Well Deserved Vacation


melissa_icon.gif perry_icon.gif

Scene Title Well Deserved Vacation
Synopsis Perry accompanies Melissa on a trip to Hawaii. Neither could have predicted where it would end up leading.
Date January 10, 2011

JFK Airport and Hawaii

Monday's arrived, and it's early, enough that the sun isn't even fully up. It's really a horrible time for people to be awake, and most aren't, or at least aren't out and about. But Melissa and Perry are. More, they've already checked their bags - one suitcase in Mel's case - and have boarded. Which lets Perry see that Melissa really has gone all out for this trip, as they got seated first and in first class. Reclining seats and free alcohol, anyone?

Mel's single carry on has been stashed, and she's in her seat waiting for take off. As she flags down a flight attendant, she's asking Perry, "You ever flown before? Or is this your first time? Guess I should've asked before, but really doesn't matter since you can't drive to Hawaii or anything."

"We- uh- we could have stowed away on board a freighter," Perry suggests, managing a smile even at this early hour, and even this early in the conversation. Someone's warming up a little. "But- uh- yes. I flew- uh- flew to Colorado once. For uh- for a conference." Back in his grad school days. Those memories sit, inert, grey and without emotional investment. Not good old days or troubled times. Just time, and being in it.

Perry travels light, his suitcase mostly full of the new clothes Mel picked out for him. His personal item might actually be one of the heaviest things he has - a backpack that's just full of books.

"Never- uh- never flown like this before, though," Perry says, peering down at the armchair controller for the seat recline. There's even a 'bed mode' in case someone needs to catch some shut-eye. Perry cranes his neck, trying to figure how they manage space, still thinking like an engineer.

"Most haven't. Most people just pay for coach 'cause they're cheap or the economy sucks or whatever," Melissa says, shrugging. Then she's smiling at the flight attendant. "Need a couple of those little bottles of tequila you guys have. And a coke too, please." She's getting the booze and they haven't even taken off yet. Lush! Though they do seem to be preparing for takeoff shortly.

Perry tries rather hard to think of Melissa's booze acquisition as her just starting the vacation early. He's finding it increasingly difficult to rationalize Melissa's intake into legitimacy, though, and his lips quirk to one side in an involuntary expression of concern which he does his best to hide by looking away, at the window across the aisle from him.

"Uh… coffee please," is Perry's order. Inveterate caffeinater, early mornings and dark roast go together. He steals a glance at Melissa. "When we get in are- uh- do we have a plan for what to do first?"

"What's the point of plannin' out a vacation?" Melissa says as the flight attendant moves off to get their drinks, and she looks back to Perry. "I figure though, at some point I'll hit the beach, the pool, the spa…one of their volcano parks…So who knows. You got any ideas for what you wanna do?"

"Consider- uh- consider me your faithful companion, whenever you need one," Perry says, smiling harmlessly at Melissa, the very picture of agreeableness if not precisely manly independence. Mel's influence is already visible. He's wearing contacts, his dark brown eyes no longer trapped behind thick lenses, larger for the lack of distortion. "Otherwise… try and- uh- get a tan, maybe?" said like he's almost not sure what's involved, or if that's a 'thing' to do, "so the beach. And the pool… sounds good as well," though he's hard pressed to figure what you do in a pool, either. Laps? Or is that not recreational enough. "I think I- uh- may have to take some cues from you," he admits, at length, "I told you that you're- uh- my guide in all this."

"Then you're gonna be getting dragged around a lot this week," Melissa says, lips twitching a bit. "Because I'm doing everything I mentioned. Which will lead to tanning, by the way. Doesn't matter how much sunscreen you lather on, that much time in the sun, you're gonna show it. But that's not necessarily a bad thing." She is pretty pale herself now, after all.

Perry tugs open the top of his backpack, reaching in to sift through the many yellow-paged books he's brought. It all looks pretty excruciating. Ream upon ream of Deep Thoughts from Dead White Guys. Bet these guys could have used a trip to Hawaii as well. Make them less glum. Less German. "As long as I- uh- don't just turn cooked lobster red," he says, yet more humor in his voice, however mild, "it- uh- should be new if nothing else. I'm- uh- bookish, like you said." And as he says this, he removes a slim volume. Something by Hegel, which is just fantastic airplane reading.

The bag and the books within get eyed by Melissa. "Did you really bring books on a vacation to Hawaii?" she asks, sounding like she can't quite believe it. "And if you do get burned, I'm pretty sure they sell aloe on the island. Since I'm also sure that plenty of people get sunburns while they're in Hawaii. And you are not allowed to read the whole time we're there. You know that right?"

He's… not… what? Perry blinks, uncomprehending, like Melissa just informed him he's not to breath while he's there. A thumb already slid between the pages, prepared to flip open to some dry as dust page wherein Hegel explains why it is totally necessary to have a King, Perry freezes in place. "Are- uh- is this interdict starting now?" he asks, a bit helplessly. Not contesting Mel's authority.

"Meh. It's a long flight. Read on the plane. But once we get there…no books," Melissa says, as the flight attendant returns. She accepts a couple of the tiny bottles of tequila and her coke, and Perry's given his coffee. And even as Mel is cracking open one of them and downing it like water, they're taking off, and beginning the long flight to Hawaii.

Kona International Airport - Big Island - Hawaii

By the time they land and they're walking off the plane to grab their luggage, Mel has gone through the first few bottles given to her by the flight attendants, and several more besides. Yet she doesn't seem smashed. She's walking fairly straight and everything. "Okay, let's hurry up and get our stuff. I wanna get to the hotel and go sit by the pool for an hour or two. Soak up some rays before the sun decides to bail on us."

Perry has been watching carefully to make sure Melissa is okay, glancing over the pages of his book, charting her intake and her progress. That she holds her liquor so well isn't exactly comforting, and it's with growing concern that he sticks close to Melissa. The baggage carousel isn't far away, though, and he's distracted looking for his black bag amidst the thousand other black bags that look almost exactly like it. He finds it fairly quickly, though, hauling it up off the conveyer and setting it beside him. "Sounds- uh- sounds good!" he says, stammer not indicating any real hesitation. He's up for the journey. Ready to try new things.

Mel's bag is spotted easily, mostly because it has a big pink skull on the otherwise black bag. Very easy to identify, and cuts down on time and confusion. Always a good thing. Once they grab the bags, it's out to grab a car to the hotel. "You sure? Gonna be able to handle wearing non-orange trunks?" it's even almost said teasingly. Maybe all the tequila has loosened her up a bit. Or maybe it's getting the hell out of Dodge. Err, New York.

Still smiling? Amazing. Perry's lips slant sideways as he looks to Mel, then glances out to see if he can spot a good cab. He's not bad at hailing. His leanness and reach seem to draw attention quite well from cabbies. "There is only one way to find out," Perry replies, answering tease with a little unseriousness of his own, "if I… ignite or anything, though, I'm blaming you."

"Eh, you ignite, I'll just shove you in the pool. See? Problem solved," Melissa says as their bags get loaded into the trunk and they climb in. "Can't believe you don't have anything you really wanna do. I mean, even I'm gonna be doing learning stuff. Like visiting the volcano. Might even take a surfing lesson or two. Could be fun, right? Scuba diving too. I hear there's amazing stuff to see under the water, but I don't need a lesson for that." As he well knows.

"I'm glad you- uh- have this all figured out," Perry says, with a ghost of a laugh, as he buckled himself in. The interior of the cab smells like leather and time - it's well maintained, but old. Been running along these streets for some time. "I guess- I don't know. I don't know what to want, do you know what I mean? I don't have… expectations. I just want to… do things. With you."

Those last two words have Melissa glancing at him, one brow arched. There's a long moment of silence then she turns to look out the window, watching the scenery as they pass by it. But for the rest of the trip, unless he spurs conversation, she's silent.

Melissa's lapse into silence cows Perry pretty thoroughly, and as she turns her eyes to the palms and fronds that rush, green, past their windows, he slowly turns to look out his own side, the opposite. With perspectives split, silence reigns until they pull up within sight of the hotel itself, grand and white and gleaming. "That- uh- that's it, huh?" is not much of an opening remark, but it's said with appropriate awe.

"Yep. The Fairmont Orchid. Told you it was a nice place," Melissa says, looking unsurprised, but still much admiring the view. It's a view worth spending plenty of time admiring though. She climbs out of the car, and a bellhop comes out to help them with her bags. She allows him to take the luggage, but her backpack is staying with her. She seems more protective of its contents than those of her suitcase. Maybe it has all the money. Who knows.

They walk inside, and the lobby is just as grand as the outside, and Mel leads the way to the check-in desk. "I have a reservation for Melissa Pierce?" It doesn't take long, and then Perry can't help but notice the fact that there's only one room reserved for them.

Perry may not be able to read his books (at least not when Melissa's looking!) but he's not about to give them up, either. Slung over his shoulder, his backpack hangs bulkily, swinging slightly as he moves after Melissa, taking her role as guide quite literally. The interior of the hotel is almost impressive enough to distract Perry from that crucial little detail, and when it finally cues up in his consciousness and slides into presence of mind, he nearly does a double take. Looking to the desk, wondering if he was supposed to have gotten his own room if maybe he made some mistake… unless? "Which- uh- which number is our room?" he inquires attempting casualness, 'discreetly' investigating.

Two of the little key cards are handed over, and Melissa gives one of them to Perry. "Twelve twenty-four," she says, nodding to the bellhop then letting him lead the way to the room. No, it doesn't seem as though he made a mistake, unless Mel just didn't care if they bunked together or not. "C'mon. Sooner we get up there, sooner we can go do fun stuff."

'Our room' singular receives no correction, but instead a single number. Perry reaches up to adjust his glasses in a nervous little gesture, but finds no glasses to adjust. Oh boy, is he in deep now. He takes the cards and heads to the elevator, finding it hard to actually say anything post-rooming revelation. He just nods dumbly, trying to invent explanations and rationales for Melissa's choice, or lack thereof. What does not minding mean, if it's just that she doesn't mind? When the elevator doors close, shutting the two of them within a bubble of temporary privacy, he glances over at her, trying not to be furtive. "Waste no time," he agrees, at last, "you're- uh- a woman who knows what she wants."

"Not knowing what I want has never been a problem for me. Even when I was little I knew and I went for it," Melissa says, tapping her card against her leg while waiting for the elevator to carry them to the right floor. "And why waste time? We've only got a week here before we gotta go back to hell. May as well milk every drop of enjoyment out of it as we can, right? I mean hell, I probably won't get a second chance at this."

"Nor- uh- nor I," Perry says, agreeing though his look towards Melissa is not without a touch of that ever growing concern, "live for today. Tomorrow never comes. Take what you can while it's in your grasp. Carpe diem." He rattles off iterations of the same idea, covering his own real thoughts which are… confused, to say the least.

"Exactly," Melissa agrees, even as the elevator dings and she steps out, glancing one way, then the other, then heading down the hall to their room, where the bellhop is waiting, luggage and all. He's tipped and wanders off, and Mel takes a minute to just look around the room. She went all out here too. The room is nice, and perhaps because she knew they'd be sharing rooms, it has two beds. Very comfy looking beds. And most of all, it has an excellent view.

"Here we are. Home sweet home. For the next seven days anyway."

"Let's make it ours," Perry says, setting his backpack down and wheeling in both his luggage and hers, setting the bags at the ends of their respective beds. The presence of two beds is a weird kind of relief for Perry, an escape from a kind of convergence or breaking point that he is not right now ready to reach. Still, sleeping mere feet away from Melissa? This was going to be… something else. He moves over to join Melissa at the view, the big windows opening up on a stunning prospect. Perry's hands clasp behind him. "I think," he says, after a moment's thought, "that I'd like to own an island one day."

"Me too. Though it'll never happen. Not for me," Melissa says, sighing softly. "Ah well. Pool time." And she picks up her suitcase, dropping it on the bed so she can dig through it, pulling out what she's going to change into. "I'll be out in a minute. You can change while I'm in there if you want," she says, disappearing into the bathroom.

And so he does. The young man clambers out of his plane-smelling clothes - even first class has to share the recycled air - and into his swimming trunks. Pale as anything, chest hair all the darker for the contrast, he sits on the very edge of his bed and starts to apply sunscreen. He wants to hop into the pool of his own free will, not be shoved by Mel after he catches alight. He spares a glance up towards the bathroom door, but quickly looks away, bashful to the point of absurdity.

There's nothing to see since x-ray vision doesn't happen to be his ability. And it's a few minutes before Melissa steps out, wearing a black bikini with a skull over the left side of her chest, and a black and white floral print wrap that's tied around her waist. A quick peek in her suitcase has her adding sandals and her new sunglasses, before she scrutinizes Perry. After a long moment she nods. "Better, much better."

If it's not one thing, it's another. Perry has seen Melissa strut her beachside stuff before, but while the memory is relatively clear, it's no substitute for the real thing. His stare is maybe just a little obvious, but all the more flattering for it, since he even lacks, for a moment, the presence of mind to avert his gaze in his usual excessive modesty. The message is clear. She looks good.

And so does he? Better at least, and he'll take it. Perry slips on his own flip flops and dons his shades, though only after rubbing his hands clean of the sunscreen. "Glad- uh- glad you think so," he says, smile just a little uneven, still trying to keep his bearings.

Oblivious Mel is oblivious. Which is to say that she misses the staring what with the sandals and sunglasses. "Well it'd be stupid of me not to since I picked out the shorts and you took my advice on the contacts," she says, shrugging. "And cool thing about this pool? It has a bar of its own. Hell, beach probably does too. Or servers who'll bring you drinks." Yeah, she has a problem. "But c'mon. I wanna swim a little. Loosen up after the flight. Relax a little."

That Mel has a problem is, yes, increasingly clear, though to Perry's discredit that's not the first thing on his mind at the moment. Getting up from the bed's edge and sliding the mag card into one of the pockets of his trunks, he rolls his shoulders. Loosen up is right. Even first class can leave you a bit stiff. Eyes still on Mel, and bound to return frequently, he adjusts his sunglasses. It's a relief, really, to have the familiar weight on the bridge of his nose. "Lead the charge," he says, "I'll be- uh- right behind you."

When Melissa does notice those looks, a brow lifts and her lips twitch, just a bit. But she nods, leaving her own key in the room since he has hers, and she heads out of the room, waiting for him before moving down to the elevator. Another ride, another ding, then she's heading out and following signs until they come out behind the hotel.

The pool is right there, yes, but that's not the sight that catches Melissa's attention. She stops and just looks around, at the tropical flora, the blue sky, the water lapping against the beach, and she lets out another sigh, seeming to release some of the tension she's been holding for months. Not all of it, not by a long shot, but every journey begins with a single step. This is hers.

The scenery is incomplete, as far as Perry is concerned, without Melissa there, and she remains the center of his attention, the various accoutrements of the island only set pieces, she the true subject. He watches as that first step is taken, head tilting minutely as he perceives the departure of just the smallest bit of tension from her body.

Without thinking too hard, without thinking at all, and thus in a rare moment, Perry speaks. "You're a very beautiful woman," he says, with the simplicity of fact, nothing like a flirt in his tone. If she meets his eyes, she'll find his expression earnest and reflective. The realization of what he has just said dawns on him slowly, and in order to avoid making this lone comment object for discussion, he introduces a new subject. "Shall we take a dip?"

His words startle Melissa out of her thoughts and she looks back at him, so she sees the change in his expression. "Ahh…yeah, sure." She turns away then, heading to one of the lounge chairs, where she can set her wrap, take off her sandals and sunglasses. Her eyes are closed and face lifted up to the sun, letting its warmth touch her as New York hasn't in too long. But the moment is brief and she turns to move towards the pool.

Perry claims the chair next to Melissa's setting his glasses down carefully and removing his flip flops. Barefoot, he pads to the edge of the pool, finding one end of it and setting his toes to the edge. He bends his knees, brings his arms together, and dives in, sliding under the water in a motion that's rather surprisingly graceful. Looks like someone has swum before. Who knew? He glides under the water, trailing bubbles, before breaking the surface, bringing his hand up to brush wet hair out of his eyes and blinking around, looking for Melissa.

Melissa is still where she was, letting him surface before she moves up to the edge then dives in herself, surfacing several feet out, giving her head a flick to get her hair out of her face. Without a word, she begins to swim with strong, sure strokes. She'll never win the Olympics, but she's not unsure of herself in the water.

As Melissa begins to swim in earnest, Perry turns and gives chase, his own freestyle form quite decent, head only occasionally rising on one side or the other to take gasps of breath as he moves to catch up with his companion. She's going at a good pace, so he has to work to keep up, arms rising and falling, spraying droplets as they arch out of the water.

When Melissa catches sight of Perry pacing her, her eyes narrow slightly and she picks up the pace. Somehow, what began as a leisurely swim has just become a competition, and Mel isn't one to ever compete unless she intends to win. Uh oh.

Perry didn't intend it as such, so it takes him a moment to figure out that the game has changed, or rather that there is a game at all. But, never one to shirk noble, worthy struggle against a respected opponent, Mr. Jones breaks into a competitive speed, drawing up close behind Melissa, gaining on her slowly and steadily as they approach the edge of the pool.

Soon Melissa is going all out, at least as all out as she can get after such a long plane ride. But still, she's no Olympian, and since he is comfortable in the water, it'll be a close finish. but still, she strains as she moves past those last few feet, before her hand slaps against the wall.

Just half a second later, Perry's own hand strikes the wet tile, and he emerges from the water, panting with the sudden, unexpected exertion. He blinks his eyes free of water, stinging just a little in the chlorine, before giving Melissa a smile. "N- next time, we need a count to three. Makes for a fairer competition." Did he just imply that she won thanks to advantage?

"Says the guy who jumped in the pool first," Melissa says, a bit breathless, folding her arms on the edge of the pool, letting herself relax for a minute. "You're also bigger than me. Longer reach and all that. And you're the one who started keeping pace with me."

"Contestation?" Perry says, and there may be a little bit of laugh in his panting, "I think this- uh- this calls for a rematch. In a minute…" need to recover a bit. His endurance isn't bad but the sudden sprint took an unexpected, if temporary, toll. "Did you- uh- did you swim in school?"

"I didn't go to school when I could get out of it," Melissa replies, shaking her head. "I don't want another go either. I just want to swim a couple of lazy laps." And she pushes away from the wall, doing a lazy backstroke, her eyes closing against the brightness of the sun.

Fair enough. Perry pulls himself out of the pool, taking a perch at the edge and leaning forward, setting elbows to knees, chin to clasped hands, as he watches Melissa once more. Appreciating her form. In the sense of her swimming, that is. Okay, so maybe in both senses. Difficult not to. A small frown knits his brows, though it only looks like he, too, is reacting to the sun's glare.

When Melissa reaches the other end of the pool she turns, swimming back, eyes opening once she's flipped back onto her stomach. When she reaches Perry again she climbs out of the pool and sits on the edge, pulling her hair back and wringing some of the water out of it. "I already love it here and we've been at the hotel…what, half an hour?"

Perry's frown abates, replaced by a smile as Melissa expresses what sounds like maybe… happiness? Love may be a four letter word when applied to people, but she's willing to use it about this place. And it's not likely to let her down. "Working wonders already," he remarks, though the significance of this comment isn't totally obvious to anyone outside Perry's own head, "Melissa…" a pause, "when you're hungry, I'd like to take you to dinner at one of the restaurants."

"Well sure. I mean, I didn't expect we'd just order in room service. That's why we got the suit," Melissa says, nodding and lightly kicking her feet in the water, enjoying the small resistance and the way the cool water feels along her feet and legs.

Well, that's not merely what Perry meant, but he'd almost rather she miss significance rather than see it too clearly. A shy man if he is any sort of man at all, direct engagement is difficult for him in anything save the areas of his expertise. Women are not counted among those areas. His own feet swish in circles beneath the water, kicking up small whirlpools that eddy out from his calves. "I'm looking forward to seeing what you'll be wearing," he admits, casting Melissa a smile.

"It won't be anything special really. Just a little black dress. Sort of the generic nice but not formal wear for women all over," Melissa says, shrugging and starting to look around, waving a wandering server in authentic Hawaii garb over. "Pina colada, please." She really is loosening up. She said please!

"I'd- uh- I'd contend that it's not the dress that's special, so much as the woman wearing it," Perry offers. As Melissa signals for a drink, he thinks quickly and asks for, "a Heineken, if you wouldn't mind." Which of course the server wouldn't mind, that's what he's there for.

When the server moves off Melissa looks back at him, giving him an odd look. "If I didn't know better, Perry, I'd think you were flirting with me. Are you flirting with me?"

Oh no. Did I mention that Perry prefers to avoid direct engagement? I think so. And this… this counts as just that. He looks a little startled at the out and out accusation, and there may be another slight flush to his cheeks. "Uh- I- uh…" his stammer threatens to spin out of control, and he closes his mouth, gathering his wits. To avoid babbling nonsense, he reverts to his most eloquent form, one that is, sadly a little evasive. "If- uh- if complimenting a beautiful woman you admire and esteem counts as- as flirting…" are the conditions for a 'yes' answer.

Melissa's expression shows that she has her answer even before he's done stammering. "Yeah, it counts as flirting. Though it does bring another question to mind…You weren't just talking about eating because we gotta eat or die, were you? With the restaurant thing?" Oh she's just forcing him to engage all over the place today!

Quickly, Pericles! Dive into the water and swim to safety! She'll never catch- oh wait. She beat him in the last race. Dammit, that plan won't work. Melissa doesn't have to be a master of empathic reading to tell how badly she is putting Perry on the spot, another sign that she may already have her answer. But, questioned, he must respond. "I- uh- I said 'take you' so- um- yes. Or no, rather. No, I'm not- uh- not thinking about food in a strictly- uh- survival-based way. More uh- more like," he clears his throat, "a social ritual?"

"So that would mean that you were asking me on a date and it totally went over my head. Check," Melissa says, sighing, angry at herself for missing it. Six months ago she wouldn't have. "Yeah, we can do that. Though why you wanna go on a date with me is even more baffling to me than why you wanted to come on this trip."

Perry is almost ready to flinch, the sigh, he is sure, about to precede a reprimand, maybe even a request that he leave, head back home on the first plane. Not having any experience with women whatsoever, he has only his abyssal imagination with which to build expectations, and like so many of the socially awkward and socially anxious, he expects the worse pretty much at once.

Which makes her following comment 'Yeah, we can do that' sound temporarily like gobbledeegook as he's pretty certain there is no way in hell she'd say anything vaguely affirmative. Only… she did. Perry… can't believe this. He gives a dry mouthed gulp. "O…kay," he says, feeling a little lightheaded, to be honest. Before he can say more, the server arrives with their drinks. He takes both, offering Melissa's pina colada up to her, his own beer clutched, cool, in his fingers.

The fruity drink is taken, umbrella and all, and Melissa immediately downs several swallows. Mmm. Sweet alcohol. Sweet, sweet alcohol. "If we're actually gonna hit one of the restaurants tonight, we probably shouldn't spend more than a half hour down here. I'll have to shower. Chlorine and all that."

"Of course," Perry says, now doubly agreeable in the face of a date(?) that he is officially(??) going on with Melissa(???). He takes a long draw on his beer, wanting nothing more than to relax a little. Though he is by a pool, beneath a tropic sun, with a beer in hand, he feels wound up. But it's not unpleasant. Okay, it's maybe a little - he is not only nervous, but nervous about his nervousness - but those feelings are nothing next to his simple fluttering tummied excitement. Thank heavens she can't read his mind. It'd be plain old embarrassing. If at least a little flattering.

"Guess it's a good thing we got that suit then, huh?" Melissa says, seeming a little out of sorts herself. Confusion isn't a fun thing, and she still has yet to ever go on an actual date. And with the swearing off of men…"Not sure how good of a date I'll be, though. I mean, you know my stance on guys lately."

"It's- uh- it's a good thing you like it," Perry adds, amazingly able to evoke some humor despite his unsettled disposition. Time to have another drink of beer. There we go. Much better, as a charm if nothing else. "I- uh- wouldn't worry about that, honestly. I- uh- I don't have any grounds for comparison. I like spending time with you I- well- I obviously find you- um- very attractive," oooh, this is not charming talk, more like a list, stop it, Pericles, stop it! "And if it doesn't work out, I- uh- promise to be a gentleman about it?" he offers, with a smile. An attempted smile.

That makes Melissa look back at him, her expression very serious. "I don't know how it can, Perry. You know I'm a bad bet. There's a reason why I've never gone on a real date or had a boyfriend. I'm not ugly, so it has to be my personality." She glances down at herself, surveying all her visible scars, and there are many. "Or all my scars."

Perry's brows knit very slightly. "Am- uh- am I like any man that's taken an interest in you before?" he asks, with remarkable smoothness, more comfortable in hypotheticals and theoreticals, "I've never- uh- never gone on a date either. Never had a girlfriend," this doesn't recommend him, of course, but it seems that Melissa doesn't think herself at all the catch that Perry must now be imagining, "maybe- um- maybe what doesn't work for us separately…" will work together? That's the implication, but he doesn't state it, because it sounds sort of corny. Instead he hitches a small smile to his lips. "And I told you, I don't- uh- don't mind sharp edges. Or scars."

"Nope. Not a thing like this. Which really, speaks in your favor given how they turned out," Melissa says darkly. "And can you still say that about scars, now that you can see them all?"

This is tantamount to an invitation to openly examine Melissa in all her swimsuit-clad semi-bareness. Any reluctance Perry experiences has everything to do with not wishing to behave improperly, and nothing to do with disliking the scars. It is simple truth that they don't upset him. He's intrigued, in fact. It's a scattered timeline of struggle, an archive of Melissa's violent experiences. Each one, in his mind, is now an intrinsic part of her. His hand moves out and, after a glance that begs permission, he reaches out to touch his fingers against the twin bulletmarks on her left shoulder. "How did you earn these?" he asks, quietly, respectfully.

There's silence for a moment before Melissa begins to speak, quietly. "Those were two of the stupidest reasons, really. First time…I was going into a burning building to get a few friends out. Colette and Eileen were helping get people out. I don't know if someone shot me or if the heat got to some bullets, but either way, bullet hit shoulder. That was fun, lemme tell you.

"The other one…I was out walking with Kendall, and there was a bunch of penguins. During the blizzard? Guy grabbed a gun and was talking about shooting them, and there were kids there. I shot first, to try to disarm him, but he got a round off." She shakes her head. "Found out later that he's like Claire. He heals super fast, so I didn't do jack."

Perry listens with interest, fingers lifting, then moving down and across to touch, very lightly, on the mark of an old laceration. Pale lines of healed flesh on her back, ones that match similar ones on her arms. Shrapnel wound, from the look of it, though Perry is not well versed enough to know this. And even if he did, he'd still ask. "And these?"

"Mmm. Those would be courtesy of Humanis First," Melissa says before sipping again at her drink. "I was at Battery City Park. Stopped to talk to some friends, and Humanis First blew up an ice cream cart outside of a registration center. One of those temporary or mobile ones? There were a shitload of kids and innocents there. Just law abiding citizens. One of the friends I was with was a speedster. It's why I didn't get blown up, just got shredded with shrapnel."

There's a quiet moment. "Ended up passing out over that. Tried to blanket the entire area with a lack of pain, then just my friend since she got hit the worst. Strained me too much, and it was too soon after learning how to do it in the first place."

Perry's fingers lift from Melissa, coasting back up, this time past the stylized tattoo of wolf and phoenix, up to the scar on the back of her neck. With momentary hesitation, he touches it. He's honestly a little shocked that he's been permitted this many contacts, and even more shocked that he's kept at it. But if the spell hasn't broken… "This one."

It takes longer for Melissa to answer this one, her head lowering slightly. "That's one I got from the Company. It's from those trackers they used so they could find us. Got that and this one in Moab," she says, lightly touching the one under her chin. "This one was from the constant injections of negation drugs. There's a lot of us in the city with those two scars," she says quietly.

In a fit of inexplicable boldness, Perry reaches around to catch Melissa's chin, crook of his index finger brushing against the injection mark. He holds it there, his eyes finding hers, before lifting to the horizontal slash on her forehead. He gives a small nod, indicating it without releasing Mel's chin. "And that?"

One brow lifts at a bolder touch, but Melissa doesn't pull away or make him pull away. "Mmm. I was visiting…someone…and Samson, Gabriel's dad, showed up. Smoke down the chimney. Pinned me to a wall with telekinesis, then slammed me into the floor, and started trying to open up my head. Luckily he never managed to finish the job. I rather like my brain right where it is, safely inside my skull."

Perry blinks. That… was a joke? He salvages a small smile, but one that fades into a look of contemplation. He's thinking. One of the things he's good at, or at least has had a lot of practice with. "You've survived a great deal," he says, which is pretty much stating the obvious. What comes next, though, may not be so expected. Still holding her chin, Perry leans in and up to place a light kiss on Melissa's forehead. It's a fairly chaste thing, but for Pericles Jones it is the essence of endeavor. He leans back, finding her eyes again. "No wonder you're so strong."

His comment about surviving makes Melissa shrug a little. She has, but others have suffered more and she's aware of it. The kiss though, however chaste, has her blinking in surprise, brow furrowing just a bit. "Hawaii has made you bold, Perry," she murmurs, before looking away to the water in the pool. "And you say strong, but I wonder if I'm not just brittle."

Abruptly she stands, leaving her now empty glass where it is. "I'm gonna go shower, so I don't reek of chlorine and spoil our dinner." But at least she remembered that he has the key so she can't just leave him there. Instead she moves to grab a towel then her things, before waiting for him.

Hawaii may be partly to blame, by it's Melissa's own insistence on not yelling at Perry or pulling away, or otherwise making realities of his anxieties, that is lending fuel to the remarkable new fire burning in Pericles Jones. Of course, when she stands, he fears that he has, in fact, gone too far. But then she uses the words 'our dinner' confirming both that the dinner is still on, and that it is shared in some respect. He hopes still in the respect previously established. The young man nods, getting to his feet, taking his beer bottle with him - he's not nearly done with it and he has a feeling he'll need its contents to prepare for what's to come, especially if his island boldness deserts him at an inopportune time. "I'll use the ones in the locker rooms here," he says, which is fair, since he has much less hair to rinse out, "you take the one in- uh- our room. I'll- uh- I'll be up to change for th- um- our dinner."

"You've got the key, remember? You have pockets, I don't," Melissa reminds him, wrapping the towel around her, slipping on the sandals, and holding the wrap and sunglasses against her chest. And out one hand goes, palm up, waiting for the key. And once she gets it, it's inside and upstairs she goes.

Oh, right, riiight. Perry suppresses a wince at his own forgetfulness, ten times more easily embarrassed now that he imagines himself being scrutinized and judged at every turn. It's the self-centeredness of the self-deprecatory, the belief that Melissa could somehow care about assessing his every misstep. Crazy, but no less real an experience for him. The card is proffered, and the girl observed as she departs. Perry stares after her, even once she's gone, for a good half minute before lifting the beer to his lips and drinking the entire thing in one long series of gulps.

When he makes it up to the room and knocks for Melissa to let him in it takes her a minute, and she answers the door in a white robe, provided by the hotel. The door's opened, she makes sure it's Perry, then it's right back into the bathroom she goes, steam curling in the air and fading once it's cut off from the moist heat of the bathroom. Go go hot showers!

Perry offers Melissa a grateful smile as she lets him inside, looking maybe the faintest bit bashful as he enters the room. Inside, with the air conditioning keeping the perfumes of the island clear, it feels much more like the real world, the world in which Perry is bumbling and awkward and has a snowball's chance in hell with pretty much any girl. It's a feeling he tries to fight, his chief weapon being the suit which, once Melissa's back in the bathroom, he dons, examining himself in the full length mirror, sleek lines of dark fabric. Even Perry is a little impressed. Amazing what a suit can do.

When Melissa emerges a good half hour later, her hair is dry and slightly curly. Her make up is done, and she's gotten into her little black dress. In short, she looks ready for a date. All except for the uncertainty that she tries to hide. Part of her can't figure out why she agreed. Guys are bad news. Guys lead to pain. Lots of pain. Unless they're one night stands, and a date is not a one night stand. It's her first date. Her first real one. It's a Big Fucking Deal.

She studies Perry in his suit, sans glasses, then nods. "It looks good on you, now that you've ditched the glasses. Surprisingly good, considering that you like the witty shirts more than anything else." It's not said meanly though, just like she's musing over the fact.

Perry first spots Melissa in the mirror, and stops still as he gets his first look at her. His expression bespeaks a single first impression. 'Wow'. The bikini was transfixing, it's true, but its very revealing nature made him distance himself from the spectacle, not wanting to ogle. But now that she's dressed up, skin shown in only the most tasteful of ways - now that he's allowed to look at her… he looks. He lets himself look, though mediated through reflection.

"I- uh- once heard a legend," Perry says, smiling at Melissa a bit unsteadily, "from- uh- from Quebec. About a- a woman called la Odalisque. She was- uh- like an obverse Medusa. So- uh- so beautiful that if you looked at her directly you- uh- you'd turn into a gem." He closes his eyes, turns around to face Melissa, then peeks with just one eye. Then the other. "Whew," he says, smiling again, "still- uh- still flesh and blood. I was worried."

Okay, that's definitely flirting.

Perry steps forward, offering Melissa his arm, some little boldness couched more comfortable in gallantry. "I'll- uh- I'll just have to rely on my- um- my own wit, then, hmmm?" He dips his head. "Thank you. For this. All of this. I'll- I'll do my best."

If anyone who knew Melissa were to give one word that described her, a word that would never be mentioned is shy. Yet it's a shy smile that she gives, his flirting and gallantry starting to break through the sharp exterior that she's surrounded herself with lately. "Hey, why thank me? I'm sure you would've gotten away from the city somehow if I hadn't interfered," she says, shrugging lightly, but she does seem to be allowing herself to be a little pleased at the compliments.

She takes his arm almost automatically, saying, "And don't worry about doing your best. There's no need to try to live up to some imaginary standard or anything." Even though her own standards, unconsciously or not, have skyrocketed. "There are three or four restaurants here. But I wanna check out the one that's outdoors. We're on the west side of the island, so we'll be able to take in the sunset. Should be pretty, right?"

Whether Perry meets any normal standard is hard to say. He doesn't look bad, has cleaned up well, but it's still him under there. Doing his best may be part of learning to do it at all. Trying to keep his best foot forward, though, he doesn't say this aloud. Some thoughts, however interesting in his head, ought to remain in his head. Where they are still interesting.

Instead, he keeps at it. He's not stupid, just inexperienced, and he can tell when something is working. That's how you learn. "That sounds- sounds perfect," he says, guiding her towards and out the door, "you- uh-" he smiles, "you may need to remind me to look, though. You could prove very distracting." His eyes dart to one side, but his smile spreads a bit. "I'm- uh- I'm sorry, I'm laying it on thick. But you- uh- you really do look amazing. Not that- uh- not that you didn't already know it."

Out the door, to the elevator again, and then through a series of further doors, the air getting fresher with each one that opens. Outside the sun is beginning its final descent, the far reaches of the sky taking on darker hues, the seat starting to shine with more obliquely refracted light. The area outside is paved, a dress code enforced, the staff moving like elegant ships, sailing about with both certainty and deference. The maitre'd leads them to a table, not far from the outermost railing. The beach is fully visible, as well as the gentle curve of the island's shore, and the lush green of the surrounding forests.

Perry draws Melissa's chair out for her, dipping his head in a deference that can only be his own wholehearted attempted at chivalry's resurrection.

He really is laying it on thick, and for a moment it looks like Melissa's trying to decide whether to respond to it in what has become her normal habit of bitchiness, or just appreciate the compliments. Maybe it's the atmosphere of the place, but she finally decides to go with the latter option, and her lips curve up just a touch. "You are, but maybe that's what I need right now."

She's quiet as they head downstairs then out to the open air restaurant, and though brows lift at the gentlemanly gesture of pulling out her chair, she doesn't go all uber-feminist and protest, she just sits down.

They haven't even had time to pick up menus before a server is there, ready to take drink orders, and unsurprisingly, Mel orders something tropical but highly alcoholic. There's not even any real thought involved, she just goes for the booze like it's become second nature. Which, of course, it has.

The idyll of the setting makes Perry hesitant to indulge his worries on Mel's behalf. If nothing else, this is hardly the time to express his concern. Maybe… maybe later, when he is in a position to intervene. Or so he tells himself. It may be a cop out, but it also may be wise. He's navigated the perils of Melissa's sharp edged shell so far. He can't afford to be indelicate now.

He orders a beer, himself, maybe not the most glitzy of drinks, but he's a man of simple tastes. The menus, bound in faux-leather and elegantly lettered, provide a number of entrees as well as a pre fixe of several courses, the emphasis being on food that is both tropically appropriate and of gourmet quality. Perry makes yet another motion to adjust glasses that are not there as he examines his menu. His eyes dart over the top to glance at Melissa.

"This- uh- is my treat, of course. I'll find some way to repay you for this trip. Slowly but surely," Perry says, before cracking a small smile, "it'll- uh- give you that much more reason to keep me around."

"There's no reason to repay me," Melissa murmurs as she looks over the menu. "I was gonna come here anyway. And you bought me stuff when we were shopping. Call it even. But I won't argue about you paying for dinner if you really want to. It'd be silly to argue over something like that."

When the server returns with their drinks, Mel is ready to order, and opts for seafood since, well, what else are you going to order on a tropical island? Meat and potatoes can be ordered anywhere in the country, but seafood this fresh? She leans back, picking up her glass and sipping at it, her gaze flicking over towards the horizon and the setting sun as it turns the sky a rainbow of oranges and pinks.

Perry, generally a fan of learned authority, orders the pre fixe, placing his faith in the chef's wisdom. He returns his menu to the server's care, and lifts his beer to his lips, taking a small drink. While she looks at the sunrise, true to his however thickly laid on words, Perry looks at her. Sunrises he's seen. They come and go. This is a night apart, due to her.

"When- uh- when did we first meet?" Perry asks, brows knitting momentarily in curiosity, "I wish- uh- I wish I could remember exactly. You sort of just- were suddenly in my life. Thanks to our- uh- mutual activities," he's not going to out and out say 'terrorism' in the midst of a nice restaurant, "I know I- uh- I was maybe not the most compelling of people at first. I didn't- uh- didn't really understand you."

The young man smiles, a little bashfully. "Not that I understand you now but I- uh- think I'm at least getting to know you. Bit by bit."

"I think we met at one of the meetings," Melissa answers after a long moment, still looking out at the sunset. Sure the sunsets everywhere everyday, but she doesn't often get to see one in a place like this. Much less while on a date. "Just sort of evolved from there. Does it really matter though? Where we first met?"

Looking back at him she takes a drink then shakes her head. "No one understands me, Perry. I don't even understand me half the time. Life is shaping me into something, and I have no idea what that something is."

"I- uh- I'm not sure if it matters," Perry admits, giving a very small, helpless shrug, "I guess- I guess it makes sense, to not have any sort of- uh- specific origin. To have this be unexpected. Because it is. Very. Unexpected," he smiles, "at least for me. But maybe for both of us? Maybe that's- uh- precisely how it ought to be."

At length he does regard the setting sun. And it is magnificent, all the more because yes, this is a date. One happening by the sea, during a sunset. That's not nothing, not by a long shot. With luck, and Perry prays he has luck, it will be indeed be something.

"We- uh- we have a few brief choices that let us decide what we become," Perry says, fingertips resting against the cool glass of his beer bottle, "it's hard even to- uh- even to recognize them. But when we do… we have to- uh- to make a decision. How to decide. What to follow. Reason or- uh- or passion," his head tilts as he regards the young woman, "you seem, if- uh- if I might say so, to favor passion. From what I've seen."

Lips twitch, just a little, enough that it would be easy to mistake the near smile for shadows in the fading light. "Passion? Yeah, I guess you could say I do. But a lot of times I have to keep it reigned in." Another drink is taken before Melissa leans back, trying to relax. "When I lose control, I hurt people. Literally. Doesn't bother me as much as it used to, but people tend to dislike being hurt. Unless they're big into S and M, anyway."

There's a soft sigh. "And my passion tends to screw things up, too. I think that's why I am where I am." Hopefully she doesn't mean literally, as how insulting would that be? "But this is my life so I gotta push through until it's over. And if I'm lucky, it won't get any worse."

Perry actually laughs at Melissa's joke, which isn't to say the joke is bad - much to the contrary, it's remarkable only because Perry doesn't often laugh. A somber young man, and nervous when he's not somber, it speaks worlds to the ease that a Hawaii night can bring. That and cold beer. "I- uh- certainly appreciate your restraint," he says, "I've only once felt your gift and- uh- well I guess I consider it a privilege to bear witness to your- uh- unique talent, I think- uh- yeah… that I will accept that as privilege enough…"

And he does note that potential insult. He doesn't take it to heart, but rather tries his best to counter it. "I- uh- know what you mean but where you are- uh- right now? I mean… just look…" And it is a sight to see, the ocean turning to fire as the sun kisses the horizon. "Taken- uh- taken apart and away from everything which- uh- is exactly what it means to 'get away', but taken apart and away… here doesn't seem so bad."

"Privileged?" Melissa asks, brows lifting, her tone slightly incredulous. "That's the first time I've ever heard someone say they were privileged for me to hurt them. Though you did get a small taste…"

She shrugs and takes another drink, moving onto the next topic. "I didn't mean where I am literally, like my location. I meant where I am in my life. I know there are others who have it rougher than me, but my life isn't all rainbows and kisses."

Reluctantly though, she does look towards the view. "Where I am literally is pretty spectacular though," she murmurs.

"There is- uh- only one person, theoretically, that no one else has it rougher than," Perry offers, "and that is not a good place to be, but it would- uh- be unfair to invalidate the woes of all others just because of that poor soul. Your pain is real. Not that- uh- not that you don't know that very well." Melissa does understand pain.

Perry carefully slips his hand across the table, tips of his fingers brushing against the woman's hand. "And I know it's- uh- strange, but I think- well, your gift is so much part of you. Even if it is- uh- sometimes a weapon, I feel like it's important to try and- uh- understand it. As part of knowing you. I- I don't reject any part of what makes you what you are. What makes us what we are." He means Evolved, of course, that 'we' not presuming anything about 'them'. First date, and even Perry's not that foolhardy through inexperience.

He dares to clasp her fingers in his, turning also to view the sun as it begins its swan dive beneath the glistening waves. "Here and now is all there is. You- you said it yourself. Live for now."

"Who's that one person, theoretically?" Melissa asks, even as she glances down at the touch to her hand. "And I don't want anyone but my enemies to understand my ability as well as I do. Even if it doesn't work on myself. But I've felt the pain of others, literally. It's sporadic, but I've felt pain that is unimaginable, and I really wouldn't wish that on anyone."

The drink is picked up, and drained. "I wish I could live for now though, but I can't. Especially not since I have a baby I have to take care of. And especially considering that until her I'd never touched one. I'm terrified I'm gonna fuck up somehow, and shocked that she's safe and healthy after a few months with me."

"I think- that experience gives you wisdom, however terrible," Perry says, evidently very skilled at imagining silver linings, "who else can really, truly say they know another's pain? Know pain that fully? You- you have an understanding of suffering that could truly- uh- truly motivate you. You know that's at stake, how people suffer. And you can help prevent it."

He hasn't let go of her hand. In fact, Perry gives it a little squeeze, quite gentle. "But safe and- uh- healthy she is. Proof positive that for all your fears, you- uh- you haven't fucked up. A sign that you- uh- you can help with a new beginning. That's- uh- that's what a baby is, after all, right?"

Melissa's quiet for a minute as she listens, then she finally shakes her head. "Let's change the subject. I don't want to think about the real world while we're here. The real world sucks. That's why I left for a week, remember?" It's a gentle chiding, and she doesn't yank her hand away, so she must not be mad at him, not specifically anyway.

It's good timing too, as their food is brought, which does cause Melissa to draw her hand back so that she can eat. Quietly even. Other than ordering another drink. And with the alcohol content of the first, the second is going to get her drunk. It has to.

"This- uh- isn't real?" Perry says, smiling lopsidedly, "I guess it does feel a little bit more like- uh- like a dream, or some strange fugue." And he lets it go. Better to dream on.

As they part, Perry takes his napkin and spreads it over his lap, protecting the suit he has only just bought. With the week before them, and more than just one restaurant to visit, he wants to make sure he can get good use from the new purchase. The food steams, fragrant and delicious, and Perry has no regrets about trusting the chef. He or she clearly knows what they are doing.

Perry lifts his beer bottle in a toast. "To- uh- to getting away. Together."

"Not for this week it isn't. I won't let it be real." Which could mean anything, really. But Melissa doesn't continue, instead lifting her glass and nodding. "To getting away." Then down the drink goes, about half of it finished before she lowers the glass.

A few bites are taken before she speaks again. "I think tomorrow I wanna go see the volcanoes. And shop for a shot glass or two. Surf lesson too, I think. Stuff away from the hotel," she muses.

It could mean anything, but Perry doesn't permit himself to have it mean something dismissive or bad. Reality has never given him any luck with women. If this experience comes at the cost of total isolation from the rest of the world so be it. He can live with that.

Or, at least, he thinks so now.

"I'd like to come with," Perry says, taking up knife and fork and getting to work on his food, "though I expect you'll laugh when I try to surf. I- uh- am not the most graceful or well balanced of people." As if she expected otherwise.

"I've never been surfing either, so I don't think I'm gonna be laughing at anyone's attempts to surf," Melissa admits with a faint smile. "I'll just be happy if I don't fall into the volcano when we go there. But have you thought of anything you wanna do? Besides the stuff I've mentioned? You've gotta have an opinion."

"I'll dive in after you, if you tumble," Perry promises, smiling as well, having to, seeing as Mel is actually smiling herself! "Then you'll at least have company in the lava." He takes a bite of his food. It's good, damn good, and had better be. Hotel like this? "I- well, yes, I guess I do," he admits. Perry generally has opinions on anything he's thought about, and it doesn't take much to get him to share them, usually. "I- well, I've never been anywhere tropical either. I think- I want to see things. Strange things. Black sand beaches and- and waterfalls in the forest. Cool, natural pools during the day. And, I don't know… I haven't seen the stars properly since I was a boy in Maine. Out here there isn't nearly as much light pollution…"

"Those are good ideas," Melissa says, nodding. "I've never seen a real waterfall. I hear they've got some beautiful ones out here. We can ask at the hotel, get a suggestion from the locals rather than hitting the internet." Because she did bring her computer for some reason. Probably so she had access to movies, addict that she is.

"Wise," Perry says, nodding as well, "the people who actually dwell here would know the best spots. And they stand to gain from showing the island's best face." He sets his utensils down for a moment, lacing his fingers before him, over the plate. "I'm- uh- taken to understand there are cruises. Along the coastline? We could watch the lava flow into the sea. That- uh- that is a face of nature I've never had a chance to see. Where fire and water meet."

"Really? That would be cool. You should check into it then figure out when and where to go so we can see that," Melissa says, finishing off drink #2 and signaling the server so she can get a third. "I've got a bucket list. All four elements are on there. Done the scuba diving. And free falling. Just gotta go spelunking and visit a volcano."

She leans closer and drops her voice to a murmur. "Though after space, I'm not sure anything can be as exciting, good or bad."

Another drink? Perry winces inwardly. There is no charming or even polite way to say 'are you sure you need another?', but it pains him to act like this is all quite all right. Relying, if guiltily, on Melissa's wish to keep reality at bay, he holds his tongue and swallows his concerns, pray that he is not betraying her thusly. "There- uh- there must be caves here. Lava tubes. I'd- I'd actually really like that. Though I'd be glad to have you with me while in the deep and the dark."

Perry blinks. "Space?" he echoes. Like 'Lost in-'?

"It would be fun. And…yeah…" Melissa gives him an odd look. "I thought you heard about it. Guess not. I'll tell you about it when we get back to the room. I've even got pictures to go along with the story." A few, anyway. Agonizing pain isn't really the best aid to taking pictures, after all. "So. Surfing, volcanoes, lava and water, spelunking, shopping, and fun around the hotel. I think we'll be kept pretty busy," she says, leaning back, her meal finished, though her drink isn't.

No, usually a tripod is more helpful than crippling pain. On average. "I- a great deal goes on that I miss…" Perry admits, looking sheepish, "you'll have to tell me all about it. That's- something else." Understatement, perhaps. "And yes, we'll need to relax between all that- uh- all that we have planned," he says, sounding gingerly anticipatory, uncertain about acting excited unless she is. He sips his beer as well, not sure that it will do quite enough now he's eaten, but there's liquor in the minibar upstairs, as well. Plenty of time.

"Well we've got a week, so I think we'll have plenty of time to do it all while not over-extending ourselves. Which I am totally not going to do on vacation," Melissa says with a faint smile. "And hell, if you're done, we can go upstairs and I'll explain about the trip."

"My remaining hunger is- uh- for knowledge," Perry states, a bit dweebily but with a sincerity that of course precludes coolness. A cool guy Perry is not. A nice guy? Probably. As far as terrorists go. He motions the server over and hands over his credit card; if left otherwise they'll bill the room and then Melissa would be picking up the check. Totally unacceptable for a first date. Once the meal is paid for, Perry gets to his feet and takes the back of Melissa's chair, looking to finish what he began, ready to draw the seat out as she rises. He's going to get this right.

While he pays the check Melissa finishes her drink. His assistance is accepted, and after she stands she rests a hand on his arm, allowing him to escort her up much like he did on their way down. Except now she does need a bit more help as she's not quite steady on her feet any longer.

The ride up to the room is uneventful, and once they make it inside Mel sits on the edge of her bed and slips her shoes off, sighing softly. Heels are the bane of any woman's existence, no matter how awesome they might make their legs look.

Perry lends whatever help Melissa needs, supporting her to the extent she requires or simply desires support. He's a little easier with her now, growing more relaxed by degrees, though never any less attentive. When they reach the room he takes a seat on his own bed, at the corner nearest to Mel. He watches as she slides free of those painfully flattering shoes.

"Thank you," he says once more, and not likely for the last time, "that was… really great. I mean, it still is…" Perry's not sure just when the 'date' is officially 'over', "but the sunset was beautiful, the food was excellent and- uh-" he pauses for a good two seconds, "I'm- uh- very taken with you, Melissa. I hope that's all right to say. It's truthful, either way."

It startles her, whether it's all right to say or not, and Melissa gives him a bewildered look. "You are? Why? I'm no catch, you know that. Hell, you've listened to me saying that pretty much all day."

"I know," Perry says, nodding, agreeing that she has, in fact, insistent on her invalidity as romantic partner, as someone who eschews romance altogether, "that doesn't change how I feel. I- I think you are an uncommon sort of person. I think that- uh- almost goes without saying, really," few people have that many scars - few people have gone into space, "we're- uh- we're very different you and I and- and I don't know if I'm a catch either. I'm- well… you know," badly dressed? Awkward? Kind of a weirdo? All these things, true. "But I- uh- find myself hard pressed to care."

Frowning while she tries to sort that out, Melissa slips off the bed, moving to the minibar and grabbing one of the little bottles. She returns to the bed, sitting down and opening the miniature bottle of liquor, sipping at it. "I can't promise anything, you know that right? More, I won't promise anything, because I'd just end up screwed one way or another at the end of the day."

When Melissa rises, Perry is immediately concerned that he has gone too far. But when she returns, drink in hand, a briefly cloudy expression passes over his features. Without further warning, he gets up, moving over to Melissa and taking a seat beside her. One hand goes out to clasp hers, capturing the bottle between, halt its further progress. The other rises to touch the scar under her chin. "We are strange creatures to even know how to make promises," he says, softly. And then he's leaning in, kissing her on the lips.

It's just one surprise after another for Melissa since they got up to the room. A guy has feelings for her, stops her from drinking, and then she's…getting kissed? She blinks in surprise, too startled to respond. "I…uh…think we should stick to talking about space. Space is a safe topic. And I don't know that I can talk about this anymore tonight. Too many surprises. Too much confusion. Too much bad past."

Of all possible outcomes and responses, factoring in Melissa's ability make Perry hurt so badly he'd wish for death, being told to hold off is really not all that bad. He recedes, head ducking a little, contrite, shifting a bit away from Melissa, giving her space in which to talk about space. "Of- uh- of course…" he says, stammer reasserting itself, "I'm- uh- I'm sorry. For- for rushing, I-" a pause, "I'm-" another pause, "…I'm sorry." He said that already.

The young man clears his throat, totally thrown now, unable to look at Melissa, hand withdrawn from the bottle it was impeding before. "Uh… um… space…" he says, trying to get them back on track.

The bottle is lifted and completely downed before Melissa says slightly. "No need to apologize. And yeah, space. Rebel called a bunch of us together, 'cause there were some satellites in orbit that the Institute could use to pinpoint the location of every single Evolved on earth. Not a good scenario. We went to China, hijacked a shuttle. The one that was in the news back in October? Four of us went up."

There's a moment where she gathers her thoughts before continuing. "Two of us were former Company. One of us was evolved but not Messiah or Ferry. And then there was me. My job was to keep everyone from being in pain, not just at launch since we had no suits, but specifically for Linus."

She smiles faintly. "He used the sun's energy. He had to go out of the shuttle, without a suit, and blast the satellite. I had to make sure he was pain free enough to operate in the vacuum of space. Simple, right?"

It is simple? Perry listens with an amazement that is, at least, pretty simple. These were not details he's heard. "That's… incredible," he says, though he does credit her - it shouldn't be believed, but they live strange lives, "that must have been excruciating for you. I can't even imagine…"

"Well…yes and no. Or rather, not for the reasons you'd think." Melissa flops back, staring up at the ceiling. "It was like a sixteen hour trip from takeoff to the satellite. I spent the entire time radiating a low level lack of pain for the other three. That right there gave me a migraine. Usually I can only maintain my ability for an hour or so, tops," she explains, her tone just like she were giving a lecture on the subject, which is she is, in a way.

"The pain that Linus felt when he was outside, negating that would've been bad enough, since it was on top of my migraine. But something fucked up happened." Something that demands that she say nothing for a long moment. "I felt his pain. Every. Single. Second. I honestly don't know how I stayed conscious through it. When my ability basically overloaded and cut off, I was covered in blood."

She looks over to him. "You know how overuse of an ability can cause bleeding from the nose? Yeah, that. But worse, and not just from my nose. Headache lasted for several days after we got back."

Perry turns a little on his perch, still sitting on her bed rather than retreating to his own, eyes coasting along her form at a respectful but not hurried speed on its way to her face after she lies down. For all that Perry is a doubtful match, he doesn't mind lectures, able to take what he dishes out. He listens with considerable interest, possessing no small interest in abilities and their limits.

But to hear about Melissa, bleeding all over? That is hard to take. Perry blanches. "That's… that's terrible. How- do you know why that happened?"

Melissa shrugs. "Just a new aspect of my ability, I guess. And I'd never been around someone in that much pain, so I guess it sort of…" She hesitates here, trying to find the right words while intoxicated. "I am pain. It's what I do, what I am. That much pain, it sort of…resonated…with my power I guess. Or like called to like? I don't really know. It's happened a few times since then. I can't control it, not yet. Or not entirely, anyway."

"That's a terrible burden," Perry says, leaning back just a bit so as to be a little closer to Mel, "what a strange edge to- uh- to your sword," he frowns, "but if it's what you are, what you do - and I absolutely think that those are the same thing - you must be able to do something with it. Harness it, somehow?"

"Oh, I've put a lot of thought into that," Melissa says, nodding. "I can't verify any of it yet, but…say I blanket an area with pain, a blind area where there are supposed to be enemies, hidden. Then maybe I'll be able to tell how many there are in range. Or I could track one wounded enemy with his pain."

Perry nods. "By feeling their pain… that's quite a way to use your ability. And risky, too. Who knows what sorts of pain you might accidentally feel. A shame that- uh- that it's only pain. Of all the sensations…" he gives a wry smile, "but of course, you have this gift because you are made of stern enough stuff to bear it."

Melissa shrugs a little. "Pain…I don't think about it the way others do. It tends to sorta strengthen my ability, or seems to. Hard to really tell. And I've gotten hurt enough that it doesn't bother me most of the time. Like getting shot? Yeah, it hurts, bad, I won't deny that, but it doesn't cripple me."

"That's… fascinating," Perry says, and he sounds like he means it, not just playing interested because it's something a beautiful woman said, "I wonder if, in time, you could stop feeling pain like that at all. If- uh- if maybe you could feel pain without suffering? Feel it only as just… another part of you. Part of what you are, like- uh- like you said."

Melissa shakes her head. "I can't use my ability on myself. Believe me, I wish I could when I get the migraines. But other than feeling others pain, I've never used it on myself. But who knows. Time will tell, I guess."

"It will," Perry agrees, "it- uh- it already has. Your ability changed, grew. It- uh- it evolved. It may again. You are still becoming, Melissa," a pause, "I hope to get to see all you blossom into," his eyes cut away, "…sorry. I'm- I'm getting bold again," his gaze slowly returns, "it's hard for me not to."

Melissa peers at him curiously. "How so? You're never bold. Not unless you're…yanno…preaching or whatever. Messiah stuff. And it's not the first time. My ability, I mean. It hasn't even been a year since I learned that I could manipulate pain, not just create it. When the 510 hit. Spent a lot of time practicing during that."

"I told you," Perry says, answering the peer with a soft brown stare, "I'm- I'm taken with you. And you-" he attempts a smile, "you are not making it any easier, look- uh- looking so lovely." For all his interest in her ability, there seem to be other interests that threaten to overrule.

His face is studied for a long moment, as well as Melissa can in her current state. But bold is a normal state of being for her, and maybe the liquor has finally outweighed her common sense, because she reaches up, grabs a handful of his hair, and pulls him down to her. All so she can kiss him. And it's no gentle, shy kiss, but a hot, demanding kiss.

His very boldness was posited on a refusal to think too hard about consequences, good and bad, and so when Melissa reaches out for him, she catches a momentary look of surprise. But it doesn't last longer than just that moment. Lips pressed to hers, her desire made clear, his appropriate reaction made unambiguous, he returns the kiss, tasting the liquor there, but also tasting her. He leans over her, suit shifting as he places a hand on the other side of her body, supporting him as he looms over Melissa, his own want as clear as the now-faded day, giving way to star-filled night.

Even when she knows that he won't be pulling away Melissa keeps her hand in his hair, holding him close, kissing him as though she were starving and he was the last morsel of food on earth. And after a moment, her other arm lifts, sliding around him, pulling him closer still. There's nothing uncertain in the kiss this time. Maybe she's embraced the idea of What Happens in Hawaii Stays in Hawaii?

Perry finds himself in Melissa's arms, his whole body thrilling with the sheer impossibility of what is happening. Island magic indeed, and the young man, is, next thing he knows, slipping his own arm under her and lifting her up off the bed, drawing her into his arms as well, kissing back with a eagerness that wants to see her hunger fed but doesn't want that hunger to stop.

There's no objection when his arm slides under her. Or when he pulls her into his arms. And Melissa keeps kissing for a minute after that before she drags her mouth from his, her voice low, breathless, her eyes half lidded. "We probably shouldn't be doing this," she murmurs, though her eyes fall to his mouth, making it clear that her thoughts are on doing it again.

This is the first time Perry has seen the remarkable beauty of a woman with eyes half lidded after a kiss. It renders him speechless, temporarily, and it takes a moment for her words and actions to slide into mental focus. "We- we don't have to," he concedes, a little breathless as well, brown gave moving down to her lips, then back up to her eyes, "but…" he tilts forward, bringing their lips within a skin's whisper distance, "I want to…" A hand at her shoulder slides to the small of her back, pressing there. "If we wait… I'll still want to," his fingers curl a little at her back, "will- will you?"

"I…" No words come beyond that one, not for a long moment as Melissa's eyes lift and look into his, her brow furrowing a little. "I don't know. Maybe? It's too confusing. Don't make me think," she asks, almost pleading with those last four words. "We can keep going, just don't make me think."

As the lady bids… though Perry is not one to ever disparage thinking, the pleading in Mel's tone makes obeying her request an absolute necessity. Rather than answer with words, Perry presses hard against the arch of Melissa's back, his other hand sliding up into her hair as he draws her over to him for another kiss, their third. Confidence emerging from who knows where, likely the simple basic need, built up over long years of solitude and days of interaction with the fetching Ms. Pierce, Perry kisses her with an unarguable vigor that intends to leave no room at all for thought.

There's a soft sigh when his lips come down on hers again and Melissa doesn't have to do anymore thinking. Her arms tighten and she presses closer against him, her eyes fluttering entirely closed as she gives herself over to the kiss. It may be all she allows herself. It may only be while they're in Hawaii, but for right now, for this moment, she's his. A warm, willing woman kissing him like he were the hottest thing on earth.

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