2010-04-14: Of The Frying Pan



Guest Starring: Officer Parker

Date: April 14th, 2010


The stalker situation takes a turn for the worse. And the kitchen.

"Of The Frying Pan"

NYC Police Station

Dead-ends. Nobody likes them, but as of yesterday after the talk with abusive boyfriend Conner Murphy, that's exactly where the dumpster case has gone. The pool-boy outright fainted when Laurie 'accidentally' flashed him a photo from a gorier crime scene; he was declared unable to stand even the thought of blood, making the idea of him stabbing someone then cleaning up after it fairly far-fetched. Everyone else at the gym was tight-lipped about saying anything against the owner, though whether from fear or admiration was left up to post-interview theorizing.

So it's generally unsurprising when the next day yields no leads, only autopsy reports that confirm facts already suspected. The new fact of the hour: the attacker was taller than the target, most likely, judging by the angle of the entry wound, and he used a common type of kitchen knife.
Now, in the evening, it's quiet. Tomorrow will just be another day, but tonight some will be getting rest. Or drunk. There's a group of chattering officers now changed into their civvies by the door who are likely headed out soon. Among them, Officer Parker. He shoots a glance to Maggie's desk once, perhaps observing how quiet it is with the one across from it empty: earlier in the day, interrupted at making an origami Eiffel Tower, Laurie was asked to detach himself from Powers' investigation to sit in on a series of interviews for another detective team.

The Tower's still there, half standing, leaning over into Maggie's space dejectedly.

Every time Detective Powers looks up from her comfortable pose of head-in-hand, leaning over a file — in fact, the autopsy report, in the hopes of determining something previously unnoticed — she flinches. The crestfallen paper Eiffel Tower seems so ready to fall on her desk at every glance that she finally reaches across the desks and knocks it over in the other direction.

Now it looks even more dejected.

She goes back to her work with a sigh, but it's only a few seconds before the manila folder is coming to a close. Maggie knows when her mind needs a break, and it's time to go home and decompile for a fresh outlook tomorrow — or the middle of the night. She sits back, tugs down the folded-up sleeves of a pale blue shirt.

And after a quick disappearance, she's moving around the group of loitering officers, plus one leather jacket. "See you tomorrow!" A smile, and she's gone. She doesn't quite look at Officer Parker.


Maggie heads down the hall on the way to her ninth floor apartment, tense under her too-large leather jacket. The narrow hall with its fading powder blue walls, soft sconces and questionably patterned, threadbare carpeting doesn't look any different than it does any other day, not in any way she can pinpoint — but something has the detective uneasy. Maybe it's the case. She doesn't want another loose end. Sighing as she gets to her door — middle of the hall — she mumbles, soft-voiced, to herself. "Just need to be home…" Keys jingle as she puts them to the lock and eases the door open, already shuffling out of her coat.

Smack. The door impacts with something, blocked on its typically easy route opening enough to let her in. It sounds like wood against skin: there's a person there who definitely wasn't a second before.

Somehow, out of his uniform, Officer Parker looks even more dejected then usual — much like the leaning Tower Maggie so carelessly tipped over. But Parker won't fall down so easily; he isn't exceptionally tall, but he looms over Maggie rather well in that doorway, his other hand moving nervously inside his jacket pocket as he stares out at her. Quiet, intent. Something moodier than usual behind thick eyebrows.

Whoa whoa whoa! Already uneasy, Maggie is struck immediately with the fact that something is out of place. One hand still grabbing the outer doorknob, her coat half off, hanging from one shoulder, she whirls around to face the figure in the hallway that so suddenly interrupted her door. Suffice to say, she's surprised to see who it is, and caught between being more alarmed and relieved. "Parker?!" Studying his face with her own wide eyes, and that nervous movement inside his jacket, she's going to go with alarmed. Growing defensive, her eyes narrow, instead. She lets go of the door and reaches behind her as if she's pulling off her coat sleeve, but really, she'd like to have her hand closer to her gun just in case. "Hey, what are you doing here? It's late." Sure her address is on file somewhere at the station, but Officer Parker sure hasn't been invited before; no one has. Still, maybe she's being over-suspicious…

Parker's lowered gaze avoids Maggie's face, but the flash of embarrassment across his own probably means he knows how uncomfortable she is. He's that twice-fold. His hand flexes in his pocket reactively. Is he holding something in there? "Hey… Powers…" The voice is low, huskier than his common talking voice. As he stands, he begins to sway, the grip on the door keeping him in place better than his own two feet; he might have just had a drink. There's a distinct smell coming from somewhere. But if he got here so fast, when did he have time for that? After a moment more of hovering in the spot, he takes a lurching step forward — towards her — his arm starting to come out. "I just wanted to apologize about earlier — "

"I— !" Instinctively, Maggie takes a step away. Unfortunately, that step is into her apartment and the narrow foyer that leads into the room beyond. It's dark inside, though the city lights lend a glow across the living space behind her (alternately blue, yellow and red thanks to the diversity of the neighbourhood's lights and neon). There are hints of colour on the walls that can't be attributed to the city lights, though. She drops her coat on the floor just inside and shoves out with the palm of her hand to keep the very off-duty officer at a safe — and professional — distance. "That's— it's fine. I'm sorry Parker, I really don't think you should be here," she says civilly, but with increasing insistence. She reaches out, trying to snare the door to close it, preferably with the man on the other side. "I'll see you tomorrow at work. Go home, okay?"

Her backing up seems to inspire him to move forward, though, awkward and insistent — not wanting it to end like this. The door she catches hits him on the shoulder and he doesn't seem to much notice. "No, I mean — that was real unprofessional of me… and you've always been so great. It's just — you make it hard to talk to you sometimes, you know? It's like you're just completely detached from the rest of us. I don't know…" Officer Parker's hand begins to pull out of his jacket, but he chooses to gesture with the other, freer hand instead. Into her apartment. Where he is clearly leaning. "This is your place, right? I don't think I've ever seen it… has anybody seen it?"

"Uh…" The soft, hesitant sound from Maggie is followed up by something more solid. "No. No, I'm— " She gestures with her left hand at the man in explanation, her right keeping near her side and the holster she hasnt shorn since the station. "I'm just a private person, Parker, I don't really— hey, stay outside, okay?" She shoots a glance down the hall, the way she came — and the way he presumably came, too. He proved once again to be light on his feet…

…It clicks, for Maggie, that there was something about his wording just now: he asked if she lived here. Like he wasn't sure, yet here he stands. "Did you follow me?" She stands her ground, becoming more stern, staring him down now. The detective really, really doesn't want anybody inside her apartment, least of all Officer Parker, right now. "I'm asking you to leave." And he's not listening, so in other words: "Don't make me force you to leave, Officer."

Officer Parker similarly glances down the hallway, seemingly unconcerned with her continued suggestion that he leave. He's taken up leaning against the doorway, the hand raised and resting against it as he picks idly at some loose wood chips here or there. "I'm pretty good at it, right? I have a lot of skills… nobody seems to notice. I thought about taking the detective test once or twice…" A shrug. As his gaze flickers towards her, he finally picks up on some of her tension, straightening as his eyebrows drop to match the look she's aiming. "Force me? Am I some kind of crook now? I'm sorry if you don't even want to get coffee with somebody. Who do you hang out with? Oh, right. You're private." He glances around the interior of that hallway, taking an idle step inside as he sizes up the walls. "Would your neighbors even notice if anything happened to you?" He sounds… genuinely concerned…

The walls, in the foyer, are bare at first study — a warm yellow barely discernable in the dimness. Gradually, though, the wall to Maggie's left, as it travels past a kitchen and living room reveals itself to be covered in art. Not just decorated. Covered. Edge-to-edge paintings obscure not just that one part of the apartment but every nearly other wall in sight. Their whirling, whimsical patterns are washed out by the dimness, shadowy, hiding vivid colours.

Maggie takes a step backwards. She doesn't want to. "Yeah, they would," she says firmly, but doesn't explain; something tells her Officer Parker doesn't need to know that she does know her neighbours, that she has tea with the little old man next door every Sunday. Just not here, the private sanctuary which he is now intruding upon. "And I don't know, should I be treating you like a crook? You're acting like one." A creepy one. She braces her left hand against the wall at arm's length, a barricade. "Get out."

"Oh," Officer Parker continues, undeterred, "So it's just your colleagues you don't like?" Welled up bitterness is rising to the surface, flavoring words he typically never would've expressed. Weeks, months, years of disappointment… how long has Parker even been at the station? Has anyone noticed? Does Maggie know a single thing about this officer who's been working alongside her at crime scenes? "I tried, you know," he continues, gaining steam and frustration. This hardly seems a combination for getting out. "I defended you to the other guys for so long, and for what? So you can be an unrelenting b — i — "

Even before the word can be fully thought-out on the angry cop's tongue, something is happening. Another arm; it isn't his. It comes swinging around from the outside of the hanging door to point at the back of the officer's head.
And it's holding a gun.

"Don't. You dare talk to her like that."

The hand is attached to another man, a complete stranger, and the second one to force himself across Maggie's threshold in the same matter of minutes.

Also Guest-Starring: Stalker

It is at this exact moment in time that Maggie asks herself what the hell she did to attract so much attention.

Fortunately, it's in that same moment that she's wise enough to draw her gun from its holster nestled against the black fabric of her businesslike vest. It's held strong in both hands, pointed straight ahead at both men: cop and … stranger. Just as strong, her features twist into an intense look of anger, a deep V furrowed between her brows. "Who the hell are you?!" The pure severity of her sentiment puts a rumble in her otherwise soft voice. She clicks her safety off. Bewildered as all get-out by this turn of events, but not losing focus, she insists, "You both need to get out of here right now." Or she'll shoot. She's just not sure which one. But the man with the gun is becoming the priority, and rapidly.

That man, his generic blue jacket and his slick bald head, is keeping himself smartly behind the bulk of Officer Parker's body, though his edgy movements seem to suggest it's just as much out of shyness as any sort of sense of preservation. In fact, he glances out into the hallway, away from Maggie's gun, as if it poses no concern to him. His own stays pressed to Parker's neck, the recognized pressure shocking the anger out of the distracted officer. He fumbles a moment at his own belt… but he's out of uniform.

"It's okay, it's okay," the stranger urges, pushing forward with the gun to urge Parker inside further. "We don't need him. We don't have to worry about him. I gave him a drug. He always gulps down his coffee so fast when he's talking about you…" For an instant, jealousy flares; he yanks down on the hammer. A finger-twitch away from making Maggie's walls even more colorful.

"But I'm sort of grateful," he continues, rambling and eager, dashing between highs and lows as he relaxes the grip slightly without aiming away, "The way he talked about you… it was like being with you. When I couldn't. When I wasn't ready."

Just like that, the gun's back. "Or I could shoot him! That's what cops do, right? Shoot people?" His wide, hungry eyes find her there. Find her weapon. His mouth begins to itch upwards into a hesitant smile, almost companionable — like a dog. "Or maybe you wanted to do it."

"Oh God— " Maggie allows herself that one instance of emotion, horror, and realization, before she grows stonier in her focus. But in her own home, with the stranger rambling so personally, the gun to Officer Parker's head, even the focused Detective Powers can't keep an edgy anxiety out of her eyes altogether. She backs up, step after step, keeping her distance. By now, she's stepped all the way out of the foyer and into the more open space beside the kitchen.

"No. I'm not shooting him." Hear that, Officer Parker, she at least cares about your life. Or she wants the cop out of the way to make sure she has a clear shot at the bald man. In reality, it's both. "And you leave him alone if it's me you want."

He may have heard that, Parker, but whatever he's been given it's keeping him disoriented enough not to react much to the situation except to keep very still in the presence of that muzzle. Step by step, he's herded ahead of the bald stranger further into Maggie's sanctuary. Those wide eyes peeking around the human shield take in every detail, every splash of paint.

"I knew you painted… but I didn't think it'd look quite like this," he breathes, with the reverence one uses in a church. "I imagined it for so long — " Though eager to launch into another surely exciting tale, the stalker once again manages to narrow in on that weapon. This time, agitation creases the corners of his mouth, causing a minor twitch below one eye. "Fine. We won't shoot. But this is… this is totally wrong. I didn't think this is how it would happen. Put the gun down. We'll do this the right way."

Maggie has to agree with the totally wrong part. How long? How long and how closely must this guy have been watching to know she painted? Disturbed, she only holds tighter to her gun, making it twitch for an instant. Otherwise, her hold is still. "Not until you put yours down first and let the officer go," she tells the man resolutely, taking a step back next to the kitchen's island counter and stove, not taking her eyes off the stalker-hostage pair for a second.

He'll be having exactly none of this refusing bullshit. Again, the finger twitches across the surface of the trigger. It takes both more and less effort than one might imagine to fire a gun, and he's halfway there. "I said," stalker emphasizes by angling the gun harder into Parker's exposed skin. "Put the gun down so we can do this right. I have put so much effort into this meeting. Into you. It wasn't easy, either, let me tell you. The cases. They weren't giving you enough. Respecting you enough. So I lend a hand, you know. But it turns out they don't call you for those cases. The little ones — of course not. Doesn't count if somebody just gets hit, they gotta die, too."

"No…" It's not a refusal of the demands, this time. It's realization and a futile denial of what the man has done. It honestly breaks the poor woman's heart, and that she was somehow involved in the man's twisted thought process— "No," she says, no firmness in her voice, it's practically a whimper, but her anger, the resolution of her features— those don't change. Her gun stays where it is, too, but maybe not for long. "Alright," she says in a voice that's nearly soothing, against everything she's feeling. "If I put the gun down…" she inches to the side, to the island, her free hand raised innocently, and she carefully turns her gun-hand so that the barrel is facing the corner between the wall and ceiling instead. Slowly, slowly, slowly, she starts to lower it toward the counter. Not so much, however, that she couldn't snap it back up in matter of seconds. "Will you put yours down? We're even."

The soothing voice is appreciated; that smile is creeping back onto his face. Jerking his chin in Maggie's direction, he turns his own gun sideways and nudges Parker in the back with the butt of it. "Go get it," he tells the officer, "We might need your fingerprints on it later." Curving around his hostage, he offers the detective a conspiratorial wink — this is their little secret.

Cautiously, Parker steps up to the counter, eyes more on Maggie's face than gun he's supposed to be retrieving, though it's clearly taking all of his concentration even to do that. As he gets to standing right in front of her, he swallows. "Powers — I'm so sor —"

"I said no talking!" Quiet wasn't quiet enough. For his indiscretion, Officer Parker goes down to the tune of a gun against the side of his head. He rebounds off the counter and crumples. With the force of his and the stalker's hands flying, it's momentarily up in the air as to where either gun has ended up.

A shot of a gun.

The hushing reply that was forming for Officer Parker cut short on the tip of her tongue, mouth is left hanging open, Maggie is comforted, minimally, by the feel of steel indeed still firmly in her own hands (that would be sweaty steel, not cold) in the middle of the bedlam of the cop falling the other man so close. Angrily, determinedly, she stands still after pulling her trigger, having fired at the blur of body and arms.

There's the whizzing sound of the rushing air following the bullet out, but the next noise is of it imbedding itself somewhere in the paint and plaster of Maggie's wall. As the stalker's form separates from the falling body of Officer Parker, there's a new sharp red line along his cheek. That close.

There won't be another chance.

Face deformed into a mask of wrath, he lunges at her, grabbing at the wrist holding the weapon and fully intending to slam it against the counter as many times as it takes for her to drop the gun. "What. are. you. doing?! You're ruining EVERYTHING!"

"I plan to!" Maggie would rather not know what the guy has planned; she'd rather stop him before he has the chance to show her. Grimacing, she wrestles with her grip of the gun, trying desperately to hold onto it. "Ah!" she screams, pushing at him with her other hand. The gun, unfortunately, flies from her grasp after one especially hard hit, skittering metallically across the stovetop and onto the floor out of her sight.

Whether her wrist is caught or not, Maggie won't be stopped. The one to lunge at the stalker now with a cry of struggle, driving ahead with all her might and trying not to trip over Officer Parker as she tries to shove him into the wall between foyer and kitchen. The detective is stronger than she might look. But then, she expects he knows that.

He's a thin man, not fully confident in his own strength — exactly the kind to resort to stabbing someone in the back — but aggression fuels his motives. With her lunge, his hand is already coming around Maggie, trapping her to him with her own momentum. Fingers twist into her hair, capturing it in a fierce grip that automatically yanks her head around when his back impacts against the wall. While he tries to hold onto the wrist, keeping her arm out to the side and away from the fight, his own leg comes up to attack her knees. With this push, and a hefty tug on her hair, he aims to toss her the way she came — onto the kitchen floor.

"No!" Maggie lets out an angry shriek and falls, but not without whirling around in the most awkward way possible and clambering at the wall. She shoves past the light switch on the way down, and the resulting flood of soft, unbefitting light reveals not only the colorful brushstrokes all around them, but the familiar glint of Maggie's gun as well. It only taunts her, out of reach on the floor close to the stalker; she has exactly no time to do anything about it.

Instead, she scrambles back and jumps, literally, to her feet. Adrenaline pumping full-force, she rapidly tries to assess her options. It doesn't take her long to come up with something better than being unarmed. Maggie makes a mad rush for the stove in the center island, practically falling onto it as she grabs the handle of a heavy, cast iron frying pan and squarely swings at the target that is the man's bald head.

As Maggie scrambles on the floor, there are indistinct sounds of movement behind her — taunting her. Reminding her constantly that there is someone right there willing to do her harm. A swearword. The bang of something harsh hitting another unyielding surface. There's no doubt that her attacker is now also armed, perhaps with something he's broken in the room, or the gun so kindly illuminated for him.

There's briefly an unidentifiable screeching and then — foot steps — she swings!

There's a duller thud than metal on skull; the frying pan's landed against a raised arm. Most likely painful, but not enough to floor an opponent. The arm begins to drop, indistinctly moving — is it coming at her? Something's changed about the stance of the man in front of her, but in the heat of things details become less important. With the defensive arm lowered, there's a face, blond hair. A man's voice, "Powers —"

Usually, usually, Detective Powers is not a woman fuelled by anger. She's good under pressure. Logical. Today, though — today is not a usual day. Anger is fuelling Maggie almost as much as the stalker now. Her anger is worlds more righteous, but it's also blind. Fierce of face and strong of arm, she sees red and swings the hefty black pan a second time at whatever the hell is in front of her.

But, angry or not, Detective Powers is true of aim.

Her target wasn't anticipating the second attack, his calm voice expecting the same of her. It's a failing that allows only a split second to realize the mistake before something thick and black is coming into periphery. The hit rings out through the kitchen — a true connect — punctuated by the distinctive crack of something made of bone shifting definitively out of place. His head snaps to the side, sending the first splatter of blood in a arcing pattern along Maggie's island counter.

Mouth open in some silent protestation, his jaw clicks back into place as he rounds on the detective and her kitchen-armed fury. "Alright, that's enough of that —" Given an odd quality by the blocked nose, Laurie's voice is perhaps not immediately identifiable, though still distinctly wry in the face of… the frying pan.

An item he aims to take from her with a swift grab to her wrist, a jab of the thumb hitting a point to make her fingers reflexively flex, let go. His other hand swerves deftly to relieve her of it, even as her wrist is secondarily twisted towards her back to stave off any retaliating struggle; it'd be slightly more effective if he was using any kind of force you'd use with a real opponent.

Maggie's fingers twitch open with an unwitting flexion and extension of tendons, synonymous with sharp and wordless exclamations of protest. Everything is happening so fast; all she knows is that there's someone attacking her wrist not unlike it was attacked before when the intruder freed her of her gun. And now? Her weapon has been thieved a second time.

There were two people, at last count, in her apartment: the nameless creep and Officer Parker, and she doesn't especially trust either of them. When all she can determine is a wry voice, a bloody face, and a bit of hair, attacking her, she attacks back. Her left hand effective as ideal as her right, but the detective still knows how to throw a punch with it, even if it's a left hook. So she does. Soundly, and at Laurie's face.

Blue eyes blazing with fury and alarm, it's hard to say that, when they widen, they realize the identity of her "attacker" or not after the fact.

One part of this fight is taking it a lot more seriously than the other. Up until the exact moment when that underestimated left hand comes up. There is a second crack.

"Okay." This means business. Suddenly, the grip on her arm is a lot more secure, though it teases away from being painful rather than firm. Using the leverage of her arm behind her back, he hefts Maggie up and towards him, near into him. But whatever intimacy of the position, it's hardly carried on by the way he spins her around, away from the kitchen. It must be some consideration for what he's about to do next.

The other hand now gets behind her, underneath, grabbing her under the thigh for a second heave that lifts her off her feet and forward into a controlled fall ending with her flat on her back on the carpet. It's more designed to knock the wind out of her — grant her a nice, quiet moment to compose herself — because Laurie doesn't follow through with any pins.

Instead, he stands at her feet, leaning over slightly with one hand braced against his knee and the other stemming off the blood flow coming from his twice-abused nose. After a second, a very nasally: "… How are you doing?"

She is squarely rocketed to the floor with a hard slam and a flood of light hair. Maggie has time to get her bearings, though it is a struggle, by the way, when she momentarily has no breath. When it returns, it returns in a rush, hard, fast, and adrenaline-fueled as ever. Breathlessly, she exclaims, "Miles— ?!" It's not as surprised as it could have been, but it is delayed. No, the realization came somewhere after punching the consultant in the face and before being knocked into rational thought, in that whirlwind of closeness and ninja moves.

"I— " she struggles somewhat to speak calmly, pressing one hand into the floor as her knees come up and she pushes to her feet. Immediately, her gaze searches out her apartment, the art gallery living space. The living room practically looks like a mural, there are so many paintings hanging on it, save for the window behind her. "I'm sorry for… hitting you… " A hand comes up to her wincing face, even though she isn't the one who's hurting in that particular area. "Three… times…" Another critical sweep of the apartment is made. She makes for the bedroom, not seeing the real culprit out here. "Where did he go?! He was here, he was JUST in here— "

"Howdy." The thus recognized Laurie greets to her, remaining hunched somewhat over while she regains her footing and her thought processes. While she's blurting out things and hurrying about, he ponders absently, prodding curiously at his nose, "I think you… punched it back into place…" An especially forceful prod gets a grimace. "I take it back."

But he straightens as she begins to aim into the bedroom, his jaw still working out kinks here and there from what was frying pan induced whiplash. "Out," he says, wheezing heavily after an attempt to inhale through the nostrils fails utterly. "He.. went.. out… — hold on." Hand pops up and he aligns a finger alongside the bridge of his nose. There seems to be no movement for a moment and then — snap.

Ahhh, breathing is back. Sighing somewhat, he makes a more determined gesture to her window — the one spot unmarked by paintings. "He went out to the fire escape as I came in."

Maggie swings back around the frame of her bedroom door, wincing at Laurie sheepishly — especially at that crack. The mention of the stalker's escape route sparks her momentum again, however, but the detective's mind is pulling her in four directions at once. "Damnit," she breathes out and has to pause to prioritize, a hand sneaking into her hair — by now, its waves thoroughly disheveled. She stalks to the indicated window to peer down in frustration, then tilts her head up — and tenses. "Miles!" she hisses, reaching out behind her in some kind of vague gesture before climbing out into the open space and the skeletal-looking fire escape beyond. "He's still up there, I need you to get my gun!"

What sense of urgency is driving her has skipped around Laurie, who is standing yet in the same spot, mostly, when she calls to him. There's another slow sigh, this one having nothing to do with the nose — or that he's now exhaling blood. But there's no escaping that Maggie is on the move, so there's the sound of his trotting footsteps muted on the carpet before something is offered, pressed cold and ready into her hand. It isn't her gun; it's a Smith & Wesson Model 64, like they don't issue at the station anymore. The look on his face is vaguely apologetic. "He has yours," he lets her know, braced against the window-frame and holding back on further words.

The gun is given a fleetingly odd look, transferred in turn to Laurie. Another thought seems to cross her mind, visibly flashing acrosss her features curiously like she's going to say something, but she doesn't No tiem. That's that. Maggie holds the Smith & Wesson along her side as she hurries out — hopefully she'll be able to wield it well. She's not taking into consideration the abuse her wrist went through, it's bypassed by adrenaline. Clanging step after step, she scurries her way up the fire escape, a structure that looks rickety but is actually pretty sturdy. How far did he go? Did he make it to the roof? Does the fire escape even make it that far? Maggie is determined to find out.

As it turns out, the structure plateaus just before the roof, requiring a brief climb over a long drop to get over the edge and to the flooring. Through the time of her chase, the fleeing stalker has made it across the way to the opposite side — the opposite edge. Whensoever the first sign of her should appear there, he slips his foot backwards. There's no answering fire escape on that side to catch him should he decide to take two more. Her own gun is in his hand, pointed only should her borrowed piece be raised.

"So this is it, Detective Maggie Anne Powers."

TO BE CONTINUED … Into the Fire

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