SPOILERS: through season four, episode four, "The Truth and Nothing but the Truth"

NOTES: Since not enough people signed up to contribute to the Diana and Marco Month of Love, I decided to finish and post this unfuzzy little fic that I started back toward the end of season three. Lately, Diana's behavior has been in complete disregard to those around her, save Ben and Maia, and, when asked, I feel it's appropriate that someone call her on it. Although I tried to keep it believable, I'm not really sure if Marco would say these things, but the muses insisted. Thank you, PurpleYin, for the beta.

DISCLAIMER: The 4400 and all things associated with it belong to other people


INVITATION

In search of April, Diana had returned from Spain and reclaimed her post as Tom's partner at NTAC. Once she'd finally found her sister, things had gotten a bit complicated, as she was torn between relief that her sister was alive and guilt over her sister having taken promicin in response to Diana's relationship with Ben, April's ex-boyfriend. Her experience with April had made her appreciate that she really did want to keep her old job. It had taken a bit for Ben to adjust--he thought she should leave it all behind--but everything was going well, give or take a few case results. Finally, the wedding plans were underway, but there was one detail that was bothering her, one person she needed to talk to about it...alone.

Having gone to the extreme of tapping into the relevant NTAC interior security cameras for a week because she couldn't bring herself to just ask for a private talk, Diana finally got the chance. The fact that she'd never had to be so circumspect to talk with him before, that they'd been thick as thieves for years, never crossed her mind. She was no longer comfortable with him, and she didn't bother examining why.

The other members of the Theory Room had left early to celebrate Brady's birthday, a celebration Marco had to forego because of research she and Tom needed as soon as possible. Hurrying to the basement, Diana paused for a moment in the doorway to the office Marco shared with his fellow scientists and watched as he worked, focused intently on his computer. It had been a little over half a year, but he seemed to have aged much more than that, with now noticeable frown lines and a perpetually worn-down air about him.

She knocked on the doorframe before entering the room. "Hey, Marco. Got a minute?"

Glancing from his monitor, he offered her a politely friendly, perfunctory grin, which had become his standard for her since her return to NTAC. "If you're looking for the results on Morimoto, I'm afraid you'll have to wait until morning."

"It's...not about that." Her voice was hesitant, even to her own ears. Naturally, being more perceptive, Marco picked up on it.

Stopping, he leaned back in his chair as his expression flitted through some complicated, painful emotion before growing blankly attentive. He had been so open to her in the past. Now, he was like a wall, neither hostile or welcoming, just there, separating them. Of course, it's not as though she had done anything to breach that wall since she'd met Ben.

With an awkward smile, she stepped closer. "I haven't gotten your wedding invitation response card," she prompted. After reading through various wedding magazines with her, Maia had insisted on formal invitations with all the bells and whistles.

Marco nodded, as though she had confirmed something he'd been considering. "Yeah, sorry about that. I, ah...won't be going." Another grin flashed across his face, this one more artificial than the last.

"Do you mind my asking why not?"

With a blink, he shrugged. "Why would I want to go?"

"I thought we were still friends, Marco."

Glancing away, he shrugged, again. "In all the years I've known you, Diana, most of the time I've never been quite sure what am to you, but there is one thing I know for certain." He looked back at her, pinning her with a critical gaze. "Friends don't leave the country for months without so much as a goodbye."

She had been expecting her impulsive disregard to haunt her, but it still hurt to hear it spoken of so bluntly. No one else had, not even April. "I...I'm sorry."

"No..." The ghost of a sad smile on his lips, he shook his head. "I don't believe you are."

"What?" That she had not been expecting.

"For you to be sorry would mean you care, and I don't think you do." The harsh words were spoken with a gentle sympathy while his face regained its passive mien. "You have what you want--good for you, by the way--and that's all that matters to you."

"Marco!" Was that really how he saw things?

He leaned forward, unfazed by her outburst. "What I don't get is...why, when you consider me an embarrassment, would you bother to invite me in the first place?"

"I never..." She tried to deny it.

Nodding, he leaned back and cut her off. "If that's what you'd like to think, but...the Navarro records say otherwise." He returned his focus to his computer, shielding his gaze from her with the reflection of the monitor in his glasses. "Either way, I don't see why you'd want me there, and I won't be going."

"But...Maia said you'd be there." It had been one of many predictions her daughter had made about the wedding.

"Then Maia's wrong."

That caused her pause. "Maia's never wrong." If Maia was wrong about Marco coming to the wedding, what else might she be wrong about?

"Of course she is. She's misinterpreted and changed the outcome of events before." He said it so out-of-hand, it took her a moment to process it.

"What do you mean?"

"The...Life game prediction?" It was apparently something he thought she should remember.

"What?"

"'Marco's going to win. I'm going to come in second, and you'll end up alone with no money'?"

"It was just a game, Marco."

"How does that matter?" His left eyebrow lifted itself above the rim of his glasses. "By ending it early, she altered the results. If she can change the outcome of the game, she can change other things, thus rendering her predictions false."

Diana found herself reaching for some other explanation, some way of denying the truth. "Maybe she wasn't talking about the game?" How had she never thought of it before?

"I don't think what's happened to me qualifies as 'winning' by any stretch of the imagination." Air quotes accompanied the revealing yet dispassionate declaration. "And...if you're getting married to a guy who can afford to take you and Maia to Europe for six months, it...hardly seems like you're ending up alone with no money." There was no arguing that, and as she searched for some response, he continued. "There are other, similar predictions in her diaries that seem to have been off. Then...there's the big one. She predicted Jordan Collier would die."

"Collier did die," insisted Diana. "I remember. I was there!"

There was a brief frown and furrowing of his brow, an expression of his disappointment that she wasn't following his logic. "Okay...but he didn't stay dead, did he? DNA testing proved it's really him. You saw the results, yourself. So that means...what? Collier really is the Messiah?"

It was a question she'd been contemplating on and off since Collier's return. "I don't know."

"Well I know it's getting late, and you have a daughter and fiancé waiting for you." Again, a sad smile haunted his lips. "You should be getting home so I can concentrate on this."

She thought she detected the tiniest hint of desperation in his voice, as if he needed her to be gone. So she let it all drop and turned to leave. "Sure." It was the least she could do for him. "See you tomorrow."

As she drove home, she couldn't help but ponder Marco's words; they had always been so meaningful and insightful in the past. Given all that had happened between them and how she had done nothing to try to restore the comfortable friendship they'd had before their relationship, it was a bit odd for her to want him at the wedding as much as she did. Part of it was that Maia had said he'd be there, so Diana had taken for granted that he'd want to be there. She'd been doing her best not to think about Marco, because when she did, she felt bad about herself. If she looked at her feelings long enough, she realized she wanted him there as a justification for her behavior--his attendance would validate all the things she'd never given him that she'd given to Ben without a second thought because of Maia's prediction of marriage.

So, as she'd been doing for all the months she'd known Ben, she stuck her complicated, uncomfortable feelings in a mental box and shelved it away in the back of her mind to be ignored. Sure, not too long ago, Marco had been the person who was closest to her besides Maia, a man she'd confided everything to, but it was over. Marco's issues about it were Marco's problem and had nothing to do with her. Life was happier if she didn't worry about such things.

Even with the issue of Marco safely tucked away, out of her thoughts, there was no ignoring the possibility that Maia's predictions might not always be accurate--it was too big a concept to overlook for her own convenience. Diana had made it a rule that Maia didn't have to share her visions, unless it was something dire, since knowing about them didn't seem to change anything. The idea that Maia's visions were open to interpretation, or could even be altered, changed everything.

As soon as she got home, she went to Maia's room and closed the door behind her. In the muted lavender light, Diana found her daughter at her desk, writing with a pen. It was one of the aspects of Maia's old life she wouldn't give up, even if it meant spending extra time typing everything she wrote for school into a computer.

Without looking up, Maia said, "Hi, mom."

"Maia, I...learned something today that I need to ask you about."

Maia turned around, mouth open as though to say something, then she saw Diana's expression and closed her mouth with a frown.

Feeling suddenly unsteady, Diana moved around the bed to sit on it and be closer to the desk and Maia. "Do all of your visions turn out the way you see them...the way you think they're going to?"

Her daughter's face turned stony. "I thought we weren't supposed to talk about my visions."

Reaching out, she took Maia's free hand. "Please, just...answer the question, sweetie." It surprised her how steady her voice sounded; she certainly wasn't feelling it.

"No." There was no hesitation, no self-consciousness, just a sense of wanting to get it over with.

"No?"

"I said no." Her voice had a whiny desperation to it. "Are we done, now?"

Diana was glad she was sitting down, otherwise her knees might have given way beneath her. "When...did you figure this out?"

Maia heaved a sigh. "When Mr. Ryland didn't die at the tribunal."

It took a moment before Diana could find her voice. "You had a vision of Ryland dying...and you didn't say anything?"

"He was one of the men who made us all sick." Her brow furrowed and her tone grew defensive. "I didn't think it mattered because I couldn't change it and he was a bad man."

Taking the disturbing topic of Maia thinking it was okay for people she judged "bad" to die, Diana stuffed it in a mental box and stored it away. "So...how many of your visions since then...?"

Pulling her hand free, Maia leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms. "I don't know. I had a lot of visions I don't remember until I learned to control them, and since then, I've been pretty good at keeping it turned off unless it's something really big."

"Okay, then...how many that you know of?"

"About a third," Maia said with a huff.

"A third?" She had to rest her hands on the edge of the bed for support; it was hard to believe it could be so many. "How...off are they?"

Still petulant, Maia shrugged. "Sometimes, it's a little thing, like me forgetting a color or the number of people in a room--stuff like that. Sometimes it's big."

"How big?"

"My thinking Mr. Ryland died big."

Mind spinning, Diana grabbed hold of the thought that had become her rock these past few months--her marriage with Ben. But that released a whole new flood of uncertainty. "So you knew you could be wrong when you told told me Ben and I would get married?"

At last, there was some remorse in her daughter. "Yeah."

"Were we supposed to get together so quickly?" She needed to know.

Maia shrugged. "I don't know."

"Then why did you tell me?" It surprised her how bad she suddenly felt about April.

Again, Maia turned defensive. "Because I saw you happy with him, and I wanted it to happen as soon as possible."

"But your aunt..."

"Aunt April would have been hurt either way, right?" Her daughter had clearly rationalized this to herself. "So what did it matter when it happened?"

"Ben broke it off with your aunt because of your prediction."

"I didn't tell Ben," Maia accused. "You told Ben. I only told you!"

No matter how she tried, Diana couldn't fit this into a mental box and ignore it. Maia was right. If Diana hadn't told Ben, maybe his relationship with April would have ended naturally and April wouldn't have risked death in taking promicin. But Maia had intentionally told Diana in hopes of speeding things along, so Maia was no innocent in this matter. Everything that had happened since then, all of the heartache she'd caused April and guilt she'd caused herself, it all might have turned out differently if she hadn't known about Maia's prediction. No matter how much she might have been able to deny it when April had once asked her how hard she'd fought against becoming involved with Ben for April's sake, Diana could no longer avoid the fact that she had used Maia's prediction as an excuse to jump into the relationship, a means of absolving her of any wrongdoing because it was "meant to be."

Despite all the thoughts swirling through her head, what came out of her mouth was, "April could have died..." No matter her issues with her sister, April was the only blood relative she had besides her father. The possibility that April had died was what had driven her out of Spain and back to NTAC. If things had happened differently, if her relationship with Ben had started after his relationship with her sister had ended of its own accord, would she never have come back from Spain?

Suddenly, Maia burst into tears and threw herself into Diana's arms. "I didn't mean for that to happen! I didn't know she'd do that! I just wanted you to be happy!"

"It's okay," she said automatically as she held her daughter tight. "What's done is done." Yet she couldn't help imagining "what if"s. One of them resolved the mental conflict she'd been avoiding all evening, the conflict between prophesy and reality that had resulted in this profound revelation about her daughter's visions. It all made sense, now. Despite everything, she still had a relationship with her sister, but she couldn't see how she could salvage this one, no matter the implications of Maia's vision. The knowledge that things might have turned out differently, that she might have been able to restore the friendship she'd depended on for years, filled her with regret. "And, Maia...?"

"Yes?" Maia hiccupped through her tears.

"Marco won't be coming to the wedding."