2007-03-12: A Game of a Different Sort

Starring:

Ed_icon.gif Mara_icon.gif

Summary: Detective Damaris crosses the unspoken lines to meet with Agent Boone of the FBI. He promises to better her situation, and she keeps her mouth shut about what she knows.

Date It Happened: March 12, 2007

A Game of a Different Sort


Starbucks

Agent Boone. An FBI guy. To get past Viola and not cause a disaster, this guy would have had to have made a pretty good impression. Most NYPD guys don't want Bureau mooks anywhere near them, but he's got permission and the whole deal. He's asked Mara to meet him, here, at … a Starbuck's. A nice, neutral location. He's sitting at a table with two large coffees. One is black and sweet. The other is made to Mara's precise preferences. He must have done some digging at the Precinct.

The off-duty detective enters the coffee shop - right on time. She's not dressed for work. If they're going to put her on leave, she isn't going to dress for the office. Despite the lack of badge and name tag, she's still recognizable for the bruises and stitches. Surely the department told him about those. "Agent Boone?" Mara extends a hand with a smile.

Ed stands like an old-fashioned gentleman when a lady arrives, and immediately flashes his badge. "Detective," he says, using her name. "I'm Agent Boone. Edward Boone. Call me Ed," he says. "I understand you were principal on the Gray case. I wanted to say, first off, how pleased the Bureau is with your work. Gray is a hard man to get near. He's played games with a lot of officers. You're to be commended. I want to keep you involved in the investigation."

"Does my lieutenant know you want to keep me involved?" Mara takes her seat, giving a curious glance to the coffee. "She was understandably keen to have me removed after the… little incident in holding."

"I don't want to poke my nose in where it doesn't belong, Detective, but I don't think your Lieutenant understands the gravity of the Gray situation. I'm not alone at the Bureau in thinking he could be worse than anyone we've ever seen. There are textbooks waiting to be written on the man," Ed says. "With your permission I'd like to request that you be reinstated, rank and pay. No one's ever gotten into Gray's head like you have. Your insight is invaluable."

That's certainly the way that Mara sees it, but convincing the rest of her department to share that view is the trick. "Invaluable," she repeats. She picks up the coffee and decides to give it a try. She raises her eyebrows in surprise. "Somebody told you how to make my coffee. You actually /asked/ somebody how I take my coffee. I'm impressed, Age- Ed." She smirks appreciatively, "Just keep talking. I'm all ears."

Ed finally sits down. "Listen, normally I'd be all about making sure everybody plays ball in their own yard," he says, referring the the local / federal divide of jurisdiction. "But Gabriel Gray is too dangerous. He may have already killed again, or tried to. His profile suggests…" And he reaches for a manila folder from his briefcase, which is labeled 'SYLAR'. A recent addition notes 'GABRIEL GRAY' on the tag. "His profile suggests that after a period of being unable to satisfy his urges, he will kill more quickly and more recklessly to make up for lost time. If he hasn't already started, we don't have a lot of time. The one thing we've never been able to figure out is how he selects his victims. I think the answer might be in your head, even if you don't know it."

Much the way Gray's eyes carry that hunger when there's talk of abilities, Mara's eyes light up with keen interest as Ed continues to talk about Sylar. But in the exact opposite of her pray, that interest disappears entirely at the mention of the answer being in her head. She sits back and peers cooly across the table. "Is that supposed to be some sort of shot?"

"Not at all — I mean to say that the answer could be somewhere in your interviews, even if you haven't found it yet. But if put together our profile with your interviews, we might be able to figure out why Gray kills the way he does. There's no pattern. Age, sex, appearance, income level… no pattern among the victims, but the same MO, again and again. Since it broke that Gabriel Gray and Sylar were one and the same, we did a little digging. It turns out that Gray became very interested in the ideas of a crackpot New Age author from India; a Dr. Suresh? He wrote a book about people with superpowers. According to our profile, 'Sylar' is a fabricated identity. We think his MO and behavior are strongly suggestive of a killer who is trying to be special, trying to be unique in some way. To prove, by killing, that he's better than his victims. Now, get this. The murders start almost at the same time that Dr. Suresh books a plane ticket to New York City. That can't be a coincidence. Dr. Suresh himself, by the way, is dead. He was killed, driving a yellow cab, by a passenger. His killer was never caught. See a connection?" Ed brims with a zealous sort of glee, the glee of a hunter who just caught the scent again.

"I've read the theories of the late Doctor Suresh," Mara states as though it were of very little consequence. "But I don't see a connection. If I understand your suggestion, Suresh was the first victim? Perhaps it was merely his idea of a place to start? If you go with the idea that Gray wants to be special, and Suresh's book is about people who are special, perhaps in Gray's mind, it was the logical place to begin?" She raises on eyebrow and sips at her coffee.

"We think that Gray views it less — it's less of a sexual thing. He doesn't kill to satisfy an urge. He kills because he's competing, and it's how he gets ahead. What we can't figure out is why he thinks that his victims are somehow… competing. We've done everything. And the only thing we've noticed is that several of his victims had copies of Suresh's book. I think there has to be a connection, even if I'm the only guy at the Bureau who does. My question for you is if you know anything, /anything/, that can shed some light on this."

"I'm not sure I have an answer for you there, Ed." Mara shakes her head slowly, "I was taken off the case before I really had a chance to understand what makes Gray tick." It's a lie. Completely and utterly. She understands better than she'd like to admit.

Ed looks at Mara for a long, meaningful sort of moment. "Listen… I don't want to do the same dramatic show I did for your Lieutenant, but I think it's important that you understand why I'm not just going to sit back and let you do this. I know Gray played games with you. I know he got inside your head. That's why I need you." He pulls out a picture. "I showed your Lieutenant this picture. You boys in blue don't think much about my cheap suit and my FBI-issued aftershave, but maybe this'll resonate with you." The picture shows a pixie-shaped woman with short dark hair. "Do you know who this is?" She's in a suit. She looks like Agency material if you ever saw one. "You can probably guess. I need you to cut through the bullshit and help me here. You and I want this guy in a tiny cell just as badly."

Mara leans forward, palms flat on the table, expression serious. "I don't want him in a cell. I want him /dead/. And /I/ want to be the one to do it." She meets Ed's eyes, completely serious. "You want me on this case, you're going to have to accept that given the chance, I'm going to kill him."

Ed looks at the picture. Pretty girl. He puts it away into his pocket. "Gray's gotten to a lot of people very important to me. I know what you're feeling. But if you give in to it, he wins." Ed is silent for a second or so. "But I don't think he's the type to surrender. And when we make the takedown, I'll do what I can to make sure you're there. Thats all I can promise you."

"All right," Mara relents. "I'm in." She sits back and takes a long drink from her coffee cup, savouring it before she asks: "Who was she?"

Ed shuts his eyes. "She was a good agent. That's all that matters," he says. He's surely bypassing the real story, and that's readily and immediately apparent. There's precious little concealing.

"I don't like nameless faces in my job," Mara says. "Jane Does don't help me to sleep at night." And when it's obvious that he knows the girl in the photograph, it really bugs her not to know a name.

"Eden," Ed says. It sounds like his heart is breaking. "Eden McCain. That's her name." He shakes his head. "We lost her when we almost caught Sylar in Odessa."

"Eden," Mara repeats. "I'll remember her." Her eyes half-lid and she nods gravely. "I'll help you catch Gray, but if it's him or me, it's going to be him."

Ed nods. "I'd expect nothing else, Detective," he says. "Thank you. It means a lot. We'd have caught Sylar months ago if we could cut through the bureaucratic red tape."

"If you want a good chance of catching Gray our way, you'll tell Lieutenant Holcombe to call off the plainclothes detail I've got on me." Mara tilts her head to one side. "You and I both know Gray will kill them to get to me."

Ed looks out the window. "I'll see what I can do," he says, with an earnest nod. "But… are you proposing we use you? As bait? I'm not sure how comfortable I am with that."

"There's no proposing. Unless I want to hide in a hole until he's caught, he'll be coming for me." Mara doesn't seem terribly bothered by this the way she was a few days ago. She's come to terms with the idea that Sylar is out for her blood - for her ability. But knowing, to use the cliche, is half the battle.

Ed rubs his eyes with his thumb and his forefinger. "… Okay," Ed says, finally. "I'll do what I can. I don't like this, but you're right. It's the best way. If he wanted me that badly, I'd be drawing a dotted line on my brainpan."

"You have my number," Mara says as way of farewell before rising from her seat and turning to leave the shop.

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