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19 November 2007 @ 11:37 am
[fanfic] Serendipity (part 2 of 3)  
Title: Serendipity (part 2 of 3)
Author: tiptoe39
Rating: PG-13 for language, violence & some mild innuendo.
Summary: You always find it when you're looking for something else.

The gallery was on the ground floor of a three-story building, with what looked to be nondescript offices on the other levels. Despite the squat appearance of the building, the entrance had been dramatically lit, and the exhibit, behind the open glass facade, seemed to stretch on far deeper than the building would allow. Everything was gleaming white until twelve feet, at which the spell was broken and the building turned back into a pumpkin.

There was even a limo parked outside the entrance, and the cascade of fake fur and flashing earrings made Matt feel a little edgy. He knew they were almost all twentysomethings who were just faking being in the jet set, but he couldn't even fake it, and that was somewhat disheartening. But Mohinder seemed right in his element. People turned when he approached, and in some cases, eyes followed them all the way down the block. It was a funny thing, too. Perhaps it was too many days of pinkish blouses and awful argyle socks, but Mohinder in a dress shirt was a new sight for Matt. He had to admit, the guy cleaned up pretty well.

Mohinder sprang for the cover charge, and the pert blonde at the entrance (who would have been cute had it not been for the nose ring that made her look like a bull) fanned herself with one of the programs she was handing out when they passed through the doors. Matt gave her a sidelong glance, but there was nothing coming from her except for little hearts following Mohinder around and an idle dream that someday her work would open in this space.

That nasty, black sensation had followed him here, and he was starting to worry if it was directed at him. As a cop, he had plenty of enemies, but he was still new enough in this town that he doubted he had much of a rep built up yet-- at least, not one that an ex-con could nurse enough to become this black a grudge.

In the center of the room, a young Asian woman was explaining in a clipped voice how "Mr. Linderman had kept an eye on this young, evolving talent until his passing. Part of his last will and testament involved the public release of a number of the artist's sketchbooks and paintings, which were previously held in Mr. Linderman's private collection. Mr. Linderman had hoped to decipher the meaning of the works himself, but with his untimely passing--" and here the woman looked visibly upset-- "he had no choice but to display them to the world, and hope that the right person would come along to divine their significance."

"Creepy," muttered a young guy in a trenchcoat to his date. "I heard Linderman was nuts. They're a bunch of cartoons, for Christ's sake!"

"Art can transcend time, Rob. Maybe there was a message in them. Like the Da Vinci Code," the girl on his arm reprimanded him, and they both laughed.

"I nearly met Isaac Mendez once," Mohinder said under his breath to Matt. "At the time I was still skeptical and thought I was being led by a crazy person. I had no idea that all this would come to mean what it has."

And by "all this," Matt knew, Mohinder meant everything around them. There was an eclipse, a man on fire, a girl torn apart on a medical table, two halves of a woman's face. Some of them Matt recognized; others looked vaguely familiar. But there was also what looked like a samurai battle, a frightening-looking monster, and several other pieces that seemed to be standard comic-book art, all dynamic poses and motion lines. And they made no sense to him.

"So some of these were him painting the future and some of them weren't?" he muttered. Somehow, even with all the noise, he felt he had to be careful not to speak too loudly. "That one can't be the future. It has a dinosaur in it."

"Good point. I'm not sure," Mohinder assented. "Certainly he did have a day job. But given Linderman's association with the Company, I doubt he would have hoarded images that had no significance. It may just be that some of these are prophetic of events that hadn't happened yet. That's why I'm here. I'm looking for clues that will help me stop the spread of this virus. It's entirely possible that Isaac Mendez would have foreseen it, as well."

"Hey, excuse me?" A woman with long brown curls had leaned in front of them. There was color in her cheeks and she was smiling tentatively. Once she had their attention, she straightened up and grinned, her eyes (not surprisingly) on Mohinder. "Were you one of Isaac's models?"

Mohinder blinked several times. "E-excuse me?" he stammered. "No, no, I was never a model."

The girl took a gulp of her champagne. "Oh," she said nervously, "Funny. You look just like one of the sketches in the back room." A skinny finger pointed toward the back wall, where a number of small black-and-white sketches were arrayed in neat white frames.

"Really?" Mohinder raised an eyebrow. "What sketch is that?"

Inexplicably, the girl turned bright pink. "You'll have to see it yourself," she said quickly, and ran away. Matt felt somehow sick to his stomach at the exchange. He reminded himself that Mohinder was not actually his date, then nearly spit up the finger food he'd just swallowed as he realized what that thought was about. If he was this bad when someone was hitting on his roommate, he was going to be awful when Molly started dating.

Then the black cloud of thought hit him like a locomotive, and he doubled forward, yelling. Mohinder gave a shout of alarm and jumped to steady him. Matt leaned on his shoulder, gasping for breath, his eyes wide and wild. "He's fine, just a panic attack, please don't mind him," he dimly heard Mohinder say to the small crowd that had gathered. He followed the pair of feet that were guiding him, and when he was again aware of his surroundings, they were in a small alcove near the back of the gallery, and Mohinder was pressing a glass of water into his hand.

"I'm sorry," he gasped, trying to calm and steady his breaths.

"What happened?"

"There's someone here," Matt said, "who's dangerous. And I don't know who it is or why, but they're really angry and they're planning something."

Mohinder gazed at him gravely. His face was ashen, Mohinder noted, and his hand was shaking around the cup of water. Mohinder put his hand over the trembling one to steady it. "Should we leave?" he asked.

Matt shook his head. "Can't leave. He'll do something. I have to find him and stop him."

"Do you know it's a he?" Another shake of the head. "What should we do, then?"

"Just keep looking normal. I'll start listening for him." Matt got up. "Thanks for the water, by the way."

"Of course." Mohinder was still looking at him curiously, and Matt started to become self-conscious. He moved back out into the gallery's lights.

They were in the deeper half of the exhibit now, the one with a million small sketches lining the walls. Matt moved slowly through the gathered crowd, pretending to be absorbed in the paintings, listening. Mostly, though, the cacophony was all too usual:

Interesting play of light and shadow...
Not half as good as Tim Sale's art...
Why did he limit himself to just comics?
Wonder if I can get a grant from this Linder dude...

Mohinder kept an eye on him, but was soon distracted by a series of sketches that seemed all too familiar. In one of them, a girl was on the run from what seemed to be a storm of wasps. In another, what looked to be the same girl was being comforted by a man while another stood in the background. And in a third, the two men were standing in her doorway, talking intently.

But the series didn't end there. There was another sketch, slightly bigger, that was drawing a great deal of attention. A number of slightly tipsy young women were giggling hysterically over it, ignoring as their dates tried to get them to move elsewhere. Mohinder craned his neck to see and immediately wished he hadn't. The drawing showed the two men from the previous sketches, rendered in exquisite, loving detail. And the drawing showed them in a very intimate pose.

Mohinder turned and hurried away from the series, attaching himself to a railing on the opposite wall and gulping in breaths, trying to banish the thought of his head arched back like that, his muscles clenched in the moment portrayed. It would have been too intense an image to look at if it had been a stranger; to know it was him-- had to be him-- was overwhelming. And even worse, although his face had been obscured in the sketch, the other man's identity had been plenty clear.

But there had been very little time in Mohinder's life for embarrassment or speculation. Something always propelled him forward toward the next crisis, and tonight was no exception. The wall he was now facing was cluttered with sketches, and one toward the bottom of the wall, almost unnoticeable, seemed familiar. He crouched down to see it more clearly. And this one made him gasp for another reason.

The sketch was blurry, as if smudged by an errant hand or a careless framer. The edges were gray with smoke, and flames licked along the bottom margin. Silhouettes of panicked people were visible through the conflagration. And all around them, sketches and paintings hanging on white walls were burning.

Part 3 is this way!
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