2010-09-08: Wavelength

Starring:

Maggie_V5icon.pngLaurie3_V5icon.png

Guest-Starring: Teresa Havens, Melissa Jones, Mrs. Roland, Mr. and Mrs. Channing, Zach Dayton, Sergeant Gartland

Date: September 8th, 2010

Summary:

Previously: Pooled

In which Maggie asks a lot of questions. As it becoming the norm, only some are really answered. But various pieces of the puzzle begin to paint a picture of Lisa's particulars before the pool.


"Wavelength"

* * *

The Standard

The Empire Suite

Evidence of the recent celebration is still scattered here and there about the expansive suite — though some has been swept up by the housekeepers before police could stop them — causing it to sit in an awkward in-between state of clean and unclean. None of it does enough to deplete the majesty of the set of rooms, ever with that ceiling to floor view of the busy city. To the detective's purposes, two of the rounded lounge chairs have been brought to the center of the seating area — the bedroom containing the Roland's privacy yet.

First in the hot seat… is actually a pair. Unable to be pried away from each other, even by the insisting officer, Teresa Havens and Melissa Jones stare down their interrogators with matched annoyance. Black and white chiffon on one, purple satin and pin-stiped pants on the other, they are shadows of the merriment that had been going on here only hours earlier, their bright make-up making fancy emphasis on each of their exasperated facial expressions as Melissa twists a wrist, jangling bangles that she glances at constantly as if they were keeping time. Her in the pants, she sits on the edge of the chair that Teresa occupies and, once in a while, their hands overlap on the arm of the chair when one or the other drifts off of focus.

"I don't know what you want to hear," Teresa complains strictly, two seconds past the obligatory questions of opening, "We didn't see anything. It's not like we were there as her chaperones."

"It's okay, if you didn't see what happened." Detective Powers is a soft-voiced, reassuring countermeasure to the women's disagreeability. She sits on the edge of the other lounge chair, leaning slightly ahead toward them. "When was the last time you did see Lisa?" While she addresses them as a single entity at first, her gaze now singles out one. Her prompt, out loud, is gentler than her pointed look. "Teresa?" You first.

The detective's gentler persona seems to only further irritate the women, who look greatly as though they aren't taking this soft voice at all seriously — and aren't afraid to let that display on their faces. "Teresa didn't really see her at all," pipes up Melissa, ignorant to the prompting. Or just plain disrespectful. Crossed over the other leg, her left one bounces. Leaning against the corner of the wall nearby, her own arms lazily crossed at his chest and ankle over ankle, Laurie is visibly noting this movement, his own head bobbing slightly with the full effort. "Did you, Ter? You were basically with Zach, like, the whole time."

"Basically," Teresa smoothly agrees, a reminiscent smile putting a momentarily wickedly pleased look on her face. The womens' hands fleetingly touch, then part, conscious of the contact.

Nothing escapes the detective's filter of observation, but her still gaze is, perhaps, not telling until it moves off of the women and away to Laurie, to whom she shows her clear and faintly exaggerated, knowing skepticism. Despite this, her gentle voice is only very faintly edged. "That's interesting," she notes slowly as she turns attention back toward the pair, looking to and fro between them. On Teresa, "So you weren't sharing a room with her."

Laurie, in turn, returns to her a very exaggerated expression of bewildered ignorance that keeps him out of this girlish mess entirely. That is until, as Teresa is scrunching her nose distastefully, her scattered eye movement perhaps betraying weighing of her answer, he suddenly bursts from the wall with an outstretched finger meant to poke into Maggie's periphery for her attention. "Yeah, no, sorry," his contribution starts at a bit of a stammer — a too deliberate one, "Did I forget? Lisa was never in that room. That— " The finger cocks forward, "was Miss Jones." Adjusting abruptly on her spot, Melissa prepares to look affronted, but the consultant impatiently cuts her off with a waver of his hand, "The nylons— they're yours. You weren't planning on wearing those pants to a summer cocktail party but you ripped your nylons. That was also," the hand points to her face, then daps at his own, "Your shade of lipstick on the table."

The women exchange a quick, verifying glance between them. Then, full of defense outweighed by righteousness, Teresa sighs, "She said she didn't need a room," her hand waved dismissively, "We just assumed it was because she was going to be her usual boring self and not drink."

"Not true, though," Melissa pipes up, devilishly energized by the prospect of gossiping, "She was knocking back martinis all night. Like a freakin' alcoholic. I never knew she had it in her," she settles back, shrugging against the part of the chair she can rest against at her perch, "Though I guess now we know it's because she was a suicidal freak."

For the most part, the detective's attention — though caught by Laurie — remains on the two women, watching them even closer in light of the consultant's observations. A sterner look that levels on Melissa, serving as a reminder that they are not here to gossip or call anyone a 'suicidal freak'. "How well did you know Lisa — was she acting at all unusual tonight before she started drinking?"

"Lisa didn't really deign to talk to us," Teresa informs the detective, tugging at the top of her dress as her chest wiggles towards escape. Her choice of words is clearly a mockery of the deceased's perceived attitude. "She was extremely jealous all the time. I seriously don't know what he saw in her," she glances for affirmation from Melissa, who gives it with a nod. "It's, like, she was pretty right— but not that pretty."

Melissa, balking without understanding at the instructional look from Maggie, recovers in full form. "She was probably saying something about how she was going to 'get him'," jangle jangle, "She was talking a lot like that lately. 'Get him'. Very Single White Female."

Shifting his hand to the back of his head to ruffle the hair there, scratching with affected bashfulness at the back of his neck, Laurie concludes: "I think you mean Fatal Attraction."

Melissa thinks, eye rolling exaggeratedly with the effort. Then ultimately decides, "Whatever. Then the one with… that scrawny guy who skips school in it…"

"Matthew Brodderick," Teresa supplies, snapping her fingers helpfully as she shifts in the chair to more attentively face this version of the conversation. "You could just pinch his cheeks, even if he is a huge douchebag."; "Him," Melissa agrees, "Matthew Brodderick. There's, like, a stockinged leg in the poster… I swear to God it's famous or shit."

Now Laurie returns to the game, filling in dryly, "The Graduate."

"Yes."

"Dustin Hoffman."

"Huh?" Melissa and Teresa share identical expressions that couldn't care less, nor know much more. "My point is," the pants-wearing woman completes, eyeing the detective with a bit less wariness now that she's been thoroughly taken off-track. "Jealous."

The exchange goes almost completely over the detective's head, a rare topic that does, leaving her giving a faintly unimpressed look to all three of the others; she's visibly relieved when it's back to reality, and one raised eyebrow now descends. "Get him," she repeats strongly the repetition of the deceased by Melissa, urging for plainer words out of the women, "get who? Who was she going to get?" Folding her arms, only to use them to lean into her knees, she adds, "Did you see Lisa with anyone last night?"

The exchange goes almost completely over the detective's head, a rare topic that does, leaving her giving a faintly unimpressed look to all three of the others; she's visibly relieved when it's back to reality, and one raised eyebrow now descends. "Get him," she repeats strongly the repetition of the deceased by Melissa, urging for plainer words out of the women, "get who? Who was she going to get?" Folding her arms, only to use them to lean into her knees, she adds, "Did you see Lisa with anyone last night?"

Instead of confirm, both women sort of nod in lofty helpfulness at the detective's echoing of the words, looking generally pleased with themselves until the questions are asked to expand. "Well" duh, " Zach, of course." From Teresa who, after appearing remotely put-off by this idea, settles on plain uncaring.

"Why would we have seen her with anyone else?" Melissa questions back snappily — but not a defensive snap, only impatient. Her words actually slow with some kind of understanding within her that Maggie may need her to talk slow. "If she was so su-per jealous about him?"

The detective obliges the women with a smile, as if lightly amused particularly after Melissa's slow speech; her own voice slows down a fair pace — not in outright mockery, but certainly notable as she urges more explanations out of the impatient pair. "I'd like for you tell me what you can remember from the party … specifically, alright? Lisa and Zach. We're trying to understand what happened to Lisa tonight. You might not think these details are important," she watches closely, "but they are to us. Did you notice when she happened to leave? Where was Zach?"

Jangle, jangle. Melissa uncrosses her leg in order to be able to cross it again in a motion of continued agitation at this whole process. But her eyes do stray to the corner as she attempts some kind of forced recollection. "… we're all celebrating, having a great time. Lisa's drinking like a fish… I don't know, I lost track of her for a while. Then she tried to talk to Mrs. Roland, then she was gone." Her palms spread as she shrugs; that's it.

"Zach was with me," reiterates Teresa from earlier, her head tipping and spilling smooth brown hair over her shoulder. After a second, she remembers the detective's instruction. She specifies happily: "Fucking."

To this precise specification, Detective Powers has no obvious reaction: she only regards the both of them, almost serene in her observation, for what is an inordinately long moment. A sudden, light dismissal breaks her stare. "I think that should be all— " Should be. Standing swiftly, Maggie glances to the quieter interviewer, who she addresses just as airily, "Miles? Do you think that should be all?"

"Hmm?" Laurie's play at not paying attention is clearly that — a play — and not designed so as to fool the addressing detective. It goes easily enough over the heads of the two women in the seat. "Just one thing," he mentions when he's gone through the motions of catching up to the present, including raising a hand that extends fore and pinkie, designating points at both females across from Maggie. "You were both fucking Zach Dayton?"

Though mildly surprised, one shoulder falling backwards to indicate as much, Melissa doesn't seem negatively affected by the suggestion. And especially when considering: "Well, yes." Pleasure is shared between both women at the mere notion, but the one positioned higher on the chair lets this reflect in silent suggestion back to the consultant. "Everybody's fucking Zach." — "Have you seen him?" contributes Teresa.

Laurie, elbow now braced against the opposite hand crossing his chest, lets his fingers wrap about his chin, pulling away from his mouth only so he can as clearly as possible prompt, "And Lisa?"

Some of the pleasure washes away from Melissa. Against initial intuition, it isn't jealousy or unhappiness at the idea; it's just mere irritation at the sheer slowness of these interrogators. Basking in a long-suffering inhale, Melissa bobs her head pointedly at them, "Everybody — is fucking Zach."

As the two women as escorted out in a bustle of chiffon and golden bracelets, it's the venerable wife of the Senator waiting outside like a dignitary — her light party covering being offered to the waiting officer like perhaps the blue of his uniform were the red of a valet. Spotting the particular of their next guest, Laurie puts an arm to Maggie's hand, steering her into the room before she can ask that the Missus take her turn. "She's in control of every part of her husband's social life — who he remembers, and who he doesn't," is spoken lowly to the detective where it doesn't carry to the hallway, "Ask her only direct questions while making her think you're telling her everything you know."

His hand vanishes and he reclaims the wall post at the moment that Mrs. Roland has decided to invite her own self into her police interview. Having left her lacy wrap outside, the distinguished older woman enters uncovered at the shoulders but presentably dressed, all in royal purple, with her blonde hair tugged into a strict conical bun near the top of her head. "I'm here on behalf of both my husband and myself," she declares upon smoothing out her skirt around the edges as she sits, primly, ankle to ankle. "He's a kind soul, being so concerned, but it's putting him off of much more important work."

"Not from us," the married woman assures with a bit of posturing in her shoulders, "I treat all the volunteers very fairly. But— " Hesitation. Because the poise in her retaliates against speaking ill. "— she seemed to be living… above her means." The words come out of her relieved to not be too harsh. Carefully plucked eyebrows, though, waver at further insinuations. "I heard," she angles in again for the best phrases, "From the other women. That there might have been— something. A misunderstanding." A slight gnaw at her lip interrupts her, distracts her eyes.

Maggie gives a couple of subtle nods, as if confirming this or that, and waits a moment as the woman thnks through her personal distractions. "It's okay, Mrs. Roland, you can be honest here, if you know something," she assures gently with an open smile, paired with a light look of prompt, genial through the underlying question: do you know something, Mrs. Roland? "We'd only like to get the story straight. What did you hear?"

Eyes returning to Maggie are skeptical, hunting for patronization in that geniality. After studying the detective, she reverts to a more tense shoulders-up position, hands coming to her lap with finality. "Nothing of consequence now. There's no need to stir up things after the tragedy. It's bad enough a young woman is dead." And she sounds certain. And she lets her teeth slide over lower lip. A cough from behind startles her slightly, but is meant for Maggie. Laurie, staring mostly down and still hunched away from involvement, is patting a finger pointedly against his own lip.

The glance Maggie gives Laurie, on the cough, is short-lived, barely a flicker of attention away from Mrs. Roland; but there's a pause afterward, considering, and she settles in over her knees as if telling the politician's wife something in confidence, even though sparsely populated already provides it. "We heard— that there might have been a link between Lisa and Mr. Dayton that was sexual in nature," she says with as much delicateness as such a topic can be given, sounding apologetic for bringing it up. "Mrs. Roland, your husband was told that all of this would be treated with discretion. It will be," she tells the woman quietly with confidence. "The sooner we can clear it up, the sooner everyone can…" Another pause, quickly; this time, it involves a faint resettling of the detective's features. "…move on."

Some of what Mrs. Roland hears she likes, some of it she doesn't — and that's purely from how Maggie says it. This results in her staring somewhat off to the side, like perhaps she's only tolerating listening but won
't stare out of politeness. Finally, lips working together, she says, "I don't know why that matters at all now, but I wouldn't be surprised. Zach is a charming and delightful man, anyone could find themselves caught up in something like that," Shadowed by her eyelids, her gaze risks towards Laurie, "Expect more." But she's shaking her head as she adds, "None of the other girls liked her very much. She just— wasn
't a fit, socially." A little shrug; it's all too bad, but it's not like she knows what that's like, "I'm sure the stories are, unfortunately, prone to bias."

"All stories have a bias." Detective Powers, herself, seems without; she's quite neutral by the time she leans back out of her forward pose on the borrowed chair. "We're almost done, Mrs. Roland," she reassures calmly before moving onto a much more basic question. "What was the time," she asks; nothing scandalous about the time, "when you did your toast?"

"You know," Mrs. Roland observes as the detective reclines that bit, "She was sort of like you — Lisa. Just no— " her hand twitches in the air, summoning the word, "Liveliness at all." While the politician's wife doesn't seem to think she's caused offense in this, Laurie is heard to give a loud and uncontrolled snort into his hand. Smoothly moving on to the question at hand, Mrs. Roland's lips press, she licks them, and they press again. "Evening," is eventually slipped out: her first show of impatience, "After the first couple of rounds and before the rest of them. When do you give toasts?"

"It was about six thirty. I remember because we didn't just go out for air, but to make a few calls to the office." Mrs. Channing sits in the chair, attached at the shoulder with her husband who stands behind. Both modest of style but expensive in taste, they're older even than the Rolands, and their office — their life's work — now resolves solely around making donations. "I thought it would be nice to go out by the pool. I knew you could see up into the sky and, well, I love the stars… I don't know what— what even made me look down…" Her entire body tenses with recollection and her husband speedily gives a reassuring squeeze to that shoulder. Reactionary, the wife's hand jumps up and is caught instinctively in his fingers.

"Terrible sight," Mr. Channing mutters, relieving the missus of the need to talk while her head droops, ashamed. "Of course, we told— we called the police."

"It's not something anyone should have to find." Maggie is sympathetic to the husband and wife; it's prevalent in her eyes, but so far kept distant. "Did you call the police…" she trails off for just a second, lingering on it almost like a question before adding naturally, "…before or after Lisa was taken out of the pool?"

And there it is; Mr. Channing waffles back and forth, visibly enough that he's clearly knowing he has no choice before he says, "We told the hotel staff first— but they definitely called the police immediately. And that nice gentleman who fished her out did try his hardest. It's just… she…" He trails off, looking pointedly to his wife as a reason not to go on.

"Who pulled her out of the pool?" Maggie asks Mr. Channing for clarification, though it's with more intensity that she is quick to interrupt any reasons to remain silent the wife may have for the husband. "Just what?" She leans in with more empathy. "Please, Mr. and Mrs. Channing, anything you can tell us."

"One of the staff, I don't…" he glances mid-way to see if his wife can give a more definite answer; she can't, "I don't really know who." When pushed to finish his thought anyway, Mr. Channing bristles and then, feeling that affect the way he squeezes his wife's hand, forces himself down. "She was dead, detective. At some point, there's just nothing you can do."

"Of course," the detective replies with an understanding small smile more regretful than warm. "You're both benefactors of the Rolands. I know there are a lot of volunteers, a lot of people at a party like this… but did you recognize Lisa? Do either of you remember seeing her at the party, who she was with— what she was doing?" Mrs. Roland had some wisdom, after all: every story has a bias. "We're asking everyone."

The clarification has destroyed Mrs. Channing's chances at speaking again; she sobs quietly but strongly, started ever since — dead. Growing distinctly more and more uncomfortable in not attending to her, Mr. Channing tries to summon an answer, "I recognized Lisa once in a while, but only because she was in the office so often."

"S-She had— to be r-run out by Mr. Dayton — just to take lunch breaks," the wife manages shortly, dabbing at her cheek with the back of her hand, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry— it's just— I can just see her— "

"We were all at the party, detective," Mr Channing outlines, his heart and his focus with his wife making him give distracted glances to and 'fro, "So she was with everyone. But none of us— saw a thing. Or we could have stopped this travesty."

At the mention of Mr. Dayton, an increasingly common name, a pointed but otherwise ambiguous a glance travels to the consultant and back. "Okay— " Slow, soothing, Maggie doesn't barrage the couple with any more questions. "Okay, thank you, thanks for your help." And they're freed — at least by the detective, and from this room.

Happy to be done with it, but stooped of shoulder, the mister helps the missus out, offering her a handkerchief by which to clear her nose as it begins to run. After they pass through, the doorway remains clear of visitors, even of the uniformed variety. Leant sideways against the wall's edge as he had been the last few minutes, Laurie's only reaction is to rub his hand along his jaw.

As the couple disappears, Maggie gets to her feet, drifting a few paces from the chair, where she runs a hand from forehead to the curling ends of her hair and comes to pause looking over to the empty door, gaze narrowing on finding it so. "It sounds like we have…" she says into the silence of the abandoned room, "…several reasons— to track down Mr. Dayton."

There's no enthusiastic response from Laurie towards either a negative or positive on that. His hand twists around, getting his thumb across his mouth, he bites absently at the nail. This is true for several unmoved seconds before he, pushing off from the wall and dropping the arm to his side, addresses the detective lightly, but with meaning. "Have you ever tried… ohh," a hand wobbles in the air to balance his indecisiveness on phrasing — or perhaps one he puts on to prove his carefulness in saying, "— interviewing people differently?"

Maggie's brows both lift at the question, two arches of curious skepticism, ever so slightly defiant. As her lips purse just short of smirking, she turns on her heel to begin a slow walk away that doesn't really go anywhere, only takes her slightly closer to the door and further away from Laurie. Twisting her neck to look at him, that very same expression is amplified looking all the way back as she replies, "Do you have something to say about my techniques?"

Laurie measures the expression he's given very specifically, holding him back from immediately following about the corner and to the door. He's prepared to continue walking — past her, if she isn't — beside her, if she is. Nothing on him baits to her tiny defiance, nor the smirk. He remains academically aloft of it all, only pressing his lips and wondering, "Would you listen to me if I did?"

Maggie's slow stroll only stops once she's walked a few paces with Laurie's after his catch-up; at the door, she turns and leans against the doorframe, at its corner, angled toward the consultant, arms crossing yet again. All the while, that same expression, settling into those arched brows and little not quite smirk quite placidly. "Maybe." Sly. It's only a couple of seconds later, however, that a more accommodating smile quickly appears, and, with a slow blink and a nod of her head yes, she says, "Go on." And so does she — already, a push from the door marks her thoughts on entering the hallway.

Although Laurie's eyebrows raise skeptically at her on-the-sly answer, the impression is not that he's actually critical or, really, expecting much of a different one. Perhaps he would have taken any of all possible responses with the same smooth, measured turn into the hallway when her push on the door allows him so. "Oh, no," is voiced breezily, indifferently batting down all of the detective's accommodations with a glance of over-pleasantness. "Thank you, that's all I wanted to ask." And he keeps up a purposeful stroll down the hall with just — just — a glimpse as his head is turning away from Maggie of a glint in eye and twitch of lip boding impishly.

Suspicious — that's the response incited in Maggie by that little glimpse. It's the look that follows Laurie down the hall. It's light, however — more curious than apprehensive — and almost amused, until, even though no one's watching her any longer, she shakes her head and picks up a serious pace along the hall.

* * *

"I didn't take out a room of my own," explains the youthfully faced campaign manager when he's sussed out to be in one of the hotel meeting rooms, a computer and several computer print-outs all around him, "And you can't think straight around numbers when everyone's right next door talking about… this." His eyes flash, head following, towards the general direction of the pool, but he's soon to keep at the brightly colored graphics on his screen rather than dwell on an unseen factors. "Projections," is the explanation, aside to Maggie, when he points with the pen in his hand towards the technology, "Lisa… made these. I guess, well," and he abruptly sits in his chair, clicking away from the brightly colored programs to a more systematic spread-sheet, "We all have our contributions to make. It's just good for us Lisa made hers before she left us." Left us like she went out of town. Sort of like away.

The consultant who's been so before enters the room now with a slowed version of his previous confidence in getting here. Careful, distracted steps while his eyes trace every line of the papers as they're spread out there. At first the puzzle they make lying all on top of each other. Then, without regard for their privacy, he places all the tips of his fingers against one of the stacks and begins pushing this and that around and tipping up corners to peek at what's underneath. Dayton's eyes narrow in a way he can't control, the same increment that the light haughtiness leaks into his typically discreet voice. "Please don't."

Caught by 'surprise' at the reprimand, Laurie glances over to see if it's truly meant for him and his actions before — after a moment to think about it — he lifts both hands away from the papers, lightly spread to say he meant no harm.

While the campaign manager is distracted by Laurie — and his examinations of the papers, which doesn't seem to faze her — Detective Powers, standing mid-room, takes a moment to eye the computer like she'd very much like to turn it off. However, she employs that seeming saintly patience of hers instead — to some degree. For Zach Dayton himself, she's blunt. "I'm not going to waste anyone's time, Mr. Dayton— " A matter of opinion, perhaps… "Whatever happened… to Lisa — people, guests, at this party, were involved in her last moments. We've been talking to them, and your name — it's come up a lot. I need for you to explain to me what your exact relationship to Lisa actually was."

"I actually don't really see that you do," is Dayton's retort, after letting a last glance linger on Laurie to make sure. It's pleasant — enough. "You were brought in here, detective," a title used to remind her of her place, where it would usually signify authority, "to see that your forensics evidences and such made this matter, however unfortunate, quite clear." Head down, his hand raises to give a flicker of that pen towards the door and hotel beyond, "Why you've been bothering people, dredging up bad words on the girl is beyond me." Something that isn't a sneer pulls his mouth in the same way just for a half of an instant. "But like I've already told you," and he brings his head up with his hands, folding them in front of him with elbows balanced in front of the laptop keyboard and gaze leveled on Maggie — openly. Openly nothing. "I didn't really know Lisa."

"Well Mr. Dayton— " Maggie's patience might not, in fact, extend to people like Zach Dayton who are more concerned with appearances than a woman's death by whatever cause, particularly by this point after all of the other interviews. She's stern in her reply. "I don't work… for the Roland campaign. The case will be clear as soon as we have enough answers. Truthful— answers. Forensic evidence doesn't clear up the whole picture, and the autopsy isn't finished yet. If the results of our investigation don't turn out to be too inconvenient for you, then the bad words we've dredged up will never leave this hotel."

With that out of her system, Maggie continues. Her tone isn't challenging; it's only plain, as if reminded, as she says, "You did tell me you didn't really know Lisa…" Her study of Dayton all in the eyes: perhaps more knowing, now, as they settle on him. Knowing — but not judgmental, even after her little lecture so recently — though that one, ever-so-slightly raised eyebrow suggests she has several pointed questions for Zach waiting in the wings.

"Really?" Here is the picture of Dayton, quite qualified to answer all of that rant, "Because I'm fairly certain your sergeant is with Senator Roland as we speak." Which is as good as working for them, something the manager enjoys doing and returns to with a fierce roll of the mouse and clicking of buttons. This same work ethic causes him to drastically miss every nuance of Maggie and her eye-talking; he merely seems to think the detective's gone quiet after being corrected. During the pause, Laurie casts a glance over to his— well, they are working together again— but she's eyebrowing Dayton, who takes several more clicks to glance up at Laurie, follow him to Maggie, and then really absorb her pointedness. To which he looks and then looks away: "How many TV shows did you watch to get that one down?"

Instinctively, Maggie's gaze leaves Dayton to look to Laurie as if for explanation on the TV comment — but ultimately dismisses it. "Okay…" she says slowly, obliging halfway. "While my sergeant is with Senator Roland… you're— stuck with us." She moves around to stand alongside the manager and his precious computer, at a distance. "Let's just talk about Lisa for a minute," she says pleasantly enough, sliding out one of the meeting room chairs to sit down in. "What was your impression of her?"

"She was a workaholic." Easily enough said; there's only a vague trace of distance in Dayton's voice that goes with his concentration on inputting numbers into his screen, "And not in the good way," it's a needed allowance for a man currently doing what he's doing, and the grace in his tone acknowledges that. "Working constantly, through everyone else's breaks. Intense. Up at all hours. Didn't know when to quit…" A light quiver — but it coincides to him swiveling his head to the side to consider Maggie before sliding back, "I imagine you know the type."

"Oh!" From Laurie, who, as it happens, is caught at reorganizing the papers on the table again simply by the rerouted attention his own outburst causes, "Oh, I do. I…" Seeing as he's been spotted — and is being eyed still — the consultant fades away from the items and the sentiment lowly, "… know the— carry on." There's a slight retreat in body but then he just as suddenly regrets it and a small burst forward has him at the table. "No, don't carry on. These," he goes ahead and plants his hand on the papers he isn't supposed to, "They were done by Lisa?" A short, curt nod affirms it.

"If her work got the job done…" Maggie comments, not in argument but in wonder: why complain? She lays a hand atop the table's edge, pushing her chair along a few inches in order to reach for the papers Laurie has found some interest in. While she picks one up to study it, in-between looking up at the consultant in query every so often. "That's a lot of hours, for her position… what exactly was she doing?"

Oh Lord, now she's doing it, too; Dayton's hands freeze over the keyboard and mouse where he'd been using them, unable to multitask both that and staring intently to make sure the tactless police officers don't mess his system up. "It's, umm— it's not right," punctuated by his plucking away the paper Maggie has to set it right back where she found it, "Not knowing how to relax. It… does things to the mind. And she was a lovely young woman, there was no reason she couldn't go out every so often."

"No reason," echoes Laurie merrily immediately after the words. When Dayton squints to find the mocking, he only gets a very seriously agreeing nod from the consultant, who is the one to go on and say, "These are all… funds. Expenses. Records of all the money that touches the campaign."

"Very important and — previously — organized in a very specific color coordination…" Dayton mentions with as much emphasis as he can into that extended word and stare. Seemingly unheeding, Laurie takes the look as a cue to go through and retouch every single one he interfered with in the first place. A heavy exhale allows Dayton to keep politely in his seat. It also helps to concentrate through almost gritted teeth towards Maggie, instead: "I guess Lisa liked numbers or something. The Senator said she should get to do what she was interested in. He's kind like that— but not always the shrewdest for business."

Not especially cheerful about having the paper snatched away, Detective Powers nevertheless only lets her hands fall. "Was— " A pause, considering; her head tilts, and she gestures in the direction of the paperwork, glancing in that direction to Laurie. She addresses him as much as Dayton. " — there ever anything amiss about the work Lisa did? The funds — the numbers. Also," she tags on casually, this especially for the manager, "did you ever take Lisa out?"

"N-No— " Stammering only because Dayton has taken a double-look back to Laurie's progress and it adds an extra second to his reply time before he recovers to find Maggie nearby, "As far as I ever saw she was— too good at her job. There was really no reason she," again, he's taken in by the consultant and has to force himself back, "couldn't have been more than a volunteer. Sorry— " to Maggie, right before he rises from the seat to get a really good look at the table. At Laurie. "Excuse me— " And Laurie obliges; he seems to have completed his fussing and returns his hands now to his pockets harmlessly, "— did you just… put it all back where it was?" Exactly, but who's keeping track. Staring, but really sort of pleased, Dayton thumps into his chair and turns with renewed focus to the detective. "I enforced mandatory lunch breaks. I don't think that can exactly be seen as taking out."
"It's just that," the detective looks from the reorganized spread of papers without surprise to Dayton, "you have a reputation," she states, fairly offhand, lending little leaning to whether it's a good reputation or a bad one. Her composed attention on Mr. Dayton doesn't waver when she pauses for a moment, perhaps trying to be— well, there's not really any way around it: "For— some would say for sleeping with everyone." Maggie's hands spread apart in gesture: no offense. "Lisa was paying attention to you at the party."

Currently set apart from the work in front of him, Dayton folds his hands over the side of his lap in his partial turn towards Maggie. A leg lifts over the other; the little laugh he gives ends his face in a smile, though not a hearty one. "You don't have to tiptoe around it, detective. There's nothing against two people enjoying each other's company consensually. You're also making wide leaps in your statements. Did I ever take Lisa out, by the way I have a reputation — oh hey, back to Lisa." He gives a soft shake of his head, forgiving of Maggie's tactics — though his eyes harden differently. "I know an insinuation when I hear when. And you're wrong. Lisa wasn't paying attention to me; that was Teresa."

"I'm just trying to figure out where Lisa's head was tonight, Mr. Dayton." Maggie smiles, a sort of easygoing expression, this time, aware how quick Dayton would be onto her unveiled questioning; despite her smile, she's watching the hardening of the man's eyes closely. "What was going on between you and Lisa. She was upset at the party. She was after you. At least according to some guests; Teresa — and Melissa — who would say she was jealous. I'm not convinced it was that simple, though, I mean, it rarely is; do you have any idea why she'd be so upset she interrupted Mrs. Roland's toast?"

But in the same way, Dayton's eyes waver before they harden again: an undefined motive. He takes perhaps an odd amount of time to come up with, "Melissa's prone to exaggeration," but he says it with confidence. "And, like I said, Teresa was with me. As for the toast," he shifts weight, but not tone, "I couldn't tell you what was going on; I wasn't there." Though he looks firm in this final assessment, there's a differing opinion from the peanut gallery:

"Lie and a truth." On the sharp what from Dayton, Laurie generously elaborates, "Pairing a lie with a truth. It's what you've been doing all night to keep your voice level." The consultant begins to move around the table, lazy, nudging a perfectly positioned paper here and there, "I messed with these to get your baseline— from there— " A small pause to gather words gives Dayton time to pale, glancing at his papers, returned to such precise order, as though they were accomplices. "You weren't at the toast, but," for every lie corrected, Laurie raises his finger meaningfully, "you know why there was a problem," an extra squint at him, "Or suspect you know." Moving on more smoothly, "You weren't having sex with Lisa, but you did take her out. And," having made it around the table, Laurie arrives near Maggie and sends her last look, "Lisa did do too well at her job— enough that it concerned you beyond wanting a young woman to relax."

Unchanging, the detective's gaze doesn't move from Dayton — calmly regarding his every reaction to the consultant's claims — until now. Even then, it's only an understated look of approval tipped upward to Laurie, and the smallest upward curve on her lips, before she's resettled on the campaign manager; she means business. "Is that right, Mr. Dayton…?" A nod; she knows it is, and doesn't wait for a reply. "I think we should try again with truth and a truth this time."

Whitening features on Dayton quickly turn to sheer coolness in this new climate where he's been exposed. In the same way one might stare down a group of overly nosy reporters, he now scans the detective and consultant, straightening importantly. "Actually. I think we're done here. If you'd like to ask me more questions, you can formally accuse me, or speak with the group's representation."

"We're not accusing you of anything, Mr. Dayton." Except lying, which isn't illegal — except that it is, to an officer of the law conducting an investigation. Nevertheless, Maggie rolls her chair back gently and rises. Seeming to comply with the cue to leave, she pushes the chair neatly against the meeting table, but her hands curl strongly over the back, leaning into it as she addresses Zach. "I'm going to advise you— " she gives this heads-up firmly, a warning, " —not to let your want to keep all of this quiet — for … discretion — to interfere with our work here."

Not even a note of reply from the manager says this is over. Laurie is slightly less willing to allow it to be but, at Maggie's compliance, he follows gamely along where they exit the meeting room, issuing them into a section of the main lobby. Further out, Sergeant Gartland hovers and, seeing the door open and close, he narrows in quickly on his detective, cutting Laurie out of the conversation with the turn of his body, his neglecting to give the consultant a glance. "Powers— thank you again despite these… circumstances." Over his shoulder, he spies other hotel guests loitering about, wondering what the congregation is about, and he stirs Maggie with a hovering hand by her back further into the back section. "You have something I can bring back to assuage the Senator's concern…?"

Maggie looks along her shoulder at Laurie but, mostly, at the door they left through as she's led by Sergeant Gartland without complaint. When she stops, her look — moving from behind to him — is firm. And, likely, foreboding. "Not even a little bit," she answers bluntly. "But you can tell him what you want, Sergeant. There's something going on here; people are hiding things — not the least of whom is the campaign manager. I'm not prepared to say how Lisa died. I'm not willing to sweep her under the rug for the sake of politics."

If the state of things disappoints Gartland, it's only in so much as crimes do — and only so much as he expected. But a sigh escapes nonetheless, thick and ponderous as he looks off to the guests, the room he'll be returning to upstairs to say just that. "… I took that risk when I asked you on," he comments, not exactly absolving Maggie, but more including himself in the blame. It isn't all her fault. "Remember, though, what world you're taking a peek into— politics? Of course there's something going on here…" He lets that sink, with a pointed eyebrow, before a second sigh, "But — if this is how you strongly feel…"

Maggie's answer is simple, to-the-point, and completely telling. "I'm going to treat this like I'd treat any case." Which is to say: of course she feels strongly. Her voice softens from that confident pronouncement to warn the sergeant, "You should know that Mr. Dayton is already shutting down, prepared to hide behind lawyers." A considering look drifts past Gartland to the loitering party guests. "Most of them are okay to go home," she adds, though it's with a faint — but clear — inflection of reluctance. A hand goes to her phone. "If we can get a warrant signed by morning, we can get the footage from the hotel's private security camera contractor, and there are a few other things I plan on looking into…"

"Zach Dayton has a lot riding on this, all determined by him keeping up a good reputation," Sergeant Gartland retorts, "If I were him, I would have hidden behind a lawyer from the beginning." His small head-shake is all Maggie's going to get as far as do what you have to do, detective, before he's deterred by attempting to figure out his own next course of action. If there were witnesses within the hulk of curious hotel guests in the lobby, there aren't now; they've taken advantage of not being questioned to leave long before Detective Powers decided they could.

"I hope you weren't planning on doing those things now," comments Laurie as he makes his way from his self-inflicted time-out off to the side to standing beside Maggie, his hands meandering to his waist and his gaze also lazy until it settles over on Maggie to make sure she knows he's serious.

She knows; so says the expectant look Laurie is then treated with by the detective after she watches the Sergeant move off through the modern lobby. Maggie's hands ease onto her hips, too, one resting above the badge that can be glimpsed at her belt and the phone she hasn't quite relinquished; ease there, but stiffen slightly once they come to rest. "I'm guessing you have another idea," she states, neither attached nor disagreeable to the notion — only curious.

"Of course I have another idea," defends Laurie where there was no need for it — so… playfully. In an effort to retain the seriousness of a moment before, he ends up looking quite grim. "Have you learned nothing today? All work and no play ringing any bells up there?— " He squints very narrowly at her: judging. But it's released for a hand that swings around her back to give her a push at the small of hers, jolting her forward. "A very wise comment was once made about mandatory meal breaks… it's now— " He turns over a wrist that is watchless, "Almost eight. That's a perfect time for dinner. Pick somewhere nice," as he's saying, he's detaching himself from her side, becoming distracted, "Tell me how it is…"

Jolted, Maggie stumbles ahead only to catch herself a second later, straightening and looking back at Laurie. "We're in the middle of an investigation," she says with dull exasperation, knowing full well she's only proving his point. She looks away — off through the empty lobby — and one hand rises from her hip, a few fingers trailing across her forehead, lingering at her ear. "It's not the— " curtly, her voice lowers to almost a mumble. " — it's not the time." All work, no play indeed. Her phone is grabbed from its holster with a bit too much force and she strides several paces away while focused on its tiny screen.

Signs that he's being rebelled against bolster Laurie's focus enough that he spins on a heel, striding backwards in order to give the workaholic detective the purposeful eyeballing she needs. "It's exactly the time— are you even listening to the— words? Out of my mouth?" Glancing sideways, he catches the eye of a rather confused staff member, "I'm making sound, right?" Before there's an answer, he's returned to Maggie, "That better be a restaurant you're calling — I'll know!" A tall threat… vague undertones. Something like, as he turns away again: "You've been to enough crime scenes this evening…"

Maggie diverts her attention from the phone in her hand long enough to eye Laurie sidelong. She is, in fact, listening; she always is. It's not the friendliest of glances, to the point of being rare. It's more defensive than usual, and it lingers, wondering. "I don't— " As her head hangs as if to address her phone again, the device is instead lowered, and she finishes in murmur, "…have any restaurants on my phone…" Numerous slow paces behind, making no attempt to catch up, she heads after him. Straight-faced.

After him— all the way through the lobby and out of the hotel to the round driveway lined with valet and men whose only duties are to hail taxis. It's nearing to the sidewalk that Laurie's strong paces slow, only vaguely at first and then with increasing determination as he couples it with a glance behind him. That incredibly straight face earns her a little scoffing pull of his. "I've never seen a person so unhappy about getting to eat— but if you're following me, detective, I can point you in the right direction, but I'm afraid I have other engagements."

The dark night with its spots of bright lights and glimpses of the Hudson is met with a narrowing gaze by Maggie, adjusting. It's eyes ahead for the detective as she comes to stop outside lofty hotel, and her arms come to fold, settling into the evening's familiar recurring pose. "Senator Roland probably hired you to help wrap all of this up quickly," is all she has to say over the distant city noise that permeates the outdoors; or at least all she says, along with, "Since that might not be happening the way he planned…" Now, a look over. "Are you going to re-join the investigation after?"

"Senator Roland," is defined with a bit of disaffected wryness, "probably hired me because his wife wanted to see if I would show up." Laurie pairs her look over with one of his, fleetingly — his grin matches his speech. Then, a bit of a shrug and he says, as honestly as anything could sound, "Well, I was thinking of writing my opinions on a heart-shaped piece of paper and slipping them under your door…" His lips push out, regretful, a sort of grappling with the issue playing on his face before he rocks backwards, head tilted over his shoulder to espy her. "Did you have a better idea— or was that all you needed to ask?"

"Oh, I can't think of a better idea than that." A tiny smirk appears, joking but soft around the edges. It degrades away after just a second as Maggie shakes her head. "No," she says, quiet, final, a touch distracted as she begins to turn, her arms breaking apart so she can dig into her pockets. "That was it." With no use for valets or taxis, she starts a stride down the curving sidewalk.

"Pssst, Powers!" is called after her, seconds later as the thought occurs late — or the shouter decides the detective has reached a suitably dramatic distance from him — "Do you want me to give you my heart tonight or tomorrow morning?" Accompanied once again by Laurie strolling backwards, his arms at first spread then come to thump against the so-mentioned heart of his. They do not linger, but one drops and the other straightens to point the way she's going, across from The Standard's lobby. "Also, there's a Biergarten right here if you don't want to make a trip of it." Words of wisdom dropped, he whirls around and strides the way opposite.

(TO BE CONTINUED in Tidal)

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