2007-05-27: More Than You Know


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Summary: The Lovers (Hey, if there was a Tarot card called The Fools, plural? That'd be them) are forced to talk again when they both show up to pour concern over Peter.

Date It Happened: May 27, 2007

More Than You Know

Beth Israel Hospital, Peter's Room

It's late into the afternoon, stretching on into the evening hours now. Sitting by Peter Petrelli's bedside, clutching his hand, is Mara Damaris. "…I even got a new dress. It's nothing fancy, but… I'll wear it when I come by tomorrow. I'm sure you'll like it. And I'll bring by some books. Do you like Alice in Wonderland? It was always one of my favourites. I'll read it to you tomorrow." The blonde falls silent, staring off at the equipment monitoring her friend's vitals. "God dammit, Pete!" Her head dips down and she sobs loudly. She hugs her arms around his shoulders carefully, burying her face against his chest. "Wake up!"

Nathan is doing what he feels he's spending half his life doing, these days. Visiting the hospital. It's nothing he wants to do, just something he has to do. Every day, and for hours, until he's convinced he's waited as much as he can before going home. Now familiar with the route to Peter's room, he's empty handed by the time he gets to do the door, fully expecting Peter to still be comatose. What he doesn't expect is to find a Mara crumpled over him. First instinct is to just leave, but a wave of… something, indignation and authority stops him from doing so. So upon opening the door, he steps inside and shuts it behind him. "You of the belief he can hear you when he's like this?"

Mara's head lifts as soon as she hears Nathan's voice. She wipes at her reddened and puffy eyes with the back of her hand before she'll turn to regard the comatose man's brother. For a second, she almost says 'what are you doing here,' but really, he could ask her that. She sniffles once, a decidedly unladylike sound. "Yeah, I think he can. Maybe. What's the harm if he can't?" She strokes some of the hair from Peter's face fondly, fingers trembling.

"Setting yourself up for disappointment?" Nathan offers, but mostly in a rhetorical way. He's not about to argue such a point, not when he's spoken to an unconscious Peter himself. Easy to do, he can mostly predict what Peter /would/ have said anyway. He pulls a chair over to sit on the opposite side of the bed, mostly relaxing, although there's clear tension in his posture and the way he pointedly looks at Peter, not the woman in the room. "How long you been here?"

"I… don't know." Mara looks down at her watch. "I… I guess it's been a few hours." She watches Peter even as Nathan sits down. "You know, it's not such a stretch. He's a freaking telepath. He… he might hear me." One thumb comes up to brush away the tear that threatens to send her mascara running down her cheek.

Here, he might ask if there's been any change in Peter's condition, but Nathan decides there'd be little point in asking. He looks exactly the same now as he did this morning, and the day before. "He's unconscious," he points out, wearily. "And if it makes you feel any better, he's been this way before. When his powers have gotten too much for him. Out for days, and woke up perfectly fine." Well, health-wise. "It's just a matter of waiting."

"Was… Was it-" Mara sighs and shakes her head. "Never mind. I don't want to know." She smiles gently and strokes Peter's forehead again. "Don't listen to him. He's just being a dick again. You know how he is." Only then does Nathan earn himself a look.

Mature, Damaris. Nathan narrows his eyes at her, but hey, he's not above playing her game. He looks towards Peter. "See, that's what I get for being nice to people," he informs his brother, then just shakes his head. "What are you doing here, Mara? You can't expect his family wouldn't come and visit him, and that includes Heidi."

Mara goes a little pale at that. He's asking her to leave. No, he's telling her, isn't he? "Peter is my friend. You all can't be here twenty-four seven. Somebody should be with him in case he wakes up."

Oh no, if he was telling her to leave, he'd tell her to leave. But Nathan doesn't reassure her of this when she blanches, not really in the mood for putting others at ease. A hand goes out to grip Peter's arm gently, as if trying to summon him awake, but no luck. "Agreed," Nathan responds. "I just didn't— you don't owe us anything. You know that, right?" He looks at Mara, curiosity plain.

"The fuck I don't," Mara responds quietly, reaching down to clutch Peter's hand. It's not just to reassure her. Or to reassure him. It's extremely symbolic. This is what I owe him, Nathan. "I maybe don't owe you anything, and maybe I don't owe your wife anything, but I owe Peter /everything/ that I can possibly give him."

"The hell you don't owe me anything," Nathan mutters, a vicious but quiet edge to his words. He's not about to start a shouting match. Yet. The look he gives Mara is cold. "Fuck the affair, all I wanted was to keep you alive. I'm not looking for kudos, Damaris, but I gave you more than you know." Weariness seeps back into his tone, and he looks back at Peter, though this time he's not talking to his brother. "At least I can own up to the fact that I owe you just as much."

"Hey, you just /said/-" Mara closes her eyes tightly, moving her hands away from Peter's so as not to squeeze too hard. Sure, he'd mend, but she'd still be an asshole. "Just tell me what you want, Nathan. Whatever you want, I'll give it to you."

Nathan shrugs loosely, still not up for making eye contact. "I expected you to disappear," he mutters. "You could have, I doubt either of us would have faulted you." Well maybe Peter would have expected better, but he'd have understood, right? "But you're here instead. Peter probably needs all the friends in the world so I'm not complaining, but, if you think you owe him that much…" God, what /does/ he want? It sounds too impossible. And he's not /meant/ to feel jealous about a friendship Peter has. That's just not what older brother's are meant to feel. "Hell, why don't you go first?" Now, he actually looks at her, a little blank but still with that glimmer of annoyance. "What do /you/ want?"

"I just want my heart to stop breaking every time I look at you. Or look at him," Mara answers truthfully. She looks away entirely, pressing her lips together. "I can't change what happened. If I could, believe me, I would take it all back so that neither of us would be in this situation. So Peter wouldn't have been put in this situation. I want whatever will make you happy right now. Because if I can make you happy, maybe I'll figure out some way to move on and make myself happy." Lord knows bar hopping and sneaking out of a different stranger's apartment every night hasn't been doing it for her.

Damn, a yelling match would have been easier. Nathan takes his hand off Peter's arm as he leans right back in his chair, feeling strangely defeated. What is it with women hitting him where it hurts? In the 'you hurt me and it can't be fixed' zone? But at least she's presenting him with a window. Just. Need to figure out this whole 'happy' thing. "Well," he begins, after a fairly lengthy pause. "I want my wife to trust me again. I want to be able to salvage something between us. We were friends before this, weren't we?" A largely rhetorical question, but some puzzlement filters into his tone.

"Yeah. We were friends. We understood each other better than anyone else could." Mara's gaze moves to the ceiling. "Maybe if Heidi had known then. Maybe you wouldn't have wanted me." She rubs her face with one hand. "I can't say I wouldn't have still needed you, but at least you would have been able to put me in my place." Of course, this isn't fair either. What-ifs rarely are. "How do you move on to being friends with someone you love, but can never have?" That's a mostly rhetorical question.

He doesn't touch the what ifs, nor does he really want to touch that question. Nathan watches her talk, as if trying to work out how these pieces fit together. If they do at all, anymore. "I'm tired of feeling like I'm on the verge of losing everything," he says, simply. "My wife, my family, my career." He tilts his head to the comatose Peter. "Peter. There's only so much I can cut loose."

"I… I see." Peter's cheek gets one more fond stroke before Mara stands up and takes a step toward the door, not giving her back to Nathan, however. "I don't know what you're asking for, Nathan." She doesn't flee just yet, though.

"Me neither," Nathan says, now looking away as she goes to leave. Oh, just let her, Petrelli. "Other than it salvage something. Unless what you want is something I can't do."

"I think I know you well enough to know there's nothing you can't do, Nathan Petrelli." Rather than turn to leave, Mara approaches Nathan's side of the bed. Once standing in front of him, she forces herself to make eye contact. "Look me in the eye and tell me you don't love me."

Is she challenging us. Nathan narrows his eyes at her, then shakes his head. "I don't want to have to feel less just to make something work, Damaris," he says, almost muttering. Evading.

"You have to say it. You have to tell me you don't love me. That it'll never work. I can't move on if I still have hope." And it takes a lot to admit that. Especially to him. Mara steps back, though. Damaris… "I suppose that's my answer right there, isn't it?" He can't use her chosen name.

This conversation seems to be making Nathan restless, and he even backs up as well. "There's no hope," he says, quietly. "I have too much to lose. But that doesn't mean I don't— " He really hates this word. "It doesn't mean I don't love you. Hell, it means that if I can at least keep something we had - before we crossed the line - I'm going to work to keep it."

"That's not really fair to either of us, is it?" Mara crosses her arms under her chest. Let alone Heidi. "How am I supposed to… to move on if I'm still in love with you? I can't keep on-" Her voice cracks and then she turns away. Never let them see you bleed, Damaris.

"So we can't be friends," Nathan says, in a final tone. Almost disgusted, but if Mara knows him at all, this is directed at himself for trying to offer this. "And we can't see each other ever again because it'd be too painful." He's stating these like facts, obstacles, annoying footnotes. Because that's what emotions are. Or should be.

"That can't be-" Mara's words are cut off by a choking sob. "This can't be how it ends. We can't just… This can't just happen! Not like this!" What was supposed to happen, Damaris? You fell in love with a married man. A married man who leads a very public life who can't afford you as a liability. "I need you," she admits again. "I can't begin to picture going back to the way things were before you."

"You said it yourself, it's not fair on either of us," Nathan responds, a little hollowed out. He moves away from her, pacing across the room, because if he stays put he's going to draw her close, and it may only be a hug but even that can communicate more than it should. "But I want… /something/. I don't want it to end like this, either, but—" A brisk head shake. "You're wrong, I can't do anything. I can't give you anything but friendship. I shouldn't have tried to."

"There's a distinct difference between 'can't' and 'shouldn't,' Nathan," Mara reminds gently. "You shouldn't have, but you did." She glances toward Peter's comatose form on the bed. They shouldn't be having this fight in front of him… but there's a difference between 'shouldn't' and 'no better place for it.' Maybe he'll wake up just to yell at the both of them for being childish? Ah, wishful thinking. "I can't have survived all this hell just to make it to this moment. For this." The Mara has her back to Nathan yet, and the way she holds perfectly still, suggests that, just perhaps, she didn't realise she'd given voice to her frustrations.

There's a silence, indicative of Nathan's own frustration that he can't quiet put into words. A pause passes, before Nathan is pushing past her and back towards Peter's bed. "You don't want this to end, but friendship's not good enough for you," he mutters, anger /barely/ in check. "What do you want me to do, leave my wife for you? You gave this up first, remember? To /save/ that." He's not looking at her, and when he does get to Peter's side, he quiets. He came here to watch over him, but he can't stay in this room. Even if Mara is about to leave, he's too restless right now. He leans over, sweeping Peter's hair back to kiss his forehead, an apology. This had better not be the coma he doesn't wake up from. Nathan straightens up once more, glances at Mara, starts for the door.

"As if you would have left her if I had asked," Mara spits back bitterly. You aren't the only one pissed off here. It's not over until she says it is, though. She's following after Nathan. She can't stay here with Peter when Nathan's the one on her mind. "I can't lose you," she whispers, voice hoarse with emotion now. "We- We can be friends." As if it's good enough for you either. Liar. "Please…"

Aaahh no, Nathan wants to leave, but he can hear her following him out, and it's her words that draw him to an exasperated halt, head tilting back to regard the ceiling for a moment before he turns back to her. Good enough? It simply has to be, lying and honesty be damned. The choice has been taken away from them. Can't live with, can't live without. "Yeah," he agrees, simply, and then steps forward to draw her into an embrace, because she's looking at him /like that/. It's the hospital, many people cling to each other in grief or weariness or sadness, doubtful anyone would take a second glance.

Mara throws her arms around Nathan tightly. The embrace brings a sort of relief she doubts she can ever express adequately. Her head comes to rest against his shoulder as she sobs. Just once. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry I did this to you."

His hand comes up to cradle the back of her head as they hug, Nathan feeling a shiver of— something when she apologises. Shame, or acknowledgement as to how /fucking godawful/ this whole thing is, or regret that he can't simply take all the blame and instead accepts the apology, if quietly. "I know. I'm sorry." The kinder thing would be to let her go, he's pretty sure. Wanting some kind of connection… either it will strengthen things, prove to himself and Peter and Heidi that he can have this without making a mistake, or it will just eat at him until they barely recognise each other. At least, had they parted ways, there might be a neutral kind of dead ending, more numb than painful.

Oh well. Petrellis are born with a destructive streak anyway.

Nathan releases her after a moment, hand coming up to wipe a tear of hers away with his thumb before releasing her completely. "Thanks for coming to see him," he says, quietly.

There are worse things she could do. But right now, holding onto the man she's not supposed to love feels like the top of the list of Worst Things. But Mara can't help herself. What are you doing, Damaris? He isn't yours. What are you doing here?

Dammit, Damaris.

When the embrace is over, Mara nods numbly. "Yeah. I… I'll come back again tomorrow, if that's all right with you. I owe him that much." Suddenly, something hits Mara in the pit of her stomach and the tears well up in her eyes again, but remain unshed.

"Of course." Nathan's consent is barely audible, but there. A hint of a smile that is not at all genuine, or mirthful, but he's making the effort, goes along with a small nod. "I'll probably— I'll see you." No promises as to when and how, just the knowledge that they /will/, eventually. If he sees or notices her unshed tears, he makes himself ignore them - there's only so much comfort he can give - and turns his back on her once more, heading for out.

"No." Mara grabs Nathan's arm and tugs him back toward the room. "Stay with him for a little bit. You should talk to him. He'd probably like to hear your voice when it's not aruging with mine." She gestures to the bed and then flashes the politician a shaky smile. "Give me a head start, okay?" She reverses their positions, with her closer to the door now.

He should. It's what he came here to do. And now that the anger has drained away, the need to pace, to do something other than think, is gone. Nathan allows the tug, and that last comment draws a chuckle, about as shaky as her smile. "He's probably yearning for some peace and quiet, but, point taken." A step back towards the door.

"G- Goodbye, Nathan." Finally, she releases his arm and turns her back on him. In more ways than one. By the time Mara's made it to the street, she's got a pair of mirrored sunglasses on and a hood pulled up to obscure her face, and she's all but running. And she'll run all the way home.

Nathan takes up his post beside Peter's bed again, looking at his brother before giving a shrug. "This is the bit where you're meant to tell me what to do, here," he murmurs, and then promptly feels kind of stupid for it. No one ever said he was good at this whole bedside manner thing. With a shaky sigh, Nathan leans over, elbows resting on the edge of the hospital bed, face in his hands as he thinks. He remains there for much longer than he intends, emerging only when it's safe to do so.

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