- weined from -
The brownstone was ringing with curses, thunks and clatters in a path from the still-vibrating dresser drawers in the bedroom all the way down into the basement. Dan, well aware that anything he said at this moment would be met with sharp-tongued scorn or outright hostility, chose to maintain his strategic position half-hidden in the shadows of the study where he'd buried himself in a prospectus for a raptor facility upstate. He'd endured days of this already - they all had, really - and he was running out of ideas.
Walter briefly looked up when Laurie stormed down the stairs past Archie, his hand pausing in the notes he was taking as she kicked a box of spare parts out of her way.
"What?" She rounded on him, fists already clenching.
"Don't give me that fucking look - this is driving me nuts and you know it!"
"Was your own choice to-"
"I know, goddammit!" He actually blinked at her, but she was past noticing as she set the punching bag in her sights. "It's only the thousandth time I've tried to quit and I swear to god every time it gets worse!" She set to pounding the bag with all her strength, her fists and feet jangling it violently on its chain. Her perception narrowed to the satisfying slap of flesh against vinyl and the sway of the bag from each hit. The burn in her limbs was like the burn she wanted in her lungs right now, fueling her anger and disgust into jaw-clenching two-fisted attacks until movement at her side brought her wheeling around in an automatic attack stance.
Walter stood, implacably still in the face of her breathless fury. Slowly he looked from her to the wobbling bag and then back again, seeming as he did to come to a decision. Expression hardening, he took a deliberate step forward. "Laurel. Understandable that you-"
"Oh spare me," she sneered, moving to loom over him in exactly the way he hated. "Mister 'I've never had a chemical dependence' offering a pep talk? Don't make me laugh!"
His mouth thinned and she braced with a giddy rush of anticipation for the knock-down-drag-out that was coming. Do it. Come on...
But he just looked at her, and quietly continued. "Laurel. You should know me well enough to know I'm not going to offer empty platitudes. You got yourself into this situation, and it's only right that you get yourself back out of it." His hand rose to her shoulder and she could only gawp at him. "I've seen you take down multiple opponents unarmed. You've endured broken bones, torn ligaments and gunshots without flinching. You can function for days without food or sleep and still be ready to fight at a moment's notice. You are better than this."
Releasing her, Walter stepped back and returned to his place at the workbench as though nothing had happened. His pencil was picked up, and he resumed scanning newspapers for possible leads for their next outing. A hand over his brought his gaze back around.
Laurie's gaze was soft, her face still flushed behind her tangled, sweat-soaked hair. Bringing her hands up to cup Walter's face, she placed the gentlest of kisses on his lips.
"Damn you," she whispered, and headed silently back up the stairs.