2007-10-02: Merry Happy


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Summary: Nathan is given some good news. And maybe has suspicions confirmed that he wished would have been proven false.

Date It Happened: October 2, 2007

Merry Happy

Outside Schenectady, New York

It's well after midnight in the parking lot of a roadside diner outside of Schenectady, New York. Mara Damaris stands by her car, leaning against the driver's side door and stars.

Or more accurately, she's watching the skies. The brown leather trench coat is pulled tighter around Mara's slight frame, bracing her against the brisk night air. She's become leaner since she went full-time with the Company. There's just different requirements when you're not expected to be tethered to a desk half your time on the job.

As chilly as it might be down there, it's only more so thousands of feet above the ground. Nathan's descent is quick, and he comes into sight abruptly, otherwise invisible against the night sky until he enters the light pollution from the diner, the roadside lights. He drops down just a few feet from Mara with a spray of gravel and dust, wincing just a little as his ankles take the impact, landing a little heavier than he'd like. Dressed very darkly - a black jacket over a dark-button down, dark blue jeans, boots - it's as if his clothes were chosen specifically for the flight, and he clenches his hands as if cold, turning to face Mara in the half-glow from the lights inside the diner they stand beside. "I don't have too long," he tells her. Oh, by the way, hi, how are you.

"I've missed you," is the first thing out of Mara's mouth. She approaches quickly, grabbing the sleeve of his coat and pulling him toward the grass that surrounds the parking lot on three sides. "We need the dark," she explains.

No brinner tonight, it seems. Nathan glances back towards her car, but otherwise follows as he's pulled, the crunch of gravel underfoot quickly turning into the softer sound of grass. Away from the light, it's harder to tell what's physically different about either of them over the past few months, the amount of time it's been since they've had contact - which sort of helps, in a way. "Why, are we expecting company?"

Mara shakes her head quickly, the movement still visible in the faded light. "Kiss me," she grins and he can hear it in the tone of her voice. Although, it doesn't sound like the demand of a lover. "I'm gonna explode if I don't get this out of my system so don't argue with me, just do it."

How to put a politician off-balance, 101. Nathan jerks back a step, although not enough to dislodge her hand, and even in the barely-there lighting, the flash of disbelief is obvious. "Because that always ends happily?" he points out, despite being told not to argue. By now, she must know that about him.

"Shut up and do it, Petrelli. I'm not going to ask you back to my bale of hay for a shag." She doesn't wait for consent. She simply reaches up and presses her lips to his. It's fierce, but almost chaste. Can one attribute 'dry' to a kiss? Mara pulls away and smiles the brightest gap-toothed smile he's seen from her in ages. "We caught him. We caught Gray."

He'd argue more - maybe just to spite her - before— well there we go, but perhaps even more startling than the sudden kiss is the bright grin he's met with once it's over. Months of no contact aside, it's a reasonably rare sight. Her news, however, justifies it plenty and his hands go to her arms. "You did what?" Nathan asks, quietly, ducking down just enough to make proper eye contact. "Is he— he's dead, right?" Because it just makes sense to him.

Mara shakes her head faintly, the grin faltering. "He's locked away, though. Safe. Powerless." The smile returns in full force once more. "It's over. No more nightmares. No more hearing his voice in the middle of the night. No more watching my back constantly." Well, beyond the norm, at least. "I'm free, Nathan."

The dissatisfaction is plain on the older man's face for a moment, but then he straightens his back once more and pulls Mara into a hug, both celebratory and comforting. "You won," Nathan adds. But there's something wrong with that sentence, especially in regards to Sylar being locked away, and powerless. "I don't understand, who's 'we'?" he asks, pulling away to try and look at her. "Who has him?"

Well, that really wipes the smile off Mara's face and she takes a step back out of the hug. She can't hug him in good conscience with this heavy, dark knowledge. "Agent Damaris, at your service."

Certainly a mood killer. Nathan's hands find his jacket pockets to rest in as he regards her with an unreadable expression, a glance back towards the diner, then back to her. "For how long?"

"Since you wanted to take my head off my shoulders when I disappeared after Peter burned down my apartment." She has the grace to look ashamed, and look away. "I got a call from Bennet. In exchange for harbouring me from Gray while my knee heeled, I had to work with them. At first, it was just… Agent Lite, as I like to call it. I just watched people. Made sure they weren't shooting their mouths off, or their abilities. Made sure they weren't compromising us." Mara glances back to Nathan, "And when I say 'us,' I mean people like you and I, with these powers." She sighs, "I was supposed to be their eyes and ears in the NYPD. I couldn't do it. So, I became a full-fledged, card-carrying, gun-toting agent. I'm sorry, Nathan. I only did what I had to do to protect myself."

Maybe Nathan had guessed this - the news doesn't exactly shock him. But the amount of time certainly does, and he takes another step back, as if in disgust. But when he speaks, there's nothing really judgmental about his tone of voice. "And now that it's all over, Gray's out of the equation, what are you going to do?" he asks. A pause, and he says, more accusingly, "You're going to stay with them."

"I don't have anywhere else to go," Mara says helplessly. "There are more out there, Nathan. Villains. Villains that make Gray look like a pussycat. I've seen what they can do and it scares me. All I know how to do is stop bad guys. What would I do if I tried to leave now?" Her expression somehow manages to turn more serious. "What would the Company do to me if I tried to leave? I'm their precious little Psychometer. They use me to ferret out their own secrets."

"I told you," Nathan says, a little louder. "Owing them is a bad idea." His mouth twists into a sardonic smirk. "Then again, you were already with them at the time, weren't you." He shakes his head, a movement just visible in the darkness. "You sure you're stopping the right bad guys?"

"Yeah. I am," Mara insists. "I watched them kill children. I'm pretty sure I'm looking at the right sons of bitches." The conviction is there. She's either bought into the doctrine, or she's seen some terrible things. "What would you have me do? No one will hire me. In case you hadn't heard, I'm a fucking nutjob."

Even this doesn't seem to sell it for Nathan completely. He lets her words wash over him for a moment, silent, until he lifts a hand to gesture to her, as if in debate. "And what if they don't put Gabriel Gray down when they have the chance? What're you gonna do the day that backfires?" Who knew he was into capital punishment? Maybe this particular villain has hurt those too close to home for Nathan to really think in terms of morals and ethics.

"I appreciate the concern, but I don't think Bennet's going to risk Gray going free." Mara takes in a slow, deep breath. "If the order's given, I'm going rogue and I'll kill the bastard myself. Damn whatever they decide to do to me for it. But I can't act unless I have direction."

"I don't think Bennet intends it, no," Nathan responds, flatly, but lets it go. He's not about to argue over a possible outcome, no matter how much his pride demand he argue and argue some more. Silence descends for a few long seconds as he studies her. "You could have given me a little more time," he says. What, when? He's talking about so many months ago, that moment she had referred to, when she'd disappeared. "Maybe you wouldn't have had to be in this position."

"And what, Nathan? Sit around with a bum knee? Be your dirty little secret?" Mara takes a step forward again, if only as a way of saying her newly confessed affiliation shouldn't drive a wedge between them. "Are you going to find me a job if I leave them?"

"I'm not going to be responsible for you," Nathan says, tone snipped, shooting her a sharp look. "And I'm not saying I should be." Well, isn't that kind of what he implied? He lets out an aggravated sigh, and he adds, "I don't have to like it, you know." Almost sulky-sounding, which should lighten the mood a fraction.

"Make up your mind, darlin'. Either you want to look after me and take care of me, or you want me to look after myself how I see fit. You can't have your cake and eat it, too." Mara's tone is faintly annoyed. She didn't deserve that kind of response. Not in her mind, at least. "Can't afford to be responsible for me now, can you? Your career is looking up, you're trying to repair the damage that I've done to your marriage. No, I can see how doing anything but tell me how you think I'm wrong could turn out poorly for you." She closes her eyes and counts to five. Five is a good number. "There is life after you." Hazel-green eyes open again, serious and fixed on her former lover's. "I've found someone who makes me laugh and can hold his liquor almost as well as you can. We may not be serious, but serious only equates to dangerous. What I'm saying is that my world doesn't revolve around you anymore. I don't mean that to be mean. I just… need you to know I'm capable of movin' on."

Now, Nathan bristles, steering almost a glare in her direction when she takes the conversation down this path. "It doesn't change the fact that once upon a time, I threw myself into trying to save you," he says, in quiet tones. "And you disappeared when it wasn't enough. Obviously, you know better. I didn't make you disappear that night so don't act like I turned you away all of a sudden." But she's safe now, Gray is captured, they've both moved on with their respective relationships… so why does Nathan still feel pissed off? Pride. Pride pride pride. "And as for moving on…" he says, in more final tones, and no longer looking at her, "it's not like I expected you to be pining for me."

"You're absolutely right. I shouldn't have ran away. I was scared. I didn't know what else to do. I was afraid if I kept hiding behind you, eventually… He'd just kill you, and then I wouldn't-" Mara rubs her nose with the back of her hand and leaves the thought to hang. His last sentiment causes her to grin. "Oh, shut up. You did so. You had no reason to think I would do anything but pine after you. And admit it, your ego likes it."

It's true. There was only so much he could do against someone like Gabriel Gray. It just takes a degree of getting over himself to accept it. Nathan meets her eyes at that last part, a twitch of a smile making an effort to mirror her grin. But it sobers just as quickly as it came. "No, trust me," he says, with far too much seriousness. "I'm aware that you're fully capable of moving on. Would I like 'im?" he adds, along with a raised eyebrow.

"Not sure. Depends on if you're the jealous type. He's… not like you." Mara shrugs, grin fading a touch. "He's rougher around the edges. Got a nice smile. Not as nice as yours, but whose is? He treats me like a lady. It's a nice change from the typical bar beds."

"I'm happy for you," Nathan says, in a sort of vague, non-committal way - but still genuine. A glance up towards the sky, as if trying to judge what his trip home is gonna be like - probably colder, considering the season. But if you fly fast enough, it doesn't matter too much. "Was there anything else?"

"I'm sorry," Mara says sincerely. "For not telling you sooner. I didn't want you to… be wary of me, I guess. I'm not there for the reasons typical of most agents. I haven't changed. I'm still the crazy woman who sits on the couch and watches Passions." Even just that admission squeezes the woman's heart, evident only in the sad smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. "Are we okay?"

There's a pause, then the sound of grass crunching underfoot as Nathan approaches her, hands settling on her arms. Not quite an embrace, but still a warm gesture. "We should be," he says, hands squeezing briefly before he's pulling away again, heading even further from the diner. "And you should try One Life to Live," he tosses over his shoulder. "Best thing on TV."

The recommendation actually draws a chuckle from Mara. "One Life to Live," she echoes. "I'll try and remember that. Stay safe, Nathan. Call me if you need anything. And if you hear anything suspicious. Anything at all. I'll keep you posted in regards to Gray."

Nathan turns as he walks to face her, briefly, mentally sifting through the last words of advice he wants to impart to her before he leaves. However, they all sounds somewhat strange to him, so instead, he simply nods to her. "Thank you," he adds, before resuming his walk until he's little more than a shadow against a dark backdrop, which is about when he takes off.

Mara tips her head up and watches the sky. It just never gets old. "Godspeed," she murmurs, waiting until he's disappeared before she walks back to her car.

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