2007-04-06: The Entire Point


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Summary: Nathan goes to check up on Mara after their argument in Central Park. Their cruelty toward each other is only matched by their propensity to forgive the other.

Disclaimer: READ THIS BEFORE YOU READ THE LOG. The subject matter in this log is intense. If you are easily upset or offended in any way, please think twice before you read this. That being said, there is nothing graphic within. Both players involved in this believe the character development resulting from this scene is worth the possible shock factor. Thank you, and we hope you enjoy the glimpse into the screwed up non-relationship that is Mara and Nathan's.

Date It Happened: April 6th, 2007

The Entire Point

Everyone has a secret, oh can they keep it?

Mara lays sprawled out on her couch with a near-beer. She's recovering from a particularly difficult session of physio, but the three pills she took after arriving home certainly helped take the edge off of things. A black lacquer cane with a shiny silver handle stands propped up against the sofa. Mara's eyes are on the less-than-awesome television. It should be entertaining her, but somehow… Passions just isn't doing it for her today. Gee, I wonder why.

It takes Nathan a full minute of door lingering before he can bring his hand up to knock, five sharp knocks in quick succession before he informs the woman behind it: "It's Nathan." A pause, considering how to prove it. "You said I could call you Kay."

For a brief minute, Mara considers shouting back, 'Well I changed my mind!' However, that would be less than gracious to do to the man who's keeping her hidden. So with a wince, she drags herself up off the couch and makes her way to do the door with the aid of her new cane. It's a lot more difficult than she would like anybody to believe. The deadbolt clicks, the chain rattles, and then the door opens. "What do you want?"

Nathan takes half a step, as if to walk inside, but the question he's served makes him back up again, raising an eyebrow. "I'm seeing how you are," he says, flatly, restlessly glancing up and down the hallway before looking back at her. "You know, still alive, for instance."

Mara jerks her head toward the interior of the apartment. "Get in here. I'm not fighting with you with the door open." Whether she actually intends to fight with him or not is debatable. As soon as he gets inside, she shuts and locks up the door behind him, as per usual ritual. "Gin?" she asks as she limps her way toward the kitchen.

"No," Nathan says, with a shake of his head. He doesn't move, as per usual, to go and help her with whatever she's getting in the kitchen, or take up a comfortable spot on the couch. Instead, he lingers awkwardly in the space, hands in his jacket pockets. "I'm probably not staying. How're you doing?"

Mara leans heavily against the counter, abandoning her mission. "How do you think I'm doing? I'm on a cane instead of crutches, I'm on so many pills that my head is swimming, and all this goddamn set will get is /Passions/." Which is totally not realistic because nobody has any superpowers. "I am so /mad/ at you right now." She pushes off the counter and starts back toward Nathan quickly as she can manage. "I can handle that you aren't going to sleep with me again. But sending me off /alone/ in the car? That was low. That was /beneath/ you. Or, at least I thought it was."

Nathan's hands go up as if to ward off an attack when Mara comes near, before clenching them down by his sides again. "I was just— it was better for that conversation to finish. We weren't getting anywhere," he says, voice lowering itself down into that quiet, barely-patient tone. "I figured you'd want to be alone." He did, at least.

She calls him on it, too. "No. /You/ wanted to be alone. /I/ wanted to be with you. I wanted to- I /needed/ to know that you didn't hate me." Mara's face twists into an expression that's part sneer and part angry pout. "What's the matter, Nathan? Did it hit a little too close to home for you?" She circles around slowly, putting her back to the wall. It looks like she's rounding on him, but really she just wants to have something to lean against, since she doesn't exactly trust her knee not to give out on her. "Seeing me in that wheelchair, did it make you think of her? A little too much like what you had at home for so long? Maybe that's the problem. Maybe you like 'em defenseless and crippled. Unable to just walk away from you when it's over."

It happens like lightning. Out of a need to make her stop talking, for hitting on truths as well as lies that just sound wrong and ugly. Nathan's hand comes up and perhaps his instinct to restrain himself has been untested of late, perhaps they'd crossed a line yesterday, but he follows through and the slap to her face is sudden, fueled by anger and hurt, before his hands come slamming down on the wall on either side of her head. "You don't talk about her," he snaps. "I don't give a damn what you've seen, you don't know the first thing about me."

Mara's head snaps to the side and she goes staggering the last two steps into the wall, dazed until the slap of his palms on the wall on either side of her face gets her attention again. Her eyes are shut tightly as she listens, however. When he finishes, the only sound in the room is the quiet television and her breathing, which comes in heaving pants as she processes what he's just said. Her eyes snap open again. Whatever Nathan might have expected to see there, he probably doesn't see it. The flash in her eyes isn't sorrow, anger or even pain - despite the fact that she'll surely have a beautiful bruise across her cheek. No, the look in her eyes is nothing short of raw passion.

Electrical silence. Nathan waits for the guilt he knew would occur when he first raised his hand to come crashing down. But it doesn't. Not even when her cheek goes painful red, he /can't/ feel guilty when she looks at him like that.

That's the entire point.

The anger doesn't leave, not even as he crushes her back against the wall as if in some kind of magnetic pull, or when his mouth finds hers in a kiss, even then, anger is still the dominant emotion, even if the motivation is obscured.

The silence is nearly deafening. It raises the hairs on the back of her neck and she wonders for a brief moment if he might just hit her again. If she feels any guilt for what she said, she doesn't show it.

She got exactly the reaction she was looking for, after all.

At first, Mara tries to protest. Her hands come up between them to press against his chest, even though she's returning the kiss just as surely as if she had instigated it herself. She wants to fight him off - knows she should - and her struggles are furious, though weak at best. How dare you do this to me? How dare you exploit me? How dare I like it!

There was always going to be a fight. Nathan didn't count on it taking this medium. Yet he grabs a wrist of a hand that resists him, brings it back against the wall, keeping it there as the kiss is finally broken off. He doesn't back off, however. "You're not her," he murmurs, voice raw. "You will never /be/ her."

There's a smugness in Mara's eyes that only slightly touches the corners of her mouth. She may never be the woman he married, but he's still kissing her. She tests just how firmly he's got her held, actually surprised when she can't yank her wrist away. "Do you think of her when you fuck me, Nathan?"

Walk the hell away. A command he's used to giving himself. One he's used to disobeying of late. It used to come so naturally. Renewed anger, so much so that it almost /hurts/ not to physically lash out again. So Nathan finds a different way, yanking her close against him, hand tangling in her hair. "No. Do you think of Gray?"

"About how he'd have more of a spine than you would? About how he wouldn't be afraid to just take what he wants and damn the consequences?" Mara grins widely. She'd never, never, never, ever, never, ever, ever, never, NEVER share a bed with Gray. Not even in her mind's eye. She's baiting him, plain and simple. "Come on. Show me what you've got."

It's a competition, childish and petty and hurtful. And a slippery slope wherein Nathan can't /stop/ for a moment and think. "I've been damning consequence from the start," he says, bitterly, but no, he still doesn't back up. "What do you want from me."

She's getting what she wants. She's getting a rise out of him. She wants him to admit that while he can be perfectly happy in his marriage and scared to death of that divorce she predicted, he still wants her like he wants coffee during a hangover.

Her cane falls out of her free hand finally and Mara realises she now has a taste of what it's like to be truly powerless. "I should ask you the same question."

"I think you got a clue," Nathan almost growls. It's clumsy and awkward but inevitable, but he doesn't drag her to bed. "Think you're the only one that does, Kay." That name was supposed to be sardonic, but all sarcasm is gone.

The use of the shortened form of her real name draws a frustrated growl from Mara, who has no comeback for that - except perhaps 'I hate you' or 'you bastard!' And she never tells him to stop. She never says no.

Time passes. They completely forgot to switch the TV off.

When all's said and done, Nathan rests his head against her shoulder, and he isn't sure he got what he wanted. In fact, there's no trace of victory, only defeat. He stays still, as if dreading the moment when he has to move away.

Although this would be at the top of the list if she had to rank every man and every time, Mara certainly wouldn't claim victory in this either. When it's over, she realises it's another first. She's been conquered. Definitely not tamed, but she is just as defeated as he is. What do you say to someone after you've screwed as a means to release anger? Is that all you've got? I think I underestimated you?

"I need you."

The whispered plea slips past Mara's lips before she comprehends she's even thought it. Maybe… maybe it was the television. Yes, it had to have been.

No. There's no lying to herself in this. No lying to him. "I need you. I hate you for it. I hate myself for it. I'm not supposed to need anyone, ever. I never have. I hate that you don't need me. I hate that you stayed the night and I woke up and knew I could never be happy to sleep alone again."

He's shaking, just a little, as if this had done nothing to relieve his tension, but in truth it's relieved too much that he doesn't even have that as a defense. He holds onto her tightly. "Don't know /what/ I need," Nathan murmurs, roughly. "But I can't give you anything. Can't give you what you need." Finally he looks at her, almost distraught, although holding it back. "Hate me, already." If we can't end this peacefully.

"I can't. Can you hate me?" A few scant minutes ago, she did hate him. She hated him more than anyone else in the world, with the exception of Gabriel Gray. But now, all she wants to do is calm him. Comfort him. Take away his pain. Mara traces the lines of his face carefully, like some fragile thing to be handled with care. Or like a wild animal that could turn on her at any moment. "You're beautiful." The compliment is so genuine. Her heart is behind the words, and behind her eyes.

Nathan shuts his eyes, and the harsh, needy grip on her relaxes a fraction. When he opens his eyes again, the regret and sadness is plain, and he kisses her. It's a kiss full of apology, especially as a hand comes up to cup her jaw, thumb brushing feather-light across the darkening mark on her cheek. Voice barely above a whisper, he murmurs, "One of you will have to." He almost staggers away from her, turning his back, fixing his clothes.

Mara slides down the wall and to the floor in a graceless tangle of limbs and skirt. Like a broken and discarded doll, head bowed and hair hanging heavily to veil her face. Only a small whimper escapes her lips, betraying her pain. One of you will have to. She knows this all too well. She looks up at him finally, touching the soon-to-be bruise on her face. It's a meaningful gesture. "I… love you." It's a gesture of forgiveness. In spite of everything, this all still stands.

Clothes fixed, and yet Nathan still feels like the only thing that might return him back to normalcy is a five hour-long shower and a pint of gin. He turns back to her just as she speaks, and he pulls his jacket closed as if cold. A sentiment that has to be returned, but he knows it will come out wrong, his voice will betray his defeat, it will sound false. So it goes unsaid. "I'm sorry," he says, and means it. Something has turned a corner, because all the clocks in the world keep tick-tocking forward, plummeting them all towards a fatal future, and it makes him uneasy. Nathan turns away from her and moves for the door.

"So'm I, Nathan." Mara finally starts to straighten her own clothes out, staring blankly ahead at the wall. "More than you will ever know." For all the bravery she will ever swear to possess, for all her claims to be unbreakable, it all means nothing in this moment.

Because she cannot watch him go.

The door closes. Something severs. Nathan wants to break down there in the hallway, because he knows how much he has to go back to, even if he risks losing it all. She's the one that's alone, in the end.

But before he can, he is interrupted, forcing himself to keep it together, as always. His phone rings, sounding piercing in the empty hallway, and he brings it out of his pocket. When he checks the ID, answers the call, his voice is utterly normal. "Hey, honey," he says, walking down the hallway and hitting the elevator button. "Yeah, I'm on my way home. I'll see you in ten, okay. I love you." And that's the entire point.

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