Date: June 9, 2010
The aftermath of Paris.
"Enough Fault To Go Around (The World)"
The luxury is gone. Simple and even barely furnished, there's not much to see in Peter's breadbox of an apartment, as his father once called it. He could take her to his mom's house if he wanted to shower her in nicities and pretty things, but right now he just wants her here… With him. Safe.
Though Gabriel knows where he lives, and how can he know for sure that it's safe… As long as he sits by her side on the bed he laid her on, he knows it has to be.
It's hard to know how long it's been since she fell, but as his hand touches her forehead and runs across her cheek, he wipes away some of the damage caused to her by the impact, what kept her unconscious, taking the bruising, the pain, any damage with it. He can heal a lot of things…
But not everything. Like self-consciousness, trust, hearts…
She stirs. Though it's not obvious that she wants to, with her eyes squeezed shut even as she begins to rustle about against the covers. One hand that was left lying at her side clumps fabric together between her fingers before eyelids flicker open. Even then, she stares almost blankly at the wall to which her head is turned, eyeing its blandness with increasingly furrowed eyebrows.
Then, her little body shoots upwards, stomach clenching to get her to seated position even as legs scramble against soft mattress to possibly get herself standing. It's a reaction that fits her worried: "Peter—?"
Finding him there, nearby, causes instant relief and then secondary concern. Suspicion sweeps her face as she eyes him with almost comically intense investigation — if the situation weren't so serious, it might be. For the speedster, the last thing she knew was a kitchenette. Not who came out victorious.
"It's me," Peter says, keeping his hand near her face and trailing down her cheek to her lips. "I told you I loved you while teleporting possessions between two warehouses. You had to run to catch up to me." The smile as he remembers that moment is much sadder than he intended it to be. It's something he's not talked about with anyone, and he's not sure that she would have mentioned it in Paris. It's words she's never returned… not to him. But he's used to being the one to say them first.
A romantic is something he's always been. Even when he tries to avoid it.
"You're back in New York. I don't know what happened to— I left him on a roof. I hope he'll stay away from now on." But how will they know for sure… "I'm really sorry."
"I— " She pauses in rushing to fix the mistake of him never hearing those words, but now they feel utterly tainted. She said them to him, instead. Daphne fists clench more firmly against the covers, even as she bashfully, hopefully tips her head at his touch. "He's…" Gone. Maybe. She isn't yet sure how she feels about that, so she only gnaws on her cheek and pretends not to have an answer.
Instead, she wiggles a little backwards, her knees pulling up towards her chest as she finds something else to focus on besides Peter. "I don't know why you're apologizing," she tells him matter-of-factly, "You think I'm the worst idiot right now and you're completely right."
As she pulls away, Peter's hand drops from her face, to lower at her side. As she focuses on anything but him, he keeps his eyes steadily on her. "No, that's not what I think— you're a speedster, not a telepath." There's still that sad smile, but he's not hesitating too much on his words, which might help give crediability to him. "I think he's and asshole and I will punch his face in if he ever comes anywhere near you again."
Well, he'd like to do more than that. Especially since it won't really matter how much he hits him, when he just gets better again.
"I'm sorry because… it seems everyone I care the most about ends up getting hurt. This wouldn't have happened to you if— if you weren't with me." And he's always the one to blame himself. No matter what Gabriel said, he never thinks of himself as perfect.
It does help, because Daphne grades by every pause, no matter how miniscule it may seem. She can't avoid him much longer when the urge to study his face becomes too great. So, instead, she bites down on her lips, forfeiting any tell-tale expression, and watches his movements, his reactions. That little sadness. As much as she wants to feel vindicated at the mention of violence to Gabriel, a flicker of doubt stops her short.
Smoothing her hands in front of her, she thinks long and hard before commenting, quietly, "I wasn't really… hurt. Was I? I mean, he had me hook, line, and sinker, right? He could've done anything else…" Not let her have anything.
She's puzzling some more, all of the concentration showing in the lines across her forehead, the way her mouth puckers to the side with pressing thought. "No," she says, distracted but with absolute firmness as she waves a hand emphasizing, "This wouldn't have happened if I'd just known better…"
"I didn't know when it happened to me," Peter says quietly, now dropping his eyes away for the first time. "I was with someone, the daughter of a man who worked with my mother. He saw a prophecy that he was trying to prevent, where she died, so he replaced her with a doppleganger, a woman with the same ability who was… altered to look like her. I didn't know either, and I was with her for a long time, before I realized she just wasn't the girl that I thought I'd known— but even then I didn't know she really wasn't…"
No relationship with him will ever be simple. It'd happened to him before, though with no malicious intent. And he thinks the woman may not have even known she was a doppleganger. Better to fool a telepath…
"I don't blame you. We still haven't gotten to know each other very well, without interuptions— something always seems to happen. Memory loss… capture…" This? "It's not your fault."
"So this is just routine for you — having loved ones replaced." It might not be evident until he looks at her again to see that Daphne's teasing him; clearly, it's affecting him as strongly now as it must've before. Even mention of another woman doesn't phase her from finally ironing out her concern to something more grounded, "Arguing fault is just going to waste both our times."
And for this relationship? That keeps bringing these circumstances around? … She reaches out, her hands cupping around Peter's face as she draws him over to put their foreheads together. "He never did this…" She whispers intimately, letting her hands drop to his now that they're touching. "I noticed that."
It's one of those things that distracted her, even if she hadn't put it truly together, or didn't realize that's what the strange itch was. "Life's short…" She muses drearily after a moment, lips working pensively, "All these interruptions…" But that sparkle in her eye betrays her even before she lets him know she's come to a more positive conclusion with her smile. "It's a good thing we're really, really fast."
With their foreheads pressed together, Peter's eyes close, and he reaches up to touch her neck with his hands. Apparently that touch isn't enough for him… Or maybe it is cause one of the hands drop away quickly enough. "I had something I wanted to give you," he says quietly, still against her forehead. Their noses touch for a extended moment, as he shifts, so that their lips can meet, and then he's pulling back. The hand that dropped away suddenly has something in it, a small box, which he holds up to her.
"I've wanted to give it to you for a while, I just never seemed to…" To find the time? So many interuptions, so much to do. But now he has the time.
"I got it for you cause… it has a compass, and it keeps track of altitude and distance travelled— I figured you could get even more use out of it than just about anyone." It's a watch. Digital. With many functions, just as he said. But it also tells the time, too. Something which they've missed out on a lot.
The touch, the closeness, the kiss: all of these things Daphne accepts with the same cherishing smile. But when he speaks of presents, she wavers, one shoulder rising uncomfortably. "I don't know if I— ohhhh." He's beaten her to the punch when he gets to explaining the functions of the watch first. Armed with her own ample curiosity, her fingers find her popping off the covering and pulling out the accessory before she can remember her complaint.
"I don't know," is repeated, this time skeptically, "Think it can keep up with the likes of me…?" Squinting at the armwear, she holds it out in front of her, even so unable to contain a little tinge of laughter at the corners of her mouth. But as her focus switches from watch to his face behind her, she knows why she can be so happy so quickly after the incident … because it all feels the same.
Presents… being together…
The watch drops into the box, Daphne's hands folding over it guiltily. Time is also what they'll need, to figure out how everything fits together from here on out.