Princess Charming And Sleeping Beauty


melissa2_icon.gif perry_icon.gif

Scene Title Princess Charming and Sleeping Beauty
Synopsis Roles are reversed, a bit, then finally set aright, though it takes all day to happen.
Date January 12, 2011


Turn about is fair play, and this seems to extend to mornings after too. On the third morning of Perry and Mel's tropical holiday, it's Melissa who wakes first. Again there's a bit of mental confusion as she begins to wake, since it doesn't sound, smell or feel like her room back in New York City. Especially since, once more, there's a warm body curled up against her.

This time there's no jerk of surprise, though she does make her eyes open, though it takes her a minute to focus on the face of the man laying next to her. And though outwardly she looks like any woman who's waking in, inwardly she's doing a little bit of a freakout.

Two mornings in a row, she's woken up next to the same person. Such a thing has never happened before.

And with this person, no less. In sleep, it looks like Perry is trying to cheat, the furrow of his brow suggesting concentration on one of the written pages Melissa has barred him from. Or maybe it just takes effort to stay asleep with the sheer impossibility of his own position. At least Melissa has woken up to someone else sometime before. This is even more a first for Perry. New territory.

And he isn't eager to let go of her. Holding fast, arms wrapped around Melissa, quite set on keeping her while he has her.

His firm hold doesn't seem entirely necessary. Melissa's freaking out doesn't seem to involve pulling away and visually showing her concern. Instead she does her best to relax, while studying his face. Considering their position. And what it means for the future, both the short term and long term.

As she wakes up more she chews lightly on her lower lip, considering. Yesterday was easy. He woke up first. She had to react, not act. And while shyness doesn't often become Melissa, uncertainly sure as hell does. At least it does the last few days. Finally she lifts a hand, slowly, and fingers hesitate over his face before they brush across his cheek, her touch feather-light. It might not even be enough to wake him.

There is gradual smoothing of his features at her touch, a relaxation that suggests maybe he's put his internal book down. That maybe he's not thinking so hard wherever he is. Following his own advice. But no, he doesn't wake, not yet, sleeping with a soundness that only comes with security. That and exhaustion. Either he feels safe with her, or she's worn him out.

He's not waking? Well this presents Melissa with a unique opportunity. She can look at him, study him, touch him, without worrying about how what he'll think. Not that he's given any hint that it would be something negative.

So her fingers trace over his face, as though she were learning his features by touch alone. And maybe, on some level, she is. Her eyes follow the path her fingers take. Along his cheeks, over his brow, even tracing one finger down the bridge of his nose until an even lighter touch brushes over his lips.

The gentleness of her touch doesn't at first prove enough to rouse him. Perry's features, not without their merit, especially free of his awful, thick rimmed glasses, remain smooth as she explores them, open to her investigation. Guileless, now, in sleep. The face of an earnest young man, doing his best, for all his confusion.

Besotted a little? Maybe.

As she brushes his lips, he reacts just a little, mouth moving as he whets his lips, making them just a little softer, as he gives a small huff. Taking the first peek out of sleeping. Just the tiniest, not nearly awake, not truly, but in that soft, honest, impressionable space between consciousness and true sleep.

Melissa's hand jerks back a little as he reacts. But like a moth drawn to a flame, she creeps back, little by little, until she repeats that last caress. Then her lips twitch, just a little, and she withdraws her hand, instead leaning forward, slowly, carefully so she doesn't wake him. That's to be saved for the gentle kiss she gives him.

So many men think they're White Knights, but now it's time for a man to play Sleeping Beauty.

Just like in a fairy tale, the kind Melissa doesn't think can come true, Perry's eyes flutter open moments after the kiss. With lips to lips, Perry acts on instinct, kissing back, slowly and sleepily, with with not doubt in his mind. Mel's lips are the only one's he's known, and they are thus the whole of his world. A small noise rises, running through his sinuses, expressing waking, surprise, happiness.

When she feels him start to wake, Melissa draws back, smiling a bit shyly. "Morning," she murmurs, settling back, laying her head down again, her hand coming to rest on his chest, fingers moving to lightly and absently caress over bare skin. "Did you sleep well?"

Sleepy brown eyes regard Melissa with a gentle befuddlement. He's still getting used to this to. Never his whole life could he more than simply fantasize about waking to see a face like that. Without thinking, his chest swells against her touch and is arms draw her closer, wanting the closeness they've begun to share. "Dreamt of surfing…" he says, voice still a little rough, "dreamt of you."

Smiling again, Mel's head rests against his chest, her arm sliding around him as well. "That's…a very nice thing to hear. And not just the surfing." It's a poor joke, but one she seems to have to make in order to keep herself from going too awkward and gooey. "Does that mean you wanna go surfing later? Once we wake up and everything?"

His arms draw her right up against him, unabashed by now. If this is the only week he can be sure to have her, then it's a week he'll spend well and wisely. His hand strokes through her long blonde hair, the other coming to rest low, right below the small of her back. "Nicer to dream," he says, smiling hazily, "you are…" he leans forward bumping noses, "you," is all he can think to describe that which is Melissa. Unprecedented. "Surfing… okay. Surfing is good, together."

That has Melissa laugh softly, and her eyes close. "Surfing will probably be disastrous and hilarious. But good? Very doubtful. If we manage to ride one wave in I'll be shocked. I mean, you saw the movie last night. Those waves were all here, in Hawaii. But it should be fun. And…memorable. But this whole trip has been memorable," she murmurs.

How can he resist? When her eyes slide shut, he leans in to kiss her once more, a little more insistent than just 'good morning'. It says 'hello there' and 'I'm here too' and maybe some other things besides. The close press of his hands certainly have more to say, though they have no voice with which to speak, only sensation, received and delivered. "I don't think I could- could ever forget," he admits, when their lips part.

When his lips leave hers Melissa sighs softly, a content sound, and opens her eyes. "Good. Because I'd hate to be the only one." Another kiss, this time brief, and she draws back. "Gonna jump in the shower. Order up some food? Then let's be lazy before considering surfing, hmm?"

"I- uh- I suppose I can let you go," Perry says, with a small laugh, only the barest bit nervous now, "I can even let you- uh- shower alone. If I must." Well, the third day has really done the trick, hasn't it. He lets her go, but his hands make it clear he wouldn't mind her staying.

That clear message has Melissa hesitating, then laughing as she lays back down, resting her chin on his chest and looking up at him. "Or I could stay right here in bed for another hour or two…then we can consider breakfast." And then she's kissing him again, while part of her mind thinks that it's a very good thing that the Do Not Disturb sign is still on the door.

And so an hour or two pass, undisturbed, and with the sun having climbed somewhat further in the sky, and both vacationers having climbed into the shower - though only after breakfast - they stand ready for the day. Shorted and shirted in a style befitting a beach-stroller, Perry makes the arrangements to meet the surfing instructor at the hotel's stretch of beach at the desk downstairs, the staff being equipped with ex-professionals for this very purpose. With some time to kill before the lesson starts, Perry lures Melissa down to the beach to scope things out, check the conditions. This, at least, his how he frames the suggestion. Really, what he's after is the stroll he's dressed for, to walk at the water's edge as the Pacific rolls up and casts foam over their toes.

Though Melissa agreed and put on her suit for the lesson to come, she's decided to accessorize until then. A bright blue wrap, sunglasses and a black cowboy hat. Somehow, it works for her. She's barefoot of course, because really, who walks down the beach with shoes on? And it's a good sensation as well. An almost fun one.

"This is awesome. Been too long since I got to walk along a beach." She gives a little laugh and shakes her head. "Doing a lot of things that I haven't done in ages. And this is only our third day here." She pauses, bending down to pick up a tiny little pink shell. "Last time I went to the beach it was in the gulf. I must've been twelve or thirteen or something," she murmurs.

"I- uh- grew up in Maine," Perry explains, his own foot sinking half an inch into the sand as it swells with water, having to put just a little more effort into lifting with each step. Not bad exercise, really. The assault of sun on skin has browned Perry considerably, turning his glowworm paleness into what actually resembles healthy human skin tone. Shading in shallownesses and making more of him. "All the- uh- the beaches there are just… sharp rocks and freezing water. Very- uh- dramatic, especially during storms. Not- uh- not very relaxing, however," he glances over at his companion, "where did you grow up?"

"Atlanta. It's where my parents still live, actually," Melissa answers, holding onto the shell and continuing down the beach, her gaze moving over the sand rather than the water. "Didn't really leave until about a year ago, not including time spent in Moab. Then the Ferry sent me up here to take over a safehouse." Which has her expression darkening.

"You- uh- worked with the Ferrymen, then?" Perry says, which is stating the obvious, but he doesn't wish to presume. The sudden darkening of her features has him reaching out to try and take her hand, wanting to provide some comfort even as he consciously asks more questions. "I- uh- I feel I know you now, but not always who you were. I'm- I'm curious."

Melissa nods as she squeezes his hand lightly. "Yeah, for a while. They just neglected to tell me that the safehouse I was taking over here was being used as a decoy for the DoEA, to keep them from looking too closely at other safehouses. If they had, I wouldn't have ended up taking in so many sick people when the flu hit. We got raided, when I had a bunch of people there. Including kids."

Perry blinks. "You can't-" he begins, then backtracks, as it's not her he can't believe. It is the Ferry itself. "That is- at best a woeful error and at worst a- uh- a detestable trick. And no good could come of it. How did that happen? Did anyone answer for it?"

"I know it is. That's why I left the Ferry. And why I very much want to punch one of the bigwigs of that particular organization," Melissa mutters. "Some people agreed with me. Some didn't. That's why I'm persona non-grata with so many of them."

Perry now squeezes Melissa's hand, rather tightly, and his voice drops into a serious register. "Who was responsible? I should- should know. When we deal with the Ferry, I should know who I am dealing with. Maybe- maybe in time we can do something about what happened to you, to the people you too in. Maybe accounts can be settled."

"There's no point," Melissa says, shaking her head. "They won't punish him for what he did. One day I'll hurt him, and that will be my revenge. Luckily the raid didn't go as badly as it could've. But his name's Scott. Scott the asshole."

Perry stows this information away for later use. Scott the asshole. Not hard to remember. "I will be cautious with my dealings with him," Perry says and then, with a glance Melissa-ward, "not least in trying to- uh- prevent myself from being rash out of- uh- offense on your part. I'll- I'll leave your revenge up to you."

"I just want to punch him. Just once. Really hard." Melissa shrugs then, bending again, picking up a tiny sand dollar, brushing her thumb over it to wipe some of the sand off its surface. "Let's change the subject though. Something else. Anything else. This is a vacation, after all. There's no need to be getting pissed off."

"R- right, of course," Perry says, realizing what path he's been taking them down, "sorry," he breaks into a slightly shy smile, "you- uh- you always keep me on track. I- uh- I'm very grateful for that. I- I honestly don't know what I'd do without you." A pause here. Was that… too much to say? Before it could have been a simple admission of organization need. Here, on the beach, hand in hand, it's hard for the words not to have additional resonance.

The words do make Melissa glance at him, her steps pausing, but she doesn't draw her hand from his. "I think you'd probably get along pretty well without me. You've done it so far after all," she points out with a shrug before continuing to walk.

"But I've done nothing without you!" Perry counters, lingering when she does and continuing when her feet start once more, "we meet under your roof, you know the faces and the names, you keep me from disappearing into myself. You're- you're absolutely critical, Melissa. I mean that." And he does. And she can tell.

"I may know people but that doesn't mean that they trust me, or will listen to me," Melissa points out with another shrug. "But I won't argue too much. You've…I've been happier the last couple of days than I've been in a long time. A very long time. I've questioned so much the last few months. About my usefulness, the purpose in me being around. Why I even bother trying. It doesn't make for much of a good life."

"I trust you," Perry says, unequivocally, "I will always listen to you, and I know I need you. I- I did before. And now," his eyes skip over the waves before sliding back to Melissa, "well… now a lot more goes without saying."

There's a small laugh from Melissa. "Oh sure, let a guy bang you and he automatically trusts you," she says, though it's clear that she's being entirely teasing. "But you're not the others. You're not the Ferry, or Richard's group. And knowing people doesn't mean they'll listen. My uncle is a bigwig of DHS, but rather than listening to me, he arrested me."

"I- I don't know if that is how it works," Perry splutters, though his smile shows he understands it's a tease - he's a bit flustered all the same. Still sort of modest in speech, however less so in action he's since become. "They will listen to you when they have no choice," he says, after a moment, "it's sad, but power- power is voice more often than the other way around. But we will do things. We have to. And then they won't have to listen. They'll- just see. What you've accomplished. And they'll have to be blind and deaf both not to realize."

"And what have I accomplished, Perry? Really? I tried making a home, but I failed. Messiah…was a disaster, at least when Rupert was around. I found out that the Institute is in the Suresh Center. A place that is supposed to make things better is being run by those who would use us as literal lab rats," Melissa murmurs, pausing and turning to look out over the water.

Perry releases Melissa's hand, but only so that he may step up behind her and slip arms around her, looking out at the same vista, it just a little off to the side, as his chin hands over her shoulder. The brim of her cowboy hat bumps into the side of his head, but that's okay, he doesn't really mind. "Everything you do, everything you've done, can be redeemed by some future action," he says, that low resonance thrumming under each word, "it's not what you've done, but what you will do. And- and I promise, we will do great things."

"I don't know that I particularly want to do great things anymore," Melissa murmurs. "Everything I've done so far has been violent and bloody. I have nightmares about those things. But they could be considered great." And then as though just to prove that she really is a movie nut, she murmurs, "After all, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did great things. Terrible! Yes. But great."

You'd more or less have to have lived under a rock for the past decade not to recognize just a little bit of that reference, and even Perry isn't so wildly out of touch as to not determine at least the overarching source of Melissa's quotation. He gives a breathy laugh and kisses Mel's hair. "Lady VoldeMel?" he teases, softly.

It seems that is the perfect thing to say, as it has Melissa smiling and leaning her head back against his shoulder, an arm lifting to rest over his. "Well, I hope not, since he ended up dying. But there is a bit of similarity. However, he never went surfing, and I think it's just about time for our lesson, isn't it?"

Perry squeezes Mel gently around the middle, welcoming her into the ease she feels against him. "I think you're probably right," he admits, "and- though I don't mind the idea of lingering- I've been suggesting a bit too much of that lately. I'll be good. Let's- let's go meet our instructor."

"I like to be doing something, especially since we've only got a few days left," Melissa says, nodding a bit. "May as well make the most of it while we're here and all that."

With reluctance, Perry steps away from Mel, though he claims her hand as he leads her back long the beach, from whence they came, back towards the meeting place where their instructor is likely already waiting for them, boards ready. As they walk, Perry keeps quiet, thinking on Melissa's words. A few days is right. Time is running out, this time, their time.

He's not the only one quiet, but then, Melissa isn't the wordy one of the pair. Not normally anyway. But when they spot the surfboards her lips twitch. "We're going to make total fools of ourselves. But it's gonna be damn fun, I think."

Several Hours Later

As Melissa predicted, they do make fools of themselves, but Mel at least doesn't seem to care. She's never going to see these people again, and she had a hell of a time doing it. So they landed in the water more often than they made it successfully up onto the boards. So there were kids out there doing better than them. It doesn't matter. They had fun.

After a quick shower to wash the salt and sand off of them, Mel seems a bit nervous, before she finally turns to Perry, asking, "Hey Perry? I need…Can you do me a favor? A medium sized one? Could you like…go down to the bar or walk through the garden or something for thirty minutes? An hour? I just need some quiet time. Away from people."

And really, have any of those kids blown up a building? Have they gone into space? I think not, I think not. So they can go ahead and be better surfers. Don't mean a thing.

Perry aches all over from the effort of surfing, an activity that demands things from muscles he never even knew he had. Post-shower, he's still wet but not with salt water, and his hair rises in uneven, dark spikes. His brown eyes peer at Melissa from under furrowed brows as she expresses the need to be alone. What does this mean? Compelled by the narcissism of first real affection, Perry can only fear that this has something to do with something he did or didn't do. But, too shy to counterargue, he nods.

"If- uh- if that's what you need," he agrees, and gets dressed, not rushing but trying not to visibly take his time. When he's ready, he moves to the door, pauses, looking back. "I'll come back in an hour. That will be enough time?"

"Yeah…it'll be enough," Melissa says, nodding and sliding her hands into the back pockets of her shorts. "Sorry, just…yeah, need the time. But an hour isn't so long," she says with a faint smile.

An hour is just as long as it feels to one, Perry thinks, and this one is bound to be a very long one indeed. Still, he will not contradict her wishes. He dips his head and steps out into the hallway, sandals creaking as he makes his way down the hall and towards the elevators. He will try to sit at the bar, but his drink will not appeal to him and sitting still will prove unbearable so he will, eventually, walk the garden paths until finally, finally, time unwinds and he quickly makes his way back up to the room, for the door. For Melissa.

When he comes inside, he doesn't find what he might have been expecting. Melissa has changed into a short, light dress that has color. True it's floral and probably bought right here in the hotel, but it's not solid black. And the balcony has been opened up and the table there has been set for a dinner for two. A romantic dinner for two. There's a bottle of Dom chilling, and only candlelight illuminates the table and the woman standing at the railing of the balcony. Candlelight and moonlight.

No. Nothing like what he was expecting.

Perry steps into their room, gazing with simple wonderment at this impossible array of things. The romantic set up, the perfect glow of moonlight… Mel not wearing black. In an already dreamlike trip, this feels a dream within a dream. Cautiously, quietly, he enters the space, foot treads masked by the carpet. He stealthily tries to acquire his suit, changing his threads to something more suitable for this arrangement. Risking total embarrassment should he be caught, but if it works…

When it works, Perry, now dressed in more appropriate attire, moves up behind Melissa, slipping his hands about her waist and leaning over to press a kiss against the back of her neck. "Aren't-" he begins, a touch of humor in his voice, "aren't I supposed to do this sort of thing for you?"

It seems that Melissa was so far into her own thoughts that she didnt' hear a thing, so when Perry touches her she jumps, but she recognizes his voice and relaxes just a moment later. "Maybe," she says, leaning into him. "But I've never been one to think that men and women have specific roles. And you've been awesome enough the past few days I figured…I'd do this for you."

Perry's arms encompass Melissa, drawing her up against him, feeling the fabric of the new dress. "You'll leave me even more confused, in that case," he says, still teasing, "I won't know who's leading and who's following in the dance. But I guess as long as the music is so fine and- and my partner so lovely…" He kisses her again, behind her ear. "This is perfect. I would have waited hours without counting for this. Thank you, Melissa."

"Sorry if I worried you. I wanted it to be a surprise," Melissa says, turning in his arms, her own sliding around his neck. "Which I guess it was, though you seem to be in a suit. Maybe it wasn't a surprise?" she asks, smiling and pressing her lips lightly to his. "But we should eat, before it gets cold."

"Oh, that was a- uh- last second addition," Perry admits, grinning sheepishly after the kiss, "I wouldn't- uh- make you sit across from me in shorts while wearing such a lovely dress." He looks down at her, hand brushing against her sides, as he appreciates the dress as well as the woman within it. "The color… it suits you. A summer Melissa, a bright flower, with golden nectar," waxing poetic, are we? "you know, Melissa is from the Latin? It means sweet…"

And the food will get cold at this rate. It's an excellent thing Melissa, thus, reminds Perry, who was apt to get lost otherwise. He draws Melissa with him to her chair, drawing it out for her, utterly attentive, before taking his own seat.

Melissa's mouth opens to protest against being considered sweet, but reconsiders and just sits in her seat when it's drawn out and smiles at him. "You getting used to wearing clothes that aren't full of geeky references?" she teases, reaching for the champagne so she can pour each of them a glass.

Perry holds out his flute to receive the champagne, nodding his head in thanks as he sets it next to his place setting. He smooths his napkin out over his lap, smile a little shy but mixed with a certain playfulness as he glances back at Melissa in the wake of her comment. "I am getting used to a lot of new things," he answers, giving as good as he gets, "all of them quite wonderful. You've taught me a lot, Melissa. And I- I pride myself on being a good student."

The champagne is set aside and her glass taken before Melissa pauses to think over his words. "Wait…what? Are you telling me that you…" She shakes her head. "No way. It's not possible." And does she seem like she's having trouble figuring out how she feels about that? Oh yes, yes she is. Conflicted, that's the word.

Whoops! She didn't know? Essentially, it's quite flattering that she couldn't tell, and while perhaps drunkenness was the excuse for the first time, since then if she hasn't noticed… Perry pinks all the same, looking suddenly quite uncomfortable, caught with his proverbial pants down. "I- uh- can't claim to be anything more than I am…" he says, a touch awkwardly.

Melissa stares for a long moment before asking, "Why didn't you tell me? I don't exactly make a habit of corrupting virgins, you know." But in with the shock and bit of horror for what she's done, she's pleased as well.

"I'd- uh-" Perry stammers, totally thrown now that they are actually openly talking about this subject, "I'd hardly- uh- hardly call it- uh- corruption. More- uh- more-" he gives an uneasy smile, "tutelage in ars erotica?" And, using terms like that, someone clearly needs more lessons. "I don't think- uh- after all- that male virtue is- uh- particularly highly regarded. Quite- uh- quite the opposite." A virgin at twenty six doesn't usually get 'props' from his 'bros'.

"It'd still be nice to know," Melissa says, frowning a little, holding the glass, but she seems to have momentarily forgotten about it. "I mean, I don't normally ask or care about my partner's history, but that's sort of a big damn deal, you know?"

"I- uh-" Perry says, brows dipping together, chin falling a bit, "didn't really think to mention it. I didn't- uh- didn't think it would recommend me…" he was trying to be at least a little impressive, or just not appear like a total loser, "but- but yes. Yes it's a big deal. You are a big deal. To me."

Well that's enough to have Melissa tipping up her glass and drinking deeply. Gulp, gulp, gulp. "How big a deal?" she has to ask, even as she lifts the lid on her plate, setting it aside to reveal her choice in food. It's fancy, sure. This is a fancy place, but it smells delicious.

Perry's hand slips out to catch on Mel's fingers, trapping them against the stem of her champagne flute. He looks at her with earnest brown eyes, insisting that she meet his gaze before he speaks. "Enough that- that the closer this week gets to it's end the- the more- the more I wish it would just- stop. Time." He frowns, "maybe that's- saying too much. But it's true and I wouldn't- I won't lie to you."

When he catches her hand Melissa looks at him, meeting his eyes. "I won't say that it doesn't worry me, because it does. Part of me, anyway. You know I gave up on finding anyone. You…you're making me hope again, and the part of me that's been hurt is afraid that you're just going to crush that hope and end up hurting me like others have. But the rest of me is just so tired of being alone, of not having anyone to care about or who cares for me, that it wants to say fuck the risk."

"I- I can't know," Perry says, brows arching helplessly, "I know you're afraid and I- I am afraid to promise too much because- because if I did hurt you it would only hurt you more. But I- I honestly mean it when I say I- I don't- can't imagine me being the one to leave you. Whatever we- what we end up being to each other, I am not going to let you be alone. Not- not unless you chose to be," he smiles, just a little, "and even then… I might fight you to stay at your side."

Her eyes linger on his for a moment before they lower, and a moment later, Mel tilts her head downward as well, her hair falling down a bit to hide her features. She says nothing, does nothing for a minute, then two, just sitting there silently. "You do hurt me, I'll hurt you. And I know precisely how to hurt to make sure that it's a pain you'll never forget," she whispers.

"And…" Perry says, softly, hand still closed around hers, "if you hurt me first?"

Without lifting her head, Melissa's eyes lift to meet his again. "It's not in me to hurt someone like that, Perry. I know how it feels, and it hurts worse than anything I can manage to do."

"Then…" Perry suggests, tentative, like he's putting forth some ever bolder course of action, "let's neither of us hurt the other."

Even though she's said that part of her wants to hope, Melissa just nods at that suggestion. "Our dinner's getting cold, and I'm sure the chefs put a lot of work into it," she says, drawing her hand back so she can begin to eat.

So it is. And the conversation isn't getting much warmer. Treacherous waters, these, or so Perry feels. He eats in silence for some time, stealing occasional uncertain glances up at Melissa. Trying to read her mood, trying to determine if maybe there is something he can say, or do. At length he slowly slips his foot out, bringing the tip of his shoe to bump lightly against Melissa's own, brushing back and forth just a little. A physical check, a question as to her disposition towards him. A small sign of affection.

Oh, her attitude isn't very welcoming, no. A lot on her mind, and most of it troubling. But Melissa isn't against a little bit of footsie, and she returns the bump with one of her own, glancing up to him. Then, out of the blue, she asks, "Do you dance, Perry? Any kind of dancing?"

Does he? Perry tries to think of a time when he ever did such a thing. The only thing that occurs to him, some church affair when he was small, he doesn't think counts. However, he doesn't say 'no'. Instead he says: "Will you teach me?"

The answer has Melissa smiling and nodding. "Yeah. Though my style of dancing is better suited for Tartarus than a ballroom or anything. But if you want me to teach you, I will."

A smile? A nod? Combined these things are just what Perry was wishing for. Affirmation meets confirmation. The young man's demeanor improves dramatically, his own smile about as wide as she's see in; he looks excited! "Ab- absolutely," Perry says, his foot rubbing lightly against Melissa's communicating his genuine happiness at the idea, and at the improvement in her mood, "whatever the style, I want to learn."

The next words come out of Melissa's mouth casually. Too casually. "You know…this relationship seems a little one-sided. With me doing all the taking and none of the giving. Shouldn't you be making more requests of me?" she asks, lifting her glass and sipping, watching him over the rim.

Perry's brow lifts, and he takes in time in answering, not sure what the implication of this 'casual' question might be, exactly. "…should I?" he echos, at length. In truth, it never occurred to him. He assumed himself always at the disadvantage, always the one necessarily coming to her for what she might be willing to spare him. Confidence, not that high. "I don't- I don't think I'm getting nothing, that you're giving me nothing. I- I feel- happy. Excited. Ready. Wanting. So- yes, I want. But… it seems like you know how to give even without my asking."

Melissa cocks her head slightly. "I do? What do you mean?" she asks curiously, setting aside her champagne to focus on her foot again, still rubbing her foot lightly against him. Small signs of affection seem to be getting easier for her.

Footsie seems to be working. Perry's own return contact is slow, steady, grounding - his foot is bigger anyways, his shoe much more bulky. He nods, still smiling. "When we're together," he begins, "I- well, whenever you give me something, I always discover, right as you give it to me, that that is what I wanted. Like I wanted it all along, but- but just didn't know."

Brows lift in surprise and Melissa's fork stills halfway to her mouth. "It…I do? Huh." Another bite, then another, then she says, "Maybe I'm better at this stuff than I thought I'd be. Never had the chance to find out before…"

A deeply cynical person might suggest that it's only because Perry has nothing to compare her against. But such an observation would fail to take into account the simple fact of Perry's constant pleasure. However at risk, however built on the infirm foundation of the temporary and the hopeful, it's real. "Maybe you- uh- you're particularly good for me?" he suggests, pressing the tip of his foot against hers.

That makes Melissa laugh, and despite the words that follow, it's a good sort of laugh. "I'm not sure I'm good for anyone. But I'm glad that you think so. Because I'm starting to think that you're particularly good for me. Not sure how, or why, since we're such opposites, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it's the truth."

"Then- uh- take my word for it," Perry says, hands going back to his fork and knife, smiling over at Melissa with a hint of his own good humor, "if you're- uh- not good for me then you're too good at being bad for me for me to complain… and I'm- uh- not sure if that even makes sense."

Melissa grins and shakes her head. "Not really, so I'll just take it as a compliment and roll with it. Because damn if I'm not liking you more and more. And not just because you flatter me endlessly," she teases, finishing her food and leaning back, picking up her flute to sip as she talks.

"If- uh- if flattery ever becomes a problem. You know, too much or something," Perry says, his own smile slowly cracking into a grin, "you- uh- you need only become less admirable. Until then I'm- uh- bound to tell you the truth I see about you. Not- uh- not my fault that it's all complimentary."

Again he gets Melissa to laugh, even as she's shaking her head. "You're impossible. In the very best way, though. I don't care what anyone else says. Don't ever change." Clearly she's forgotten how she turned him into her personal Ken Doll for a day. Selective memory? Or does she mean anyone besides her?

"What has anyone else said?" Perry says, acting shocked, "are- uh- are there people who think I might require some- uh- some improvements?" He lifts his fork, pointing it at Melissa. "Besides you that is."

Lifting a hand to her chest, Melissa adopts a look of innocence. "Moi? When have I ever said you needed improvements?" She grins. "Your clothes on the other hand…those definitely did need improvement. Sorry hon, but you gotta face facts."

"But- uh- when clothes are not an issue… with clothes absent," Perry says, and by God if he hasn't taken the gloves of now, "you find me up to your standards, I'm guessing?" Never change? Looks like he's already changed quite a bit, in some respects.

The grin fades, shifting into a warm smile more than an amused look, and Melissa nods. "Yeah, you're up to my standards. More than, once I add in extra information that you neglected to share with me," she teases.

"Well, by the- by the time I was thinking clearly enough to say anything," Perry answers, "it wasn't really an issue anymore, was it? Old news. No longer true. So it's only the once. I think, considering what's happened since then, you can forgive me one little lapse."

"Hmm…Yes, I do think I truly have corrupted you," Melissa says, though she's smiling as she says it. She even reaches across the table with her free hand, reaching for his. "But I guess it's okay since you don't seem to mind one bit and are getting fully into the corrupted lifestyle. Such bold talk for you lately!"

Perry takes her hand, fingers closing around hers, eyes meeting her own. "There is a corrupted lifestyle?" he asks, smiling, sounding teasingly intrigued, "I admit I'm curious. Very curious indeed."

"Oh sure. There are all kinds of lifestyles. And I'm well on my way to thoroughly corrupting you," Melissa says, grinning and giving his hand a light, affectionate squeeze. "But it occurs to me that other than you growing up in Maine…I know very little about you. You've just been asking questions about me. We should fix that, don't you think?"

It appears corruption is all right by Perry. He's grinning too, a slight swoop in his stomach. Banter like this, with a woman like Mel… it's a totally new experience. But if it's part of this so-called lifestyle… he might be able to get into it. Mention of his own background, though, has him a little taken aback. "Uh- really? It's- uh- not- uh," he stops himself, however, from saying 'not that interesting', even if it is true. Instead he nods. "Of- of course. Ask away."

His reaction makes Melissa tilt her head. "Well…how'd you get into Messiah? I mean, you don't seem the type, and most people who are so pro-evolved generally have a reason. And it's curious too that you don't know what your ability is. Got tested, I take it? Waiting to manifest?"

Perry's brow furrows as he considers these questions. He has been getting off easy, learning about Mel without volunteering information of his own. "I- uh- that's a-" he starts only wait, come on Pericles, just answer, "it's- what I want. What I've wanted for as long as I've wanted… anything. To be part of a- a real revolution. To change things, fundamentally." He nods, "I- uh- I was invited to Messiah but I didn't even know, at the time. My blood must have- uh- been tested on the sly or- but yes, yes I am SLC positive. I just- I don't know. I suppose manifestation can take place any time, right?" he shrugs, "I admit… I want to know. Want to know what I can do."

His hand is given another squeeze, even as Melissa nods, studying his face. "How could it have been tested on the sly? Did you get forcibly registered or something? Because I totally understand that feeling. And yeah, it can happen anytime, anywhere. Depends on the person, the power and the circumstances, I guess. Mine was sort of a quiet manifestation, while some are very visual. It's a pity though, that you didn't meet Peter sooner. He used to have an ability that let him tell what a person's ability was."

"I- I've accepted that this is just- part of my experience," Perry says, with the soft resoluteness of one who has taken a philosophical perspective - precisely the kind of perspective Perry is best at, in fact, "and that it will come when it will come. I- I won't say I don't sometimes envy others for their gifts but- but I know what I am, and that gives me purpose. What I can do- that's secondary. For now. But- I know this. When I have my gift, when I know it, I'll use it."

"Are you sure? What if your ability turns out to be something…silly…or something that others would consider evil?" It doesn't take a telepath to read between the lines and figure out that Melissa's talking about her own ability for the latter category.

They are joined at foot and hand and gaze now, forging links across the table that separates them. Perry's thumb brushes against Melissa's and his foot rubs against hers, reassuring touches. "If one obeys one's own ethics, one's own imperative, I won't call what one does evil. Only a narrow minded person would see gifts, strengths like this, as simply good or evil. The only evil I would see is denying what you are. Especially if what you are is glorious, beautiful." No telepath needed, either, to figure out that Perry's talking about Melissa for the latter category.

And she smiles at his words, giving his hand another gentle squeeze. "That's the thing though…sometimes I want to use my ability, not because I need to, or because it would be smart to do so, or because it would help someone…but because it feels good to use it," she admits softly. "And it's degrees of use too. Using it to remove pain? It's not as…enjoyable…as it is to use it to cause pain. It's part of why I go to the fight club. For the pain."

Perry does not react with shock or scorn, but Mel might have suspected he wouldn't. His reactions tend to be unusual, and often to Melissa's benefit in their irregularity. So no, not shock, but rather interest. Fascination. "That's-" he says, "that's proof positive. Of what- of what I've always suspected. It feels right to be what you are. To be in your element, do what you were meant to do," he lifts Mel's hand to his lips, kisses it, "you are a- a revelation, Melissa. Tell me… how does it feel?"

Before she can answer, Melissa has to react to such a sweet action as having her hand kissed. Her head tilts and she stares at that hand for a moment before licking her lips lightly and lifting her eyes to his. "Good. Right. Powerful. But that's not what my mind says. I mean, yeah, okay, I feel guilty when I lose control and hurt friends, and it's okay when I give what amounts to a little kick in the ass to someone who needs it, but going all out? Intentionally putting someone in as much pain as I can manage? It feels good, but I think it's wrong."

"Then- then you make a- a covenant," Perry says, resolutely despite his stammer, "only use it when it is right to do so. But power has it's own rightness, and that feeling you felt, it's part of that. You shouldn't deny it. You should embrace it." That it sounds crazy doesn't make him mean it less. And thus makes it no less convincing.

"It's not that simple though," Melissa says, shaking her head. "I lose control sometimes. Not often, not anymore. I've mostly got it to where I have to be really pissed off before I lose it. And if I don't use my ability for a while it feels…weird. Like when I got back from space? Not only did I have a migraine for a couple of days, but I was burnt out. And when I'm negated and can't use it?" She shakes her head again. "It's like trying to keep myself from sleeping or eating. It just goes against my instincts, I guess. Which is probably my own fault. No one made me get used to using it."

"You shouldn't think of it, that way," Perry says, frowning, clearly finding something very troubling about what Mel is saying, "being what you are is not a choice. No one made you get used to it, but you are supposed to use it. That is what you are. That you compare it to eating, think how important that is? It's a basic need. Something that, when you need it, it's all you can think about."

"I can choose to use it or not though," Melissa says with a shrug. "As for supposed to…I don't know. Maybe, maybe not. You know I'm not big on philosphy or any of that." She glances down at their empty plates then makes herself smile. "Why don't we get changed. I feel the need for a late night swim. What do you think?"

Perry looks maybe a little rueful. He pushed hard there, it's something that matters to him… but it's so personal to Melissa. It was a misstep to be so rough in his treatment of something so close to Melissa. His look is apologetic, but her smile and suggestion make him more than willing to go along. And it does sound, "perfect."

"Wonderful. I'm thinking the ocean though, not the pool," Melissa says, pushing her chair back and rising. "I know we did plenty of it earlier, but the pool is just…not the same, though it is an awesome pool, bar and all." And she does finish her glass before offering him her hand to go back inside.

He takes it, and they go, Perry sliding out of his suit, so briefly worn but well so, and finding his swimming trunks. The blue ones are still a bit damp from surfing, so he dons the black ones. Slimming. He considers the sunglasses then remembers… it's night. Silly. He looks up at Mel. "Every day here is a wonderful impossibility," he states, smiling, admiring her.

"Impossibility? How so?" Mel asks, changing from her slightly girly dress into her bikini, adding a wrap given that, hey, it is night. It's going to be cooler outside now than it was when they were out surfing. Or trying to surf, anyway. "Oh, you mean you and me? Yeah, it's still surprising me. Not in a bad way, of course," she assures him.

"It- uh- surprises me in a bad way, a little," Perry admits, a touch ruefully, "I'm- well, you know what I was. You are a first… everything to me. But- but that doesn't make me feel like I- don't know what to do, you know? Just the opposite. I feel like- like I almost always know what to do. Just because it feels… true?"

When he says that it is a bad surprise for him Melissa stops and goes very, very still, her expression wiped clean. As he continues animation floods back into her features and she looks up at him. How does that make it a bad surprise though?"

"Oh- oh just that I mean-" Perry says, trying to express himself, "I guess I just feel… impossibly lucky? I didn't- until just recently- well, like you said, I never- uh- never made a pass at you. And that's partly because I- uh- don't really do that. But partly it's because- well, I never thought there would be any possible point. You're- you're gorgeous and- and tough and didn't- uh- seem interested in- well, you know. I felt like you could never be interested in me," his smile rallies, a touch of self assurance making an amazing appearance, "but now I know better. Now I know quite a few ways to interest you."

When he's done talking, Melissa cocks her head, considers a moment, then with a serious face says, "Perry? Would you just shut up, get your cute little ass over here and kiss me already?"

Perry's smile only widens, 'til he's near grinning. "Guess that's one of them…" he comments, before moving over to Melissa and taking her by the waist in one hand, the other cupping her cheek as he leans down to kiss her full on the lips. No hesitation and no tentativeness. This kiss knows whose lips it's meant for.

Melissa does smile when he makes that comment, and when he approaches her face tilts upward, eagerly anticipating the kiss, despite all the serious conversation that's gone on tonight. But then, Monday had lots of serious conversation too and look at where that got them. She's smiling still when his lips come down on hers, and though she's still questioning most of this, this isn't one of those things. This she understands. This she can deal with.

And dammit, she'll enjoy this too.

Several hours later

It's several hours later. They never got that late night swim. Instead they got physical activity of another, entirely more enjoyable sort, and once again they fell asleep in each other's arms. It's not something that either of them expected of this trip, hence the two beds instead of one, but it's working for them.

Or is it?

It's late, most people in the hotel asleep, at least most of the guest. But Melissa has woken up, feeling restless. And after dressing, she slipped out of the room, leaving him to a bed with cooling sheets. All so she could go downstairs to the bar. There were many, many shots, perhaps drunk so she could try to come to terms with what's happening between them. Or perhaps she's just that much of an alcoholic now and needed them.

Regardless, when she arrives back to the room, it takes her several tries to get in the door, and she accidentally kicks the doorframe on her way in, making her curse loudly. Enough that it might just wake him up. And if that doesn't, having her stumble around the suite reeking of tequila certainly will.

Perry sleeps the sleep of the just, and it is a sound and deep one. Melissa's departure may have made his dreams a little less warm, a little less sweet, he slept on. But there is no rest for the wicked, and when demon liquor steps through the door, with Melissa in his grip, Perry stirs and turns to see her silhouetted in the door frame. The young man reached over to turn on the bedside light, casting the big room in dim shades.

"M- Melissa?" Perry asks, as if he's uncertain, as if he's not sure she's really there. He looks a little frightened, really. And hurt.

"Huh? Yeah. 'S me," Melissa replies, squinting at him, her voice slurred, her southern accent very noticeable. It always happens when she's drunk. She closes the door, falling against it before she grins. "Oh yeah! It's a Perry! You're such a cutie, yanno that? A geeky cutie, but with a totally pinchable butt. Dunno why you like me though. C-could do soooooo much better."

These are… nice things to say, Perry supposes, his sleepiness instantly gone, his mind sputtering back into rapid motion. But boy, he wishes she didn't say them like that. Or those things. "Melissa," he says, standing up, pulling the sheet with him to cover himself, and walking over to her, reaching out to offer her his arm. "Come on. Let's get- uh- get you to bed. Lie down for a bit."

"Pfft," Melissa says, waving a hand dismissively. And almost knocking a painting off the wall in the process. "Why d'ya want me to lay down? Unless you wanna bang me again, which'd be cool with me. But otherwise it's boring." She leans closer, the tip of her nose touching his, and she peers at him for a long moment. "Why you all upset? Oh! Did you wanna come drinking with me? We can go get some more drinks!"

Perry tries his best to take hold of Melissa gently, guiding her from behind and towards the nearest bed, the one unslept on. "I'm not- not upset," he says, with a carefulness that bespeaks worry more than anger. This is… so strange for him. He's seen her drink, but he's never seen her this drunk. "But please, let's just take a- a sit down. For me? Please?" Brown eyes aren't bad at emploring.

The sigh Melissa gives him makes it clear that she's very put out by his request. So does the tone when she replies with, "Fiiiiiine. But why?" she asks, even as she lets herself be led over to the bed, then flops down onto it and kicks her shoes off. with an emphasis on kick. No toeing them off for this girl tonight.

He settles down next to her on the bed, still trailing sheet, wrapped around him like a topless toga. "Because I want to know how you're- how you're feeling, he says, with a steadiness of voice that suggests some restraint. This is- hard to watch. But he has to keep it together. "What's on your mind, Melissa?"

Melissa squints at him. "How I'm feeling? I feel great!" she says, flinging her arms out, and nearly smacking him in the face. Accidentally. "What's on my mind is why the hell we're talking. And why you're wearing a sheet. Are we having a toga party? Why didn't you tell me?!"

"It- uh- was a surprise toga party," Perry decides, smiling as best he can, not wanting to upset Melissa but wanting to keep her steady and in one place as well. This- couldn't go on. But he couldn't talk to her about it in this condition. She'd have to sober up… however long that took. "It's a regular- uh- Bacchanal!" this is a joke, actually, but not even very funny by nerd standards, "but what- uh- what were you thinking about when you- uh- went down to start drinking?"

Melissa shrugs. "I dunno. 'Bout getting a drink? Does it matter? I know you're not anti-booze. You've been drinking with me. But you're starting to kill the buzz, you know that? Too much blabbing, not enough fun!"

"I- uh- I think it does matter," Perry says, trying not to frown with too obvious worry, "because- uh- you know I do love drinking with you, so it's funny that you- uh- didn't wake me to bring me with."

"Jeeeeez. Why you making such a big deal about this?" Melissa asks, rolling her eyes and getting a bit huffy. "You were sleeping, I wasn't. I wanted a drink, I wanted to think." She pauses, then busts out laughing. "I'm a poet and didn't know it!" Yeah, like that's been funny anytime in the last decade.

"Right, right," Perry says, nodding, slipping his arms around her. She reeks of tequila, but she's still warm and she still might like a little comfort. He hopes. "A drink and to think. I just want to know what you were thinking about, Sylvia Plath." A gentle joke, but one with a sad weight to it.

"Who the hell is Sylvia whatever?" Melissa asks, though she lets him hold her for now. "And I was thinking about you. And me. Us. And those stupid jerks. I wanna hurt them. Well, okay, maybe not so much Peter, but Brad? Oh yeah. I might just show up at his apartment and punch him. Or hurt him through the door if he won't let me in. But that'd just make him important and I don't want him to be important. I wanna be important for once. I want someone to fall in love with me, dammit."

"Are- are you saying you want love?" Perry says, brow furrowing, "I- uh- I thought you didn't believe in that any- uh- anymore. That it wasn't for you? Have you- uh- have you changed your mind?" He offers this conclusion gently, like it's a good thing. "Because- uh- I think that would be a- uh- a beautiful thing. It'd," he smiles a little, "it's match you."

"Of course I want it," Melissa grumbles, curling into him now and trying to hide her face against his chest. "Just won't ever happen. You're the only one who thinks I'm special, you know."

In vino, veritas. It's one of the weird little wisdoms Perry gained from his childhood training in classics. That truth is in wine, not in that people say true things, but rather they speak what they feel to be the truth. Perry draws Melissa closer as she curls into him. "If- uh- if we were in love," he suggests with that strange touch of logical argument to it, "wouldn't- uh- wouldn't that be enough? I would- uh- be the only one whose opinion matter."

Melissa's voice is muffled as she continues speaking into his chest. "But you don't love me. Even my parents don't love me. I don't care what uncle Jason says. And he put me in jail, so he doesn't love me. I'm unloveable."

"I- uh- I- uh- I…" Perry stammers, completely thrown off my this, finding that comfort lies in only one direction. There is almost nothing but a single right thing to say. Perry presses a kiss to the top of Mel's head. "It's- uh- still just this week and- uh- you can hold me to it. If you- change your mind. But- uh- but Mel… I'm- uh- I'm willing to try. It's all- uh- sort of new to me, and I don't know if- uh- you love me yet. But- uh- we can see if it can happen, can't we?"

Now Melissa does lift her head so she can peer at him. "You're willing to try what?"

"F- f- uh-" Perry is too nervous to get the word out, almost, "f-alling in love?" is said like a question, like she knows the right answer and he's just a student hoping to be right.

This time when Melissa's quiet, it's because her tequila-addled mind is trying to process and come up with an appropriate response. Or any response for that matter. "I don't think it works that way? I mean…don't you either fall or you don't?"

"Why- why not?" Perry asks, one hand at her waist gently stroking her hide, chin dipping as he kisses her head again. "I mean yes- we- we either fall or we don't, but- but we have to spend time together to- to find out. You wanted that week. You- wanted it for a reason, right? To- to figure it out. To see if this- uh- this works."

There's another pause, then again Melissa's face is hidden against his chest. "I don't wanna hope. Hoping, then having that hope crushed, hurts too bad. And I like you, Perry. A lot. I don't want it to be you who hurts me next." Because clearly, she expects to be hurt more times in the future.

"Then- uh- then stay with me," Perry says, giving Melissa a tight squeeze, "I- uh- I can accept you just- uh- just liking me. This- this works. I feel like it does. I know I- I'm scared to give it up. Badly. Of- of not getting this with you. So- so we should stay together and- and see what blossoms between us. Whatever- uh- whatever we end up calling it."

His squeeze is returned by Melissa wrapping her arms around him and holding him tightly. "Why wouldn't you accept it? Not like you love me or anything," she murmurs, tugging at his sheet with one hand, but so she can wrap it around her as well rather than just trying to tug it off.

"I- I think love is a thing that- that happens between people," Perry says, softly, "that- uh- that unrequited love shouldn't- uh- shouldn't be seen as the same thing. I think people- uh- people fall in love together because love- uh- love is in that togetherness. So- uh- I can only love you if- if you love me too. It's- uh- as simple as that."

That just seems to confuse the poor drunken Melissa. "I don't know what that means," she murmurs, her eyes closing as she relaxes, bit by bit. "Explain it to me…tomorrow…will ya?" she whispers. And though he may speak again, she doesn't hear it. The tequila finally did its job. She's finally just passed out.

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