The Morning After


melissa2_icon.gif perry_icon.gif

Scene Title The Morning After
Synopsis Day 2 of Melissa's vacation dawns with a bit of awkwardness that turns into sweetness.
Date January 11, 2011


Whether or not last night made of man out of Pericles Jones, he awakes just the same as ever, blearily blinking at a world fuzzy with both sleep and lack of contacts. The light pouring through the big windows marks his second day on the Big Island of Hawaii, and a glance to the side shows that the bed Perry had intended to sleep is looks pristine and undisturbed. Which means…

Unfocused brown eyes slide over to his other side, hardly daring to believe that anything which has happened has happened. Not in any real way expecting to find anyone there. Hope itself impossible, since it's very basis is impossible.

The blonde hair spread out along the pillow next to Perry proves that he truly didn't sleep alone. And the dress that the neat freak threw to land on a chair nearby is proof that they didn't just sleep either. Melissa's arm is draped over Perry, her eyes closed still, face relaxed and calm in sleep. It's probably the most relaxed Perry has ever seen her.

Some crazy part of Perry wants to get up and put in his contacts, a task he's still a little inexperienced at, so he can remove all doubt as to what happened. This part of small and very crazy indeed, and the rest of him smacks this neurosis down with ease. With an arm draped over him, an arm marked with familiar scars, he knows precisely whom he shared this bed with. Knows it was not some wild dream.

And inexperienced further though he might have been, he remembers no shame or doubt. She had wanted not to think. He did his best to meet that demand. It's hard for him, now, to conscience waking her, not with that serene look on her face. After a moment's thoughtful considerable of the sleeping beauty's features, he gingerly reaches out for the phone on the bedside table, lifting the receiver from its cradle and setting it against his ear. A press of '0' finds him the operator and he asks, voice kept hushed, for, "room service."

It's Perry's firm opinion that Melissa should have breakfast on the way by the time she wakes.

It seems that Melissa is sleeping deeply enough, at least this morning, to allow him to do something to sweet for her. She doesn't stir at the soft voice, just cuddles a little closer to him, her head ending up resting on his shoulder as she lets out a soft sigh. It even sounds content.

This makes it a little difficult for Perry to retain his line of thought and, thusly, he just orders blind, hoping they'll have what he wants. Two orders of blueberry pancakes, with coffee of course. Half mumbled, but still understood by the staff, the order is taken and Perry sets the phone back in the cradle. This done, he can return his attention directly and undivided to Melissa. Tentatively he reaches out to brush a strand of blonde back behind her ear, thumb tracing the line of her cheekbone.

In a moment of sublime acceptance, he leans down and kisses Melissa's temple before speaking, low but clearly. "God, you are beautiful." And he means it. The evidence of his sincerity thrums on a wordless wavelength that seeps into her sleeping mind.

"Mmm…" is Melissa's only initial reaction to the touch or the words, and her arm tightens a little, shifting a little in her sleep. Eventually she stretches a little, lazily, catlike almost, the stretch going from head to toes, and coupled with a yawn as she starts trying to wake up. Not an easy task, but she's trying!

Perry shifts a bit as she stretches, getting his arms around her in a loose cuddle as he turns on his side to face her directly. He blinks a bit, still a little groggy himself, watching as she follows him into waking. There's some anticipation there, even a bit of nervousness. If the spell breaks, this is when it happens. Sleeping beauty wakes up, but the prince she was kissing turns out to be a frog. Such is his worry.

Another yawn and Melissa's eyes open as she instinctively cuddles closer to the warm body next to her. Until her mind registers the very important fact that she never sleeps with a warm body next to her. She blinks and jerks back while she tries to recall where she is and how she ended up sleeping with someone else in the bed.

When Perry's face focuses enough for her to recall what happened, she relaxes. It doesn't seem as though she thinks he's a frog instead of a prince. "Christ…" Yawn. "Forgot where I was. Not used to wakin' up with someone next to me," she murmurs.

That split second jerk makes Perry's heart skip a full beat, a spike of pure dread running through him, a less pleasant version of the patterpatterskippatter he feels when she cuddles up closer. But the scare is short lived, as she speaks and yawns, not seeming shocked or disgusted. Seeming… okay. Perry keeps his arms around her, not quick to let her go for fear he'll lack means or nerve to slide them around her again. "Surprised me, too," he admits, smile a bit rueful, a bit silly, too, "I- uh- didn't really think-" he breaks off, rethinks what he is saying, "it's really- really nice, isn't it?"

"Didn't think what?" Melissa asks, closing her eyes again, but now that she's fully awake she's not cuddling any closer. That's not part of her morning after ritual with guys. One night stands rarely want to cuddle, even if it's been a long while since she's had a one night stand. "It's kinda weird though. For the longest time I wanted someone to wake up next to. Then I gave up that dream. Wasn't ever gonna happen, so…"

The sad thing being, of course, that Perry doesn't understand this as a one night stand. He doesn't understand it at all in fact, and he admits as much when he answers her question, completing his thought. "I didn't think it was real," he admits, "for- for a moment. I thought it couldn't be." He slides down a bit, coming face to face with her and, not recognizing Melissa's own cessation of cuddle, draws up closer to her, pulling her nearer in turn. Not acting like a one night stand. "It's happening now," he says, voice thrumming against in that inaudible register, "don't doubt it. It's not a dream. I'm sure."

His words have her frowning a bit, Melissa reluctant to give hope when she has none herself. But she also wants to hope. "It was one night though, Perry. Soon you'll realize that I'm not what you want," she murmurs, though she doesn't pull back when he draws her closer. It's a start. A small one, but a definite start.

Perry is not about to let Mel invalidate this so easily. In truth, he can't know, can't be certain. She made him no promises, and rightfully, with only one night to their name, one night 'together', he shouldn't make promises either. But what he wants right now, he has a hard time thinking he won't want later. However later later might become.

So he means it when he says: "That won't happen," and when he means something, it's hard to disbelieve, "we can-" his stammer temporarily prevents spellbinding, as he picks through his words, "can take it- take it slow. If you want. But I want you," certainty returns, and with it that unheard sonic layer, eroding doubt, "this can be different."

When it's all boiled down, all of Melissa's apparent hatred towards men, her disgust with love, her bitchy attitude…she's just afraid. And for a moment, it shows on her face, in her eyes. "Different how, Perry? What is it that you're wanting from me? What is it you want me to give? Because I'm not sure I have much less to give anyone. Even myself."

That's a hard question. What is he to do, make a list of what he expects of her? What he demands from a lover? With no previous disappointments or heartbreaks to compare, he is left only with the simple fact of his wanting. When the thinks on it, really, he can only think to ask her the same question in return. That, he feels, is more important. "What about- what I can give you? Maybe- maybe I want to give you what you want?" On instinct, he leans in to kiss her forehead, finding that horizontal slash again, what he claims he sees as a mark of bravery and endurance, "don't worry," is what he settles on, with a firmness that resonates, an easier dictum to follow than one might expect, "tell me your mind and I'll do what I can for you."

"If you'd asked me a month or two ago, I could've told you," Melissa murmurs, hesitating before she rests her head on his shoulder again. She's tense for a moment afterwards, as though expecting some sort of bad reaction, but the fact that she did it at all speaks volumes. "Before…I would've given anything for a boyfriend. Someone to be mine and for me to be theirs. Someone to care for me, and not just in bed. But now…I don't know."

The reaction isn't bad. It might even be considered good, as Perry secures his arm more tightly around her. Not interested, once again, in losing even an inch of ground gained. If nothing else, Melissa's uncertainty increases her desirability simply out of risk of loss. And Perry now knows what he'd be missing. "Maybe you don't have to know? Maybe… we can find out?" His fingers gently trace a small circle against her lower back. "I will do my best. I swear. I- this is new for me, too. But…" a pause, "I'll try to be true to… to whatever we agree we have."

"I just can't be hurt again, Perry," Melissa whispers. "Physical pain I'm good at. I live with it. But I'm sick of the emotional pain. I can't fix that with a couple of pills. It was hard enough to try again with…the second time. And you can't promise that you won't hurt me."

"No…" Perry agrees, softly, "I can't promise. I'm- I'm not a pre-cog. But I- I will try. And I will not do what those other men did to you," this is said with a steadfastness that sinks in, his own gift being used to unknown advantage, an ethical conundrum he is excused from due to ignorance, "we are- we share something. Before this. And now, with this… it can only be stronger." His reasoning isn't clear, least of all to himself, but it feels right, and he's working very much on feeling right now.

His face is studied for a long moment by a worried looking Melissa. But slowly she relaxes a bit and nods slowly. "Okay….okay. Let's just…see how this week goes then. If it doesn't work…when we get back to the city, we just go our separate ways. If it does work…" She leaves that open for now, not wanting to hope too much.

'Separate ways' is something Perry isn't sure how to take. He'd like, in an ideal world, to remain, if not friends, then freedom fighters bound by mutual respect and solidarity. The suspicion that, should this not work out, what scraggly remnants of the organization he is part of will further fragment gives him a twinge of fear. But it's not enough, not nearly enough, to make him back down. Not with Melissa right here. So close. He nods as well. "This week," he says, and then dips his chin to kiss her, lightly, on the lips, "then, we'll see."

Melissa returns the kiss, keeping it light, then tries to smile a bit. "Then I'm gonna get a shower real quick, and we can figure out our plans for the day." She's forgotten about breakfast, it seems. And won't she be surprised! But for now she withdraws slowly, sliding out of bed and moving into the bathroom for the shower, unembarrassed to be nude. But then, he's seen it all already.

And Perry gets to be unashamed of watching her. It's a pretty cool feeling, one that gives Perry a sense of soaring in his stomach, the realization of a newness. A newness with nudeness. Which is a fantastic kind of newness, Mr. Jones is realizing. He rises slowly from the bed after she's gone, picking up the scattered components of his suit and placing them on a hanger. He'll need to work on getting up to her level of cleanliness. He doesn't get dressed, rather taking a robe and tying the chord securely about his waist. A quick glance at the clock reassures him that the food will be here soon. This is too nice a place not to have excellent service.

The shower turns on soon enough, and Melissa takes her time, waking up as well as getting clean. And maybe coming to terms with what she's agreed to. So it's a good twenty minutes before she walks out, hair damp, wrapped in her robe, and looking not only more awake, but more relaxed. Who knows what she said to herself while in there.

When she exits the shower, breakfast is already there, arriving at the door only a minute and change beforehand. Perry isn't sure if he believes in God, but thanks Him anyways. This is the sort of serendipity he can use right now. He has, in effect, entered a trial period.

The cart bears trays and platters, ideal for breakfast in bed, that most opulent of meals. Perry stands behind the cart, examining all the accoutrements. A small carafe of coffee. Cream, sugar, sweetener. Two pitchers of real syrup. Yellow butter. And then the pancakes themselves, mottled purple with the juice of cooking blueberries.

"I- uh- took the liberty…" Perry explains, grinning in hopeful expectation.

When Melissa sees what he ordered, she stares for a moment and then, wonder of wonders, she laughs! A good laugh, not a mocking one. "Blueberry pancakes? Those are blueberry pancakes, aren't they?" she asks, moving over towards him and the car, looking highly amused about something.

Perry did something right, that he can tell. He's just not sure what it is he did right. Unclear on just how to reply correctly, he opts for simple honesty. "Blueberry pancakes are certainly what I ordered. And- uh- they look like blueberry pancakes," he glances down, as if double checking, "but I guess we can't be sure until- uh- until we start eating them."

"There's a movie we've gotta watch later. We'll do surfing tomorrow, after you've seen the movie. But blueberry pancakes in Hawaii feature in this movie," Melissa says, actually grinning as she plops herself down on the bed, cross legged. "I'd completely forgotten about breakfast. I'm surprised they got it here this quick. I wasn't in there that long."

"I- uh- ordered while you were still sleeping," Perry explains, hoping that telling her is what she wants to hear - he's not sure entirely about casual charm, isn't certain if he should play it like a mystery - be he's opting for honesty in all cases of doubt. Trust, after all, seems to be something of Melissa's that is most tattered from ill use. "Shall we? We'll- uh- we'll need the fuel for trekking about the island."

That has her looking a bit surprised, then Melissa smiles. "Very thoughtful. And yeah, let's. We're doing the volcano and cave today, right? Or was it something else? Bits of conversation from last night are a bit fuzzy, I'm afraid."

"The cave- uh- and the waterfall I think we can do together," Perry suggests, "part of the same- uh- same trip, you know? That can be for the day. And the volcano… will be more spectacular at night, don't- uh- don't you think? Lava, glowing in the dark? The heat of the volcano and the- uh- relative chill of the night?" He seems to have a fairly clear vision of it. Quite a lot of away… and quite a lot of it where you can't easily get a hold of alcohol.

"Sounds good to me," Melissa says, grabbing herself a plate, smothering the pancakes with syrup, and taking a cup of coffee, black. She gets settled on the bed and starts digging in. "I'll be crossing a lot of things off my bucket list this week," she muses thoughtfully as she munches.

"Once the list is- uh- all finished, what then?" Perry asks. He's never had such a list himself, the idea seems daunting to him, as if writing down aspirations would either limit them or making them obviously impossible. Only Melissa is making them real. Another thing he'll have to try and learn from her. He begins to prepare his own waffles, somewhat more conservative with his syrup, slightly meticulous with his butter.

Melissa shrugs as she cuts her breakfast into neat and precise little squares. "I'm always adding things to it, so I don't know if I'll ever finish it. Besides, they're basically just goals. Things I want to do or experience before I die. With what we've got planned this week I'll be able to cross off…three things. No, wait. Four, with last night," she murmurs thoughtfully, head tilting before taking a bite. "Oh god these are good."

Perry can't disagree. This hotel continues to deliver. He eats with the same methodical care as he used to prepare the pancakes, his motions precise, motor skills honed and disciplined by years of working. At least it's not messy! He makes sure to swallow before speaking, of course. "What- uh- what one was accomplished last night?" he asks, smiling, looking over at her.

The question has her pausing, fork halfway to her mouth. After a long moment Melissa shrugs, takes the bite, then murmurs, "Go on a real date. Had two fake ones. They didn't count." She shrugs a little. "Then got the volcano, the cave, and just spending a week on a tropical island."

Perry is tempted to ask what makes a date 'fake' as opposed to 'real'. But he gets the sense that maybe she doesn't want to talk about that. And he is very much about what Mel wants, or what he thinks she wants. "I'm- uh- glad to help fulfill aspirations," he says, sipping his coffee, "anything else I- uh- can lend a hand with, you just let me know."

"Well most of the others aren't things that can really be done right now," Melissa says, shrugging. "Like punching someone who only deserves it in my head. Or decking one of my…I guess you could call him my ex-boss. He really screwed me over. Or my ongoing attempt to collect a million shot glasses."

"A million?" Perry says, blinking at the figure, "you'll need a warehouse!" he smiles, "we'll just have to- uh- arrange it when you get that many, I guess. And we'll be- uh- shopping for some, right?" he remembers her mentioning something like that. He lets his eyes skate across her for a moment before reaching out to brush her hair over her shoulder and leaning over to place a kiss against the scar above her tattoo. "How many do you have already?" he asks, leaning back, eyes going to her face.

"Well, the bucket list just has seventy-five. Well, glasses from seventy-five countries or states. Which is why I gotta go shopping, yeah," Melissa explains after a pause at the kiss. "States and countries I have…" There's a longer pause as she does mental math. "Twenty or so? Only countries I have are…okay, country. China. From the space thing. It's just sort of my thing. I collect shotglasses and movies. Mostly movies. I couldn't even come here without movies. Got some on my laptop."

"Really?" Perry says - that there is still getting to know left between them shouldn't be a surprise, but the young man seems to express an interest bordering on surprise with each new bit of information about Melissa. "I didn't know you loved film. I- uh- never developed a wide ranging passion. Maybe- maybe you could help me broaden my tastes? Show me your- uh- your favorites?"

"Careful what you ask for. Some of my favorite movies are Mel Brooks films," Melissa says, smiling. "But really, anything comedy or action is a good thing. Or both together. I'm sure we'll get some time while we're here where we don't wanna be out and about. I'll show you some then. Starting with the blueberry waffle movie."

"I won't- uh- won't ask you to pull any punches," Perry says, smiling by now, and rather freely, "this week is- well- it's our chance to- uh- to see how this works. Give me- uh- give me what you've got," a pause, "plus- uh- I don't think I mind at all the idea of- of staying in with you once and a while. Watching a film together on- uh- on your laptop." And the closeness such viewing might permit, that's definitely an implied bonus. 'Staying in' has implications unto itself as well.

Pushing her plate away, Melissa nods. "Yeah, I guess it is. And don't worry, I'm not expecting you to like all the movies I do. When Ling was living with me, I used to make her watch movies with me. She hated most of them. Though I think she secretly liked Hot Fuzz. Comedy about British cops. Very funny." She leans back, picking up her coffee and sipping. "So what do you like besides books? Which I can't really get into. Sorry."

Not a movie buff by any means, the sort of guy who tends to watch historical documentaries, dry as paper to anyone else, Perry takes Mel's word on these things. He's game to try new things. It's not lack of taste he has, but lack of exposure. He shifts the cart back a bit, slipping an arm around Melissa and trying to coax her a little closer. "That's- uh- that's okay," he says, "I can-" he smiles, "I can read enough books for the both of us. But… um… I guess I like… tinkering? Making and fixing things. Getting things to- uh- work in- uh- unconventional ways. Jury-rigging. Things like that."

There's a bit of hesitation, this kind of closeness isn't second nature to her anymore, but then Melissa does move closer. "Can't say I'm really into that either," she says, sounding a bit apologetic. "Though I break things? So they can be fixed?" she says, shrugging a bit then tilting her head to rest against his. "You should've seen everything that had to be fixed at my house. The furnace, AC, the attic was remodeled…I thought I was gonna have to have the stove replaced after I tried cooking on it once. Did have to replace some pots and pans."

Perry turns his head to press a kiss against Melissa's hair, arm around her holding her with a secureness that's as much for him as it is for her. "I'll be glad to mend anything of yours that needs mending," he says, a low level of resonance rippled under his words, "if it's broken, I'll fix it."

"Only thing that's broken right now is me," Melissa murmurs softly, before she sighs and closes her eyes, letting herself relax, just a bit more. It's slow in coming, but bit by bit the old Melissa is emerging. Even if it's just for this week, while they're away from the city and all the troubles it holds. "We should probably get started soon though, if we wanna do the caves and the waterfall today, and not be exhausted. And have time to eat."

"Then- then that's what I'll work on fixing," Perry pledges, the boldness of the statement limiting its effectiveness… but even though lacks the force of previous assurances, it's no less meant. Wishing, in fact, to make up for even a moment's hesitation in answering, he tilts her face towards his and kisses her once more, fully this time, letting his lips linger.

Melissa is smiling faintly when his lips touch hers, and she kisses him back, and like him, she isn't in any rush to let the kiss end. But eventually, it must. She sighs softly and brushes her fingers lightly against his cheek. "I'm gonna get dressed. I'm looking forward to going spelunking. With you." Well, well. Is she starting to return his feelings?

Another kiss, light and brief this time, then she's slipping out of bed to find some clothes. Shorts and a tank top, over her bikini. Since they are planning on the waterfall later.

Perry should be so lucky. That last kiss, unprompted on his part, the second one she has offered and many leagues away from the first kiss she pressed, is reassuring to say the least. He rises shortly after her, doing his best to concentrate on his changing, instead of hers. For all that Hawaii has granted him boldness, though, he's still working from a rather low starting point. He dresses mostly without incident, putting on his outing outfit and donning his sunglasses. It feels reassuring to have them on. So much change, so little time.

His distraction does has Melissa smiling a little. She's probably smiled more in the last day than she had the previous month. It's a good thing. "So. Cave then waterfall, with breaks for food and shopping mixed somewhere in there, right? I'm thinking it might be cool to hit the waterfall when it's light, but close to sunset. The cave doesn't really matter since, you know, underground and naturally dark anyway and all that."

"That- uh- that sounds perfect," Perry says, and while he's at this point highly inclined to agree with Melissa - almost as if she had turned his own ability back on him - it does. He offers his hand to her, a little more than just a linking of arms. "Shall we?" he inquires, his own smile uncommonly common.

Linking of arms can be considered polite, with some distance to it. It doesn't mean anything. So Melissa hesitates, considering the offered hand for a moment, before she takes it and smiles a bit more. "Yeah, let's do this." A key is grabbed, along with sunglasses and a wallet thin enough to fit in her pocket without ruining the lines of her shorts. And then it's out she goes.

Several hours later

They spent a couple of hours in the cave, following the tour and listening to their guide, oohing and ahhing when appropriate. Quietly, in Mel's case, but she was still impressed and pleased by the choice in the day's activities. It left them a bit dirtier than when they began, but oddly, the obsessively neat Melissa didn't seem to really mind. She washed her hands, but didn't bother otherwise.

Lunch was had, and a bit of shopping, in which Mel found several shot glasses which she liked and had to have. One which was blatant Hawaii commercialism. But that was hardly the high point.

It's just an hour before sunset when they finally reach the waterfall, having asked around and found one nearby, though they had to hike to get there. It didn't bother Mel much, though she is a true city girl, through and through. They come out of the thick foliage at the pool that the falls empty into, and she looks over the water, then up, along the falls, to the top, just able to see the blue sky, free of clouds, above the ridge. They're surrounded by lush greenery and brightly colored flowers that fill the air with scent as surely as the falls fill it with their sound.

She only has one word to say about the sight. "Damn."

The pictures simply can't do justice. A waterfall does more than look. It feels and sounds, filling the air with mist and soft thunder. And even then, the spectacle, in its surrounding glory, is more than a photograph can ever capture. Perry steps forward into the panorama of natural beauty, removing his sunglasses so as not to filter the fullness of what they are seeing. The sun is low in the sky anyways, lower curve reaching gradually and inevitably towards the horizon.

Perry doesn't say anything. If he did, he might merely add 'ditto'. Mel more or less summed it up.

Melissa doesn't move, just remains where she is for several minutes, taking in the view, the scene, using all her senses to enjoy it. To memorize it. She's happy here. It's a good thing to remember. Finally she draws her glasses off and steps forward as well, up beside Perry. "We should've given ourselves more time here. I don't think I've ever seen anything more beautiful than this."

The rim of the pool is rock, a bit slick from mist, difficult footing, especially in shoes. Perry leans down to remove his shoes, stepping out of them, letting his bare feet feel the grass beneath them before taking a step towards the pool. He then reaches down, drawing off his shirt and, after folding it between his arms, sets it atop his shoes, where he hopes it will stay dry. However warm the nights here, a wet shirt will still be chilly! He looks over at Mel, smiling - if a little unevenly - "Shall we- uh- take the plunged together?"

Glancing to him, Melissa grins. "Only if you're gonna climb to the top with me and dive off. Because that just looks too fun to pass up." And off goes her shirt, dropped on a rock, and soon joined by her shorts and sandals, before she starts heading around the pool to find a well hidden trail leading up. But at least she knows to look for it. Thank you natives!

Perry boggles briefly. Isn't that dangerous? That he's gone into gunfights and blown up buildings, that they both have, doesn't seem to factor in, however absurd it may seem. A very pedestrian desire for 'safety' rears it's head and then-

Whoops. There goes Melissa's clothing. What- uh- what was he thinking again? Some worry or-? Know what? Never mind.

He's after her in a heartbeat, treading with care and bare feet, trusting her path finding skills more than his own.

Since she is a city girl through and through, there is a bit of wincing as Melissa makes her way up the path. Sticks and rocks. Ow! But a few minutes later they're standing on a stone where the water tumbles over the edge. She peeks over the edge as she makes sure her bathing suit is securely tied. "They said it was deep enough for this, so we should be fine, so long as we get a good jump."

That caveat at the end, 'as long as we get a good jump', isn't super reassuring to Perry, who blinks down at the pool that seems rather too far below them, rather too small a target. It's just perspective of course, playing tricks, but still. He shoots Mel a look, hoping she's not noticing how nervous this is making him. He's not exactly the 'stupid stunts to impress girls' kind of guy. He is, however, a 'follow a girl into a wild dive if she wants to' kind of guy. Which is actually a better kind of guy, for the most part.

"O- okay," Perry says, his usual stammer making his current one seem maybe less inspired by fear. He backtracks, giving himself some running space. He really wants to clear this jump. Really he does. Melissa does not need to feel his sudden burst of pain as his legs break. He waits for her, though. They are doing this together as well. Dangit.

When he steps back so does Melissa. And more shockingly. She takes his hand, giving him a reassuring squeeze. "On three. One…two…three!" And off she goes, getting in a few good strides then leaping off and out. As she falls her legs move, just like in the movies, and she not only smiles at the sensation, but laughs. Right up until they hit the water and sink below. But even then she's grinning, while making sure she didn't lose her suit.

Perry's off after her, just a split second behind, the slightest jerk of hesitation keeping him from being exactly in time with her. But his strides are long and by the time their both airborne, he's caught up. And the gravity does the rest, the uniform acceleration making sure they fall side by side, making certain that their twin impacts kick up a tall wave between them. Though Perry's splash a bit bigger. He chose to cannonball it.

Bubbles flow up from his mouth and nostrils as he blinks his eyes open and looks around, turning beneath the cool, clear water to see where Melissa ended up. It's dark down here, with the tinting light leaking through too little from the setting sun above.

Grinning, Melissa lingers under the water for a long moment before she starts kicking to the surface, her hand still in Perry's. When she breaks the surface she busts out laughing. "That was awesome! I wanna do it again, but not enough to climb to the top of that thing again."

Perry is drawn back up to the fading light and the evening air, fingers laced with Melissa's. She's laughing! He grins too, a little goofily. In the wake of the adrenaline rush, he swishes over to her, releasing her hand but taking her by the waist, legs stroking beneath them to keep them above water. "I could carry you up," he suggests, arms sliding around her more closely and lifting her up, an act made all the easier by the water, "see?"

Casual intimacies, such as Perry's arm around her waist, are still something Melissa needs to get used to. She shakes her head and slips out of his grip, settling on her back. "Nah. I think I can enjoy myself just as completely floating here and staring at the scenery. It really is absolutely gorgeous. Almost makes me wish we didn't have to go back."

Perry's arms swirl the water as he circles around the floating Mel, getting her at all angles in a slow rotation. The intimation of lingering, of staying… Perry has to newspaper nose himself internally for feeling the urge to encourage this line of thought. He has a Cause back home, and while he might wish to cheat their agreement, turn a week into two weeks, more, that would be a dishonor to his duty and even to their agreement.

It remains tempting. So he says: "I know what you mean." And it's true.

"But…we do. Too many responsibilities back home," Melissa says, sighing and lazily moving her arms so she drifts through the water, with no destination in mind. "Still, I think this was a good idea. Not just the waterfall, but all of it. I haven't smiled much lately. Or been able to focus on anything but all the responsibilities I have. Hell, I barely sleep. Work, then Junie…And when I do sleep, half the time I can't stay asleep for long," she murmurs, letting her eyes close.

Perry finds the strands of Melissa's long blonde hair brushing against his chest as he circles behind her. As she begins to recount her own duties, her own burdens, he frowns, then, after a moment's thought, dips below the surface of the water, just a little, rising up behind and under Melissa and drawing her up against him, arms crossing over her belly.

He wants her to relax. He wants her to unwind. And though his words are simple, they are convincing. Remarkably so.

"Don't think about it," Perry says, rather low, in her ear.

While not thinking isn't something that Melissa can normally do, it's something she very much wants to avoid, making his suggestion even more persuasive. There is a brief moment of tension when he draws her close, but gradually she relaxes, legs moving to help keep them afloat. "Yeah…no point in dwelling on it. We're here to relax. And so far we've been doing pretty good." Melissa hasn't even touched a drop of alcohol today either. At least not that Perry has noticed. Maybe Hawaii really is working its magic on her.

The gentle propulsion of Perry's legs points them slowly in the direction of the sunset, which peers orange through the trees. As Melissa relaxes, so does Perry, keeping his arms fast around her. "I know it's hard," he says, still softly, as his mouth is right near her ear, "I- uh- well you know how I think. How much I do. What I think about, too. Just… all of that. But- but I like this. Not worrying. If- if we're dwelling, it's- it's more in- in the poetic sense. Of just being somewhere. Right now, we're just- just here. Being."

Slowly Melissa's head leans back to rest on his shoulder as she watches the sky change colors as the sun lowers in the sky. "You know…It's really nice not to be judged. To just be enough for someone, even if it ends up being temporary. I think that's part of why I can relax. You know what I am. You know what I've done. And you don't think I'm a horrible person for it," she murmurs.

It should be noted that Perry doesn't know what he's doing. That he can be blamed only for honestly believing the things he says, and honestly wanting Melissa to believe them as well. There is no calculation or silver-tongued duplicity at work as he speaks in a gentle, comforting tone to the woman whom he floats with. "I think you are good," he says, softly, "strong. Dedicated. Loyal. That's why you take on so much. So yes. Relax. That's what this place is for."

Most of what he says is taken to heart. But he and his ability do have problems with the first part of his statement, because Melissa has begun to believe so deeply that she isn't good. But it's a chink in that belief, and with a bit more work, it could crack entirely. "Mmm. Perhaps too loyal. But yeah…relaxing is good. Probably be easier if I wasn't turning a year older in a few weeks. Guess you could say this is an early present to myself."

At the very least, the way he phrased it is not that she is good, but that he thinks she's good, however deceived she may believe him to be. A subtle difference that may make all the difference in the ongoing assault on Mel's fortress of self loathing. If he's lucky.

Only wait, what did she say? "Your- your birthday is coming up?" he asks. His own date of birth passed marked only by a call and a card from his mother, Olivia Jones of Bangor, Maine. Not something he minded, really. But he knows enough to know he has different priorities than other people. "It- it should be a celebration, shouldn't it?" he smiles a bit, "I'll- I'll certain get you a present on the date."

"Yeah. It's on the twenty-fifth," Melissa says, nodding slightly. "Not sure about the celebration. I mean, I'd like one, but not sure it'll happen. Things are just so crazy. You don't gotta get me anything though. I like giving presents, but I don't have a burning greed that demands I get them all the time."

Not so long ago, Perry would have taken Melissa's statement at face value, would have even interpreted her words as a wish not to receive a present from him. Not so long ago, too, he would also have simply insisted that he would get her a present, thinking this the nice and therefore charming thing to do. But he's a clever lad, for all that he is new to this, and so instead he says: "Well… you'll find out whether- uh- whether I get you anything on the day, then," a beat, "and we'll do something," another beat - he's not sure how that 'we' will be taken, and while he feels an urge to back down, to suggest that 'we' means more than he and she, he doesn't. He lets the word float in its ambiguity, as they float in the water, pushed about gently by the currents kicked up by the waterfall.

There's no immediate response. In fact Melissa is quiet long enough that Perry likely starts to worry about that 'we'. "Don't take this the wrong way…" Always a good opener. One designed to worry. "But I can't say that I get this. You and me. We're so different, and you never made a move on me before. Not even one bit of flirting. Would never have figured that we'd end up here. In Hawaii. Lovers. Me letting you just…hold me." And it sounds like it's baffling her.

Perry is not a fan of bafflement generally. Deep thought, profound questions - he's okay with them, but at the end of the day he likes clear answers, real solutions. An engineer's perspective. And in this case, he likes Melissa's own previous solution. "I- know what you mean," he says, "but- I think you had it right. Before." He kisses her just under her ear. "You're thinking too hard. Don't. Not now. Not here."

Closing her eyes, Melissa shakes her head slightly. "Sorry. I guess I tend to pick everything apart. The sun's gone down anyway. I don't know about you, but I wanna go back to the hotel, shower, order up some room service, and settle in to watch that movie. Not used to the heat here. Or the humidity. Been too long since I left Georgia."

"That sounds sublime," Perry says, and gives her one last squeeze before letting her go and swimming for the shore, where his shirt and shoes and sunglasses rest. As he clambers up the edge, he pauses to check on Melissa. He can forgiven for wanting to catch her, emerging in all her skimpy suited glory. She did call them lovers, after all. For this week, at least. And so he'll take what privileges he can.

Melissa has to take one last look at the waterfall, smiling a bit before she turns to swim towards the shore as well. She didn't bring along any towels, so she does her best to get the water out of her hair before slipping her clothes back on. "So…you might not like the movie I've got in mind. It's fitting, oddly, but it's sort of a chick flick," she warns, perching her sunglasses on top of her head before looking at him, ready to go when he is.

He takes her hand, ready to lead them through the rapidly falling dark, back to the hotel. "If you'll let me hold you while we watch, I'd watch anything at all and call it- uh- call it a masterwork," Perry offers, smile a shade that she can easily tell now indicates he's purposefully flirting. Or at least trying to.

Laughing, Melissa starts the hike back with him, shaking her head. "If Hawaii has made you this bold after just under two days, I'm almost afraid to think of what you'll be like when we get ready to head back home," she says, but her tone makes it plain that she's teasing him. Something else she hasn't done in a while. Too long.

And he can tell, thankfully, that she's teasing, as she makes it so plain. Perry should be grateful for this, since it allows him to volley back. "Almost afraid," he says, "but- but not quite. Does that mean you'll let me hold you? That, I admit, is the relevant detail in my mind."

"I probably shouldn't, but what the hell," Melissa says, listening to his advice - or his persuasion - and not thinking too hard about it. For this week, maybe she'll be more a creature of impulse than of thought. Which could be why, on the trip back to the hotel, she keeps a hold of his hand. It may not be wise, in her mind, but somewhere in there, she's told herself to shut the hell up.

Once back at the hotel, and in the room, Mel glances at the bathroom door, then at Perry, and though there's a pause, it's not as long as her hesitations were even just yesterday. "It would make more sense if we shared the shower. 'Cause I hate to break it to you, but we're both kinda icky."

That makes more sense? Sure, of course, who is Perry to argue? He's not going to over think it either. Trying not to seem too embarrassingly excited at the idea, he pushes open the bathroom door and sheds his shoes before stepping inside, already drawing off his shirt, damp from his own skin's dampness, post swim. He leans into the shower and turns it on, letting the water cascade from the luxurious multiple setting shower head, down into the great white basin of the tub. "How hot?" he asks, without entendre, he promises.

Shoes and sunglasses are left in the bedroom before Melissa follows him in and strips off her wet clothes. "I like it hot, but you can keep it cooler if you want. I'm not that picky." Clearly she believed the lack of entendre. "Gotta warn you though. I'm gonna nag you into washing my back," she says, smiling.

"Whatever the lady wants," Perry promises, sliding free of his sodden swim trunks, hand turning the faucet well into the red. Either he's doing it for Melissa's sole benefit or he, too, likes it hot. Some do, as the saying goes. He allows himself a fully unapologetic look at her and, echoing his first waking words again, he tells her, now within her conscious hearing. "God, you are beautiful."

Something about the smile changes, growing softer, warmer. Happier. It's enough that Melissa moves over to him, cupping his cheeks lightly, stroking one thumb lightly across his skin. "You're making me feel like I am," she murmurs, before leaning up and kissing him. It's as tender as her smile, unhurried, undemanding, but lingering.

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