2010-09-09: Tidal



Guest-Starring: The Rookie

Date: September 9th, 2010


Previously: PooledWavelength

In order to piece together the information gotten — and what couldn't be gotten — from the hotel interviews, Maggie is privy to a few of Laurie's more unique techniques. Some poor rookie is also.


Police Station

The path of Detective Powers is not quite as unerring as it would normally be this bright and early morning. For her, it's mostly just early; the detective herself is monochrome: black jeans and a loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirt of very thin fabric of the lightest grey, its v-neck made modest by white underneath. It suits the expression she's started out with today: cut-and-dry cool.

She seems completely focused — she is — as she marches toward her desk, a shockingly red thermos cup held in one hand and the shoulder strap of a satchel clutched in the other, but as she nears her desk, that's when her direct path wavers, hitches, upon noticing a few of the bullpen's eyes on her: officers giving her… funny little looks. And to that, Maggie only stares back. It does prompt a thorough glance around the station in earnest, however — to find none other than the increasingly expected face of Agent Hamm talking to her various colleagues.

Making no move to address him, she moves around her desk — which is precisely when she espies the big, pink paper heart stuck to her screen. That… might explain a few of those funny looks, too. After pausing in place for a second, staring at it in what is really senseless bewilderment — she did say… — Maggie tugs the heart quickly off the monitor with a sharp snap of paper and tape. Glancing somewhat self-consciously around the bullpen, she hurriedly retrieves a notepad and a file from her desk drawer, both of which are shuffled on top of the heart. Briskly leaving her normal work station, she cuts through the bullpen to a more private room just off of it.

The room in question is not quite unoccupied when the detective pushes it open at the end of her path. Aside from the lone computer situated on an oval table, it's been equipped with two large boards covered at their width — one with photos volunteering every possible angle of Lisa's last appearance, from her glassy eyes to her unevenly shoed feet, the other with statements official or otherwise linking the names of those considered involved. The glass windows spanning the wall that faces the bullpen have been masked over for privacy this time around, murking up any view those funny looks of outside might have wanted to hold.

There's also the matter of the people there. One, the latest rookie of the station who had the dubiously interesting task of putting all of this information together for Maggie's war room. Seated in the room's only chair — look, they're short right now, and who wants to waste public money on chairs — his arms are braced along his knees in a leant forward pose of earnestness, but his actual engagement could be honest… or it could be the fear that if he were to try and leave, he'd be leapt upon and devoured.

The master of this feeling in the poor newbie is, of course, Laurie who has risen nobly to the challenge of no appropriate seating, has found the table to be accommodating enough. Beside him, a plastic grocery store bakery style of container filled with several muffins. He also leans in, but his hands gesture too animatedly to rest for any length of time on his legs, one of which is propped by a foot against the chair's arm.

"— but I hadn't sent her anything, that would be wildly inappropriate," he's saying, "The package, as it were, turned out to be these secret candid photos of— Detective Powers." He's gotten to looking over at her there.

Detective Powers, as it happens, has several quickly firing reactions upon entering the room: first, an instinctively wide-eyed look to Laurie, quickly avoided to, second, acknowledge the presence of the rookie before her gaze lingers, third, on the board and fourth— ooh, muffins.

It all culminates in Maggie pausing in front of the door one step in, but ultimately she addresses none of these things and simply goes to set her things down — stationary partially hiding a slip of pink included — on the table near the computer. "Morning," she greets pleasantly enough, if quietly, and with her focus is distracted down. "You're both here early, any news?"

"Good morning~" Laurie trills immediately to the greeting, his own completing the bright that was missing from the detective's morning before now. His wardrobe is on a level somewhere in-between, with his shirt a grey much darker than hers, but the light-weight jacket on top a delightfully olive green with yellow piping and it hangs longer than most, but shorter than some of the trench-coats of before. "Just a bit of story-time while we waited," for her, presumably. He twists to the other side away from the detective to fetch a cup that had been hidden by his body. Though from a coffee establishment, it doesn't appear to be caffeinated at all but, in fact, very berry.

Hands cupped about this as he brings it around, eyes following his own movement, he adds on lightly and naturally — "You ever tell stories about me when I'm not here?" — and kind of particularly. In — what did the agent just outside call it? — a way of knowing. But he's smiling as he jabs the straw into the side of his mouth and bats big blues at her. After a second, his free hand drifts to the plastic at his side, "There's muffins." Because it seemed so likely she missed them…

Maggie pauses in the lifting of her own, more metallic cup. Something of a lingering look, innocently indistinct, is her only answer to Laurie's story-time question and batting eyes. "There are muffins," she recaps optimistically — if still on the distracted side before she takes a drink and sets to striding to the boards that have been set up. After looking over their span, she gives the quiet rookie a kind smile noting a job well done, to which he brightens.

"The fingerprinting results came in— " Maggie announces, looking, thinking, studying over the spread of information in front of her all the while. "Handprints, actually, Lisa's. From the railing," she lifts a pinky finger off her cup to point, indicating a photograph of the scene that includes the railing. "A grip like she climbed over. Leaning back." Suggestive of preparing to drop down below — but this goes unsaid by the detective. "Also— Mrs. Roland might have been right when she said Lisa was living beyond her means; I look into her financial records." Someone was still working last night. "All of her cards were maxed out."

"That means she does," Laurie asides helpfully to the rookie, leaning towards him for that conspiracy but not long as, now that Maggie's here, it's apparently the cue to open said muffins. Popping the plastic knobs on either end, he draws out what is a distinctively green muffin, turning simultaneously to regard the detective's study of the board while bringing this muffin to his front, making a kind of string, a round, of movements until he's done. "So she didn't scream," he recaps, finger starting to peel at the paper around the bottom of the muffin, "She climbed over the railing. And she was unusually drunk and aggressive. Hmm— "

A spark of recollection; he raises a finger to stop— whoever— possibly himself, as he was just about to gnaw into the bottom of the muffin he'd flipped upside-down. "I wrote down speculations," he notes, leaning for the papers she put down but not touching. It's taking this much not to lose green crumbs all over Maggie's things, "That I contemplated slipping under the door, but the station entrance just doesn't have the same effect, I'm afraid…"

As soon as she steps toward the board, reaching out for a marker, Maggie, her back turned to the others, is made to answer, "I… yes, I noticed." She hasn't gotten to the heart-shaped speculations yet, however, and they will have to continue to wait while she writes down what is basically a succinct summary of what was just said in the room — the relevant conversation, at least — in two different sections of information: one for forensics, the other for Lisa's personal details, and NO SCREAMING somewhere in-between.

Turning away from her handwriting, she tosses the marker deftly at the rookie. It misses — or rather, he immediately fumbles it onto the floor — prompting a sincerely overly-apologetic "oh, I'm sorry!" from his superior. Once the young cop is officially equipped for board duty, however — getting the very minor marker situation under control — Maggie heads to her belongings on the table to, somewhat reluctantly, tug the pink note free. She recites seriously, from what looks like an oversized Valentine: "'Teresa Havens did not say all that she wanted to say; she couldn't with Melissa around'." A tip of her head. "I thought one of them was withholding, too. And they seemed close. We can talk to Teresa again, alone."

"Together, Melissa was the stronger personality," is the following elaboration, Laurie eyeing the Valentine as if it were unrelated to this and has awarded the detective some skepticism. "Her lies dominated the conversation, and Teresa mimicked this. Better now, too, to have given her time to stew over it." Now he gets to the business of the muffin, upside-down as it is, so that his eating process begins with the cake-like bottom.

Getting a mouthful, he would prefer to dwell on that as much as it's due, but he interrupts himself instead, fumbling some to swallow before the words come out — as if somehow both of these functions were beyond his control. "Mmmm. Mrs. Roland next," he says, unable to wait for Maggie's cue, "She was— " he drops the hand with the muffin, bringing the other to tap against his lip, "biting her lip after every sentence. Holding back on saying something. Though— I suspect, it could have just been embarrassment that she'd been too sloshed to remember her own toast."

"I know," Maggie chirps in agreement, "That she was holding back." As she sets her cup down, she looks over at Laurie with raised eyebrows in what is simple, honest curiosity and asks, "But how did you know she'd been drinking so much during her toast? If she does know something— " she adds, " — chances are we'd have a hard time getting to her again." The squeak of the marker sounds on the board nearby at the rookie's hand as he tries to transfer these thoughts onto it in neat order. Both of Maggie's hands, now, hold either side of the note like the most obvious of cue cards as she reads the next line of Laurie's: "'Mr. and Mrs. Channing were just plain old honest people. About that.'"

"The way she mentioned the drinking, that someone else later told her what Lisa had been going on about, every time she was known specific when she makes it her job to know…" Laurie licks his lip; as though now he were the one holding back. Not for long: "And some… past history." Quickly tossed out there, he raises the muffin and eats out the last of the bottom, leaving only the lighter muffin-top. "Mmmmm, yes, those guys," is commented for the next public reading of his scribed notes, "There's not really any need to traumatize the old woman further."

Maggie regards Laurie with a simple, academic sort of interest for his information — then, quickly, it's a faint raise of her eyebrows in agreement for the mention of Mrs. Channing. "And Mr. Channing?" The note is waved unconcernedly and she moves to drop into the singular chair now abandoned, paying a moment's attention to the young officer who abandoned it, watching his catch-up progress in transcribing. It might have been easier to tape the eye-catching note to the board… but, diligently, she consults the note again: "'Dayton, Dayton, Dayton.'" Pause. "Do you think he'll appear out of thin air, now that I've said his name three times out-loud, or is there another part to this spell?" Maggie says, flat with just the vaguest joking edge; her real answer is a distinctly prompting look to the consultant.

"Well, like I said— " as Maggie takes the spot, Laurie's foot drops off from the arm of the chair, leaving his legs swinging off the edge of the table like a child, "No need to traumatize the woman." Picking pieces off that which is left of the greenness, he's about done with that one when he turns to retrieve the plastic container of them all. But not to resupply himself; he holds it towards Maggie in the same casual and obliging manner as if she'd just asked for it, herself. "Actually," is noted, with a hint of lecture for where the detective obviously should have known better, "That was more Brady Bunch than Beetlejuice." Thus prompted, though, he looks unknowingly disobedient a moment, then knowingly disobedient, then prompting, himself: "Use your words, detective."

The continued, and in fact more pointed, look of prompt continues even as Maggie takes one of those muffins from the container — for the unrequested offering, her habitual, courteous smile flashes out-of-place, unwittingly silly paired with those raised brows. "They're your words," she notes, holding the paper and its Dayton, Dayton, Dayton up in gesture but, evening out into contemplation, she looks out at the spread of information on the boards. "We all know he's hiding something; we're just going to have to come at it sideways to figure out what."

"This." In the guise of putting the muffins closer in convenience, Laurie sits forward — more than necessary. His right shoulder bypasses that, the outstretched hand coming directly in on Maggie's face, fingers splaying to encompass the whole area, wrist twisting to take this description in a slow half-arc that brushes the tips of two fingers against a bit of loose hair. "These words, here." Pulling, shuffling backwards on the table, to his old position, "The ones by which you mean to command me to speak, O great detective." When he's done with his own thing, he follows to hers — the board. "All right. There's the obvious— Lisa, the campaign funds. What do you propose is the sideways to this?"

Having sat throughout the extent of Laurie's gesturing in still regard of the hand in front of her face, the detective remains so several moments afterward only regarding him instead. Her only words are the one-part confident, two-parts thoughtful words of her reply: "For starters… there's Teresa." No surprise there. "More… straight, though— " So soon after sitting, Maggie stands, having to plant the note on the table in order to retrieve her phone. " — I have to check in with the ME, and track down a judge to sign the warrant for The Standard's security camera feed as soon as possible…"

The hand once retracted lays in his lap, not quite as it was before; cradling one in the other, Laurie absently rubs the extended palm with his left thumb. Until Maggie's done outlining her next steps, he remains this way. Then, on her trail-off, he releases the hand to let it claim his smoothie and the left hand plants on the table to bolster his jump off and to his feet. "Right. That all sounds tremendously boring…"

The so-called tremendously boring to-do list doesn't seem to bother Maggie. Neither does Laurie's apparent aggravation of injury; she doesn't see it as she flips through the folder she brought into the room with her, which, as it turns out, contains a lengthy phone list that she now consults, phone-in-hand, taking precedence over the muffin. "Lisa's residence is always there to look at," she says unrelated to her current task, "Knowing how she lived — besides beyond her means — might help to figure out what was on her mind before she died. And," on that note, "she also has a psychiatrist in town." As she starts to dial a number, she glances to the consultant, as well as the rookie, who stands at-the-ready for who-knows-what; her glance is already gone as she asks, "Are any of those things less tremendously boring?"

Laurie waits in a timely fashion for Maggie's too-fast glance to be off him in order to express the exact emotion he reserves solely for psychiatrists and their mention. "… sounds boring, Powers, you're not paying attention." And neither is he, based on the absent way he corrects her. "I imagine a long fall in which the brain adapts to make four seconds feel surreally longer — and a very sudden stop were Lisa's before she died. Or do you mean the entire expanse of time prior to the event? Because— well, that might take a bit more time to suss out, really." Though his steps were meant to take him to the door while the phone occupied Maggie, he pauses briefly to cast a contemplative glance. "What about when you went through the campaign funds' comings and goings? Those— those definitely were on her mind in that timeline."

No answer: that's Maggie's response to Laurie, silent, eyes down, giving quite the impression that she isn't paying attention; it's also the response she gets when she calls the number of the first judge. As the phone lowers a couple of inches below her ear and she searches for another number, however— "I'm sure you're right," she agrees completely, "but the details of the campaign's financials are closed off unless we have stronger grounds to go looking."

"Closed off? Well, why didn't you say that before." Jeez, Maggie. Turning about where he stands, Laurie accepts staying in the room by striding further than even the table where he'd been sitting. "You don't mind…" only half-delivered as he plucks the marker from the hands of the hovering rookie. Redirecting away, however, from the board, the consultant makes right up to the white unadorned wall of the meeting room, snaps off the cap, and begins to scribble with some earnest right there. Number after number after number in a straight line across the highest part that he can reach. Each ends with a varying amount of information about where that money went or came from.

Finishing off the second line, his writing slows, the next zero articulated with more care— the concentration needed to speak while his writing picks up speed again, but his speech remains vaguely stilted. "I— once accused Mrs. Roland— before she was Mrs. Roland— of stealing money from another institution…"

"… Miles— !" Detective Powers and the young cop briefly share the same wide-eyed expression of disbelief and alarm. It is, of course, too late to stop Laurie from writing on the wall. The detective's alarm, however, vanishes much faster and, as she rushes closer to view the wall unblocked by Laurie's form, is replaced with an express look of admonishment. She's quickly distracted even from that by studying the numbers closely, as astutely as she would were they on a valid print-out. "So what are you saying."

Laurie's zoned in quite tightly on staring straight ahead, summoning up line after line in his mind that's then transferred onto the wall like he was transcribing from a paper right there in front of him. A break comes when Maggie's come in on the examination; he turns his head to her with furrowed eyebrows, "I am saying that I once accused Mrs. Roland of stealing funds." Having confirmed that, he picks up where he left off — writing and staring ahead — and speaking more slowly. "She— got drunk— came onto me. We were pulled off the case a little later. Nothing came of it after all."

Maggie only takes a single step back and watches the information take form, appearing somewhat entranced by the detail of the numerical figures that steadily vandalize the station wall. Her phone goes on what is bound to be a very temporary hiatus, tucked away. Absently, she tears piece after piece from her muffin to eat it. Her gaze narrows ever-so-slightly here and there upon the wall, and after awhile, she speaks up again. "Nothing came of it … but was she guilty," she queries, "And these numbers…"

"… guilty, guilty. Pulled off— something came up— well, the rest of the case. Turned out the numbers didn't matter then. But they do now, they're important. They're for her husband; she has a husband now. Why would you steal from your husband?" Squeak the marker brakes against the wall, fumbling a 6 as Laurie whirls to confront Maggie with his inquiry. "And if you're stealing money, why publicly, from a campaign that you're also supporting? Funds that are inevitably going to be looked over by other pairs of eyes — pairs just as invested. In fact, more invested because I have made a career out of re-igniting your husband's," now the marker is moved from wagging at Maggie to pointing to himself, "I'm enthusiastic and charismatic and people listen to me, but only when I have someone to back and if that goes down, then I go down… but I'm reasonable…" an allowing tip of his head to the side, "and good-looking. Approachable. You approach."

But it's Laurie who takes a step in towards Maggie, personalizing their distance. "I've found you out, your little secret. How do you handle that— me knowing, me… being a variable. How do you usually problem-solve…" and a little bit closer still on the next step; the marker rises towards Laurie's lips, hovering, "She said everybody." And then the little felt-tip indicates slowly himself and then Maggie in an undeniable line. "Are we fucking?"

Maggie is unerring in her absorption of every twist and turn of this immersive method of theorizing. Completely tuned in, she sets the half-eaten muffin aside on the corner of the table without looking, a movement that slooows down on the way back — when that last question is posed and the consultant's inched closer. Her clear, straight gaze moves off, shifts about — then starts to search unseen points, as if thinking back through the story.

"Maybe…" She comes to consider Laurie — or, rather, his currently adopted persona — with a mulling look up and down. "…If it would shut you up," Maggie determines slowly. "And bring you to my side. Say we are. What if, eventually, we run into a problem … there's another pair of eyes looking over my secrets — our secrets, now. Someone who looks a little too hard. Normal… problem-solving doesn't work."

Watching this interplay, the rookie by the boards holds his hands up and suddenly interrupts. "I'm— I'm not standing in for that part."

"Oh, but it would," opines Laurie, the campaign manager, in a husky enthusiasm — but it's energized by a kind of rising sense of entrapment — and he takes an even further step in towards Maggie. When he tilts his head, it's to talk directly down to her. And not by that much. "You get me— even once," a hand springs to their near sides, tracing by the detective's arm, not touching but inescapably sensual nonetheless, "And what am I going to do…" So close, their talking… "Run to your husband… tell him you're stealing his money. You tell him we did it— " So very very close… "— fucked." His breath against her skin is almost his lips doing the same. "Now who's the bad guy."

Despite reverse-volunteering, the rookie calls attention to himself, darting Laurie's gaze away from Maggie and, apparently, his concentration on role-playing. With a kind of random, spinning, movement, he detaches from Maggie's personal space, twirling about once in the wrong direction before he ends up facing his own numbers as they sit there, boldly black on the wall and coldly statistical. The complete opposite of two seconds earlier.

"Right. Lisa. Lisa, Lisa… Lisa works with the numbers, she's good at them, likes going through them… but what took her so long… and how did she— color coordination. Dayton said she did the— " Up down, all around, his head goes and then he's glaring at the marker in his hand and glaring, by proxy, and Maggie for being the next person he looks at. "I don't have enough colors."

The next person he looks at — Maggie — happens to still be standing in the precise spot she was a moment ago during the impromptu role-playing. She's caught looking ever-so-slightly unnerved, her mouth open as if to say something, features frozen with a faintly hard and out-of-sorts edge; but she is no less steady-eyed, until, that is, a sharp beep draws her attention to the pager at her belt. The number she spies brings about the flat announcement: "It's the ME."

She doesn't touch her phone immediately to call back, however. Rubbing her upper arm, Maggie curtly spins toward the table to grab the satchel she planted there on entering. After some rummaging, producing the clatter of plastic-on-plastic, she produces a fistful of highlighters and pens in very nearly every colour of the rainbow. She unburdens them onto the table in a colourful mess, straightening her shoulders a little when she preemptively explains herself: "…what. I like to colour coordinate my notes too." Holding a finger up, one moment, she drifts to a corner to make the call.

In the background, the consultant is only too pleased to find all the colors spilling out — he didn't really require the explanation, barely batting an eye at it — and he juggles a highlighter between each finger of his left hand, letting him keep jotting numbers with the right and, occasionally with a twist of the wrist, select the right color to underline it with.

The answer from below — the voice of the young examiner from the crime scene — is clear and eager through the phone as he answers from the lab's landline. "Detective Powers? It's ME Hoyt. Are you at the station right now? I've got something from the body and— you should really be here, yourself."

"Yeah," Maggie answers the examiner, speaking toward the corner of the room, one hand on her hip. "I'm on my way." She couldn't be more truthful: the detective is already on the move before the phone is disconnected. Once she's nearly to the door, she looks to the others and makes a vague, halted gesture at the wall like she wants to, somehow, comment on the markings — and perhaps how she's not responsible for them — but instead, she opens the door and whisks through. "Finish up."

* * *

=ME's Lab

"Hey, detective, that was fast." Hoyt's commentary comes as he is just stepping away from the phone station — not because he only just hung up with Detective Powers, but had lingered there since. Now, he moves from the more office side of things to the slab upon which lies the deceased Lisa, campaign volunteer, most of her now shrouded to hide the scar of the autopsy. Nearby hang various scans and results, illuminated through by the lightboxes behind them. Attempting to battle down some of the excitement that may appear impolite in such a setting, Hoyt only manages to make himself look particularly antsy as he takes up a position by one of these, his hands clapping together over the front of his white lab coat.

"Do you remember," he starts right in, whether the detective's ready or not — all bets are that she is, and came in the door that way. "When I said that Lisa was in good shape when she hit the water? Making it seem as though she didn't try to get to the surface at all once she was in the pool…? Well— as it turns out, opening her up painted a very new picture."

The detective's level of anticipation matches the medical examiner's, in her own fashion. Eager for answers, she's right there at the autopsy table when he is. A light thrum of edgy unease exists right under the surface, however, which may have nothing to do with the results, since she's making a habit of suppressing glances back the way she came. Nothing takes away from Maggie's need-to-know, however: that's all focused on the ME. "Okay," she says, cheerful overtop serious, "paint me the picture, Hoyt."

Hoyt — unsuccessfully — fights a smile when he's thus instructed. There's little to help it; the ME is dreadfully proud of himself, and will probably continue to be until the shiny new gleam of only having worked here a month wears off. "Well, when water enters the airways, the larynx and the vocal constrict — in order to stop more from getting in. This will happen whether your conscious or unconscious. The water then goes into the stomach, but air also has an increasingly difficult time getting to the lungs because of this sealing in the air tube."

Poised by the images on the wall, he gets a glance behind him swiftly to make sure it's the right one, then turns a second time to put a hand near the image, swirling fingers near brighter areas of the photographed woman's insides. "In the case of Lisa, here— no water. Which can happen if the tube constriction persists until cardiac arrest— which is then characterized as 'dry drowning'. But," he lifts a finger higher and then to the side, tapping another image of the woman's throat, "There's another explanation for no water in the lungs and that's," his hands lower and he glances at Lisa before Maggie, "If she was already not breathing when she entered the pool."

Maggie can see the images in question just fine from where she stands, but, in interest, moves right up to the picture to examine it. Her rapidfire thoughts are strong behind her eyes as she looks from a photo to the body of Lisa on the table — which encourages furrows on in her forehead. "Is there any indication of what stopped her from breathing?"

"Yeah," he says, circling around towards the body now, but it's more a reflex towards answering than an affirmation, "In all cases, strangulation is a difficult one to ascertain. Bruising might not show up for days— there's often no marks at all. But I went up and down the body with the ultraviolet and there was no evidence of it under the skin, either," he puts two fingers under her chin and turns it up for Maggie to see, "No scratch marks on her chin from defensive movements." This new line of questioning has sobered some of the enthusiasm out of him as he grips the edge of the table and is forced to admit, "My initial statement is still true. She asphyxiated. But if she choked rather than was strangled, there's no foreign body to say how or why."

Detective Powers moves to stand opposite Hoyt, studying the body closely where indicated without surprise, though the lack of obvious facts brings a grim line to her mouth. "Alright," she says, taking a step back, going for her phone. "Thank you, that's good work." She still has a question or two, however, even as she's ready to be on the move again. "Could there be anything in her system that could make her throat close? A reaction to an … allergy, or a drug."

"Thank you, detective," Hoyt is quick to absorb, springing the smile into place again, only to have it even out when he's questioned. "We got her stomach contents, obviously, when checking for water with the laryngospasm, but besides a whole hell of a lot of booze— I'm sorry, alcohol— there didn't appear to be anything abnormal. We can… do some more extensive tests, if you think that's necessary?"

Maggie whisks around the table and past the ME on her way to the exit, stopping to reply; but it's the body of the young woman that seems to grab her attention instead of Hoyt, distracting her for several moments, a finger tapping thoughtfully against her leg throughout. Back to the present— "It couldn't hurt," she confirms, smiles politely, and she's off.

* * *

Ding-ding — drives the elevator doors open, releasing Detective Powers into the main bullpen again, and also revealing her to it. This is the opening by which she is intercepted by the shortly but expertly looming form of Agent Hamm. Separated from those he had been discussing business with before and here, distanced from those who would be giving Powers perhaps especial attention like the beginning of the morning, Hamm is on the grim side of professional. Though he steps away from the two directional buttons, he doesn't appear caught unawares at Detective Powers' appearance in the elevator that shows up.

With a wave of the tops of his fingers, all closed together, he means to lead her just aside of the metal lifts. It puts as much privacy as possible to the low lack of preamble in: "There's been another scene."

Maggie spies the agent immediately and immediately prepares to move around him to be on her way in a determined hurry, giving him a small look of acknowledgement, a not-quite-smile. His gesture puts a stop to that. She's reluctant — she glances into the bullpen, not hiding the fact that she has elsewhere on her mind — but she's led. Tight-jawed, she looks at some point over Hamm's head. "When."

"Last night." He could leave it at that; let her be on her hurried way. But Hamm chooses to move his weight to the other foot and, hand dabbing at his chin add, still in that low, low voice that won't carry, "Nine— maybe ten o'clock. Now— " And here's the really important part for which he lifts that hand in-between them, marking her. Watching her with all the intensity of his position. "The station said he was on a case then. With you…"

"He, u-uhm." Maggie starts; stops. Her jaw moves while her answer is considered. It's clear hesitation. Not, however, for lack of remembering. Almost eight. That's a perfect time for dinner…

Still without regarding Hamm straightforwardly, she continues in a low, flat, and hurried voice. "I can't account for every minute." She tucks her mostly straightened hair behind one ear and weaves around him, regardless of firmly he may be planted. "I'm sorry, Agent. I have work that I have to get to."

Being firmly planted might be what helps Maggie's flight work, in the end. Halted in that spot, unflinching but his eyes now cast down, Hamm doesn't move or react as the detective darts away. It's not until she's crossed most of the station that he turns to watch her — and then steps inside the elevator and lets the doors close in front of his hardened face.

* * *

It would seem that consultants are vastly more dependable than most repairmen. As Detective Powers returns to the meeting room, it's obvious he took her at her command; the wall — though not a greatly sized one, it's still a fair amount — is now completely covered in black numbers and information and bursts of color groups here and there circling or underlining bits and pieces to show which category they respectfully belong to. For the past minute or so, Laurie's begun to pace, and he accompanies it well with muttering chatter, not for the unfortunate rookie's sake, but a patter all to himself. Markerless and overloaded with information, the rookie's best bet at this point may be to click his heels three times and hope for the best.

At least the pattern of intense walking ends as the detective returns, with a turn of the head and an immediate raise in volume from that self-pondering. "— but that doesn — Powers! Hmm hm. Powers. There it is." He flings himself towards the wall in order to be in reach to rap his knuckles triumphantly against it, then spins right around again to face her and her not immediate enough reaction. He's staring her, bright blue eyes all of confidence, and he announces: "I did it."

The reason for her reaction being not-so-immediate is the uneasy energy Maggie has acquired by the time she steps foot back in the room. That goes nowhere, but the straight, pensive face she walks in with is knocked off pretty fast, however, by Laurie's triumph and the reason for it. In the midst of stretching an arm behind her to pull shut the door, she gets a good look at the wall. "Wow. That's a lot of information." Her widening eyes blink at the colorful arrangement, though it's the table she heads for: her bag, precisely, which she begins to rifle through gently.

"Well, if I had a gold star, I might give you one…" A pause and she changes tracks. "And the ME determined something significant: Lisa wasn't breathing when she hit the water." Maggie looks up to the wall, studying its details in a more precise fashion— then, distracted— "Did you— " She studies Laurie, specifically his pockets, not critically, per se; in a strange sort of wonder, the same way she's not blaming when she asks unsurely, "Did you— take my markers?"

"Well, Lisa did it, I guess I should say— " Rather caught up in his own side of the investigation, Laurie doesn't immediately give merit to anything Maggie has said, but turns in a half-circle to regard his own handiwork. "She made a pattern of— what? Did I what? Why would I take your…" But he's forced to trail off because his hand has wondered to his pockets, where they so often go by habit, and his fingers trace the tops of several marker-sized objects that didn't exactly come with the outfit. "Look at that. I guess I did," he determines after pulling the clump of markers out to show them.

Framed against the literal wall of other information that's been pulled from his head, his accidental, and unremembered misdemeanor is an odd contrast. In the stillness — versus his ranting about the financials — now about him, the consultant raises the groupings of markers to tap against his chin absently. "She didn't scream— because she wasn't breathing."

Maggie gives the consultant a weird little look for his thieving, on an over-dramatized spectrum of suspicion this time. She doesn't seem to rightly mind, despite her asking. "And she wasn't breathing— because…" A timely revelation only should go here; instead, she waves her hand just above the bag she's since abandoned searching. "Nothing obvious came up in the autopsy to explain why she asphyxiated. She had to have been breathing when she grabbed the railing; or at the least in that timeframe." Now, a study of the wall in earnest. "All right…" Reclaiming her red mug into both hands — tightly — she comes to stand in front of it. "You were saying she made a pattern?"

"Yes, one doesn't usually decide that climbing over railings with fifteen story drops is the thing to do while asphyxiating…" Not usually. And that's only put out there to be said, since Laurie sets his position beside Maggie and watching the wall in similar form right after. "She did— Dayton said all the papers were coordinated precisely. And assuming all her stories of hard-work to be true, Lisa would have double, triple-checked her organization. Not left— "

Extracting the one marker actually belonging to the police station — the black one — he points it to several areas that have been marked with the red, yet with no other red ones around them. "These ones I've marked to be out of order by her own system. I had to first, of course, figure out her system," he casts Maggie a side and apologetic glance, "Which is why it took me longer to get it all out," to the wall, "But it unfolded. So she was calling these spots out for herself, keeping track. She found something that didn't quite match up. And I think I know what it is."

Red, red, red— Laurie. Maggie awards him a faint raise of her brows when he sounds apologetic for taking the length of her short trip to finish all this. Resettling onto staring at the wall, she quietly studies it her own self for a few moments after his announcement. That tightly-gripped drink raises near her face before the obvious question has to be asked: "What do you think it is?"

A long humming noise emits from Laurie, long and steady in rhythm like a machine until he has to speak, "A pattern. A pattern which gets overlooked because we jump to the immediate conclusion of the easiest thing it looks… like…" His face falls, off from the wall — off from everything, based on how the focus changes in his eyes. In the midst of the dip down, his head tilts to find Maggie there. Then, in a burst of movement, he steps aggressively in front of her and into her space. "Back up."

Maggie's thoughtful consideration of the wall, trying to make those connections and find patterns herself, is one-hundred percent interrupted. She obeys literally — she does right away, alarmed by the suddenness. "What?" comes her high, soft voice of surprise. Her arms and her cup become something of a barrier, her shoulders squaring ahead as she eyes Laurie with what is not dramatized suspicion this time.

In doing so, she's completed only the initial step because, right on the tails of the backing, he only advances into the space she's creating, destroying it just as fast. Laurie's expression cannot be precisely described as threatening, nothing so menacing as the swift intruding steps he takes, but there's nothing exactly reassuring about the pure concentration there, either. "Again."

"Wh— hyyy?" Maggie nevertheless takes a backward step just the same as the last — both in distance and suddenness — and the one following is no different. Every time he gets close, she backs away, in a cycle that never truly puts distance between them. It's only a short few steps back before the table blocks Maggie. With a light thump, her legs hit it, and she instinctively leans back, eyeing Laurie. On a sudden thought, just then, she sets her cup down and grips the edge of the table.

The rookie backs up from where he stands, too, though it's only to distance himself from what he assumes is another intense role-playing session he wants no part of.

Even when it appears she's caught on, her aggressor does not slow up but presses the confrontation until the detective is forced to actually use that grip she's demonstrating. When it's clear the position is quite real, Laurie glances to their side where the boards sit, one of which contains the fingerprinting information — a small diagram dramatization of what was found. From those virtually produced hands on the railing… to those Maggie is using to keep herself upright against the table. "A pattern… where the conclusion was the first solution it looked to be." No ego, no triumph, no nothing; it's a purely factual thing — more academic than the way he decided to reveal it — and the lean that he continues to press on her.

"The money," so easily from one to the other, connected by invisible strings in his head that those outside of it aren't privy to, "All the same amount, around the same time every month, occasionally twice a month. To recipients with varying initials, but none ever repeated outside of that. Same amount, different initials — same destination. I don't think it's stealing at all. I think it's a pay-off."

"The question is— " Maggie's grip on the table's edge is firm, but it falters, as she leans back an extra increment — one palm slips; like anyone's might, forced to the edge. " — to who." She takes all of the conclusions — demonstration included — as they are. Now, however, the unsteadied hand is brought up in front of Laurie. It's spread as if she's going to push him out of her space but she doesn't quite, only makes a small attempt to remind him that he can move, now, anytime. She eases up straighter, slides to the right. "Well, wherever that money is going— and whatever— or whoever happened to Lisa, I think it's time we go find out."

(TO BE CONTINUED in Washed Up)

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