2007-08-04: The Slippery Slope

Starring:

DFPeter_icon.gif DFTrina_icon.gif

With a Brief Cameo By:

DFUnknown_icon.gif

Summary: After the mission to recover Elena, Peter finally gets a chance to see that Trina isn't just a psychopathic guard dog.

Dark Future Date: August 4, 2009

The Slippery Slope


Dark Future — Kitchen — Phoenix Rising Towers

It's beautiful. There's really no other way to describe it.

While the complex designed for the Saints beneath the Phoenix Towers is far from well furnished, the floors are covered with new everything. Rugs. Tiles. Linoleum. Carpet. No more dusty, blood-stained concrete. The walls aren't peeling cinder block, but freshly painted drywall over a sturdy concrete base. *Drywall*.

As Trina parks the Black Pearl and then begins to explore the new reality, she finds it amazing how quickly the descent into Hell had been. Over two years, how quickly the rules had all changed and everything had gone down the tubes. And now? Now Katrina's afraid to touch anything, for fear that it'll disappear. She's been nice places since the war, but it's… They've only been fleeting fantasies. Never home. Every so often, her fingers can't help but to gingerly trail down the wall to prove that she's really there. That this is really happening.

Eventually, she makes her way into the kitchen. A… fully stocked kitchen. Without a single word or tell-tale expression on her face, Trina eventually finds a plastic canister, unopened, of instant coffee. She looks around for a moment to see if anyone's looking. When those tired blue eyes don't even hear a footstep, her fingertips grapple onto the foil seal under the lid and then pull it off. And then? Then she lifts that blessed canister of Taster's Choice high, lifting it to her nostrils and inhaling deeply with eyes blissfully closed of that simultaneously sweet and bitter aroma. Instant Coffee. Who would have ever thought that it could be this euphoric an experience?

Since losing the brief burden that had been in his arms… Peter had been extremely quiet. Not that he'd been much for the talkative sort the trip there, or some of the times he hung around the mechanics area. Often he seemed intent on staying out of the way, but since the two left— it'd almost been like he wanted to vanish again. A few points on the trip over, he did. Perhaps subconsciously. Only when they park and he's able to get out of the vehicle does he fully stay visible again. There's a distant look in his eyes, a quiet breaking that he's hiding— and he follows them all inside, letting them go off in their separate directions.

For some reason, of all of them, he ends up following Trina, who threatened to squish him into a marble on their first real meeting. The smell of coffee isn't why, even if the hours of morning might tell him to get some caffeine in his system, he really can only thing of a few things… None of which he says.

Instead, he drops into a chair and sits there. Is he brooding? Probably— but he also looks too sick for it to be a regular brood.

When Peter arrives, Trina doesn't say anything at first. Rather, she simply puts the canister down. When she finally finds the hiding place for the mugs, however, she doesn't pull one, but two. From there, it's a simple process. Steaming hot water from the sink? Good enough. Sugar. Powdered non-dairy creamer. Everything is found without so much as a word, but then the time for language has come. Not all language, however, requires speech.Taking the two cups to the small table where Peter sits, Trina — without asking — sets one in front of him. There's a flash of memory, tracing back to the Den of Iniquity before it was blown sky high. That thought brings a small frown, and then the black-haired woman claims a seat for herself. It's a careful process, and the mechanic delicately alights herself on the chair with a feather's lightness.

Her cup is cradled in her hands as though it contained precious jewels to the brim. The coffee is brought, again, to her nostrils in its new form and, again, the aroma is savored. And then… a sip. A magical first sip of coffee in this beautiful dream of a new home.

Medbay. Medical Room. Doctor's Office. Whatever you want to call it, that's where Prime has been ever since he got here. KITT is stashed somewhere safe, probably back on top of the The Black Pearl and the token replicator has taken up residence in the room where Elena is.

No, literally. Residence. As in there's a chair and a cot and everything. He's not leaving this room. Not until Elena gets up and is actually functioning properly again. And considering his ability to be everywhere he could ever want or need to be? Well, he doesn't even have to leave.

A Prime Ditto has decided to be 'social' or something, considering the fact that everyone's probably still on edge from the craziness earlier. He notices the silence in the room and just looks around. Eyes go to Trina, then to Peter, then to… well… everything else. He just… frowns. But then, well, there's an idea that pops into his head.

"So. Anybody for Strip Poker?"

The brooding continues until— well— there's a cup of coffee dropped in front of him. Peter blinks at it, as if it's confused him, then looks up at the source. There's a small softening of his expression, before he puts his hands around it and takes a slow sip. It causes a flinch, as if the liquid actually makes him feel somewhat sicker— but he manages to take in another breath and say a soft, "Thank you…"

There's more he wants to say, as evidenced by the voice trailing off, and the quiet tone. It's unsaid.

A ditto's appearance draws his eyes away and he watches him approach, and then mention strip poker. In another situation, he might have shaken his head and politely said no. In this one… "I should go," he says instead, putting the cup of coffee down. "I don't belong here."

When Peter starts talking, the Saints' mechanic lifts her head and rests her blue eyes on him. Trina gets a sip of her coffee, and only gets that one sip before the quiet is disrupted. Peter's remark draws a frown, and then she puts up a small hand to stay his decided course of action. "Stay put. Ain't safe to leave an' he don't mean nothin' by it anyhow." To indicate, who 'he' is, there's a subtle jerk of her head to indicate the replicating Evolved in their midst. To Prime, there's a tight smile and a simple shake of her head as she declines. No strip poker. Her own precious cup is set down on the table, and she's fairly quiet as she continues. "I'll get a new tire on and adjusted in the mornin', Prime. How early you need it done?"

"Figures." The Ditto remarks, though, he doesn't push things. He just leans back against the wall and tries to figure out what in the heck is going on in this place. Everything's so… somber. Or something. "Hey. We did good tonight, right?" Maybe the real Prime needs some sort of approval or something. He's not sure everything happened the right way or how it should've, but the important thing is that he's got his Angel back. Sigh.

"KITT has to go in for detailing tomorrow afternoon. So whenever you get to it is fine." That'd be another Ditto popping up near Trina and just copping a seat. One that doesn't want to play strip poker, apparently.

As he's shot down on his leaving, Peter can't help but look up at Trina, even though he doesn't retake his cup of coffee. Sure, he could probably find a way to sneak out, but it sounds like— at least this one— isn't going to allow him to do it on her watch. He can't totally blame her— he knows their secret hideout. How do they know he's really running off to deliver origami duck messages to a Japanese time traveler, and isn't some kind of liar? Have to be a pretty powerful liar, but still…

The words Prime says makes him flinch. "Guess so— we all made it back." Sounds like, to him, that's the only thing at all that could be called 'good' about that operation. "You guys know what you're doing— been through a lot."

"First thing, then. After a night's sleep." Picking up her coffee cup, Trina turns it in her hands and studies it and tries to decide if she really wants it anymore. In the end, she decides no. Not at the moment, anyway. "We got done what needed to be done," she agrees. As Peter speaks, she lifts her eyes and watches him for a moment. It's not immediately hostile — an improvement over last time — but it is still very keenly observing. "I guess we have." Trina's not really one for words around the non-Saintly types unless necessary, but there's something deep within her that calls her to at least be hospitable. And to do that, that means conversation. Unfortunately, she can't seem to keep her eyes on Peter for long. Maybe there's a touch of guilt. Possibly. Or maybe she doesn't like that unspoken accusation in Peter's voice. The one that calls 'em something barely better than monsters in that tone. Or maybe it's guilt.

Rather, her gaze drops to the coffee she's not drinking, and her shoulders hunch around it, just a little, in that plain black tee as she heaves a sigh. "Please, don't judge us. I know it ain't easy. But… just please try. 'n if what Jack says about you is true? 'bout you tryin' to fix stuff, then… then I guess I should apologize 'bout the… the… " The threatening to compress you earlier. Or shoot you. Neither would have been particularly pleasant. This is illustrated as she lifts her hand and presses thumb and index finger nearly together, as though preparing to squish a bug. Even as she tries to get the apology out, her boot twists, the ball of her foot grinding against the kitchen tile. She can't do it. She just can't. The words stick, knowing that if she had it to do all over again, that she would do the exact same thing. Instead, she just frowns.

As the dittos all disappear more suddenly than they entered, Peter can't help but look up in surprise. It only lasts a few moments. Just as she can't maintain eye contact with him, he can't seem to return the favor either. He does give a small nod, a lock of black hair falling against his forehead in a single curl. "I know you're just doing what's necessary in— in a world like this." It's said in a thick tone. Definitely feeling some judgment there, but he can understand. "It's a war still— and you're soldiers. And they're the enemy. I get it. It's just… I don't understand how I…" He trails off. Reaching up, he pushes the lock back off his forehead, only for it to fall there again. "It's okay," he does add, looking up as she fails to give a full apology. The implication that she should might be enough. "You were just protecting what was yours… And it sounds like you have good reason to not trust me. Not trust who I… who I became here."

"When the camps started up, you know, Jack was right there, doin' the right thing. Got a lot of people out, kept 'em from gettin' hurt. Then… a mole got in. Den went up while I was gone. I came home and…" Trina stops short. Peter may not be the enemy, but he isn't a Saint either. She, sure as Hell, ain't about to cry in front of him. "Everyone here's messed up. Got soft. Lost important people. Makes it so it's not as easy to tell who's the enemy and who's not anymore, much less what to do with him. It's about who lives to know who you are and what's important to you. It's a slippery slope. 'fore you know it, everythin's *wrong*." The cup on the table is turned around a little bit as she ponders. "I guess Asshole just got caught slippin' on a different hill."

Then her eyes lift, her dark resolve returning to their pale blue spheres under heavy brows. "Don't mean that traitor's welcome here." The look, however, is fleeting. The day's been too long to really stay angry, particularly at someone Jack says is really here to help and looks not at all dissimilar to a puppy in some ways. To stave off the rest of her frustration, she picks up the sacred cup of java and sips again. Hot coffee. In a real kitchen. Man, Ali has no excuse to be skipping meals now.

"I don't think you're soft at all," Peter admits softly, looking across at her quietly. There's so much else he could say, but how can he apologize for something that… he had nothing to do with? Something that he's trying to fix, even if… the longer he stays, the more hopeless it feels. This place, maybe… he's never been particularly strong by himself— Still isn't. "I can't— I don't know what I did— or who I am. And there's no way I can understand what happened to all of you— not completely. It's not something I've lived through. And I hope I never have to."

Glancing down towards his coffee mug again. "I can leave. Go invisible and get… an hour or two hours walking away… and then fly and find somewhere else. Was the Zoo before this— the animals'll let me in again…"

At Peter's talk of leaving, Trina's frown only grows. "We're better equipped to take care of you here now." Sliding her coffee cup out of the way, the slender woman leans forward in order to rest her elbows on the table before her. Those pale blue eyes, set in faintly purple rings, narrow as they very keenly observe the man before her. "He can't die," she says bluntly, brow furrowing as she fights back whatever emotion lies under the surface. "I'm guessin' you can't, either. They can't kill you. Can't stop you. Most anythin' you could ever want is right there, sittin' at your fingertips. Does that make you a god?"

"I can die," Peter says softly, voice barely above a whisper. In the chair he claimed, he's wilted a little, sinking into it, until he finally leans forward and rests his arms on the table where his coffee has been ignored since the first sip. His head lowers until his forehead rests against his palms. There'll be no returning this eye contact right now. "Died more times than I can count anymore… I just don't stay dead. And everything I want is… completely out of my reach here." It's hard to go into much detail on that, though. He takes in a slow breath, which shakes when he releases it to speak, "Didn't come here to be protected. Wanted help to find out what went wrong, but…"

Peter may look away, but Katrina doesn't. It never ceases to be a source of perpetual bewilderment to her about how time has ravaged them. Peter's sensitivity and humble dodging of her statement is a stark contrast, and it stirs something deep within her. Her hand, thin and still warm from her coffee, stretches out to lightly hook a finger under his chin and lift it up. "It'll be alright," she finally manages, trying very hard to get a reassuring smile on her lips and, for the most part, succeeding. "The first step is always believing that it's *gonna* be alright and not lettin' anyone convince you otherwise. Hope don't do so good under a bushel."

"We can fix it," Peter says, looking back up finally, even if there's tension surrounding his eyes, furrowed in his brow. He hands he rested on now just cover his mouth a little, but at least he's looking at her again. The use of we might be curious, since he's the time traveler. "It will be all right." In some ways he could just be repeating her assurances, which have seemed to help in a way. Even if he's still looking battered and pale. "It's just— everything that matters to me… My brother's a dictator who locks people away… my boss shot me when I tried to see her… and— and now she hates me." She is very important in this.

To that, there's just a soft smile as Trina draws her hand back. That's better. "She don't hate you, sugar. She hates *him*." Which is, in theory, better. Pushing herself to her feet, the woman turns towards the cabinets and starts perusing their contents idly. Pale is bad. Pale needs food. The trick is finding something that needs minimal cooking. It's Southern tradition. When in doubt? FILL YOUR GUEST WITH FOOD. And now… Now there's so MUCH of it.

"Your brother's a douche bag, yeah, but that's hardly your doin'. Just 'cuz he's an evil prick don't make that your fault. Blood makes kin, not clones. And Cass? Well. She's got a damned good reason to be scared. Ain't no kid should be growin' up without a mama." The frown that crosses Trina's lips again at the thought is, fortunately, lost to the kitchen shelves. "Still. Even in this crap hole, not everything's bad."

"But I'm the one who… has to…" Peter starts, but his voice trails off. What she explains is important, and he has to nod. But there's a lot that he can't quite accept yet. His whole goal in this timeline is to go back and change it— hearing about Cass' kid… which might be the only thing so far he's seen that's worth keeping this whole place… and the possibility that there's more? It makes going back more difficult. Because what happens to this world when he goes back? "Thanks, Trina. I'll… go find a room to crash in." Forgoing a breakfast he doesn't think he could stomach, he stands up and moves towards the exit, to find that room to crash in. But at least he's not making for the back door.

Turning her head, Trina watches Peter go with that ghost of a smile back on her face and gives an approving nod. Smiles seem to be doing more good than harm at this point, so she can fight to keep it there. "That's a good plan. Sleep's a luxury around here, so you better get it while you can. See you in the mornin'. Afternoon. Whatever. Whenever you get movin'. No need to rush." She's not going to make him stay; it makes for a quieter and less tiring evening if she's not trying to get over her own hang ups and help him with his at the same time. Instead, she just closes the cabinets and then goes to collect the mugs and efficiently wipe the table down with a rag before figuring out where Jack went. Some habits just die hard.

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