2007-05-20: Lost in the Battle



Guest Starring: Doctor Eames

Summary: Mara has her first session with her new psychologist and surprises herself by opening up.

Date It Happened: May 20, 2007

Lost in the Battle

Doctor Eames' Office

The office is located in a handsome brownstone, and its interior is outfitted cosily with warm tones, but nevertheless has the distinct atmosphere of being a place of business. Comfortable chairs, some magazines that are remarkably in-date, and a desk with a receptionist who works diligently on the computer. Every time someone enters - which is rarely; clients are timed just so, to keep confidentiality as best they can - she stops her work to pleasantly inquire, "Hi. Name, please?"

"Damaris," Mara offers evenly. She takes in the warm atmosphere of the office appreciatively. Well, at least he's got something right. It's almost /too/ pleasant. Nice. Whatever. It isn't enough to lull her into some sort of sense of security. Then again, the detective never much relaxes outside of her own home without the aid of a stiff drink.

"You're just on time," the receptionist informs Mara, triumphant. Way to go! "Dr. Eames will see you now." She presses a button on her phone, apparently alerting the psychologist that his next patient has arrived. "He's just down that hall."

The short corridor only has one obvious office door. Beyond that, the room that Dr. Eames makes his office in. It's full of striking furniture, all of which is comfortable and all of which is almost certainly antique. It's dim, but not hinderingly so. The doctor himself sits in a chair across from a matching chair and couch, waiting for Mara with a notepad tucked between himself and the arm of the chair. He's wearing similar attire as the day before, but in a darker shade, and as before, he's polishing his glasses. On the low, unobtrusive coffee table (slightly off-center) is a cup of steaming black coffee with milk, soy milk, cream, and sugar laid out, as well as a teapot and extra cups — for variety.

Mara makes her way down the hallway quickly. She's dressed in a pair of wide-leg, tan dress slacks, a button-down shirt a shade of blue-green that conjures up mental images of the ocean and chunky bracelets of turquoise stones strung together snug around both wrists. The top three buttons of her shirt are left undone so as to, in Mara's mind, keep the ensemble from looking too terribly professional, while looking vaguely flirty. Of course, the green Converse hightops might help achieve that goal moreso than the (un)buttons of her shirt. Tied around her throat is a sheer black scarf, like one would expect to see more at home in 1950s style.

"Doctor Eames," she greets congenially enough. She approaches the man first to shake his hand before addressing coffee. Soy milk? Hm. Mara inspects the cream first. Real cream is always her first choice. Failing that, it's a splash of soy. It should come as little surprise to the psychologist when his patient, once content with the shade of her coffee, chooses the chair, rather than the couch, crossing her legs comfortably and taking a sip from her mug. "Go on, then. Your show."

"How are you, Mara?" rumbles Dr. Eames after he shakes her hand, just as firm as the first time. Said hand is returned to his glasses, which he slides neatly onto his face. Their small, round wire frames are delicate for his rugged features. "This is in fact your show," he points out carefully - no sudden movements, don't scare the animals. Leaning ahead with a faint creak of leather from his chair, he slowly takes one of the empty cups and pours himself a cup of tea. Green, by look and scent. "I was glad you made an appointment so soon. Though," he says as the tea streams into his cup. "I hope it's as much because you want to be here, rather than to get this over as quickly as possible."

"What I want is to get back to work," Mara responds smoothly. "As quickly as possible. So, to accomplish that, I must be here, mustn't I? Ergo, I want to be here." She's certain the answer won't satisfy him, but it is honest, isn't it? "So, six of one, half a dozen of another? You're a means to an end, Doctor." She submits him to her keen scrutiny before she finally decides to state something that's clearly been on her mind since she walked in the door. "You're a Company man, but I have enough respect for you to tell you right now that that means I don't trust you."

Dr. Eames does not flinch under scrutiny, though that shouldn't be surprising; what kind of psychologist would he be if he did? He scrutinizes Mara right back, through his calm stare, beyond the lenses of his glasses. Before he responds to any one word, he takes a sip of tea and slowly places it back on the coffee table. "I understand your issues with the Company," he tells her. "And I would like to talk openly about them. But you met the Company only in recent times, and I would rather we start at the beginning. For that, I need your mind to be open to the possibility of trusting me, even if it's down the road from now." Dr. Eames waves a hand slowly. "You're a psychometer. Please, tell me about the first time you remember experiencing your ability."

So the file does really say that now? Lovely. Well, it's as good a place to start as any. "Thank God. Here, I was afraid you were going to ask me about my Mum." You leave my mother out of this. "I don't remember when the visions started. I was having them before I realised what they were. I was passing out at crime scenes and having these horrible nightmares of what had happened there. I just thought it was stress. And the doctors couldn't find anything wrong with me. I honestly never really had this epiphany where I snapped out of a vision and said, 'My God! I can see the past!' It was just kind of something that seemed… Intuitive. Like it just happened and one day I just realised that that's what it was." It's obvious that the origins of her ability even puzzle Mara. "It's like I kind of always knew what was going on. Almost like a sense of deja vu. Like being somewhere you don't remember visiting, but knowing where you're going. But only you realise later that it isn't something fantastic. You visited as a child and part of you remembers the place, but you'd forgotten in your immediate memory." She's babbling. And this is why the department thinks she's crackers. "Does that make any sense at all?"

Unlike the department, the psychologist's reply is this: "Yes. Of course." Dr. Eames, having been listening diligently - though, notably, not writing anything down - seems to accept Mara's 'babbling', as it were, as truth. Furthermore, he smiles. It's barely present, a crinkling of his eyes more than a full-fledged smile: I understand you, and you're not insane. "It's possible that your visions became so vivid /because/ of stress, you weren't wrong; the shock of a crime scene…" He shakes his head slowly. "And your colleagues; you were falling sick, passing out. They must have thought…?"

"They think I'm a looney," Mara answers as seamlessly as though she'd taken the words from his mouth and spoken them on his behalf. "I mean, I'm not. I see the things. I mean… I hope /you/ believe that, Mister Company Doctor Man." Yeah. That's your new official title. Do you like it? I came up with it all on my own. Before she continues, she waits for confirmation that, yes, he's aware that she isn't fabricating her ability. There's no point in talking if he has doubts.

"I believe you. I require no proof but your word." Dr. Eames retrieves his tea and takes a sip; afterward, when it's placed on the coffee table once more, he folds his hands on his knees. "The department gave you… trouble, for their perception of you. Your work was affected," he says, blurring the lines between 'statements' and 'questions'. "But it wasn't your fault, it was the fault of your genetics — or, as some believe, the merit of your genetics; how did you deal with your colleagues?"

Definitely going with merit on this one. "I didn't, really." Mara shrugs. "My friends were still my friends. I didn't ever try to explain what was happening, because I was certain nobody would believe me. I probably wouldn't have believed me. I mean, everyone treated me differently in a professional capacity, sure. I know they were walking on eggshells around me, wondering when I'd faint again. The prevailing consensus was, and likely still is, that I've got a brain tumor and one of these times, I'm going to just drop dead." This doesn't seem to bother Detective Damaris. "I was desked. Removed from cases… I hated it, but my lieutenant had to do what she felt was best. I'd have desked me, too. I can't be out on the street if I'm not reliable. I get that. I've made my peace with it and I don't mind it. It's fine." She seems genuine about that. "But I just wish they would stop looking at me like I'm nuts. Or like they're looking at a dead woman already."

"Do you resent them for perceiving you the way they do? You would have done the same, but it's natural to feel some antagonism for something you have no control over. I imagine this escalated when…" Danger zone, danger zone; converse to the subject he's about to breech, Dr. Eames leans casually back and steeples his fingers underneath his chin as he regards Mara. "…well, the Gray case had something to do with your being desked. Let's talk about that."

It's evident in a flicker in her eyes. Mara's foundation was rocked. "Which one?" she asks with her lips curving into a sort of ironic smile. "My partner and I were on the Virginia Gray case for quite some time before her son Gabriel fell into my lap. Catching him got me back into the good graces." And being caught by him is what caused her to fall out again. Coffee is set aside in favour of crossing her arms just under her chest. A closed position. She's guarding herself. "He pulled a gun on me, Suresh came upon the scene and managed to tag Gray in the shoulder, we grappled, and I subdued the man. I did what I had to do to get him off the streets. I did my job." There is no small amount of conviction there. It would likely be an impossible task to convince Mara that she went too far. Or that what she did came anywhere close to brutality. She believes - no. In her mind, she /knows/ Gabriel Gray got what he deserved.

Another difference between the beliefs of the NYPD and Dr. Eames presents itself: he knows what Sylar is really capable of. Nonetheless… "I can't tell you that engaging a serial killer with a penchant for … hurting people higher on the evolutionary ladder than the average joe is an acceptable idea," he begins, then holds up a hand gently. "But I understand why you reacted so strongly. He's a monster, and you were threatened. Did you feel personally threatened by Gabriel Gray from the beginning? Did he know, from the beginning, that you were different?"

"He suspected. He caught me on Reed Street, you see." Mara frowns faintly, as though the act of recalling the details of that day is difficult. It isn't. "He saw that I had been talking to Mohin-" The detective's breath catches in her throat before she can finish the name. Two syllables too late. "/Doctor Suresh/," she corrects. "I told him I thought Suresh was a crackpot and that I didn't have an ability. At the time, I didn't… All I knew was that I couldn't let him know that I had an ability, because it was what he wanted. I knew he killed people like me. I had hoped that by saying I was… normal, as people like to say, that he would decide to just walk away." She closes her eyes for a brief moment, so as to hide the fear that she's sure will reflect in her eyes as she recounts her story. "To answer your question, was I threatened by him personally? Yeah. But I always take it personal when some bloke pulls a gun on me and says he's gonna shoot me." She picks up her coffee again. Coffee makes everything better when Earl Grey's not at hand. "To answer your second question more thoroughly, he still has no idea what I can do."

Here, Dr. Eames tips his head back and is silent for a moment or two. … Or three, or four. He's doing that psychoanalyzing thing, no doubt, although his expression is about as kind as it gets. "You could have had the chance to start anew. Of course I'm getting ahead of myself; but while we're on the subject of Gray, I'd like to hear your side of the story, so to speak, Mara. More coffee?" He stands to slowly walk around the chair to the coffee pot, which he hovers above Mara's cup in offering. He still offers, even as he eases back into his seat. "Even though you know he may still be after you," the psychologist's brow furrows. "You came back. Some would call this move courageous…" Others, daft. Dr. Eames makes no obvious judgment.

"So your question is, then, am I dumb?" Mara holds her cup out for a refill, which she adds nothing to. "I suppose. It really is such a subjective thing, innit?" She smiles faintly. "But that isn't what you asked me, is it? It isn't what you're interested in. You want to know what /I/ think of what I've done, yeh?" She tips her head back against the chair as she nurses the cup of mostly black coffee. God, it shouldn't be this easy talking to him, but it is. It's nice to get all of this out with someone who doesn't say 'yeah, well, this is what /I/ would have done!' "It's courage, I guess. I love this city… It's my home. My friends are here. People like me are /here/. I mean, I know we're supposedly all over the bloody world, but I'm not too keen to start over on the 'who's safe, who isn't?' guessing game." But that isn't the whole point, either. Mara sits forward again, elbows on her knees. She meets Doctor Eames eyes and holds his gaze as she tells him the most true thing she's ever spoken: "I can't let him win." She sets her face in a look of determination. "If I keep running, if I stay in hiding, if I never look back, if I never face him again, he wins. And I know there's a way to beat him."

Dr. Eames nods at appropriate points - though, notably, not to the first question. He seems satisfied, in some way, with his patient's answers - perhaps that they've been given in the first place. Rather than comment on everything she's confessed - his judgments are kept up in his head - and instead of adding advice, this time, he asks more questions. "And do you plan to find it," he points with all his steepled fingers. "A way? At what cost?" It's a sincere question, rather than an accusation of any kind.

It's a fair question, really. "I do. I /will/ find a way to beat him. To stop him. He has to be stopped at /any/ cost." That would explain the current arrangement, wouldn't it? Mara takes another long drink from her coffee. "My superiors need to know that I'm serious about this, right? That I'm going to do my job? Well, I am. My job is to put people like Gray away. I'm homicide. It's what I do. It's the only thing I know /how/ to do."

"Mm. Yes. They do," Dr. Eames agrees, taking a sip of his tea, then going for a refill. "My concerns are a … bit different, looking out for your best interests and not only that of the department and, of course, everyone at risk from this man. You've seen that if you get too close you inevitably get burned. Doing your job is one thing… unintentional self-destruction is another. I wouldn't want you to lose yourself in the battle, Mara."

"Listen, Eames." Mara gives him her I'm A Tough Cop eyes, a look she learned from her lieutenant. "I've stared death in the face and I'm still breathing. And he still can't kill me. I'm not afraid anymore." Maybe that part isn't exactly true, but if you tell the same lie long enough… "So, what you really want to know, to clarify, is if I'm too close?"

"I believe 'too close' is an easy place to get to when it comes to the subject." Anywhere is too close to Sylar, non? "Caution is the better part of valor, they say, but delve to deep and it becomes obsession. Forgive me for being blunt, Mara: I do think you're afraid," Dr. Eames tells her simply, though his next words are considerably less so. "You didn't run, but if you weren't afraid, you wouldn't be fighting so hard to stay. To overcome your fear; to win, as you said."

Mara lets out a slow, even breath.

Right before she cracks.

"I'm doing what I have to do!" she cries out in a voice that breaks with emotion. "Nobody else understands, but I /do/! I know I have the ability to stop him! I may not know what to do yet, or how to do it, or how to start, but I know I'm made of tough enough stuff to do it. So I have to stay. Don't you understand? There isn't anybody else who /will/." That isn't true. Some things are better left unsaid, though.

"You're not alone in your efforts, Mara," Dr. Eames tries to assure the woman. "I'm sure it must feel that way; I understand. You've been through a lot, and it's no wonder you feel so strongly," he says; there's an underlying 'but' to his words, but it never quite emerges. Instead: "I think that's enough for today. Please, feel free to finish your coffee."

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