2010-04-11: Somebody's Watching Me



Date: April 11th, 2010


Laurie has a desk, and Maggie has a stalker situation.

"Somebody's Watching Me"

Police Station

New York City

The New York police station. What else can we possibly say about it? The slew of district cases and a fair to steady march of perps across the bullpen to various holding areas is common and expected. But when it isn't about the criminals outside, it's internal affairs. And the latest demonstration of this seems to have settled in a flurry of last minute paperwork and a few surprised reactions. The result of which is now sitting at a desk conveniently across from a certain Detective Maggie Powers', his presence and his shiny new ID badge marking Police Consultant Laurie Miles as a somewhat more permanent fixture these days.

This day, his long legs are propped up, feet against the edge of the desk and occasionally pushing back and forth to rock him vaguely side to side in a low-budget but conveniently spinny office chair. Laurie's either been here a while or he finds the bustle of the office part of police work to be particularly boring, because he's found the time and effort to borrow someone's pen holder — with all pens and pencils still inside — and attempt to balance the entire thing on his nose. What fair to average job he's doing at it is taking all of his concentration as well as that of several nearby officers who probably had better things to do before their curiosity got the better of them.

With no more warning than an extra set of steps amongst the many coming and going around the station, a hand reaches over Laurie's head ad plucks a black ballpoint from the pen holder. So brusquely, in fact, that the entire thing is shoved completely off-balance, resulting in what is likely a tumbling of writing utensils every which way.

By contrast, a pleasant enough voice follows. "Miiiiles," greets Detective Powers from just behind the consultant's chair, pen in hand. A stack of files balanced on her forearm, she uses the twice stolen pen to jot down a few notes, a smile on her face the entire time, focusing on that, not Laurie. Her notes are probably not that funny. "Are you enjoying your … desk?" she asks in a manner that is less amused. With Laurie's desk across from hers, she's already wondering how many times he's going to interrupt her work with things like balancing objects on his nose like a seal.

He may've been doing fine on his own, but the forceful interruption is indeed all it takes for the holder to tip and dive towards the floor. In a last ditch effort, Laurie pushes off with his feet and swerves back and to the side but gravity wins the day. Even a quick dart of the hand out only saves the black-grate holder, leaving everything that was once inside it to roll to freedom under other people's desks. Laurie's mouth pulls downward sadly a moment, but he prefers to focus, instead, on how he can totally lean his head back again and stare past the bottom of Maggie's notes to that smile.

At the mention of his desk, however, the consultant juts forward, grabbing the edge of it and pulling into the station properly. "I am," he declares, rubbing hands in a square along the fine — but empty — wood in front of him. "Lacks a… certain personal touch. But lends me an air of professionalism, I think." He doesn't sound like he's sure that's a positive thing, despite the sagely-conspiratorial look he grants Maggie with for it. "Yours is better, though. Yours has something to do." To which he indicates a brown-paper wrapped package that's been deposited in the detective's inbox.

Maggie pauses her note-writing to take in Laurie's observations over his desk, her smile pursing into something of a smirk before her attention is drawn to her own work station. The smile fades and with a sigh, she strides around Laurie's new digs. She actually stops not once, but twice on her way there to crouch down and swipe a pen and a pencil from the floor, seeming to actually feel guilty for making a mess.

Setting the paperwork on her desk with a thud, and the pens and pencil beside that, the detective picks up the package and gives it an experimental turning over. Before she makes any move to tear into it, blue eyes edge across the way to… Laurie's desk… with admonition. "What is it this time? Paint brushes?" Not exactly the picture of a gracious receiver of a gift, she unravels the brown wrapping paper.

Laurie's attention clings to Maggie like one whose other interests have been rudely knocked off his nose. As she examines the package, he appears just as curious; such that, when he's questioned on the contents, his eyebrows raise, though in somewhat exaggerated surprise. "Unfortunately, I can only see what I'm shown, not through paper. Though I'm perfectly game to try…" His reaching hand for the package falls short once she gets into opening it anyway.

This particular present is devoid of any cutesy notes; the only greeting is typed and badly reproduced on smear-streaked paper. It reads: "I just wanted to congratulate you." The box underneath is lacking a top, fully exposing a stack of photos inside beside a newspaper section about Maggie's latest arrest for the girl fished out of the river. Each of the photos also encompass this investigation, but not in an official manner… though each is zoomed in alarmingly well on Maggie, none are police photos. Nobody was there while they were at the club, for instance. But here are photos. Most are close-ups, but a couple of the others seem to have been trimmed down from their original size. Some examination of the smaller photos' similarities may suggest that the cropped sections were where a certain other involved member of the investigation would have been standing.

The wrapping falls away to reveal the box in Maggie's hands. "You really shouldn't— " She isnt convinced it's not Laurie's doing, right up until her eyes fall on the paper. It's in her fingers before she realizes what it is, what it says, but the instant she does, she sets it aside quickly. She stares into the box at the photographs — of herself — with an uncharacteristically dumbfounded expression flooding to her face. Maggie is noticeably thrown, but she gets her head on straight — after several seconds, anyway. Laurie is the closest person here, and so he gets the stoic order that comes out of her mouth. "I need an evidence kit." She looks up. "Now!"

To his credit, Laurie gets to his feet, and he's even frowning gently when he does so. But spotting some blue-clothed personnel reacting faster than him, he only remains standing, leaning forward on one hand to see Maggie's desk better. Taking up one of the pens she rescued from the floor, he uses it to maneuver the note the other way around so the words are right-side for him. He stares at it longer than is necessary for just reading the short sentiment, though, making it likely that this narrow-eyed look of concentration is for more than the realization Maggie's already come to. "…Huh."

Maggie is already reaching for a pen of her own — or rather, the one she stole from Laurie who likely stole it from someone else — when she catches the consultant's distinct look of concentration. "What?" she queries. She wants to see what he sees. "What is it?" She grabs the pen after all, delving into the box to nudge one photo past the other. Her whole face frowns, from her lips to her brows. "Someone's been… following me, all of these are… they're recent, this was from the Winger case last week…"

She graciously takes the evidence kit from the man in blue who rushes back with it, though the detective's smile is understandably strained. Immediately, she fetches a pair of sterile blue gloves and starts going through the photos one by one, flipping one to face Laurie. It's her, looking towards her right to someone who has been cropped out: him. "I don't understand, is this— a stalker? Why would someone want to follow me?"

"The language…" Laurie mutters distractedly until he's quite done examining the item and straightens. The pen comes to tap against his jaw, coincidentally next to the dark bruise there that is further proof of how recent that case was. When he's offered a certain photo to look at, he goes for the evidence kit first: not to put on a glove, just to hold it in his hand like a handkerchief so he can pluck the picture away without anyone freaking out about contamination. "So carefully developed," he observes of the picture, pulling it closer to eye the missing spot where he would've been. "So hastily hacked off…"

Gaze sliding from the uneven edge to Maggie's inquiring face, he considers for a long moment, working lips together. Then, carefully, he sets the photo and glove down and puts his hands in his pockets almost warily. "You seem honest in your incredulity, but I want to make sure I'm not going to get into trouble for answering that personal-seeming question to the fullest of my ability."

From Laurie to note to photo to Laurie again, Maggie's eyes are wide. Whatever good humour she may have started with today has been chased fully away, her mouth a grim line. "What?" That would be more incredulity. Though she appears quite composed — serious, sure, but composed now — on the outside, the amount in which she happens to talk… says otherwise.

"The closest thing I have — had — as a stalker was you, Miles, and … mystery packages on my desk which— actually— really— you shouldn't do that— might be your M.O., but I'm pretty sure this is the work of someone even stranger than you right now." The detective's lips purse into an intent frown and she lets the photograph drop from gloved fingers to fall on top of the many others like it. "So tell me what you're thinking."

In the theme of incredulous acts, Laurie points dramatically back towards himself when he's accused of being similar to a giver of unwanted attention, harassment, or the following or watching of another individual. It would seem the previous pensiveness has had little to no effect on his humor. Big surprise. "Yeah, well," he adds absently as the self-accusing finger falls away, "Your fine city doesn't label the act of stalking as a crime, detective."

"Nevertheless," at her behest, he gestures to, not Maggie herself, but one of the photographic representations of her. "Target is attractive," okay, maybe a brief glance at the real Maggie. Brief. "And in a position of authority, surrounded by an elitist crowd in which it is difficult to prove oneself, and especially while retaining femininity. She presents intelligence, determination, and a basely admirable yet somehow grating affection for the rules," that last one might be said slightly less seriously. Slightly. "And in all this, she tries to smile for everyone…" Where his voice has softened to something almost affectionate in its own way, Laurie is quick to ruin the illusion by closing brusquely, "Obsessive personalities have clung to less."

He reclaims the pen and taps it underneath the printed piece of paper next. "The use of the word 'just' is colloquial. 'I' is personal and authoritative. Typing a note and then photo-copying that note is criminally intelligent." Finally, he looks her in the eye again, face still half-turned towards the note. It's a prompting glance, allowing her to make the final conclusion he is sitting on.

Barraged by the profiling, more of herself than whoever sent her the package, Detective Powers gives Laurie an expression that would be doe-eyed if it weren't for the fact that they're so light. Incredulity, in the face of logic, and thus it doesn't last long, this time. "Stalking is simpler in Wyoming." Grimness re-sets itself and she is all business. Or mostly business. It's personal, but she's trying to think as if it's not.

"Whoever did this has a purpose." Maggie collapses into her chair, which is marginally more expensive than Laurie's. Not by much. She leans into her desk, the wrist of her gloved hand pressing against her lips — her gaze, focusing again, is elsewhere, far off across the station at nothing. "It is, criminally intelligent," she eventually adds, hand falling away to reach out for the note. "I'm not expecting to find any prints." This said as she reaches for a sealable bag to keep the note uncontaminated just in case. "But it sure doesn't hurt to check."

Having therefore sufficiently answered her question, Laurie also sits down; he then immediately rocks back in the chair and tosses his legs up to rest, crossed, along the corner. At least they're not jutting into her space. "Hmmmm," he sort of observes non-committally as to fingerprints. Playing with the pen still in his hand, he casts an aside glance at her as she goes about that business. "He's been at it a while," he informs, wrapping up. "That cements the strength of your relationship in his mind, even if he hasn't had the courage to contact you directly. If you had no idea about this before now… something's come up that forced him to make himself known. A threat…"

He's been referring to everything very casually, despite the personal touch for poor targeted Maggie. But as musings bring him to this perceived 'threat', his forehead creases again and he leans forward out of his casual pose enough to give another last look at one of those photos so raggedly destroyed on one side.

Then, he leans sloooooowly back again. And unsuccessfully fights back a very impish smile.

Maggie zips the evidence bag up. "A threat." She reaches in to the goodie box of creepy stalker photos to bring up a few, spread out like a hand of cards. All with that second person shorn out of the picture. There is no matching impishness to be found on the detective's face, no, she looks about as impish as a grizzly, albeit much less scary. "I'm beginning to think you're in more trouble than I am."

Laurie picks up some accompanying photos, echoing her game pose. His are from the end of the night; Maggie had the culprit in hand… and a tentative but visible expression on her face. "It's only supposed to be for him…" He mentions quietly, really more to himself. Her commentary is what draws him to attention, has him freely smiling his own frequent smile. "And here I thought I just was trouble." And he slaps one of the photos upside-down and then splays the others — all close-up on Maggie's turned face, all with that expression — onto the desk in a neat arc. "Gin."

Maggie eyes those photographs darkly — unwittingly, it's an expression not dissimilar to those spread out on the desk, but sorely lacking the satisfaction she remembers from arresting that suspect. Seeing those photos, and the captured face, seems to disturb the detective, and she reaches out to scoop Laurie's "gin" away. "Maybe you are trouble," she starts as all the photos go back in the mystery box. "But you weren't around, I have to wonder how long I would have gone without knowing that someone's been watching me."

Maybe for a pick-me-up, she could try and emulate those arranged of her — gasp! — smiling at Laurie. Look, there's photographic proof. It happened. But even those are scooped away and Laurie is left with nothing to play with again. His fingers describe some distant melody against the blank top of his desk. "And maybe he would've stayed shy and never acted out on anything to cause you concern forever and ever." He spreads his hands to help treat the observation with a shrug and then, flopping against the back of his chair and lacking anything to balance seal-style… he really just looks kind of pathetically bored.

"Or he would have built up to a more disturbing endgame." They're assuming it's a he and Maggie runs with it. Odds are. It's just statistics.

Leaning back in her own chair, Maggie sits on the information for awhile. She watches the box sternly — thinking — and peels the blue gloves off before glancing up to witness the case of acute boredom across from her. "Is my being stalked boring you, Miles?" The question is followed by a tightening of her lips that could easily be construed as annoyance more than the beginnings of a smile. Not quite a reproduction of any of the photos. She takes the evidence bag containing the photocopy and tosses it across the desks at Laurie. She stands up, taking the box. "Time to take this straight to Forensics. You can tell me your theories about how this guy even found out about me on the way." She knows he has them. "Someone from an old case, do you think?"

Laurie visibly debates between answering that one or not, taking long enough that he's next distracted by the evidence bag coming at him. From the bag to her standing there, to the box in her hands, back down to the bag. "Fine." He finally snaps off — without any of the malice — as he jumps very quickly to his feet. As one hand scoops up the declared evidence, the other pulls open a desk door. Something inside rattles with the fast movement; it rattles a lot like a prescription bottle. But what he draws out is only a package of licorice that he's clearly decided is needed for the long journey. "Doesn't have to be," he comments, "You're out there doing important, noticeable work all the time. Also, your being stalked doesn't bore me." As he steps around the desks to be on the right path to follow her. "Knowing you weren't going to skip Forensics does."

"Why would I skip Forensics?" Maggie asks with a frank curiosity as she heads winds around desks. Forensics is a crucial step, even if she doubts any significant findings… "Criminal intelligence doesn't necessarily mean criminal mastermind, he could have missed something. It's possible. Besides, all of this has to be catalogued." Coming upon the somewhat outdated elevator in the station, she leans ahead to tap the button. She glances to Laurie to make sure he's still with her through this boring explanation.

"You wouldn't." Which is precisely why they're strolling to said elevator in the first place. When she glances for Laurie, he is, indeed, there, with a red licorice rope hanging out of the corner of his mouth as he watches her in return. The sort of conspicuous pause might make it seem as though he wasn't paying attention, but it's more that he feels hardly inclined to contribute. "No, no. You're absolutely right. This is exactly how things are supposed to be done." But when he glances idly away again, it isn't with any more amusement than before.

Maggie's diatribe about forensics ends with a mild roll of her eyes off of Laurie and his licorice, repressing a smile. "You're supposed to be telling me about your theories, remember?" She steps inside the elevator, a small brown box with its dull brown hues and unforgiving lighting that lurches somewhat as it comes to a halt. She shifts the smaller box, that with the photos — would-be evidence — in her hands as she does so, glancing to Laurie as she does. "What if— it's…"

"Now you've gone and made it sound like a chore," Laurie complains, sounding about the age that that verb suggests. He appears similarly wary of the elevator, scanning the environment before stepping in — and even then treating the examination with a dissatisfied sniff. Still, he leans towards her to share very cheerfully that: "There are six elevator related deaths every year." And he bounces a little bit on his heels to properly tempt fate. He's gnawing away at the licorice yet in his mouth, picking at taking out a second piece with one hand in the bag; the first rope gets sucked up through his teeth just as Maggie begins speculating. "Officer Parker?"

"What?" Maggie is a good detective, but there are certain things that seem to go straight over her head. It had nothing to do with elevator deaths. She presses the familiar button to go down and returns to blinking at Laurie. "No, we've been saying he for the last ten minutes…" Has it even been that long since she opened the package? "What if it's the woman from— " The lake. But what she says is as awkward as the subject itself: "The … acid … case." You know, that one; one of those cases that makes no sense on paper and almost caused her to drown. That one. "She was following me, and then she— " The elevator lurches, causing Maggie to step ahead to catch her balance. " —just disappeared."

"What?" Laurie parrots right back on top of her question, which is not at all useful in the case of clearing things up, and he more than likely knows that. He looks at her with some semblance of curiosity, though, bringing up a hand to rub at his chin. "Ahh, the Lady of the Lake…" As the elevator moves unpredictably — or, predictably if you never trusted it in the first place — his wide stance helps keep him in place, though there's some unsteady swaying. Glancing at the doors and then the ceiling, Laurie considers a second and then… bounces again. Harder than before. "Nope," he comments as though he's not testing the integrity of a rickety instrument. "Don't think it was her."

Maggie steps back and leans against the back of the elevator. If that's any indication of relief and belief in Laurie's observation — well, that's his guess. She's barely taken up this repose for more than three seconds before the doors slide open, letting them escape in one piece and admitting them entrance into the corridor that will presumably take them to the lab. "What makes you say that?" The detective asks, seeming an afterthought as she strolls out of the elevator, but nevertheless an important one. "She's been known to be purposefully…" she trails off, reconsidering her choice of the word to follow, but goes on anyway. "…random."

When Laurie strides across the threshold of the elevator, he glances behind him at it in almost disappointment that they arrived without incident. Turning around to Maggie, and the conversation at hand, he scrunches his nose slightly in distaste at some thought. But the look he gives the detective is wry and light. "When did you ever know her to be able to stop at a single sentence?" He might have left it at this, staring ahead of him, but a brief strange glance at Maggie and he decides to elaborate. "She isn't as random as you might think, or she might like. She's too intelligent to be it accidentally and too psychopathic to be it intelligently. I would expect our lady to mention the water," he ticks off on his hand, "your previous encounter, and do something a bit more imaginative than write me out with a pair of scissors."

"You're right. No, this seems personal for different reasons," Maggie gives in to agreeing as she walks down the hall ahead of Laurie. "Still — I wouldn't be a good detective if I didn't second-guess." Under normal circumstances, however, she wouldn't second-guess quite so much. She whirls about in front of the door to the lab, holding the box of unnerving photos like a present in front of her — which it is, in a way, to her. One she'd rather not have received. She holds a hand out toward Laurie, curling her fingers in a quick grabbing motion. "I'll save you the long conversation I'm going to have in there about trace evidence."

"I prefer to think of it as 'weighing your options'," Laurie expresses evenly, continuously trailing behind her so that it's easy for her whirling motion at the door to cause him to stop and still be facing her. With that hand now towards him, he pockets the licorice and holds up the evidence bag with the personal note inside. Before handing it over, he gives the bag a little shake. "Sweet," as the item is handed to its original intended owner, just to be turned over to the lab technicians instead. He's able to, completely straight-faced, describe, "That should give me plenty of time to go through your personal things without interruption."

Maggie's motion to take the bag slows and her eyes widen with some measure of alarm — but as soon as the expression appears, it vanishes, and she snatches the bag into her possession. "Well good luck, have fun," she says laissez-faire with a smile as she eases the door beside her open, starting to lean inside. "I don't keep anything personal at work." She pauses, briefly, to reconsider that statement. "…And you don't have the key to my locker."

Laurie's hands come up, palms forward innocently, to either side of his shoulders as he begins to backwards step away from the door, and from Maggie's consideration. At her mention of the locker, his eyes dart to the ceiling thoughtfully, memorizing. "The locker… riiiight." Then back at her. A finger comes down from the palms-up situation to point at her. "Don't forget to second-guess, detective. Ask yourself… how much can I really be sure of what skills this guy picked up with his sordid, sordid background?" The finger taps against his lips, considering. "Hmmmmm. Logic will get you from A to B, Powers. Imagination will take you everywhere!" He's been backing up, but now he offers her a last thrilled expression before turning to duck into the stairwell.

"…Y— " Maggie is left, open-mouthed, eyeing the space the consultant scurried away from, using her imagination. She shakes her head and steps into the lab, shoving out of sight past the door she had propped open with one boot Maybe the lengthy conversation she had planned will be cut short, though. "Hey, I might have a stalker situation, I need you to start putting this through the works while I run upstairs — I'll explain later…"


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