The Pleasantries are Gone

Warnings: Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Pairings: Other Pairings

Characters: Mark, Lucas, OC, Others

Chapter Summary:

*Written for The Fanfiction Workshop April-May 2010 Challenge: Write Yourself, 365themes: 11. Desperate, 500themes: 8. Breathtaking reality* Being lost in a story is usually a fun idea, but when the story hasn't ended yet and you know the final chapters...

Author's Note: This first part was originally written for a challenge were I was to literally write myself (a self-insertion). However, after watching the last episode of the show, I got a great idea on how to continue things so I changed the OC from me to an actual character.

"Well, " Marie said, finally coming to accept that her eyes were fully open and that what she was seeing was certainly not a dream. "I'm in an alley."

She had shot up at first, being fully prepared to take off running when she realized she was in a strange location, but the fact that she had no idea where she was kept her still. With seemingly no one else in the vicinity, Marie took a few moments to try and settle herself while glancing completely around, taking great note of every object close by. She knew she had just been in her apartment, she knew she had just opened the door to step outside, what she didn't know is how that had somehow translated into her laying unconscious in some strange alleyway.

Marie checked her clothes and herself for any evidence that something bad might have happened but she looked and felt fine. There was no bump on the head, sure she had a headache but that could mean anything, and her clothes all looked exactly as they should. She knew that wasn't definitive evidence that she hadn't been attacked but for now it was all she had to go on. The area around her seemed a bit chaotic, like a strong wind had knocked over everything, but the fact that it was an alley meant it could have looked like that for months.

The only thing she had to work with was a small amount of light coming from the basement window of the giant warehouse like building next to her. Marie want to run, to find help, but her mind was so momentarily frazzled that she couldn't do anything but watch the room beyond the window. Had she been down there, in that room, she probably wouldn't have been able to move at all. It wouldn't be because she was incapable, but rather because her eyes were beginning to understand that the things moving around on the other side of the dirty glass were in fact people. While walking up in a strange alley is bad enough, walking up in a strange basement surrounded by strange people would have probably seemed something akin to hell.

Marie couldn't hear anything that was being said but it didn't matter, the thoughts in her head would have drowned everything else away. Perhaps these are the people who kidnapped her, perhaps they heard something and could help her... she had no idea. This whole thing was crazy she decided, including herself in that as well. Marie figured she was probably just freaking herself out, that perhaps she had actually been walking down the alley and hit her head when she slipped or something. There had to be a logical explanation she knew that, people didn't just randomly jump from place to place through space.

She moved slightly on her knees, intending to stand up, and caused a shaft of sunlight to fall over her shoulder and directly onto a light haired man standing near the window. Marie glanced back through the glass when she had gotten up onto one knee and immediately jerked backwards. The man in the room had looked up and out the window when he saw the shadows move across the walls, now he was looking directly at her. He moved quickly, she didn't. Her mind had become to frenetic to allow any further information to register. Waking up in a strange place and having to face off against some creep who had kidnapped you she could handle, well handle as well as anyone could, but this... waking up in a strange place and starring straight into the face of an actor she saw almost every week on television? Her mind lapsed back into the 'this is all a dream' possibility.

But as much as she wanted to believe that, all her senses and functions were fighting against her, in vivid detail, on overload. The only thought that pushed through the haze to form complete words in her head was "tv set..." The fact that there weren't any tv studios even remotely close to her home could not enter her mind. The only other explanation, while it might be one her brain would normally -and happily- entertain, now seemed like a nightmare. Yet if, miraculously, that somehow was the case, then she was now about to come face to face with a very bad man.

Movement at one end of the alleyway managed to catch her eye and she half scrambled, half jumped up in time for the man, along with several others, to completely emerge from around the corner. "Who are you?" the man asked, the voice mixing with his face in Marie's mind and making it a certainty that this was exactly who she was thinking of.

She couldn't answer, at least not right away. Her mind was to busy trying to go through the hundreds of possible ways that she could have ended up on a tv set which was in all probability located on the other side of the country. Marie forcibly closed her eyes and took several quick breaths to try and calm herself down but it did little good except to tense her muscles and fill her blood with adrenaline. "I..." she started, trying to force out speech, but then cleared her throat when nothing more would come.

"What are you doing here?" the man asked and Marie could tell he was moving closer to her, slowly closing the distance between them and making her nerves ready to prickle right through her skin.

She took one last long breath before opening her eyes and looked at him closely, the adrenaline now taking over and focusing her mind on one task, survival. "I don't... I don't know," she answered with complete honesty. As more and more of her senses became excessively and acutely aware of every detail of her surroundings, Marie was starting to accept that her day dreams were indeed becoming real. It just wasn't in her imagination to believe that in true, natural reality opening the door to go outside could landed her in some crazy location, at least not with today's science anyway.

Her mind began to settle on the likelihood that she was somehow in another dimension; it was an idea that strangely bothered her less than if she had actually somehow managed to travel through space across the US. But this acceptance came at a high prize and it put her in a very dangerous situation. Her estimation of the man in front of her had to be turned completely on its head. This wasn't the actor playing the character, it was the character. This wasn't the set, it was the actual world, and now she had to find some way to survive until she could figure out exactly what accursed miracle had brought her there in the first place.

The man took a few more steps closer to her as Marie forcibly and quickly started rewriting the old views and functions of her mind in order to react the way she needed to. It was a tense, surreal sort of moment and her mind was almost over run with the idea that she would wake up at any second but that relief never came. Instead, the whole scene was interrupted by a set of sirens and blue lights that came barreling down on them from the nearby roadway. Marie instinctively ran towards them, the fact that a group of people stood in her way made no difference to her as yelled for help. Two police men exited the car, drew their weapons, and demanded to know what was going on as she took covered behind them. The officers said something about receiving several calls about a loud disturbance in the area while the man Marie was desperate to get away from stepped through to the front and tried to explain it was all a misunderstanding.

"It's alright Lucas," Marie said and he stopped talking abruptly, undoubtedly the fact that she knew his name added to his concern over her being there in the first place. His expression of surprise, however, was instantly hidden behind a mask of calm propriety. For her, his reaction to the name confirmed that she was in a completely new, and foreign, world. "I don't want to cause any trouble, I just... I just want to go to the police station now."

Marie kept her eyes down as one of the officers led her to the back of the patrol car and the other spoke briefly with Lucas. When the car finally started to move away from the scene, Marie say the full scope of where she was. This weren't the building she knew, this wasn't the world she knew, but she did know that she had to think fast or she would be in even bigger trouble than riding in the back of a police car with no way to prove who she was. Lucas was not a character, a person, that one wanted to cross or to even cross paths with. Yet, of this world, she knew of several people that she did want to meet, if only for protection, and as one of the police men asked her name she cut him off, "I will only speak with Agent Mark Bedford of the FBI."

They didn't question her after that and Marie was surprised when they pulled up in front of the FBI field office shortly after. In all her hurry to figure out what to do next, she had completely forgotten that Lucas and Mark were both based in the same area. Her need to come up with a way to get Mark to help her was now slapping her in the face and as they marched her into his office, Marie fell back on the only thing she could think of. "Sorry, I don't know who this girl is," Mark was saying to one of the officers and she just dove in head first, consequences be damned.

"I need to hear the answer to one question from you, it's just one word. I want you to tell me what color lipstick he used on the mirror. Do you understand?"

The officers looked at her confused but her eyes were locked on Mark's and his, in turn, looked as if she had just told him the answer to all of life's mysteries. Marie knew she had gotten his full attention; attention she wasn't sure she really wanted but knew she needed. On the short drive to the office she had gone over everything in her head again, everything she knew about the show and everything she had seen in that alley. The only logical reason for it all that she could come up with was that Lucas and his crazy scientist friends must have been messing with the laws of physics right then in their attempt to create more flash forwards, or whatever they were trying to achieve in the long run, and she had somehow slipped through a crack in spacetime or the universe or sanity... whichever.

"Mess with one piece of reality and screw it all up apparently," she had thought extremely sarcastically. But no matter the reason of how she had gotten here, the fact that she was here and here with absolutely nothing, meant she had to turn to someone for help. That someone, the only people she knew she could trust in all this madness, was Mark and his partner Demetri.

However, sitting in Mark's office and looking up at the Mosaic board, Marie wasn't sure she could go through with things. Those consequences she had damned earlier were creeping back up inside her and she couldn't stop imaging what came next. The questions they would ask, answers they would try and drill out of her... she didn't want to get involved, she didn't want to become "part of the show," but at this point she really had no choice. There was no way for her to know how long she would have to stay, and if this was now her permanent home, than she needed a way to create a new life. One that didn't involve trying to explain to everyone that she really was Marie, but just happened to be from a different universe.

Mark, meanwhile, sat across from her and looked over a file Dem had just brought in. "Well, so far it looks like your photo and fingerprints don't match any on file and until you give us a name I'm inclined to not believe a word you say." He clasped his hands over the file and looked at her as if she was now supposed to just spill everything for him right then and there.

Marie felt a wave of celebration sweep through her, it was a relief to know they couldn't really match her to anyone in this reality. The last thing she wanted to hear come out of his mouth was something along the lines of "well Miss Key, I don't know how you know about the lipstick and the mirror, but we've called your parents..." If she actually existed here and this was all real than she knew she belonged in a mental institute, utterly and completely.

"I'm sorry Mark," she started to say, without really knowing where she was going with it, but he leaned back in his chair and looked at her skeptically, raising a hand to stop her.

"I might not understand a lot of what's been happening these past few months but what I do know, for a fact, is that there was no one else in that room. So, how could you possibly know about the lipstick on the mirror? Hmm?"

Marie looked at the floor, she knew it probably hadn't been the best thing to ask him about but she had to say something big enough to get him to listen. Now she was faced not only with the thought of spilling the beans on alternate realities but also telling them how their stories were going to end. Not that she had seen the last episode of the series yet, nor did she know exactly where in the shows timeline she was, but she knew enough that just slipping up and saying a noun or verb out of place could change the outcome of everything.

"What? Nothing to say now? Now that your here, now that your preventing us from dealing with more important things..." Mark grew more frustrated and angry as he went on and Marie knew she would have to say something fast or he might just through her in a prison cell and toss the key. But talking without thinking everything over first is what had landed her on the wrong side of Mark's emotions to begin with and she wasn't too keen on digging herself a bigger hole.

"I can't answer all your questions. I just..."

"Just what? Needed some help getting out of a California jail cell so you thought you come hang out with the FBI?" asked Dem and uncrossed his arms to come kneel down next to her. "No, I think it's more than that. You see, the cops told us that you were trying to get away from a guy named Lucas. A guy, who looks surprisingly similar to this guy here." Dem held up a sketch of Lucas and Marie reacted.

An involuntary intake of breath and a quick widening of her eyes told them they had hit a sore spot. Marie looked away and silently cursed several times. Everything she had done to try and help herself survive this psychotic situation was coming back to haunt her. Perhaps it would have been better to just wander the streets, anything would be better than having the people she was going to for help try and link her to the very man they were trying to hunt down.

"Why don't you help yourself out and tell us about him?" Mark asked and Marie looked up at him, almost castigating him for talking to her like she was a child in the principal's office. Thankfully however, her brain reminded her of the gravity of the situation she was in before her mouth opened.

She looked back over to the sketch of Lucas and, even though it had given them something to use against her, Marie was glad they had brought it out. Seeing that picture let her know exactly where they were on the timeline and she put her writing skills into overdrive as she tried to think of what she could and could not say. For a fleeting moment she again thought about just telling them everything she knew about Lucas and the blackout. She pushed the urge aside though as she knew it wouldn't really help anything. For, as much as she knew the answers to many of their questions, she didn't know all of them.

She didn't know when the next blackout would occur, she might know Lucas, but she didn't know how far the conspiracy went. Hell, she didn't even know if the show would end the same as the book. Anything she told them that pertained to the book could be completely wrong and get her into more trouble. Marie cursed silently again at her luck of arriving there just a day before the final episode of the show was scheduled to air. Afterwards, however, a series of intriguing thoughts occurred to her. In her reality they were about to show the last episode and yet here they were only on the second to last. It seemed like things were running slower here. Did that mean she had somehow gone back in time too? ... Marie growled frustratedly and lowered her head into her hands. She couldn't think about that stuff now!

"I don't know him. I know his name, but I don't know him. I only just met him." Marie pulled her head up and ran her hands through her hair. She stopped for a moment to consider if she should continue or wait a few hours until she knew they would have Lucas in custody.

"Then why so eager to get away from him?" Mark asked, obviously still looking at her as a potential suspect.

"Your FBI, haven't you ever just known a bad guy when you saw one?"

"Alright," Dem remarked, trying to fit his interrogation skills in with her attitude. "That still doesn't explain why you came here and asked Mark about the mirror though. Why not just have the police take you home?"

Home. It was a word that stung as places and faces came together instantly in her mind. Marie could feel herself growing flush with emotion and she let it over take her rather than hold it back. As much as she needed the release, she also hoped it would force Mark and Dem into giving her time to "calm down." Dem looked over at Mark who let out an audible sigh of frustration, and was about to say something, when the door opened and Marie heard a voice saying Mark was needed for the Hellinger bust. Mark looked back over at her and she quickly covered her reaction to hearing Lucas' last name with more tears. He told Dem to put her in one of the conference rooms, with a guard, while they brought down Lucas. Adding that, if she didn't start talking, he was going to make sure that she and Lucas meet up again real soon. It was a threat that Marie knew, as much as she wanted to trust in Mark, that he would follow through with.

Once she was alone, well as alone as one could be in the guarded glass-walled conference room in the middle of an FBI field office, her brain went into overdrive yet again. She tried to imagine every avenue she could use to explain how she didn't exist and the hundreds of other questions that popped up in her mind as she thought of the horrible joke the universe had played on her. They all seemed to end with the same unanswerable question: "are you crazy?"

The heavy thinking took its toll and it was only several hours later that she became aware of the conference room again as the office area outside of its glass walls began filling with a large group of particularly noisy people. The nearby clock showed it was getting very late and Marie began to wonder if anyone was ever going to take her to a place where she could sleep for the night. She gazed down at the handcuffs Mark had placed around her wrists before leaving and absentmindedly scratched at them while joking with herself about whether or not sleeping would help her "wake up."

As Marie smiled at the backwardness of this, she heard the door open and looked over to see who had come in. Instantly, she knew that all her options to avoid telling them what she knew had gone. Lucas adjusted his handcuffed wrists and pulled a chair out to sit next to her, he smiled. "Well, hello again."