2007-03-30: ...and Forever


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Summary: Mara and Nathan discuss a certain file floating around the Evolved, and how his life is like a soap opera. Suggestive Themes. You have been warned.

Date It Happened: March 30, 2007

…and Forever

It wouldn't be a secret hiding place if I told you where it was, would it?

Journeying all the way from Central Park to the apartment building, Nathan had hoped to maybe walk off his frustration. No such luck. A number of times he had taken his cellphone out, started to dial, then quit while he was ahead. He didn't want to deal with it, right now. He wanted, instead, to talk to someone sane. So god knows why he ends up at Mara's temporary front door, but that it where he goes, walking down the hallway and nodding in acknowledgment to a security man who is wandering the hallway. He raps sharply against the door, then leans his hand on the frame.

There's silence on the other side of the door. Either Mara doesn't hear the knock, she's not there, or she's not going to acknowledge. Keen ears do reward Nathan, however. There's the sound of movement from inside the apartment, but still nothing verbal.

Nathan pauses for a few moments, listening, before he arches his eyebrow. Well. Fair enough. He steps back from the door, taking out that cellphone and this time not just putting it away again. A few buttons are pressed, before he closes it and waits.

The door opens, just a crack, and Mara peers out from the gap allowed by the chain on the door. "Tell me what comes next," she says quietly. She watches Nathan intently as she poses her test to him. "Can we do this again tomorrow, too? And the next night?" She pauses, obviously waiting for him to respond.

Nathan raises an eyebrow at this, but then again… he can't complain. Precautions are good. Precautions are sane. He wished more people tried it. "And forever," he finishes, meeting her eyes through the gap and pocketing his cellphone, folding his arms.

Mara shuts the door long enough to remove the chain before pulling it open again to let the politician into the apartment. "Thanks for indulging me." Her smile is shaky as she backpedals out of his way. Easier said than done on crutches.

"It's fine," Nathan says, walking into the apartment. He has a folder under one arm, and this, he flings onto a nearby table, hand coming up to rub his forehead. Someone needs Tylenol. "Got everything you need here, still?" he asks her. "I can get someone to restock the kitchen for you."

Mara locks the apartment up after Nathan's safely inside, leaning heavily against the door. "Help me to the couch and I'll share my painkillers with you. You look like you need one."

A protest goes here. But Nathan can only smile weakly at her, and walks back towards the door in order to assist. "I'm having an interesting day," he confirms.

"At least one of us is!" Mara can't help but grin, even if it isn't entirely genuine. A little sarcastic, maybe. "I'm bored. So bored. But better bored than dead." The crutch in her right hand is tossed toward the couch in favour of throwing her arm around Nathan's shoulders for support.

Nathan puts his arm around Mara's waist, taking much of her weight as they journey across the room. "Well did you finish that book yet?" he asks, with an innocent tone of voice. "No one said going into hiding was gonna be fun, but you should try and get out of the apartment more. I can get someone to drive you around if you want."

"I don't want to go anywhere if it's not with you." At least she's honest. With a grateful groan, Mara settles down on the middle of the couch and pats the seat next to her. "Thanks." After a moment, she decides to elaborate. "If anything happens, you're the fastest getaway in town." Aside, perhaps, from Hiro Nakamura. But she's not as confident that she wouldn't end up in the middle of bumfuck Egypt if she let him try to make a quick getaway.

"That's true," Nathan agrees, reluctantly, as he settles into the couch. "Can't say it hasn't come in handy on more than one occasion." Then, he reaches, taking the folder off the coffee table and depositing it into Mara's lap. His only explanation is, "It's a game. I want to see what you think of this," while watching her closely.

"A game?" Mara eyes the file dubiously, then Nathan. Back to the file. "Do I want to touch this?"

"You tell me," Nathan says, then sort of cuts through his bullshitting and gestures impatiently for her to open the thing. "It won't bite."

"It had better not. If I fall off this goddamn couch…" She leaves it be and opens the file without hesitation. Mara just about jumps when she sees the contents. She's quiet as she looks through it, obviously going over it like a professional. Finally, she closes the cover and tosses it back onto the coffee table. "What the /fuck/ was that? Was that some sort of joke?"

"It's not a joke," Nathan says, with a vague smile. It doesn't reach his eyes. "Someone is trying to help the situation and spread this information around to people like us. I don't know how many people it's reached, so far, but I only found out about it today, through… you remember Jack? Him."

Jack… Jack… Jack… It's clear that Mara's trying to put a face to the name. Then, there's a moment of shock and when she remembers /exactly/ who Jack is, and why she knew his face when she thought she was meeting him for the first time when the supposed 'heroes' met to discuss the plan to free Peter Petrelli from Kirby Plaza. "Oh… Oh /yeah/, I know who Jack is."

Nathan nods once. "Well, ran into him at Central Park." A vague gesture towards the folder, before Nathan is pulling himself up to stand and heading towards the kitchen. "So that's why it's been an interesting day. I'd rather be bored, personally."

"Who the /fuck/ thought it was a good idea to pass these things out? Don't they realize it's just as bad as running around with a copy of Activating Evolution in plain sight? Sure, it's important that people like us," Mara speaks without hesitation, "know Gray's face, but that's /it/. It should have his photo, a contact number for the NYPD and that's /it/."

Nathan's back is turned to Mara as he pours himself a glass of water, but he stills talks. "I agree. I was gonna ask for a photo of him for the same reason, we all need to know who to stay away from. But what I don't need is for Peter's name and number to be attached to something like this and circulating. I'm gonna have to do some damage control." It's a bit like campaigning, all over again.

"I agree. He's got enough to worry about without a bunch of nutjobs calling him about possible sightings or, god forbid, for help with their abilities." Mara shakes her head. "He's not a tipline. …Bring me a soda while you're up?"

"I just hope they've been selective with whose been getting these hand outs. Sure, but first. Painkillers?" Nathan turns back to her, raises an eyebrow, swirls water in his glass. "If you were kidding, I wasn't."

Mara pats her hip, or rather the pocket there. "Pssh. You think I part with them? No." She pulls the pills out and rattles them enticingly. "Cloud nine in a bottle." She actually cracks a smirk at her own choice of wording.

"Clever." Bringing her her drink, Nathan sits down once more, actually relaxing back into his seat before holding out a hand blindly for pills. "A steady supply of caffeine and Tylenol got me through last year. Now it's gin and hospital prescribed medication. I think it's going downhill," he says, dryly.

"I know, right?" Mara shakes out three pills. One for you, and two for me. She caps the bottle before he can disagree with her. /He/ only has a headache, so he only gets one. When he gets shot in the kneecap, he can have two. "I can't think of anyone better to share in this downward spiral, at least."

Mara only gets a slightly dirty look at the stinginess of the pills dealt out, but otherwise, no complaints from Nathan. That last comment, however, gets a small, if surprised smile. "Well, then. Drink up." He lifts his hand up in a sort of lazy toast before the pill is tossed back and followed by a sip of water.

Two pills down the hatch. Mara raises her soda in return before washing the blessed painkillers down. "Christ, Nathan." She sets her drink down on the table. "I hurt almost everywhere. Thank God for this stuff." The pill bottle is tucked back into the pocket of her skirt.

"Good to know something's always there for you, even if it's Vicodin," Nathan says, bracing a foot against the edge of the coffee table. He glances towards her with some concern. "How's physio going? Will you ever be able to play the violin again?"

Mara slugs Nathan in the arm. "You are such an ass." All the same, he got her to smile. "The world's tiniest violin." She rubs two fingers together as if to demonstrate. "Just for you."

Nathan smirks at that. Touche. "Well it /is/ a very bad headache," he says, then shakes his head. "No, really. What's the status on that knee? Gonna need more surgery or…?"

"It's not as bad as I thought it was." Mara actually sounds optimistic. "The bullet didn't completely shatter my kneecap. I guess the surgery was mostly to pull the splintered pieces out and pin the bigger fragments in place. It should fuse up okay." There's a but in there somewhere, judging from her tone of voice. "But," there it is, "it doesn't mean I'll get full range of motion back. Or that I'll ever walk normally again."

Nathan nods once at this news, but doesn't comment on it, or at all. He, instead, glances at his watch, in the same way he usually does as if to go. He even stands up. But then he heads back to the kitchen, taking out a couple of beers. "'Passions' started about five minutes ago. Ever seen it?"

"I don't think I have." Mara's smirking when he brings out the beer. Peter really does know his brother well, doesn't he? "But I have a feeling I'm about to." She drums her fingers absently over one thigh.

"Yep." That's all the warning she gets before Nathan picks up the remote, switches the TV on and flicks through the channels. Once the fuzzy, cheap set, badly acted image of Passions flickers to life, he sits down, and holds a beer just out of reach. "You allowed these?"

"No," Mara answers truthfully, but reaches out for the alcohol all the same. "It's not like it's /gin/. Just give it to me."

Nathan kind of grunts but otherwise, he hands it to her. Beer isn't like /real/ booze, anyway. "Don't tell Peter," he says. God knows /he'll/ get into trouble for letting her get this stuff bought too. He gestures towards the TV. "The worst of daytime television. It gets better after 4, I think."

"Then it isn't daytime anymore," Mara observes, clinking her beer against Nathan's. "Also, you shouldn't be drinking one either. You're now on the same shit I am, baby." She cracks open the not-quite-alcohol-but-still-is, "I'm sure one of us will manage to call 911 if it comes to that." Somebody's mood's improving.

"Chances are," Nathan agrees. They really aren't good for each other, are they? He watches the TV set for a few moments, taking a long, lingering sip of beer, before he gestures towards it. "She turned out to be that guy's daughter, but only after he employed her as an private investigator to find out if his wife was cheating on him. It's gripping, truly."

"Gripping," Mara echoes with a touch of sarcasm. "Retarded is more like it. Does this shit ever really hap-" The dark-haired woman shuts her mouth quickly. Yeah, this shit does really happen. It does. To Nathan.

Oh, wow. Nathan clears his throat and glances at Mara. There's a pause, before he says, "But /they/ don't have superpowers. That's why it's not realistic."

There's a moment of (mildly horrified) silence.

And then Mara bursts out laughing. "Oh, Nathan," she leans over to rest her head against his shoulder as she all but cackles, "it's so /fucking/ absurd. But absolutely the truth."

Nathan lifts a hand back to patpat her shoulder, smiling bitterly to himself. He sort of chuckles with her, but it's short lived. "I swear there used to be a semblance of sanity in my life. I think it got thrown out the window when Peter told me he thought he could fly, in the middle of my headquarters. Christ."

"It would have happened sooner or later," Mara reasons sympathetically. "My sanity flew out the bloody window the first time I passed out at a crime scene." She brings her beer to her lips and takes a long drink. "I don't regret it, though. Having my ability."

"Really?" Nathan sounds surprised by that. "Huh." He considers something for a few moments, turning the beer can in his hands before he says, "I was gonna ask about the vision. The one you got with. The. You know." Another uncomfortable clearing of his throat. "Still not sure I actually wanna know the details." He stops there, pausing leadingly.

"I…" Mara sets her beer down on the table and shifts herself around gingerly so she's got her injured leg up on the couch, head resting on the armrest on Nathan's end of the couch so she's laying across his lap. "Don't let me fall," she orders as she reaches up without warning to lace her fingers with his, brushing the pads of her fingers over his ring. A shiver runs through her body before she whispers, "Show me," and then her eyes shut as her vision plunges her into unconsciousness.

Nathan kind of just lets her position herself, watching her warily. As soon as her body slackens, Nathan's steadies her, glancing towards her leg to see if its shifted awkwardly. "See you soon," he says, and waits, letting her loose hand keep laced with his.

It's only five minutes before Mara's eyes flutter open and she stares up at him, sad and maybe a little scared. "Same as before," she says. "That… doesn't necessarily mean that things haven't changed. This future thing's shaky for me. I don't know how accurate I am…" She takes in a deep breath. "Do you want details?"

Nathan doesn't react to the news that it hasn't changed. Sure, he was kind of hoping that maybe they would have. But it wasn't the reason for his non-request. "Hit me," he confirms, with a nod.

"You don't defend yourself," is all Mara seems willing to provide.

Nathan tilts his head to the side, studying her. Then, he smiles, sort of sadly and looking away. "And I guess the rest will be history."

There are no encouraging words. What good will it do? Mara instead tightens her grip again on her friend's hand. I'm sorry. Maybe it won't be this way. "Nathan…"

"No, it's fine," Nathan dismisses, although he does return the hand-squeeze. "Maybe if I do defend myself, things will go better." Yeah. Logic. "I'm sure we've both between through worse. Heidi and I."

Sure, Nathan. Whatever you say. "Maybe." Mara turns her gaze away, staring blankly at the wall. He's still holding her hand and she's still holding his. Imagine that.

Nathan allows this for a few drawn out moments, mind racing ahead, before he notices Mara's silence and stillness. "No point in /you/ worrying about it," he states, nudging her to sit up. "Forget about it, we've got enough to focus on."

Mara sits up carefully with Nathan's assistance. Being sprawled across the couch was far more comfortable, but she won't admit to that right now. "What? Me, worry?" She's making a joke at her own expense and her tone gives her away, but she lets the subject drop.

"It can be my cross to bear. Everyone needs a hobby." More beer is downed, before Nathan sets the can down and picks up the manila folder he had shown her. "Damage control. I should go see if I can't get rid of this. If Peter comes by, kill him."

This time, Mara doesn't keep quiet. She doesn't err on the side of caution. "Don't go," she pleads. "Please… Please don't leave."

"Mara…" The file comes back down onto the table surface with a soft slap, and Nathan's hands come back up to rub wearily at his face. "I like my melodrama behind a TV screen. Can't help some of it, as you well know, but I can avoid the worst of it. Like not coming round here when…" He trails off, and kind of rolls his eyes when he can't think of how to complete this sentence. "Never mind." A hand holds hers again, and he draws her close. He looks annoyed. "Definitely don't tell Peter." This time, he starts the kiss. It is a determined kiss.

Mara opens her mouth to protest or agree or /something/ when Nathan trails off. But much like he is, she's at a similar loss for words. When he pulls her in close, she almost looks confused. Without the almost. Don't tell Peter what? … Oh! Mara's eyes widen in surprise before she yields and they slide closed. She tangles her free hand in his hair and returns his determination with passion.

It's simple to just keep falling once you step off the cliff edge. And other clichés. Either way. Nathan leans her back against the arm of the couch, and there is something different in the way he moves and kisses her. As if there isn't any regret behind those actions. Perhaps he's faking it well. A hand comes up to lace fingers through her hair as he pauses to look at her, assessing.

Mara's eyes open, almost as if she's afraid to look. This must be a dream. It has to be. Right? Hazel eyes are wide and inquisitive. "What're you looking at me like that for?" If she's feeling any guilt, she isn't showing it either. About all she is showing is a healthy blush in her cheeks.

"Just checking." Checking for what, Petrelli? Nathan doesn't clarify, just kisses her again, drawing her closer - very carefully, too aware how difficult even basic movements have been made for her. It might be a reason to stop, piled upon all the /other/ reasons to stop, but instead, when he trails kisses down her throat, he murmurs, "Bed. Lie down? Comfier." It's a loaded suggestion, really, if fractured.

Mara doesn't respond at first except to shiver. Her fingers trail down over his spine slowly. Maybe it took a moment for everything to register but finally she nods. "Bed? Yeah, okay." Is this okay? Should we be doing this? Shut up, brain. Enjoy the goddamn moment.

"Okay. Good." Vague relief, as well as a plunge of guilt. No matter. This was never going to feel good for the /right/ reasons. Nathan breaks away, reluctant, as if to do so might kick his common sense into gear. But he's gathering her back into his arms, lifting her up off the couch. It is not a move typical of him, but it's become smooth, familiar out of necessity, and he walks to the bedroom, careful not to bump her legs against the doorway before he sort of haphazardly falls into bed with her.

Mara gasps and reels Nathan in when they hit the mattress. "Promise me one thing," she begs as she drops soft, needy kisses along his jaw and ear. Her fingers quest to peel him out of his jacket. She's also afraid of common sense. And this guilt that builds in the pit of her stomach and threatens to swallow her whole. She's sick with it, but she hides it with more kisses.

Nathan restlessly moves to assist with the jacket removing, before his own hands start seeking out the hems and gaps of clothing, sliding up her back beneath her t-shirt. "Promise what?" he asks.

"Promise me you won't call me a mistake again." The pained note in Mara's request is unmistakable. An act this deliberate doesn't deserve to be called a mistake. There's only a momentary hiss of pain when she's reminded that she isn't as nimble as she should be. "Please."

"Semantics," Nathan mutters, momentarily distracted enough to let out a sigh. But he's not stopping, and when he kisses her, it's less business-like, slightly more tender, reminiscent of the first time such a 'mistake' was made. "I won't. Won't call you that."

Mara lets out a little mewling sort of sound when he kisses her again. "G- Good." Buttons are easy. So much easier when they aren't her own, even. Although, really, Mara's first instinct is to just grab hold of either side of the collar and pull. Tear those goddamn buttons off and make quick work of this. But neither of them really want to have to explain why /all/ the buttons need to be sewn back on the man's shirt.

Promise made. Established. It doesn't help the guilt, in fact, Nathan feels it even keener. This isn't a mistake. It's a choice. Maybe semantics are important after all. The edge, however, is dulled through kisses and touches, both lazy and frantic, savouring and careless, and it isn't over quickly.

When it does end, Nathan isn't quick to leave, either, patch over and pretend it never happened. He finds himself lying against Mara, unmoving, breathing deeper. His hand seeks out hers.

There's nothing worse than feeling like you're just laying there like a board. Alas, that's how Mara feels for the duration of her liaison with the former Congressman. Oh, she does her part with coaxing touches and encouraging kisses, but she quickly discovers that undertaking this activity with an injured and immobile knee is simultaneously exquisitely painful and extremely satisfying, in that she finally lets someone else take care of her needs. When all is said and done, she finds herself reaching for his hand the same as he does for hers, lacing her fingers tightly with his. Breathless and wonderfully exhausted, she lays beneath Nathan with a contented sigh.

When Nathan moves, it's only for comfort's sake, settling onto the bed next to her, keeping close with their joined hands, an arm wrapped around her waist. And for now, he feels nothing - only warm, and inevitably tired. "You don't got anywhere to be, right?" he says. "Because I'm not planning on moving."

"I was about to ask you the same question," Mara muses. She rolls onto her side to curl up in her lover's arms. "Can we do this again tomorrow, too? And the next night?"

Nathan strokes a hand through Mara's hair, pushing it back from her face before his arms go back around her. "And forever?" he finishes, with a soft smirk. But no answer.

"Forever's an awfully long time…" Mara responds, her own smirk tugging at the corners of her mouth. She leans into the hand in her hair. She's forcing herself to focus on the little things - the stuff that make the glow easier to bask in and the guilt easier to ignore.

Nathan's smile grows, sort of an inevitable reaction, amusement taking over. "I hope I didn't sound that linesy at the time," he says, stroking her back. "Blame the gin, I guess, all two sips I had of it."

"It was more than two," Mara chides. "It's okay, though. You were in the middle of a mid-life crisis, so I won't hold it against you."

"I thought we agreed I wasn't old enough for that," Nathan says, with a mild tone of mock offense. See? This is easy. He plays with her hair as they talk, twisting a lock around his finger.

"I've never done this before," Mara remarks, absently tracing a pattern over his bare chest. What it is she hasn't done, she doesn't explain.

Waiting for the explanation that doesn't occur, Nathan lifts himself up a little, propping himself on his elbow. "Done what?" he prompts. It definitely can't be what he's thinking.

"Not rolled out of bed, put on my clothes, and left." Mara doesn't smile. In fact, she avoids his gaze entirely. Either she isn't proud of herself for never having been one for cuddling, or she's afraid that she may have just given him an idea.

Nathan squints a little at her, as if trying to find the meaning behind that, if there was one. "Hm, well. Not like it's quite as easy for you now," he points out, almost flippant, before he says, "Would you? If that was an option?" Half a pause, then, "Want me to?"

"To you?" Mara meets Nathan's eyes again and shakes her head. "Never. Not even if you asked." She reaches up to cup his face after he asks her if she would rather he just leave, since she cannot, and shakes her head a second time. "No way." Fingertips trace over his jaw before she gently coaxes him in for a kiss.

Coaxed, Nathan closes his eyes as he kisses her, soft and lingering. "Good thing 'm not gonna ask," he says once contact is broken, only to lift his head and kiss her shoulder, before he gently rolls her back against the bed. Yeah, definitely no plans to leave any time soon.

A decidedly dark giggle escapes Mara's lips as she's rolled onto her back again. "Why, Mister Petrelli! You are absolutely insatiable," she observes with mock surprise.

"I'm going /home/ if you say that again," Nathan mutters, although his words are accompanied with a chuckle. Then a bite.

The bite actually draws a gasp from the woman beneath. "Oh! /Nathan/!" Mara chuckles now. "All I had to do was tease you to get you to do that? Gosh."

"Don't push your luck." Nathan's hands are back to roaming over her, now, in an attempt to incite something other than one-liners, though he pauses and looks at her. "This wasn't an elaborate scheme to get out of watching daytime TV, was it? You /will/ get addicted. Downward spiral, and all."

Mara hmms distractedly. His efforts are succeeding in thwarting her wit. And intelligent thought on the whole, really. It takes her a second to realise he's not going to continue until she responds. "Oh… I, uhm… No?" She blinks dumbly and tilts her head to one side. "But I am addicted."

"Heh. I. Okay." Acceptable answer, if slightly unbalancing. Nathan smiles awkwardly, but it disappears as he kisses her again, occupying himself: hands, mouth, mind… all of it.

Round two is met with more enthusiasm on Mara's part, as she's quickly learning how to move without causing herself pain. She's more aggressive this time, leaving faint red lines across Nathan's skin where she scratched her nails down his back. When it's over, she stares at the ceiling, amazed that the second time could be better than the first. She takes in a deep breath and lets it out with an appreciative huff. "Golly!"

And… is it possible to collapse while already lying down? Nathan manages it, rolling to lie beside her and dragging some bedsheets with him. "Yeah," he agrees, before draping an arm across her waist, settling in. "Wake me up if the building catches on fire. But only then."

Mara carefully rolls over so she can take some of those sheets. But really, that's only secondary to her true goal, which is to sleep with her head resting against Nathan's chest so she can drift off to the rhythm of his heartbeat.

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