2010-07-14: Orders Or Excuses



Guest Starring


Date: July 14, 2010


…you decide.

"Orders or Excuses"


It's evening at the New York Police Department and Detective Sam Wright (or agent to those of you that are about details) is just coming in. Dark circles outline his eyes and several days of untrimmed whiskers follow the lines of his face and neck. A pair of dark wash jeans and an unbuttoned blue shirt (overtop of a green tank) make him appear more like he's in the vice unit than homicide.

Despite his appearance, he's smirking— as always— when he walks to his desk and lounges in his chair, resting his feet up on the top of the desk itself. With a growing smirk he kind of shakes his head smugly, but his eyes read something different, secretive, even.

Nearby, privy to that smirk, is Detective Maggie Powers — at her own desk so close to the one Sam claimed. The long sleeves of the detective's dull pastel violet — nearly grey — shirt are rolled up to her elbows, as she leans, hard-working, pen in hand, over a stack of paperwork next to a cup of coffee that is now long cold and ignored. She's seated on the very edge of her chair in what looks like an uncomfortable position, on the brink of jumping up to run off to the next thing at any moment — such has been her life.

She's focused on her work, however, not even seeming to realize her tense pose; focused, that is, save for the glance she allows to slide to Sam. That one glance takes in his state immediately and, though she says absolutely nothing of it out-loud, says obviously enough that he looks terrible. What she does say — while looking back down at her work, pen going back to doing a job she appears more interested in than in whatever is on Sam's mind — is an unenthusiastic, expectant: "What now."

The sound of Maggie's voice doesn't pull Sam out of wherever his mind is, not immediately, anyways. Instead, he drops his feet to the ground and rests his elbows on the desk before his lips quirk into a kind of toothy smirk, far beyond mirth and merriment. The grim smile and the fatigued eyes finally make their way to Maggie— the smile extending to expose Sam's dimples.

"Nothin'," he says gruffly before leaning back in the chair again. "Just tryin' to remember whose team everyone is on." His eyes narrow into small slits as he studies his ex-fiance carefully. "'Course ye never had trouble with that did ye Mags? Ya were always on yer own team— "

Maggie stops printing on the form midway through a word, looking up once more. This time she watches Sam longer — and even more critically. As a certain tension makes her features harden slightly, blue eyes look straight at the detective-turned-agent, wide open, while his are narrowed. "I'm not sure you know me at all, Sam." Her stare bores on and on into Sam until she breaks it off; tolerance of his constant attitude slipping, her chin tips down and she seems to make a studious attempt to go back to her paperwork. "And it's not nothing," she states, evenly calling him out — he's going on about teams for a reason.

"Evidently not," Sam smiles bitterly now. "The Maggie I knew didn't ditch on everyone. Randomly. Without word. So nah, I don't know ya at all. 'N I never did." His Southern drawl thickens now, leaning back in his seat again. He drums his fingers on the desk irritably, his patience with whatever is on his mind is wearing thin, but he manages to keep it somewhat inside still. "Gist tryin' tah wrap mah brain 'round the freakin' chain 'o command 'n people's need tah override it 'n be cowboys 'n ruin…" he pauses, stopping himself from divulging more than he ought, "…things fer the team." And now he pastes a sweet looking smile on his face.

As she it becomes increasingly obvious that Maggie is not going to be able to finish her present work while Sam lingers, mixing the past and present, she drops her pen. A quick check is given to the bullpen around her; it's relatively quiet, and she's more or less assured that no one's listening, which seems to allow her answer. She leans forward further, the wheeled chair drawing closer to the desk's edge, and lays one hand over the other, flat.

"Do you want to know…" she says slowly, very still and solemn as she regards Sam and his too-sweet smile. "…why I left? I left because I thought that if I disappeared… then you wouldn't have to."
Maggie looks away only briefly to re-arrange her papers, a short-lived distraction before she goes on, blunt instead of argumentative, calmness winning over anger. "Now. What are you talking about." Her gaze takes on a skeptical, suspicious shine but doesn't weaken. "If you're scolding me again for going around the chain of command — I've already heard it."

"Wouldn't hafta? Ha! How little ya know 'bout small towns, Blondie. Couldn't stay there. Couldn't deal with…" Sam purses his lips together as if to silence his thoughts again, but it fails him, seconds later his lips quirk into an-all-too-smug smile, "Why would I have had tah leave? Ended up leavin' anyways— fit a profile 'n all that jazz." He runs his fingers through his hair.

"Ha! Ya really are conceited 'ren't ya? The world don't begin 'n end with you," his nose wrinkles, "pumpkin." That same sugary smile overtakes his face before he peers about the bull pen again. "Nah, gist drawin' things tah close in my other life— with insufficient evidence, at least one witness who insists she won't take the stand, a deranged gang leader who we can not longer track, and a dead asset— all because he couldn't take orders. Not sure how any of this effects ye other than I'll be outta yer hair soon 'nuff."

Many of the things that Sam says shift Maggie's stillness: the flickers of anger and resentment, the beginnings of opening her mouth to defend herself — but she's waylaid from speaking on the past when certain details of the present stand out more than the rest. Bright eyes are unmoving from Sam as she blinks a few times — surprise — and she just stares at him with a gradually concerned, apprehensive tension pulling her brows. Through this, a professional, "Asset? You're not talking about Miles— "

"Now look what I've done and gone— don't know nothin', can't say nothin'," Sam slides his chair away from his desk. "You wanna know more ya gotta talk to Mason— as it stands, my ass is pressed, can't say anythin' and al'ready said too much." Pushing his hands on his thighs, he presses himself to a standing position. "The short of it? The entire operation is effed. 'N now we're goin' in blind." With another shake of his head, he buttons his shirt. "'N… while I may work here by day, my night job's callin'. Later, Stilts." He turns on his heel and heads from whence he came despite the fact he just got here. Must have more pressing things to deal with at the FBI?

If it weren't for the fact that Sam is walking away, he might see sooner that two things become obvious: that this affects Maggie more than meaning he'll be "out of her hair" soon; and two, that she doesn't truly know what to do with the news. A hand lifts and makes some half-formed gesture only to hover there; she tries to reply to Sam before he leaves but nothing happens; thinking too fast, her eyes stray quickly every which way, out of focus.

One of those roving glances must focus just enough to catch sight of the direction Sam went in, because Maggie launches from her desk, her chair shoved back as she quite literally chases after her ex-fiance. "No!" Her shout turns into a hiss as a pair of officers passes them by in the other direction — I don't even want to get between whatever THAT is, their shared glances say. "Wait," Maggie insists as she hurries to catch up. "You know— more," she accuses, intense, searching, "Forget the operation, who knows what Mason will tell me. I'm not one of you— but he's my partner, Sam, I deserve to know what happened!" In case words aren't enough — suspecting they aren't — she makes a grab for Sam's arm.

Sam continues in his steady paces, he can't look back, he remains purposeful in his pace and the weight of each step, determined, really. His back is wholly insensitive, unreceptive to the words spoken to him. "I can't talk about it," he continues to pace forwards until the grab is made for his arm which he instinctively pulls away causing his sleeve to come up, track marks exposed for mere seconds before he manages to tug it down, an action that actually causes him to take pause. Finally he turns to look at her with an almost frustrated expression, his entire features sink into a kind of irritation akin to poison ivy, "I can't." His eyes soften just a little as he stares at her, but just a little and only for a moment. "There's nothin' tah say." A glance is given down to his now-covered arm before he glances at Maggie again, almost daring her to say something about it.

She sees it. There's no question. The way Maggie jerks her already shunned hand back as if she touched something hot, and the way she takes a sudden, surprised step backwards — it's all telling and she does nothing to hide her reaction. Her blinking gaze is cast too downward to meet Sam's eyes — still looking at his arm — but she doesn't have to be looking to feel the challenge. "…Sam…"

Very slowly — her hand hesitating as if ready to grab him again, knowing she's quiet too long and he might turn tail again — she swallows and looks up. The dare is passed by. "…you still have a case," she starts on a new route — not what Maggie sincerely focused on, but she's aware that it might be more apt to keep Sam's attention. Her voice isn't quite steady, as if she's slowly forcing them, word by word. "…You have everything from his operation. You have statements from at least some of the kidnapped therapists. It's not like all three won't recognize their kidnapper, you have contacts— there's— there's evidence. That's not enough for the Bureau? Well maybe it's good enough for the DA." But just as she starts to turn, as if she's about to go to the DA right this second, she stops quite purposefully. "And you do know something," she sneaks in — with knife-sharp watchfulness, she takes note of every one of the man's reactions as she goes on, "because you said … it was because he couldn't take orders. Did he disobey orders? Was his cover blown?"

"A case but no way tah proceed," Sam hisses as he glances around for wandering ears, or eyes for that matter. "Some witnesses but no way tah git the actual crime boss— everyone that gits close to him becomes a turncoat other than yer miracle boy. So yeah, we're blown. Right now, this moment, we're blown." His expression turns grim as he takes another step towards the door. "'N believe it or not, Maggie, I follow orders. If I'm pushed tah go undercover for the NYPD even though my ex-fiance is there, I do it. If I'm told to git the badguys I've gonna have tah git a heroin addiction, I do it. And hell, if I'm told that we're pullin' out, guess what— we pull out. I don't always like my orders, and I do question them, but I take them as I need tah. So when I'm ordered not to tell yah anything… guess what… I can't tell ya anything."

Reluctantly, Maggie steps closer only to keep these secrets between them, her voice low … and full contempt. "And taking a man who retired from undercover work, and putting him in this— world," she grimaces, clearly having no love for it; her anger is barely contained, sharp gestures of her hands making up for the rest, "something he shouldn't have, psychologically, been cleared for, I guess that was following orders too."

She takes a step back. "Despite what you think, I normally follow orders too. For years. But some of those … what you said. They're not orders, Sam. They're excuses."

Maggie turns, a loose fist pressing against her mouth as she walks away.

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