Title: The Dead Leaves, They All Blow
Pairing/Character: Mark and Demetri, gen.
Disclaimer: Not mine, and no profit is made. The title is taken from Band of Horses' 'The Funeral' lyrics.
Summary: The wry smile makes a reappearance, with an additional twisted edge that makes it look more like a grimace than a smile. "The sooner the better, right?"
Notes: This is taking place in the first episode.
He could be downright self-centered, Mark has no problem admitting that. Just like he also has no trouble admitting he's always been a little too self-absorbed in his own world sometimes it's hard to immediately relate to the real world.
That's why he doesn't notice Demetri's reaction—or lack of one—until Wedeck drills each of their flash-forwards out of them. Even then, he dismisses it in favor of planning the whole Mosaic investigation in his head, his mind already conjuring up possibilities for the party responsible, as well as their motives.
It's not until he's halfway matching things up to decorate his Mosaic wall, scraps papers and spilled ink and hazy words from his jumbled up memory, that he remembers how quiet Demetri has been. For a guy who always talks his way out of anything, his momentary silence is rather unusual. Coupled with the fact that Dem also looks a bit pale and drawn, almost like he's out of his skin, out of his element, like too much thoughts and no way out – which is just… not Demetri.
What about you? What did you see? Wedeck had asked.
Nothing, Demetri had said. I, uh, I blacked out like everybody else, and woke up on the road.
Mark's pen stills as it finally hits him.
Demetri did not have a flash-forward.
He barely makes it into the men's room before he empties his stomach on the toilet bowl, his hands shaking slightly as he grips the toilet seat.
Closing his eyes, he tries to recall every detail, every little thing Demetri did or said ever since the Black Out, trying to look from every possible angle, every cranny and nook that he might have missed, anything—anything at all to prevent himself from thinking why, exactly, Demetri didn't have a flashforward.
Because the answer? Is unacceptable.
Never before Mark hates how he always trusts his guts. Especially since more often than not, his gut is always right. And right now, his guts keeps whispering the one thing he doesn't want to hear – the probable cause for Demetri's lack of flashforward (future).
He doesn't want to know. Ever.
So he escapes the bathroom and goes back to his office, where the pieces of his Mosaic investigation lie, hoping it would distract him from the thought of his partner's apparent (inevitable) doom.
Except when he arrives, Demetri is already there, at his desk, reading one of the scattered papers on its surface.
Nothing, Demetri had said.
Gripping the door frame, he tries to steady himself, telling his erratic breathing to calm the fuck down.
"I see you've started without me." Demetri says, turning around, offering him a wry smile.
"Yeah, well. The sooner the better, I guess." He walks over to his desk, hands immediately shuffling through the papers. "Especially while it's still fresh in our mind." And as soon as the words leave his mouth, he feels like smacking himself in the head. Right. Very smooth. What a time to be an insensitive jerk.
But Demetri only lets out a rueful laugh. "Only you, partner. Only you." He tilts his head to the side. "Well… you and Janis, actually."
He snags the proffered topic like a lifeline. "How's Janis' project coming along?"
"The website? Almost done, I believe. She's running it by Wedeck as I speak."
Mark raises an eyebrow. "Efficient as always, I see."
The wry smile makes a reappearance, with an additional twisted edge that makes it look more like a grimace than a smile. "The sooner the better, right?"
Mark is watching him, but Dem is staring resolutely at a piece of paper in his hand. Mark doesn't need a mind reader to know the particular thought that seems to be troubling his partner at the moment. Hell, by now, he's sure the whole office knows about Dem's lack of flashforward. While sooner or later they're going to talk about it, he's not sure he's at all ready for the former.
So much for being a dependable partner.
"Help me put these up, will you?" he shoves a handful of paper onto Demetri's hands, and turns his back to rummage some more through the scattered things over his desk.
He feels the heat of a gaze burning on his back, and knows Demetri's watching him right now. Waiting. For him to say something else. But he refrains from lifting his eyes, and a moment later, Demetri is standing in from of the Mosaic board, carefully sticking the notes as Mark instructing him to.
But it can't last.
As stubborn as Mark can be, Demetri could give him a run for his money on the stubborn department. So it's really no surprise then, when a solid half hour later, Demetri broaches the subject with a tone that fails to be casual.
Honestly? Mark's surprised Dem manages to hold on as long as he does – considering every half minute Mark's mind keeps coming back to it, despite his resolution not to think about it.
"Maybe it means you'll be sleeping six months from now." But the words feel hollow, empty, and sound like an excuse it really is – even to his own ear.
"If I was sleeping, why wasn't I dreaming?"
There's something, in Demetri's tone, that forces Mark to glance at him. But Demetri's eyes are not turned to his direction; there's a faraway look in his eyes, an almost frown on his forehead, and Mark had a feeling Demetri had run every other possibilities – other than the most obvious one – in his own head at least thrice, analyzing them from every angle (much like Mark had), before discarding them as impossible. It is, after all, his own dea—lack of flashforward, Mark reminds himself, lack of flashforward, and nothing else—that he's about to face, and not his partner's.
If Mark thinks it's terrible, then he just doesn't want to know how much worse it is for Demetri.
"Look, I never remember my dreams." Mark feels like kicking himself at how lame, how…degrading, that sounds.
A blessed pause, in which Mark does his best not to look at Demetri, while Demetri seems trying to do his best not to let his agitation show.
"Stop. Alright?" Dem's voice shakes at the last word, and Mark doubles his effort not to look at him—even as he feels Dem's eyes boring into him, willing him to—
"We're both thinking the same thing, so let's just say it." Dem continues, taking a big gulp of air, like he's preparing himself for something terrible.
Maybe he should stop him; after all, nothing is real until it is given words, right? Because to say something is to give it power, right? So he should stop him. Try to make Dem understand. That maybe—just maybe—if they could hold off from saying it out loud, it wouldn't come true.
Of course, the Nile is also not only the name of a river in Egypt.
"What if I didn't see anything because six months from now... I'm gonna be dead?"
The words are rushed, like Dem's rushing to get them out all at once. So he could be done with it and never look back. So he could move on.
God knows they all need to.
But then again, how could you move on from your own death?
You don't, that's how.
Mark chances a glance at his partner; Dem's looking down at his own feet, though from the faraway look in his eyes, he might as well not looking at anything at all. His shoulders hunched, a frown on his forehead, and an unhappy line on his lips.
He looks simply miserable.
Mark looks at the piece of yellow paper in his hands. You might not be able to move on, but at least you can still stop it from controlling your life completely.
Then awkwardly, he clears his throat. "You know I got your back, right?"
Demetri looks at him. Raises an eyebrow. The beginning of a smile—or a grimace—on the corner of his lips. "Yeah?"
"And I won't let anything happen to you." Mark tells him firmly, in a tone that brooks no argument nor leaves any doubt. He clears his throat again, then raises his eyes to meet Demetri's. "After all, that's what partners are for, right?" Please, trust me.
It's late at night, even for FBI standard, and the sky outside Mark's windows is dark. There're only a handful of people left in the building, and the only sound that could be heard is the soft tick tock, tick tock from the clock on Mark's desk.
For a few moments, they hold each other's eyes.
What's going on behind Demetri's, Mark could only guess. After all, if he, as Demetri's partner, had reacted so badly at the implication of Dem's lack of flashforward, then he could only imagine how much worse it is for Demetri – when it was just that morning he complained about a detail of his upcoming wedding.
Especially when he had just about to plan his life together with someone else.
To have it all wrenched out from under him just because he didn't have a vision… that's just—
Mark stops himself.
Then to Mark's surprise, Demetri throws his head back and laughs.
"God, you really mean that, don't you?" he's still grinning, and even if it sounded rather forced, at least Mark could also the genuine amusement there. "Only you, Mark. Only you."
"What's wrong with being optimistic?" Mark says, trying to sound offended – and failing.
A raised eyebrow. "Okay, have I entered a Twilight Zone? Mark, you've always been the voice of doom and negativity in this partnership. Now you just suddenly walk on sunshine?"
"Yeah, well." He grips the desk behind him, steadying himself. "Maybe I'm getting bored."
"Right." Dem snorts. Then he looks down at his shoes, and goes all contemplative, much like he looked when Mark found him in this office earlier tonight. "Look, man…"
His cellphone beeps. Dem only looks at it for a second before straightening his pose.
"Everything's alright there?" Mark asks.
"Sorry, Janis needs me." He glances at Mark. "You okay by yourself?"
"Yeah, yeah. Just go. I was about to finish, anyway." And he punctuates his words with a wave of his hand.
Demetri moves in that graceless and brusque way he always has, but when he reaches the door, he pauses. "Look, for what it's worth, can't say I regret working with you." Then he's out of sight before Mark could even think to formulate a reply.
It sounds too much like a goodbye Mark doesn't want to hear.
Mark's hand tightens.