2007-05-12: It's Over

Starring:

Mara_icon.gif Nathan_icon.gif

Summary: It's all over. There isn't any more. It's all over. But what's it over for? Mara's not so triumphant return to New York City begins with a trip to see Nathan.

Date It Happened: May 12, 2007

It's Over


Petrelli Mansion, Mara's Car, Mara's (New) Flat

It would seem, according to the help, that Nathan Petrelli has a visitor. She's been described as a dodgy sort of blonde with a cane. The woman is standing in the foyer, with her back to Nathan when he arrives, apparently taking in her surroundings. She's dressed in a floor length brown leather trench coat and matching boots, black flared jeans and a violet tank top.

The sound of footsteps indicate Nathan's presence, as he moves at a comfortably brisk pace from where his den is. He is dressed simply within his own home, an ensemble of slacks and a button-down, but all the same he looks a little irritated, as if having been interrupted or distracted from something of importance. "Hello?" he announces, once the woman is in sight, and it's the cane he sees first, causing him to stop a few feet further away than he would have otherwise.

Her head turns. Freckles. Hazel eyes. And a very pleased gap-toothed smile. "Nathan." The rest of her body turns to follow her gaze and Mara moves forward a step with the help of her cane. She respects the distance however. This isn't her home. This isn't her… place. In so many senses of the term.

There's something wrong with this picture. Never mind /who/ she is, it's also /where/ she is, and it just doesn't make sense. For a moment, Nathan is quiet, simply staring with open incredulity. And then, he moves forward. "Mara," he says, as if summoning some reality into the situation. He stops about a foot from her, nigh unreadable, before he speaks up again, clearing his throat. "So I was wrong. Blonde, it…" A quick once over, the hint of a smile. "It's working for you."

There's tears in Mara's eyes as she smiles and chuckles. She wants so badly to touch him, and it shows, but she's keeping herself in check. "I figured the best way to let you know that I was back in town would be to show up and tell you myself. I… I hope you don't mind."

"They say phones are impersonal, anyway," Nathan quips. Or. It would be a quip, if it didn't sound like the words were coming from a thousand miles away, and certainly not from himself. He, too, is keeping himself in check, but for some reason, he doesn't think the world is about to come crashing down if he does this. And 'this' is stepping forward and drawing her into a hug, if only because it's too unbearable to just stand there and look at her. "I don't mind."

Mara wraps her arms around Nathan tightly - gratefully - and sags into the hug. "I don't think I ever got to say… To say thank you. At least not nearly enough." She takes in a deep, slightly shuddering breath. "So, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you /so/ much. For everything." For saving my life so I could be here. Now.

His eyes slide shut, and he holds her close, tightly, almost protectively. As if making up for the fact that he couldn't when she disappeared. Hard to tell if her gratitude is accepted or not, because Nathan says nothing of them, hand coming up to cradle the back of her head gently before he finally draws away, enough to look at her again but without letting her go. "I shouldn't have left you back there," he says, only really realising this statement as he says it.

There's the faintest flicker of amusement in Mara's eyes when Nathan speaks. But rather than tease, she just shakes her head. "You did what you thought was best. In your position, I probably would have done the same. It… It was Peter. Who can blame you for looking out for him?" There's a moment of silence, uncomfortable on Mara's part. Maybe she's even a little scared. "Is he… He's all right, isn't he?"

You know who's not amused? Nathan. But this mistake is both denied and affirmed by Mara and he's willing to let this go. She's safe now, isn't she. Clearly it wasn't the fuck up he feared it might have become. He had to have done something right along the way, anyway. "He lost a hand," Nathan says, almost lightly, and definitely dryly. "It. Got better." Finally, he releases Mara, thumbs hooking in the pockets of his pants as he backs up a step or two. "He'd want to know you're okay, too."

When Nathan tells her his brother lost a hand, Mara's legs give out beneath her and she starts to sag to the floor. Her eyes are wide and her face goes white as a sheet. The words 'got better' barely register as she forces herself right herself. "Oh, Jesus." The emotion finally gets to her and one fat tear slides down her cheek.

His hand reaches out to steady her, not looking surprised or regretful of her reaction - more concerned than anything. "He's fine," Nathan says, trying to sound assuring. "He's long since healed, only took a day or something like that." He keeps that hand on her arm, the one not handling the cane. "Did you want to see down and…" Nathan's gaze slides away, up the stairs. He's been working all morning, did Heidi leave to take the kids out? Did she come back? He's pretty sure they have the house to themselves, but it deserves a glance around. "Talk?" he finishes, somewhat awkward. He has his fair share of questions. Conversation would probably be a good arena for them.

"I… Is that what you want to do? Here?" Mara glances about as well. It isn't that she doesn't trust him to know where they're safe to speak without arousing much (warranted) suspicion, but… "Yeah. I've got nothing but time." Thanks to Peter. Damn.

She's not wrong. Nathan wishes she could be, that it could be okay to just /talk/ in the sitting room or out on the patio or something. But for all his attempts at opening his life up again to his wife and family, this was just not something he's prepared for. "Maybe not here," he admits, and feels weaker for it, but what'reyougonnado. "But we need to talk." And not /just/ for the questions, he realises.

Mara seems to understand this. She nods her head once and withdraws to put a respectable distance between them. Physically and emotionally. "Yeah. We really… have a lot to talk about." Her tongue darts out between her lips and she tilts her head toward the door. "I have a car. And a place. If you're interested."

Nathan nods his confirmation and acceptance of this offer. "I'll meet you outside," he says, stepping back a pace, before he turns his back on her and walks back to his office, more than likely off to wrap up a phone call or put finish up that email or whatever it is he has to do these days. It's definitely not to detour to down a glass of whiskey or anything. Really! He's not that bad. At the moment. No, the most self-indulgent thing he does is pause when, once there, he goes to take a jacket, closing his eyes and taking a moment. /Christ/. On a fucking bicycle.

Mara lets herself out and moves perhaps quicker than might be expected, climbing into the driver's side of her car. The only thing she has left after the attack. She buckles herself in and then rests her head against her arms on the steering wheel. "What do you think you're doing?" she asks herself out loud. She should just… leave. Leave him there. This isn't right. She lifts her head and looks out the window toward the house. She could. She should. But maybe he'll make the decision easy for her and just… not come out? "Fuck me." Unfortunately, they /do/ need to talk.

It is so very tempting to barricade himself inside. After a while, she would get the hint, and likely never approach him again. But even Nathan isn't quite that cowardly - only cowardly enough to consider it. But no. He /has/ to talk to her and, as usual, damn the consequences. Not a minute later, he's walking out the door and towards the car, a brown casual jacket thrown over his shirt and tugged around him as he moves. He slides into the passenger seat without hesitation, door shutting sharply after him. Wordlessly, without looking at her, he straps himself in.

The car pulls away smoothly and for the first few blocks, Mara is silent. Perhaps respecting his need for silence or indulging in her own need for it. Finally, she finds her courage. "It's really good to see you." As if that hadn't been established already. Smart, Damaris.

Quite simply, Nathan lets her drive and doesn't try to break the silence. They can talk when they get where they're going, after all. When she speaks up, he glances to her, almost smiles in amusement. "Likewise," he says, tone a little clipped and formal, though likely she knows better. He lets a second of silence goes by before he speaks up again. "Figured I'd be waiting to do so even longer than this." Not that she wasn't gone long, but there was a certain… permanence in attitude he took to her disappearance.

"Figured you'd be showing up at my funeral, right?" Mara keeps her eyes on the road and her hands on the wheel. She smiles darkly at her own comment. "I'm sorry for coming to your home. I really shouldn't have. It's just that I… Well, it was the one place I knew where you couldn't afford to scream at me. … Not that you aren't welcome to once we get to my new apartment."

The mentions of a funeral earns Mara a sharp, arch look, but otherwise Nathan lets Mara indulge in her bitterness. More important things to do than throw stones in glass houses. "You're welcome to come to my home," he says, tone devoid of graciousness and replaced with what sounds like defense and chastisement. "No reason for you to not look for me there, it's where I live. And I told you to find me."

"Doesn't mean I should have found you here." What if your wife had been here? "It doesn't matter, though. It's over." Mara sighs, keeping silence for the remainder of the drive. She pulls onto a street in a nicer part of town than she used to live in. She's even got a parking lot now, apparently. No more street parking for her. She pulls into a designated spot - 19 - and shuts off the car.

This is a silly argument. She's right, Nathan's right, but her last statement is what shuts him up. Once she parks, he's tempted to ask her to pull out of the lot, keep driving, have their conversation on neutral ground where he can just leave a little easier. For reasons he can't explain, he stifles this idea, climbs out of the car. "You're moving up in the world," is his comment to her about the parking space, spoken over the top of the car.

"You won't say that when you see the place." Mara locks up the car and leads him into the building. It's a short elevator ride up to the third floor, apartment 3B. She pushes open the door. It's… cozy. And very neutral. It's a far cry from the last place. Judging by the looks of things, either the place came furnished, or she spent a lot of time at the second-hand store. At least nothing's stained. She turns off the television that she apparently left on before she went out. "Do you want anything? I've got the kitchen, ah… /Mostly/ stocked."

"Glass of something wouldn't go amiss." What. /What/. Like she's any different. Nathan feels better about drinking when it's not inside his own home, anyway - hell, there's another reason not to talk there. He doesn't shrug and hang up his jacket like he normally would, not wishing to make himself especially comfortable. He's watching her, now, trying to decide whether the shock of blonde hair is more jarring than attractive, if it makes her look softer or more clinical, or all of the above. "So where have you been staying?" That last word sounds like a last-second addition to that sentence, an attempt to make it more nonchalant.

"I would tell you, but if I had to go into hiding again, it's best you not know." What you don't know can't hurt you. Mara double-takes at her reflection in a mirror stuck to the fridge as she pours two gin and tonics. "Works for me," she mumbles to herself. She holds out one glass to Nathan, peering curiously.

The glass is taken, peered at, sipped from, and Nathan leans against the kitchen bench, meeting that curious look. "Then I'm not sure what I can ask," he admits with a loose shrug. "Why don't you just go ahead and tell me what I /can/ know." The G&T is sipped from again, and he keeps watching her.

Mara considers this for a moment, taking a long drink from her own glass. "I went somewhere safe. I stayed there for a while. I made arrangement to come home. It was nothing terribly exciting, really."

Not satisfied, and it shows. Nathan raises an eyebrow at her, before turning back to his drink. He's not sulking, 40-year-men aren't supposed to be able to do that. Well maybe he is, /just a bit/, but he shakes it off. "I can live with that." Ish. He still wants to know more, but he's willing to let it slide, because he /knows/ he can't know, just in case. "A lot's happened in a month."

"I gathered." Mara gestures to the couch. "Have a seat? Comfier? Catch me up?" She moves to the couch whether or not he chooses to follow, stopping to shrug off her coat and drape it over the back before she eases herself down on the cushions.

Nathan wanders on after her, meandering indirectly, and talking before he's actually seated. "Not sure where to start," he says, which is a lie, he can think of a few places to start. What he's not sure of is what's relevant anymore. His need-to-know was so sparse, though necessarily so. "Like I said, Peter's doing alright. Haven't heard a word about Gray. My wife knows I can fly. It's a little all over the place right now."

Mara smiles faintly. "So you finally told her? That's good." Her eyes drop to Nathan's glass before they come back up to fix on his face. "No news may be good news, right?" Yes. Let's hope. "How's that working out for you, though? Heidi knowing."

"I didn't tell her," Nathan says, with a brisk shake of his head, brow furrowing as he frowns down into his drink. "She kind of found out. Sort of a long story but needless to say, it didn't happen on my terms. But I think it's going to be alright." And he's not just saying that to be optimistic - he rarely is, anyway, so there must be some honesty, there. "Not that I mean to bore you with the details of married life."

Mara flinches and looks away. How can she possibly respond to that? She can't. Except to bring her drink to her lips and down about half of it.

Not much else to do but take the opportunity to follow that cue without being judged. A good portion of the drink has disappeared by the time Nathan brings the glass down again, and he takes a breath, savouring the warmth of the consumed gin while it lasts. He has a few things he wants to say, all of which are impulsive and so therefore are vetoed. "So there is that," is his wry summary, glancing her way. Again, why couldn't he get telepathy over fucking flying?

Mara sets her glass down on the table in front of the couch. "Give me your hand, Nathan." She turns to face him more, holding her right hand out, eyes fixed on his. Trust me, she seems to say.

But I resent trusting you, his look seems to say. Nevertheless, Nathan's glass is set aside and his hand is offered without question. "You picked up palm reading?" he says, without expecting an answer.

"Bite me, Petrelli." Mara turns his hand over so his palm's down. No palmistry here. She worries her lower lip before she finally brushes her fingers over the ring on Nathan's finger. She gasps sharply and her eyes take on an unfocused look. She's seeing, but not what's in front of her. No fainting? Somebody's back on the (experimental) drugs.

Not quite so unexpected, but he doesn't try to stop her. There's something masochistic about this whole routine, but he can't help it. It's a wonder he only ever requested she do it once. Nathan watches warily, expecting her to topple over, waiting to catch and steady her, but when she doesn't, he simply waits. His hand unconsciously turns to hold hers.

Mara pulls her hand away quickly as though his touch burns her. The vision must still be playing out before her, however. When she climbs to her feet to back away, it's fumbling. So apparently she isn't completely free of side effects.

Nathan is on his feet as well when she goes to move, although this time he doesn't touch her immediately, just… tries to make sure she doesn't fall, though he does grab her arms should she stumble. "Mara," he says, trying to summon back her attention. The non-glassy-eyed visiony kind.

"Don't!" Mara cries. She pulls away and nearly topples backward before she manages to catch hold of the arm of the couch. She closes her eyes tightly and shakes her head several times, as if trying to clear her head. Finally, after another gasp, her eyes open again and she's back to normal. Well, as normal as she gets. She eyes Nathan almost in the manner of a wounded animal.

Mara looks up at Nathan, breathless. Finally she rights herself and brushes her fingers through her hair. Taking a deep breath, she prepares herself to put a voice to what she's just seen. "No divorce," she finally says quietly.

Nathan's eyes narrow, as he tries to figure out where she's lying to him or not. He wouldn't put it past himself so doesn't put it past other people. He's currently very aware of the wedding band around his finger, other hand now coming to fidget with it, turning it as he watches her. "No divorce," he repeats, after a pause. "What changed."

"I did." Mara answers truthfully. She looks a little scared. "In the first vision, I saw the fight. I saw how upset she was and I could feel how much you were both hurting. But you had nothing to say for yourself…" She sits down again heavily.

Nathan moves to sit beside her, not really looking at her as he does so. She changed? What does that mean? His back rests against the opposite couch arm, glancing down at the ring that's meaning /way/ more than it was ever meant to represent. "And in this one…"

"You're getting ahead of me." Mara covers her eyes with her hands, taking a deep breath. "The last time, when you asked me… It was… I saw more than I did the first time. You…" She sags, elbows resting on her knees. "You came to me when it was over."

His glass is picked up once more, and this time the drink is finished for the purpose of Nathan to stand up and move away, walking towards the kitchen to refill. A very good excuse, he feels. What does she mean, /she changed?/, is what he can't help but wonder, kind of like the way one prods and pokes at an injury, curiosity overcoming the need to preserve yourself. "I came to you," he repeats, watching the gin fill the bottom of the glass, stopping before the amount becomes ridiculous. He opens his mouth, perhaps to prompt for more, but instead just looks at her, as if waiting for a punchline.

"You come to me. Because I'm the reason your marriage is over." There's the terrible admission. Mara knew this. She /knew/ she was the reason for the divorce. And when he started kissing her, pushing her back on the couch, she didn't stop him. "You must hate me."

When he moves back to the couch, he brings the bottle of gin with him, placing it on the coffee table in case someone else is looking to take the edge of. Nathan sits down again, elbows resting on his knees and glass clasped between his hands, looking only in to that rather than the woman beside him. "No," he says, after a moment. He sounds like he considered it. "I don't hate you, Mara." There's a but in there, somewhere. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"I would hate me," Mara admits. "I /do/ hate me." She still won't look at the former politician. "How could I tell you something like that? 'I'm going to be the reason your wife leaves you, but I have no fucking /soul/ and want to sleep with you anyway'?"

That's okay, Nathan isn't looking at her either, still. Even as that last part draws a dark chuckle from him, hand coming up to wearily rub at his face. "Fair enough," he says, rather than opting to say something a little more soul-searching. Finally, the need to comfort/seek comfort moves him to reach a hand out - not quite taking her hand, but placing his over hers. "So something changed. You changed it." He's unsure of the hows and the whys, and his words are more question than statement.

"I changed it by deciding I'm not going to sleep with you anymore, Nathan." Mara pulls her hand away gently. It's not angry. It's just… something she does. "I'm sorry. I get… I like you too much to let you… I can't help myself. When you touch me, I want to touch you. And then I don't want to stop." She shivers and wraps her arms around herself. "I respect you too much to let this happen. To ruin your marriage."

Right. Of course. That makes all the sense in the world. If someone wrote this down mathematically, it would show only logic. Marriage is good, he loves his wife, sleeping with Mara would ruin this, and he wasn't even intending to, so therefore… Nathan withdraws his hand when she moves hers and wonders where negative feelings can possibly even factor into this equation. "That's appreciated," he says. Come on, be a man already. He looks at her, offering a rueful smile. "We know it has to work out this way. What did you," he glances down at his wedding ring, "see? This time?"

"I… I saw you two happy. Smiling. Your children, older, happy. You were a family." For a moment, Mara just studies Nathan. "And you had more grey hair, so I knew it was the future." Because if she didn't inject some humour, she was going to scream.

The humour is enough, it's a distraction. Almost makes Nathan snicker quietly. And for a moment, he's also able to take everything he has— had between Mara, set it aside, and feel only relief for the fact that he's not losing something so important to him, looking pointedly away. "Thanks," he says, finally, distinct tension in his voice.

"It's for the best." Is she reassuring herself? Or Nathan? "It doesn't change how I feel about you. It never will. But I can't be the cause of this." Mara downs the last of her drink and sits back heavily on the couch. "I'm sorry, Nathan."

Nathan's refill disappears as well, and finally, the glass is set down for the last time. "I understand," he says, and actually sounds like he does. Again, mathematical logic. He rises from where he's sitting, still trying to shake off that feeling of almost /broken/ relief coupled with the empty feeling of, well, the dumped. "For what it's worth, I'm sorry too."

"God damn, Nathan. There's got to… I don't know how I expected this to go. But I don't think it was this way." Mara rakes her fingers through her hair. "I feel so fucking empty. What the hell."

Awkwardness ensues for a moment as Nathan watches her, then he shakes his head. "Yeah, I don't… know how this was supposed to go either. No one hands out scripts for this kind of thing. Did you want me to, what, be angry with you? Deny that it's gotta be this way? Believe that it's taking some work to be responsible, here."

"Yeah. I think I was kind of expecting you to… hit me or something." Mara looks away. "Might have been easier to take. Anger I can understand. I could understand if you told me it didn't have to be this way. But… Damn. Responsibility? From both of us? That's unheard of, isn't it?"

"It's a new thing I'm trying," Nathan says, a little hollowly. Okay, so he wasn't expecting kudos - not from Mara, but goddamnit. "Being angry at you would be great, and— you're not exempt. But I can put two and two together, Mara. Something was going to go wrong, and it wasn't my ability. Maybe you should have stopped me, but I knew what I was doing when I got into this."

Mara smiles faintly. "What if I had told you, Nathan? What if I had said, after the vision, 'If you sleep with me, it will end your marriage'? Would you have made love to me anyway?" She watches his eyes, looking for a tell.

The fact that Nathan has no answer for that disarms him, a little. On one hand, he'd like to believe and take some of the blame that yes, he would have kept going, because one mistake can't have counted. It doesn't now, does it? On the other hand… maybe he's not giving himself enough credit. Maybe he would have walked away. He can't know now, can he? He leaves his conclusion, unvoiced. "I should go," he says, tone clipped. "This isn't doing us any favours."

Mara nods weakly, swallowing back the lump in her throat. "I'm sorry, Nathan." She rises to her feet and moves toward the door. The way out, let me show you it. "Don't tell Peter I'm back in town. I want to surprise him."

"Don't be sorry," Nathan says, now walking towards the door as indicated. "Not anymore. It's starting to sound like pity." At the instruction to definitely not tell Peter, the look Mara gets is odd. But there's really no reason to question it. "Right," he says. "Tell him hi from me if you catch him before I do." There, that's a casual and distant thing to say! It'll do.

Mara looks away from Nathan even as she responds. "I will." Casual. Distant. Check and double check. "Can you get home okay? I… I'm still okay to drive if you need me to." Please just say you're gonna call one of those sleek, black cars.

"No, I'll call for a-" sleek, black "-car," Nathan says, with a brisk shake of his head. This is where he says goodbye, and walks out. But he lingers for longer than he should, watching her, wishing for… something. Before she can ask what he's looking at, or similar, Nathan steps out through the door. Only barely managing to keep his hands to himself. He /had/ trust himself with a hug, before, but now even that seems to be crossing lines. "I'll see you, Mara."

"Yeah. Count on it." Mara nods shakily. "You won't be rid of me so easily."

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