2010-04-13: Precious



Date: April 13, 2010


Alpha Protocol kidnapped many people, stole their freedom and their precious possessions. Peter and Daphne take them back.

"Log Title"

Warehouse in Nevada, and a Warehouse in North Dakota

It took a long time to find the set of storage buildings in the middle of Nevada. It had only been through a stroke of luck that Peter'd even managed to find it. Finding objects is not like finding people. The ability he has just doesn't work like that.

Electric fences and locks, security cameras and motion detectors, but only two physical guards, lazily reading magazines and pacing around as the light looms. The electronics would be enough, if it weren't for an ability recently acquired. While the night settles around them, and the beetles croon, there's a flicker of energy as Peter lays his hand on an electronic panel near the front gate.

Cameras off. Motion detectors off. Phones off. Doors and gate unlocked. Fence off.

The hand drops, and he looks back toward the young woman near him in the darkness.

Think you can handle the guards? he asks, with the best silent form of communication he knows. Telepathy.

One of said guards paces around the front, completely unaware of what's happening, while the second sits in a control booth, reading a magazine.

This young woman is lazily adjusting the sit of the slouchy black beanie hat that hides her obvious hair. She doesn't immediately return his glance at the question because she will never, ever enjoy a type of communication that gets into her head. But Daphne also doesn't need telepathy to give him a return look that describes exactly how much she feels she can handle this — and does he really need to ask, aww, but isn't it kind of cute that he did. The mind-reading might help slightly with that last one, actually.

The point is soon to become moot anyway.

Without further ruminating, the speedster takes off into a breezy run timed to bring her up behind the patrolling guard in that key moment where he passes beyond the control booth's view. He graciously gets a warning tap on the shoulder before, near simultaneously, Daphne's fist is coming at his face at a speed that can more than send somebody out. But, just for fun, she helps him along with a follow-up swing of her leg behind his knees. A quick grab relieves him of everything off his belt before he hits the ground.

But there's one more of 'em.

And as soon as Daphne is on the approach and glances to notice that he's sitting on a chair with wheels… she knows what to do.

All it takes is one hand to spin the chair in the direction of the door and then a helpful little (extremely fast) push. That guy and his chair are gone, bye bye. She even left him the — oh, no. She took the magazine. She holds it out in front of her warily, squinting at what is probably either celebrity gossip or porn.

While Daphne provides the distraction to the guards, the main doors to the warehouse raise and open. Lights switch on, shining on rows upon rows of boxes, all carefully stacked, with codes on the side. It only takes a few seconds, which is about how long it took her to take care of the two slow guards, hired to do nothing more than watch a building for tresspassers.

"What do you have there?" Peter asks, moving up behind her, and touching her on the arm. Personal contact has always been his thing, especially with those he's close to. And he's been pretty close to her, lately…

It's not porn, luckily. Instead, it's a gun magazine.

"How many trips do you think you can make carrying a smaller box one at a time?" He'd already set up another warehouse for sorting and returning of items. Miles and miles and miles away—

But she can run to Paris and back. A few states shouldn't be a big deal.

Guns leave a bad taste in Daphne's mouth, culminating in her tossing the magazine even as Peter appears to inquire about its content. "Nothin'. I hope you got something better." It's off on and off lately with her — sometimes her insecurities would shine through on a bad day — but this evening she turns into his touch. A coy smile and her fingers tease his upper arm, but just briefly.

Her head turns to look out amongst the boxes under that new spotlight. "Oh, I could go for miles, you know what I mean," she teases outright with the last traces of that smile before some lip-nibbling transfers her to something more business-like.

"Smaller boxes are usually packed heavier… unless some schmuck just didn't have anything worth packing. Eh, whatever," she pushes off from the control desk, "Running's a piece of cake. I got two hands and time's a'wasting."

There's a collective blur of them using her ability to catch up on lost time, and Peter's pulling down the first of the smaller boxes. Just as she suspected, packed heavy, but not too bad. They've got plenty of stacks of boxes to choose from, so they won't have to fight over it. "Any you can't carry, just leave to me," Peter says, before getting closer to kiss her on the cheek. A quick gesture, sweet and simple. "Be careful, Daphne," he adds, concern heavy in his voice.

She's faster than sound, but that doesn't mean he won't worry about her, since he's taking a short cut on his side of the race, and not actually running with her on this.

That sounds like a challenge! Except the tiny speedster, being, well, tiny, is only so inclined to do as much physical labor as she has to. Daphne smiles fleetingly for the kiss, choosing to use the moment of closeness to just tug the box Peter's got out of his hands and let him bother getting himself another. She hefts it onto her extended hip as she regards him. "And what, give up all the fun that is having you worry about me?"

He can take the high road, or whatever, but she enjoys the racetrack. There's an instant spared to circle the standing Peter, just for the sheer purpose of mussing up his hair with the wind rushing after her; then she's gone to put the first of many things into a warehouse miles, miles away.

If the box happens to get opened and peeked into along the way… look, it could just be an accident.

Hair and clothing ruffled, Peter is blinking and the woman is miles and miles away before he even moves from his spot. Blinking, and smiling both, rubbing a hand through his hair, before he reaches for two of the bigger boxes, with his eyes closing. Poof. All those miles in a second, and he makes no move to try to open or look through the boxes. Identifying who all these belongings belong to will happen later.

There, he waits. One small box already sits there, his bigger boxes added in. She's already heading back and forth, and this time— this time he waits for her.

It's not like he's waiting long. Just a few moments before he hears the rushing sound, the feeling of wind against his cheek, and his eyes close. To even the playing field, slowing time down so that she seems to move at his normal speed, and he seems to move faster.

"Daphne," he says, waiting til she puts the box down, opened or not. "I'm glad we're doing this together." Why is he stopping time, just to say that? No, not just that. He's suddenly moving toward her again, not to kiss her on the cheek. It's like when he first saw her again after all that time apart, after the dreams. "I just wanted to stop you to say that I'm in love with you." he adds quietly, brushing his nose against hers, with ruffled hair falling in front of his face.

And to punctuate it, she doesn't even have the fraction of a millisecond to respond, before he's gone and vanished. To get another box. It's almost as if he's playing a 'catch me if you can' game with her.

She can feel the influence of time being changed around her; it isn't one Daphne's much enjoyed previous times, sparking an initial reaction much more defensive than Peter's intentions. But by some sheer, strange miracle, her instinctive snappiness is mellowed by a not-quite-recent but still tender second reaction. So when she deposits the box down, subtly pressing it closed with three fingers, she turns to him with an expression trusting that what he does has a reason.

Probably easy to guess it'd be that sappy. "What can I say, I'm an expert at reloc… ation…" Daphne isn't exactly taken aback by his coming close, even if he does it so quickly versus her because of screwing up time: something just seems different.

What time she doesn't have to respond, she spends inhaling sharply. Him suddenly being gone is so staggering she actually lurches forward into the space he so recently occupied. Conflict flickers across her face in this empty warehouse where only four boxes stand witness. Sucking in that lost breath and puffing up her not great size, she accepts what part of that she understands best — the chase.

She's back in Nevada momentarily, though she's had plenty of her own special brand of time to think about things — or decide not to think about them. "What's that supposed to be?" She blurts out even as she slows to a normal running pace, a jog, comes to a stop to look for him, "Some song you heard on the radio this morning? Are we playing a game?"

Sappy is one of the things that he's good at, even under these circumstances. It just took him a long time to get comfortable with it. And having his mother and niece among all the other people staying in his house… not helping with the sappy moments they get to share, or the tender and affectionate ones. Not that they couldn't have snuck out together— there just hasn't been a lot of time for it.

On top of everything else.

Peter's sorting a box when she gets back, lid open to look down at some photographs, picking them out and touching them. Family pictures are the one thing he knew he had to save the most— the one thing he'd intended to rescue from possible incineration. They're things that can't be replaced. Unlike televisions and furnature and bookshelves…

The hand tenderly sets the picture down, sealing the bigger box again, as he looks over. "It's supposed to be the truth. Once you slowed down enough for me to catch up, I realized you already stole my heart away," there's a lopsided hint of a grin, before his hand moves back to the big box.

And he's gone again. Maybe it is a little bit of a game. But at the same time— it's the first time he's been able to say it to her.

So it hasn't exactly been 'playing house' at the safe location these days, but the sense of impending threat has always lent the situation the temporary edge Daphne finds familiar. It's something she can operate in. Opening up emotionally is not. Necessarily. That takes the time she's never given it.

So when Peter vanishes a second time before she can come up with a sizable retort, she actually stomps a foot down and glances around the bright-lit storage sheds with some bubbling frustration. He's not only the only person (mostly) who can beat her at taking off, but he has the distinct qualification of also being the only person who can get away with it.

Even as she wants to be angry, she isn't. Not at him. Well, maybe a little at him. After all, what right does he have bringing this up when they were doing just fine how they were?

Last minute, she remembers she's there to move boxes. She wraps her arms around the closest thing while taking her first step, resulting in her slinging it rather forcefully to the ground when she arrives at Peter's warehouse. "I've stolen a lot of valuable things," she prefaces with proudly, as a wall before her emotions. She's still trusting he'll be there, rather than looking for him before she speaks. "But what if I don't know what to do with something that important?"

When she makes it there, Peter's standing there, waiting for her. It comes off as a game, just from the fact he waited, knowing that she wasn't going to be very long. A hand goes through his hair, pushing it back, as he steps forward to pick up the tossed down box and add it to the pile. He hopes nothing in it was fragile— just like… "I guess just make sure you read the disclaimers. Nearly indestructable, but especially fragile when it comes to certain things," he says softly, placing the box back onto the pile, and for once in this race of confessions, he's giving her time to be the one to depart first.

"But I think it's worth the risk, letting you keep it." There's a pause, enough time for her to take off, as he glances back at her. "Assuming you wanted to take it."

Out of context, this conversation wouldn't seem as sappy as it is. In context… terribly so.

But Daphne doesn't leave, as much as it'd be easy for her to at any time; she needs to use these moments he's sparing to build up to what really needs to be said. In a way, it already has been. But they call them deep-seated issues for a reason.

"I don't really think about it when I take things," she admits uncomfortably, attempting to keep on the path of their extended metaphor, "It's just for fun. I always thought I deserved a little pick-me-up after… everything." What does she deserve now? The biggest heart the world has to offer? In a pretty little box, like the ones they're ferrying. This side up.

But she struggles with the lie on her face, twisting around to turn wholly away from him to hide it, hide herself. Abandoning the vague speak: "How can you say that when you don't know the risk?" Her words aren't accusatory as they may seem; she wants to understand, to believe. "Don't know how much damage I've caused to other people in the past." She whirls around, propelled by her own insistence, even if she might not have wanted to look him in the eye yet. "You told your mom to suck it," — not in so many words — "but do you really really mean it?" No comforting, no patronizing — she wants him to be brutally honest.

And to give him proper time to let that incubate, she does turn and run this time.

Zoom, zoom. Peter stands there for a a few seconds, enough time for her to cross state lines and speed along over ground and open fields and roads, before eyes close and he shifts his position again. When his eyes open, she's almost there, the sound of her and her wake ruffling boxes and pushing the air. It messes up his hair again, as looks at her. "Yes," he simply says, voice whispered, but sincere. The biggest heart in the world, and she took it without even meaning to. Handle with Care.

"I murdered the woman who helped form Alpha Protocol," he says quietly, not even going for the boxes right away. "I used an ability to give her a stroke, cutting off the blood to her brain long enough to kill her. All it took was a touch. I also murdered another man, because I couldn't control an ability I had, because I couldn't control myself." And in the dream, he killed the man's son. He killed his own brother.

"And I'm a walking nuclear bomb. You're not the only one who's dangerous— who's capable of great damage."

There's that flicker again, one second he's there, the next— he's next to a big box, then him and the box are gone.

He beat her. He's there a lot faster than she expected, and Daphne comes to a very sudden stop right before colliding with him. At his answer, she looks away bashfully. It only lasts until his confession, when she's forced to stare into his face with confusion and a distrust that lasts barely long enough to acknowledge it ever existed. She swallows around an already prepared answer because he's still talking.

Screw the boxes. Now, when he flickers away to get his burden, she gets in the first step.

It'll always be slightly more effort, more time, to run than to simply appear in another place but she enjoys the motion, the physicality. It feels more like she's doing it for herself. And now she pushes an ability she's never questioned before even harder — she wants to be faster than faster.

She wants to be there where he is and never give him a second of thinking he's alone.

She's pretty much on him before she's even slow enough to be visible, the force possibly rocking him back some but her heels plant on the ground and her hands wrap around his and her little body is an anchor. "Not being able to control yourself isn't making a choice to be bad. And anyone who encouraged that sick place deserves it." There's still a shudder whenever she has to think about AP. The cell. The helplessness. "I tricked good people into working for a terrible guy for money. And — and to help myself. I just let it happen every day. I stole something really bad. And I didn't do it to stop evil, I was evil." Maybe she should just let it go, but she can't; she needs him to see it, too. Otherwise, what has she been clinging to this whole time? Who is she?

Folding time and space is faster, due to the fact he does both at once. Slows down time and moves from one place to another, but Peter looks surprised to see how fast she made it, letting out a sound when she meets him, holds onto him. Anchors him down. Evil.

"You're not evil," he says quietly, fingers reaching up to touch her cheek, her earlobe, the place where pale hair peeks out from under the dark hat that keeps it down and out of sight. "You weren't evil. You were just stuck somewhere in between."

Between good an evil, between end and beginning— there's always an in between. And she'd been stuck there, skirting the edges of both.

This time when he leans down to kiss her, it lasts longer, the cool of the distance ran warmed by his lips. She won't have to run back this time, though, as they both suddenly shift.

Back to the warehouse full of boxes. "I love you, Daphne," he adds quietly, eyes opening again to watch her. And this time he makes no move to pull away, to get boxes, to disappear from her grasp.

She's breathing a bit harder from the push she gave herself running, and the intensity of the moment is doing nothing to slow down Daphne's already accelerated heartbeat. Shoulders tense as if preparing for a rebuttal, but instead this only lets her completely relax, unwind, try out the words he's telling her. Stuck. Sort of a weird image of a speedster, but it doesn't ring false. She might not be completely convinced, but now she might not mind trying to be.

It's even easier to kiss him. As she presses affection, mouth welcoming his, her hands weave around his sides, linking behind his back. It could be black and white — frozen — around them. She doesn't seem to even notice when they disappear to be somewhere else.

Of course, those three little words might have something to do with that.

At first Daphne's gaze drops away, but her expression plays out thoughtful, almost childish in its open realization. Surprised, hopeful; "I believe you." She isn't exactly on script, but this is, in part, just as important to her.

It may not been on the script, but it's genuine. There's a smile that spreads across his face, and he's pressing his lips against her forehead, her nose, he cheek— finally her lips again, making her tilt her head up so he can. Peter's not the tallest guy, which keeps him from having to lean down too much, but she still needs to get on her toes to make it really easy on them both. "Good," he whispers against her lips, as he kisses her again.

Softer, slower, tender.

Of all the things that happen in the blink of an eye for the two of them, this moment isn't one of them. But… it can't last forever.

"This whole warehouse is full of precious things," he says quietly as he breaks away, nose pressing against hers. He means her in this, too. "Once we get all the boxes moved, I want to take you somewhere. Just the two of us tonight— no one else." No mother, no niece, no barking puppy. Just them.

There's worse things to have to strain for than being on your toes long enough to kiss the man who just confessed love for you. Daphne is a perfectly willing subject for anywhere he'd like to try, head tilted gently to the side and exposing the pale skin of her neck leading down to more of her body, before she's involved with those lips again. She wasn't any less passionate previous times they've kissed, but there's something about it now… something less temporary.

Something different about tonight, for sure. And it turns out change isn't always bad.

When he's back to whispering full sentences, she doesn't immediately comply. First, eyes flutter shut as she hovers in the previous moment, fully memorizes it. Then she nuzzles him, sliding lazily backwards in the same movement so she can regard those boxes that happen to be what they were originally here to take care of. Slight detour. "Guess we'd better stop dilly-dallying, then," she teases.

Though Daphne pulled right away from him, it should be counted as no lack of eagerness. When it comes to hauling those boxes, she's never moved faster in her life. It's possible she liked the sound of his suggestion.

"No more dilly-dallying," Peter says in agreement, hands lingering a bit longer than they should. Or not long enough, depending on perceptions. As she zips off with one batch, with newfound eagerness for speed, his hands settle on the bigger boxes, and work on dislocating them to another place. One at a time.

Back and forth, by feet and by the act of folding space and time, the boxes move from one place to another. Every so often they catch a glimpse of each other, and he looks up to smile at her. Sometimes he reaches to take her hand in the other warehouse, and saves her a trip back. It usually delays them, though, because letting go becomes more difficult each time.

The last trip, the last boxes— and this time, she gets there first.

And, honestly, moving other people's stuff is only so interesting for so long. The breaking in part was fun, and the part in the middle there was important, but Daphne shoves the last box into place with more than a little satisfaction. "I am, like, only the awesomest Santa's elf out there," she preens happily to herself, observing the stack of reclaimed possessions.

It only takes a portion of a second for the idea to occur — and it had better, because he's probably hot on her tail — and then she acts; she vanishes.

Somewhere amongst the boxes, sitting on a lower column, hidden by the higher ones around, she swings her legs and waits. And when it comes to mind that she's playing with the guy with all the superpowers, she scrunches up her nose and pre-empts: you're cheating, you're cheating, you're cheating, big cheater!

It's difficult to tell whether he's actually arrived yet or not, really. There's so many big boxes that got moved back and forth that it's difficult to tell when the last one got placed. But there's no sign of him, even after she hides and waits.

A cheater he is, because suddenly something drops down into her lap from above. A single white rose, still a bud, rather than bloomed, with a long stim, thorns trimmed off. It's fresh, and smells like it just came from a flower shop. Likely in a completely different country, based on the hour.

The rose might just be a distraction, to keep her from jumping on him as soon as he fully appears in the warehouse, turned to close the main doors, so they can lock the storage building up.

While she's concentrating on scolding him mentally, Daphne is assailed from above by… a flower! She huffs out a noise of, not all that angry, exasperation. But maybe, just maybe, it isn't so bad to be one upped. She considers this as fingers fold carefully around the rose stem, bringing its hesitant petals towards her.

A smirk blossoming much like the flower one day would've, she zips along the tops of the stacks of boxes. From here she can look down on him as he closes everything up. This is all she does for a few seconds, just watch him with a glowing feeling so full up inside that it shows in her eyes even as she displays a mischievous angle.

"I hope you know what a show-off you are." Said the pot to the kettle.

"I don't have to be a show off," Peter says with a shrug, locking the doors and getting them shut in, beginning to turn the security on. It has a timer, allowing them five minutes to get out before the motion detectors come on, and would alert him via email to his phone immediately. He's the best security guard in the world, because he can be anywhere in the world, and be there in an instant if he has to be.

But not tonight. Tonight he has to be somewhere else. Somewhere…

"You going to get down from there, or do I have to go up there to you?" he asks, looking up at her with a warm smile. "I think you'll like the place I got us. It's a bed and breakfast. I know the owner— she's a nice lady." Who he met while he was in a coma, but he'll leave that little part out!

"I seem to recall once you saying you could always come after me." Daphne seems to leave the challenge out there for him. But as she turns her head to the side absently, her body becomes a blurry vision and she's sorted her way down from the boxes and over to him. Slowing down at his side, she looks even a bit shy to be have done so. The statement is out there, even so: he could come after her — but she isn't going to make him.

"Well, if you think I'll like it, I guess we'd better find out how you did," she grins, putting out her chin playfully and tilting her head back and forth in mock deep-thought. She's never been good at waiting, though. Or surprises. "Is it somewhere very, very exotic? Have I been there before? Ohhh, has someone else been there with you before? That's how you know it, isn't it." Her finger comes up to stab him faux-accusingly in the chest.

"I went there when I was a kid, with Nathan and my parents," Peter explains, reaching out to touch her now that she's close to him, hands on her shoulders. There's that twisting of everything again. She may be used to running and moving at the speed of sound, but this is somehow quicker, faster, and it dissolves into a bedroom. A old fashioned bedroom. It doesn't look exotic. There's paintings on the wall, one of a lighthouse, and the window curtains are pulled back.

Just like the painting, she has a view of a bay, and a lighthouse, lit up, light spinning. Welcome to Nantucket, Miss Millbrook.

"It's not as exotic as Paris, but— at least we'll have the place to ourselves tonight," he says quietly, reaching up to pull the cap off of her hair.

That he chose to instantly appear in the bedroom could be turned into a joke, but Daphne's fully occupied with absorbing the entire immediate view with her wide eyes. Stepping in a turn one after the other, she completes a full rotation to take in every corner before she lands on Peter again. There's a squint upwards as the beanie catches a second on ratted strands and then pulls away with his motion. Sheer blonde strands tumble every which way around her forehead, framing her face messily, falling into her eyes, and making general nuisances of themselves. It might be time for a trim.

Until then, a shake of her head dismisses most of it and when she's staring straight up again her mouth has begun to curve upwards wickedly. The kind of wicked that goes well with their specific location.

"Well," she says, fingers darting forward and sliding into his pockets like she means to take something from him — quite possibly, the pants themselves, "Let's see what we can't do to make it just as exciting as possible."

No offense to Nantucket, but some things trump even a speedster's sense of exploration.

She still has to show him how much she appreciates three little words.

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