2010-09-25: One Minute

Starring:

Laurie3_V5icon.pngMaggie_V5icon.png

Guest-Starring: Detective Kotowski, Officer Parker

Date: September 25th, 2010

Summary:

PREVIOUSLY ON HEROES: … basically this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOBrf3exUPA&feature=fvst

NOW:


"One Minute"

Church Steps

Glass hails down like rain, cascading in a symphony of sparkling reds, blues, and whites from the shattered imagery once adorning the flaming church tower, now left to scatter as fallen stars into the cold night air. Less colorful debris also begins to torrent, some caught by the fire and leaving fierce tails behind them before hitting like so many random meteors onto the stone steps that will see the fires eventually putter out and die. But for now, the red is a burning signal against the sky as the smoke continues to billow and crisp crackling heralds the blaze's hunger as it eats through supports and balconies.

Red less aglow seeps by the cracks of the construction scaffolding clinging to the window's edge — it sits at the very feet of the inferno. Drop, drop, drop, the red splatters to the ground and, as it does, it's joined on those apathetic stone steps by a hint of clear moisture. Drop, drop. It starts with one drop, innocent and easily smashed on the stone. But then one becomes two becomes four — becomes a sheer wall of rain coating the burning, bleeding world anew.

A raindrop plops against skin, rolling down. Blue eyes widen to the open view of a sky clouding over its own color. It's hard to stare right into that downpour, but there's still some time before a finger twitches, a hand clenches to take the weight of the body. Soaked and fire licked wood creaks warily where he begins to stir, ignoring muscles that protest as hot as the impression of fire clinging to skin and clothes. It keeps burning somewhere above, too close. Some misplaced mirth bubbles up and is caught by the sharp claw against lung, stealing breath. What can be is sucked in, preparing to push up— but at the first movement already, the scaffold complains, whining up and down its length, chains and pillars rattling. Wood bends in with a deceivingly soft groan. Then — a crackle. What starts as a single defiant crack becomes complete breakage; the entire structure gives out, collapsing into a rush of wind, wood, and metal versus bone in a secondary crack before meeting unforgiving hard ground.

With a terrible shlick covered by the same plunging of the rain, a flare of decorative red against masonry, it all settles into a silent and still mass of destroyed pieces under the heat of above.

Stillness lasts only a short time: the heap of sacrilegious destruction on the ground has barely had time to settle before footsteps approach it. They're unsteady, and heavy in their tread — hurried, becoming surer.

"Miles!" A disoriented but one-hundred percent determined shout forces through the sound of the downpour and crackle of flames above. "Mi— " The steps scrape to a halt— the tearing at debris starts. "Miles— " Panic; no, momentum. There's another scrape— knees on the ground. "Miles— "

It's all been momentum, a rush of one place to the other into two colliding points; no stop at all for a prisoner to gain footing in her liberty. No break, save to recognize what was happening — what's brought Maggie plunging through the rain to now touch metal and wood and masonry as the rain plunges down on her in turn. She might be free, but she is the only one, and whatever state she's in prevents her none in attempting to change that. Rain, sweat, blood, a mess of half-tied hair all make their attempts to bar her already wavering sight in near equal amounts. Doesn't matter.

Silence, too, dies in the wake of Maggie's disturbance of the would-be cobbled heap of a gravestone. The scraping of disassembled materials, heavy against her attempts, is secondary to a low groan that becomes distinctive against the constant white noise of rain and metal. Not the twisting groan of failing wood, but a human one. As the bits and pieces come away, one is the cracked beam that was propped against Laurie's protectively raised left arm. The instant weight disappears, the arm drops. "Nnnn— " the groan, trapped as he is, cuts off in quick, thwarted attempts to breathe.

Many shallow gasps become one— become, "Powers— " as the free arm gropes across his own chest, reddened from the efforts inside but washed sinless by rain. "— you're— alright — " fingers fumble for the debris crushing his right side, "you're — nnnarrrgh!" Some unfortunately forced shifting as sections come away twists the arm he was looking for. Unnatural, awkward, it crimps out of place near the shoulder and its mere expose turns a controlled, gritted protest into a shout. A shout, in turn, comes short with no air.

Pressure, could be from the weight of trash over his legs yet, but none over his freed but still ailing lungs bodes unfavorably.

The arm, revealed to be not quite where it should be, prompts a wince across the face of Laurie's impromptu excavator— but it's the shout and labour of breath following that spurs Maggie into even faster action, propelled, now, by a more directed sense of urgency. "And you'll be alright too, just as soon as I get you out of here!" Maybe an overstatement; for now, it'll do. A pale hand, red at some knuckles and certainly at the wrist, clamps down on his left shoulder before, next to him, she climbs onto the debris, that which doesn't play such a role in entrapment.

"Don't move," Maggie demands, "just breathe." The downpour makes it slippery work — that same fall of rain that bonds cold fabric to her back and pales blood out of the white where she must have scraped her elbows. Her jaw clamps down as she throws her strength into clearing it off, a pull of the clutter that covers his legs, a push at others, some uncoordinated, but she gets on point every second try. She's undeterred save to, in the midst, look back, alight with worry, to mark how he's doing.

"Ahhhhhiiii— I have to," Pain funneled into focus is all that gets Laurie's next words out; his wheezing breaths doing no better. "— know if he's…" Staring beyond Maggie, to hell — that fire, the pure flames that were a church — where a man was. But his shoulder where she knocked it down stays. Gearing up for some worser fate. How he's doing is pale as she, eerie and white in the night and rain. Dust alights on cuts and scrapes from a fight before this one.

Gasping is stopped with a tightly clamped jaw, now all the air rushing in and out of his nostrils with the too-fast rise and fall of his chest. All that effort is put into a stronger, "Powers." Trying to catch her when she glances. While her pace has increased, he's stilled against the ground— morbid acceptance against her struggles. "Don't look," is the fierce, poignant instruction, "Don't look — just help me up."

Don't look to the breaching of her into that area around his legs. One would seem nothing but free… then the right leg. It's obvious already in that blood that trickles away down the steps, blending with the rain's growing river; a thick splinter, cracked in the fall, has impaled him through the leg, above the knee. Its broken point sticks up to the sky, a bloody monument.

Laurie is first met with resistance from Maggie, who eyes him with skepticism borne out of concern; but she does as he asks. She doesn't look, and she holds out a hand — her right, to match his better-faring left side for which she grabs the hand of, She crawls closer over the church wreckage to ease a supportive arm around his neck to get him up.
But— there she stays.

The barely begun effort has Maggie looking instinctively looking back, guiding; she can't not see the jagged splinter; she doesn't intend to — it's just there. It only has her eyes widening and her lips — bleeding thin rain-washed blood from some manner of lesser violence — parting; brief horror, surprise … then acceptance. "Okay," she states. "You have another thing coming if you're thinking of doing something about that."

Aborted effort has Laurie all tensed to move, and the resulting inaction takes as much of a toll. His neck against her hand, his head sinks backwards, painting a pattern of raindrops against his forehead. "Mmmnn," is now out of frustration, similarly gritted, and fading into an odd, desperate and breathless cousin of a laugh. Their hands slip in their grip — his clammy from swift blood-loss as much as the weather — and his fingers pinch hers almost roughly. "Powers."

The fight, the insistence in his husky voice is not quite matched physically. That short spear's placement makes it too difficult for the knee to bend against this anchor, sapping him of leverage to push up; the useless arm on the opposite side lends no balance. He's well and truly grounded.

Maggie's hold no longer has a practical purpose, but there it stays once Laurie stills. Bruised knuckles flex to form a tighter grip in slick hands, firm though it comes from a gentler place than his did. She squints into the night, trying to get some sense of where the hell they are; it seems something of a struggle for her, a fight commencing to see through more than just the rain and the dark. It's a search that tips her head up to the sky and the church — typically landmarks in a city — that they just came crashing out of (some more literally than others).

The smoke pouring out of what was once a window seems faraway from down here, where it's cold and wet and raw. Her gaze lingers, gets a little angry there, seeming to gain some of the fire from within the building; the intensity remains when she looks down on Laurie, blinking hard to bring focus to her eyes.

"There are more important things than vengeance, or justice, or anger, whatever it happens to be that makes you want to hurt yourself more to get up. If he's not dead, he's hurt, and he'll be found— just like someone will find us. Where there's fire, there's the fire department and where there's FDNY, there's EMS, and you're gonna let them take you this time, and then you're gonna explain to me everything that just happened. But first— " Maggie's tightens her right hand further, lifting their linked hands between them, "you're just going to breathe for me."

Another look around beseeches her surroundings for some kind of assistance, however, impatient with waiting for help to magically appear as she said, bringing her to to swiftly add, "Where are we— come on, do you have a phone on you?" She certainly doesn't have hers. Or anything but the clothes on her back.

Once fitted clothing has become restrictive in the circumstances, and as the rain encourages a thin t-shirt or thick decorative scarf to become clingy — the latter is a bunched blossom at his throat, all of the blues and yellows warped darkly by their wetness into monotony. Only his long black coat flares out as the wings that failed him in the fall, now draped about on pieces of scaffold and metal.

Empty-handed — but for Maggie's in his — he gives a rough shake of his head. Details poised on his open lips are lost to the stuttered breathing when it's suddenly a cough; it rattles his insides, and the next time he inhales, all the muscles in his neck tighten to force the work through there, and his tense chest. "What was that— " Humor is strange in the dark of this night. Strange… but present. "First one again?" A laugh; it's hardly even that.

But the sheer reality of the joke hardens the merriment out of his eyes shining through that rain. That same blue seems to be leaking out of him like life, tinting the tips of his fingers, the edge of his lips. A reality not yet assessed beneath the wetted navy of his shirt, but felt. Known. Blue beseeches, a concept as fresh as the moisture hitting them. "Please."

Another anxious search of the street is diverted. back down to Laurie with a quick snap of Maggie's head. A study washes over every disquieting detail of his failing, reflected in increasing increments on her own face in the form of concern. Darker under the shadow from above, and narrowing through drops of water that cling to her lashes, her eyes fill with immediacy; please. Received. Understanding the state of things, a nod sways her head while her jaws clamp down. "Hang on, hang on— " Words that are just barely breaths themselves.

She goes into overdrive, every part of her on the move. One hand disentangles from Laurie's, and both assess. Fast, all of it — hurried as possible. Seconds. One against the tightened muscles at his neck, the other roams along the navy surface of his shirt, it's not aimless; like a trouble magnet, she goes straight for the problem spot at his ribs. A light touch, quick; she hauls the fabric up past it. Whatever she sees mustn't be heartening, given the apprehensive look she gives the bared skin. That's abandoned — what can she do but treat the symptom.

That's just what she's prepared to do. In a rush and rocking of debris out of her way, Maggie is at his shoulder suddenly, and fingers as cold as the water — familiar — are on his face, tipping his head back, chin up, and mouth open. Even more sudden is the contrasting warmth, breath that's now an inch above the ailing man's mouth. "I'm kind of bloody, I hope you don't mind," comes a light warning there, but no second is wasted as these words are mumbled, Maggie blocking one would-be airway — the nose — with a pinch while next aiding the other. That bloody mouth of hers she warned against presses against his firmly, a seal, and she breathes for him instead. One, two…

Numbed, blue-tipped fingers slither away from hers when released, past her touch at his neck, to the shoulder that sits so wrongly on the stone and debris altar. Two fingers pad along the framework of his structure beneath; there's no bone protruding past skin, a first possible good. It's somewhat overshadowed by what Maggie uncovers instead. Already outlined in the etching of too tight t-shirt fabric, those ribs move but minimally with each shallow inhale — one side rising a touch higher or faster than the other that labors. Sucking breaths in by power of his chest, Laurie avoids some of the pain and most of the air.

Having his head tipped back is a clear signal to the consultant of what's to come. An almost nervous reaction flitters his hand away from the shoulder, sees him shifting up as if to escape her guidance; naturally, he can't. In the end, all he gets is the good leg up, bent slightly. He gives a tough swallow around his neck's new position; that coughing could have given rise to the same blood Maggie apologizes for on her. But it's too late for that — a seal.

One… lungs inflate. Not entirely unevenly, they enjoy this new intake both — no decrease, no escaping of air where it shouldn't be. Only the threat as a full lung breaches too close to that imbedded reminder. A murmur, a groan, is transferred right to Maggie. Two… but Laurie's working arm loops his provider, grappling to the woman's shoulder, fingers lightly tracing the very edge of her own neck as its patterned by stray strands of hair. In a desperate, one-handed, but remarkably — considering — strong embrace, he survives the moment past the purely medical.

Three… three isn't about breath. Overturning the grand tradition of acting on two to surprise the sufferers, patient becomes doctor becomes patient; in what wasn't a nervous movement, Laurie braced one foot under and against the other knee. A preparatory pull-back, that saw him tightening onto Maggie for leverage, is followed by the whip-like kick into the bottom of the upturned splinter, sending it cracking off from the main board — as well as rebounding against his opened flesh.

And on that three — during this one, extra just-in-case breath past rescue breathing protocol — the jolt of movement and the crack of wood springs Maggie up and away, leaving Laurie with tenuous air and a flare of promised red on the mouth to show for it, matching the new blood on her lips colouring to life from pressure.

The woman may have become a brace during these endeavours, but she needs one herself now when her head whips around to witness the aftereffects of Laurie's violent self-doctoring. Her hands come away from him— one stabilizes opposite herself, on the ground beside him, seeming dizzied from the harsh spin-around. Rather than sympathetic pain, it might have more to do with the pattern of bruising quite visible from this angle: sneaking down from her temple to her cheek in pinks and purples.

Her other hand grabs instinctively, immediately, up to Laurie's wrist near her own neck; but that stability is for him, not her: he has to be in pain. The look Maggie turns to him is as concerned at is chastising. "…Stubborn…" she murmurs through grit teeth, tentatively starting to rock back to deal with that, now.

Breath not given is as good as breath stolen for him, the back of his head pressed to the concrete steps in the harsh aftermath of his actions. Wheezing shows clearly on pale, old-scarred skin bare to the elements; only the frenetic in and out sign of that necessary pain. And the more he lies, the more the panting becomes controlled. Managing a deeper inhale that's held, his mouth closes and he instinctively licks lips — chapped by heat, wetted by rain, and now painted by Maggie — red that vanishes.

There's no answer for her, just the testing first movements of that questionably freed up leg. Filling the injury it itself made, the splinter juts out at a slight angle, not quite stemming the blood off as well as it did before, but a fair job nonetheless. Less concern outside than inside, where the jagged wood might have introduced more than a roadblock to the bloodstream.

But he can move it. Bringing the most immediate problem full-circle, for Laurie, to the displaced shoulder. But to his own discredit, his hand briefly rests against Maggie, letting her claim ownership of his only functioning wrist and, in it, temporarily stop him from being more stubborn.

As Maggie rocks back to sit on her heels, needing no more assistance from the ground for the time being, she takes a moment to close her eyes, to steady, before — on opening — those eyes give a distrusting study for toward that splinter in Laurie's leg, and, in turn, the rise and fall of his chest. She brings the inner side of her thumb to her mouth; not for the act recently done but for the blood that comes away on her hand. It's half gone by the time she cleans it off anyway along the side of a blouse that's been turned into thin cold nothing.

"What are you planning to do there, Miles," she queries; rhetorical, it would be chastising again if it weren't delivered softly. Maggie takes his hand in both of hers, now, pulls it in front of her, comfort and — perhaps more — entrapment as she advises, calm under the circumstances and sincere: "Try not running off for a minute," like he is now, however temporarily, "I'm sure … that someone will be here soon; you're going to be okay and we're going to leave— this place." This place lent faint rancor, her voice breaking— just for a second. "And if you can't breathe…" the bundle of hands tightens and icy fingers intertwine here and there, "I'll be here."

Pitter patter, pitter patter — little raindrops falling around them, two bodies in a wreathe of destroyed building while red flames have retreated inside, reflecting once in a while off the edge of glass clinging to the frame. But they are more than the silhouette they make; up close, personal, they're hands — his one wrapped abundantly by her two. His loose fingers are supple to her binding, slipping almost accidentally into intimate shapes around hers. Freezing, bloody — but comfortable. Against the rapid dangerous patter trying to move makes of his grueling heartbeat, being held by Maggie is…

A little twinge in that blueish mouth. Several blinks to clear wayward raindrops and he can maintain a steadier, more aware study of his consoling company. His eyes, wandering at random, discover her used and bruised face; anger swells beneath the blue as a single lurch of their combined hands would seek out the edge of those purple bruises.

Seek but, ultimately, not waste energy. "… Okay…" breathy, because that's all his words are made of, sapped of else. "… okay. Just… a minute, though." But a bit of warning: barely threatening when he immediately relaxes neck, head, arm — everything he was putting into holding it together. "Here I thought… I was supposed to breathing for you…."

Maggie smiles. It might be out of place, but there it is, plain as day in the night, even as it fights to find its true nature. Anxious, warm, silly, saddened; in the end it's all of the above, careless of the split at the right side of her lips where the blood blossoms from. Blinks in the rain are matched by tiny repeated nods, one after the other. "You are," she says, her voice lilting into a higher pitch. Though a furrowed brow is in full force, her smile evens out into one thing: a reassuring, fond sentiment.

She draws Laurie's relaxed hand to her lap, hanging onto it while half her grip — one hand — frees to prod past the muscles of his neck. With two fingers, she finds the spot his pulse ought to be through some practiced memory of where the artery is; there Maggie keeps guard, as it were, but adds also a second sentinel: leaning over close, she turns her cheek near to lips too devoid of oxygen, where her skin can catch breaths and mark if, or when, there are too few.

Fast and reedy goes the pulse, as shallow as the breaths alongside it. So they go: a track, not steady, but consistent for a while, for some instances. Failing in others, forcing his body to play fast and loose to catch up. Every so often discomfort rumbles up through his pounding chest, wracking, and he cants his head to the side to cough out what's there — sometimes blood, sometimes not. Nothing that belongs on Maggie's skin, even as guard. The rainfall comes too frequent to keep time. It's forever. This moment hangs forever. In truth, a shorter time; that minute passes. Now, when his head rolls to the side to cough — blood — it stays.

Still, the rain falls.

Then from the night, a beacon. A wanderer against the shadows — these passive in their interference, but just as enemy — the light jumps from point to point and is, for a while, a lone guide. Through the mist, eventually, voices next. Familiar, warm and worried, voices: "Powers! — Detective Powers?" Two voices: "Hello, Powers, can you hear us?"

Even as the voices begin to call, the woman who the moniker belongs to is concerned with bringing Laurie's head back around from where it lays. She straightens it, to keep the airway clear, and stills everything to listen and feel for breaths as she, synonymously, listens for the shouts. Their character is distorted some by the pounding of the rain on buildings and pavement, the constant pour, or maybe they only resonate that way in her head; she shoots suspicion into the hazy light. After just a delay, however, she lifts her head a moment to shout back. "I'm here, over here!" Strained with urgency, her voice is yet strong and healthy. "We need an ambulance!"

"Over here!" the call overlaps Maggie's own as the detective is searched shoulder to knees in the beam of light before it hops around the debris, alighting here and there on Laurie. "I think he's with her!" More obvious distance now between the two callers; only one of whom's footsteps begin to close in on their location through the thundering rain. Shouting, raining, running — it all makes Laurie's thin breathing sound even further gone. Or maybe it just is further gone.

The beam of — hope, really — is on the approach, its own bright gleam casting its wielder in hazed out silhouette blinded by direct light. But closer and closer still, until a figure is nearly upon Maggie, dropping with a slosh of wet-weighted blue uniform onto a knee beside the two. Eyes professional to disaster take in the sights, drinking in injury on the both of them, one after the other until, connecting these dots, he's found Maggie's eyes. Detective Kotowski wipes a utilitarian hand over his forehead to clear what he can where the rain threatens to collect in his mussed bangs. Humor loosening lips that never seem serious is awash with the light-heartedness of relief. "You know— if you two wanted to elope, I could've suggested better places for the honeymoon than right outside the church."

Blue eyes adjust from dimness to the extreme bright of a flashlight and back again. "Kotowski— " It's relief brings a smile to the detective's somewhat battered face, not the joke — that is quite passed by in her urgency. "How did you know to come," she asks, still filling in the blanks, glancing past the first line of cavalry, Kotowski, to the other presence beyond. "Where are we? He came crashing— " A glance tilts to the destroyed stained glass window of the church, " — out of that window— he needs to get to a hospital."

On that imperative note, relief is tentative and thin — much like Laurie's breath, if it's even that. Maggie is quick to drop down back into checking on it, though her head lifts to look straighter down upon him a moment later. "Miles," she urges firmly, "Miles, can you still hear me?"

Kotowski's that's me! smile is as bright as the flashlight he holds over them, though at Maggie's mention, it's swung high to the blazing church ruins — Laurie's proclaimed starting point. "Holy— hell…" the detective articulates quite accurately of the spectacle. Attention is slower to rewind on Maggie's other questions, powered instead by her urgency. Even in the tenseness of Miles' predicament, Kotowski bounces on a kind of overeager expectancy; pride flushes his cheeks over exertion. "What?" A bit of a distracted stare at Maggie, disbelieving in her unknowing, "He told us." A well-meaning but very unfortunate slap to Laurie's shoulder follows.

"They're coming— they're on their way— " interrupts that second sought for figure, now breaching the lighted space. Officer Parker's own light is random at best while his hands keep to the radio tucked into a slippery palm. "We came— just like it said."

"Yeah," Kotowski butts in, rising some off that knee to shift to the other side, giving everyone room but Parker no leeway to speak: "You can bet the FBI tried to stop us, but screw them. One of ours." Camaraderie he grins over at Maggie, and thinks to share with Laurie at the same time at Parker leans, enthusiastically skeptical in his own puffed sense of team, over the unresponsive consultant: "… Is he dead?"

Maggie can't be said to look surprised throughout her quick catch-up of events. Beyond a quick-moving, thankful, but distracted gaze between Kotowski and Parker on his appearance, she can't be said to look like she's paying much attention anymore. Save, that is, to answer the question. "No. He's just— he's hurt, he's not breathing— hey, hey come on, Miles—"

More blanks can be filled in later. The only thing that ought to be filled now is lungs. The hand of the consultant's Maggie still holds against the soaked denim of her jeans is separated from her so she may once more perform the steps necessary for another round of rescue breathing. It's with an audience, this time, that the detective carefully delivers air to the consultant — air, and chance rainwater trapped in-between mouths. Two breaths, she pauses; every one following is carefully measured, every five seconds, her much healthier lungs essentially doing what his are not. And without some cue of hope — breathing on his own, paramedics; she'll take either — she shows no signs of stopping.

The two men, Kotowski and Parker, watch on — cowed and bashful by their own inability to help after a lauded entrance. It's only after Maggie's gone through her motions several times that the shaggy-headed detective bobs his weight from one knee to other in childish — uncomfortable — impatience with the idea things could not end well. "C'mon, jackass," he bolsters ala bravado, "Everybody's waiting for you." It all comes down to breath: Kotowski wasting his, Parker's held, Maggie gives hers away to Laurie, who has none. A cycle.

Pattern broken; with no shining burst of hope, just a blink. Light more than fire's reflection in those eyes. Lungs filled stayed so, they lift on their own and, when pressing to that needling point inside, whisk down in a gasp that escapes out Laurie to interrupt whatever motion of the process from Maggie. An instant later, his hand flexes and then contracts, grabbing for the closest possible: the unyielding slope of Maggie's jeans.

Kotowski's confidence returns in a similar whoosh, "There he is! I knew you'd want to hear— " By appearances, Laurie more wants to roll over and get over this pesky breathing thing again. "— it's all out, it's incredible— where the fuck is the sick train? Bet they're afraid of a little fire. We can get him up, ourselves, faster— "

A smile of relief is again short-lived. Maggie's own intake of air comes slightly thin as she catches up to its regular rhythm; her voice starts-and-stops and arrives breathy as she interrupts: "Yeah, up and— where? Don't encourage him." She holds a hand out to express her disapproval of that idea. The same hand expresses herself to Laurie with a firm press to his better shoulder, matched with the gentle but firm command it comes with: "Stay still."

Shuffling into a crouch, Maggie drags a wet sleeve over her forehead, pushing drowned strands of darkened blonde out of the way and baring a pale wrist — marred with faint red from struggles against restraints. A short nod is angled the other cops' way. "What do you know?" Apparently, it's later already.

"To the ambulance, jeez," bites off Kotowski, lowering a shamed but complaining head, "What do you think I am… — she thinks this is my first rodeo." This latter to the consultant, Laurie, as he gamely attempts sympathy around a stronger felt grimace. "Know?" Kotowski echoes dully, caught again by surprise that Maggie is asking. He rubs a hand under his nose where the water runs down it. "Word's out, Powers."

"FBI's gone— !" Pitches in Officer Parker, bent over with his hands braced to his knees as he whips in his own huge inhale at the turn of things. Pushed up into the fabric of his pants, his radio crackles insistently and he whirls around to take it, cueing Kotowski to, once again, insert his own vernacular: "As soon as everybody found out there was no arrest report, how they were trying to vanish our man Miles like a damn spook— " his hand comes flying down towards that bad shoulder; noticing, Laurie's good hand juts up to stop him — too late. Over the open-mouthed but silent wincing gasp, Kotowski rattles on, unaware, as he gives a few pats. "Well, they had to high-tail it, balls in their ass."

"Sorry if I was a little too— " Maggie touches a hand to the back of her head, half-suppressing a wince. " — kidnapped to catch up." There's no bite to her words, they're flat; facts are facts. She gestures briefly for Kotowski to take caution before her hand falls to her legs near Laurie's without purpose — waiting. The man down is given her concern while she speaks to the other. "The ambulance can come to us — careful, I think his arm is broken. FBI…" Disconnected thoughts come together— "Agent… Hamm— I was… there's a warehouse on Fifth— "

"That's okay," barrels on Kotowski, mindless — either ignorant or uncaring — to the implication of her facts, "We'll catch you up. His arm's what? — oh. Sorry, man." Fluidly switching again between the former partners, he gives Laurie a head jerk of apology, to which he receives a thin-lipped grimacing smile of acceptance. This last generosity of air on Maggie's part has filled Laurie out more than before; he lies with more clarity than the last couple of minutes. Just in time to fully understand the momentary brush of regret over Kotowski's face as he bites a lip over a dying grin. "… they found the agent…"

Fingers of Laurie's that were seeking out Maggie's non-purposed hands, prepared to help in that aspect, freeze to the ground without touch. But Kotowski bounces back, quite literally; his buoyancy jumping overeager raindrops off his shoulders. "But here's you, at least."

From his new distance, Parker's voice occasionally fades in and out of the background until his heightened shout reveals him to have stopped speaking to the radio and, instead, to someone approaching. Someones, plural. Detective Jordan, leading the charge of — heads down against the rain — emergency responders. "Didn't want to move until the place was 'secure'," Jordan calls informatively — sarcastically — through the pour as he jogs to reaching them, "So I gave them a little encouragement." Rising, Kotowski aims a knuckled tribute to his partner that goes utterly ignored by the other detective, to his long buddy's uncomprehending surprise. Jordan's attentions remain on giving instructions to the harried but professional staff.

While the others meet the flock of emergency personnel and Jordan, there are, momentarily, only two figures on the ground again. Maggie spends the the beginning of that moment frowning and somber. "I'm sorry … about Agent Hamm," she says quietly between the noise of the new bustle of arrival and just above the noise of the rain that's become familiarly omnipresent. Condolences, not apology, though a scrap of guilt or regret skirts the edges of her gaze. "He seemed like a good man — a smart agent. He was just following the information. He called me— by the time I got there…"

The trailing off eases into a new direction: a bolstering smile— for both of them, because it's time for Maggie to push to her feet. "Okay— " Hands press to her knees. " — try not to give the paramedics a hard time." Vertical motion puts a spin on the woman's steadiness, forcing her to feel her injuries to a fuller extent, and she doesn't seem quite sturdy once she's up. But she's up, and that's good enough.

Up to the support of Kotowski's hand at her elbow — fleeting, and gone as fast as it appeared — but the detective remains at her side while the paramedics crouch and bend to the process of removing Laurie from his bed of scaffold. To both condolence and smile, he stared the same unemotional comprehension at Maggie; now he regards the clouded, weathered sky while allowing gloved hands to get him bandaged and raised.

Watching, sorting through details, Kotowski has half eyes on his fellow detective and half on the man whose side she was by. "It really is a good catch," he mentions aside, "The both of you here." The knuckles so scornfully unacknowledged by his partner raise, thumb and pinkie jutting out to wag between the two other partners. Background noise has become a thrum of activity: paramedics calling out numbers to each other, calculations that sum up Laurie's well-being, and the crackle of more voices gathering to Parker's radio. Sirens now. The city's become alive in the night, summoned down to this spot ablaze.

"Both… you say that like it's a coincidence," Maggie replies lightly, really looking now to the other detective with a small smile, made faintly queasy by her unbalanced equilibrium; unsteadiness a hand is raised to fend off help from even now, until she folds her arms. She holds them against the cold, a better barrier than the thin fabric. "The catch … that should be inside."

She moves away, toward the commotion around Laurie's injuries with concern; she doesn't get in the way, only skirts around, walking off her own lesser damages — for now, until she's inevitably interrupted. In the midst of it all, her look to the church with its billows of smoke is skeptical, uneasy. Don't trust what you can't see.

Crunching beneath footsteps, Kotowski once in a while glances down to mark where his foot's landing in all the debris. "Message only said that we had to come get you," he explains reasonably, boredom and pride making an odd mixture in his tonal equivalent of a shrug, "No mention of Miles at all. Some people— " His voice lilts higher, accusing a little — protesting too much, "Thought maybe he'd gone off the deep end. Well," a nod side to side, "Deeper end. Taken you. Relented…" The unvoiced conclusion is the scanning of the environment, far different than what some people imagined in theory.

Her walking off has done nothing to persuade him that she wants to be alone; she's not inevitably interrupted. Just followed. Hunching his back, the taller detective slides his hands into his pockets to affect casualness as he glances along a shoulder to the procession as it goes. Paramedics, Laurie, his partner, and other blues coming in to take Parker's lead on meeting the fire and possible suspects head on. "But it's out now. Alllll that stuff never meant to see the light of day." Day that will touch this horizon that, for now, is brightened only by the whirling beacons of emergency vehicles, many feet. Heads, all of them, pause in their gaits to turn as passes by a man on a stretcher. "… All changed now…" Kotowski turns to Powers. "Eh?"

The detective's steps slow as the stretcher passes by, and she comes to a gradual stop, facing Kotowski as he turns toward her. She seems unbothered by his following, though it's difficult to tell either way; she now seems as impassive to him as she does to what he's saying, though words like 'deep end' flag hints of a frown.

Maggie doesn't seem prone to answering as she stares toward the flashing lights, as familiar — more — as any city sight. It seems more unlikely yet when a woman in a uniform marking her as EMT is freed enough from her duties at the side of Laurie to approach the other woman with a blanket from the ambulance, already assessing the recent captive with professional eyes. "Miss— " She quickly changes designation, "Detective— ?"

Miss Detective, as it were, lets the blanket be wrapped around her shoulders, welcoming of the protection its unassuming grey wool provides. She looks to Kotowski as if in afterthought as she's being led away. "Change is … just a matter of perception."


Save for the chatter of nurses and other medical personnel, the occasional complaints of patients, and undefined far-off clatters of work, the hospital is quiet; save for the bursts of organized activity here and there, it's still— a far cry from a short time ago when a man was brought in with a myriad of injuries surrounded by an exciting story who the nurses, at their stations, are still trying to sort out, feeding their gossip mill now that the emergent chaos is fading.

The lights are dim in this wing, to designate nighttime. The halls of this New York City hospital is treated, tonight, to something of an unusual sight. Perhaps not too odd for a hospital, but certainly for the creator of the image: Detective Powers, sneaking around somewhere she shouldn't be. The hospital staff were kind enough, or pushy enough, to lend her something to wear other than the wet clothes she walked in with. Standard hospital blue, the modest gown functions as a utilitarian wrap dress, knee-length and roomy, tied at the side with laces, the nonexistent design of its collar settled somewhat unevenly around her shoulders. On her feet, boots— tough and dusty and half-laced, garishly unmatched to the clinical environment. With bare lengths of leg between the boots and the hem of the hospital shirt, she'd seem a child shuffling around in a grown-up's boots if only she weren't so tall and grown-up otherwise.

While not a vast amount of time has passed — not at all — there seems to have been enough passage of time to trigger two things in Maggie. One appears to be boredom: her damp, messy curls have been twined into a damp, messy braid, French but less than artful. The second thing is what has her sneaking through the halls of the hospital, concern painting her face alongside the mottled pattern of bruises blossoming from her temple.

But it's not an unusual sight at all if no one is looking, and it's not sneaking around if she doesn't have to try, is it; busy with work and busier with talking amongst themselves about their exciting patient, the nurses miss the other half of the puzzle easing the ajar door of one Laurence Miles open and slipping inside.

And it's inside that all that was outside fades away in the private room where the lights have also dulled, simulating restfulness in a typically stressful environment. Quiet has a better hold, here where there's four walls instead of two curtains; after initial procedures, the move here was designated as much by well-meaning doctors as men with badges anticipating more breaking in a couple hours than just the dawn. It isn't a terribly large room: a bed — clearly occupied, a chair draped with wet clothes someone was meant to come back for but have since been forgotten in the bustle of gossip, the machinery of this room's tasks. There isn't even a window in this wing. And, so, privacy. Into which Maggie Powers is able to slip, her shuffling booted footsteps the first human activity amongst the hum of mechanical and medical.

The person she's come to see is not a diligent host. He does not rise to greet her, nor open his eyes. She's left to intrude upon a stillness made somehow that much more noticeable by the thin, steady beeping of the large monitor nearby, putting out a number that hovers between its amount and one slightly below. A light, shaped whimsically like a heart, corresponds with each insistent sound.

A second machine is silent. Running from its smaller box is a clear tube that dips slightly at the bed edge, light slack allowing it a smooth path right into the patient's ribs where it's been inserted and secured by tape and surrounding bandages. This direct line to the lungs has been accommodated by the arrangement of his hospital garb; left unbuttoned on that side, there's no fabric at all for the left shoulder or side of the chest until the shirt swoops down to wrap about his stomach. The other shoulder, while clothed at its beginning, has a whole other set-up keeping it from moving and, therefore, him from being anything but on his back in the bed.

And him, propped by the bend of the bed, but otherwise slack. This array of tubing and typical medical wares an unusual fashion for Laurie — or perhaps the soft lights that cast everything in greys — colors him washed-out and strange. His features stilled, no strain in the brow but for a light cut along his forehead left to breathe. A short time ago, covered in blood, he never looked so unguarded. Even the haphazard way the hospital blanket has been strung over one side and been left to fall off the other says so.
Maggie's arms wrap tighter about herself as she moves with a loping, shuffling gait. She stops several feet away from the unlikely patient, as out of place laying there as she is intruding. The sight of him is taken in for all that it is; and, too, she studies the little numbers representing his vitals, an effort that draws her closer until the figures clarify in her sights.

Unbalanced in more than the literal sense, Maggie's a mix of opposites as she watches, the vulnerable and the fighter: bearing pained eyes glassy with tiredness, she's cold under the blue fabric that swathes the shape of her body into invisibility and leaves nothing but thin angles, arms and legs and collarbones. The blood's been tidied from her mouth, bandaged at her scraped elbows, but little can be done about the bruises. Yet knuckles bearing evidence of striking a person herself, and there she stands, up and about in boots that appear ready for war. Or construction. The chafed red at her wrists is fading.

Hands curl onto the short curve of the bed's railing as she comes closer, watching Laurie closely— watching him breathe. A hesitant whisper breeches the quiet, sounding more reluctant to disturb him than concerned by this point, but spoken regardless. " — Miles…?" She grips tighter to the rail while thumbs stray unsurely.

That defining cut along his forehead holds form. Maggie's softness relieves her of guilt; the sound of his name does not stir Laurie. No difference in the lay of his head against the pillow, his dried hair an unruly mess, or twitch of the hands — one laid upon his own chest where it keeps clear anyone's reach for the chest-tube at his side, the other bound up — but both similarly with hanging, loose fingers. Those splayed over his bare front ride the gentle rise and fall of breathing; sometimes, too gentle. The tube hisses to life with the suction of air. Numbers dip and rise in the same. Exposed for treatment, that tell-tale spot against his ribs is swollen, purpled with the gathering of blood and irritation; it clearly marks the resting place of an old point.

When silence is her answer, Maggie's sights drift back to the monitors, watching the fluctuations under a furrowed brow— as if she doesn't quite trust, or approve of, the numbers. Then to the door, thoughtful; in limbo.

She chooses not to be in limbo anymore: she chooses to stay. Maggie again becomes a quiet sentinel, fastidiously aware of every change or lack thereof in Laurie. Dutifully attentive and beyond, even though exhaustion wears her down, and the blows to her face and head have to mean she's aggrieved with a headache— there's a reason she's a patient as well, if a more temporary one.

Maggie does eventually comes to realize how heavily she's leaning into the bedrail. She careens back ever-so-slightly to bring a hand to her head, brushing lightly over her darkened temple, a tender touch that turns into tucking hair behind her ear as, over her shoulder, the chair is given consideration. Taken over by the spread of wet clothes, it brings a chilled shift of her shoulders, and she leaves it be.

Tired steps scuff quietly instead around the hospital bed— to the other side, clear of lifelines to equipment and possessing of a less broken arm. She leans a hip against the mattress; the lean evolves into sitting on the very edge upon the white sheet as Maggie's watch resumes, just brimming with concern that goes unseen by the unaware patient, touched at the lips by the faintest of frowns. She pulls lightly at the blanket, moving it up where it should have been. Fingers remain curled in its folds. Maggie leans back, carefully testing her weight against the pillows.

There she hovers without quite resting. She can't; her watch of Laurie is so constant, sometimes thoughtful, sometimes worried, sometimes conflicted, always aware of his every breath. But maybe— if she just closes her eyes for a second

Minutes turn into time only a clock can count; there might be one in the room, but no one is watching it. Maggie's shy intrusion of the bed has melted slowly after that first heavy descent of her eyes. Perhaps without even realizing, she's placed herself at Laurie's side. Her legs have curled up off the floor boots and all, and the blanket has found its way over both of them. Nestled facing him on her side, an inch back and she'd risk falling— he anchors her there, though she doesn't hang on, or even touch him beyond simply adding her presence to his. The arm underneath her is barred across her chest, and the other lays at rest between them, Maggie's bruised knuckles grazing the man's side. She's well and truly drifted off.

And when she has — when the slow rhythmic breathing fueled by a machine for one is reflected in the deep, restful breathing of the other — a stir. No obvious alertness or purposeful disturbance; it's an even unnatural still for wakefulness. So the motivation remains a mystery, as, so content till now to lay where it's been placed, Laurie's hand on his chest slips to the side. A little nudge of the elbow here and there, never far, it slides off — almost as if it were falling… on a slow, wary, but ultimately accurate path to where Maggie's hand teases connecting them. Knuckles to more colored knuckles.

No more, no less. As quietly as it started, movement stops. The two of them make an uneasy peace of battle-worn partners, unconsciously seeking comfort in togetherness as the hospital beeps on behind them.

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