2007-06-04: Sand In A Bottle

Starring:

Mara_icon.gif Peter_icon.gif

Summary: Mara desperately seeks some normalcy. Probably with the most abnormal person she could ask. Peter does what he always does. Peter helps.

Date It Happened: June 4, 2007

Sand in a Bottle


Mara's Apartment

Going through all of his get well wishes and gifts left behind in his room, Peter came across a card that gave clues to where to find a certain woman. Sure, he could have called to thank her instead, but that's not how it went at all. Instead, there's a knock on her apartment door around mid-morning, in hopes that she's home, and he's holding a carrier bag hanging across his chest. Looking a lot better after two days out of the hospital, his hair curls against his forehead, longer than when they first met, but not as long as many of the pictures in his apartment.

Being unable to work is a real drag, but Mara manages to keep herself busy by keeping her apartment absolutely immaculately tidy. Compared to her last home, this place is downright clinical. There's nothing of any personal significant. The whole place is decorated in white or off-white. It looks… unloved. Either Mara hasn't had the ambition to try and restore what was lost in the fire, or she's keen on the idea of living in a place now that she won't have any difficulty simply up and leaving. When the knock comes, Mara stops her scrubbing of her stove (which doesn't look like it even needs it) and pulls off her rubber gloves. She approaches the door cautiously, pulling her gun out of the back of her pants. Rather than stand in front of the door, she stands off to the side with her back against the wall. "Who is it?"

"Peter Petrelli," the young man hidden by the closed door responds, not trying to move out of the way of any view window that she might have. Not that it will matter to her, but there's ways to get around this. He could list off breakfast preferences, or her favorite soap operas, but instead… "Last time I saw you, you were leaving my apartment upset— last time you saw me, I was laying in a coma. Promise I'm awake now." Either than, or he's practicing astral projection, or something.

The gun is settled at the small of her back again and no less than three locks are heard clicking open before Mara opens the door with a bright smile. "Peter! Oh my God, I'm so glad you're okay!"

"Was always okay, even if it didn't look like it," Peter says, stepping forward into the door frame to reach out and touch the woman's arm, before he gestures inside. "Didn't even have any bad dreams this time." No kaboom over and over. "Can I come in?"

"I was scared," Mara admits. But that should come as no surprise. She ushers Peter inside, locking up tight behind him. "I was afraid you'd put yourself in a coma using my ability for a little while there. Nathan assured me otherwise." Even though they both logically know that it wouldn't have been her fault, she would have blamed herself anyway. "Go on, then. Sit down." She gestures toward a white and cream patterned couch. "Do you want anything? Something to drink? A snack? Anything?"

Once inside, Peter notes the state of the apartment and can't help but frown. This place needs something to make it look different from a hospital room, that's for sure. "What? Oh, no— not yours. Just— did more than I should have. Flying, telepathy, keeping someone alive for hours through surgery, healing after— then I decided it was a smart move to go invisible. That's what did it." Pulling the bag strap over his head, he sets it down on the couch and reaches inside and pulls something out. Whatever it is it's wrapped in tissue paper, but it's shaped like a bottle. "I got you a present. A thank you, for sitting at my bed side."

"Oh, Peter. You didn't have to…" Mara reaches out and takes the tissue-wrapped bottle, letting her fingers brush over his in a lingering, deliberate manner. "That's just like you, isn't it? Always trying to do so much for people that you stretch yourself thin." This observation is offered with a wink and a small smile, which fades to a more pensive sort of expression quickly. "I was so sure you would hear me. And that maybe you'd wake up by listening to me. I even went through most of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass one day… God, that must sound stupid."

"Really? I'll have to borrow that from you sometime," Peter says, reaching over as she takes the bottle to allow the lingering touch, and to pull down the tissue paper and reveal what it actually is. The bottle looks just like one she brought to him before the incident, one of the schnapps bottles. It felt odd, but the reason behind that can be seen pretty fast. It's not full of liquid, but full of sand. He must have had a professional do it, too, because the layers of purple and black and gold are stylized into a city scape, that upon inspection looks like Manhattan. "I hope you like it."

Mara gasps as the contents of the bottle are revealed. "Oh, Peter. It's beautiful!" Surprise is replaced slowly by a smile. "Thank you so much." She takes the present to the kitchen, setting it on top of a previously unadorned shelf. "My first decoration," she notes, sounding as though she's got mixed feelings on that front. "I love it," she assures.

"Yeah— stepped in here and I thought the hospital room I woke up in had more color," Peter admits softly, following her towards the kitchen and leaving his bag on the counter. The tissue paper (which had been white) is crinkled up and stuffed into a trash can, should he see one. "You know me. I like… decorations. And— maybe I should take you shopping sometime. Get you some picture frames and paintings, or something. Since… I'm kinda responsible for you not having any stuff. No grandfather clocks, though."

"Definitely no grandfather clocks," Mara confirms. In fact, there isn't a single clock in the place, unless you count the one on the DVD player under the television, and the one on the microwave. "I… don't know. I really wasn't planning on decorating." She shrugs and leans back against the sink. "This makes it easier to just… up and move. If you don't have much of sentimental value, it doesn't hurt to leave it behind."

That makes Peter pause, and while they're in the kitchen, he moves towards the cabinets and opens one, as if looking for something. Instead he pulls out a glass. He knows she asked him if he wanted something, but at a time like this he'd like to take charge. Filling it with water from the tap, he takes a sip and then leans against the counter. "I kinda need things with sentimental value, not sure I understand that. When I was with the Company— they didn't give me anything. Felt more like a prison than anything else. Started looking forward to daily electric shocks just because it was something else." Still holding the glass, he swirls the water around a bit, before he nods towards the other room, "Least you got a TV and a DVD player, though. And a couple books, sounds like."

"I don't blame you, you know." Mara watches Peter swirl the water in his glass. She doesn't know why she didn't tell him this sooner. It's important. "You did what you had to do. You stalled him. I escaped. You escaped." Not entirely unscathed, but still. "Peter, I…" She shakes her head with a sort of sad smile.

"I know you don't," Peter reassures, putting the glass down and stepping forward to touch her arm, a hint of a smile tugging on the corner of his mouth. "Did what I had to, and you're still here. That's what matters." Just like the coma had been worth it if it made his friend better. Tried to heal her more when he stopped in to see her, but apparently the power doesn't work like that. "We're both okay. Doesn't mean I don't want to help make you feel more at home again, though. Just a little color wouldn't hurt anything, right?"

Mara reaches up to smooth a strand of hair from Peter's forehead. Speaking of a little colour, there appears to be some in her cheeks all of a sudden. "I'm just not sure I'm ready to truly personalise things yet. It's like…" She frowns for a moment, trying to put thought into words. "It's like admitting that this is home now. And that everything else is gone."

At the touch to the hair on his forehead, Peter self consciously reaches up and pushes the hair back. It's just long enough now to curl, though still nowhere near long enough to actually touch his eyebrows. "Know this is even more silly, considering your ability— but you need to decide whether you want to live in the present or the past. And— I'd choose the present. What's gone is gone— but what's here…" He doesn't complete it, eyes downcasting as he shrugs his shoulders.

"I've never had to deal with a loss like this before, Peter." Mara rests her hand on his shoulder now, rubbing gently with her thumb. "I still have both my parents. I've moved a lot, sure, but… I've never really been dealt a blow like this. I mean, you saw how I surrounded myself with memories…" Not content with just looking away with her eyes, she turns her face away from Peter as well. "Living in the past, huh?"

And it's not his fault, huh? There's a flinch as she talks about how she'd never lost before. And considering her ability— surrounding herself in memories explains a lot. Peter keeps his eyes downcast, frowning, before he says, "Yeah— the present is kind of an anchor. With everything that's going on… you might really need one. Doesn't have to be totally personal— don't need to be memories attached to everything… but you should feel comfortable where you live. Even if it's just a temporary arrangement."

"I'm not comfortable anywhere anymore." Mara turns back, trying to smile reassuringly. "And that's not because of the fire. It's because of that monster. I'm always looking over my shoulder. I take sleeping pills because I can't sleep… I'm a mess, Pete."

Yet another thing he can pin on himself. There's another hint of a flinch, and Peter starts to move away towards where he set down his bag, gathering it up, though he doesn't pull it over his shoulder or head yet. "Sorry…" he says in a whispered and raspy voice. "Sorry, I couldn't stop him."

"Peter," Mara says sternly, following hot on his heels. "You're breaking my heart. Please. Stop." She grabs his shoulder and spins him around to face her. "I am alive because of you. So, please, try and be happy about that." The irony of that seems to strike her as she flinches after the words leave her lips. "…Shopping, huh?"

There's no real stopping him completely, but Peter does let the bag dangle from his arm when she turns him around, though he doesn't look back up for a few moments. "Mara— there's a difference. Between living and being alive. I'm happy you're alive." No real question about that. The state in which she's living, though… "Not today, but— yeah, shopping. If you want."

"You make me feel bad for being afraid. I'm sorry that I can't suddenly become invisible or throw lightning from my fingertips in an effort to protect myself. I really wish I could do more to reassure myself that I'm going to be fine…" Mara keeps her hand on Peter's arm. If he wants to leave, he's gonna have to drag her a step or two. "I'm not equipped to stop Gray. It scares me. And I know you can do it. You can stop him. You give me hope, Peter. Please know that. If you think you're willing to hold my hand while I try to… deal," she rubs a hand over her face as she trails off, "then I guess I'm willing to try to move on."

"That's— no one's going to be fine, Mara," Peter says, looking into her face, and even reaching over to take the hand that she's rubbing her face with to do it. It's both to hold onto her hand, as well as keep her from hiding. "No matter how much you could do— one day we're going to die. Even me— just might take more than a few tries in my case." He's died about five times as it is. "The point isn't how we die— or even when. It's how we live until we do." There's a pause, before he releases her hand and shifts the bag over his head and across his chest.

There's definitely conflict on Mara's features. Hurt, sadness, confusion. What do you want from me, Peter? "Damn," she mutters, eyes wide. She looks almost as if she's just taken a blow. "How am- What- I-" She frowns and stubbornly reclaims his hand.

The source of the conflict seems to confuse him. Peter doesn't look as if he understands why she's reacting like that. Instead, he might take it wrong, even as she stubbornly reclaims his hand, which he also tries to pull away again, though not forcefully. "Sorry. I— have no right telling you how to live your life."

Mara drops his hand when he decides to pull away. Then, she takes a step back. "Go on, then. Just get out, why don't you?" She can't keep the hurt look off her face, biting her lower lip to stem the flow of tears she can feel threatening.

If he'd been confused a moment ago, that doesn't seemed to have changed in a less confused direction as Peter sees all the pain on her face. "Didn't— didn't come here to hurt you. Just… wanted you to know I was okay…" He shakes his head, looking ashamed as he tightens the hand around his carrier bag strap.

"And I'm glad you're okay. I just…" Mara rakes her fingers through her newly-dyed-red hair. "It's just that you came in here and gave me something nice and then proceeded to make me feel three inches tall immediately after."

"That's not what I meant, Mara," Peter says, shaking his head and unable to look at her anymore now. If he'd been ashamed before, now he's even more so. Because there's something about how he made her feel that… he relates to a little too well. "I'm sorry. I'll go." And as he'd said, he starts to move towards the door finally, something he'd not done even when he grabbed his bag, which may have just been fidgeting, more than intent to leave.

"Well I don't know what you want from me, Peter!" Mara throws her hands up. "What do you want?" She turns away only to turn back again just as quickly. "If you want to help me, then help me. I feel like my life is falling apart. I've got no focus. I'm just existing."

"I don't want anything from you," Peter says, shaking his head, but slowed down. "If anything— I just want you to be happy. Thought I was helping— but all I'm doing is hurting you." He doesn't turn back around to face her, but he stops halfway to the door, voice still quiet.

"Peter…" Mara tangles her fingers in her hair again. "Will you stay for lunch? Can I just… try to feel normal again? Cook a meal for a friend? Hang out? Watch a movie? Please?" It takes a lot to break the out-of-work detective down enough to beg like this, but there she is. Asking for help.

The pleas don't fall on deaf ears. Peter's eyes slide towards the clock on the DVD player and he gives a small nod. "We can cook lunch, yeah," he says, pulling the strap back over his head, but still holding onto the bag. "Assuming you have food that we can cook with. And I can't stay much after that. I— have a lot I need to catch up on." He was in a coma for a week.

"Hey. You've only been around when I've relied on your brother to stock my fridge." Mara grins weakly and gestures back toward the kitchen. "I have so much free time on my hands, it's ri-goddamn-diculous. I've got stuff to cook with. C'mon and take a look. You pick the meal and we'll get ta cookin'." That would be normal, right? This is normal, yes? It's got to be close to it.

"You realize I don't eat meat, right?" Peter says, as he moves towards the couch to drop his bag off again, before he heads into the kitchen, rolling up his sleeves in an attempt to glance around. He'd have to open her fridge and freezer to see what he has to work with. "Might wanna reconsider that proposition and pick something you'll actually eat."

"I suspected when you threw the sausage away," Mara responds easily. "I'm generally not a fussy eater. You can make whatever you like from whatever I've got in my kitchen. I promise you, I'll eat it."

"Maybe I just wasn't a sausage fan," Peter says, moving towards the fridge and the cabinets to take stock. It'll take some time before he decides what he'll cook for her, but he seems to be taking this suggestion to light, even smiling faintly. This should be a good afternoon meal for the both of them, at least. Something normal. Normal is good.

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