2010-09-09: Make Me Crazy



Date: September 9th, 2010


After the whirlwind events of As You Live And Breathe, half-drowned detective and consultant find refuge by… getting a room. Someone undresses. There's talk.

"Make Me Crazy"

The Standard

Two adults wet, head to foot, in full dress as one, gamely covering the worst of a limp, supports the other, wearily shuffling, is not a sight most common to the grand scale of The Standard. It's as much a relief to the two involved as those visitors staring when the random room numbered door is shut behind them, closing off the world except that of a black-and-white set of temporary exquisite residence. To the notifying click of the lock behind, Laurie nudges the keycard to the edge of his fingertips and tosses it to the nearest surface to scatter, unneeded. The hand that had been hovering ever between them, like a teenager's too shy to hold his girlfriend's hand, comes around Maggie's side, catching the end of the towel as he tosses it to himself above her head. Rubbing the expensively soft material over Maggie's hair is half about drying and half about teasing her hair into messiness. "Alright, my little mermaid," he says as he does this, afterwards leaving the towel to sit comically on the detective's head, "Bed."

His hand taps her side, encouraging in that direction, while he skirts about her in the same. A bit of a gimpy jog to the bathroom door. He leans around the corner to flick on the light; it's a perfunctory glance, quick in and out — with another towel and a thick, cottony robe snatched up on the lean back out. "Let's follow long-standing tradition— and get you out of those wet clothes."

Slow motion, Maggie reacts to everything with a slight delay — quiet and never parallel to Laurie's mood; she'd be a zombie, if it weren't for the expressive lines of distress that continually pull at her face. The towel is pulled down over her face, wet strands of hair and no amusement in its wake. For a moment, all she does is stare about the hotel room, the muscles of her neck tightening on-and-off in a constant marker of her unease.

Next, the very corner of the bed closest to the bathroom door becomes her perch, braced by legs that shouldn't be bracing anything at all. Delaying the long-standing tradition, for now she leans ahead and hauls the towel's material along her neck and hair, squeezing it over one shoulder. It's an industrious task, but the chore rapidly disintegrates into Maggie burying her face in her hands and half of the borrowed towel.

Opposite her, Laurie is the picture of practical movement, as he makes a productive track through the room all the while the detective doesn't quite manage to pat herself down. On his approach, Maggie's face has vanished, making her doubly susceptible to the consultant's whims — and ignorant of the immediate pull on his face; it's guilt, so much as to cause physical pain to twist his mouth at the sight of her. Emotion slows his next single step, but the ones following are even more determined. Wiping free of reaction, he's calm as cool when leaning in on the woman's position.

Towel and robe tossed to her side, his hands slide to either side of her waist, hefting up and backwards, the momentum causing a slight fall in him that he obliges by dropping to a crouch in front of the corner Maggie previously occupied, now having been moved further onto the bed proper. His arms retreat along the bedding next to either of her legs as some fingers idly pick at the Italian sheets. "I know," in a quiet, understanding humor… but humor nonetheless, "we agreed you were stuck with me," — did they? he seems sure — "But if I have to start pulling your clothes off, things could cross a line…"

The movement comes as a surprise, Maggie's hand moving from her face only to join the other in stiffly blocking the air in front of her defensively against— nothing, in the end. She quickly, disconcertedly swipes fingertips under each eye, demolishing tears but not the evidence of their very recent presence. "'m sorry— I'm not usually— a mess," she expresses in the only voice she can manage, high-pitched and uneven. She aims for another smile, but it only turns out unwittingly forlorn and ridiculous. Mess or not, however, she plans to be the only one pulling off her clothes and, to that end, grabs for the robe and makes to move from her new spot.

"That man— wh-hhyy— ?" Before she can in fact get up, Maggie pauses, looking down to Laurie with a flash of her more familiar focus coming and going, "He took my weapon. We have to… call it in — he could be still in the building— "

Laurie's hands jump from the bed, flying through his hair, wetting his fingers and flattening the messy blond strands against his head, then they slow before landing on Maggie's knees, so that the pressure is gentle, affirming. "No, don't move. I'll go. That man— " Bouncing on his heels in preparation for his proposed going, he pauses, the line of his mouth forming a grimace — though based on the awkward pull of the one leg, still, he could just be doing that to himself. "He won't be doing anything else— don't worry. I'll— take care of it."

Finally, he stands, thanking her efforts with a smile of his own; just a flash, it's there and gone, but colored only with reassurance. Reaching aside for the towel left with the robe now in her hands, he bunches up a corner and dabs it almost teasingly against her cheek. "You're only a mess if you've messed something up. I think you're in the clear."

The reassurance stills Maggie's on Laurie gaze but then, with a short-lived glower, she shifts her face away ever-so-slightly from the touch of the towel looks very much like she's about to contest being in the clear. When she chooses not to, it's with visible begrudging. "Take— " This train of thought is delayed with the effort of raising one leg and setting her heel against the corner of the bed, momentarily abandoning the robe to attack the laces and buckles of one black boot, heavy on the best of days, weightier yet now. This new chore, combined with the constant struggle to keep some semblance of calm and speaking at the same time, is clearly taking an unusual amount of effort. Maggie's multi-tasking is broken. " — take care of it how. You sound pretty sure— who is he."

Turned once, he turns again, whirling on her with a deformed swing of his coat, soaked through and through and sloshing against his legs thickly — also, a note of impatience, "Don't— " That's gone by the time he's facing her, now with a grin. "Think about it anymore. Do you understand the concept of taking care of yourself, detective?" Laurie has his doubts on this one, dropping his chin to eye the boots, his fingers twitching in want to help, but his stance holding steady in position to leave. "Because whatever my surety on the man responsible," who causes those helping hands to curl into light, equally useless fists, "I'm sure you won't while I'm here, and I don't believe you want me to do it, so I was really just utilizing any excuse to get out of the way…" And he sort of raises, now open, hands to gesture a bit anti-climatically at the door.

A boot successfully — and loudly — falls to the floor. That is, in fact, the only sound Laurie receives in response: Maggie goes quiet, fast-blinking, dragging her other leg up to join the other so she may work at the other piece of utilitarian — if dripping wet — footwear. Her head hangs down as she gives the troublesome slippery bootlaces more of the focus they deserve.

Response enough; Laurie gives a similarly crisp nod — not that she's looking — and turns wetly on his own shoes the way he had planned. On the march to the door, his eyes glance, head turning, towards the stand holding the keycard. His hand detaches lightly from his side, then waveringly returns to the swing of his step. The knob twists under his direction. "Someone'll be up later…"

A soft sound overlaps the faint squeak of the door handle, though it's not entirely unlike it. The other shoe has dropped, literally and figuratively, behind Laurie. Having, just now, drawn both heavy and sore legs up to her chest, making a much smaller person out of herself, Maggie's remaining self-discipline has snapped in two. Palms press to over her eyes; she's crying. No one could be more bothered by it than the detective herself, but there it is, inevitable: this panicky suffering that seems to go deeper than the depths of just a pool.

She seems in her own world, incongruous to Laurie's leaving but then, at the last second— "Don't— " Imploring, completely unsure — something else Maggie usually isn't on top of all the other things she usually isn't but is now — her forehead drags past her hand far enough to look off into the farthest reaches of the hotel room. "Don't go far— " Fingers curl down to look toward Laurie, and in the midst of the shaking sobbing— that she's made so vividly self-conscious by— she manages a curt, sensible nod up and down at him. "After— all, you— " a so very temporary calm in the hysterics, "you have to take care've yourself too, Miles."

Frozen in function, that handle remains depressed, releasing the bolt with no action from the door in response — a hover of unfulfilled duty. A mere echo of the one holding it so, his eyes locked on the knob, the destination, while every other sense is strung back into the room sharply. Fingers readjust, a new grip — that gets nowhere. It should, but it doesn't. Instead, so useless, it lets go. The door handle jumps to its original position.

Picking a slower, but heavier with meaning, stroll across the room — feet reversing the soft damp marks of his retreat, blurring the footprint with his indecision — Laurie returns to Maggie. Besides a general softness about his features, his face reveals no bias towards feeling. Wordless, also, he comes to her side, the side of the bed. An arm looped about her shoulder, she's pulled into him, by that single force — though he's wet, so's she, and there's now some heat past the clinging grey t-shirt — more than that, there's just a steadying hold against her shaking. "This is how I take care of myself…" Answer to her sensibility, it isn't spoken as if to her; though so close to the woman, his gaze is yet out the window— far, far away— and the voice, quiet to the point of inaudible with Maggie's possible sobs as static. It isn't till a moment or two later when he's started to ease his grip that he speaks specifically, "Maybe I'll just sit outside— "

The woman's uncontrolled emotions continue to run their unwelcome course. Her eyes shut. Her hands cover them anyway. Her lips pull tightly over teeth— the opposite the smile it could so easily be with just one tug upward. But no, no time for smiles for Maggie just yet. She inclines toward the bit of warmth but, despite Laurie's supportive presence, continues to curl up stiffly into herself, a shaking bundle of wet clothes and tense muscles and long folded limbs.

In this way, Laurie is no instant calming potion — and yet his words have an automatic response, or maybe it's the loosening grip; Maggie looks to him swiftly, holds her breath to stop her crying, and some of her intently studying gaze seeps through the tears. She reaches across herself, grabbing for Laurie's wrist as it starts to ease; immediately, it flickers back off only to, with a clearer, oppositional purpose, take hold and encourage his grasp to pry away from her.

"Just. You don't— you don't— have … to go anywhere," Maggie says. "I'm just going to go—" A glance to the bathroom. " — in there." With the robe and the towel that pulls as she unfurls and shoves to the edge of the bed, where she is more or less prepared to let herself fall into being upright.

He's comfortable being shoved off — small secret, he was actually accepting being halted from doing so, as well — but the parting is natural and Laurie's hand digs into his heavy pocket where it has no danger of coming into contact with Maggie. Except now it's the other one rallying to her side, unable to let a woman who's just fallen a great height to fall even a small one off of a bed. "Careful— " he instructs, releasing the arm by which he meant to direct her tip forward, before she needs to take offense to that wrist, as well, "— that last one was a doozy."

With no positive claim to her mentions — nor negative, but that's beyond the point — and a clear observation of her personal curling to his embrace, there's no signal of much from the consultant; when then combined with his steps away from the bed once she's off and towards the door…

But where the foyer is still visible from the bathroom entrance, he veers off the path of exit to splay his hand against the wall. This brace is used to slide himself to the floor, where he adjusts; it isn't quite comfortably, but he sticks it out determinedly. One leg eventually left straight, the other bends near his chest, letting both arms sling about it so that he can wait it out in the hall — like a guard dog.

She takes awhile; only the amount that could more or less be expected… perhaps slightly on the side of more. It's without incident that Maggie emerges, holding a towel and hugging herself over the soft, plush-lined robe like it provides no comfort at all. But it's dry, and it has the added bonus of being long. Leaving the door open behind her, she stands in silent limbo for a moment. Her hair, though still wet, is starting to return to its natural state of waves and twists — not how it started today.

Evidence of her metamorphosis is all over the bathroom. Discarded clothes on the floor from black to white. Leather belt on top. On the sink counter, her holster — empty. Beside it, a small Glock 26 that definitely wasn't obviously visible anywhere on her person. Handcuffs. Badge.

Thus stripped down, Maggie appears more prepared to be the emotional, vulnerable creature, the trappings of the cop left behind her. Instead, she appears calmer — on egde, she's not back to normal, but more rational and faintly sheepish about the whole ordeal. But there's little to be done about that. She moves slightly toward the foyer, throws the towel — new, clean — at her guard dog. "I hear," she starts out on a light tone — physically, it's forced; the intent is not, " — you can use chairs to sit on these days. Couches, even. Beds sometimes."

Laurie was not a monument by which Maggie's time in the bathroom could be counted; he doesn't appear to have slipped up an inch in any way from the original sit. But, as he has things tossed at him, his wrist curves upwards to open accepting fingers. He catches the towel by an edge as it tries to open mid-toss over his pants, then dragging it somewhat ineffectually over that bent leg and into his lap; it's there used to pad at his hands and upper arms, but otherwise folded neatly and without much use.

In fact, as soon as he's got it formed into some kind of square-ish shape, he leans forward to stuff the mass of fluffiness behind his head as an extra layer against the hard wall where he'd been resting it. "Then I suppose you'd better take one," he admonishes her, his own light through and through, "You've taken a bit of a tumble."

So she does — but not without a roll of her eyes, matching the light admonishment, even when the small smile that follows is the variety that could precede a laugh-or-cry moment. Maggie does neither, as she eases onto the room's expensive leather seating, a stretch of couch. She sits at the far end, her legs stretched out along its length in front of her front, to face the spot in which Laurie has situated himself. This act of settling into the cushions encourages her eyes to hang heavier in well-earned tiredness; exhaustion sets in that, mercifully, really, is sapping the energy she has for emotional commotion.

"So have you," Maggie points out, then looks down, quieting in her steady return to sensible seriousness. "…thank you. For down there. For the help." Looking down, she states what might be obvious, "I don't do well with water. You'll probably say I don't have to explain. But I want to."

"Technically," opines Laurie casually, adjusting his head against the wall, the towel slipping more to support his neck. "I did slightly less tumbling…" If she wants to argue semantics of dropping fifteen stories. Spreading his hands, staring at their weighing forms, makes it easy to slip past the obligatory generosities. "Of course," he manages to reply, though late enough afterward that it's just as well a recognition of her watery factoid. The hands clasp over his knee pleasantly — momentarily; he drops a hand behind, blocked by his own crooked leg, to squeeze at the thigh of the one stretched out. "I said nothing of the sort…"

Laurie gets a long look from Maggie, distant from what she was about to say. Before she says anything else at all, her head leans into the couch beside her, more out of necessity than coziness. Deliberating, she looks all around the room as if, now with calmer sights, seeing its finer details for the first time. She's a foreign thing in the midst of it that only happens to be borrowing wardrobe; it may not be wintry in the hotel, but even so, she doesn't look like she'd be opposed to being wrapped in several dozen more layers.

She holds onto the lapel of the robe; a faintly nervous fidgeting that occurs at its edge, and along the plush lining, but her voice — in contrast to such a short time ago — has reverted to calm. The emotion behind it, however, cannot be missed.

"When I… was twelve," Maggie sets determinedly into her story — explanation, really. "I was with my parents; it was winter, I was in front of a pond. I was pushed — I don't know by who. I fell … through the ice — all I could hear was… screaming… I couldn't swim with my coat on and it was— cold. When… I was pulled out, there were… people — everywhere — strangers. And my parents were gone." Gone — such an ambiguous word. It's here that she hesitates, looks down an instant, but goes on, "And. The things that happen to you when you're a kid, they stay with you— water was never a big deal, I just stopped swimming but, twenty-four years of avoiding and the lake happens…" After which she told everyone she was fine… "I— " Maggie pauses to smile. "You were there. And here. I needed— I had to explain. My excuse for acting like a crazy person."

Both hands clasped against a leg, Laurie has no small movements to betray thoughts as Maggie explains but the turn of his head or the quiet steady study of his eyes on her. Not a burning, demanding stare — it's difficult to make any kind of commanding request from the floor anyway — but just… that. Quiet. And, in a way — the curve of his eyebrows or the tiny way his lower lip nudges out — curious. Absorbing. A scholarly but entirely vested interest beyond emotion.

It isn't even with sympathy that he hears the tragedy of the story — the ambiguous yet seemingly understood goneness and what followed. Nor surprise, nor — aha! she wasn't fine. There's, really, notably little revealed at all for such a personal telling until she smiles and, in some automatic reaction, his mouth also slips up. "Crazy," he opts to point out, a head that had been drifting forward pushed into the towel, "is often defined by people as unreconcilable, or without sound reason," as casual as his words, he turns the hand on his knee to scrape idly underneath his nails, "More often, the reason is merely beyond their grasp. But in your case, I think it is simply ill-defined by the word." Eyes that have, since story's end, had a strange difficulty focusing on her go there now. "And I never thought you didn't have one."

"But, you know," his head tips to the door, gaze wandering off, "If you ever do feel like one. A crazy person. You can always— " Pause; a flash, just a thought, or something disturbs his features; he resettles. "You should find someone to talk to."

Maggie leans more deeply into the couch, sinking deeper, too, into fatigue. Her head is at a slightly awkward angle to her shoulder against the back of the couch; she doesn't appear to care. The little gestures of her hand have stopped. She regards Laurie for a long moment again, watchful even from a distance and between gradual, heavy blinks. Getting hazy with tiredness, some semblance of a smile still ghosting her lips, and gazing at the man on the floor under hooded lids, she looks deceptively content; friendly.

"I know," she says slowly. "That you didn't think I was without reason." A more defined smile; thankful and, in some way, it's understanding. All of the woman's words start to come slower, now, and the very pace, her very manner of speaking, takes a shift that, it would seem, happens at this level of tiredness. A dialect usually forgotten, it's subtle, but audible to perceptive ears as something not-quite-Southern. "Being scared of something is like… a habit. It's all in your mind. But I've been feeding my habit for so many years that I don't know how to break it," she says, a great deal more serious than: "I only feel crazy when someone throws me into the water, and I really… hope there's a finite amount of times that can happen to a person in a lifetime… I'm capping it at three." A mumble, then, and she all but closes her eyes. "Miles…"

A low, interested, but unwilling to interrupt noise is what she gets for the majority of that; Laurie recognizing some form of truth to what she says — the hum zoning up slightly in pitch, indicatively thoughtful as to some, yet, unsuggested how that she's missing. His nails, having been fully inspected, have been abandoned as his wrist lays at the bend of his knee. He might look tired, too, if his eyes weren't completely aware, even as they are absorbing some spot on the wall. It's a specific spot, carefully chosen — not random or lazy.

"I wouldn't… dismiss the possibility that there could be something out there…" He does put forward, before the chuckle of humor that appreciates her lighter tone and erases his train of thought. Guilt, again, struggles lines into his forehead, etching it blatantly to be seen and, aware of this betrayal, Laurie jerks his head around to catch at Maggie's state. His mouth moves, wordless. Some sentiment that could almost be read off his lips, abandoned. The towel slips away as he pushes off the straightened leg, twisting up to get a really accurate look at the nearly dozing detective. Dozing? A testing: "… Powers…"

Dozing … no, not quite. Just enough blue is visible in Maggie's nearly sealed eyes to attest to the fact that she's been watching, though to what extent is as foggy as her focus by the time Laurie can get a good look. She fights her tiredness, blinking determinedly against heaviness, until a minor a shift of her body brings about a soft wince that compels her to close her eyes. "I," she starts out, it seems, on a serious note; but it could be that her smile is too tired to upkeep, as it's fallen away. "Have to…" Muted murmurs undistinguishable as words follow — the last audible word that escapes her is "who" before the gravity of her statement, like her grasp on awareness, slips away long enough for sleep to take her by force. Her body's instinctively deeper breaths slowly kick in.

Paused in the half-up, half-down position, Laurie stills to it absolutely for several long, seemingly impossible seconds with his limbs so uncomfortably poised. But a statue he becomes until that point when Maggie's low breaths are identifiable — and not faked. Then the hand on the leg becomes a hand on the wall behind him as he pushes directly upwards. Alone — so much as he is with a sleeping detective — his face is allowed to bear the full extent of the grimace this range of motion elicits. Not a noise, or a slow in his pace: just a face unmasked. On both feet, and balanced, even that expression is brushed off; it's been given its due, now he has no time for it. Instead, that which has him tilting his head to the ceiling and breathlessly sighing is something else.

Off of the release of air that is no relief, Laurie patrols about the major space of the room, hunting a bit for what isn't there. He turns off, eventually, to the bathroom but for no purpose of its build; he only picks respectfully at the woman's things, pulling towels off the rods and folding them aside to drape the clothes there for proper drying. Those items of her trade, keepsakes of a detective, he leaves untouched.

Walking out of the room he makes right for the bed — again, not to use it as its role. Getting a handful of comforter at the top, he pulls mightily to get the blanket to come off and at him, curling it up over an arm in a temporary bundle. It doesn't have far to go; only as many steps as to the couch. There he stops, catches himself at stopping, and then immediately snaps the blanket back near her feet and administers the blanket over the sleeping woman with a clean draping motion. It might not be layers upon layers but the expensive downing might be quite enough on its own.

That minded, Laurie's route is not complete. He has a few steps in a leftward direction to reach the individual seats and… the associated minibar. Pulling at the door, he skeptically eyes bottles, lifting one halfway out here and there — tiny, inappropriately pricey bottles, all — before one and then two are held onto. The soft clinking of glass and then ice cubes against glass have him glancing over his shoulder to check on the light or heaviness of the detective's dreaming. When all seems well, he tips one hand and then the other, the multicolored browns of the alcohols fusing together mid-fall into a darker and more potent liquid inside the glass that's quickly filled to brimming. Bottle and bottle are scooped up and replaced inside the refrigerated money-stealer and then he skirts it around the chairs to affix in a spot, finally, outside on the balcony. Just a tug of the glass partition, a quick but careful slide of it back into place and he's cut off from the room — above the world. Drink in hand, phone appearing in the other. No rest for the…

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