2010-09-24: Perchance



Date: September 24th, 2010


When we see each other again, will it be in our dreams.


The chaos of the tilt-a-whirl world ravages every part of Maggie's drugged mind, belonging to a body that could, by now, be anywhere; she wouldn't know. Unconsciousness is relative; consciousness exists just enough to be warped. All she knows is movement and shadows pulling her viciously in every dizzying direction, numbness and threat bearing down from all sides, blood and bullets and memories and thought…

Wake up.

Maggie's own voice — an inner cheerleader around the flashing thoughts flying through her mind like strobing photographs: the uneven face of the man who grabbed her and rumbled painfully into her ear, who shot Hamm— Hamm, saying the name "Laurie". Laurie— if she could just tear free of this, if she could just see where she is, if she could just—

Wake up!

Maybe the voice is more like a drill sergeant.


She opens her eyes.

* * *

It's quiet. There's always background noise in New York: the machinations of vehicles, the buzz of industry, the hum of a massive population. Here, wherever here is, has escaped it all. It's as quiet as the country. There can be a fine line between "peace and quiet" and "desolation".

It's peace. There is no desolation. Maggie is not alone, and not with an enemy. The shadowy warehouse has been wiped clean; here it's pure and soft and white — but shares space, too, with colour. A single room, spacious, art on the walls, and in the middle of it, her. Blonde hair hangs free around her face and onto shoulders, straight, soft, casual. It's tranquil here, she's tranquil, improbably blue eyes stilled and pleasantly distant, as if she paused midway through a task, forgot what she was doing and so continues to drift into space.

A soft, welcome, rustling of cloth beside her is the gentle adjustments of her company. Fleecy sheets make a wide white landscape of the bed, their generous amounts tangling about the bodies of Maggie and him with her — in comfort, not danger — swaddling, not strangling. Some heavier, fluffier comforter has been cast aside in the temperate, undisturbed air of the room, leaving only these delicate sheets. Soft mounds of fabric pool underneath an arm as its pressed into the mattress, becoming weight-bearing. Improbable blue, meet your match, impossible.

Laurie is spread along the bed on his stomach. Along the way of his body, his legs are cozily sheathed in the sheets. Except to the bare feet, one absently set over the other.

His back, with free arms, and his bare chest pressed to the comfort of the mattress. It's a map, a pattern — a history of distress that doesn't seem so now in this perfectly clear environment. So the skin's a little more callous near the shoulder. Or there's another woman's touch claiming prints at the small of his back. A multitude of lash-marks making sure nothing will ever be smooth again is only an identity. He isn't smooth; here, that's okay. It's been rough; it isn't anymore.

Bare arms curved, folded in front of him where he'd been resting, now pushed off of elbows, shoulders rising with chin — the light tilt of his head to watch her. Undemanding, his prompt as he charts her distance is affectionately curious: "… Where did you go?"

There's a window behind — there must be, because as Maggie turns her head, the sun lights in her hair and warms her eyes. She drifts back just as easily as she drifted out, content to come back around and to meet Laurie's gaze with hers — two tranquil seas of blue. Quiet spans across. At ease.

"Nowhere important," comes her eventual reply, untroubled, carrying a hazy, pleasant quality; almost sleepy. It's honest; she smiles. Wherever she went just then, she doesn't care to dwell or even remember.

Maggie resettles in her comfortable place cross-legged in those layers of cozy sheets alongside him, only a bare knee in plain sight. A tip of her head folds folding against the sleeve of a perfectly too large t-shirt. A marker is grasped lightly in her right hand— a tool of art, basic and straightforward. She appears prepared to use it, though no conventional canvas is in her reach. Fascination washes over the patterned back next to her and plays gently over her features. Calmly, the black felt tip presses into the small of Laurie's back. "But I was wondering…"

"Good weather, though, I hope," muses Laurie, a soft tease around the eyes and the tips of his smile as it greets hers. That thought is left to unravel off at that, forgotten. She's here now; that's what matters.

To her movement, his gaze drifts away from her and he lets his head fall to the wrists crossed in front of him. Shoulders dropping, it's complete relaxation, undisturbed by her stare and the exposure of all those imperfections. Not even red anymore, they're simply bumps along the way. An inhale and exhale makes a rise and fall of his body in a soft wave. The little touch of the cool marker on bare skin elicits a hum — or, perhaps, only the beginning of words as he mutters, laziness stringing his syllables together in low melody. "What were you wondering…?"

As Maggie's new canvas settles into stillness save for the reassuring breaths, the marker makes artful, gentle lines swoop up the low back, curving indolently upward where the spine does. She's entranced by this craft; moments pass before a small, soft sound in her throat, thoughtful and amused — hm — signals that she did hear. But there are lines to draw, shapes to create. It feels aimless, the light touch of the marker that slowly twirls every so often, thin and thick and thin again, but she is not without direction. Laurie has the outline all right here. Connect the dots. Scar to scar.

"I was just wondering…" she repeats idly; the marker pauses and lifts, only so that she may reach a long arm toward Laurie's far shoulder. It's blotted with ink. "About you."

The slate upon which she would create that loopy masterpiece is tolerantly stationary under the artist's ministrations. With his cheek now rested on his hand, blue dips to half-mast; her extracurricular activity on his skin lends no pause as he lies, careless to the event. Once in a while, fingers, idle with unemployment where they rest beneath his chin, toy with white fabric sheets. Laurie is enraptured with his own complacency, though it seems now a natural fit. Here, in this room, on this bed. Old wounds become child's play under the attentions of the varying black line.

By the time she answers, his relaxation has tipped his head further, so that his mouth moves against his arm, muffling words that follow a low rumbling mmmm vibrating in his chest below. "Well, that," he makes only as much effort as the slightest adjustment of his cheek off his arm, letting the second half carry up to her with better quality — and the dry drollness more intact, " —doesn't sound very interesting."

Another pause, ink against skin; Maggie looks toward the head of the bed and Laurie, the corners of her lips curving up in a little smile. It's content, serene— and knowing, the holder of benevolent secrets, until lips move and she says aloud, "Au contraire." The marker leaves the shoulder; it's left behind the shape of a star.

Gently, so as not to disturb Laurie's comfortable pose or, for that matter, her own, Maggie eases to movement: a hand presses into the cushioning surface of the mattress and, hidden legs uncrossing, she leans into her canvas hip-to-hip to gain a better perspective of her artwork. Her marker continues to rewrite history, changing injury into whimsical interconnected tattoos dotted with more stars. "Aren't you going to ask," she says unconcerned, "what I'm drawing?"

Deepness of his breaths might paint Laurie asleep as the quiet of Maggie's smile keeps them in peace. But — as it goes with cats — when you think they're fast asleep, they're always… — not that wide awake is an apt notion to the sleepy timbre of his eventual response, "MmmmI don't believe you…", the most murmured of them all. True to vein, a near purr.

To touch more personal than a felt tip, Laurie retains his patient stasis. All the better to absorb through the body those trails as she lays them down, the sensation coming up a chart in his head, point to point. That network of starry scars. But to the question, not this knowing. Careless — well. Perhaps a little perceptiveness, "And ruin the surprise…"

"Well you should believe me," Maggie insists; it's playful. "I only speak the truth." A trail runs down Laurie's back and ends in a swirling point on his ribs, ink warming and drying in the comfortable air as soon as the marker stops. Every scar and every line of ink is continuously followed by the artist's peaceful fascination. "I'm drawing a map," she announces, seeming unworried about ruining any surprise, "of the sky." Lo and behold: constellations. Fanciful interpretation of the stars in black that overtakes the uneven surfaces. "I'll be done in… oh, a light years."

For her insistence, Maggie is treated with a rolling chuckle that stirs stars and sets the sky to apocalyptic shaking before it all smoothes over again. "Is that so," comes on the tail of her revelation — surprise ruined; he's not surprised. It makes a better story between them than it did secret. Black, set on an uneven landscape, these stars do not twinkle; but neither do they flare out, die, collide. "The sky…" mused with more awareness now, "… seems an awfully big responsibility to have on one's back." Maybe the sky has a shimmer after all; Laurie's eyes reopen a'sparkle in blue as he lifts his chin to plant where his cheek was, staring off into the peaceful room. "Am I very far away?"

Maggie drifts into thought over this for a moment; and considering, retraces a line of a starry construct with a lighter drag of the marker, winds around and around as if traversing a maze. Or the map that it's meant to be; as if it holds all the answers. Down, up; right to left. "I don't need a telescope to see you. You can't be too far." She speaks this quiet logic with a pleased smile, and the marker comes to a slow halt. She gently snaps the cover on, sets it aside.

"And don't worry…" She isn't. Maggie's thumb presses to the ink where her artwork last left off: it remains bold and dark, for all appearances permanent, but evidence of its mortality comes away as a dark smudge on her own skin, revealed as she turns her hand over in regard. "I can wash it away."

"I guess that means…" deliberates Laurie with a cool blue reasoning that, left too long, warmly melts to the flash of goofiness hiding beneath, "… you've got me covered." Thumbed — again, a press to his skin realms away from the marker's feel — he allows himself to make movement. Shoulder rising to accommodate his opposite arm coming underneath, the upper right portion of the sky goes all askew. Left hand braces to his right forearm, dictating the farthest reaches he can get his hand to go to the purposes of feeling along his own sides — back. So close to where Maggie's hand had touched — so close to Maggie's hand.

He can't see the artwork, nor feel it now that it's done; he can only trace the confines of his own puckered skin and fill in the blanks. "This map," as fingers splay where they are and his head, ever restful, tucks against the same forearm as stretches behind. Now his gaze takes up some corner of the room. "Is it the kind that leads to treasure?"

"Oh it depends." The replying voice balances playfully in-between wisdom and making it up as she goes along — constructing imaginary rules to then hold to as real, a children's game. "There's a lot of paths." But her path — the one she chooses — isn't to the stars in the here and now, it's to the bed: Maggie eases down on her back right where she is, turning their perspectives of each other upside-down. Parallels joined literally at the hip; her arms stretch behind her head, and propped comfortably on them, looks around the sheet-covered mountain made by her knees. The pair has fallen into a yin and yang formation: her shirt pale, his back darkened, surrounded all by white.

"I read, somewhere, once, I don't remember where…" Maggie says and begins to lightly recite, "Things are as they are. Looking out into it the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars…" she trails off into thoughtful silence, as though trying to remember the rest — there's more — just out of reach, but she doesn't struggle too hard to find it, relaxing into the bed.

"And what path are you on, Maggie Powers~?" caroled out soft, as to musical lyrics, it's left to hang sing-song in the air rather than be answered. Relaxing his own self-examination, Laurie's arm retracts to where it had been. The two of them — truly a mirror now. Man to woman, where their bodies might represent — such as the partial sky on his back — and also embrace the physical of the gentle air, the wash of sunlight, and the feel of cotton sheets and each other. There could be no place more comfortable, and Laurie's chin resettles slightly crooked on his hands to contemplate this very position. "… nor between well and badly… arranged constellations…" A finish to hers, absent. It's not for several quiet, and perfect, breaths after that when he, without adjusting or shifting their balance, mentions with quiet but underlying firm presence: "… You know this isn't real."
Laurie has reconnected.

At first, in peace — at the completion of the quote — Maggie lets her head drift to the side as a smile, well-matched to the bit of sun that warms her, spreads along her face, content in the absent answer — quietly satisfied. No aha, that's how it went; instead, it's very much like she'd been expecting Laurie to finish her sentence all along, and she hadn't forgotten at all. The smile is left there, lingering— happy there— even as the statement of reality, of what it isn't, passes by. No aha moment arrives for that, either. No revelation. But in time the smile fades.

Her eyes shift away from Laurie troubled, out-of-place tension firming her body it where it was so at rest when a fluttering interrupts the corners of her vision and of the room itself. Blurs, shadows of irregular heartbeats so violently incompatible with all that this haven represents. Maggie doesn't appear, per se, frightened by this intrusion; with a growing resolve, she sits up with a soft rustle of sheets and focuses on Laurie. "You know, they say all good things come to an end, but I don't understand why that always has to be true…"

The point of such focus, Laurie obliges by being the clarity in a room getting rough around the edges. Each crisp line of naked body not in the sheets, each painted scar making that body celestial. His very nature anchors her… while his own words drove her to see the stains beyond the white. Spying her rise, his arms push away from the mattress, lifting his head, his shoulders again. Elbows resting, his hands go out in front of him to fold, and he arranges the fingers a few times before glancing over his shoulder to her, still higher.

The morphing corners of the room do not move him; he has nowhere to go. It's… only here that he ever existed. Blue eyes stare with calmness, "Maybe they're just things becoming other things." Everything ends the thought continues unspoken, simply caught in the room. Even stars.

Maggie's eyes shut. It's an instant, nothing more than steadying against the unwell feeling that creeps up real and uninvited, causing a struggle against wavering where she sits; at least, where she perceives she sits. A bracing hand curls into the cotton of the sheets, and her head hangs; no one thing feels more real than the other.

When she opens her eyes, she's still here: this comfortable room with danger pounding at the door. Laurie is as clear as ever; Maggie is not — a fog hazes the lucid blue of her gaze. Though no less meant, she speaks distantly, numbed by the same. "Are y— … is that supposed to make me feel better." She reaches out toward that anchor— strong arm, outstretched hand. Her resolve mixes sharply with urgency around those fading eyes, etching a face that was so recently at peace. "I'm going… to make this all right."

Reluctantly, at last, he unfurls in a manner of half-sitting. Sheets claiming his legs twist, some falling away in patterns, exposing the hip where they'd connected. Muscles flexing visibly; they can no longer relax to the fullest when bearing his weight, but still he's untroubled. The sentinel's watch of his blue eyes holds strong. "I'm not going with you." While Maggie's calm and the room about them begin to crumble, neutrality reigns in him. It makes him remote, stalls her arm when it shouldn't even take that whole length to reach him. But to her determination, it's him who breaches that space. Hand jumping off the mattress, his grip finds her arm, slides to her wrist, her fingers. They're intertwined. "Sorry— " Word echoes like a memory — one of a more hurried Laurie — but it's different sentiments tumbling out of his mouth. "I had to at least try. I know you can deal with it. Remember— I believe in you."

Hand in hand, Maggie's grip curls into the other — that's all she wanted, something to hold onto going out of this reverie. She's quiet now, only letting the words drift over her for her consideration. If she has a response, it's not for here. It would fall on deaf ears. Sensations shift on her; soon feeling anything at all is put into question. The sun put on a dimmer — the light is sucked out of the room. The pure, soft white becomes cold and eerie, and every advancing shadow holds something unwanted. Maggie's hand tightens, loosens, and tightens again as hard as she can— her head whips straight up toward the ceiling, wide eyes staring into the unknown.

Wake up—

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