"Intentions" (Downtime Ep 57)

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Mari leaned heavily on Nathan as they entered his estate. She felt… okay, considering the situation, but still exhausted. “Thank you, Nathan, for letting me stay here tonight,” she said quietly. “I definitely don’t know how to explain this to Haley.”

Nathan’s arm tightened around her shoulder. “Of course, sweetheart. You just need to rest, honestly. That was… that was…harrowing.” He was doing his best to stay composed; she’d clearly had a harder time than him. She had been the one who died, after all. He led her upstairs to the room she’s stayed in before, and he sat down with her on the bed. “How are you feeling?”

She nodded and leaned against Nathan as they sat, not wanting to be far from him at all. Needing the contact. “I’m…weirdly okay?” She laughed slightly. “Considering the situation, at least. It’s not that strange, this new form.” She stared at her paw-like hands, her new soft gray fur. “I’m used to being in a different body. Especially animal forms.” She studied him. “How are you right now, love? After all of this, I can’t imagine you’re doing the best.”

Nathan kissed the top of her head. “I’ll be ok, darling, nothing to worry about. I just…” In his mind, he couldn’t stop seeing her human form. Her crushed chest and mangled body. How cold she had felt, how much blood… he closed his eye, pulling her into his arms. “It wasn’t easy. Seeing you like that. That’s all.”

She kissed his chest and purred softly. “I’m sorry that you had to and that all of this happened. I should’ve been more careful, but I couldn’t leave Pip wrapped up in that thing.” She sighed, shaking slightly as she buried her head in his chest. “I’m sorry.”

He hugged her tighter. “Mari, sweetie, no, it’s ok.” He squeezed his eye shut. “You did what you had to. That was impossibly brave. I’m very proud of that.” His lips found the top of her head. “Just…gods above and devils below, please never do something like that again.”

“I’ll do my best.” She said quietly. “I’m still sorry. I know everyone is really worried. I hate making people cry.”

He lifted her face to his, studying it. It was different, but it was still her. It was so her. Her eyes, beautiful and expressive and alive. “My heart,” he murmured. “Just focus on now, ok? You’re here. You’re safe. We’re all glad you’re back.” He was fighting his own fears, his own tears, his anger at the situation. He needed to be here now for her. So he would be.

Mari nodded as she wiped away tears that had started to well up. “O-okay.” She cupped his face gently, her expression warm. “Nathan, please. You don’t have to hide. Please be honest with me love.”

He smiled a little, brows drawing together. “I’m going to be ok. I’m not hiding, I just- I can’t lose control. Not now. I’m not doing that to you. I’m angry, and I’m scared, and I’m- I’m never going to be able to forget what you looked like.” He rest his forehead against hers. “I haven’t felt that level of despair in seventeen years.”

Her brows furrowed and she kissed his forehead gently. She didn’t say anything for a moment. Very softly, she asked, “Am I… this new form is it… is it what you want still?” She couldn’t look at him, instead she stared down at her paws again.

Nathan’s heart broke. He wrapped her tightly in his arms, pulling her closer. “Oh, Mari,” His voice cracked slightly. “Mari, I knew this was a possibility. I knew you could come back entirely different. But I knew it would still be you. Your soul, your mind. Those incredible, perfect things that make you who you are. Those are what… what I love about you.” His voice was very soft. “And- And you will always be perfect to me. Kissing you will be a bit new,” he chuckled lightly. “But you are you.” He flushed a bit. “Sorry that was a bit dramatic.”

For the first time all night, Mari smiled brightly. She kissed Nathan’s cheek. “No, not dramatic. Perfect. It’ll be new for both of us, believe me. I- I’m glad you’re still here, that you were there for… it.”

“Me too,” he murmured. “Can… can I kiss you?” Nathan grinned a little. “Or at least try to?”

She nodded, still smiling. “Please.” She cupped his face.

He bent down and gently kissed her. It was different, but it wasn’t bad in the least. She was soft and warm, and… so perfect. His gut was still filled with butterflies, and his face was warm, and oh gosh he liked her.

She purred softly as she kissed him back. Despite everything that happened today, she was happy. She was alive and with Nathan. That was all she needed right now. Tomorrow she’d worry, but right now, in this room with him, she would ignore all of her fears and worries and just enjoys the moment.

He grinned into the kiss; the purring was beyond adorable. He pulled back, still holding her. “You need some sleep, honey.”

She grumbled but nodded. “Okay, you’re right.” She yawned, fangs exposed.

 “Is it ok if I stay?” Nathan asked softly, helping her into bed.

Mari pulled her knees up to her chest and cuddled into the blankets. “Please?” Her voice was quiet.

He took off his vest, then sat and stripped off his shoes and socks. He took his hair down and let it fall down his shoulders. Hesitating, he reached up to slowly remove his eyepatch and set it down on a side table. He climbed into the blankets with her. Staring at the ceiling for a moment, he finally sat up and held his left eye open to remove his false eye. Nathan rested it next to his eyepatch and lay back down beside Mari. He gave her a nervous smile.

Mari’s expression was kind and so full of love, “You are incredibly handsome love.” She kissed him softly, cuddling close to rest her head on his chest.

He put an arm around her, his eyes drifting closed. She was so warm, and it felt so right. “Goodnight, Mari.”

She nuzzled in closer and kissed his shoulder softly. “Good night, darling. Thank you.” And she let sleep overtake her. Finally able to rest after the exhausting day.

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