2010-12-15: Very Merry UnBirthday



Guest-Starring: Dr. Jeffrey Miles

Date: December 9th-December 15th, 2010


Maggie's continued visits land her in Laurie's presence on a very particular day, where she learns one interesting fact, and one disturbing one.

"Very Merry UnBirthday"

NY Psych Institution

The next time they meet, Dr. Miles' time is too precious for his office, and he strolls with Maggie side by side down one of the hospital corridors for their little chat. It's chilly, and the seriousness with which Dr. Miles regards her through thick lenses fit snugly over his nose does not relieve any of it.
"Paranoia is a strong commander," is the warning call, even as he signs off on the more personal meeting, "He's confessed to me several times now that he has no one; trusts no one. As his supposed partner, this bothers you, but I advise not to take it personally." His head shakes; he removes the glasses, rubs one lens with a thumb and returns it to its place, "Any slightest perceived mis-step can cause great illusions of betrayal in them. And as he was never properly treated after the conclusion of his disturbing work, I can only assume that his mind remains immensely fractured. As is rather evidenced by his behavior. Tread carefully… for both your sakes'." Then it is a swift excusing as he parts ways from her; the pass now that she's been stripped by security letting her wander at her own discretion.

Instead, the detective slows a few paces after Dr. Miles departs, giving him not a word — it doesn't look like she had any to give today. A change of pace. She doesn't wander; she stops, when normally she might march right along. She's left with hardening features and a thoughtful gaze cutting down the hall and pinned to a random spot on the floor. Adjusting her grip on a folder — deemed safe — that she carries, Maggie's head soon raises high once again. Tread carefully? She treads ahead. She marches on.

The path to that same communal room is taken; she seeks out the familiar patient to announce: "We have a suspect in the home invasion murders in custody… partly thanks to you. And," she lifts the folder in her arm with a lift of her elbow, "I have more work."

From his place snugly straddling a slightly too small chair in the gaming area, Laurie turns to greet her. In his hand, the sole remaining original piece from the Candyland game board set out between him and another smiling patient. The colorful children's game is strewn about with make-shift cardboard representations and a couple of pennies otherwise. "Excellent," he informs her, giving the Jolly figure — no longer produced in the 2010 version — a heartened tap against his chin before it's enthusiastically landed in the middle of the fictitious 2D land. "We'll start with the scene."

* * *

"Hobbies are healthy— obsessions are not. It's a line not everyone can determine on his own," confesses Dr. Miles when, several visits by, he's caught not pressed by work but entertaining the community room. His hands lay at rest on the black and whites where they had indulged in a bit of a familiar tune to the detective — something in a Mozart. But there the similarities to a previous concert end; Dr. Miles plays perfectly, with a dedication to the exact clinical execution. The retelling is as cold as that suggests, devoid of emotion and passion. Just perfect in all technicalities. "Repetition has similar boundaries," narrowed, momentarily, as if on her: the frequency of her visits rising. "Laurence has opted not to join us in the common room today," he goes on fluidly, making the seemingly unrelated definitely related, "You'll be allowed to his room, I think." And the music restarts.

As he thinks, it is so. There's peace and quiet to the idea of a personal room — not here. Every door is required open, privy to the glances of passing staff members, who do so regularly. Bed and table, locked to the floor, are adorned with naught; the mattress she finds him on has been relieved of its sheets — they're a possible hazard, so they don't get to be a comfort. Even the walls project a certain radiance of constant bombardment, though they are barren and white as everything else.

Strewn on the bed, it is an upside down vision he eyes on her approach. "She comes to me in my bedroom now," he delivers with a slight old-fashioned twang, rolling onto his bed on the unyielding bare mattress. "So you're past the courtship phase." Implications bypass his own permissions as, in this case, there is perhaps another one she's doing the dance with, he thinks. "I hope you've brought me something good for the occasion."

The occasion, and Laurie, earn a singularly raised eyebrow from Maggie through her entrance — lingering continually without a twitch as, turning to face him, she plants her back against the wall opposite and folds her arms. Her greys and blues are bold silhouette against the oppressive, blank space, even the manila folder she holds is vivid in comparison, but the woman herself is a little less than bright today. Perhaps she should be in a bed of her own, sleeping. But such is a hazard of work and— here, now— her own determination. "Maybe. I wouldn't call it good," she says, in thoughtfulness only, with a glance down to the folder in hand. "How's your boredom doing?"

"Alive and kicking," responds the bedded consultant — more true to form on that job description lately, despite no longer having a job. Movement propels him from a lying position to a sitting one as he claps his hands together. "Shall we kill it?"

* * *

That Wednesday, Dr. Miles is out of the office. A chair outside of Laurie's bedroom door was waiting for Maggie, but no words of imparted wisdom. Across from the bare mattress on which he sits, it's easy to see that Laurie's faded from the confining four walls to some section of his wandering mind. A fair to frequent occurrence during descriptions of scenes while there were still representations of them in toy form, the instances had stopped in transfer to his decoration-less adobe. But now, it's inescapable; there was not even murder being imagined, just the profiler veering into silence on his own words, leaving an affectedly unfinished sentence between them. His stare, with head cocked, up to a top corner of the room does not even compensate for the odd bit of brightness in the ward. Coming up against Maggie's politely livelier wardrobe, the tiny frosting-swirled burst of color is a fierce competitor, despite size. A bit of chocolate caking stuck in rainbow-colored paper, topped with ribbed purple topping. With that dent up top, it looks like Laurie struck a finger through the icing earlier and then promptly forgot the rest.

"— Miles…?" Maggie's head tilts to the side, frowns the smallest amount in understanding, and she regards the silent consultant from where she's sat herself down upon her chair. Like her voice, her regard is gentle, not probing. She doesn't truly expect a response. Not yet. She waits several long moments, watching, however; she might not expect a response to happen out of the blue, either, but her gaze has a different quality above patiently passing the time. It's studying, wondering, benevolent—

And by the time it starts to get concerned, Maggie abandons her waiting folder of real life murder mystery and moves to stand in front of Laurie. She bends down until she's face-to-face with him — at a polite distance — if not eye-to-eye. "Hey, where are you," she urges good-naturedly, reaching out at the long length of an arm to — after a glance out to the hall — touch his shoulder with the tips of her fingers. "I expect you to zone out on me, Miles, but this cupcake…"

A blink, and a snort — an honest to goodness start is how Laurie recovers, as if woken from being asleep instead of just distant. In response to a sudden return to physicality, his grip on the mentioned cupcake slackens, tipping it over the side of his knee. His effort to catch it up puts a big finger-shaped dent around one edge and into the frosting. "Mmmff…" Shoulders slightly scrunched from his previous intensity of talking, he straightens up now, finding the end-table to set the now rather floppy cupcake on. His finger coming back towards him has some clinging ingredients, and he is not too shy to suck the extras off in front of his company.

Some sugar and food color residue remains even as he laces hands together and squints effort at Maggie. "The, uh— the point was— family," his brow darkens under strain, fingers tightening together— only for everything to ease a second later. "He doesn't hide his away because they'll get in the way. He's protecting them also. Don't be confrontational. Just…" he weaves his head back and forth, pausing now in effect, no danger of fading away now; he speaks as if no interlude had occurred. "Hint. Let him bring them up. Thennn, suggest how this whole trial process is affecting them."

"Okay," Maggie says upon Laurie's return to reaction, as if no time had passed for her, either. Listening and considering, she keeps her gaze on him as she returns to her chair. She sits on a corner. "I suppose that makes sense… for him." For a moment she toys thoughtfully with a page in the folder before she leans ahead with her arms criss-crossed and draped over her knees.

"You know, if we keep making progress with these cases, we're going to run out. We'll have to start digging into the cold cases. I used to do that a lot when I was in…" Her enthusiasm starts to fade. "Where I was before." She casually interrupts herself with a nod of her head toward the colorful bit of cake on the end table; its presence has been undeniably eye-catching all the while. "What's the occasion, anyway?"

Sense, and, actually, the conclusion to their discussion, having suffered that involuntary break only now. Having dispensed his thoughts in full, Laurie contemplates easing into a less attentive position on the bed, but he glances up and away from this task to follow her nod to his rather celebratory-looking room addition. Also, what could more possibly be the most sugar he's seen in the weeks of looking leaner since she first noticed. The process continues to define every muscle where his practice has not slackened.

"Oh," he comments on the tail of her question, eyeing the cupcake also in one, "I just wanted to have something around for you to deflect onto incase you idly talked yourself into a topic you didn't want to continue with."

Caught. Maggie breaks into a humored little smile that has the grace to look fleetingly guilty. "Nice try," she assesses all the same. The curious glance between the rainbow dessert and Laurie is no lessened. She sits up and takes up the task of gradually sweeping the copies and pictures in on the table into the folder most neatly. She turns her head toward Laurie in the midst of brisk paper-shuffling. "Well, whatever you did to get it, maybe you should do it again," she suggests in the same nonchalant, good-natured and half-teasing way she says, "you're looking a little skinny there, Miles."

"Ooh…. hmm. That'd be a little awkward…" Laurie openly muses on the idea of a repeat performance. Dropping his hands to his sides, he hefts himself backwards, coming up to the wall that his bed rests against at one side. It lets him spread his legs out a bit more, though one remains bent for him to drape an arm over the knee. That hand gestures emptily. "And don't be mean to 'skinny'. Hordes of insecure young women depend on that to be a good thing."

"That's not a good thing," Maggie contends, though her argument is upbeat, however meant it may be — and really, the not especially skinny woman does sound spirited over the subject. She organizes the last paper into the folder and taps the whole thing on the table to rustle it into a neat package ready to be filed… miles away from here. "Did you win a game?" she queries, keeping up the casual tone, lending no particular weight to any of her ideas. "Is it someone's birthday?" The folder is tucked under her arm as she gets up. "You didn't steal it, did you…" Fits the 'awkward'…

Laurie's face morphs in consideration for each of her ideas, but he outright laughs at the last suggestion — a merry, certainly amused laughter that fades too easily into chuckles, putting off his answer. "It is statistically more than one some's birthday." The first commentary is throwaway, his usual speculation over phrasing. He watches her, all preparatory to leave, then glances away idly to the cupcake. Finally, his hand over the knee gives a bit of a four-fingered wave at the colorful treat. With no weight, no implication, nor expectation; she asked, she gets to know: "It is mine."

Maggie strolls a few steps away from the table, but appears in no especial hurry since she slows to a stop in front of the bed. She narrows a quizzical look on Laurie, her lips pursing subtly in thought as she turns her head to one side— still looking at him, appearing much more serious than the situation calls for, which makes it appear not very serious at all. "Yooour… cupcake, or— " She lifts her free hand to tip her pointer finger toward the ceiling, conscientious of his knack for wordplay, "or— your cupcake and," she clarifies, "your birthday?" She seems to have decided on the correct answer for herself; she smiles like she's won something.

Eager to be part of the fun, Laurie mirrors her smile back at her, but it becomes attacked by a gradual and, eventually successful, sense of displacement. "I don't know," he confesses, growing more certain in his uncertainty, as he reaches for the confection to examine. "That strains the relationship. I rather like to think it's my cupcake for my birthday," and the smile reappears, bright and plastic when affected for a cause — a mock cause — and then vanishes under the absolute control he exhibits over his face. "Otherwise it has no reason. Except, I suppose, to be delicious. Which, on second thought, is reason enough for me." And the cupcake is gestured empathetically at her. "Whatever, right?"

Maggie follows along at first an amused twinge to her smile, then a blink of bewilderment. She opens her mouth to reply, but hesitates in considering limbo for a moment only to slowly give in to nodding along, instead. "How can I argue cupcake philosophy," she says in a quiet voice — awfully serious for a sentence containing the phrase 'cupcake philosophy' and, yet, not contrived this time. "It's your birthday." Her smile broadens and settles warmly around her statement of the obvious. "Happy birthday," she says earnestly — regardless of Laurie's surroundings. She folds her arms snugly, holding the folder against her chest like so much homework. She pauses. "… I didn't get you anything."

"Thank you," he manages to accept the words graciously, just as they are. A thumb plucks at the corners of the paper around the cake bottom, teasing at peeling. Laurie's eyes, finding her, narrow seriously. So, not at all. "… You've never gotten me anything for my birthday." Then, he lets reconsideration and graciousness weasel in, though somewhat grudgingly — until, inevitably, he's smiling at her in a way that dismisses all of what silliness she's clearly displaying. "So, I figure. You either owe me forty plus years of presents, or you're off the hook— you at least have a grace period to decide whether or not to start investing in this process."

Maggie almost laughs, she becomes so amused by that notion. Laurie is gifted, at least, with a bright, white smile that, for an instant, seems to take over her whole face before pressing down, and into dimples. Incredulously, her brows raise high, and under her breath she gives an "uh huh" to the tune of 'is that so'. Nodding, hints of laughter bounce under her voice, bouncing her words. "Yeah all right, we'll see. And you're welcome." She turns to the door.

Eyeballing his stalled handiwork on the cupcake wrapper, Laurie's contemplative look as she heads to the door is truly that, no humor. It isn't heavy — it does not weigh him down — but it does linger so that he can't shake the indecision until Maggie's reached the threshold. Just there, he gives the cupcake a soft shake, threatening more of its twice abused frosting, and pipes up mildly, "… So you've met my father." It's given a questioning lilt, but only for cosmetics; the answer is known. Known though never really brought up before now, the topic having seemed forbidden even by Maggie's actions.

Already poised to turn back before Laurie speaks, Maggie pauses entirely when she hears him. To say she's caught off guard would be an overstatement — she ducks her head and accepts the topic — but she's certainly slowed on her way back to facing the room. Warmth is still present on her face; it stays, even though the remnants of her smile are quick to fall. Dr. Miles, it seems, does not induce the same sentiment. "I have," she confirms. "He usually speaks to me … every time I come. Except today — he's not in. Dr. … Miles is…" She looks down and stares at the floor as if a portrait of Laurie's father is there. "…something else." Not admiring, that something else; not overly critical. Just that. Something else.

Laurie's very loud snort at her factually vague description is unmistakably derisive. But he rearranges his sentiments quickly enough, plucking more strongly at the cupcake, "Yes, today's a special day," he comments amiably, yet leagues and leagues away from a seconds ago ridiculous discussion of cupcakes for other ways this day stands out. Seconds pass by where he appears more occupied by that part of the paper is stuck on the mostly melted frosting than on making his point. But then a sideways flicker of his blue eyes in her direction by the door and then he tacks on, "He's just buying time."

Maggie's arms shift in their fold across the file and seem to tighten as they resettle. Her gaze hasn't left the floor, that imagined spot from which to consider Dr. Miles; any gaze lasting that long is bound to harbour opinions. It lifts now to Laurie, holding a stonier quality and a distant spark of question. "Buying time until what?"

He inhales deeply, not heavy, only opting for more air this go around. "Allowing the visits," he goes on, sideways to her questioning, but a natural continuance for him. "Letting you ease into more comfortable ones. Appear to get your way. Relax into case stuff— distractions."
"I get the impression— " Maggie starts to state, turning just so toward Laurie to lean a shoulder into the doorframe. Stiff, she doesn't look especially comfortable now, as it happens. " — that he always has an agenda." Leaving her uncomfortable pose at the door behind, she takes a few meandering steps back into the room, though, once there, her tightly crossed arms don't relax any at all. "What exactly do you think he wants to distract from, then?"

A tug down of the mouth, a shrug up of the shoulders; eh. "His petition," is the easy, almost lazy response, coming so quickly off of Maggie's question that likely Laurie was on the way to speaking up already, "in court," a little roll of his eyes puts his gaze momentarily on track with hers, but, on a shrug, he's returned to the cupcake. One leg bends up to join the other and both of his arms, elbows on knees, settle on holding the treat out at length. His thumb smears purple icing against chocolate cake before he rubs it against another finger to get the stuff off. The confection is really starting to fall apart.

"Petition," Maggie repeats the word, as if turning it over and checking every one of its sides for different meanings. Every possibility. "Your birthday cake is falling apart," she points out affably — if distractedly — in the middle of her consideration; there is no pause between that questionably helpful statement and her sitting down on the very far corner of the bed. Her weight has barely settled, the mattress barely compensating for the shift, before she's looking over, concerned, prompting, "And this petition would…"

Laurie performs a slow double-take, staring at the cupcake, glancing to her, then back to the cupcake: behold, she tells the truth; the thing has seen better days — five seconds ago. Noticing the fuss, he lays part of the ripped paper back over its old position and sets the whole thing down a second time. During the crisp, mundane action of dusting his hands together to release any clinging crumbs, he mentions with all casualness, and even a bit of forgetfulness — the cupcake was very distracting, see. "Ahh… yes. Would allow him to medicate me without my permission."

Immediately, Maggie looks offended for Laurie. "What?" Her voice might be tiny, in that moment, but there's nothing insignificant about her opinion of this revelation. And she doesn't truly need the clarification on it. She shakes her head, setting the folder aside on the mattress. "No! That— " While son of a bitch would flow quite well into the silent span made by Maggie clamping her jaw tightly shut and gesturing with rigid fingers splayed as if she may strangle an invisible representation of the man in question, she does not, in fact, say a thing about Laurie's father.

Except: " … that is completely unreasonable. Why would he want to do that, why would he go through the trouble to do that to you." She frowns after she's spoken, not only on the thought of it, but in apology; she's sorry. "That part … might not be my business," she amends, adding quickly in all sincerity, "and that's okay. But…" Another frown starts to form. "What are you going to do?"

Eyebrows raising, his mouth dropping into a thin, incredulous line, Laurie observes her every reaction — affording him to look vaguely amused by what could have been before she clamped. "Yeah, it's not really," he assures her in a friendly manner between her apology and acceptance. And then after her question: "Well… I thought I'd have some nice, unburdened visits from my girl, Detective Powers." She's illustrated with a sideways nod from him, as if he were, in fact, informing a third, invisible, party. "That seems to have been going pretty well." He reasons with himself briefly, rocking his head side to side in representation of the back and forth thinking. "I may or may not bite one of the staff when it comes time."

Looking along her shoulder at Laurie, the gears in Maggie's head are clearly turning — momentarily interrupted by a series of her blinks that redirect her attentions to the floor for a few moments, and a ghost of that smile, but still thinking, thinking. "Biting…" she says lightly afterward, rocking her head from side to side less animatedly, distracted, "…probably… won't help your cause." Once that has been pointed out, she plants a hand beside the folder and twists to further face the patient on the bed. Her mouth doesn't choose between a smile and a frown, remaining an unsteady line.%r"It's not right. If you want stop him from doing that to you— if you want to leave here…" Maggie says slowly, a peaceable offering, "I can try to help you. If you want me to." Her gaze might be fervent over the subject, but it's kind, and steady as ever. "At least … I can look into it. I can find someone who can. The laws for this kind of thing have to be at least somewhat flexible…"

He appears to be stubbornly attracted to the idea of biting, but only shows this in face and does not voice his approval directly as the words pass by. Her turning to him sees his leg on that side drop, leaving a less obstructed view to her earnest face. His study of her persists, waiting out her trail off to see if anything follows. Studying, and then a seamless transition into his amiable irreverence of before. "Anyway, I just thought you should know."

That's the hand-waving the perilous topic receives, those palms afterward smacking down on his legs, one knee and one thigh as landing points. "You know, for that day you come around and I've lost short term memory. As well as the motivation and desire to do anything at all. So — really — it'll be kind of like I'm drinking again. Except with more dementia. And something very uncomfortable sounding, like sexual dysfunction."

Concern shares space with disappointment in the eyes upon Laurie. It's not a rough addition, the disappointment — Maggie isn't surprised. She is, however, also no less empathetic — continually opposite his irreverence. Settling into her twist, she hauls a bent knee onto the mattress to rest more comfortably, holding an ankle with one hand about her jeans. But, thus settled, her gaze abruptly leaves. "Don't all of those changes sound like … something you might at least try to prevent…"

Laurie's expression hasn't changed much since his face scrunched up after fully realizing the words sexual dysfunction like a sour taste in his mouth. It continues to not do so when he mutters whole-heartedly, "Yes. They really, really do."

"That's the spirit," Maggie says with a bit of bright optimism — which promptly fades, as she is, in fact, less than convinced of Laurie's spirit, evidenced by her expression when she looks at him again: unchanged save for the creases of skepticism, now. She leans more heavily into her bracing arm. "So…" She starts on a path that seems sure to be full of logic, but she only trails off from it.

Trails off to another blank, expectant pause from him. Laurie's hand dashes out into the air above his leg, indicating her to go on, but just as soon rotates a finger back towards himself as his eyebrows drop in question. Now the fingers are spread, innocent and helpless. "I…" he drags out the word in similar tone, "was only answering your question…"

"Yeah, I know." That's the problem. A good-natured roll of Maggie's eyes ends with a less easygoing press of her lips, sealing them together with a bit of frustration. She sighs quickly and considers Laurie long and— not very hard, but intent. Her posture follows suit; she leans ahead. "Answer me this then, Miles," she proposes, too soft-voiced to be very provoking; too driven by earnest need-to-know to be disparaging. "Do you not want… me… to help you — to have… any … kind of different life than this — or do you not care what happens to you?"

Leg down, Laurie leans into it, pushing off the elbow on his raised knee — unconsciously or otherwise, he starts to match Maggie's intent in posture. "That's not what matters," he reveals, also low-voiced, and sincere. His formerly draped hand begins to carry some of his weight, sitting from forward. "It isn't— my life I'm thinking about." Fingers knead softly into the plain mattress, but blue eyes on hers have never been truer. The light throwaway manner of his words is not the same as the heavy air of privacy they've given said so quietly. "I just wanted you to know."

Maggie is calculating throughout; there isn't a split second that her eyes aren't filled with thought. Fleetingly, she appears confused; it passes. She seems reluctant to say anything at all — fixed on Laurie, staring only into the true blue she finds there. After a few silent starts-and-stops, she asks, "Who… are you thinking about?" Her soft voice is rushing in again without giving him a chance to respond right away. "And— it matters. It does matter."
Straightening out of her lean, she slides her leg off the bed and plants both feet on the floor and her hands at the edge of the Spartan mattress. She all but faces away from its inhabitant, until she looks back along her hunched shoulder, her view of Laurie half obscured by a curtain of blonde. "I'm glad that you told me what's going on…" The expected next words, the proverbial but that seems want to follow, never makes it to air. It's kept with her.

Laurie is somewhere else when she looks back; he's taken the short amount of time she moves to do some of his own. Pushed once more to the back of the bed, he sits inside one of its corners, angled to face the door, and partially Maggie by proxy. His legs come up in front of him, lightly crossed. "Once upon a time," he begins languidly, a whimsical straying of his head up to stare at a blank white ceiling where, perhaps, this story unfolds. "There was a patient. My father, in his infinite wisdom, took this patient off her medication. And, at the time, I…" the edge of his mouth curls downward, pinching the ends of his words. It takes more effort to finish, "didn't say anything."

Depth affects the blue pools, such that he glances idly off to the side and, upon returning his gaze, has lost all trace. "Well," is concluded with far less cynicism of dictation, "that patient ended up hurting people. So, I said— I said to my father," he lifts a finger, shaking it scoldingly at Maggie, "You should've known better. You… could've stopped her…"

Maggie is caught by surprise by Laurie's tale, her expression rapt. It barely takes any time at all for her to take on utter empathy — looking as tuned in as if she lived it herself, more expressive than Laurie himself — through whatever measure of understanding she has. Some, certainly. Enough to impart unplanned wisdom. "One doesn't… necessarily follow the other, what happened, who— ever the patient was…" Her voice has a high, sentimental lilt to it, every word tenuously encouraging. "Once upon a time isn't what's happening now and your father… maybe he intends to do something good but he can't rewrite the past. No one can. It's your story." As her mouth works to say something further but doesn't and she quiets, her gaze turns expectant, a little hopeful.

A bit of doomed humor revives the corners of Laurie's mouth, making his face almost sadder by attempting to find that amusement in something said. Lips part barely, and in the end, he only runs his tongue over them, sealing in words. What happens is a small, rumbling chuckle, instead, in the vein of that humor. Aimed inwardly, it's only at his own expense — but not wallowing in pity. "And yet," wryness brings him up, spreading a hand out to demonstrate this other option to her encouragement that only offers, layers, rather than dismisses anything. The fault here is not in Maggie's reasoning; he actually seems to open up with that readying inhale, exhale. Blue eyes focus on the lines of that hand, the wrinkles that form when he halfway curls a couple of fingers in. "It scares me."

The smallest of smiles flickers at the corners of Maggie's mouth, soft. No wryness there. No humour. No pity, for that matter. Only her kindness, and an understanding that carries on without needing any blanks to be filled in. Her regard of Laurie doesn't shift as her hands grip the edge of the mattress, slowly, pensively flexing there ready to move. "Congratulations," she says sympathetically with the tiniest of benign shrugs; there's that hint of a smile again. It stays. She reaches out, literally and figuratively: her hand to his. She can barely stretch to him; she curls her fingers into his, those belonging to that lined hand. "You're human."

Slipped in, the fingers fit naturally together, and Laurie falls briefly victim to this ease, where his think to fold around Maggie's. Fleeting. In the same seeming motion, his hand flexes, spreading and unsure. He watches their tentative connection as if it were a specimen. "I had a long time…" he muses, still marveling at their hands; her touch on him without his returning it, "to get used to being alone… — Now, it's like I'm surrounded by people. And all I remember how to do is— hurt them."

Quietly, sincerely insistent, Maggie turns herself to further face Laurie and says, "I don't think that's entirely true." Intuitively, her warm grip tightens on her last word, securing itself further, not going anywhere. A thumb sweeping across his knuckles, a soothing, reassuring little gesture that seems instinctive to her. "But you admit it, then— " What seems to begin as a mild chastising is, as it happens, good-natured and joking: she smiles warmly and gives their linked hands a little shake to one side. "You are deep." Maggie's humour settles, but leaves its warm imprint even as she studies him like he studied their hands.

Laurie's knuckles are rough under such tender administrations, healed over like so many other parts of him. His lips press at one corner, tucking in what commentary might have otherwise arisen in that next inhale. A raised, skeptical eyebrow meets the rest of it, turning that pressed mouth into something wry and natural. Her humor — even her shake — is an escape route that he slides easily down; fingers bid for freedom underneath his soft laughter, reluctant but shy. "Nice try, yourself. You'll never hear me say it…"

Empty, Maggie's hand eases into the mattress, holding her up. The other takes the folder back. Her gentle smile is unchanged — she regards Laurie as if he hadn't spoken at all, yet she speaks up. "Deep or not," she straightens, "I know enough to tell that— " As she readies to get off the bed, she reaches over to give Laurie's knee a shove — a companionable, even fond jostle despite the bit of roughhousing, it ends in a few pats — and then resists ending at all. " — you're all right, Miles." The compliment is no less sincere for its easygoingness. She's poised to be on her feet, but she stays where she is, hand included. Maggie seems in no hurry to leave — she in fact seems reluctant to do so, hesitating with a falter in her smile.

The stylings of the comment freeze the smile on Laurie's face in thought past mere friendliness; he doesn't look less pleasant, only now a bit absent-minded in it. But the play pushing had him rolling backwards with an oof harder than the whole shove afforded, and on the rebound, his hand lands to steady him. Reflex only, it touches down in the space beside Maggie's own leg; they're almost crisscrossed. Here, the frozen smile is second to an attentiveness on Maggie's reluctance. Since finding his balance, Laurie hasn't moved, and now nor does he speak up, or look like he's about to. His face is soft, with only suggestions of line that, under an inquiring gaze, could end up meaning anything with the viewer's bias.

For being so clear and blue, there is certainly an undefined element in Maggie's own eyes as they do, indeed, inquire. Indecisive but unwavering — unblinking — and, like Laurie's, open-ended: a sentiment that could mean anything. Unlike her counterpart, however, she does seem prone to speech; it just doesn't come and, in lieu of well-meaning words, she only stares beneath slow-to-form creases of worry.

The moment is remarkably undefined except as such — a moment. With two pairs of blue eyes shedding no secrets, two paused bodies, connected by the curl of hand over knee. Laurie waits on it to pass, and when it doesn't, there's a nudge of his eyebrow up. The edge of his mouth follows suit without really reaching an ending note. "Ahh," a prompt. Up from resting on his own leg, the hand not holding him down makes another line across their spaces; he reaches. A slightly relaxed arm, elbow bent, comes up underneath Maggie's chin, hooking the curl of his finger under and giving her a light bounce, tipping her head up — to his, straight on. In pulling back, her face is slightly tugged forward by mere association. "Detective…"

Maggie gives her head a small shake and blinks as if she's the one coming back to physical reality this time when, in fact, she's been there the whole time; her hand tightens for an instant, reflexive after her surprise. Her gaze is jarred and goes on the move, giving Laurie a studying look up and down in the slightly closer space. "… Consultant," she counters, as faintly mocking as it is searching of him.

Her search finds something else, too: the plain leather strap of the wristwatch bound around the wrist by Laurie's knee. Her hand twists to look at it. "Oh, I have to go," she realizes out loud, prompting a rush of activity into the quiet. Laurie's knee winds up being the purchase which Maggie use to push herself off with. This newfound momentum seems to spur on her words, however, when she turns to face him. "I-I'm…" Or not; she's looks down, thoughtfully touches along her brow. That's where her hurry ends; she heads slowly to the door, toward the hall where the rest of the facility looms emptily. When she turns, it's with a little smile. "No dementia," she advises him; like a reminder. "Okay? It is really no fun at all."

Pushed off of, Laurie is also propelled backwards, leaving him snug between wall and bed by the time she turns. His bundle of not quite arranged limbs all manage to keep to themselves. Faint curiosity flavors his glance to her, but only from the natural taint of having eyebrows raised slightly. It's more of a mild interest that he observes her various starts and stops. "Sheee… says as though from experience," he comments off of her reminder (nothing to do with reindeers at all, as it turns out). "Buuut I'm fairly certain symptoms aren't multiple choice, Detective, sooo…" He holds out his hands, balancing them up and down warily like sides of a scale, "If you'd like to take a bet— ? Fifty bucks on akathisia?"

"It is … from experience — just not… exactly mine." Maggie turns slightly distant, for a moment; her smile fond for somewhere farther away than the small room that houses Laurie. But she's back in no time, shaking her head slowly at him. "And I don't gamble," she says, not for the first time. "Even if I did, I don't know what that is," she adds, her voice sneaking lower, softer as she goes on, "That's not really the choice I meant. Symptoms might not be multiple choice but— but hey. Life is." She starts to turn. The frame of the door is given a pat — not unlike Laurie was given — as she looks back to say, in parting, "I'll see you."

Laurie opts out of watching her as she goes on, eyeing the cupcake for the nth time — maybe, as he reaches, he'll actually eat some of it this time. At her pause, he glances up, mouth scrunched in animated disbelief that he's still seeing her there. "Get out of here, you crazy person," is demanded playfully, irreverent of the entire community around them.

"Yeah, you too, I hope," Maggie states with a level of playfulness that doesn't match; she smiles, but it's not a joke. On that bit of idealism and out-of-reach possibility, Laurie's guest vanishes from the doorway.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License