Her Personal Ken Doll


melissa_icon.gif perry_icon.gif

Scene Title Her Personal Ken Doll
Synopsis It's what Perry becomes for a day when he puts his trust in Melissa.
Date January 4, 2011

Various shops in New York City

Preparations, in the mind of Pericles Jones, consist either of hours of studying, or the maintenance and loading of weapons. School and terrorism - these are the things he generally 'prepares' for. Vacations, never being something he's been on, and certainly not one like this upcoming, he has no idea how to be ready for. So it's a lucky thing he's not going this alone. Of course, if he were alone, he wouldn't be doing it.

It's as Mel's adjunct that Perry seems to bear himself, letting her lead the way as he follows along the street, the New York sky a chilly steel grey. He's bulky in his big black jacket, hands slid into his pockets as he squints behind glasses that don't do quite enough to break the bite of the winter wind. Hawaii has never sounded so good.

Melissa isn't quite so bulky. She's dressed fairly normally, in a button down shirt and pants, both black, and with an ankle length coat to protect her from the chill. Oh yeah, Hawaii sounds good. "Been so long since I've been to a proper beach, I don't have any clothes suitable." She gives him a quick, scrutinizing look. "And I'm betting you don't either. Do you ever wear anything but tee-shirts and jeans? And nerdy tee-shirts, for that matter?"

His t-shirts aren't- uh- okay. She's got him there. What isn't some thrift store (the uncool kind) claim from his ultra frugal college restock was either ordered online (with requisite 'witty' text) or claimed for free at an engineer's conference or career fair. Beneath his thick coat is a white t-shirt reading 'Vector Electronics Inc' in a font that must have been chosen for its almost remarkable boringness. Perry doesn't bother trying to protest. He doesn't even look upset. He gives a small shrug.

"I- uh- no. Don't have much- uh- personal style," is still kind of an understatement, "but I- uh- I have swim trunks." She's seen them. That awful shade of orange, both bold and somehow drab, would be hard to erase from memory, unless purposefully blocked.

There's a moment of thought before Melissa wrinkles her nose. "I am not gonna be seen in public with someone wearing those horrible things." She glances around the street then grabs his hand and starts pulling. Right towards a Speedo store. "We're getting you some decent swim trunks and beach clothes."

Perry is too distracted by the sudden contact and change in vector (no, not the company) to notice just which brand of store they are headed for. He feels a small glimmer of shame as Melissa declares him unfit for co-viewing, but it seems to be a fixable problem, and he speeds his pace to catch up as they make for the doors. "Uh- okay!" is really all he can say, "you- you need clothes as well," is what she said, at least, "I can- I'd be happy to pay for both of us."

"Hey, won't hear me complain, given that I already booked and paid for the flight and hotel," Melissa says with a shrug, pushing the door open and dragging Perry inside. Ahh, the land of skimpy bathing suits! Though there are more modest ones, like swim trunks, and though Mel does pause, eye the smaller ones, then Perry, she eventually begins heading towards the modest trunks.

Baby steps, Mel, baby steps! You don't want to traumatize the poor lad. I mean, maybe you do, but there are limits! Perry flinches with guilt as Mel admits to having already fronted the majority of the cost, one which can't be insubstantial. They can't be the only ones who thing martial law during New York January calls for an escape to tropical paradise. Flights out of JFK must be insane.

"Just present me with- uh- with the invoice," Perry pledges, eyes falling upon the row after row of swimsuits, looking utterly baffled - all the selections! And somehow not a single thing with witty text. "I'll reimburse you for my- uh- my portion- um…" he glances over at Melissa, "what- uh- where are we staying?"

"The Fairmont Orchid," Melissa says, letting go of him as she begins looking through suits, selecting, then rejecting one after another. "And don't worry about it. I've got the cash for this, with some left over." Having two large chunks of cash fall in her lap in just a few months plus working six days a week adds up. "Besides, if you're paying for the clothes, it's all good. Good clothes aren't exactly cheap either." One pair is taken from the rack and kept, but she's still looking. Someone will be a well outfitted vacationer if she has her choice.

"Oh!" Perry says, with muted surprise. That Melissa would spend windfalls on luxuries strikes Perry as insane, which is really only evidence of his own insanity. His New England upbringing, and the stinginess that comes with it, makes him think of every unexpected bonus as padding for one's nest egg. The idea of spending freely… it's a little scary. But not in a bad way. "Well, in that case. Spare no expense!" he smiles, just a little nervously, "I have some savings of my own." Which he does. A fair bit, even after school loans. He is a very cost conscience gentleman. Which may account for so many of his t-shirts being horrible - at least they were free!

"Music to my ears," Melissa says, offering a selection of trunks to Perry. "Any of these will work. Pick one or all of 'em. Try them on if you want. But these are far better than those orange things you wore before." Seems she's really not concerned with money, whether it's his or hers.

Perry gathers the trunks into his arms, looking down at the folded fabric, like maybe just looking at them will suffice to tell him which is best. "I- uh-" have no idea what looks good? Don't know if he's a fall, autumn, spring or winter? Am lost at sea when it comes to these things? "trust your judgment," is probably the best of all feasibly answers, "but- uh- maybe I should thin them down to a couple?" Perry doesn't admit that he thinks it the heart of madness to buy more than one swimsuit. Looking good is not his realm. As far as he can tell, it's very much Melissa's. "I may need help picking." He looks around, trying to parse the geography of the store. "There are… changing rooms, right? Shouldn't- uh- shouldn't you get something for yourself as well. Make the trip more… efficient?" Lots of questions. All bets are off in this space, as far as Perry's concerned. He's treading dark water. Lucky thing he has Mel as his fetching lifeguard.

"Any of these are good. Mel approved and all that," Melissa assures him. And since they're all black, blue or black and blue, she's probably telling the truth. "I've got a bathing suit, trust me. I'll look around while you're trying these on though. I think I saw something about a waterproof MP3 player, and who knows. I might actually get in the water."

"That's- uh- usually part of beach going. The water. At least in my understanding…" Perry says, another nervous smile cast Mel's way. He's trying to be funny. Trying being the operative word. "I think that- uh- that's is usually what defines a beach. Water. Also land. But- uh- you sort of need both." He spots a sign that informs him that the 'Changing Rooms' are 'Here' and so he weaves through rows of beachwear to get to wherever counts as 'Here'. Four items drape over his arms, and he receives a tag marked with the number four, ensuring he does not attempt theft. It doesn't actually occur to Perry that this is why he has been assigned the number. He chalks it up to yet another strange ritual, belonging to the lives of normal people. Soon he's disappeared into the booth, only his feet visible through the crack under the door.

"Yeah, but I'm mostly looking to get away and relax for a bit," Melissa says, shrugging as he heads off to become fashion Perry. She wanders off to look at other things, and by the time he comes out, she does have a few things picked up. Nothing bathing suit-y though. Seems this store is all for him.

Well, he's the one who needs it. Fashion Perry is much more elusive a creature than fashion Melissa. And God, that orange… When Perry emerges, he's left to wonder just what he was supposed to see in the mirror there. With no sense of aesthetics, at least in this particular sector, he thought every last suit looked 'pretty good'. He thought, also, that he'd need to really lay the sunscreen on thick to prevent from being fried crispy by the sun. He's pale as anything. He exits the changing rooms and meanders back through the store to find Mel. "I think- uh- I'll take two of them?" still looking for Mel's stamp of approval, even though it was already given. Seriously, guy, don't you know chicks like confidence? "The black one and the blue one." Maybe the ones that were both blue and black seemed too flashy to him.

Looking over at him, Melissa nods. "Sounds good. Grab 'em, let's pay, and we'll hit a few more stores." She actually smiles, though it's faint. "I hope you didn't expect this to be our only stop today. Suits are only part of beach wardrobe."

"Oh!" Perry says for the second but possibly not last time today. He didn't have expectations of any sort, really, but that just means he's constantly surprised. Which isn't a bad way to be, necessarily. Melissa is opening up whole new worlds. Worlds in which people give a damn about how they look. The checkout is next, and a few swipes later he's out some cash but up some swimsuits that won't totally embarrass him and may allow Melissa to, like, act like maybe she knows him when they're out there on the sand. "Did you… find anything?" Perry asks, looking to Melissa even as he signs his receipt, "I insist on buying you something. Something nice." Not that he will know what exactly 'nice' will be, but he trusts Melissa can figure that out herself.

"Yeah, the MP3 player. Don't worry, I'll buy some stuff before the day is out. Shorts and wraps. A new pair of sunglasses. I lost mine," Melissa says, waiting for him to finish up before starting to lead the way out of the store and down the street towards whatever their next destination is. "You're surprising me though. I sort of figured that people like you would be more resistant to change." Despite the whole Messiah trying to change the world thing, apparently.

It's arguable whether or not Perry's ideological leanings are really about change, or if they just think they are about change. That's a big question, though, and now is not the time. Perry smiles, the slightest bit bashful. "I'm set in some of my ways," he admits, "but these are- uh- new ways," he gives the plastic Speedo bag a shake, "and I can't think of a better guide than you."

He gets a skeptical look from Melissa. "Why's that? I'm sure there are better guides than me. Like people who are less bitchy than I am," she says, looking away to scan signs for their next stop. "Hell, I'm honestly surprised you wanna go on this trip at all. We haven't been that close and I haven't been full of hugs and puppies lately."

"There are- uh- abundantly material reasons for me wanting to escape this," Perry gestures at the tarnished sky, the piles of grubby, greying snow that pile up by the curbs, "but- um- yes. I do want to go and not just to go, but with- uh- with you." As in, it's not just Hawaii that draws him, it's Hawaii plus Melissa. "And has it occurred to you maybe that I- uh- don't mind your sharper edges?" he won't use the word bitchy, that would be unchivalrous, "do I seem the sort to- uh- go in for hugs and puppies?"

It's more complicated than that, of course. At root, and Perry will not admit this because he fears it would not go over well, he wants to keep an eye on Melissa. To out for her. Even to look after her. Five drinks by four in the afternoon is a worrying thing, especially in someone who's bitchiness doesn't seem innate, or at least not constant. He remembers cake fights. He remembers terrorist beach parties. He thinks he remembers a happier Mel. At the time, he'd been frustrated with her lack of philosophical engagement. He didn't yet realize sometimes you have to philosophically disengage.

So yes, also, he wants to go for himself. But with her.

"Don't mind my sharper edges?" Melissa asks, brows lifting. "You know that playing with sharp edges is bound to get you cut, right?" But she shrugs and opens the door to a clothing store, heading inside. "And you seem more hugs and puppies than sharp edges. I'm honestly surprised that you do the job you do. You've got the dedication, but the violence? Just doesn't seem like you."

"So?" Perry says, meeting Melissa's eyes as she warns of laceration, "I think scars are marks of worth. Badges of courage, reminders of adversity overcome," his stammer disappears once he gets going in a vein like this - shame he can't seem to talk normally when talking about normal things, "I- thank you," he begins, in answer to her comment on his dedication - it's nice to hear it affirmed in another's voice, "and- I don't know- I mean… it's necessary. That's what I believe. I wouldn't be dedicated enough if I wasn't willing to take the proper steps. To… to own the full scope of what I hope to accomplish." He regards Melissa through the thick lenses of his glasses. "You strikes me as someone who- uh- has to fight. Not necessarily with- uh- weapons. Not brute violence. But- you seem a warrior. To me, at least."

"You're one of the few who doesn't mind scars," Melissa says, her bitterness obvious. Clearly someone has made some comment about her many scars. "And I don't want to fight. I'm tired of it. All of it. But I don't have any other choice. The world made me into what I am, and I can't deny the truth of the matter. So…I fight," she says, starting to walk through racks of clothes.

"I pay scars mind," Perry answers, following Melissa, bag rustling against the bottom of his coat, "but I respect them. It's… it's one of his too often quoted and misquoted aphorisms, but Nietzsche said, in Twilight of the Idols - what does not destroy me, makes me stronger. I believe that. And I think your need to fight… to seek out struggles worth tackling and opponents worth defeating? That's the most virtuous thing in the world." His sincerity, crazy or not, seems genuine.

"Yeah, but the way I figure it…What doesn't kill us may make us stronger, but it also makes for a sucky life when you're looking back on it," Melissa says flatly. "Especially when all you want is the simple stuff in life that everyone wants." Suddenly she grabs a few things off a rack. Shorts and tee-shirts without witty sayings. "Here, try these on."

"I suppose," Perry admits, a bit quietly, "if simple things are what you want. I don't know. I don't try to be like everyone. I'm concerned with being like myself…" he glances sidelong at Melissa, "though I'm willing to change what I am, too, given sufficient reason. Nietzsche believed deeply in radical self transformation," he smiles, taking the clothes Melissa has selected, lifting them up to view them, "I guess these are a good enough start?" He lowers them, smile reversing into a small frown, shifting the clothes to drape over his bag-bearing arm. With some gingerness, he reaches out and places a hand on Melissa's shoulder, "I hope we can redeem everything you've been through. It's a high aspiration of mine." His hand retreats. "But- uh- first things first." He makes his way to the changing rooms again, after a brief tip-toed reconnaissance.

"If I only wanted to be me, then I would be a warrior until I died. Which would likely be sometime before my thirtieth birthday," Melissa points out, shrugging. She watches him walk away then shakes her head, muttering under her breath in a mix of English and Mandarin. A way of practicing the language seems to be using it whenever she can. Even if she's only talking to herself.

"Is a long life a good life?" Perry inquires, looking over his shoulder. He makes a motion. "Come with. I need your help. I need my docent to decide." Four items again. Numerologically stable. Perry waits for Melissa, hoping she'll catch up with him, before he heads for a stall.

"Considering that the last decade of my life has been spent fighting and the years before that spent causing trouble to get attention?" Melissa nods. "Yeah, I'd like a few more years to try to get something good out of this life before I end up food for the worms."

Perry speaks as he enters the changing space, removing his shoes and doing the awkward one legged hop of pants donning. "What would be good enough? What would you have to accomplish, and what would you want, and for how long, in order to be satisfied?" There is the sound of a zipper. "Sorry if those are- uh- hard questions but… I'm curious as to what you think." He steps out, wearing shorts and t-shirt of Mel's choosing. "About that and about this," he adds, gesturing down at himself. He doesn't look half bad, really. In properly fitting clothes, his lankiness turns out to be leanness. Those glasses still don't help, though.

He's looked over for a minute before Melissa nods. "Not bad. Though you should really consider contacts or that laser eye surgery. And mostly I want what I almost had. I want my house back, full of people. Full of people who'd become family. I want to not fight anymore." Guys are no longer on the list of wants, it seems.

"I don't have insurance," Perry admits, explaining away laser eye surgery at least. And he has worn contacts. When he was at Melissa's arm on Christmas Eve, in fact. Which reminds him. "We- uh- might need evening wear?" he suggests, "or I do, at least. I felt very shabby at d'Sarthe's." He steps back into the stall, switching out the shorts and t-shirt for the other pair. "If you could have it all, escape to a place where all that was, but leave behind the fight that was still going on… would you? Would you be tempted?"

"In a heartbeat," Melissa says without hesitation. "But all the people I've ever considered family are right here in New York, so no chance of that happening. And probably, if we want to eat somewhere besides a beach shack or in the room." Yes, room. One, not two. Uh oh? "After we leave here we'll hit someplace with nicer clothes."

The lack of room plurality escapes Perry's notice. A world in which he could share the same sleeping space, however, chaste, with a woman like Melissa is a world gone mad. And things are crazy enough what with Pericles Jones trying on a new wardrobe. He steps out with the new outfit. "You see… I'd want to finish the fight," Perry says, presenting himself for perusal, "but- well- I don't think I ever had anything like what you had - almost had. I've- mostly been solitary for my adult life."

"I was too, until Kendall. It made me move into the house on Statan Island. Then during the blizzard Tony showed up and just never left, which was fine. Then Ling needed a place, so I took her in. And same with Faron, then Edgar, then Alexander. I found out that I liked being surrounded by people," Melissa says, shrugging and nodding her approval of his new outfit.

Perry recedes, back into the stall, and when he emerges he's in his usual drab raiment, the clothes slung over his arm. He moves up next to Melissa, a slight furrow in his brow. "It's- not much. One after so many. But- I- uh- enjoy your company," he tries another smile - he's getting better with practice, "sharp edges included. So… if you need a place to start… I'm here." He begins a slow walk towards the cash register, waiting to make sure Melissa is with him.

Melissa shakes her head but moves with him. "Either you're extremely confident, or extremely stupid, and I can't figure out just which one it is. Maybe both. I'm not a good bet. I don't think I've ever been a good bet. I know I'm not a good person, by any stretch of the imagination."

"If I'm stupid, it's you who've made me so," Perry replies, moving up to the cash register, paying for his new duds. He'll be a new man by the time this is over. A new man with shorts. "I don't know about confident either. But dedicated… like you said? That I'm willing to say I am." He gives the cashier a polite, if shy, smile and signs the second receipt of the day, claiming the second bag. "And I don't hold with popular definitions of 'good'. I think morals are transvalued. They change with history." He starts for the door. They have more to do today! "Something should have a chance to decide. It is humiliating to remain with our hands folded while others write history."

A pause, as he opens the door for Melissa, letting a blast of cold air in. "…I'm- uh- getting talky. I'm sorry. You are good to me in the ways I care about. That is all I think matters."

Looking mildly offended, Melissa asks, "How have I made you stupid? I've never done anything to you. I've never even hurt you." There's a long pause. "Much. On purpose," she mutters with a shrug, heading out the door. "And the big morals have never changed. We may have gotten to be prudish but when have morals ever said that killing or stealing was alright?"

Perry winces, apologetic. "I was joking, I'm sorry. Not very funny…" he admits, "just saying that- uh- my reason is compromised by my- uh- regard for you," which is a complicated way of saying something simple, "and I- actually would disagree with you there. We call it killing and stealing - better 'murder' and stealing - now, but… what about killing a worthy enemy? Or claiming a great prize? Heroes in the old myths… they kill all the time, and not just monsters. Enemies they respect. And they seize trophies. Just- uh- just read the Iliad. 'Good' has changed a great deal since Christ.

"I'm not saying I am in favor of returning to the old way. I don't think that would even make sense - the world is- uh- is different now. But that's just it… even those 'big' things change. Morals have a genealogy." Perry wrinkles his nose. "I'm sorry if this isn't interesting to you. I just-" he cracks a smile, "this is what I do instead of finding friends like family. So you understand better- uh- better what you do for me. You're keeping me from disappearing into a book."

"Why me? I'm sure there are a lot of people who'd be a hell of a lot better at keeping you from disappearing into a book," Melissa says, starting to walk in search of a place with nice clothes as opposed to the beach clothes they just bought. "People who are actually friendly and give a damn about something."

"I can answer that question one of two ways," Perry says, bunching both of his bags in one hand, careful not to bump his purchases into other pedestrians. Amazing how capitalism can continue to function, even under riot shield and truncheon. People still want to buy things. It's the only normality they have left. "First to say that I don't find you unfriendly, and I think you do give a damn about things I think are important," he says, "second… even if that were true, that I- well- that I choose you is meaningful in and of itself. The fact that it's arbitrary… that makes it have meaning. It's above reason. I choose you because I choose you. That's really the heart of choice, isn't it? Not choosing because or in spite, but just… choosing."

"Now you're just trying to confuse me," Melissa mutters unhappily, pulling out a pack of cigarettes and pausing so she can get one of them lit. Puffing away on it, she continues to stroll down the sidewalk. "Glad one of us is sure that I give a damn about important stuff though. Because I'm not, not anymore. There's no point. It'll all just get stolen or destroyed, so caring about something is masochistic in itself."

"That… may be true," Perry concedes, sticking close to Melissa, dipping his head in assent, "but isn't that the leap of faith you take in- uh- loving something? Knowing that- you know- there is no reason to it, that it's beyond reason, that there is as much pain as- uh- as satisfaction? Masochistic… I don't know. Wild yes. But without passion, reason is a cold machine."

It seems like love is a four letter word for Melissa at the moment, since it has her scowling darkly and holding her pain tightly under control. "Love is for masochists anyway. This isn't a fairy tale that we live in, Perry. There is no happily ever after. The only sort of love that really exists and works is the kind that happens between the sheets. Besides, do you really want to be debating pain with me? I can guarantee, no one else you'll ever meet understands it quite the way I do."
There is no one in your watch list.

"Fairy tales," Perry says, giving Melissa a thoughtful look as she reveals a bit of her own philosophy, intentional or otherwise, "do not usually have happy endings. They end like life does, with death and loss. I- I'm not saying love is any different. I'm saying that- that that's the point. That you assume the loss, and accept it anyways. Love… it wouldn't mean very much if you knew it was paradise. It's- uh- it's why I don't like the idea of heaven. It steals the value out of virtue, by offering reward."

Suddenly Melissa stops and reaches out to grab the front of Perry's shirt. Or his coat, whichever her hand happens to find. "Look. I fell in love with a guy. It was difficult, it was heart-breaking, and I had one night with him before he immediately started going on about how it was a mistake. Other than those few hours, it was hell, pure and simple," she says, voice low and dangerous.

"I started falling in love after that, after I made myself move on to avoid being hurt again. Don't think I was ever fully there, but I was definitely teetering. And you know what happened? He got freaked the fuck out about a little time travel, went off to think, and the next time I saw him was on a DVR'd TV show proposing to another woman. More, the sister of one of my friends. Except this time? There was a lot of hope that things would be different. That he wouldn't let me down."

She releases him and starts walking, rapidly. "So believe me when I say that love isn't even remotely worth it."

That is more information than Perry would have ever dared asked for. Luckily, he didn't ask. He's too stunned to respond at once, and it takes him a few large strides to catch up with Melissa. When he does, he doesn't speak, not for a while. What would he say? He's not yet sure. But, at length, he opens his mouth and prays he is not about to shove his foot into it.

"…so maybe love… isn't your truth?" Perry offers, as delicately as he can, "or maybe that kind of love isn't- isn't for you. I don't- I don't think you're wrong. But there are other truths," a beat, "I've never been in love. Maybe it's not for me, either."

"You're right. It isn't. And I don't want it to be," Melissa says, jerking a shoulder in a sharp shrug. "It hurts, and while I'd rather feel pain than nothing, that sort of pain goes beyond cruel and unusual, since I can't even think about touching that kind of pain. So yes, no leap of faith. There's no point in caring about shit. I'm done being hurt."

"But that… that doesn't mean there isn't something else," Perry says. He wanted to avoid platitude, but it's hard, and it's harder still seeing Melissa slip so fully into bitterness. Here is one of the sharp edges he said he didn't mind. "Not people. Flawed, stupid, treacherous people. There's… there's more than just that. I mean, I know you- that you- that you care. Caring is obviously a deep part of you. That's why- that's why it hurts so much."

"Not anymore, I'm not," Melissa mutters. "And what? If there's so much else, what should I possibly give a damn about, Perry? Other than keeping myself alive and getting to be as happy as I can reasonably be? And here, we can get you a suit," she says, stopping and jerking open a door before walking inside.

Perry's honest answer, that you make your own profundity, would sound really, really stupid. Like a serious cop out. And maybe it would be. So he doesn't say more than: "That… sounds like enough to me. For now. I think- I think you'll find more. I think it's in your nature. But- but maybe I don't know what I'm talking about…" the young man lapses into a short silence, lingering outside for a moment as Melissa strides inside. It's cold out there, but Melissa herself has a cold of her own, so sharp that it burns. Eventually, however, her magnetism drags him in after her, up to her side again. "I suit… sounds good."

"It should, since fancy restaurants in this hotel won't let you walk in with shorts and sandals," Melissa says, apparently closing off the topic of love and life's little desires. It's such a bad subject for casual conversation, especially if she wants to manage to keep any friends in the city. "Don't worry, I won't stick you in Gucci or anything mega expensive. Not for a week-long trip. It'd be overkill."

"Well, you know," Perry says, glancing sidelong at Melissa, trying to gauge just how much of the previous conversation is still hovering in the young woman's mind, "just get me whatever you feel would- uh- best flatter you," he tries smiling - it's hard, "whatever would make the best- um- accessory to your- uh- own ensemble."

"I'm pretty easy to coordinate with. If I wear something that isn't black, check the sky for a blue moon," Melissa replies, looking over the suits, her expression fairly unreadable. "I'm going to be tracking down the woman from d'Sarthe's later. Jolene, the one who gave Savannah the head's up? Maybe I'll get something useful from her," she says, picking a suit, scrutinizing it, then shaking her head and replacing it on the rack.

Perry clasps his bags in both hands as he peers over Melissa's shoulder, not quite sure even what he's looking for. He's quite at Mel's mercy, fashion-wise. Why does he trust her as a guide? Maybe it's less a leap of faith a more a process of elimination. What other woman would bother dressing him? "We- uh- we met her at the party, right?" Perry says, seeking confirmation, as always, "she- uh- she seemed surprised at my- uh- my name. My last name." Which is actually the much, much more normal of the two.

"She also stuck to me like we were glued together. Which is why I wanna know what's up. I'm getting sick of strangers or near strangers being so damn interested in me," Melissa mutters. "She wasn't the first either. The guy who said he wanted me to take a vacation for Christmas? I've met him…four times. And he's extremely worried about me and gave me a very fitting Christmas present. Apparently he just likes giving presents." Yeah, that's doubt. Lots of it.

"This is- this guy- it was his idea for you to take a vacation?" Perry says, which, yes, that's what Melissa just said, "as in, the vacation we are- uh- we are right now preparing for?" Okay, that's a somewhat less stupid question. "That- uh- that seems very peculiar. What- uh- what was the present?"

"He said time off, not necessarily a vacation where you leave home," Melissa says, shrugging. "And it was a pair of ice skates. Black, with pink skulls and pink laces. He uh…knew I'd always wanted to go ice skating, and only had been once. He bought my date at the last auction at Tartarus. Was also the guy trying to get me on the…on TV."

"Maybe we should find out more about this man…" Perry says, tone shifting into darker shades, "that… concerns me. It doesn't seem like the behavior of a spy, or at least a very good one, but it's very suspicious. Perhaps I should look into him? Or do you trust him?"

"I don't know," Melissa admits, pausing to consider another suit. "He hasn't been anything but nice, but all the stranger attention is kind of freaky. I've come to associate so much attention with bad things. I mean, the Company wasn't paying attention to me because they wanted to give me a million dollar check, they just wanted to shove me into a hole. His name's Kincaid though, works for…he works for the Advocate. Some sort of producer."

Perry nods, expression somewhat distant, lost temporarily in implication. "I admit I don't care for attention like that either," he says, "too much niceness, without reason… it's either infatuation or insinuation. And while I wouldn't be at all surprised by the former, the latter is too big a risk. We should find out what we can about this man."

Melissa's eyes roll. "Please. If it was infatuation, then he would've made a move on me. He hasn't, so he isn't. Or who knows, maybe he's just like you. Wanting to be my friend regardless. Who the hell knows," she says, shrugging. "But yeah, look into it if you want. Won't bother me one bit. In fact, I'm curious about what you'd find."

"Maybe- uh- maybe he's a gentleman, is all?" Perry suggests, a bit weakly. You know, because not every guy is so bold as to 'make a move'. Not naming names or anything but… "I'm not much of a- uh- muckraker but- uh- I'll do what I can. With limited resources."

Melissa snorts softly. "Gentlemen aren't attracted to me, Perry. Not really. But hey, anything is possible, I guess. I mean, we live in a world full of people with supernatural abilities. Why not a gentleman wanting to bag me?"

"Indeed," Perry says, smiling a little nervously, "why not? But- uh- that might prove a- uh- distraction to our work so- um- let's pick out a really dashing suit for me so I- uh- have a better chance of scaring away any- um- courtly suitors when we go to dinner."

Melissa gives him a curious look. "How would they be a distraction while we're thousands of miles away in Hawaii? There's no work there. And I don't want suitors. Swore off love, remember? And one night stands are hardly any kind of real distraction once they're over."

Perry finds his cheeks heating at little, a small flush rising to them. "Uh…" he begins, "I was- just joking. Again. Badly. Again. Um…" he finds himself once again incapable of looking directly at Melissa, opening his shopping bags and peering inside to no real purpose, "I'm just sounding like- uh- like an idiot, I'm sorry." Self deprecation, excellent. Way to be a charmer, Pericles.

Melissa arches a brow, peering at him curiously. "You blush over jokes falling flat? But you're not being an idiot. And here, try this one on. Hopefully it fits well enough that it can be altered before we leave."

Yes! That is totally what is causing his blush. Absolutely. We'll stick to that explanation, finding all others needless.


Perry takes the offered suit without complaint or even much consideration, happy enough to have his involuntary circulatory reaction passed by as just another of his various oddities. He nods, agreeing with Melissa pretty much no matter what it is she just said. Something about alterations? He trusts her, remember? He heads over to the changing room, having entered more of these spaces in the past hour than in the past three years.

Head tilting, Melissa watches as he heads off, before she shakes her head. "What is that guy's deal? It wasn't worth blushing about," she mutters, wandering elsewhere to look at ties and shoes and the like while he's being being her personal Ken Doll for the day.

Oh, now that's an unfavorable comparison. Perry's not plastic. He's got the standard human male loadout, however oddly he may behave. The whole of his one hundred percent human frame is soon clad in a tasteful dark suit, not exactly secret agent grade, but it'll do for a week in Hawaii. He steps out, looking remarkably dapper. He even takes off his glasses, hand going up to smooth out his hair, though the gesture is mostly superfluous. "Um… opinions?"

When he comes out she glances over and a look of surprise comes to Melissa's face. "Nice. Very nice. We're getting that one. Does it need any alterations or is it good to go? I thought I eyeballed the size alright…"

Perry smooths out his lapels, giving Melissa a smile that is somewhere between proud and just sort of silly. "I mean, it feels like it fits," he says, lifting and lowering his arms, checking to see how well the sleeves fit. Looks good so far. "Really, you're the person whose judgment I'm interested in. What do you think?"

"Dude. You are wearing it, not me. If it's tight somewhere or rubbing somewhere, it's in your best interest to say something. It looks fine though," Melissa says, sighing softly. "If it fits fine, then go take it off while I pick out a tie and some shoes for you." And without seeming to realize it, when she turns away she starts humming Barbie Girl under her breath.

Perry is so lucky not to know the tune to Barbie Girl. Given, even if he did, he wouldn't make the connection. He just isn't wired that way. Blissfully oblivious, he starts to ambulate, making sure it doesn't chafe in some uncomfortable region or other. The real Ken doesn't have as many… parts to worry about. There is a brief, silly moment when he looks in the mirror, and does a discreet dance, murmuring in a slightly out of key sing-song, "Mr. Jones is back in town… aces up!" But that's it. I promise. He removes the suit, placing it back on the hanger and heading back into the open space of the store, seeking Melissa.

When he finds her, Melissa has a couple of ties all picked out, and she's looking at shoes. It doesn't seem as though he has anymore say in these as he did in the suit itself. "Why don't you wear your contacts more? The glasses aren't really flattering, you know," she says, selecting a style of shoe, eyeing the ones he's wearing, then grabbing a pair before dragging him to the register.

Perry peers down at the shoes, then glances at the ties Mel has selected. None of them look remotely clever or gimmicky which, he guesses, is part of what makes them good choices. He sets aside his bags and his suit, lifting a tie in his hands and running it through his fingers. Silk. Nice. He looks at Melissa with some surprise. "Oh?" he says, "well… uh… okay. I'll- uh- I'll get some more." Contacts, he means.

Melissa nods in approval and leans against the counter while the items are run up. "Good. Contacts are a smarter move anyway. Glasses are too easy to break, you know? One good shot to the face and bam. You're blind. Which just leads to more shots to the face, which leads to broken noses or unconsciousness, which is never fun."

"I- uh- can't say that's been a- um- situation I've faced often," Perry admits, with a crooked smile, taking out his now well-used credit card and proffering it to the cashier, "I generally try to- uh- avoid even the- uh- conditions under which I'd get pounded in the face. But I- uh- I guess, who wouldn't? Besides boxers, I guess."

"Well it doesn't just apply to punches," Melissa says with a shrug, unconcerned that her example fell through. "Besides, the lack of glasses works better for you. That should be reason enough. I mean, why else would you be letting me pick out clothes for you?"

"Blows to the face more generally, then?" Perry says, actually smiling a little more now, visibly, "I'm- well- I'm letting you pick out my clothes because- because you didn't want to be embarrassed to be seen with me. Which I accept is a- uh- a reasonable goal."

"I went with you to the party. Did that seem like I was embarrassed?" Mel points out with another shrug. "Now come on. I need some new sunglasses. And since you wanna get me something nice, we're gonna hit the Oakley store."

"Spare no expense," Perry intones, once more, "and no… you didn't. I hope to continue to not embarrass you." Yeah, he's actually really smiling now. Warming up bit by bit. Losing his stammer, even when not pontificating. As he gathers his third bag, glasses still in his pocket, he offers his arm to Melissa. "Walk you to Oakley? I'll need a little help to find my way."

There's a hesitation, then Melissa takes his arm. "I've got all the good stores mapped out in my head. I love to shop, I just never get the chance. We'll get you a pair too. Especially if you're like most…bookish guys and shun the sun."

"Your vacation starts now," Perry informs Melissa, guiding them towards the exit, not so blind as to be unable to find a door, "we will hit every last store you care to, and I'll buy you something from each. It's the least I can do."

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