2007-07-09: Leave Me Cold


Mara_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif

Summary: Some days… you just regret getting out of bed. Scene immediately follows Never Not.

Date It Happened: July 9, 2007

Leave Me Cold

Mara's Apartment

Sleep did not come easy after the late evening encounter in Midtown East. But one can only go on fighting sleep for so long before it finally claims them. So it goes that Mara had drifted off into an uneasy, yet deep sleep.

It is likely because of or in spite of this fact that she remains oblivious to what's happened around her. Tucked underneath the heavy off-white comforter, she shivers from the lingering chill from her earlier flight, and from the unmistakable fear that plagues her even in her dreams. Somehow, she manages a full eight hours of rest.

Sunlight streams through the windows and rouses the troubled woman. Mara's eyes flutter and she murmurs quietly as she rolls over to climb out of bed. The image that greets her causes her to halt in mid-movement as ice water suddenly flows into her veins.


Blood. The message is written in blood. It has to be. Nothing else looks like blood. And the smell. Oh God, the smell.

Mara sits up fully and stares at her desecrated wall in horror. I slept through that. How long did he watch me as I slept? Did he hope I would wake? Did he pray I would sleep long enough so as not to ruin the surprise? Is he here? Is he still in this room?

The only thing that forces Mara to her feet is the bile that burns the back of her throat, sending her hurrying for the bathroom to empty the contents of her stomach. Once purged, she leans over the sink, splashing cool water on her face before brushing her teeth and rinsing her mouth.

Don’t panic.

There are basic instincts that all people possess. And then there are learned behaviours that come from being in a certain line of work or growing up in certain circumstances. However they’re learned, when they kick in, they tend to be important. For most, fight or flight would have kicked in by now. But there isn’t anyone… No visible enemy for Mara to engage here. This would generally default to flight, one would imagine. But Mara simply takes a deep breath and re-enters her bedroom.

The first thing she does is retrieve her camera from a drawer at her bedside. She starts snapping photos of the scene from different angles. Then, her phone rings. Never before has she been so upset to hear the voice of Mika spring forth from the speaker of her phone. The camera is set aside on the bed as Mara retrieves her phone, eying the Caller ID. That is not a number she recognises.


“Hi! Um. Detective? … This is Niki. Niki Sanders? From Vegas?”

Sanders. This could be very bad. Mara bobs her head once and then verbally responds, “Yes. I know who you are. What can I do for you, Miss Sanders?”

Niki also hesitates for a moment; the faint shuffling of a phone being moved, maybe from ear to ear, is heard. “You said you wanted to help me.” It almost sounds like a challenge, but a mild challenge if there ever was one. “I think I might know a way.”

Mara doesn't skip a beat this time. She told Nathan last night that she wanted to be able to help people, after all. Now is her chance. There's a decisiveness in her voice as she answers, “Lay it on me.”

“The Company was gave me pills,” Niki explains on the other end of the line. “To help… with… my problems. I need to get my hands them again. I don't wanna go through Bob or … any of them. Can you help me?”

It’s a knee-jerk reaction, but Mara can’t help but voice the question that pops into her head, “Does she know you're planning to suppress her?” Jessica Sanders is not a woman to be trifled with.

Niki is struck silent for an instant. “I— I don't even know if… I might not even take them,” the woman explains, firm but evasive at the same time. “I just need them. In case.”

Mara seems to consider the situation. A moment of thoughtful silence as she perches herself on the edge of her bed, staring at the floor, rather than the wall in front of her. “I'll see what I can do for you, Miss Sanders. I'll be discreet.” Naturally. Or at least, one would hope. “Just the pills?”

Niki scoffs lightly into the phone; not quite a laugh, there's no humour there, and in fact, she sounds a tiny bit incredulous when she replies, “What else could I possibly need?”

Mara almost chuckles at that response. But it sounds more nervous than anything else. Money? Better housing? Extra protection for Micah? A pair of plane tickets out of the bloody country? A chance to start over? There are lots of things Mara could think of that Niki may or may not necessarily need, but want. “I've not a clue,” is what she vocalises, despite the thoughts kicking around her head, “but it would be rude of me not to offer, wouldn't it? Then again, seeking help from the Company is what gets us into trouble in the first place, isn't it?” Some people want to be cured. Others want protection. A chance to further their abilities – an outlet. And some just want to help, don’t they?

“If it gets you into trouble… why d'you help them?”

Why does anyone ever sleep with the enemy? Accepting Ed Boone’s offer to help after her flat was burned down was a mistake. But what’s a hunted woman to do? “Who said I'm helping them? I think you're assuming things.”

“I dunno. You do something for them, right?” Niki questions, “I mean— if you can get stuff for me. I know those people. They always want something from you.”

Too many questions, Miss Sanders. Mara closes her eyes and pinches the bridge of her nose. The question is, what do they want from her? The detective isn’t even sure she knows what the Company expects in return for the help she was given some months earlier. But Niki is right – they always want something. Admitting that she’s powerless in this situation, however, is not an option. She has to be in control of something right now. Maybe if she pretends enough, it’ll happen. “I do something for myself.” Liar. “If it benefits them as well? So be it. It helps to have influential people who find you useful when you're only doing something you would have done anyway.” That’s her story and she’s sticking to it. For at least the next five minutes.

Niki continues with the distinct addition of unease, but it doesn't tarnish her gratitude very much. “I'm just glad you'll help me, 'cause I didn't know where else to go. When do you think…?”

Good job, Mara. Alienate the poor woman. It doesn’t matter what she thinks, though. Mara will simply get those pills for Niki and help her out, whether or not she fully trusts her and her connections. One doesn’t have to agree with method, reasoning, or application to continue to network. “I'll talk to Doctor Suresh today. I'll call you tomorrow at the latest with a status update at the very least.”

“Doctor Suresh?” Deep breath, Niki. “Okay. …Thank you.”

Mara pauses for a moment, possibly judging Niki's reaction. What was that all about? “Is that a problem? I have no intention of telling him what they're truly for.” Whether she and Mohinder both intend to do their best to help Niki isn’t the issue, is it?

“I like Doctor Suresh. I do. He's sweet. I mean— our kids have playdates.” Niki can't help but laugh for a moment. “Just— be careful? Sometimes I can't tell how … I dunno –” Another sigh. “ –loyal he is. To them.”

Mara believes she has a fairly good nothing about that. “I'm well aware of Suresh's loyalties. Which is why I won't be mentioning your name at all.” She wants to trust Mohinder. And she does trust him. Mostly. It’s just that she knows what happened at Kirby Plaza, when Hiro Nakamura gathered his band to mount a rescue attempt and extract Peter Petrelli. She was supposed to be with them, but something happened to derail that… Another glance is cast to the bloodied message scrawled over her bedroom wall. Yeah. That monster happened. “Don't worry, Miss Sanders. You'll be protected in this matter.”

“Thank you, Detective.”

“Anytime. I will speak to you again tomorrow. Unless there's something else…?”

Niki replies, friendly enough: “No, that's it.”

“Until tomorrow, then. Take care of yourself.”

“You, too.” Once Niki ends the call, Mara sets her phone aside again.

Staring at the blood on the wall, she drags her fingers through her still messy hair, damp around the forehead from the water splashed earlier. Photos? Check. She snaps a few on her phone as well, for good measure. Then she stands up from the bed and hurries first to the kitchen to retrieve a box of Ziplocs, and then a box of Q-tips from the bathroom.

With trembling fingers, Mara begins gathering samples of blood on the end of each Q-tip, depositing each one in its own Ziploc, and setting them in perfect rows on her bed.

Once satisfied that she’s done enough there, she stashes the boxes again and returns with a magic marker and a roll of masking tape. Each bag is labeled for the letter or word it was taken from. There may be multiple victims here. This blood is almost assuredly human.

Dammit, Demsky. This is your territory. Mara stares at the wall and pushes her bangs from her face with a shuddering sigh. “Shit.” Photos. Samples. What else? What would Holly do? What would Holly need? Think, dammit. Think.


Back to the bathroom. Mara grabs a compact of loose foundation powder, a brush, and then grabs a roll of Scotch tape from the kitchen. She opens the door and then applies the powder to the doorknob in the hallway. Damn. So… which ones are hers? Are any of them his? Either way, she attempts to lift a partial print from the knob with the tape, which she then stares at in dismay. No slide. What will make a makeshift—


She dashes to the kitchen again, pushing the door closed behind her with her foot. A glass is retrieved from the cupboard and the tape is applied to the bottom of it. Maybe it'll be enough. Well, it's going to have to be.

Lined up on the kitchen counter now are the Ziploc bags of blood samples, the glass with the fingerprint lift, and the camera. Standing in no more than a man's dress shirt, she stares at her phone, and hits the speed dial for her partner.

“This is Damaris. I have a situation.”

Continued in Toying

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