2010-12-02: One Flew Over



Date: December 2nd, 2010


As set out by their deal, Maggie brings the committed consultant work, and a little truth. He is somewhat less committed to both realities.

"One Flew Over"

NY Psych Institution

Time spent in the office is shorter now; Dr. Miles regretfully finds himself unable to handle Maggie's needs as closely — next time, perhaps. This determination is not a dismissal, instead: "Laurence's mind requires a bit more stimulation than the other patients. He's been adjusting on a larger scale, ever towards that acceptance step. Work could be just the thing to help with the possibly monotony as it sets in. You'll have access to the common room, during activity hours." And then she's dismissed, sorry; this phone call he has to make is confidential.

The extensive security process for this part of the wing has left the detective with basically nothing — no belt, no badge, no gun, no coat, no ties on shoes — nothing with a possible sharp edge or length of fabric that could reach about a person's neck. This process tops that of entering the mid-security prison where once they entered to speak to a convicted serial killer. Entering the room is more of the same: a village of people without ties or edges, nor color beyond their monotonous walls. One of the flares of life comes from a corner with a window seat that looks out upon the grounds nearby the hospital. In front of the seat, a small plastic child's end-table has been positioned, supporting a half-started game of Connect Four. Whoever was playing the other side — if, in reality, anyone at all — they've long abandoned it, leaving only Laurie on the seat, rolling a red player's piece over his knuckles with idle concentration.

Everyone is safe and — perhaps not sound. As a small swarm of nurses pass, Maggie drifts in, emerging from the safety measures looking harmless as can be. Though stripped of every possible offense, she breaks up the monotony in an instant: in the world of dull and lifeless hues, every inch of her modest long-sleeved t-shirt seem a brighter, bolder, eye-catching purple. In reality, the colour is only lavender; soft and pastel.

It takes no time at all for her to turn her trek in the right direction— there, by the window. One splash of life to another, the vibrant points close in; Maggie quietly weaves around a man in a robe without touching him, giving him a polite apology, and then she's there, standing over the little table. The only barrier between the two this time is a game of Connect Four. "Hey," comes her pleasant greeting, "you're looking pretty bored, there, Miles." She folds her arms, smiles; she seems as content as if this were her tenth visit and the routine is down-pat. "Good thing I'm here."

A turn of the head; eye-catching has served its purpose. The wrist twists, spilling the red piece off knuckles, only to be caught up in the palm by the rest of the hand's spin. Poof. The color has vanished behind pale skin. Life sparks in the rest of him, pushing him from a sideways sit into one acknowledging the detective's pressure. Over his shoulder, the grey and dead brown view of a graveyard next door. "Ravenously." An answer which unintentionally brings to note — now, closer — a leanness around the boring, sagging edges of grey shirts and slacks. He remains in shape — one she's seen very personally before — but it's gaunt one, and it doesn't glow. Defiant of these changes, he eyes her with a bright demanding. "What did you bring me."

Nothing yet in sight, that's for sure, save for herself — Maggie is still all that is presented as the cure for boredom. Her arms unfold emptily and she leans down, hands upon her knees to aid her bend from standing to sitting in front of the child's end table across from Laurie's spot. It isn't the most graceful descent from on high, it's abrupt and sideways and braced by a palm on the floor halfway down. "Mystery," she announces, settling in on the floor cross-legged in khaki slacks, unimpeded by heavy boots; they're MIA. "If you're ready to do some work." She looks up beneath hoisted eyebrows, wholly expectant of enthusiasm.

Now looking on her benevolently from above — or, really, more expectantly — Laurie evens half the ground by leaning forward, his elbows onto his knees. It draws him in, but still a table between them. And a game. Hand coming out, he swipes the Connect Four aside. It scatters with a loud racket and the cracking of several plastic circles onto the floor; the actual board-piece dissolving into its three separate pieces, near properly put together in the first place. A wailing protest comes up from another part of the room, but does not twitch Laurie's gaze from off Maggie. "I live for it," he expresses dutifully.

Maggie nearly jumps in place. "Ah— !" Any sharper sounds of surprise are swallowed and replaced only by a series of wide-eyed blinks at the scattered game. "Whoa, well— o— 'kay then," she says more quietly, but no less gamely. She bends to one side to scoop several of the round playing pieces into her hands. Sitting up straight and hording the pieces in her lap, she seems to debate a moment before setting in:

"I'm working a home invasion murder," she states and, already, the topic starts to sober her. "A home — a walk-up, on the Upper West Side — was invaded. The target wasn't robbery — at least I don't think it was robbery. We'll get to that. It's a family home, mom and dad, two children."

Maggie places two red pieces on the table. "The parents weren't home. The babysitter was." Two plus one equals, now, two red pieces — and one black.
Any settling in to listen from Laurie is merely illusion — once after another. Elbows do not remain on knees long; one slides off, while the other arm raises in order to curl several of his fingers under and around his chin, the last of which rides up to his temple. The leg no longer bearing the weight of an arm bounces impatiently, waiting on some springing motion that never comes. Or perhaps waiting on those pieces to become more.

More than — every possibility out there. Contrary to his ever fluid pose, Laurie's eyes remain fixated. Red and red — a boy rises out of one, then the other — boy and boy — or boy and girl? The girl's older; she has long brown hair — no, there's a babysitter. Now there's pigtails. The residence around them shifts according to location, price range, the size of the family, schooling costs in the area— Two plus one equals so much more.

And yet another variable is held loosely between Maggie's thumb and forefinger, a black piece ready to be placed— but not just yet. Its purpose and fate hang in the balance. Though well-aware of Laurie's restlessness, it's only the stillness of his fixed eyes that she focuses on when her explanations pause. "How do you want to work this?" she asks thoughtfully; this is a new venue of case-solving they've yet to go down together. "Do you want the scene as it was discovered first— or do you want everything that we know led up to it?"

Fingers slide together with other fingers, joining a second hand around his mouth; Laurie breathes noisily into them. As the steepled hands come down, one gains more speed than the other, knocking at the plastic top of the table. "Scene." Ready — and action.

Maggie immediately directs her focus, settling more into her cross-legged pose and gesturing once, twice over the table with her empty hand. Her voice is kept to a low, steady level, hopefully under the radar of the rest of the common room, meant only for the consultant.

"One A.M. The master bedroom of the house. It's two stories; it's pretty sizeable, they have money. The bedroom is upstairs on the left. Inside, we have one victim on the bed." She reaches out and touches the black piece already on the table: the babysitter. Seventeen. Female. Caucasian— like the family. Small girl. She's facedown and she's been very beaten. Just— everywhere. There's a plastic bag around her head. There are pieces of … ceramic and glass all around her; there's a lamp on the floor. The drawers on the bedside tables are open, messy."

This is definitely not a story meant for consumption of any eavesdroppers.

"Between the bed and the closet, we have our second victim— but first— no," Maggie disagrees with herself softly and closes her eyes for an moment, drawing up a clearer recollection. "First there's the blood. All the way around the corner of the bed, on the floor — carpet — some of it was on the comforter, the wall, the closet door. This victim is also seventeen and Caucasian, but male. He's the floor there, supine." The second black playing piece joins the other. She cups her hand over both red ones to her right. "It looks like he was struck in the face — but there are lacerations all over his chest, and deeper stab wounds; but his throat was cut, and that's the obvious cause of death and where most of the blood was coming from."

Most of the closest possible listeners are so absorbed in their own minds so as to pay attention to nothing else — illusions, perhaps not so different from that being described by the legit detective. Others are indulging in group painting activities, but the calm voice of the nurse watching over their progress (and that no one's eating anything unnecessary) overwrites any from elsewhere.

The intended conversationalist is not much of one; he's listening. Intently. All of those rattling variables are slimmed into precise details by the sound of Maggie's voice, evening into an image through which escape is possible. Ever bouncing up till this moment, the leg begins to slow and then eventually stops entirely. Laurie's hand still in place, hovering wherever last he left them, with only a twitch here or there — suggested movement. That fixed gaze she was depending on blurs as she goes on.

Maggie is one part detective recreating the scene and one part attentive to Laurie; her two focuses intertwine seamlessly, one no stronger than the other. "That's the scene…" She ducks her head slightly, looking up to Laurie's eyes. She assesses for a moment, studies him; then she goes on.

"Except…" Grim, to this end, she lifts her hand from the table to reveal the two pieces she had covered. "For the closet. The kids, a girl and a boy— eight and ten— " she touches the two red pieces gingerly. " — were already hiding when the attacker entered the house, playing hide-and-seek with their babysitter and— " she indicates the black dot that stands for the male victim, " — her boyfriend. They were … they were witnesses." A fact which causes her voice to lower further, and for an uneasiness to mar her features and trouble her gaze. "The closet had slats in it. They couldn't see everything that happened." Inconvenient to piecing together the case, but spoken with nothing but tremendous relief. "But they describe the man they saw as a monster. That's how they both describe him. An actual monster."

Scene set, Maggie leans ahead, easing her elbows onto the very edge of the table and resting her chin down upon her knuckles — an unintentionally childlike pose when set upon childlike furniture, but she's all serious as she asks, "What are you thinking?"

Thinking… thinking… By now, the stillness has set in entirely, stalling leg and hands, stiffening his back in that lean that could, continued, conceivably grow uncomfortable. But no reaction to gauge either on this or the sad tale of the witness children, even as Laurie's unfocused eyesight seems to be pinned on those red and black pieces. Even blinking seems to be on pause while the world around him is not the one he's sitting in.

Out in her world, Maggie waits awhile; focused on his. Her steady observation goes on… and on, and on, without reaction from Laurie. That's okay, it seems; her demeanor seems one of patience, not annoyance. Okay, that is, until a certain point, marked only in her own head, after which she tries to urge him out of his. "Did you get that? Hey," she appeals with gentle insistence, "I know you're still in there somewhere." The Connect Four pieces shift Maggie's eyes down for an instant, as if she's considering the notion of throwing one of them at the unfocused consultant to get his attention. But they remain in their particular spots. Instead, she unfurls one hand, her left, out from under her chin and reaches toward him. Out, out… she hesitates just in front of Laurie's knee — uncertain worry flashes up at him — before her hand splays over the dull grey fabric and she gives him a good solid grip. "Miles?"

The truth of the matter is that Laurie is purely more focused than he should be. When Maggie jolts his knee, the facade of upstairs bedroom cuts out dizzyingly, dropping him onto the seat with a sharp jump of his head up from Connect Four chips that are, again, just chips. His body, arching out of his lean, narrows in on her touch instantly, cocking his knee backwards against the seat, and voiding her grip into open air. Bringing his hands in front of him, he eyes them first, speculatively turning palm over back as though checking their cleanliness. How could they be clean after so much blood… He's pressing a hand against his own chest before noticing Maggie's gaze on him and then, over her shoulder, that of a disapprovingly eyeing nurse whose keen attention is for that wandering hand of the woman's. "Right — … Sorry. What?"

The second Laurie comes to life — this life — and moves away, his visitor is once more as she was, folding her hand under the other, safely back in her own space. Her head nestles in place upon both hands. "I lost you for a second," she replies; wondering voice, perceptive eyes, Maggie makes for the picture of concerned curiosity without judgment. "Does that happen often— ? It's okay; we can take as long as we need." Until activity time is over, at least. "Do you need me to go over that again? I was talking about the kids; I asked what you were thinking."

The illicit activity over, the nurse fades away; but she's watching — she's onto you. "No, you didn't," counters Laurie, plain as day, eyeing the detective with a sideways, but ultimately not lingering, skepticism. To her first question, he gives a low, "Ummm," humming with confusion as to how exactly to answer that, then dismissing it speedily as unimportant, "— anyway." He scoots forward, into that space vacated when Maggie's hand breached territories, knees bumping into the plastic table and palms flattening to its closest edge. "So, here's what happened…"

* * *

As the patients' painting session comes to a finish, so too does the nearby profiling session. Here by the window, efforts have seen potential reward — for Detective Powers, for the case. As she gets to her feet, however, it's Laurie she studies for signs of benefit. A look goes over her shoulder, too; she knows her visitation time is limited and counting down by the ticks of a nurse's watch.

"I'll see what we can do with this," she says, with gratitude, as she gets all the way up to her feet — this being the summation of Laurie's observations about the double homicide suspect, contained in a small notebook that Maggie tucks away in her back pocket once she's up. When it's out of sight, she remains there — standing — thinking. There comes a distinctive shift: shop talk is over. "Hey— before I go…"

As a bit of activity picks up behind her, patients wandering or being led elsewhere, nurses ever watchful, Maggie heads around the little table — still spread with a few red and black circles — toward Laurie. She stands in front of the window near his seat. "Dr. Francis…" she says at a slow pace borne of reluctance, yet as she goes on, she's as earnest as if she were speaking for the doctor himself, if not more. "…told me to tell you. He's sorry."

Mined of his insights, Laurie has since relaxed into the window seat, putting an arm — which stretches somewhat reluctantly, fresh yet from long-standing injury — along the window's sill. Back to the reenforced glass, he props a foot on the other knee, smiling in an absent but noncommittal way; it's more that he looks vaguely fond, rather than particularly happy. The emotion is equally not directed at his standing companion, but some portion of the wall where it dips in to make the window perch he's on.

Only his eyes move to acknowledge her new position, and only once she speaks up. The rest of him, in repose, decides whether or not to invest yet. It's similar uninspired indecision that he receives her second-hand words. A bit of shifting his mouth back and forth charts this deliberation. Lips pressed together release with a loud, irreverent smack and then he dashes his light fondness onto Maggie — the expression a little worse for wear from it. "Okie dokie."

Message passed along, Maggie only has a small pull of her mouth for Laurie's response to it, almost further apologetic; otherwise, her regard is still thoughtful— pleasant, if threatening to turn troubled. "He wanted you to know." What else can she say; it's not her message. But she has one.
Flattening her hands above her knees, she sits down beside Laurie. Though this may cause the staff concern, it's so far unfounded: she keeps to herself, at the furthest edge of the window seat. The view behind her rebukes her feeling, but she opposes it in turn with all her soft colour affront all the grey outside. Maggie might not be smiling, she isn't at all, but her expression, while still, is bright and lively.

She watches Laurie somewhat unsure, studying manner, as if she can't be quite be sure he's paying enough attention or cares to hear her— but she speaks regardless. "I want you to be able to leave here." She looks away, down; not so still after all. "When you think…" she starts to express genuinely, seriously, candidlyyou isn't him, it's her in this story— only to stop quickly, touch her face and push her hair behind her ears. But, calmed, she settles her hands on her knees, and her gaze wholly on her partner turned patient, and goes on. "When you think… that youre going to lose something, all of a sudden it becomes the most important thing. Because once it's gone— there's no getting it back. I didn't— " Maggie's eyes widen; like she's ever-so-slightly scared of what she's saying. " — I didn't want you to disappear. For whatever reason Miles, I just, I just need you to not disappear."

Obliging to either courtesy, or a greater acknowledgment of the nurses, Laurie shifts subtly in the same moment she sits, increasing their distance in a guise of giving her more space. His arm lifts casually off the sill, reestablishing a thin line of separation between them without crossovers. Bending at the elbow, he resettles his hand against his cheek, putting him at a thoughtful angle for her message. In all appearances, at least.

"You want me to be able to leave…" he starts off echoing, breathy, maybe disbelieving — the quality of repeating the punchline of a joke just after it's been told. His chin slips, gaze sliding out of the window. The speckling of gravestones over a hill, silhouettes of every shape and size all symbolizing the same thing, is an intricate pattern of stoniness.

Concerns that he doesn't care may seem to apply after that, as he stares off for what is arguably the more important wordings. But indication finally peeks out when his mouth weakens under a small twitch, at the sound of his own last name. A sigh is only half that, a moment later, when he twists to be facing her again. His hands flatten along his thighs as he gives a carefully pleasant regard — soft in places, able to harden on a whim or, with the right nudging, melt into adoration. A possibility. "Well— you haven't been paying attention, detective," he says gently, narrow but bright blue eyes on her wider ones. Gentleness — then casual. Detective. Admonishment; pleasantness is bemusement, after all. "The reason is often the most interesting part."

He's smiling, a blandly reassuring gesture. Statement does not push for elaboration, he puts no pressure for her to respond. In fact, after a short and tidy sum of time, he pushes off from his own legs, raising one hand to flag down a nurse.

With Maggie in silence, all of her focus is especially settled. It narrows, along with her eyes, after her title is spoken; detective. She listens, and she watches, and to every careful shift of Laurie's expression, the lines above her brow deepen and subtle increments of suspicion raises in her eyes. The end result is Maggie, unsettled, not reassured — but very quietly so. His statement doesn't pressure a response, and she doesn't give one. He gets up, and she looks out the window out at the dismal view psych patients should probably never have to begin with.

It's only as the nurse's footsteps become inevitably nearer that she stands up. "I'll be back next week," she says to Laurie and, while the declaration itself is on the muted side, she looks over with a little smile a few watts brighter than her words before her hands go in her back pockets and she's leaving. For this day.

Laurie very easily side-steps into the zone of nurse's escort, gifting her with the beaming and playful smile since missing from a goodbye to his visitor. He's jumped tracks; Maggie out of sight, is out of mind. Except as the two — staff and patient — step into place together, Laurie pipes up, "I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged," with a cheerfulness that attracts a couple of turned faces nearby from the clearing out painting station, but only raised eyebrows from his nurse. He concludes: "Their feathers are just too bright," lower, leaning in to repurpose the comment only for her. She rolls her eyes; "And you're going to your room." And, grinning, he does this time.

And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. Still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone. I guess I just miss my friend.

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