Too Long And Not Long Enough


corbin_icon.gif daphne_icon.gif

Scene Title Too Long And Not Long Enough
Synopsis In the aftermath of the Hospital take down, Daphne follows her instinct. And Corbin lets her.
Date August 13, 2010

Daphne's Apartment

Outside the window of Daphne's high-rise apartment, the sky to the east is an ever-lightening gray as the sun gets closer to breaking over the edge of the horizon. The sky is still dark toward the west, and paler gray clouds from the thunderstorm that passed in the night seem to close in the city below with a blanket of humidity. Daphne's apartment in contrast is open and airy, white walls and modern furniture leaving plenty of space for moving around. She no longer hoards all of her treasures, her apartment not a curiosity store of things she's found — only the special items are kept, displayed here and there. She's a collector of beauty, but has found that a little goes a long way.

That, and she has tons of stuff stowed in a safe and in cheaper apartments elsewhere in the world.

It is to her own apartment that Daphne runs after leaving the Nature Center on Staten Island for the second time. She had been brought there along with the others, helped a little once she could walk, then ran off to find a quiet place to cry and take a shower, sticky with blood and whatever else poured down on her from Gregor. After returning to the Center, she fled again, this time to get far away from Staten. She was this close to running across the ocean, but the weather made her pause — a thunderstorm in the mid Atlantic is a good way to die. So instead it's home, as much as this apartment can be home to her. More and more, New York is a cage.

The door is unlocked and she steps in, normal speed, dropping the backpack on the floor and beginning to peel herself out of the clothes, starched stiff by blood and other fluids. At least they're black, so it's hard to see.

The apartment that houses such precious things should be safe and secure, but after a few moments of being home, there's a shift in the shadows, a slow movement that marks the presense of an intruder. With her speed, reaction could cause her to peel back out, but it only happened after she got part of her clothes off. Running around half dressed probably wouldn't be a good idea either. "Daphne?" comes Corbin's voice, from the direction of the movement. Rarely has he flexed his breaking in skills, the skills every Company Man has to know a little bit, but this would be one of them.

When he got the text she was okay, he knew she'd survived. But he also knew, she wouldn't be going to his apartment. "Hey. I— was worried you weren't going to come here, either." He's been here a while.

She stills at the shift of light and sound and then relaxes — a little — at the familiar voice. She gives a slight nod, whether he can see it or not, as she drops the flak jacket on the floor. That's his, he may not want it thrown away like she's about to do with the rest of her clothes.

Off comes the thin t-shirt beneath, mostly clean; some of the goo had seeped through where the gunproofing stops, along seams and the like. This is thrown into the trash can in the corner of the room. Shoes come next, dumped as well, despite being the unique, made-for-her, Warren-built tennis shoes that took so much time to make. She's not going to wash them in an attempt to salvage them. Pants next, and then she disappears to the bedroom to find clean clothes.

Clearly, she's not all right.

From the way her tossed away things look, he may not mind so much if she'd thrown away the jacket as well. Corbin frowns when she doesn't respond, follows her as she moves through the airy spaceous apartment. She's alive, but not all right. "Did something happen to Teo? Or the others?" That would make any victory or escape a little less positive, and it's something he would feel a genuine loss over as well. There's always loss. Even if they all made it out—

And from the looks of the clothes she's throwing away, it wasn't without a lot of blood.

It reminds him of how he felt when he came back from the mission he killed Akado Ichihara. "Daphne— it's okay if you don't want to talk about what happened." He moves closer, as she's not wearing much anymore, and tries to pull her close to him. "I'm here." And just him, too.

She closes her eyes and lets him pull her in to his arms. She doesn't wrap her own around him, but instead covers her face, leaning against his shoulder. "Teo's … Teo's okay. We all got out, but Magnes was hurt and Gillian, she must have given up on getting out, she tried to kill herself, I think right before we got there… I don't know how they all are now, but I haven't heard anyone's died." Her voice is quiet, neutral, but only just this side of cracking.

"We got away but only just. It was … it was really close," Daphne murmurs, her head ducking lower against his chest, muffling the words a little. "I shouldn't have gone," she whispers.

A lot of those names don't mean much to him, but some do. For small reasons. It reminds him he needs to talk to someone else he knows about what happened. "Shh," Corbin says quietly, moving a hand up to her hair and rubbing her back with the other. She doesn't need to hold him back, as much as he wants to hold her. The Institute potentially all the worst things the Company once was, all wrapped up into one new group. "You had to go, you had to try to help your friends. I know it's hard, to see…" To see horrible things, nightmares even.

This would be a good time for Hokuto to help her. He knows she used to help people with their nightmares in the past, before she became the weaver of nightmares herself. Maybe he can ask her for a favor later. A chance to make amends for the things she'd done in the past, and help someone that he…

"You're safe now. Whatever happened there, you're safe."

She gives an abrupt shake of her head. No, that's not it. "I almost ruined everything. I almost got us all killed. I made the wrong decision, and … and it would have all been for nothing if we all got stuck there and died when they blew up the building. I can't do this sort of thing. I can't help people. I'm only good at running, and looking out for me. Whenever I try to help other people, I make the wrong choice."

In his arms, Daphne's body trembles; the flat affect of her voice has vanished — her voice rises with anger that's projected in upon herself.

She steps back suddenly, and she swipes at her eyes with her hand to try to keep him from seeing the tears. Too many times she's cried today. "I almost got everyone who cares about me in this world killed, Corbin, not counting you and my father, in one moment."

"You don't— one mistake doesn't make the whole mission. Trust me. I've made mistakes on missions, and I second guessed everything that I did or didn't do," Corbin says, closing his eyes and trying his best not to think of the times he's messed up. Like the night that Hokuto died. Like with Deckard. Like the night that Akado was shot by him. There's always mistakes… "It doesn't mean you did nothing right, it doesn't negate everything that you did do— even if you made one mistake, you still helped some people. I'm sure you did."

Because that's what she went to do. And someone with her speed had to have been able to help, even if one split second decision strikes her as the wrong one. So much can happen in a split second. And she knows that more than anyone.

"You didn't get them killed, they didn't die. And you don't know what would have happened if you hadn't been there at all— it might have gone worse. They may not have gotten out at all."

"It was luck that they didn't," Daphne argues, moving back to grab a shirt and pull it over her head. "That I didn't," she adds, reaching for a pair of cargo pants next and tugging them on. The more she gets dressed, the more likely it is she's planning on running, of course. "I don't know. I … we didn't have enough time and I didn't have time to think, but I almost killed all of them."

She opens her closet to survey an entire bookcase full of shoes, pulling a pair of blue and green ones down and then grabbing a second pair of black and purple. Back-ups don't bode well. A bag is grabbed next, the black pair shoved inside before she moves to her bed to pull on the blue and green. "I'll be okay. I just need to get out of here for a while. I promised Melissa we'd go to France, but I need time away on my own first… maybe I'll run down to see my dad." Because it's times like these that you think about what you'll miss if you were gone.

And so she's gonna run. Corbin can't blame her for it, because he knows he spends a lot of time travelling himself. There's a quiet sound as he follows after her, almost a sigh, but with something more wince-like in the sound. Like he wishes he could go with her, but he knows he can't even offer. Not right now. Not while the archives still need him. And not while…

"I'll be here when you get back," he says quietly, not wanting to argue against her leaving. "But keep your phone on so I can message you. If— if the worst happens and I need you to run back here and grab me." Cause the worst could still happen. The worst could always still happen.

She stands, not speaking for a few minutes as she heads back into her closet, grabbing a few garments to toss into the bag, then the dresser. She doesn't pick and choose, but then her wardrobe is mostly solid casual separates; in a way, everything matches and nothing does at the same time. Phone. She nods at his words, showing she's heard him, heading into the living room to kneel down and rummage through the black backpack, tossing out the useless gas mask — why hadn't anyone told her it wouldn't have done any good? Her cell phone is shoved into her pocket and her lockpick tools into the side pocket of the bag. Ready to go.

Daphne stands and hoists the bag over her shoulder. "The gas mask — doesn't help against negation gas," she says in an informative 'just-so-you-know' sort of voice, though the implications of that bit of trivia are left for him to ponder.

"I honestly wasn't sure if it it would, but I guess not," Corbin says, shaking his head a bit. It's good to know, for the record, but useless information for him. He doesn't know how the gas works, but— if a gas mask doesn't, it must not need to be inhaled. It must only require contact with the skin. "Guess that means a full bio suit would have been the only way."

Now that makes sense why the Institute people wear them, at least. "Sorry," he says, reaching out toward her as he does, as if wanting to stop her, but— she'll be gone before he could. He knows that.

"Are you sure you don't want to stay for a little while? Just— to rest up before you go?"

Daphne shakes her head to the apology, not pulling away from the touch. She needs it, she needs him, but she's afraid of needing anyone. After all, her friends needed her last night, and she almost failed them. "It's not your fault. It was a good idea. It just didn't work," she whispers. "The gas wasn't used on us… I used it. I used it against that thing, and it worked, but it… everyone in there but Francois was Evolved. It almost killed Claire and Peter. And we didn't have time. We almost didn't get out. I should have told them to get up and away first, but I didn't think."

She moves toward the door. "I never think." She acts. Spontaneously.

"Sometimes thinking too much can also be bad," Corbin says quietly, moving closer to her again since she didn't pull away, going as far as to wrap an arm around her shoulder, like he's restraining her from going. In a way he is. But at the same time, he's not holding her tightly enough that she couldn't squirm out. It's comfort as well.

"I don't know what happened. I wasn't there. But you— you're okay. Your friends are okay. No matter what decisions you made— there weren't bad consequences for them. It's okay to second guess yourself, and blame yourself— but you have nothing to blame yourself for." They didn't die. It wasn't all for nothing.

"You're alive. You're not in the holding of the Institute. You weren't identified by them— you're here." And not as a ghost, not as a specter. Not as a lingering memory.

Logically, he's right. Daphne nods, her head moving up, down, up, down. She hears, she understands, but the words are only accepted on the rational level. "Okay. You're right. I'm okay," she murmurs. That might be part of the problem. Aside from the few minutes of being negated, she is completely uninjured. Whole and complete. Magnes wasn't so lucky. Melissa collapsed from overexerting her power. Peter and Claire almost died at Gregor's hands.

"I think I just need some space," she says again, a tear slipping down her cheek, thinking too of their last conversation. Hokuto is still in his life. She could be here now, for all Daphne knows. "And I should see my father. I … what if I'd died? I haven't seen him in like a year. That's unacceptable." She shakes her head, running a hand through her messy blonde locks.

She steps closer to kiss him softly, wet dark eyes looking up at him. "I'm sorry."

"You should, I know," Corbin says softly, even if he doesn't want to let go of her, doesn't want her to leave right now. The blocking hand drops away from her, freeing her to leave, as he leans down to kiss her back. "Don't apologize. We all have things we need to do." And family is important. Sometimes he wonders if he should call his family and talk about more than little simple things, like that he's alive, no he's not writing for the Times anymore, yes, he still has a job. But— there's so much of his life he can't talk about.

And that includes her unfortunately. At least the whole story about her.

"Just come back once you're done. I'll be here— well— not here. But in New York."

"You can stay here, if you want," Daphne offers — a concession, a parting gift, an apology all in one.

She takes another step, her dark eyes on his pale worried gaze for one long (for her, an eternity) moment.

And then she's gone.

Even with how long she waited before she turned away and left, it wasn't quite long enough. Corbin lets out a sigh at the sudden displacement of air, and the shifting of his hair in her wake, looking down toward the hand that didn't reach out and stop her. "I love you," he says to thin air.

Why is it he can never say it to someone who's there to hear it. Everyone has a curse. Perhaps that one's his. Always waiting just a little too long.

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