2010-08-31: The Epilogue



Date: August 31, 2010


A long tale of struggles ends in blood, and no healing today for things still apart.

"The Epilogue"

Outside Sydney Falkland's Residence, Crime Scene

Detective Powers was not, strictly, among those police tasked with taking a trip out to this particular townhouse at this particular time in light of events that other authorities are likely now trying to piece together.

She wasn't called — but that is not to say she doesn't call herself in.

Her car parks an unobtrusive distance from the vehicles of various sorts that have gathered on the street already, and what Maggie lacked in expediency to match the others' speed of arrival, she makes up for when she gets out of the car — but not immediately. First, standing, the whole picture is taken in: every vehicle, every person, the general mood. The slew of authorities — some undoubtedly recognizable to the detective as FBI, securing the scene. The EMTs who half-hide glimpses of the house's residents being ushered off — not, thankfully, in stretchers. The cluster of gathering civilians identifiable as reporters. All of it creating a traffic hazard for traffic that was next to non-existent before the ruckus drew the curious toward it.

A slammed door, long and fast strides— from the second Maggie steps up on the curb, her boots immediately eat up the space from the street toward the house, as purposeful as if she was on any case and on the clock. Or perhaps a touch more; her speed spurring the movement of a tied-back hair and an open, loose-fitting black vest (that hides the fact that the white t-shirt beneath is less than; and, too, hides her badge and weapon). Her charge only stops at the outer limit of likely being stopped regardless — better to watch for who, if anyone, is planning on slowing her down. Her bet, and her determined gaze, seems to be on the FBI.

The line the FBI has drawn keeps the unauthorized far to the brownstone's outer limits — without a full lawn to work with, the residence's small garden and adjoining sidewalk as cordoned off as strictly as possible, letting only the dark blue jackets of the heavily armed FBI trample past the borders. Even the dogged reporters are dealt with efficiently, keeping their views and pictures from seeing much more than a bustle of official activity. A particularly able red-head squirms her way to the front but, seeing no passage, begins shuffling sideways, instead, towards those city officers regulated to the mundane and secondary shifts. "What's going on inside?" she asks the disgruntled troops waiting for secondhand information on their own city, "Is it true they have convicted psychopath Roberto Harlin in there?"

A treat a moment later for those outside; a burst of more movement from inside and then FBI jackets part to allow the coroners through, their load the tell-tale black bag bobbing between grips. First one, and then a second, in a morbid line towards the trucks that will take them away to be thoroughly examined. Trailing behind, blue gloves around bags of evidence — one's a gun. One's too bloodied inside to tell.

This is faster than the typical clock of a crime scene; the swift, precise ins and outs more reminiscent of cleaners wiping away evidence rather than documenting it.

But then a spark makes a wave in the reporters. Someone alive is coming out — handcuffed between two agents, it's a young man. No, a boy, really. His youthful face couldn't be estimated at more than seventeen, if. A compress around his throat, he's being helped to walk just as much as escorted.

From near the no man's land of orange and yellow warning tape, someone turns in agitation at the sight and the side of his face, an echoing determination of Maggie's, becomes visible as one that's been shadowing the station so recently.

The processions — of dead and alive — are taken in with razor-sharp scrutiny from the Homicide detective who isn't out of place at such a scene, but in this case, is supposedly an observer with a number of vested interests.

And that observer, for a moment, only observes: Maggie remains fixed in place, steely as she listens to the buzz of the reporters and watches the coroners and their cargo, more than the boy, though he does receive a narrowed gaze. By all appearances, her jaw is clamped down too tightly to speak to any of the privileged authorities on the other side of the tape — tape that she resumes her march straight toward. She doesn't look like she's going to stop, either, and maybe she wouldn't have; but the lurking man, Agent Tying Up Loose Ends, catches her attention, and her steps come to a jolting and perhaps temporary halt right beside him. She does speak — to ask without preamble, "Do you know what happened?"

"I haven't got what you want," the agent gives a low response, too consumed by what he's looking at to be mocking, "Detective Powers," with the name tagged on as though they've already been introduced. Arms folded across his suit jacket, he doesn't give off the impression of being there to stop her like the others. His observance of the scene bodes many similarities to the detective's own. So they're both keenly aware when it shifts.

A second parting of the blue sea of processes in and out of the brownstone, releasing onto the public the next puzzle piece of what happened in there. And it's good one for all those flashing cameras. Laurie is a crime scene unto himself; what was a neat white shirt and black jacket combination are red and soaked with blood, all up the front and onto his face where a few swipes have attempted to clear it and his blond hair. Blood on both hands and either knee leave nothing untarnished.

It seems criminal that this beacon of violence step out of the house alone, but as he strides clearly away from the whirling sirens, flashing lights, and swarm of bodies, the consultant is only glanced at by an EMT stretching a bandage along the nose of his therapist patient as she reaches out as if to go Laurie and is held back.

There is no one holding the detective back, on the other hand. Already on the move after the agent doesn't prove to be a source of news, she's on her way to someone bound to know for certain what happened inside — the women being attended to by the paramedics — when the consultant makes his grisly appearance. Her momentum is heightened, and, with a visible wash of relief, she redirects without pause.

Maggie's determined steps might be near to jogging, if there weren't people in the way; short of resorting to forcibly shouldering past reporters, including that recognizable redhead, she ducks straight under the crime scene tape, taking a shortcut less swarmed by personnel. By the time she's catching up with Laurie, she has no more questions. "Miles." An ambiguous call — a hint of that sincere relief — something determined; all unaffected by the sight of blood.

Laurie comes to an obliging halt there, in the middle of everything, where all the activity seems to be happening in a circle around them, leaving ex-partner to ex-partner in the midst. Though his body remains friendly to the direction he was going, his head turns across his shoulder to Maggie. If her call, hinted, is ambiguous then his expression is nothing.

Up close, blood is still blood, but details become more important. Those marked hands are covered in it, but while one is smeared with blood the other forms it. Further, Laurie's features come into full relief, highlighting bruising on the jaw — perhaps more hidden by his macabre re-coloring. "Powers…" Though she closes the space between them, his voice is as distant as his gaze, "… I tried it your way…"

"My way…" The detective's study of the details as they come into sharp focus, as they both halt there, includes only a sweeping, assessing glance of the blood, the possible bruises; it's Laurie's eyes that take the larger part of Maggie's focus, the nothing she finds there presently more warranting of her concern than the mess. "…my so-called way…" She steps around to stand facing him; close, but slightly off to one side, not quite making herself a total barrier. Her gaze picks right back up where it left off. "…unfortunately, it doesn't work every time," she comes to admit, with no resentment toward the fact: it's fact. "The world isn't as cut and dry as its laws are."

In this, Maggie is neither reassuring or commending. She gives the smallest of half-smiles; without particular warmth, it's simply a quick twitch bearing the effect of a shrug, grimly understanding. What can you do. Her watchfulness deviates with a slow pointed look to the coroner's van and back. "If I had to guess… Harlin and one of his men."

"… they're pretty cut now…" The more she gazes in the more… uneven Laurie's focus comes across as — or his lack-thereof. Something in his eyes is not quite clicking. He's gone off to the horizon like his stare. Until, a small chain of changes; she looks away, he looks down and finds her, follows her to the van while she returns to him. The crisp black outline of those unmistakable bags has put the blue in his eyes, the sharpness in the way he espies her. Just seeing her. He'd have to be invested to truly sound curious, but he manages a bland imitation of a man who's missed the entire conversation. Grasping for it, he instead defers to: "… Hmm? Hey, Powers— what's red and black and— no…"

The comments from Laurie, so typically out of sync with what's going on around them, earn only the vaguest tilt of Maggie's head, nothing else — she remains rather stern-faced. "I knew as soon as I heard the APB. Then when Kotowski… eventually reported in about his car being stolen…" Trailing off, the obvious blanks are never filled. Without clear answers, she seems to be doing just fine piecing things together for herself.

On her pause, a turn of her head finds a van of a different sort, an ambulance, a general direction. "Sydney is okay?" Only looking for confirmation, it's barely phrased as a question, and okay is relative in a case such as this. Her returning gaze picks up its study with no more wandering, hard to miss and even harder to trick. "And you…"

A hand comes up, quick to start and then slow to move, an investigative touch to injury, for not the first time — this time a thumb to Laurie's chin, a light finger along the jaw to turn and study the hint of darker shapes under the blood. Concerned (ex-partner or not), but cursory; it's not as if he'll go to the EMTs, and there is no fridge with ice here that he wouldn't take anyway. She continues to doggedly look beyond the physical. "I'm glad you were one of the ones who made it out of there." While stated on a softer note, a small flash of something like defiance in Maggie's eyes challenges after the fact. Then, quickly, lighter— "You going to walk down the street like that, you're going to scare someone."

It was the mention of the car that has him steering his head over there, watching as less urgent attempts are made towards dislodging one vehicle from the other — the white van that never got to take away its prize. Almost amusement, certainly less than guilt, works against the straight shape he keeps his mouth in. "She can start to be now…" In this car, this lingering on his handiwork, he's attentive only to her mention of himself, causing his reaffirmed glance to her to nearly turn him right into her touch. Other than that accidental neediness, his jaw clenches to the feeling, unmoving past that until he feels compelled to stare her down and dismiss: "… not your problem." Yeah, ex-partners. When his hand, bleeding, raises to touch hers — it's to brush her fingers down and away from him.

And as Maggie's tone goes up, Laurie's eyebrows dig, not concerned but distinctly scolding. Darkening his eyes, toughening his expression, the instant physical response in him is fierce — and goes as intently unsaid, but no less felt. It's accusing, really: challenging so quickly after hers. Really, Detective Powers? Going to? Is there something you want to—

They've since been crept up on, by someone whose station is by those of the living rather than the dead. It's hard to keep the uniforms away from all that blood forever. So up comes an EMT, already stained gloves telling of earlier work as she reaches for the elbow attached to that sliced hand. But it isn't there that her concentrated staring happens; her eyes narrow right in on the consultant's temple with informed accuracy. "Mister Miles— they say you haven't been checked out yet for that…"

Maggie — her hand swept off without argument — could not be less unmatched to the consultant's dismissals and turn toward ferocity. A brief raise in that defiance … and her features resettle. Her gaze is only still. Calmly, she takes in everything he does instead of responding to it. She's slow to move off from him, though she is unsurprised by the EMT when her head turns toward the woman. "Good luck with this one," she offers the EMT in good-natured warning along with a smile. "He's stubborn."

"I don't need it," Laurie wastes no time in affirming Maggie's assessment as he shrugs out of the EMT's attempts, "I'm fine — Dr. Falkland— " His voice returned to breezy and faraway, he brings up a hand to indicate his nose even while describing confidently, " — her ear."

"Dr. Falkland's fine…" The EMT assures with patience she didn't need the detective to remind her to have.

"And you," Laurie's finger turns on Maggie, "Don't encourage her," the her who makes continued grabs for that arm even as he moves it around, a kind of dance between them, while Laurie only stares at the other one who would be his partner, "Whose side are you on?" A playful notion made not so as each of his jerks away from the EMT become sharper and harsher — breaking when he suddenly draws both of his hands to his chest, "I said— " a dark quality unheard in him before, "get off." The EMT springs to the side as though bitten, opening a path completed by Maggie when she is similarly moved, seemingly against her will. To his hands spreading into this space, cementing it, Laurie then strides through, charging down the sidewalk and past the looming FBI agent without a second or even first glance.

Unfazed but for her forceful movement, the medical professional steps alongside Maggie to watch her escaping patient. Smiling grimly in what, with less experience, might have been exasperation, she glances to the detective and back. "He irritable, too, or is that just the concussion?"

Whether it's her will or Laurie's that keeps Maggie out of the way is unclear, but it is, perhaps, both. She doesn't encourage the EMT — save to, several times, seem prepared to physically jump to her defense. In the end, she's left watching the consultant barrel away, folding her arms strictly over shirt and vest next to the well-meaning medic in the midst of the crime scene… or clean-up. "Well…" she starts, considering. The gaze that follows Laurie down the sidewalk is darker than it was, following his darker turn. "It's not the concussion."

The EMT's next thought is a shrug. She's done all she can — is legally obliged to do. "Well," she comments, not quite believing: not enough caring, "Then he's healthy as a horse." And she has other things to get to, melding back into the masses.

The detective stays put for a moment, one of the very few unmoving points around; but soon, with a shake of her head all to herself, her gaze expands to the rest of the street and she too disappears amongst the other bodies.

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