2007-08-31: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Ivanov?


Benjamin_icon.gif Church_icon.gif Felix_icon.gif Mara_icon.gif

Summary: Felix finally consents to joining the Company, though with considerably reluctance. And bitchiness.

Date It Happened: August 31, 2007

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Ivanov?

Hartsdale - Primatech, Hospital

Felix is still in bed. But restless and annoyed - tense. This sucks, even with all the morphine he's crammed with. He's trying to finish 'The Count of Monte Cristo', and making next to no progress. The drugs aren't helping.

There's a quiet knock on the door just before it opens to allow Mara Damaris. "Hello, sleepy head." She smiles and steps into the room. "Do you mind if I join you?"

Felix looks up, having set aside his book. "Sure," he says, quietly. "I mean, I don't mind at all. I'm going stir crazy in here, honestly."

"I know the feeling." Mara sits down on the bed. "Are you all right? Anything I can get for you?" She casts a glance at the book once and then reaches out to take her friend's hand. "I know this is tough. Ask me anything, and I will answer as best as I can. I can't promise you all the answers, but I promise you I won't lie."

"Who are these people? What do they really want?" He says, looking desperately to her. "What hold do they have over you?"

"These people are above law enforcement. Above everything you and I have ever represented, no matter who we've worked for. They…" Mara pauses and then sighs. "We track down people with abilities. Evolved. We find them. We make sure they aren't a danger to themselves and to others. If they are, we keep them here. We try to help them." She looks away, reluctant to answer his last question.

The blue eyes are clouded and very weary - it's been a rough few weeks. He looks at her patiently. "I wasn't a threat, Mara. You worked with me. You knew my record with the NYPD. What gives them the right to come in and destroy everything I ever worked for? To play God with my life? Where does the buck stop? Who is the man behind the curtain? What assurances do I get that if I sign my name in blood, I won't be made to do completely abhorrent things? I'm a cold-hearted fuck and we both know it, but even I draw the line somewhere."

"I didn't give the order to take you in," Mara offers as an explanation. "We have to keep everyone safe. Until we know what they're capable of, everyone has to be considered a threat. Consider it like any other suspect." There's a long, drawn out sigh and the redhead reaches out to touch the man's face. "Felix. Shut up. Take a breath and calm down."

Felix is obediently quiet, though he's giving her that rigid cop's mask.

"We have no right to do what we've done." Mara rubs her thumb over Felix's cheek. "You join us, and you're… Well, you aren't safe. None of us are. We step out of line, and… We police each other. We make sure none of us goes rogue, you know? It's not an ideal existence, but you'll be doing something that means something. The work I do here now is more important than all the homicide cases I've worked to solve." Someone has bought into the Company doctrine. "What you've worked for hasn't been destroyed. The people behind the scenes here - the man behind the curtain - they can fix everything. Fabricate lies, weave stories. You have no idea what these people are capable of. I have no idea what these people are capable of." And that's the point, isn't it?

Outside in the hall, there has been someone to the side of the closed door for what may have been anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes; Lawrence, hair unkempt and light blue sleeves rolled up his arms, waits until the last word comes to an end before lifting a hand to rap his knuckles upon the door. A tight-lipped smile is then made in the small glass window, making sure they know he is coming when he finally opens the door to admit himself.

"…Just the people I wanted to see." Church's voice is a bit more business-like today, the slight drawl of his words simply for effect.

It's still the substance of his childhood nightmares. They may not be the KGB, and this may not be some lab in some forgotten city east of the Urals, but it's still enough to raise the hair on the back of Fel's neck. The look he gives Mara is utterly lost, despairing. Help me, you were once my friend. It's all become some sort of Kafkaesque ordeal that he can't puzzle his way out of. "None of …." he trails off, turning a more neutral look on Church, mask slipping back into place.

Mara's hand withdraws as soon as knock sounds at the door, and she's on her feet. "Lawrence," she greets with a smile. "I trust you're recovering well?" Last night - that morning - well… It did involve a lot of alcohol.

Church slips both hands into his pockets as he strolls in, bumping the door shut with a shoulder. He's greeted by one of them, at least! Boo on you, Felix. "Why, yes, I am." Thumbs over the top of his pockets move into a pair of his belt loops. "But I'm thinking I could have taken another Flaming Orgasm." Mara will know he's talking about the drink, but dear lord- poor Felix.

Felix is a jerk, like that. As we've established. He's gone pokerfaced and quiet again, blue eyes dull.

Mara's face flushes crimson at his choice of drink to bring up. "I'm, ah, sure you could have." She brushes her bangs from her eyes and clears her throat. "But I thought you preferred the Redheaded Slut." She looks at the strands of hair trapped between her fingers and then she really blushes. Not what I meant, okay?! Subject change, go! "I was just telling Ivanov that we aren't all bad here."

Church looks like picked that drink just to see what they would do. When it gets nothing out of Felix, that's a disappointment until he sees what it did to Mara. Backup plan was a success! The older man chuckles, the expression on his face similar to a coyote's sly grin. "Ohhh, well, yeah, sure I did." It's a vague agreement, while he sidles over to the bed to almost loom overhead, eyebrows raised. Hi, Felix. "Is that right?"

Maybe it's the morphine, but Fel's regarding the pair with a certain patient distance. "Yes," he says, almost submissively, looking up at Church with an unreadable expression.

"Did you come in here just to embarrass li'l ol' me," Mara comes to stand off to Church's side, wrapping a hand around his forearm. It looks affectionate, but she's really just ready to yank him away from Felix, should the need arise. "Or did you have somethin' to say to Felix?"

Church sways from heel to heel for a few seconds, not planning on walking anywhere, but just fidgeting. He stops when there is a Mara attached to his arm. "I do have something to say. He might find it interesting, actually." Lawrence tilts his head toward Mara for a moment, turning his face back to Felix. "If he's going to actually listen to me and not stare at the air."

"I'm listening," Felix says, quietly. He's still sort of got the thousand yard stare, but he is obviously attending.

"He's just a little stoned. He was just fine earlier when I was talking to him. He's listening." Mara squeezes the other agent's arm, even as her expression grows apprehensive.

«"Did you know, your eyes and my pillowcase are /perfectly/ color coordinated."» That's not English. It's Japanese. And while Lawrence is smiling when he says it, well- there's certainly something mischievous in his voice, regardless of language.

Felix looks politely blank at that. "I'm sorry, I don't speak that. I'm only fluent in English and Russian," he explains, giving Church a puzzled look.

"What did you just say?" Mara gives Church a dubious look. A shake of her head later and she frowns, "Never mind. I don't think I want you to tell me."

Great. Getting off free card. Mara gets a glance and a laugh. «"That means I can't ask to see your magic bag of tricks, huh, Felix? Darn."» Still Japanese. The next part, however, is back in English, and Church's grin hasn't wavered a bit. "We're probably not going to see much of each other anymore, I'm afraid."

"What are you saying to me?" Felix doesn't sound angry, but he does sound rather dubious, himself. Church doesn't sound angry, so maybe he's not cursing at him.

"What you mean? You haven't even been here that long. Don't tell me you're being transferred." Mara peers up at Church. Can you say hurt? Who's going to go drinking with me until Felix is up and running again? Huh?!

"You don't -really- want to know…" Lawrence practically mutters, winking the eye that is decidedly not on the side where Mara can see it. When she looks at him in what he deems as confusion, the man just smiles. "I'm not getting transferred anywhere, so don't get your panties in a bunch." The arm she is holding onto gives a small nudge of reassurance. "I'm just not going to be on Felix's case anymore. I thought you and Mohinder and whoever else is assigned would do him one better, so now he's yours. Plus, I'm going to have busy days starting this week. I simply can't handle you right now." The last words are addressed strictly to the man in the bed. Lawrence sounds disappointed this time around, but it will be short lived.

The temptation to say something terribly crude in reply to that is very strong, but Fel is both stoned and on his good behavior, so he nods, expression mild. Handle me, indeed. "How many people are assigned to me?" he wonders, bemused. By the look on hi face, he'd assumed he was filed away and shuffled off somewhere.

"I got reassigned?" Mara steps away from Church, eyes wide and incredulous. "Are you kidding me?" Hands are planted on her hips and she leans back, expression annoyed, "And when, exactly, was the Bishop going to tell me this?" Honestly. That man can be so infuriating. "…Wait. Does this mean I don't have to hang out upstate anymore?" Annoyance melts away. The grin that spreads across Mara's face is somewhat akin to a cat. Full of cream. "Oh, excellent."

"Enough." Is the answer that Felix receives. Meanwhile, Lawrence is smirking at Mara as she goes through the motions of emotions in the span of a few seconds. "I take it this pleases you. Good." Well, it'd suck if she didn't like the idea. All the better for everyone if she does.

"Listen," Fel says, quietly, though there's a certain dull finality to his tone. "I give in. I'll work here, if that's what it takes to get Sasha back in Mariska's care, and get me out of here alive. I don't know if you've got to run it by the Great Stone Face I saw the other day, or who you gotta talk to, but I'm done." He lifts his hands in a gesture of surrender.

"Felix…" Mara's head tilts to one side, concerned. "It's not like that. You're… making the right choice, but don't think of it as surrender. Think of it as a…" She turns her eyes skyward and considers for a moment. "Lateral move. It's not quite a promotion, but it's not a death sentence."

Church holds his hands out all of a sudden, a look of mock glee on his face. Jazz hands? Sort of. TADA. "Well how about that. Now all you gotta do is train him a bit." Like a Dirty Russian Dog…! Or not. "She's right. It's mostly lateral, except you don't have those bothersome things called criminal procedure, et cetera. Plus, the Government pays in peanuts."

Felix merely nods, patiently. No longer willing to argue, apparently. He just glances between them, mute.

"Lawrence…" Mara takes his arm again and pulls him toward the door, where she drops her voice and goes about gently smoothing out wrinkles in his shirt. "Ivanov's just a bit… Well, I'm sure you must remember what it was like when they made you an agent, right?" After all, there aren't many people like her, who more or less volunteered for the position - even if it was a coerced sort of volunteering. "He'll come around. I'm sure of it. We just need to give him some time to think, don't you agree?" She smiles sweetly up at Church.

Church watches Mara as he is led around and smoothed out at the same time. Hey, I liked those wrinkles. "Actually, I don't. Uhh… maybe I do. But I don't. I sort of do." He squints a tad at the air, trying to decide which one it is. "Time to think is good. You're probably right. I just get excited easily." He's been at that for weeks! It was happy news.

Ivanov is a depressive motherfucker - let's call a spade a spade. And this is one of those long dark nights of the soul. "I said," he reiterates, patiently, with the thinnest thread of irritation in his voice, "I'll sign on. I'm not enthusiastic about this - I loved my job in the Bureau, and this seems like a perversion of it. But let's get this over with - what do I have to do, prick my finger and write my name in blood in a book that smells of brimstone?" He's enunciating every word carefully, as he does when very tired and having to translate from thinking in Russian.

Benjamin has ducked into the hospital wing, sure it's the long way through the building, but he thought he saw Meryl coming. Better safe than sorry, as he's really not in a mood to run into her again. He passes by Felix's room, then slows his steps and backtracks to look into the window. There's the patient, there's Agent Church and.. is that.. That is her. Mara earns a double take, he's no long completely weirded out that she works here too. He just hadn't seen her face around in awhile. He pokes his head into the room in time to hear Felix and his expression sobers, "Oh, you feel that way too? That's how I felt." A nod is given in turn to the people in the room.

"Yes, Ivanov. I need a pint of your blood so I can draw up the entire contract." Mara shakes her head and pats Church once on the chest before returning to Felix's side. "You haven't changed a bit, have you?" When Benjamin pokes his head in, she turns around to blink at him. "Winters. Hi." She doesn't even bother faking - or rather, laying on thicker - her Southern accent. "Long time no see."

Look! It's a party now. Everyone's jabbering, and now there's a Benjamin! Lawrence just keeps his hands in his pockets and a smile on his face, standing a few paces from the bed. "Do you like us a bit more now, Benny? Please don't say no, cause you'll probably break my poor heart."

"I want my life back. I'm not getting it. I have a kid, who's apparently mine, so I have a responsibility to her and her mother," Fel's voice is flat, matter of fact. "So I might as well cowboy up, huh?" How many of Mara and Fel's old drinking sessions ended up with her cutting him off before he drowned under a mingling of alcohol and melancholy? More than a few. Ah, the joys of Russian fatalism. He makes a little impatient beckoning gesture at Mara. Benjamin gets a nod, though it's not as curt as it might be.

Benjamin doesn't seem surprised by the lack of Southern accent from Mara. Looks like he caught on awhile back. Doesn't mean he's any happier about the duplicity, but he sucks it up like a big boy. Lawrence's comment just throws him for a loop, "Wha? I like everyone just fine." Pardon the confused expression on his face and in his tone. Fortunately, his confusion disappears as he listens to Felix. He can sympathize greatly with the guy. "I know how you feel," he admits to the Russian, not caring if others are in the room too as he says it.

"Don't you people get it? None of us are getting our lives back!" Mara throws her hands in the air. "We should all be thankful we still have our lives! And you should be thankful that there isn't someone out there actively seeking to end your freaking lives!" There was no 'we' in that last statement, and chances are, it's intentional. The ranting redhead moves to one side of the room to lean back against the wall where she proceeds to cross her arms under her chest and brood.

Church has a problem knowing how Felix feels for lack of actually remembering- but at least Benjamin is someone that does, and someone easily accessible to the Russian. Sharing an experience is more useful than just sharing words. The short outburst on Mara's end is simply taken in stride. For once, Lawrence Church really unable to relate to everyone else in the room, and it puts a tight-lipped frown on his face. He shifts a little towards the door as if to flee, but he refrains and hangs around over —-> there, instead, watching Mara much like a dog wanting to hide under a table.

Fel has had enough. Not that there's anywhere for him to go, but he's not bound at the moment. The drugs and the injuries are sufficient. This does not prevent him, however, from getting up, albeit very creakily. "Fuck your mother, De-Tec-Tive, There is," he says, bluntly. "I want Babenkov's head on a pike for my signing bonus. I'm not happy with this, Damaris. I've gotten kidnapped, tortured, and treated like a lab rat since all this began. I'm not gonna jump up and down and do a little dance about how pleased I am to join the spook brigade. I don't know what level of enthusiasm you expect, really." He's heading for the door with all the speed of an arthritic tortoise. "But I told you, I give in. You sign me on, you can convince me it's all blowjobs and rainbows, glorious, fine." Benjamin gets a knife's edge grin. "Good. We can commiserate over beer, or vodka, or whatever your poison is." He's still got his IV attached, so it's wheeling along behind him like a helpful droid.

"Please calm down Damaris. We understand that. At least, that's sunk in finally for me. The fact that this is my life now." Owned by the Company, having an ability that needs to be used for good.. Benjamin's coming to grips with it, being thrown to the fire as it were. "Damaris, you're wrong. There is someone out there. He came after my daughter and I. He'll come after anyone of us." That can be the only reasoning behind Sylar coming at Rose in such a creepy manner. He doesn't look in Mara's direction as he speaks, instead he just moves further into the room. Then.. Felix is.. "Hey! Lay back down! You're in no condition to run off!" It doesn't matter how slow the guy's moving, he can be easily caught, but Ben moves to block the door. He's a fairly decent sized guy, but he's not very intimidating, "Please, go lay back down. Or we'll have to make you."

"Get your ass back into bed, Felix. And don't you ever bring up my mum in your insults again." Mara pushes off from the wall and stalks toward her friend, intent on grabbing his arm and steering him toward the bed. "No, it isn't blowjobs and rainbows. What the fuck is in this world? Just get back in the bed before I have to have Winters here step in and do something that'll make him feel bad for the rest of the week. I'd hate to have to see him mope. He's a very nice man."

Church can hazard a very educated guess about the conversation at this point, but Felix's haphazard attempt at 'escape' just draws his attention like a cat to a bird. What's he doing? Benjamin gets an eyeballing, one eyebrow lifting in question. It'll be all you! I'm not a part of this 'we' you are speaking of. Leave it to the word 'blowjobs' to divert his attention back to Mara and Felix. "Key West is." Not helping.

If looks could kill, the three Company agents would be smoking piles of ash. But that is not Felix's power, happily, so he contents himself with glaring at all of them, and then heading back to bed. Even that little effort has him pale around the lips. He's stubborn, certainly, but will can only take you so far when the body's that bad off. Apparently he had some hopes of staging a daring escape, and then limping along so find someway to hitch hike home along the turnpike. Morphine makes for such cunning plans.

Benjamin frowns at Mara. He was prepared to use his power without being told thank you! Seeing as Church is doing nothing, Ben steps in to further halt Felix's progress, even if Mara could take him right now. A mildly puzzled glance is thrown Church's way, "What's Key West got to.. never mind." He doesn't want to know on second thought. As Felix puts himself back to bed, Ben actually moves to assist, cause he's no doctor, but the Russian doesn't look so hot. "Just stay put okay? Otherwise you'll be in a worse condition." Or forcibly restrained in other ways. "No need to bring mothers back into the discussion," he mutters.

Mara sighs heavily and tucks Felix back in carefully. "We'll discuss Babenkov later." And the look she's just thrown Church suggests that they're going to be discussing Babenkov as well. "I know. This whole thing is slag. Tomorrow, I'll come back and we'll talk again. Just you and I." Because things were going so much better when they were able to speak frankly. She looks up and offers a faint smile, "Thank you, Winters."

"Next time we get vacation I'll take you. You'll see." Church is only partially joking, watching the proceedings and allowing those closer to handle it. He gets a look, too- presumably about Babblecoffee. Hmh. That discussion will be something interesting, no doubt. "I'll send you a Get Well card, Felix. You're all Mara's now." There's a smirk on his face, but only for a few seconds.

Felix literally bites his lip to keep from saying something explicit and horrible to Church. Woe betide the first time he's drunk in the older man's presence. "Sure," he says, simply, to all of those giving him orders, as he sinks back.

Benjamin nods across to Mara, "No problem. I couldn't just let him hurt himself further." That's his way of looking at it. That and Felix seems like a reasonable and nice enough guy. "Just try and relax here, okay?" His attention is turned back on the Russian as he takes a few steps back from the bed. Behave, and extreme measures aren't taken. It's easy as that, at least to Ben.

Mara reclaims her seat on the edge of the bed at Felix's side. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." She brushes her fingers through his hair once, that apologetic look on her face. "I wish I could wave my hand and make this all work out right, but I can't. I can only push you in the direction of the best option as I see fit. I'll do everything I can for you. Lawrence is right. You're mine, now. And I'm going to look after you. Consider it returning the favour for all those times you looked after me when I was just a rookie."

Even Lawrence thinks that is cute. Both arms lift from his pockets to cross under his chest, and he bears an almost contented face. Step by step, he's also making for the door. Maybe it is best if he just…slips right out. He's obviously assuming he is invisible now, but then again, the others are somewhat preoccupied.

All those times they ended up drunk and bawling Pogues songs as they stumbled along the gutter? Arguably, the real favor would be her pulling her service weapon and shooting him in the back of the head, twice. Or so his look says - Fel's not really in the mood to be mollified. But he doesn't argue, merely letting his eyes close under her hand. The swiftness and completeness with which the drugs take him under are rather perturbing - it's only a moment or two before only the slight motion of breath makes it plain this is a hospital bed and not a bier.

Benjamin folds his arms against his chest and moves to lean his back against the wall. Church's slinking from the room is noticed, and he gives a nod in the man's direction as he leaves. "Even if the options on the table aren't the best, or if they don't seem like much of an option. I know that's not what you want to hear, it's not what I wanted to hear either." He's not sure if Felix heard a thing he said, but it's out there. The Russian and then Mara are given a lengthy look before he too follows suit and leaves the room.

Once the other two men have left the room, Mara drops a soft kiss on Felix's forehead. "What am I ever going to do with you?" For now, she contents herself with curling up on the bed at his side, letting the soft beeping of equipment be the backdrop for her thoughts.

Every cop (at least, every cop who wasn't oh, Sheriff of Mayberry) has something from the Job that haunts them. And Felix's is the time Organized Crime got handed the deaths of thirteen girls from Eastern Europe. They'd been smuggled in in a shipping container with a false wall…..and the one engineered source of fresh air, a pipe laid through both walls, was destroyed. Perhaps deliberately, perhaps merely an accident as the containers shifted aboard ship. The deaths weren't violent, as such - but somehow the placidity of their expressions was all the more disturbing. That's the image that washes up on the shores of dream, and has him awakening, gasping for air, in the middle of the 'bitter watches of the night'. Another glorious spate of disorientation - is this Mount Sinai after the shooting? Where is this? "Sam?" is his first confused question.

Felix's awakening startles Mara and there's a loud THUD! as she tumbles off of the bed and onto the floor. Followed by the clattering and crashing of the tray next to the bed that held some pills and two full glasses of water. "Eee- ACK!" From the floor, the woman groans and reaches up to grab a fistful of blankets, but can't quite seem to pull herself up. "Oh, my head…"

This ends up with Fel staring down at Mara in utter bewilderment. "Mara?" he asks, voice unwontedly small. "Did you hurt yourself?"

"Only a little," she offers in return in a very small voice. "Mostly my pride." Does she really have much of that left to even wound? "I'm good on the floor," Mara assures, staying on her back and staring up at the patient. "Really. It's oddly comfortable. And it's a great spot to sit and watch the room spin. Hoo!" She closes her eyes heavily and takes in a deep breath. "Jesus Christ." Her shirt is soaked from the cups of water and there's pills scattered across her stomach, but she otherwise appears to be fine.

Felix has an expression of nearly canine worry. on his face, even as he blinks at her vaguely. Still drugged. "How'd you end up there?" he asks, after a moment's consideration.

"You kind of knocked me out of the bed when you sat up all spooked and junk." Hazel eyes re-open and blink several times, trying to focus. Finally, Mara seems to succeed in finding her equilibrium again and she pulls herself into a sitting position. "You okay?"

In my….."What were you doing in the bed?" Fel's just completely behind the times. "I'm fine. I mean, as much as I can be." He offers a hand to her.

"Don't ask stupid questions, Felix," Mara groans. She accepts the hand and pulls herself back up to sit on the bed again. Once settled, she raises her left hand and says, "I solemnly swear I did not molest you in your sleep."

She gets an owlish look. "I wasn't accusing you," he says, gently.

"Of course you weren't." Mara rests her hands in her lap. "You were having a nightmare."

He literally kicked her out of bed over it, so there's no point lying. "Yes," he says, quietly. "I do."

"I know what those are like. Old case?" Mara brushes her fingers through her hair. "We've seen some pretty sick stuff, haven't we? Most the worst cases I caught were yanked from me and handed over to your unit. Mob hits are the worse. Those bastard are creative." And not in the good way.

"Yeah," he says, laconically. "And the Russians the worst of all. They make the Mafia look like a bunch of Shriners. That was the nice thing about the bureau job. A chance to take a little step back."

There's a long moment of silence from the woman before she takes Felix's hand not home to an IV drip in both of hers. "I… see things. Horrible, horrible things. I see how those people die. I can hear them screamin' in my head. I feel their fear. I feel their pain. But what's worse is that, sometimes, I feel the delight of the people killin' them." Mara's confession is heavy, no doubt. So much so that she can't even make eye contact.

It has him going still. Not the limpness of lost consciousness- he hasn't succumbed to the morphine again. But that attentive, almost predatory quietness she'll remember. "You're a visionary? That's what these people want from you?" he murmurs.

Mara's laughter is bitter. "Is that what they want from me? Oh, no. No, no, no. That's not why I'm here at all. It's a perk, I'm sure, but I haven't used my abilities to help this organisation at all. No. I'm here for very different reasons. It's not unlike playing with the mob. Borrowing money. Getting in deep with the sharks." She turns her face away, frowning. "I accepted help. I've always been devoted to my work, you know? Protect and Serve. Well, now they protect me, and I serve them."

"Protect you from what? What's the wolf at the door?" he says , watching her, blue eyes very keen.

"You wouldn't understand if I tried to tell you." For once, Mara sounds frightened. "Did you know they partnered me with Demsky?"

"I heard on the wire, yeah," he says, quietly. "Man, Mara, you're police. What has you so scared, with what we've seen."

"Demsky and I caught this case. Two days after my last birthday. This woman named Virginia Gray was murdered. And this… painting was all across her floor. It depicted this bomb. A mushroom cloud. It was done in her blood." Mara takes a deep breath before continuing. "The next day, there was this… 'lower atmospheric occurrence,' or whatever the government decided to call it, over the City. It didn't take much digging. Demsky and I wanted to question her son, Gabriel. Thought he might know something…"

Felix is still listening, expectantly. "She was a precog? Or her murderer was?"

"Her murderer was. We had no idea at the time. Demsky still doesn't know. Not… completely." Mara shivers. "So, Demsky and I decided we needed to speak with Virginia Gray's son, except that no one seems to be able to find him. A few months later, this man wanders into the precinct, saying he has information about the murder. I take him into interrogation, and he tells me it was an accident. And then I grab this package he's carrying, and I see it happen." She saw a lot more, too, but nothing Felix needs to be concerned with. Mara's eyes shut, as if reliving the vision she's recounting, "Gabriel Gray fights with his mother and he kills her. It's just like this man is telling me." Her eyes open again, dark and haunted.

"You….you're a psychometrist," Yeah, Ivanov isn't always the sharpest pencil in the box, is he? "The guy you had - how was he connected?"

"Psychometer, yes," Mara confirms. "The man who came to see me was a witness, nothing more. We had no proof, and no one would believe me if I told them I had a vision. I merely took his statement and sent him on his way, more resolved to find Gabriel Gray than ever. He… found me, instead. I had only just discovered my abilities and Doctor Suresh was attempting to help me - under the radar of this organisation at the time. I was leaving his lab in the city proper when… there he was. With a gun. I froze. I thought I would die. If Suresh hadn't come out when he did and shot him, I'd have been dead."

Fel cocks his head at this, listening. "How long did you say you've been able to do this? You couldn't when I knew you, right?" he murmurs.

Mara smiles gently, "No. My ability hadn't manifested then. My first vision was on Christmas Eve." Though she doesn't elaborate further than that. "My visions cause me to faint. You can guess that fainting at crime scenes is not the best thing I can do to inspire confidence. But I still always know who did it. Whether I can prove it or not."

He makes a frustrated noise. "God, what an invaluable gift for a cop," he says, with an incredulous grin. "And odd. I've always been able to do what I do - never heard of it manifesting so late in someone's life."

"It happens differently for everyone, as I understand it. I just know how it happened for me." Mara's shoulders rise and fall in a shrug. "You'd think it's invaluable, but there's nothing more infuriating than knowing who your murderer is, and having no way to nail them for it. And the nightmares are vivid. You only see end results of the mob's creativity. I see the artistic process of it."

Fel recoils a little at the thought. "I'm sorry," he says, quietly. "I know what you mean."

"It's okay." Mara stares down at her hands in her lap, fingers picking at the seam of her pants. "So, I brought Gray into custody. I… I know what he's capable of. Killing his mother was an accident, but he's still a murderer. He's killed so many people. He takes the tops of their skulls off and he- … I know what he does with the brains. Nobody else needs that knowledge." In her mind, she's sparing him. "I… In my visions, I feel emotions. I think it's the emotions that cause me to have the visions. When I watch that man kill someone, I feel his excitement. It makes my stomach churn, but at the same time, I feel such a… rush. It allows me to understand him. I mean, I can do the same with any killer, but to know exactly what motivates him? That's something that sets him apart from most others. That sounds sick, doesn't it? I don't sympathise. I just… understand." A lump in her throat is swallowed back. "I got careless. He wanted to know my secret. My ability. And I wanted to find out more about him. You know me, I've always had to know why and how come. He nearly killed me in holding. Got a hold of my arm and started smashing my face against the bars. It was my own damn fault."

And out of his mouth come words she'd likely never, ever expect. "There is a rush to killing," Fel says, completely matter of fact. "And most of the serial ones do have a motivation…..well, you know," he says, letting it trail off.

"I know," Mara responds. "That man is loose. He's been… tracking me down. My knee was blown out by some fucker working for the mob, and I couldn't run anymore. There was a man who I thought was with the FBI, he offered to hide me. For a while, I was in this sort of… hospice care. Then I went home to my father in Louisiana for a while. So, I get back, and this FBI man, he comes and picks me up one day and he tells me that I've been offered a position as his partner. To work here. And, really, I didn't have much choice. I owed these people my life for hiding me. So, here I am. Agent Parker. Mara Damaris will always be a police officer. A detective in homicide. Kate Parker's the Company woman." Dissociative much? Whatever it takes to keep her conscience clear. "I can't promise you that you won't have to do terrible things, Felix. But I can promise you you'll still be better than any mobster or gang banger we've ever worked to bust."

Fel's lip curls at that. He takes someone impersonating an actual agent very personally. But there's that creeping despair in his face again. "What choice do I have, really?" he says, voice gone very quiet. "I just……it's sort of sadly ironic. I spend twenty five years running from something, only to luck into it anyhow."

"It'll be okay, Felix. You'll have me." Mara knows it's only the barest of comforts, but she offers it to him all the same. "You'll always have me to come to when you need it." As long as she has any say in it.

"Until they make me forget I ever knew you?" he parries.

"They'd have to erase you from me as well. As long as we do our jobs, and we do them well, we won't have anything to fear on that front. They won't make you forget me." And yet, Mara can't quite keep the fear from creeping into her voice again.

"You have reposed your trust in people who sound eminently untrustworthy. They draw no lines, they have no apparent scruples, and yet we're supposed to believe they serve the greater good? This is the sort of bullshit my mother defected to get me AWAY from, Damaris," Felix points out, quietly. "Listen, I'll knuckle under and serve because they have my life, my sanity, and someone who's apparently my only child in their hands. But I am not going to buy into it as some sort of crusade."

"You tell yourself whatever you must to make it through the day, Ivanov." Mara's tone grows cooler, though not frosty by any means. "I'll do the same."

Fel closes his eyes, wearily - his eyes are sunken, and he's visibly aged since they took him in. Been a rough road. "I meant that literally. My mother knew the KGB would take me if they knew what I was, and they were getting close. I wonder if they were just another arm of this firm."

"My parents don't even know. Pops thinks I don't eat enough. Mum thinks it's stress. They have no idea the kind of trouble I'm in." Mara hunches over and buries her face in her hands. "I'm sorry you're in the middle of all of this."

"And do you think my parents will know? I can likely fob them off with Bureau business as an excuse. But the Bureau itself - I've been gone for weeks," he says, inexorably. "I'm sorry, too. You really sorry? Let me out."

"A cover story will be made. You may even be repositioned with the Bureau, like I'm being reinstated with the NYPD." Mara's gaze grows stormy when he speaks that last part. "Are you fucking crazy, Ivanov? I let you go, they'll just track you down again. Trust me on that one. And then do you know what happens to me? They take me down to the basement and they lock me up and they experiment on me. No fucking way." She likes him, she really does, just not enough to risk her life and her freedom.

Fel remains unconvinced. "Why….." he trails off, and closes his mouth, deflating visibly. The spectre of that lab in the basement will haunt him. Welcome to my nightmare.

"Don't ever ask me to just let you go again." Mara shoots him a warning look. Totally serious, okay?

He nods, submissively, and says nothing.

"Looks like the mentor has become the student. I'm sorry." Mara pushes her bangs out of her face and sighs heavily. "I'll look after you. I swear I will."

He raises his gaze to hers, and murmurs, in a tone gone oddly sly, "Help me figure out if that girl really is my child."

Mara grins widely. "Now we're talking. I think I can work that out."

Perhaps he shouldn't've asked. The doubt is clear in his face. But he nods, quietly.

"If she's yours, we'll find out. Better to know for sure." Mara takes his hand, fixing him with a serious and subdued expression. "If she isn't, it's one less thing they have over you."

"It's too plausible," he says, voice almost inaudible. "I…I did know her mother." Biblically, apparently, is the implication, "And she's convinced. I hope it's not true. I don't want that to be my fault. I used to have this fantasy that I wasn't a complete asshole. That the people I fucked and walked away from didn't care, because we both knew it was no strings attached going in, you know?"

"Sweetheart, you were not fuckin' the right women." Clearly. "This why you always lean toward the men?" Mara sets the teasing aside and squeezes Felix's hand gently. "Paul really messed with you bad, didn't he? Just like…" She shakes her head quickly, dismissing whatever thought was in her head. "You aren't a complete asshole."

He has grace enough to look sheepish. "I like men and women about equally. Which is to say, I'm either greedy, or indiscriminate. But overall, men demand less from you than women, emotionally." He makes a face. "Yes. Paul did. I mean, casual sex is fine. But cold-hearted use…..you should've heard the way his wife spoke to me."

"Tell me about it." Mara's brows furrow with concern. "Paul was a complete asshole. You aren't. No sense in beating yourself up."

"Paul was a lawyer. It tends to come with the territory," Felix drawls. He waves his free hand. "And that's over and done with."

"Hey now, I almost became a lawyer, you know." Mara can't help but chide him at least a little.

"I'm glad you didn't," Fel retorts.

"Me too. I think." Mara curls up on the bed at Felix's side again. "Not that it matters or anything, but… Can I ask you a personal question? 'Bout us?"

He turns a guileless blue stare on her. "If you like," he says, gently.

"Why didn't you ever sleep with me?"

"Because I don't ever fuck my co-workers, for one," he says, bluntly. "So tell Church not to get his hopes up."

Mara's face flushes brightly. "I don't think you'll have to worry much about that."

He frankly smirks. "You shoulda seen his first interview with me about my powers. I've had less explicit homosexual passes in gay bars," Fel says, grinning.

"He seemed pretty straight to me." Mara shrugs helplessly. "Maybe it's just his way. Probably trying to make you uncomfortable." She smirks, "Did it work?"

"I'm sure I seemed pretty straight to the unfortunate Miss Dmitriyeva," Fel points out, dryly. "No. I made -him- uncomfortable when I called him on it. But I've seen the way he watches me, and the way he reacts to my presence."

"Hah!" Mara laughs. "He seemed pretty damn comfortable in my presences, buddy. Maybe a little too comfortable." She taps a finger against her chin and stares up at the ceiling. "We did kind of both succumb to an alcohol-induced lack of consciousness in the middle of snogging each other's brains out."

"It's not mutually exclusive," Fel points out, amused.

"I don't think you have to worry about Lawrence," Mara assures.

He merely nods sagely, amused. "So long as I have you to defend me."

"You defended my honour once, not that I had much to defend. I suppose I should return the favour." Mara grins and pulls herself back up to sit. "I should probably get the hell outta here. You should sleep more."

"I should," he says, ruefully. "Bring me the paperwork as soon as you can?"

"I'll send the right people your way. See you later, Felix." Mara climbs off the bed and quickly leaves the room.

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