2010-10-05: Wash Out



Date: October 5th, 2010


On the anniversary of their first meeting, Maggie decides to take Laurie's reformation in hand.

"Wash Out"

Maggie's Apartment

Of course he wasn't there when she woke up. What would have been more surprising is if she had expected him to be.

It's not that she didn't look for him — but her search was not wide and far; she had somewhere to be. Maggie's responsibility to work ultimately drew her in and her apartment was left without a trace of Laurie having been there, save for a singular out-of-place walking cane.

Some hours later, however, when the early, early hour of morning she left has faded toward the couple of hours before noon, she slips back into her colourful but presently dim abode — dim, because the lights are off and the curtains closed — between the points A and B of her day. Point A had her in vaguely more upscale attire than usual, and she's already peeling out of a slightly ill-fitted black suit jacket she'd feel strange in even if it was tailored, despite being the preferred wardrobe of most of her peers. Stern of face, working out of her sleeve down to the gunmetal grey blouse beneath, Maggie disappears into her bedroom and closes the door.

Quiet as a mouse, there's no trace of her presence, either. The apartment is still.

Still until the soft rattling outside the window. With the window mostly closed and its curtains drawn, the sound of metal shaking gently in its foundations is muted to the background of an already cacophony of typical New York sounds. Life is going by beyond. And, somewhere outside and above Maggie's apartment, life is stirring along the fire-escape that would lead potential escapees to the safety of the ground — but also happens to lead almost completely to the rooftop above — one that hasn't been so eventful since its one inaugural evening of violence.

The steady panging of footsteps on these grated stairs dims once in a while, slows. While its progress is certain, its pace is not. Finally, even the closed-off apartment is treated to quiet — right before a groan and loud BANG of a heavy landing at the landing in next to the window.

By the time the loudest noise has struck the fire escape, the resident of the apartment is hyper-vigilant; and why shouldn't she be. It could be nothing, or it could be a certain someone returning for what he left; but on the off-chance that it could be someone else, she presses closely to the inside of her bedroom door, laying in wait in her own home rather than running out to see who or what, if anything, the source of the noise is.

She opens the door a crack, easing further inch by inch until she can see out. It faces the opposite side of the short hall with no glimpse of the window, however; door and window can't see each other. As Maggie listens closely, she multi-tasks further between two relevant priorities: keeping a touch on the familiar form of a weapon so recently tucked into the back of jeans almost as recently thrown on, and buttoning up the same jeans.

Metal some more; invisible to the door by which Maggie stands, the noises are just that — noises. A shifting here, a scrape there. Another sound blends too well with those outside — the rest of the city — to be immediately identifiable. Not until the thump and squeal of the window protesting movement. Humming, a bit, then: "— and in the face of — mmf — things— that could hurt you — " The singing breaks off, interrupted by the low grunt of struggle. Not perturbed, it's just as soon turned into a breathy bit of laughing over the difficulty, and the window relents after a moment anyway.

Well, that seals it; Maggie has an intruder, all right, it's just not one who means her any harm. Presumably. Still, she doesn't rush out; she listens for a few long moments, tracking movements — and lyrics — as she stands still as can be. The wall is given the incredulous look Laurie deserves, Maggie's eyes narrowing and her mouth opening a few fractions.

She chooses her moment and slips out of the room in near silence. Not there one second and there the next, whisking through the living space. Maggie barely gives the re-addition to her apartment a glance; the scant look she does send his way is less than warm. It's the object he left behind she goes for: the cane laying uselessly at the end of the couch. She grasps it, wielding it more like a weapon as she wheels around to face Laurie and, in this pose, stills completely. In perfect contrast to the atmosphere Laurie has brought with him through the window, her voice breeches the room, smooth and bold and coolly detached from her militant pose. "Looking for something?"

Laurie's singing has broken into struggling whistling illustrating the slight awkwardness that is him not pushing the window up enough while dipping his twice-as inflexible body through the space. He uncurls as Maggie appears, straightening out his back with a fluid rolling of each shoulder, making various tender cracking noises of their own. "Cause you're — my mate." And there's the detective, wielding his own walking stick at him; Laurie has nothing to draw but his eyebrows upwards. "I'lllll… tell you what I think…" he delivers dreamily — almost thoughtfully — into the unevenly themed air between them.

This contemplation follows the line of his gaze, up and down her without conservation nor subtlety. "Powers." Very serious tone. No; the tone of a not serious man attempting to sound so. "Are you playing hooky? That is a not very hookery outfit. Now!" Before drastically still, he stabs a finger into the air to make a point: "… it sounds like I'm calling you a hooker."

His eyes drop to the space the cane had so recently occupied against the couch, and only then, noting said empty said, does he find it there in her hand. Carefully, forcefully projecting concentration with what appears to be all of his might, he ventures — a child given a pop-quiz. "Nooo….. should I be?"

Maggie eases her menace with the cane down, moving her shoulders back and placing both hands on her hips, where her belt would be if she was wearing one as usual. The cane rests there against her like a baton at the ready while she stares solidly at Laurie. "Yes, you should have it." Not that she seems willing to give it. "No, I'm not playing hooky." Nor is she a hooker, but she doesn't dignify him with a response on that. "I was in court today giving testimony for an old case. It's a good thing it wasn't one of ours." Her stark stare veers ever-so-slightly to the window behind Laurie, considering the fire escape beyond the curtain with unpleasant wondering that furrows her brow. "Come on," anger skims beneath her even voice, restrained, "what are you even doing, Miles."

He ain't got a car, but he drives you insane would be the next timely lyrics. But they never escape Laurie; he stuck in furrowed-brow with a mustered attention span that slackens with every passing moment's harshness. "I'mmmm… you know what, I don't know…" Hands tossing up — well, one hand; the other flops uselessly against its crib. His fingers splay in the air and then against his forehead in a brief swipe. "I'm tired," he complains as dismissal, brushing her anger and her intensity off with a griping grimace and a side-step around the edge of the couch. "I don't want to do this right now."

"Neither do I." Immediate. Honest. Impatient, finally. Maggie's anger doesn't fade, only mingles with an undefined sentiment and intent; the result is frustrated nearly imploring as she watches Laurie. She may not want to do whatever this is, but what she does do is make up the distance between them in front of the couch.
"You could have stayed," she points out much more gently; her mood hangs around her, but anger and frustration are distant from her voice, only adding an intent quality to her quieting words and her compassion for the self-medicating man who has essentially broken into her apartment. "You could have rested." One hand, her left, moves from her space to his and she reaches toward Laurie's face — trying to stay there against the side of it — to touch, with her thumb, the deepening lines of his forehead that, currently, nearly matches her own distinctly furrowing brow.

Instinctive, Maggie peers into his face much the way a parent or teacher might to study a child for signs of injury. "You could have… at least slept. Before. But I don't think you did, did you." She takes a moment, assesses. "You still can, Miles. Stay. Feel free. I'm going to work soon. But I think— " she pauses, falters; what does it matter what she thinks. One-hundred percent decisive anyway — her voice longer as soft as her contact with him — she continues: "It's time to wake up."
Then he appeared to be looking for something, head sweeping side to side, steps on an aimless path. But he instead finds that Maggie has neared, and the glance that appraises this closeness is dour, not relieving his face of its weary symptoms. In anticipation, he tenses, some reflex or another marking her movement in ways that his arm on that side can't compensate.

Late out of the gates, his right hand darts up, instead. Though while fingers clamp down on her wrist, they slow even as they do so, turning a grab into a clasp that doesn't fight, only holds. Warning. Or something else. It's a play of contradictions against the shyer way those lines dig in further under her administrations. Eyelids droop, shielding the blues of his eyes, and guarding his expression — all the while playing up that lingering tire, a quiet that isn't true; this close up, he's still a-buzz. It radiates like a feeling from him, this restlessness, and is eventually fulfilled when, after a pause at her words, he begins to slowly and then more roughly shake his head. Fingers become dead weights on her wrist, and he slides backwards from her touch.

As he moves back, she's right there again; by moving he's brought her with him. Maggie's momentum amplifies in the same second. Perceptive, having quite assessed him and his state, her eyes harden and her intent changes — or rather, it focuses. "Yeah. Okay," she says slowly, decided. Hurried, forceful, but no less precise in her actions, Maggie gets him by the back of the neck. She comes up against his side then, freeing the way to push him ahead. "You're gonna snap out've it," she declares boldly— there's that anger.

Actions speak louder than words. Words fly straight out the window into the wind. A solid presence is suddenly at Laurie's back — Maggie, shoving him from behind with that grip on his neck to steer his would-be march. She's none too gentle. The cane nudges him in the back like the muzzle of a rifle; not purposeful, but certainly not out of place. With persuasive steps toward what could be any one the apartment's other rooms, she walks behind him, straight into his most troubled leg. Move it.

Her hand coming around his neck brings his with until, wrapped towards his own neck, Laurie has to let the arm drop in order to catch some fraction of balance at the push. She wrangles him like a disobedient animal forward, his minute reaction a muffled mmmff when back and then leg are prodded to the march. Steps ahead are stumbling, wrestling the unexpectedness of the move. Pushing on his neck makes him instinctively dip forward as though to dodge underneath her hand, but that insistent stick at his back forces it straighter. Like this, he goes — perhaps trapped, perhaps merely tired. Movable.

It's the bad leg that provides the lasting obstacle. Resistant, and slower than its fellow, it gets to dragging and then, suddenly a buckle that dips Laurie with its weakness — and to the side. Hobbling on the pretense of this leg failure, he weaves to the side, attempting to spin right out of a grip that relies entirely on the same forward momentum she's giving him.

"I swear to God, Miles," Maggie warns, not throwing all words out the window after all. Her voice steady and fierce as Laurie spins his way out of her grasp. She's in front of him in no time flat. She might be sympathetic to his injuries, but now is not the time for sympathy, nor is it the time for pausing to consider whether or not his stagger is legitimate. It doesn't matter if it's legitimate. He'll survive it. "I will knock you out. At least then you'd be sure to get some rest."

She grabs for him— no, not for him; his shirt, in the middle, gathering up the loose material in her fist without hesitation to pull him at arm's length. She marches backwards into the mouth of the small hallway which, crammed into Manhattan where space is an endangered habitat, can barely be called a hallway at all— there's enough room for a door on either side. When, inevitably, she looses a strong grip on his shirt, she resorts to a more stable purchase: the sturdier leverage of the top of the his pants, closer to the center of balance. She becomes sterner for it, turning as she hauls on him, impassive to struggle.

It's all very forceful. Fast as it can be. Rough as it has to be. Direct to a single purpose: Laurie's Point A to Point B, Door Number Two. She opens it around the cane and she doesn't bother to turn on the light; she goes in dark. Shadows and glinting surfaces are what greets Laurie in the small windowless room, not to mention, inside, Maggie pulling him closer. Turning on him so she can try to control just where he's going, with a spin and a shove, all these movements are practiced, borne from wrestling many a suspect where she needs them to be. It appears that today, for Laurie, where Maggie needs him to be is against a wall.

Staggering, real or otherwise — for which the jury has no time to declare, persists down the hall, this time accompanied by the thick smack of Laurie's palm against the wall of such. Partially, mostly, for some semblance of control over his own speed, the consultant's hand slicks and squeaks along the painted surface, bumping molding in the construction, and acting as only minor brake to Maggie's haul. This friction leverages against her shirt grip, eventually aiding in the loss of it, but there's no time to steady between that and her next. No time — though Laurie takes some anyway, swaying somewhat backwards even as Maggie's fingers find him anyway, digging around jean fabric and, inevitably, sliding against an instantly tightened stomach.

His lack of belt means both that she had no choice of other purchase, and that now she's tugging his pants straight along the masculine curve of his hips. He could easily topple under such force; she's got him hook and sinker at the only sturdy part of his body, where legs and single arm flounder. Though some inner wrestling dislodges a bit of the sling around his shoulder when that arm instinctively desires to come to the rescue, against all muscular resistance and pain. In the end, he's not so much fighting her — as the complete head-over-heels he might suffer if she even so much as let up an ounce. Through the door, the dark envelops him as much as the detective's maneuvering.

Huffing and puffing past the breath she'd caught him on — vague mutterings of her name, that light pacification, has long halted — he hits the wall with his back by as much his own force as hers. His head bobs against the hard surface behind it, knocking the thick of his skull to the structure, his chin slightly lifted. The arm's a bit off, and his leg as he stands, knees cocked to a light angle, bracing for balance simultaneously as against Maggie's shoving — that one leg, it tremors: an unnoticeable movement in the loss of light without the complete sacrifice of personal space. But it need not be seen for Laurie, only felt, and, in doing so, his arm does not fight Maggie but aims practiced and true for the inside of his shirt — a pocket there.

The vague, dim light from the rest of the apartment seeps into this room in greys. Maggie lets go abruptly, staring down Laurie as his face regains a shape to her adjusting eyes. She sets the cane aside, propping it against a counter. At his movement, never mind the pocket, she says, in not as many words. She steps in — what personal space wasn't sacrificed before is now — in order to reaches down past him in the dark, to his right. All of their forward motion is paused there, for moment or two; allowing him a breather, getting a grip on what's just out of sight behind him, and giving herself time enough to express, aggravated— "I'm sorry."

On a push of a handle from Maggie, the support behind Laurie gives way. The wall. It's not not exactly a wall at all, it's a sliding door that now opens up into the glass box of a shower. She gets his collar, pushes him with her forearm— to try to force him back as much as to have a hand on him in case he falters. Wasting no time, Maggie also reaches to her left and turns the silvery handle as far as it can go toward the most frigid temperature and turns the shower on, breaking the floodgates to what is meant to be a rush of adrenaline-pumping reality. Cold water promptly and unapologetically attacks everything in its path.

A breather full of him holding his breath. Concentration is on his hand, that little bit of glinting orange where his fingers trail upwards out of his shirt. He hasn't neverminded; he's single-minded, and it keeps him from recognizing her apology for what it really is: a warning. Whoosh! Everything behind him that he was leaning on slides away, running past his back, and leaving it unaided. She hardly needed to push; he was already dependent on that wall that wasn't a wall. But with the extra gumption to his falter, the hand coming up jolts, and his prized orange bottle is fumbled once, twice — it spills away, clattering to the floor and rolling under some counter bottom. "S-Shit— "

And then he's pelted by sheer freezing temperatures, droplets like bullets pounding in a sudden fray that knocks all the consciousness out of his head for a second and leaves him sputtering. Water courses through his hair, down his face, clinging to lips where he works to breathe around thunderous rain. His arm juts out to the side, once again landing his palm against a surface — this one slick with moisture. A couple of steps here and there, the hand losing and re-finding purchase against the shower wall, are made while he's still not yet back in sorts. Despite having the presence of mind to give his head a fierce, water-scattering shake, he remains blinking, without answer, to the onslaught.

Not that, but— adjusting, water-clung eyes are sorting out that orange in a tile landscape. A breath or two past the initial shock and his attention has barely faltered. He even leans once towards the shower doorway, groping with one arm at the edge where wall curves into shower, the other arm protesting against its captor. "Mmmmneed. ..", spitting out water better than words, not sober enough yet to tell that he's talking, "Let me— just one— "

But no such luck. Maggie spares not a glance to the bottle since seeing it slip out of Laurie's reach, and she is completely impervious to his want of its contents. She isn't exempt from getting accosted by the water she's allowed to run riot over Laurie, either — her sleeves are soaked, and water splashes off surfaces to chill her face. She doesn't seem to mind; she blinks past it. She places one hand on the bathroom wall and flattens a palm against the open shower door, blocking the way, looking in with her composed, intense stare.

Laurie might as well have been giving his inebriated plea to an unforgiving wall, and then he is: Maggie starts to slide the glass door shut.

More and more water, and the hardness of its assault transfers some to Laurie. It strengthens both his stare and his voice as his out-reach becomes a conscious one, "Powers— hey," Flat in its awareness, his tone wavers in calmness as her intentions are clear through the haze of water, even. "Hey— " It isn't fear that shifts his features behind the shower, but a grittier, fiercer annoyance; his hand shoots towards her, and the door. Pounding his hand against the glass where it begins to shut in front of him. First a warning, then a warning:

"Powers—!" This isn't necessary the composure in his voice would suggest, before the sputtering fits back in — just in time for him to make a last grab, a lurch forward. Bam. He disappears, but for a blur of shadow making up his form behind the material.

There's nothing — but nothing — for a stretch of time. Minutes. Just the patter of the rainfall, splattering contentedly on its purpose against the shower and its involuntary occupant. Nothing, then — BAMM — rattling the glass, separating the fray of water. BAMM and then thump. The evidence of shadow vanishes away from its natural height.

Throughout each and every complaint, Maggie remains steadfast to her prison guard pose. She stands leaning with her back firmly against the closed door and a hand on the handle. The strikes against the glass jar her in her place, rattling the door and her by proxy, and she looks over her shoulder after the last noise subsides— but she is committed. She squints once at her watch in the poor lighting with little conclusion. Time stretches minutes past whatever indeterminate hour her watch marks in the dimness; she eases away from the shower.

Next order of business. Maggie's path is a direct one. She takes but a couple of steps — pauses, looking back — and crouches to sweep along the floor under the counter until she finds the bottle that rolled so conveniently away. Her hand wraps about it firmly, minimizing its rattle as she gets to her feet and wordlessly leaves.
No resistance from inside, where indistinct shapes now suggest Laurie's form to be scrunched into the bottom of the shower, a space generally unbefitting his size. Not a complaint, or protest, appeal, nor curse. It's quiet, and it's raining, and on and on it continues that way.

* * *

Marking the time by the watch Maggie can now see out in the light — the apartment now glowing and alive with it — ten minutes have passed. Maybe more.
"Miles…?" the woman's voice calls out no more importantly than as if she were asking if he were home — or perhaps inquiring whether or not he's finished in a shower she didn't just shove him into.

The dark room floods with soft, white light, illuminating the unremarkable ivory-and-tan walls and surfaces and the darker ceramic tile inside the glass case Laurie was left in and to Maggie's vague, distant surprise, still remains in. She's pared her wet blouse down to a grey tank top and in her arms is a neatly folded, stacked collection of what most people might want after a lengthy ice cold shower: a large towel and clothes. "Are you alive in there," she pries— distant, but a bit hopeful. She slides the shower door open, reaches in and makes sure to shut off the water.

Laurie doesn't get in her way. But neither does he move to accommodate her decision to end the torrential fall. Seated, his back is pressed to the far wall, shoulders slumped just forward enough to sling his free arm over one bent knee. The other, also bent, goes unoccupied. Hair, darkened by wetness, is flat and wildly arranged across his forehead. That once loose shirt clings a death-grip to his skin, hanging heavily wherever there's too many fabric. The sling, never made to get wet, will likely never dry. He's the soggy, dejected image of the very punished dog Maggie dragged him in as. Yet his pose is not exactly forlorn; it's really rather practical — … beyond the soaking wetness.

His eyes are sharp, not even blinking much against the sudden light of the room. But as keenly as he stares — watching her by proxy of her appearing where the door once was — it doesn't seem to amount to much.

That's fine by Maggie. She crouches halfway down to his level and she sets everything in her arms upon Laurie's knees, and thus, one of his arms, unless he moves it. Folded atop the towel, the clothes consist of a navy blue men's XL NYPD t-shirt (Maggie's) and a pair of grey sweatpants (not Maggie's). Hands on her own knees midway between crouching and standing, she studies him a moment before giving the bundle of practical things a brisk pat, that's that. To him, she gives the vaguest semblance of a smile; then it disappears. She's up again, turning— on her way out.

The offering laid down, soft fabric against oft bruised knuckles — clothes covering calluses, is unmoved. Not by him, at least, until a sway of gravity threatens the t-shirt and he deftly darts his hand out from under the pile to catch it before the shirt can dip into the basin still draining of excess water that's pooled around Laurie's form. Carefully, respectfully, it's set where it won't fall again. All with ease — calmly. His hand comes up in a functional attempt to run over his forehead, pushing back hair that's gathered there, and generally clearing moisture from his face that drips down again later. As his hand is falling, past his mouth, it hovers to contain the noise — equal parts sigh and laugh, it has an abrupt quality owing to how long it's been held in. It, and everything it represents, in an amount unequal to its final airing.

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