. She's right; when she does breathe out, despite having accepted Laurie's answer right away, worry latches on.

"Are you sure — it's…" Maggie closes her eyes for a moment to express her point, "…a lot farther than an errand." Eyes on him when they open, she steadily regards him for longer than perhaps intended, her face a freeze frame of the uneasily close-to-the-surface emotions she stepped in with— and more. Sudden movement— her eyes flit away toward the Christmas tree, restless. She looks down and tucks her hair behind her ear as she goes on … or, rather, rambles. "It's very far from New York and I haven't even said where that is yet or what we'll be doing there. Time is a serious factor, which means we'd have to leave on the first flight out — it's 4:25 AM because I checked in the car on the way here after I arranged for time off — and also, it's almost Christmas— "

Due diligence to the task at hand keeps with the plastic; it's a soft crackle beneath the cacophony of other things. Wrapping weans away from cane, freeing crisp red and white stripes. A green one is released next as Laurie goes — but, always, his eyes' mark is Maggie, giving her sole rights to those blues. Regarded, he stands, eased; his weight evenly disturbed between lightly parted feet. Patience lends gentleness to the listener— amusement threatens to tease it out. Mostly, he keeps the humor at bay, and it only shows in well-worn creases around his eyes.

Reflected in the folded packaging coming away and away from the holiday treat. Bits and crinkles on face and in hands. One side is stripped off. Laurie tips to one side, casting shadow as he sways into the overhang of the corridor. Pinpoints of color off the Christmas tree decorations fill in the definitions of his expression now. Off her mention of Christmas, the pulled wrapping is made even around every side; the perfect length of cane awaits only a mouth to enjoy it. He offers it not to his own but, with a small reach, delivers the sugary spirit right into Maggie's rambles. Easy-peasy, like his answer, "Yup."

Just like that, Christmas concerns are put to an abrupt Christmas stop. Maggie's instinct to lean back when something comes at her face is a little too late. There it is, a candy cane. She swipes it out of her mouth right away with a crinkle of plastic, but the holiday treat has the effect of putting particular awareness on her rambling, discomfited state. Clamping shut suddenly sugary lips, they stretch into a silly, knowingly guilty smile despite all the concern wearing at her features. "Okay." The candy cane is popped into her mouth. "…Wyoming," she answers — never mind that Laurie didn't ask — around the festive red, green and white, a certain reluctance clinging to the destination. She points the cane considerately at him. "Pack warm clothes."

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