Killer Cherry Pie


des2_icon.gif richard_icon.gif

Scene Title Killer Cherry Pie
Synopsis Talk of dangerous ideas leads to dangerous territory.
Date March 16, 2018

Raytech Industries: Research Labs

“Hey, Des,” Richard’s voice enters into the lab just preceding the head of the company’s CEO leaning through the doorway, eyebrows raised up a little, “You busy right now with something that can’t be interrupted?”

He’d have no idea whether she was or not. There are test tubes and computer consoles and centrifuges and breadboards and circuits and really he has no idea what goes on down there, only that he should absolutely not touch anything unless directly instructed to do so by one of the scientists.

Hopefully none of them hold a grudge that would lead to electrocuting him.

Leaning over a microscope, the dark haired scientist lifts a hand, holding up her index finger in that universal sign for one moment. She scribbles down some note on a pad of paper next to her before sitting up and turning in her chair to face the door. “I just finished sending off my latest research notes to the Detroit office. They should be mocking up a new prototype for trials soon.” Hopefully her employer takes that as good news. She feels like she needs to be providing some good news to counterbalance all the annoyance she’s represented lately.

“What can I do for you today?”

“Well, that’s good news,” is Richard’s affable admission as he steps along into the lab fully, letting the door slide closed behind him, “I really do appreciate what you do down here, Des, I don’t want you to ever think I don’t.”

A bit of praise is, perhaps, needed after the dressing down not too long ago.

He peers at the microscope for a moment, hands clasping at the small of his back to remind himself no touching, then leans back a bit. A faint smile, and he admits, “I, ah, was wondering if you had a minute to talk about the SOD treatment.”

“For you, I have several minutes.” Even if the topic isn’t one that she’s necessarily a fan of. “So, you want me to see if I can restore your ability, right?” Des crosses one leg over the other and clasps her hands together over her knee after smoothing out her wool skirt.

“We can try it, and I know it’s had success in the past, but… It’s not a fun procedure. And it’s not a guarantee, either.” Des tilts her head to one side, then the other. “I could maybe see about piggybacking off some of my old research, refine the technique. Make it less…” She lifts one hand to wave it in the space in front of her nebulously instead of finishing her sentence.

“If I wanted a guarantee, I’d be tracking down the other half of the Formula,” says Richard in somewhat wry tones, a statement which creates far more questions than it answers, one hand sweeping a bit to one side. “I don’t need a new ability, though, I want mine back… I know it’s not a guarantee.”

His nose wrinkles up a touch, “I’ve had— three abilities before, Des. I have no idea what my genetic code even reads for anymore, but I have to try.” Fingers smooth over the metal counter, and he draws in a deep breath, “You know as well as I do that there’s something coming. You can feel it. So can I. I need as many tools as I can to deal with whatever that is, when it arrives.”

Des nods her head, whatever argument she was about to make against the SOD treatment dies in the face of this reality. “I know.” Her eyes close for a moment, and he can almost see the way she must be reaching out with her ability - however it is that works. “I feel the ripples,” she says quietly, “but the sea isn’t treacherous yet.”

She tries to make her smile reassuring as she opens her eyes again. “We don’t know what ability you’ll get. Or…” Des shrugs her shoulders. “You could wind up in a situation like mine, where you have multiple abilities, and they don’t play nice together.”

Des gets to her feet and closes the distance between them. She holds her hands out in front of herself first as if to display that she’s unarmed. No tricks. Then she reaches out to place her hands on either side of his neck, affectionate without presuming intimacy. “I’ve been human before, Richard. I promise you…”

Her lips cut a slivered smirk across her face. “It is not weak.”

“Yet,” Richard echoes, his gaze serious as he watches her for a moment, and then he nods. As she reaches out to him, he brings his hands up, lightly resting atop hers in a light clasp.

“I know. I killed Arthur Petrelli without an ability that gave me much advantage over him,” he says quietly, “I built this place without one at all. I was told once that my ability wasn’t my power… so yeah, I know. And I don’t think I’m weak.”

A twitch of his own lips, brows raising, “But it wouldn’t hurt to be stronger, Des.”

Suddenly, she looks very uncertain. Apprehensive. Her thumbs brush lightly along his jawline. “I wish I could do something to make you happy with who you are. I know what it’s like to crave that power. To want it all the time. To never be satisfied.” It’s how she feels now. It’s why she’s writing a proposal arguing to let her try more drugs to expand her ability.

“I wish I’d never gotten my power back,” she admits, gaze fixed on Richard’s mouth, because she cannot meet his eyes. “The quiet of my mind was… I was at peace. The madness was gone. Your ability is terrifying, Richard. Do you really want that back?”

“I never had that sort of… noise,” Richard says, his eyes closing and a sigh whispering past his lips as she asks him that question, “It was like a limb, or a sense, Des. There’s something— something missing there, and as much as I can get along without it…”

He opens his eyes again, his lips pursing in a tight line, “I don’t want to if I have a choice. I never wanted more power. I just wanted my share.”

A pause, and then he breathes out a chuckle, “…which probably sounds dangerously megalomaniacal or something, I— fuck, I’m not good with words sometimes, Des. You know what I mean, right?”

“I’ve been both.” Megalomaniacal and dangerous. “And you could be, if you aren’t careful.” They’ve both seen what can become of him if he loses himself.

Her mouth is soft as she studies his face, not the critical line with the narrowed eyes that usually comes with her scrutiny. “It could kill you.” Des knows he already knows this, but it bears repeating. All important things do. “I would never be able to forgive myself if something happened to you because I made a mistake, or because it didn’t take.”

What if he wound up something inhuman when all is said and done? The fear of that shows on her face. “Richard, I…” Blue eyes close and for a moment she wavers, leaning just a little closer, but seems to catch herself. She looks at him again. “I stole research. A long time ago, when I was still an agent of the Institute.”

Des smiles shakily. “I’ve got a recipe for a cherry pie that’ll kill ya.”

“Hey, it’s not like we’re talking about injecting me with the Formula or one of its antedecents,” Richard breathes out a low chuckle, his head shaking ever so slightly, “Just clearing out junk amino acids, from what I understand of Warren’s nattering on about the process…”

Of course, the process was designed for the effect of Arthur’s ability. Who knows how Tyler’s ability worked at a biological level, if it was at all similar? It didn’t just suppress the ability, it changed it.

His brow furrows as she pauses, then she offers that enigmatic statement. It makes his brow furrow even deeper for a moment, before eyes widen, “Advent?”

Des nods her head. “Yeah. And… I think if you have half the formula…” She draws her lower lip between her teeth, anxious about the implications of what that research could lead to, while realizing it would be huge.

“It’s not as simple as —” Des hesitates on the name, suppressing a shudder. “As he makes it sound.” And she’s certain Warren doesn’t make anything sound simple. She reads his notes, after all. “I need to take samples and see what I can determine about what the effect was on your DNA. This isn’t going to be a fast process, because it needs to be done right.”

And if she’s having thoughts about the serious discussion from the other day about taking her time and making sure she’s being safe with her mad science, well… She’s not offering an apology to him yet.

“And there’s another alternative…” Des tips her head to one side as she considers. “If we can figure out how my secondary ability works… I might be able to figure out how to reverse the damage done to you. It wouldn’t be a permanent fix, but it would buy us time.” That wasn’t meant to be a joke, but one corner of her mouth does tick up for a moment anyway.

“That’s a… very dangerous line of inquiry,” Richard says very softly, although she can see the temptation there in his eyes. “One I think we should table for— now.” For now he says.

A deep breath, then, and he’s shaking his head, “No. Nothing against you, Des, but I’ve seen what Darren’s ability does, and I’m not taking that risk — you might well drop me far enough back that…” Another, firmer shake of his head, “Not that.”

Then he’s leaning in slightly, asking quietly but very intently, “— but for other reasons, how difficult would it be to produce a single dose of Advent, Des?”

It is dangerous. And exciting. Which is exactly why it needs to be left alone… for now.

“Oh, believe me, I’m well acquainted.” The effects of Darren’s ability can be disastrous, which Des has seen firsthand on two occasions. “I completely understand not wanting to take the risk. I’m still going to try and figure out how to effectively use my power, but… it doesn’t have to be for you.”

He leans in and the other thoughts in her head just vanish. “I’m very good at what I do,” Des responds softly. One of her hands follows the curve of his neck slowly, fingers brushing over the hair at his nape. “It wouldn’t be difficult for me at all.”

“You remember what you told me about a… recurring motif in those visions you’ve been having?” Richard’s gaze meets hers steadily, stepping ever so slightly closer as her fingertips brush along his nape, “There’s only one sure way I know of to deal with a regenerator of that power level, Des.”

“It worked the last time, anyway.”

She can surely fill in the blanks.

Perhaps not in the way he’s expecting her to.

“You want me to recreate Advent so I can kill…” Because she’s certain it would come down to her. She has the knowledge to create the virus, and she makes perfect bait. Even without her ability, she’s likely able to get close enough. There was a time when she would have jumped at the chance.

Now, she has to shut her eyes and remind herself of all the reasons she hates the man they’re discussing. Because seeing him again caused her resolve to waver.

Des comes up on her toes suddenly, her hands braced against the back of his neck and his shoulder for balance so she can crush her lips to his.

Richard’s chin dips in a slow nod. “I’ve seen what happens when it interacts with his ability, it— “

The story whose punchline is ‘Arthur-flavored cherry cobbler’ is suddenly cut off as the woman in front of him wraps her hands around him and lunges up to her tip-toes to kiss him, because it’s rather difficult to continue to tell a story with someone’s tongue trying to get into your mouth.

It takes a good few moments before he remembers that he’s not supposed to be kissing Des, because really it’s been awhile since anyone kissed him like that so he let himself go with the moment’s impulse. Then he does remember and pulls free with a sharp inhalation, “Des— c’mon, we, we talked about this.”

When she drops her heels back down to the floor, she stares up at him, confused. “But—” Her face starts to flush red. Oh. She misread those signals in a huge way, didn’t she? “I — Oh, shit. I am… really sorry.” Des steps back three paces, trembling hands held out in front of her again in that gesture of I mean no harm.

She closes her eyes tightly and thinks very, very hard about being literally any place else right now. Preferably her apartment, because at least she can flop down onto her bed and just lay there until the embarrassment claims her life.

Of course, she can’t actually move through time and space at will, so she’s still exactly where she was when she opens her eyes again and stares hard at her shoes. “I’m all messed up. I’m sorry.”

Richard Ray clears his throat, one hand lifting back to rub against the nape of his neck where her fingers were caressing not long before; a flush darkening his own cheeks. “Hey, uh, it’s not like I didn’t kiss you back,” he confesses, lips twitching in a slight, wry smile, “We just— you know it’s a terrible idea for a lot of reasons, Des.”

Lots of reasons. Lots of them. Focus on all those reasons, Richard.

He steps closer again, reaching out to brush a hand to her cheek to urge her gaze up, “Hey. It’s alright.”

A shiver runs through Des’ frame as his hand touches her face and she lifts her eyes to his. “Don’t…” Her breath catches in her throat and she watches his mouth for a long moment before she remembers she meant to be looking at his eyes. Holding that gaze. “I… I like you a lot, Richard. You’re the first man who’s ever treated me like a person.” Not a weapon. Not an experiment. Not a wild animal. Not a victim.

“I know there are… so many good reasons not to. Most of them are because I’m no good.” At this point in her life, Des is well aware that she is what’s wrong with her. She can’t blame anyone else for the things she’s done anymore. “It just doesn’t stop me from wanting. I meant it when I said I wish I could make you happy with yourself the way you are. Because I look at you, and I just—”

She has to pause for breath and to keep her emotions at bay. “You’re amazing just the way you are.”

The expression on Richard’s face softens as she mentions that he’s the first man that’s treated her like a person, and he breathes out a long sigh. Hazel eyes close a moment, then open to watch hers again.

“I’m just a puppet, Des,” he says gently, “I can’t be sure anymore that I’ve made a single decision in my life that wasn’t made for me. I’m a tool, a weapon, a knife flung at destiny’s throat. I’m nothing special. Never was.” Once upon a time, another him changed that. And they both know how that went.

He looks at her for another moment, “It’s not that you’re no good —  can you really tell me that if we did start sleeping together, you wouldn’t start thinking I treated you this well because I was after your body?”

“You’re not a puppet,” Des insists firmly. “I’ve been a puppet. I’d know my fellow when I see them.” There’s an odd mixture of emotions that accompany that assertion. Revulsion and fondness in nearly equal measures. Just another one of those good reasons why he should stay clear of her.

“You are special. You’re special to your children, to your sisters, your friends…” Des shakes her head slowly. “We aren’t the sum of what they’ve made of us. We’re only what we’ve made of ourselves.” That was a difficult lesson to learn and take to heart.

She smirks a little, humor at her own expense. “It’d have been an awful long con, wouldn’t it? Almost four years of playing hard to get?” Her brows lift in a get real expression. He’s not fooling anybody. “If you wanted my body, you knew you didn’t have to treat me well to get it.” He knows enough about her history now between the files and what he’s seen in her mind to know that Des doesn’t gravitate toward the healthy when it comes to relationships.

“Most abusers wait two to four years before showing their true colors,” is Richard’s reply to that, a smirk twitching to his lips, “I saw that on a talk show once.” Oh yes. He’s terribly abusive, isn’t he? He shakes his head, then, “And I’m not saying what I want, I’m saying what— and you know, we’re super off topic here.”

A finger points at her, and he chuckles, “You’re terribly good at diverting topics. I had actual important things to talk to you about, Desjardins.”

“Yes, but you know what I’d do to you if you decided to try it.”

That’s supposed to be a joke, but it’s also kind of a promise. Des is through being someone else’s punching bag. She expects he’s at least somewhat proud of her for that, even if it does mean she’s leveled a threat at him.

“You sent me mixed signals,” she says in her own defense, but without any bite to it. He’s absolutely right about her.

She finally breaks eye contact, turning her face away and letting out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding. Des takes two more very deep breaths before she seems ready to continue. “All right.” She adjusts her glasses and nods, like she’s convincing herself. “Go on.”

Richard’s hands lift a bit as if to admit his guilt there. He’s admitted that he’s attracted to her, after all! He just knows that it’d be a disaster if he acted on that attraction.

He clears his throat then, turning to look around the lab, “Right. So. Uh. The SOD process, right, let me know when you need samples and all. Adam countermeasure, we should get that ready just in case… alright, uh. I’m sure there was something else.”

“Uh huh.” This is awkward. Almost painfully so. Sure there was something else.

Des sighs and continues pointedly looking away from him as she speaks again. “Okay, so I’m just going to put this out there, but we could just go back to my place and get it out of our systems and then never speak of it again.” That’s a valid method of coping with tension, isn’t it?

There was! Richard slants a look over to her at those words, and he rubs a hand over his face for a moment before turning to head for the door. “…right, then, I should let you get back to work. Let me know when you need those samples and tests.

Whiskey is also a valid method of coping with tension, Dr. Desjardins.

“Go see, uhm…” Des waves a hand in the air, seemingly unruffled by the second rejection. “Literally any other doctor that knows how to draw blood. Tell them we need samples for genetic testing and they’ll know what to do.”

Des sits down in her chair and spins it back toward her workbench, her back to him and the door before she buries her face in her hands.

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