2010-08-06: Something Missed



Date: August 6th, 2010


Is nice to have back.

"Something Missed"

Laurie's Apartment

Rising, sweeping, falling. Strings. Chasing each other, a swirl of enthusiasm and anticipation. Building and building, that serenade of artistically rendered measures, teasing the peak — reaching those crescendos — deceptive calm right before the — chorus! Of voices rising in triumph that needs no words, filling in that which the strings punctuate in perfect glory — a tribute, a triumph — an Ode To Joy. It fills the apartment complex halls, churning out from that partially opened door of 12B. Every door of that particular residency is flung open as well, letting there be no boundaries for the swelling music.

Besides the stereo system and its impromptu set-up in the middle of the floor for this given concert, the rooms are those of someone just moving in. Boxes of haphazardly packed things line near the couch upon which sits said resident. Upon these boxes have been stacked at least a dozen copies of US Weekly, the most colorful things in the apartment now that it's been stripped of all decoration and some furniture.

The earliest of the issues is not on the pile but open and spread across Laurie's face where he's rested his head against the arm-rest of the couch. Bare arms are positively strewn, one hanging off the edge of his furniture, and the other crooked against the back, fingers just short of touching the edges of the magazine.

Gone are the silks and magic-eye patterns. Today, the consultant is a man not at work. Besides a red t-shirt splashily screen-printed with designs for the movie Reservoir Dogs, he has light jeans turned up about his ankles thanks to some folding and the crooked half-bent position his legs are spread along the couch, showing off his bare feet of 'clearly, I have no plans to be anywhere at all'.

All but lost under the chorus of Beethoven, a couple of knocks strike the door. They're soft and a little tentative since it's found to already be open, and the visitor doesn't want to intrude. All the same, it's nudged inward enough for a cautious glance inside.

It's a follow-the-clues game after that, but lucky for the guest, she happens to be an expert. The first clue was the music; the second is the bare state of the apartment and the glimpse of boxes she gets by leaning in the doorway, but they could belong to any old resident moving in. The third is the colorful covers of US Weekly, and careful steps — sneakers — are encouraged inward, until the fourth and final clue comes into sight underneath the magazine. Mystery solved: she's in the right spot.

Barely past the foyer, Maggie stops, bearing a gentle trace of an amused smile.

The detective is a lot tidier than when the apartment resident last saw her, clean-faced and minus the evidence of heat and smoke and rubble — at least nearly; a healing scrape mars the defined curve of one eyebrow. To say where exactly it came from would be just a guess. Indistinctly, there's an off-duty look about her — maybe it's the lack of an obvious badge, or the fact that she's not armed, or the faint softness to her wardrobe, though it's hardly any different than usual: a button-down shirt in a strong primary blue half-open over something white and jeans. No belt — maybe that's it. Her hair has been nestled at the back of her head with little thought, a completely disarrayed mess of loose waves.

She folds her arms and prompts, quietly … as quiet as she can while still being audible over the stereo: "Miles."

An absence of immediate reaction might put her audibility in question. But then a languid move of the arm, plucking at the very corner edges of the magazine in order to drag it slooooowly and reluctantly away from the face. In the end, only his forehead and then eyes become visible as he halts there, just staring in his visitor's direction as soon as those blues become obvious over some title about one actress or another losing weight and dumping her two-timing boyfriend. (Oh, and did you see how she looked that day without make-up?!)

The crinkle around his eyes, curving his eyebrows, hints at some expression hidden underneath the spread of main articles. It could be guessed to be positive as, with the same weight of laziness, he deigns to lift the other arm, revealing in its loose fingers a remote that, when certain buttons are depressed, sends the music plummeting to a more reasonable volume level. "Hello, Powers." Muffled by the ink scandals, but sung out loud enough now that the Ode has quieted.

With the effort of his own debate about whether he wants to or not, Laurie finally shifts, throwing one leg to the floor next to those boxes — all stamped with an FBI tag, scribbled on in formal writing and numbers as if they were casefiles intead of personal belongings, maps of other countries. It's as good as saying that the life represented inside, the man lounging beside those boxes now, is the same as the number printed — some FBI thing to be moved about.

Except. Then there's the Ode To Joy. And the utterly relaxed way in which Laurie continues to recline, even with company. Company questioned: "And to what… do I owe this pleasure?"

The suggestion of a smile further moves Maggie's lips with more of that barely-there, relaxed amusement, while the woman herself remains completely still. The boxes don't go without further notice — she regards them and their labelling with a glance down meant at first for the stereo. "I wasn't sure if you'd be here." A simple statement with no real bearing on anything at all, which is to say — it's almost conversational. Eyes track up to the colorful scandals in front of Laurie's face.

Arms shift to re-fold. There's more evidence to be found there in the form of nicks and cuts dot the forearms that she doesn't care about hiding. "I just wanted to check in."

Something — evident perhaps because only his eyes are visible and therefore there is no exaggerated facial movements to distract from it — something there. Over whether or not he'd be there. Deeper than her tone would suggest, as well as his lackadaisical response: "I've been asked to lay low for an eensy bit." Then he's moving and the something has vanished, as those are wont to doing.

Hefting himself up by an elbow and then sliding to a mere seated position, his toes find purchases against the boxes, therefore still stretching out to something recreational. Weekly's latest slides, abandoned, into his lap, now revealing his whole face as he looks at her. There have been vast changes enacted since last they met in that warehouse, with the unkempt treatment. All that remains of that untamed beard are precise accents: purposefully shaped side-burns, a small goatee, and a clean-cut mustache that arcs over his smiling mouth. His hair, too, trimmed. What remaining evidence is those bruises, those scars, and a trail of abuse on an arm similar to hers but to the tune of the fire that caught there.

More to both of them than a casual meeting to catch up. Though Laurie maintains this facade in an easy manner, rocking his head to the side to regard her and her reason for showing up. "Well then," an approving nod, "How are you doing?"

Laurie's laying low is accepted with a slow, informal nod from Maggie and she glances about the stripped apartment, finding things to look at without struggle even when it's undecorated. "…Good," she decides after a moment, a positive note that's vague but more or less genuine — maybe a little less, though she may not notice herself if it falls slightly short. Her arms fall to her sides and then her hands disappear behind her into pockets, save for thumbs on her hips. "There's been a lot of paperwork. And loose ends to tie up."

Maggie's mouth pulls into a line and her calmly wandering gaze lowers to the floor when her head tips forward and she takes a step. Quiet follows, weighed with an impending statement of some kind, but she doesn't actually say anything immediately; just thinks about it. There's nothing awkward about the way Maggie just stands there, looking down — she seems completely fine with openly pausing to stare pensively at the floor.

"Actually," the word hangs quite nicely on Maggie's 'less' side of things, "Ridiculously boring." There's a kind of hum from Laurie as he entertains further comment, but puts it off long enough that the tags becomes, "Kind of like paperwork." His hand raised to her, holding the remote, is reminiscent of a toast, a sympathizing gesture for what she's been through.

And then, indeed, quiet. Hands sliding towards his chest as he reclines further against the cushioning, the consultant's thumbs fiddle together, idly, perhaps a mark of that boredom. But he's a mirror image of fine as to how Maggie would like to spend this time. Meanwhile, his gaze wanders up towards the ceiling — opposite her, really — in sync with a climbing of intensity in the music.

"I heard the wire." The low-voiced statement that nudges its way into the music-filled room doesn't sound quite like an admittance — like nothing Maggie expects to be a surprise. The wire isn't the point. Her downward cast gaze eases up after a steady blink. "…tracked it down, quite illegally, actually…" A fact which troubles at her features, for an instant. But that's not the point either. "If I made it more difficult for you in there…" she goes on, that same factual, calm tone, "after I showed up at the Hiroshi warehouse. I'm sorry." There's not much regret to be found in that calm voice, but there is in her eyes.

Thumbs tap against his chest, sometimes with the music, sometimes not, passing the beats between her statements. Laurie can be said to have a nothing of a reaction, his bruise-marked face smoothed into a note of pure pleasantness, contented. Till some flash of association with the suggestion of things being more difficult taints that purity, hardens his eyes, adjusts his posture in tiny increments. He resists for a moment, but then his gaze is instinctively pulled to each open door of the apartment in fast succession. Then he eases. There's even a bit of a smile tugging at the lips as his study of her becomes somewhat more intrigued. "Quite illegally," is said thick with amusement — and the murk of avoidance, "That sounds like an interesting story."

"It involved candy. And a present." Maggie's upbeat reply is paired with a lift of her brows and a flicker of a accepting, good-natured smile. "You'd like it." That may be the case, but the highly illegal story goes untold — and so does whatever else she may have been considering. Not only does she tip her head back the way she came and begin to say something appropriate to send herself off, but her phone goes off as well. She makes it no further than "I w— " before the standard ring-tone makes itself known, almost lost in the string music even with the stereo on low, but persistent.

"Well, you had me at 'illegal', but…" Laurie's dropped but appreciate eyebrows, his soft 'ooo' at the mention of candy speak plenty for him as he trails off. A kind of spare glance over his shoulder find his kitchen — his empty, empty kitchen — and it's there that he's looking when the phone goes off, such that, glancing to see that it's Maggie's, he excuses himself from the couch with a lazy but graceful shove. That very same kitchen is his aim, the opening and closing of various cupboards, testing the thoroughness of the bureau of feds. After checking every single one, he closes them all again and presses elbows to the counter, spying through the space between that and the hanging cupboards to the room he left behind.

As Laurie wanders off, and Maggie retrieves her phone from her pocket, she tucks one of several strands of hair behind her ear casually — but her fingers pause at her temple as she glances at the phone in her hand. It's the reading of the Caller ID that prompts the pause and the easily missed twinge of apprehension that follows, but the it's brought to her ear and answered just as business-like as a work call. "Powers."

She's not on the phone long — by the time it takes for the apartment resident to search his kitchen, the call is already over. "Thank you for the update, Officer." This polite thank-you is as sincere as it is grave. It may signify the end of the conversation, but not of Maggie's frozen stance there. The phone is curled into her hand, but that hand, its knuckles, press thoughtfully against her mouth, hiding an expression which the only other indicator of is her turned in brows. Bad news?

It can be generally assumed that, standing there unabashedly watching her reactions, Laurie sees those eyebrows. But of them, he makes no comment. There's just a slip around the island counter as he returns to the main living space, hands wringing together emptily even after the search. His appearance is almost made double amounts forlorn meaning for the lacking of food on his person. But as he's wandering back around the cleaned floors, he narrows in on one FBI labeled box in particular, grabbing it by the corner to heft it up and with him, propping it against his chest with only a small grunt of effort that size of box would not normally warrant.

As a hand digs in and the other supports, he glances in what, by all appearances, is idle chance over at Maggie. And in seeing her is reminded of her presence, therefore prompted to say: "I wouldn't hate it if you brought me candy."

Candy isn't so easily near the forefront of Maggie's mind. She doesn't so much as glance Laurie's way, motionless save for a few shifts of her knuckles against her mouth until her hand lowers and her arms cross tightly. "A week ago there was a breakout attempt at Bedford Hills," she states slowly in what would be a dull recital of news if it weren't for the slightly lower tone to her voice — the quiet importance of it. "An inmate tried to escape, and… killed… three guards before being shot down. They're finally releasing the names of the those involved." A sort of tremor runs along Maggie's lips as if conflicted over what expression should fit this particular news. "The inmate's name … was Mandy Larson. She's dead."

"Hm! Suppose that ends thaaaat~" There couldn't be less importance given from Laurie's side to dignify news as pertaining to Larson. Even his eyes have wandered to the job at hand of searching the box, making no witness to the detective's struggle. Instead, he pushes various things aside — a paper with Maggie's own handwriting on it — before a muttered noise of success signals the box to be unceremoniously dropped in a new spot. Laurie's grip means that the bag of half-melted Reese's inside remains in his hand as the box falls away. Before that has really even settled on the ground, he steps over another to return to the couch. Though he doesn't sit right away, only turns partially to be facing Maggie as the first candy wrapper gives a crackle of being opened.

"Yeah … it is," Maggie replies, quiet. "I shouldn't feel relieved that's someone's dead… people died because we put her in there— " The darker look strikes acutely — but after an intake of breath that's held too long, a smile tightens across her face; it's uncomfortable being there, and she fights it — the resulting expression is a much downgraded version of the classic 'laugh or cry' conundrum. Her head ducks down, eyes falling at random on the box Laurie was rifling through for a moment, her writing in marker. Perhaps helped along by Laurie's light-hearted attitude, the detective's quiet struggle with the news already starts to melt into something more peaceable.

"Versus the people who wouldn't have if she wasn't in there." Yes, it's a bit of a dig, but light-hearted yet, and followed by moreso: "And not to spoil your ego or anything," Laurie pipes up, irreverent to her quieter tones, "But there's, like, I guess, other peopled involved in cases. Lawyers. Bureaus of things. Oh!" A hand holding a Reese's cup juts out towards as he raises his head and eyebrows in the apparent cheer of revelation, "Those guys who sit at the front with the gavels." And he makes a noise that defies exact spelling but proposes to symbolize that which the gavel makes when hitting the block, with a little extra drama added. So saying, he finally drops onto the couch, simultaneously stuffing a victory chocolate into his mouth. He's agreeably gnawing on that, close-mouthed for now, when an unbidden hand draws up to his face. Traces a line from the curve of his cheekbone down to his jaw.

"I know," Maggie states, calmly and without defense or argument of any kind; it is what it is. "I just wish no one else had to die in order to be sure she'd never kill again," she adds, a simple truth laden with guilt that can't be denied, but even then, there's an increasing calm about her. Before long, she seems unbothered as can be. She nudges her phone back into the back pocket of her jeans and moseys one step back through the living space, a look shot off to the door. Anyway…

"I wanted to make sure you were…" Trailing off, she glances about the apartment, her gaze, glinting slightly with a mysterious amusement, alighting here and there — really, on the boxes, since there's not much else. "…all right; you know, that all the paperwork and briefings the Bureau must have put you through didn't kill you."

Catching that finger on his scar, Laurie lets the hand go, letting it linger in the air a moment then drop to the couch, scratching idly at the material. "Oh, so, suddenly it's not just about you checking in with me so I know how you are anymore," his whine is quite easily identifiable as the 'faux' variety of which he is an expert; and it likely helps that he's making a mockery of common complaints by flipping it around. "Now it's not enough to talk about you. Gotta make it about me."

There's a bit of a gnaw-gnaw-gnaw at another chocolate piece before he makes any indication of actually giving her a response. In fact, there's no real marker at all, just his tiny head turn to the side before: "If that's what would finally do me in… well," the head turn reverses, putting him eyeing Maggie blue to blue, "I would've been a safe fifteen feet under before we even met."

"And that," and in conclusion! He nestles against the back of the couch once more, drawing one foot up to the boxes then the other crossing it confidently. "While making your life easier— " he's not sincere — when is he ever — but he's something. Just underneath the surface. But it doesn't seem to be towards her, even as that's where his gaze remains. " — means you wouldn't be amused right now."

To this, Maggie only gives the tiniest arch of her brows to go along with the — yes, still amused — smile. More amused, now, and the stronger curves of her mouth are forced down to be hidden in such a way that is completely ineffectual, obvious, and just a little silly — maybe on purpose. All the while, her own perceptive eyes — bright, even from afar — appear more knowing than her smile would suggest. She gives an easy nod of her head. "I never came to talk about me, Miles." Statement of fact, and offhand; she starts for the way she came with a turn of shoulder.

To his left, Laurie finds the abandoned issue of US Weekly, but it's not this one that he goes for but he, instead, utilizes his foot to drag a more recent edition towards him until a lazier arm reach can claim it, slap it open to a well-memorized page. "My, my," his voice follows Maggie in her turn even when his eyes do not, "I must have heard you wrong." More flippant than her offhand, but it runs in a parallel lane. Meanwhile, as she nears the door, he scans the page, almost immediately finding what he's looking for, though he waits a strange space of time before sending after: "Hey, Powers. 'Today may bring a second chance at something you missed.'"

Maggie walks to the door — even nearly gets to the door, still hanging ajar, that she seems to plan on seeing herself out through, the same way she came in — but pauses a step or two short, listening to Laurie, noting the written word (of the oh-so-wise magazine) being read aloud after the rustle of paper. She's turned about by it, and is mid-way through a mild, not-quite-serious roll of her eyes by that time, despite the lingering impression of the expression that came before. "What is that supposed to be?" she asks a faint challenge toward the quote; Detective Powers isn't an US Weekly reader, "a horoscope?"

By the time she's decided to respond to the opening line, Laurie has already turned the page and continued onward towards something more resembling a fashion spread (He reads it for the articles). Inked debates about celebrity gown choices keep his eyes glued there and not at all towards Maggie, whose now more distant presence only means the separation of them by strains of Beethoven's drawing towards a finale. "Supposed to be," the consultant muses, making for a candy with a spare hand, "Is," his mouth downward turns to the tune of playing dumb — or silly — all accented now by that blond mustache. "I dunno, Powers — … did you miss something?"

"I don't take advice from horoscopes," comes the unconcerned reply, which isn't at all an answer — except it is, or at the very least, it seems it will have to do, because it's all Maggie offers. From Laurie to the floor and back again, she blinks through a slow-moving, somehow weighted, but perfectly tranquil gaze. Looking off, then, to take her leave, she reaches an arm to the side, toward the doorknob to grasp it— only to point out unnecessarily, "You know you left your door open…"

Words are answer, even when unspecific to the topic, and Laurie accepts them all the same: with a neutral face and a shrug. Undeterred, his posture slips forward, bringing arms against his knees and the magazine spread wide between them. "Mine says," is the information drop for which she gave no show of curiosity, "That I should decide how my role in the lives of others can be made more fulfilling." Mention of the door tinges his relaxed state, getting the magazine softly closed, and eventually driving him off his seat and to make a half-way pace around boxes. "I like to have options." Casual, but final. His hands, one holding US Weekly together, move to his hips after one rubs under his nose as he gives a sniff both preoccupied and whimsical. In his sturdy spread stance, he's ready for a face-off, but not with the way his gaze sits to the side, the floor. And, even then, he pivot-turns: away. "You know it wasn't the horoscope asking…"

"Well," Maggie says casually — her neutral face and shrug are almost perfectly matched. "I have to get going," she tacks on but despite the finality of the just-as-casual statement and the small pull of the door further open would suggest, she takes the opposite path. Her long easy strides bring her toward the old-new apartment resident, though a hand drags behind through the air toward the door her fingertips slid off of, still attached to the concept of leaving. A trace of a half-smile and a good-naturedly chastising shake of her head appear midway, before she winds around the FBI boxes.

"Hey," warm, the prompt precedes Maggie marching straight at — into — the consultant, wrapping gracious arms around him for what is undeniably a hug. "I'm glad you're alive. I was worried there for awhile," says the quiet earnest voice at his shoulder and ear. "And I'm kind of glad I'm alive too, so— " The effects of a smile be heard in her voice, lending a less serious (but no less genuine) lilt when she adds: " — thanks for that. You know. Again."

Hey: it serves to turn him the rest of the way, completing the degrees just in time to be wrapped by the detective so inescapably. Her height contributes to an honest closeness that makes difficult a glance away that would otherwise so simply hide his first bewildered reaction, all spiking eyebrows and uncertainty. Tenseness runs up his spine, into his shoulders. Hands on his back would have no trouble feeling through his thin t-shirt the raised skin, long line criss-crossing long line.

It takes this same long second for Laurie's arms to settle, and when they do, hands only just cup Maggie's upper arms as she stands against him. A smile tests the corners of his mouth, seeing if it belongs. When hers becomes clear, it does. "You're welcome, but— " but. Interjected against the necessity of the speech: light, silly. Sincere. " — that's just something I would never stop doing." One hand slides up her arm, finding the fall of her hair just there past her cheek. Ghosting the stray lines, wanting — denied. Behind her, unused fingers clench into a fist.

A warm, friendly presence countering the tenseness in Laurie, Maggie holds tighter for a few seconds after the reply. She's careful about it, she can't know how damaged he is, only injuries that have gone before; the low arm loops around his torso is barely there. The strongest embrace comes from the other side, her right, his left, opposite the lean of her head against his shoulder. Her arm has wound firmly around him, on his back, the grip that draws the reds and blues of their fabrics close. A handhold is found naturally at the back of Laurie's neck instead before long, though, and it stays there a moment when, still smiling, the off-duty detective takes a step back — not quite at arm's length.

Laurie is given a sort of inspection. "I'll try my best to stay out of trouble then. And you could use a vacation." Maggie gives a companionable, confirming nod; the lift of her eyebrows afterward is light-hearted, but her look's a bit pointed. "Take care of yourself, okay?"

Marks now that certainly weren't there when she saw that back with her own eyes, but the neck is smooth with the close trim of his new haircut, and he only moves it slightly against her touch. Her persistent confidence in intimacy would see him softening from tension, relaxing into the fit of her touch. But for some timing. As the hand behind her cautiously unfolds, she moves — instantly, the arm draws away to his own side before being caught across the lines.

Under inspection is a dedicated practice in neutrality just on the pleasant side, where his mouth is close but curved, offering her a sweet smile with no promises. It's soon marred by humor, his usual trade. Up close, the tugs and twitches he employs even more noticeably work the nasty purples and raised yellows of bruise. "But then what would you have to do?"

A small sound of exaggerated thought hums under Maggie's breath. "With a wide open schedule like that, I'm sure I'd think of something," she says with a playful dose of humour over serious. To follow, a smile that dimples and shifts about, remaining optimistic even during her completely obvious, searching study her close blue eyes put Laurie's face and its recent abuse through.

The short amount of lingering that follows isn't wasted: Maggie's study is made not only with her eyes but with her thumb, after her hand slides away from its hold. It only just touches the left side of Laurie's jaw, somewhat clinical in its scrutiny, though it runs along briefly like she's reading Braille — as if a small message in one part could tell of the whole, before she quits her wandering and gives the side of his face a harmless tap with two fingers. She rolls her eyes good-naturedly, and reminds, "I mean it. Take it easy." He seems off to a great start with the lounging around and US Weekly, but her gently pointed look is no less pointed — smile hinting toward fading, a hint of importance — before she detaches and turns to the side within the shared personal space in order to head off to the door.

Laurie weathers the examination well with a gaze that so well matches her even down to color; it's the thumb that tightens his jaw while loosening his lips. Though his mouth parts an indicating increment, in the end it's with silence that he sees it through. Silence and a certain stillness, never shifting feet nor gaze, she's free to do as she will, until she turns. A hand, fast — perhaps faster than the brain has time to reason against the motion — wraps about her upper arm below the shoulder, holding her to her closeness. But it's barely a register-able touch before the brain must catch up, the fingers release and are banished into the pocket. A sniff from Laurie and the unoffending hand rises to his nose, rubs underneath, along, strokes the palm against his chin and then falls.

"Easy does it." Not exactly a confirmation to her point, nor is the rocky salute he gives her, despite the gesture's inherent nature, but he's smiling, too. No signs of discontent from his earlier actions, he only holds his ground now and eyes off the door when he does glance up.

Smile and salute duly noted, Maggie slips away without pause. She's back to the door in no time — her route is brisk, making good on her intent to leave. "See you around, Miles," she calls back, over her shoulder — but just as she reclaims the doorknob, she does pause, with a look inward. On a now more neutralized face, it's barely there, subtly stitching her brow above the scraped skin, a look that quietly questions the casual parting words as soon as she's said them. See you around.

Regardless, the detective leaves the apartment and gets on with the rest of her day off, closing the door that had, before, been open.

And as soon as she's gone on her way, that door, now closed, is jerked so violently open that it complains and the strains of Beethoven, once calmly reaching their end, retreat to the beginning and start again — louder than before.

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