2010-08-14: Xerox

Starring:

Maggie_V5icon.pngLaurie3_V5icon.png

Guest Starring:

Bronsen and Sergeant Gartland

Date: August 14th, 2010

Summary:

"Imitation is the best form of flattery" comes into question when a murder victim is found under circumstances that resemble a series of murders from the past — prompting someone from that very past to be called in.


landoheroes.jpg

"Xerox"

New York City

The darkest hour of the night is privy to all manner of sinister things, the time when the malicious and lewd underbelly of the city rolls over.

A few people — uncaring, or just scared — shuffle past the pale legs of a woman protruding past the bags of garbage she sits by; though limbs' angles are turned in, slightly wrong, she's propped up neatly against the dull, stained grey brick of the building wall behind her, facing the world. Pale hands are folded on her business skirt, the nice, professional pinstripe.

Eventually, footsteps again. They scuff into the mouth of the alley, tired on heels that are too tall for living in for long periods of time. They approach unsurely toward that glimpse of pale skin — and finally someone cares enough for a scream to ring out.

This woman, perched so primly against the wall as if to watch, so politely poised to watch the passers-by as they pass by, stopped seeing some time ago.

* * *

The stern countenance of Detective Powers as she stands looking down at the sight in front of her is a reflection of what she's seeing: nothing anyone should ever have to, and certainly nothing anyone should ever have to experience first-hand, as this unnamed woman has. After a long, dark stare, Maggie turns her head and adjusts the edge blue protective glove at her wrist. Around the scene, the alley is wide, battered down by high foot traffic, functioning almost as a side-street between buildings; nice shops, respectable businesses— but that's only during business hours. It's still far from that. Authorities mill about with plenty of space and not enough light.

"I wouldn't say she's been dead more than … five— maybe six hours. If I had to guess," the young man kneeling gingerly next to the body announces as similarly gloved hands make their investigations.

All the detective on-scene can see of him is his CSU jacket, which now also blocks the face of the dead woman; Maggie doesn't complain. "The bruising around the neck— asphyxiation?"

"We'll know more when we get her back to the lab."

Her mouth firming into a line that suppresses all else, Maggie moves off. Behind her, the full display of the victim— a deep, jagged X has been carved into her face. X marks the spot.

* * *

By the time that gruesome detail has been shrouded with a white sheet as tell-tale as the crime scene tape, loaded up for transportation to a cold impersonal lab, a small crowd has gathered, gaping mouths, hovering like vultures to the kill. Others press the holding police line — this is their route — how much longer is this going to take? The same callousness in the wee waking hours of a coming morning as in the night that preceded it.

Dreams of coffee elude officers who have yet to be relieved of their shifts, and Bronsen and Muller hover just off pointe of the sight of discovery, watching as a woman's body transforms from just that into evidence to be loaded up like so much dead weight.

Fingernails poke out inappropriately from beneath the covering, pale and accusing of what's being hidden. Bronsen's body heaves automatically in the other direction, not out of any need to relieve nausea, but a weight of his own that comes out sounding like a sigh. "Things like this, comin' back up, man — that's how you know it was time to retire yesterday."

The venerable officer is given a sympathetic look by his much younger partner, whose still moving gaze around the scene is not tainted by the enemy of nostalgia.

Another face not touched by the strains of nostalgia is that of the detective, who lingers nearby, next to the waiting, and near ready, van that will take the body away. She speaks to the ME who, herself, is ready to leave with it.

Detective Powers might not wear personal familiarity with the case details, but she does wear a grim enough expression as she soon steps backward away from the medical examiner, turning to scan the wide and already combed-over alley under knitted brows. It's the conversing officers that Maggie drifts toward, hands still gloved in protective crime scene blue resting near her hips.

As she rounds the corner of the ME's van and the shrouded body being transported, a few of those crowding behind the crime scene tape recognize her detective's shield and shout questions at this blonde woman who's supposed to have answers — what happened, who died, or the crasser when are you leaving — but she's far from ready to answer them. She turns away with a pale flash of apology to, instead, speak in quiet tones near Bronsen. "This. It looks familiar to you? The ME said something about recognizing the facial lacerations, but that was back before she was the chief ME. She said she didn't want to speculate."

Alertness that the detective's presence has caused in the civilian crowd — a red-haired woman comes close to forcefully elbowing her way past the lines — ignites the same in the younger Muller when he straightens to address the badge more than the woman. But partner Bronsen and his grey head of hair have seen enough badges come and go in a lifetime not to jump at their shininess. That doesn't make his nod to her any less respectful; though it remains tainted by the subject of their discussion, even after the same number of years doing surrounded by just that.

"More than familiar. Painful." He explains plainly to Maggie, tucking hands into his belt and harrumphing mightily at the now bodiless scene. "Nine years ago we get something like this. Same mark. Could even be the same goddamned alley."

A critical, but aged, eye scans the surroundings, perhaps pushing brick buildings to lose years, take the shape of his memory. Whatever he sees, he only gives his head a firm shake to erase the image that same second. "Nine years ago it was supposed to be over."

Detective Powers studies the scene in a new light, though it remains exactly the same in the dim alley; it's as if she's trying to see what Bronsen sees. Or, more aptly, what he saw — nine years ago. Her eyes narrow in increments as if trying to remember something on her own as well; definitely nothing so first-hand. A small hint of annoyance appears when she can't quite place something.

"And it should be. Nine years is a long time. It could be that it's a coincidence," Maggie says, though there's too much thoughtfulness in her voice to convince anyone. She gives the aging officer a lightly sympathetic tug of her mouth before a glance goes over her shoulder at the lingering New Yorkers. She nods to Bronsen and into the toward the crime scene, indicating they move further down the alley for a second. Respectfully, it goes for his younger partner, too. "You were involved nine years ago," a statement to Bronsen as she moves along, not a question, "Someone was convicted for those crimes, weren't they?"

Trained in the art of subtle nodding, Bronsen easily shifts off the patrol car that had been their previous land marker, but it takes him leaning over to clap Muller at the shoulder for the partner to realize he's been so included. He remains several paces behind them anyway, glancing this way or that with a novice's distraction at crime scene workers and restless natives.

"It'd be a pretty fat coincidence. And I can count on this hand how many of those I've seen over the years," Bronsen doesn't even bother to raise that hand to demonstrate the number; she gets the point, he's confident. He strides slow despite the assurance of his experience. He doesn't want to get close to this one. He can't escape that he already is. "Right, I was. We all were, couldn't help it. That many women -- even --" Gruffness of his old age also makes him pause, iron out some less politically correct opinions in front of the younger, female detective. "— them of that occupation."

Somewhere not quite far enough into the alley, his foot slow and then forcefully stop. A pivot turns him to Maggie, thin-faced and wrinkled with years old guilt. "Convicted. Sentenced by a federal court since it was the feds what came in and took over back then. Just not soon enough to stop my partner from quitting over it."

Bronsen's pause over wording has Maggie glancing past him, up the alley, where a young woman — very much alive — leans against another patrol car, palming at her eyes and smearing her mascara, looking cold and shaky in her midriff-baring t-shirt and denim miniskirt, despite the warmth of the crowded city, muggy even at this hour. She was responsible for finding the body, and she'll probably curse that one instant of happenstance for the rest of her life. Them of that occupation

Maggie folds her arms and stops when Bronsen does, even without looking. Her varied focus hones on the officer easily. "The FBI came in?" Her curiosity — and concern — piques. "I think I remember reading about that case now. Serial killer targets Manhattan prostitutes, cuts their faces in an X — he killed a lot of women." Compassion for the officer lines her face, stitched with a hard edge under the circumstances. The detective's arms unfold and placating, sure gestures are made in-between the act of peeling her gloves off. "Contrary to popular opinion … I don't believe that history repeats itself. Whatever is happening now, it's new. It just happens to rhyme with what you saw nine years ago, and we're going to figure out why and we're going to stop it."

All of Maggie's compassion can't stop that he killed a lot of women darkens all those age lines in Bronsen's face. He doesn't look away out of his frustration, rather it gives him more of an intensity towards the detective — an air that probably helps him on the beat. "The FBI," he repeats skeptically, waving a hand in the air expressively but not specifically, "Their special division of mind nerds. Bunch of suited upstarts. One such punk has the nerve to tell us we're looking at it all the wrong way — no, not wrong," his eyebrows dip with the pressure of remembering, "Like cops. We're looking at it like cops." With a glance to Muller for support, he gives Maggie the look of dismissal he believes this to merit, "How else are we supposed to look at it?"

There's a bit of a shrug as he takes what is a final glance around the scene, narrowing in on the witness, and then his patrol car. Another sigh, this one less conflicted. "Best thing that suit gang ever did was get our man on death row where he belongs."

* * *

Police Station

New York City

It's all business in the NYPD bullpen, where work has already begun to meld with gossip, the photos of the crime scene and the talk of men like Bronsen perpetuating the resemblance to an almost decade old crime — one that rocked the police station more than an outside world less inclined to care about a few missing prostitutes. Coming off of the first of what will be many meetings, Sergeant Gartland comes at his assigned detectives running. Or, at least, striding quickly to the best of his ability. "Alright, people, let's get the facts on this — and I mean the facts. I think you can all imagine how fast this one will get blown out of proportion. Whatever we can do to make this not become a second X Incident, we need it done yesterday."

A shadow falls over the gathering — but only from a person. From whence Gartland came, a second figure has emerged to the doorway of the chief's office. No visitor's patch adorns his chest; the light-catching FBI badge at his belt makes this unnecessary. Gartland throws him a glance from over his shoulder and when his face returns forward it's still darkened from that glimpse.

"It's up to us, boys and girls."

No more are harder at work than Detective Powers; she doesn't have to be told twice. Or once, for that matter; she only turns around from the organizing of the facts they do have, in the form of gruesome photos and growing notes up on the board, long enough to watch the sergeant through his rallying, though, after Gartland earns a small to-the-point nod of confirmation, her back is turned again before he's done. Far from disrespectful, she's simply focused. To that end, however aware of her surroundings Maggie usually is, the station is bustling, and the comings and goings don't take priority; she doesn't look toward the glint of the FBI badge that catches the attention of some.

"The less detail the press gets on the similarities to the previous case, the better," she too addresses her colleagues before whisking from the board to her nearby desk, conveniently crammed in the midst of Homicide. She leans one hand onto the corner and concentrates on the flat-screened monitor that displays a Missing Persons database, narrowing the search results that have come up in the past few minutes with a click or two of the mouse and taps of the keyboard, interrupted no less than three times by untamed hair falling in her face, a problem that would be solved if Maggie gave herself time to sit down.

Discussions are already being made beyond Maggie's desk by those public faces of the station about what to be released to the hungry cameras that will likely be gathering. The station's newest, mousy little clerk gets stuck somewhere in their midsts, sputtering his apologies to stressed and deaf ears. This display is vaguely eyed by Gartland, glazing it over as 'not important enough right now' as he heads in the detective's direction. Small confirmations are apparently not enough on his list of things to make sure Maggie did.

"Detective," the title is given cordially, familiarly, as though it were, perhaps, a nickname between them. "Just a moment of your time…" He's noted the number of items on her screen, but he waits the needed amount of time for her to set them aside and focus on him; there's also a beat longer where he adjusts his voice lower in contemplation of what to say, and how delicately. "I know you've had… personal dealings with the FBI lately, but I think it would benefit everyone if we had this handled as cleanly and precisely as possible inside our own offices." A stray glance moves from Maggie's desk — he was eyeing some chipped edge or another, picking at it with a finger — to that looming FBI agent, again.

It looks for all the world that nothing short of an earthquake could draw Maggie away from studying the screen, so good luck to Gartland in his attempt. Contrary to appearances, however, a quick smile eventually appears, as polite as it can be without looking the sergeant's way, letting him know she heard him and will be with him in just a second. She manages to reluctantly put her search on hold and stand up from her lean, brushing a hand back through her hair.

Catching the tail-end of Gartland's glance to the FBI agent, she follows it, studies what she finds, and looks back. When the sergeant has her full attention, he truly has it — and has it … and has it. Maggie watches him with a neutral expression, tinged only by expectancy, waiting for something further from him — until upward eyebrows cue her realization that she's meant to respond to only that. "Has the FBI already expressed an interest in the case?"

Perhaps the look distracted Gartland from his train of thought — he burrows in on it now with the aid of Maggie's question — along with pinning a more absolute stare on her. "That one," who seems to enjoy lurking in doorways inconveniently, "is here to, as he puts it, 'pull in' some loose ends over the Harlin Irish case," the need to pull his mouth into a disdainful expression postpones the continuation of his answer briefly, "But I can only assume we'll be getting the calls soon. This is sensitive stuff, Powers."

The sergeant's weight shifts, he gives a bit of an authoritative, but in the end unneeded, tug at his belt. "The feds have been getting antsy what with the convicted killer from that case nine years ago getting close to his execution date now. What with all those appeals slowing things down since 2001 — this only feels like a bad omen on the whole thing. The fanclubs, the groups against the death penalty — it'll be a circus if his attorneys get a hold of any of this and turn it into reasonable doubt to get that man off the hook. And it'll be our asses getting kicked for it, you better believe it."

All is taken in by Detective Powers, including the grand scheme of repercussions. She nods throughout her alert watch of her sergeant, focus that only wavers when the FBI agent gets Maggie's attention for the second time, bringing the faint tug of a frown to her mouth.

"It's possible that whoever's responsible for this— " Eyes back on Sergeant Gartland, Maggie points to the board, " — is planning to follow the original case as close as he knows how. And that means we might not have a lot of time to figure this out before another woman dies, and because… all of this is sensitive…"

It's here that she pauses, her voice lowering, softening — but gaining importance rather than losing it. The detective's suggestions are carefully spoken, the way one delivers news to someone who may not want to hear it. "…It might be worthwhile to contact someone who knows the case details inside and out from the Bureau's side of the old investigation. You know — compare and contrast. A profiler. The behavioral analysts were brought in, weren't they? 2001…" A warily pointed look levels at Gartland.

It's a disturbing idea, that the one body currently posted on the board could sprout to the amount it was nine years ago. Gartland's face, this time, remains merely pensive, not betraying his darker thoughts — they're known only because everyone must be thinking the same ones. "If he does, we're going to need solid evidence to bring to the press and the FBI about why this couldn't possibly be the same guy…"

His own reasoning nearly overlaps Maggie's softly growing insistence, but he levels on her through the first couple of words. Levels, and looks decidedly displeased. There's a hand out but then brought in, slapped against his thigh determinedly. "A team of them, sure. But Mag— Powers. Have you been listening? I say keep this to the home advantage and you want to go right to the BAU instead? We have their notes, don't we— "

In some sort of miraculous timing, he twists to the side expectantly just as that mousy clerk busts his way up to the detective's desk, files in his arms and his cheeks flushed with more exertion than crossing a room should require. "Here, sir, here! Notes from the — previous case…" They're thrust into Gartland's waiting hand, and he flips it open almost idly, not wanting to take full account of another group's work when his is challenged.

"Anyway," an aside to Maggie without quite glancing up, but jerking his head up and down as though he means to. "It's been almost a decade. Whatever team came in has probably been scattered to the federal wind. Who knows what they all do in their internal offices. Here we go, profile…" His finger stabs on the page, scrolling downwards through paragraphs of type… as it arrows in on the bottom, the sergeant's face darkens now quite visibly.

Maggie — listening, quite intently, as she has been — quietly waits out the sergeant's train of thought, both before and after the clerk bustles over with the folder. It would be a patient wait, if it weren't for a few glances to the urgent search screen on her computer. The moment she notices the change in his expression, her arms fold, and she moves to stand just close enough to look into the folder, though it takes a tilt of her head to do so. "…Anyway," she repeats him in a gentler tone, "as I was going to say, sir… it wouldn't necessarily have to be outside of our offices…"

At first the folder is tipped away from her self-consciously, like a young student wanting to keep their answers to themselves. But as Gartland eyes suspiciously down at Maggie — did she plan this? — he eases off of his position against her desk petulantly. "Do what you have to do, Powers." A beat. His second thought is not exactly softer than the first, but a bit more scolding, which allows him to regard her more favorably again — from superior to employee. "You know — without being suspended this time."

The file is dropped — slapped, really — down on her desk; he's rid himself of its nonsense and has now made it her problem. Folded still from being read, the file remains open to the offered profile, the typed paragraphs — and, at the bottom where an indent marks Gartland's halted progress — the associated: SSA MILES.

"I'll try my best!" The once-suspended detective replies as if skeptical — but to follow up this lighthearted reply is an earnest smile, serious in its reassurances that the sergeant has nothing to worry about, that she has no plans to do anything that could get her suspended.

This time. Most times.

Maggie winds back to the seat she didn't take before, this time giving in to sitting down, settling quickly into the office chair. Better to multi-task. Smiles certainly vanish now as she sets to work again, finishing the job she started at the computer until she's content in that enough to turn away and go over the folder that's been relegated into her custody. She spends some time leaning over the profile, reading — not long, all told — before she reaches for the phone and dials a number this phone hasn't called for some time, which may not even be in service.

The first time the phone gets through all of its rings without interruption, channeling right to the voicemail — that hasn't been set up. After the obligatory woman's mechanical voice ends, it's just dial tone and then trying again.

The second time, the rings get about half as far, narrowing in on that disappointing lack of message again, when they suddenly stop. Clicking of connections being made is followed by the low hum of technology. Then: "You got Miles." But only part of his attention, based on the vague distraction weaving through his voice.

If at first you don't succeed, try and try again — a motto Detective Powers seems to apply to her phone calling tactics. The voice who's "got" Miles is much more present — even as Maggie multi-tasks, the phone to her ear, her eyes on the computer screen off to the side of her desk. "Miles," this serious acknowledgment in lieu of a hello is followed by a faintly softer apology: "I'm sorry to be calling you. So early." But then it's all business, and urgent business, at that. "There's been a murder. It looks like a case you worked back in 2001 with the BAU. We're covering all our bases and…" There's a short pause, and a shuffling of paper as Maggie briefly goes back to looking through the profile laying in front of her. " — we want you here."

"Like your back!" It's a shout, cleanly cutting through Maggie's acknowledgment and, based on volume, offered to some other person in the room with Laurie rather than the detective. Those three words are also, even by this particular consultant's standards, light and playful — completely unburdened. What follows is the silence of, presumably, him listening, though some scuffling of movement comes in and out. The phone's humming fluctuates as the microphone is moved about in the air, crackling. Then, a focused inquiry. It's still light, but it isn't free. "Who wants me?"

"I-I— " Actually startled by the light shout that cuts such a contrast to her own particular surroundings, the detective is waylaid from answering momentarily, blinking; thus, a pause follows on her end of the line, minus the rustling of paper this time. The more distant sounds of the busy precinct invade the airways where she doesn't — muffled speaking, phones ringing, the urgent bustle. "It was my idea," Maggie states clearly when the moment is up, though ownership of it is subtly marred by a tone of apology, of reluctance. "To bring you in, I wanted you. This could get bad— worse. We might have a copycat, or something, of an old serial case on our hands. The original — we have to consider it to be related — was yours. This is your zone." A beat. Without challenge, speaking only plainly, she adds, "That is, if you're up for it."

Someone else says something in the room, noticeable only by the vibrations of their — feminine — voice, and not their words. Otherwise no more interruptions. Then the sound of the phone in motion, rubbed against some material that causes everything to become muddy, full of interference. Laurie's voice seems distant, muffled, but is able to be picked out from the mess: "For the record — Detective Powers wants me." Not lewd or even given much importance; it almost sounds like an apology in not as many words. Fuzz right before the distantness disappears and the consultant is clear as day, and just as bright: "That sounds like a super vacation. Have you had breakfast?"

"Not exactly," she answers, a glance going to her wristwatch and its confirmation of early o'clock. "And my next stop is the lab, so unless it's over a dead body I don't have time." Detective Powers doesn't sound so light and bright this morning. Her chair slides to the side, and a few fingers work the keyboard, a few taps making their way into audibility through the phone as the screen — including a picture of an attractive young woman, dark bangs, dark eyes, nice smile — is sent to print. "You'll be here?"

Crunch, crunch, crunch. It isn't directly into the phone, but it isn't exactly separate from it, either. This is no mechanical crunch, but it doesn't persist too long. Then only a beat remains before the committed, "Just for you, Powers." Fuzz. A woman's voice begins in the distance. Right before it's clear that the line has been disconnected from the other side.

* * *

"And she worked where?" The list of things to do Detective Powers is amassing seems to be getting longer with every minute that's passed since she spoke to Laurie, keeping her parked at her phone as she organizes the next steps — but she's up on her feet again, poised leaning over her desk with a spring-loaded, ready-to-go energy that defies how long she's been awake already. She's not the only one as busy, as a deceptively chaotic-looking crowd of investigative personnel tasked to the case continue to swarm the station, everyone with their own job. "Do you happen to have the — perfect, thank you so much," she says into her desk phone, which she switches from ear to ear as she starts taking notes on a small block of blue paper.

With all that bustling chaos, it would seem that one more person entering the station would not be of much note. But all it takes is one head to turn in the right direction, one stare, one nudge to another officer nearby — until there's somewhat of an audience following Laurie as he strolls to a desk that was once his in simpler times. Rumors could be the source — the FBI never really explained to the common workers why they were usurping an investigation — but the reason boils down much easier than that: the consultant is looking a little green today. Sage, if you want to be specific. A streak of it across his cheek first, the lightest touch. His black and silver t-shirt hides the recoloring in some places, but in others the touch-ups are obvious. And then, of course, the back of his head — his blond hair — it's sage, too.

Exercising obliviousness towards his own appearance, as well as that of the busy station, he drops a paper bag with the top rolled into a grip onto her desk and then falls in similar unceremonious fashion into the seat of the desk opposite hers with an expression as though he'd already achieved the spectacular. "Ask and you shall receive."

Maggie's phone is in the process of being hung up and her pen is rounding out the last of her somewhat distinctively looping handwriting when, in that timely manner, the bag is dropped on her desk. Her attention is brought up from her notes and the consultant gets a good solid study from the detective, the marks of paint — familiar, just not on him — earning a curious, ever-so-slightly bewildered look that puts a few seconds' delay on her response: a smile that quickly comes and goes.

"You have paint on your … everywhere." An overstatement, but only just. "You got here fast," Maggie adds her second obvious statement with curiosity there, again, as she reaches for the paper bag, rolling it open. "What's this? Thank you … for dropping everything to come here. It's no vacation. And don't get too comfortable. We're heading to the ME's Office."

"It's probably better if I don't discuss my travel methods in a house of law." In a move just as easy as when he sat down, Laurie bounces to his feet, hands slapping against green-splattered work jeans. "That," he dips a lazily formed point towards the bag, revealing that the palm of his hand is also completely caked in now drying paint, "is the breakfast you'll be eating over the dead body." Consisting rather simply of a plastic baggie with a trail-mix-esque combination of apple slices, walnuts, and little cheese squares. Sitting happily next to that bag is a kiddie sized cartoon of chocolate milk reminiscent of school cafeterias; there's a straw attached.

As he gives a spin to face a direction to leave — signaling all those still eyeing the two to get back to work — his demeanor, always carefree, drops across that thin callous line between that and apathetic. "But it's always fun with you."

Maggie can't help the smile that appears when she looks down at the breakfast — it seems it's a welcome and, really, much-needed, a contrast to an otherwise gruesome morning. "I feel like I'm going to school." The little carton is dropped quickly in the bag and it's all snatched up along with the notepad and some file folders, all of which she carries with the fairly practiced ease of a multi-tasker. She immediately starts the brisk walk toward the building's familiar old elevator, naturally expecting the consultant to follow her on the route that will take them, presumably, to a more lawfully operated vehicle of travel. The detctive's car.

"A woman was found dead in an alley not far from here, set against the wall," she sets in immediately. So much fun. "Lacerations on her face make her almost unrecognizable." Her various colleagues are glanced at on her way past, and she catches a few who were too slow to turn their heads; calmly, Maggie ignores it them, and hands one of the folders to Laurie. It's thin, containing the scarce case details they have. "They make an X shape that, along with the location and the way she'd been beaten and poised, have some people feeling nostalgic. I read the profile you wrote. In 2001." Contrary to that statement — that she's read it, thus she has to know what it detailed — she looks to Laurie and offers, encouraging, "Can you tell me about that case?"

Being several paces ahead gives Laurie a head-start on the route that he surrenders by measuring his continuing strides against hers until they're side-by-side. "Just be glad that won out over the powdered donuts." Once they're matched walking, he alternates eyes on her and eyes on their destination, tending towards the former until the folder comes in front of him. Scraping the green palm against his jeans, sage flakes detaching and crumbling away from the wrinkles of movement, he accepts the file a moment later with a somewhat cleansed hand. But the folder is barely open, her words hardly out, before he's crunched his fingers together, closing the folder with a whoosh of air by its spine. Open and shut case.

Now his gaze strikes a path somewhat distant from theirs and it causes his strides to increase, putting a few feet distance between him and Maggie as the elevator is reached. His turning navigates him narrowly away from the doors instead of inside them. "If you read it, you know it isn't that same guy." The side of his clean hand rubs determinedly against his chin as glances past the way they came to the chief's office. "That's what they want to hear. If anything, it's an homage — and a poor one at that."

Maggie comes to a halt beside Laurie when she catches up those last few feet, turning toward him in front of the elevator. She follows his glance to the chief's office; ignores it dismissively. "If that's true," and her non-challenging tone would suggest she agrees that it is, "the meaning might be in the differences." She studies the consultant with steady eyes, her brows slightly raised, prompting. "This new killer has to have a reason to be copying something that happened nine years ago, something that ties him to Schaffer." She lifts the remaining folder in indication of the former case and the profile of a serial killer contained within. "Whether it's literally or all in his head. He knows details. We need details." An arm reaches to one side, a finger lifting from its hold on the file to press the elevator's down button. "We have someone working on getting Schaffer's… fan… mail."

His back remains to the elevator, leaving Laurie facing the open room beyond, the bullpen and its steady stream of industry. After a last pass along his chin, his jaw — a thumb butting up against the one of many faded lacerations on his face — the hand falls to his pocket and the other soon follows after a turning an allowing palm towards Maggie. "They've run out of appeals on Schaffer's side. In thirty-one days, he's going to become the first killer put to death in a New York federal case since 1953." Offered as idle information, perhaps a reason, perhaps not. It's to the rest that his head cocks, lips pulling in a line seeking to look less pleased than it wants. But only out of ceremony, it would seem. The consultant does nothing to shield the chuckling amusement in his own voice following. "He's… not going to like that."

A subtle but persistent shift comes over Maggie as Laurie speaks on the future of Schaffer, an uneasy tightness making itself known in her jaw, rippling down her neck as she tries to hide it under a pretense of normalcy. All of a sudden, the elevator can't come fast enough. She turns toward it and, lo and behold, it's kind to her. She steps through the opening doors and holds the OPEN button to keep them gaping until Laurie can follow. It's with her businesslike tone that she continues on, a far cry from his apparent amusement. "A copycat strikes a month before the original murderer is scheduled for execution…"

They may be open, but he doesn't follow. Positioned against the wall of the call button before, he's invisible from inside the contraption until such time as Laurie steps around, coming out into the mid of the corridor and facing past those doors to Maggie. His gaze moves from her to each corner of the enclosed space, precise as a measuring tool from one edge to the next to the next and then away — the bullpen. Noise. More evidence of other people than is clear to think in. A sniff. The hand brought out of his pocket to do that same tired gesture of swiping under the nose is fast, fingers twitching away nearly before the motion's complete. At the impatient ding of the machine being held too long, he mutters lightly, "If it's all the same to you, I'll take the stairs."

Quietly studying Laurie for a moment when he appears in front of the impatient elevator seems to allay the detective's own sudden turn of thoughts. "Sure," she says, as easy as that, and lets go of the button. The two halves of the 'New York Police Department' logo are free collide toward each other, converging in front of Maggie's thoughtful expression as she shuffles her things about to reach into the paper bag.

(TO BE CONTINUED...)

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