Happy Coincidence


corbin_icon.gif daphne_icon.gif

Scene Title Happy Coincidence
Synopsis It's a small and sad world after all. A traveling company agent comes across a sick speedster on the side of a country road.
Date March 14, 2010

Nowhere, Ohio

Five hundred and ninety-three miles.

That's how far Daphne got. Unfortunately, it wasn't even halfway to her hometown of Lawrence, Kansas — still another seven hundred miles and change away.

She had taken breaks along the way, trying to conserve her energy and postpone the inevitable by running 100 miles at a time and then stopping for food and rest. She spent Friday night in a motel, even, when her fever spiked and she was afraid she might pass out even standing still, let alone rushing around near the speed of sound.

Saturday, the power outage occurred, and in a remote section of Ohio — she doesn't even know the name of the county or the town — unfortunately, Daphne had left her cell phone on accidentally, draining the battery so that it is just as dead as her legs… so GPS is of no use to her. Nor can she call anyone for help.

Fate or Irony would have it that her power shorted out as she was zipping through a corn field. She tried to rest, hoping her ability — and her ability to walk — would return, as it had the past few days each time it fritzed out. But Sunday morning came, and with it rain, and yet now power.

To make things worse, Daphne had, in her rush to leave, left the crutches Dr. Cong had lent her in her Manhattan apartment. It's taken her all day just to crawl to the road. On a Sunday, it's a desolate one, in this remote and rural place. The speedster sits on the soggy shoulder, arms wrapped around her legs, her cheek resting on her knees so she can watch for a car — any car — in hopes of begging a ride.

It's not safe. But neither is dying alone in a corn field.

The highways of Ohio vary in size, between large and small. This one happens to be small, but also a detour on the way to a much bigger highway. The sound of tires cutting through small puddles is the first thing that announces a car, and within the car, a driver. But who would have suspected this to happen, in all places?

The car drives by at first, but slows, as the person inside turns his head to look. Once past, the break lights light up, tires squeal into the water, splashing some more onto the shoulder (luckily not on her). After a few seconds, the car slowly reverses, going backwards down the mostly empty street, and coming to a stop.

Emergency lights start to flash, just in case, and the driver's door opens. The clothes are more dreary in color, mostly browns and whites, but the face is one it could only be one person. Or perhaps a twin. They do say everyone has someone who looks just like them in the world— but what are the odds?

That's probably exactly what Corbin's thinking as he gets closer and kneels down to look at her. "What are you doing in the middle of Ohio?"

Her plan for watching for cars did not taken into account the fact she can't stand and wave them down, so when the car approaches, she's slow — so achingly, tragically slow — to raise her head, weary and feverish as it is. Most people would have probably not seen the small form huddled on the shoulder. Luckily Corbin is observant. When the car backs up and the form approaches, she brings a hand to each eye, rubbing them. Surely it's delirium — how could it be Corbin of all people?

When he speaks, she drops her hands and looks up, her eyes swollen from tears, her cheeks flushed with fever. The rain that plasters her hair to her forehead and cheeks has at least washed away the sweat. She's shivering, though the temperature here is a balmy 45 degrees compared to Manhattan.

"I was trying to get to Kansas," she says, as if that makes all the sense in the world.


"You have that Evolved flu, don't you?" Corbin says, looking visibly worried and upset. Cause it means she's sick. And there's many who'd died from the virus as well. The death toll, according to the newspaper he works for, just keeps rising. And now it's possible she's gone and spread it outside of New York City… But what can they do about that. Instead he goes back to the passanger door, opens it so he can pull out a coat he's not wearing, and bring it over to wrap around her shoulders. It may be warmer than in the states he left behind, with weathermen screaming about SNOW, but…

"You need to get out of this rain. I'm definitely not Evolved, so you don't have to worry about infecting me." But he also can't get her to Kansas… nor does he realize she can't exactly get to the passanger seat by herself.

"I was trying to get … home. Where it wouldn't matter," she says weakly, lifting bloodshot eyes to him when he returns to wrap the coat around her shoulders. Her head tilts to look at the car — mere yards away, but it seems like miles. "I can't walk, Corbin. Do you remember in the dreams?" Her voice is barely more than a whisper. "My ability lets me walk. Before I got it… without it… I'm crippled. I can't walk." Her face contorts, having to explain this to someone — it was bad enough to say it to a doctor she didn't know, but to someone like Corbin… it's torture. "I forgot the crutches someone lent me," she adds, laughing a little. "I thought I could make it to Kansas before the power faded all the way."

A few days ago, a moment of silence might have seemed like an hour. It doesn't quite seem as long now, as Corbin's light blue eyes stare at her intently. The rain darkens his hair, plastering the locks against his forhead and weighting them down so they look straighter rather than their usual out of control wavy. After a moment, he's reaching to pick her up, probably glad that she's so small and pixie-like. His silence isn't due to surprise so much as…

He seems to be sad.

The "miles" to the passanger door don't take very long, before she's placed inside, where she'll soak the seat, but no longer have rain fall on her. A glimpse at the back shows he's got a packed bag, a few boxes of papers, and a laptop case leaning against the seat.

"Here you go, out of the rain," he says softly, pressing a brief kiss against warm forehead— one that tells him just how feverish she is… and then the door closes. Only once he moves around to the driver's side and is out of the rain himself, does he speak more, still leaving the car stopped.

"I read about Evolved who had abilities that allowed them to overcome disabilities before… There was one, a blind woman, who could see by air pressure. The agents on the case thought that she might have had some kind of aerokinesis— air manipulation. But it allowed her to do something that she hadn't been able to do since she was a kid."

Daphne's dark eyes close, and she actually clings to him with one arm, her courier bag the other, until he puts her in the car. The bag is set down on the floor once he walks around to the other side, and she leans her head against the glass, staring out at the familiar landscape of corn rows, just starting to flourish in the spring that has come to Ohio — if not Manhattan.

She nods slowly at his words. "Cerebral palsy," she says simply, in case he's wondering the hows and whys of her disability. Not that any disability really has a good explanation. The best she could ever figure as a child was that life just isn't fair.

It finally occurs to her that it's strange that he's here, and she turns to look at him. "Why are you here? I mean — I'm glad you came by. I kinda needed the ride." There's the slightest tic of her lips into a half smile, though it's clear she's trying and that the humor just isn't there.

No, life isn't fair. Even if life gave her a way to walk later on, then it had to keep taking it away… in the dreams, and now with a virus. Corbin glances in the mirror, finally spotting lights coming down the road, so he begins to shift out of the parking break to continue down the street, taking it a few miles under the speed limit. Due part to the rain, and part due to distraction.

"It's kind of a long story. There's a job I needed to do for something. Took me to Columbus. I was going to take a long way back to the highway and… here I am." There's a GPS hooked up in his car that is instructing him, or would be if he hadn't turned the sound off…

"I don't get to just travel, so I was taking detours on the way back. They aren't expecting me back til Tuesday." And he'd figured he could… be slow about it. "But we need to get you to a doctor."

"I went to one," Daphne says quietly, turning back to watch the car swallow up the ribbon of road, though so slowly compared to her usual mode of travel. It feels strange to be in a car. "He said there wasn't much he could do." She coughs, reaching up to cover her mouth as the small fit racks her body. "There isn't a cure. Antibiotics won't help. It's just a wait-it-out sort of thing, I think," she adds once her coughing subsides. "I figured I would wait it out at my dad's, but…" But she doesn't want to worry him, either. "Just… if you're heading back to New York, just bring me home. I'll deal with it. I'll be okay."

While driving down the street, Corbin glances away from the sweeping windshield wipers and looks at her for a moment. "I know there's not a cure. I'm sure we'd be one of the first people to get one if there was," he says quietly. Or at least he hopes they would be. He doesn't know for sure if any of their Evolved Agents had come down with it, but surely the government still has enough use for the Company to pass on a cure if one was discovered?

"But I can stop and get some of those cold and flu pills. It might help make the symptoms a little more managable." There's a pause, and he reaches a still damp hand over to touch her arm. "And being out in the rain definitely didn't help, I'm sure."

Her lips curve into a sad smile. "That would be good. I ran out of Tylenol to try to bring down my fever." She only had a sample sized bottle with her, planning to have been home by now. She reaches over with her right hand to cover his for a moment. "I'm not good at being sick. I never have been. I'm sorry I left without saying anything and I didn't answer you calls. I'm really bad at this kind of stuff, but…"

Daphne glances at him and then back out to the road. A tear slips out the corner of each eye, rolling down her flushed cheeks. "I'm glad you happened by, and if I forget to tell you later, thank you."

"We'll call it a happy coincidence. One of the few," Corbin says, focusing on the road ahead of him for a few moments. It's one of the few times that his job actually did something… right for him. "I don't think anyone's really good at being sick. I mean it kind of sucks, but I'm immune, so you don't get to shove me away or anything." He'll just have to make sure to wash his hands and be careful not to infect any of the few Evolved he works with…

"Maybe when we get back to the city, I can see your place, finally," he adds as an aside. "To make up for not answering my calls."

Is it possible for Daphne not to shove him aside? Is it possible for her pride to bend, when she needs it to? Her brows furrow as she watches the road intently, as if she's the one trying to avoid hitting wayward cows in the pouring rain. Of course, it makes sense — what's he going to do, keep her at his place for the duration? She wouldn't expect that, and wherever she goes, she needs help getting there.

"All right," she says finally. "But you don't… you don't have to take care of me. I don't expect you to do that, you know? Just because you can't catch it doesn't mean you need to … deal with me."

"It's a good thing I'm not going to be doing it just because I can't catch it, then," Corbin says simply, keeping his eyes forward, but also smiling ever so slightly. "I can't stay with you all the time, I do have jobs, but I can be around and make sure you're all right, even then. Maybe I can even find out if there's somewhere better for you to be, where… You know, you won't be alone." There's a pause again, that pause that should seem an eternity. "Guess you're pretty used to being alone. Even if it doesn't mean you should be. Especially not when you're sick."

If her cheeks weren't already flushed with fever, Daphne might blush at the admission implied in his words. "I guess I'm bad at more things than just being sick," she says quietly, taking his coat off her shoulders and putting it between her head and the window. The cold glass feels good against her feverish head but the bumpy road jars her head, which already hurts. "Just to be clear… I only left because I was afraid of all of this, and anyone… you… seeing me like this. It wasn't because… because of anything else."

She closes her eyes, and coughs weakly, before adding, "Funny, now it seems stupid that I was afraid of that…" Perhaps because there are real things to be afraid of. She's read the more recent news reports and seen them on the television. The loss of her power — while to her it means the end of the world — is not as dire as the potential loss of life.

"It's not stupid," Corbin says, voice quiet under the sound of the windshield wipers, the rain, the tires on wet asphault and the vent blowing heat into the car. But he's distinct enough he can still hear her. "I was worried about you finding out my little secret." The Agent thing, which got waved out in front of her in a dream, almost as if… he wonders if part of Hokuto wanted her to know, to make her run away. Or maybe Hokuto knew he would never betray the Company by telling her himself…

"But I am glad it wasn't because of us. It's usually the guy that runs off at that time." It's a joke, one of the lighter ones. "But here we are… and you're stuck with me."

The former speedster chuckles, but the laughter becomes coughing after a moment. When she recovers, she shakes her head. "Since I'm not going to open the door and tumble out, stuck is the right word. And for once you'd be able to catch me if you chased me," Daphne whispers, more of her strength fading from the coughing fit. It's clear the illness has a rather tight grip on her. Her eyes flutter closed. "'m sleepy. You won't fall asleep out of boredom without my conversation, will you, Friday?"

"Considering I was planning to make it to the edge of the storm before tonight all by myself… I think I can manage," Corbin says with a laugh, looking across at her again as he drives. They may not make it that far, cause he can already see that she needs to stop, get a change of clothes, and some medicine in her. Even if it's just the kind that relieves symptoms. "Next town I see, I'll stop and get some clothes, medicine and food." Mostly for her, but Corbins need to eat too! "Get some sleep."

And he'll have the rain to keep him company.

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