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Rating: 3-3-3

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Thread Contributor: Pete WisdomTaking her breath away Tag: Belle
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#1
Pete had risen to the challenge Belle had presented to him, the most difficult question being which breathtaking thing he'd show her. Belle came from a world where there were plenty of astonishing things to see, from what he understood. He'd made himself a mental list of things he was reasonably sure she wouldn't have had in her world, struck off all of the things that might offend her delicate sensibilities, and zeroed in on one particular place that he thought would serve them.

This place, which they'd taken a leisurely walk to (welcome to the Hub, the only place where you can walk to another planet...), was a bit brisk, but not exactly cold. Pete had slid his jacket over her shoulders as they walked. From the portal, it was a bit of a climb, but not exactly a long or difficult one. The path seemed to be made to be an easy, scenic view, but Pete, being Pete, of course knew where the best view was. They strolled around one more bend, and then he let her take a look at the full view off into the distance.

The whole scene was a picture of blues and greens and browns. They stood on a path that looped around a mountain-sized hill, with grassy sides descending lazily around them. Down below them, though, the entire landscape looked like a vast sea had been frozen, with ice rolling out as far as they could see. Sculptures rose up from the surface, great figures immortalized in ice, displayed in all their splendor under the starry sky. Some were human (or apparently human), others were decidedly alien, all of them held a sort of magnificence that was easily understood even on strange features. They towered up from the ice, easy to see even from a distance, with smaller sculptures of all sizes, mostly animals of both familiar and unfamiliar varieties, filling the spaces between them.

Pete stood with Belle on the edge of the path, not quite treading onto the sloping grass yet, giving her a moment to look at it all. "And here you have, luv, the great ice sculptures, one of the mysteries of the Hub. No one knows where this world came from, who made the sculptures, who they're all of, what keeps them frozen like that... nothing. Used to be a fairly popular tourist destination, but it's quiet these days." He smiled, looking around and confirming that there really wasn't anyone around here. It wasn't really surprising, he supposed... the hill was huge, and there were other good vantage points all around it. "I suppose we should take a seat, maybe eat a bit while we wait for the show to start?"

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#2
Now when she had set this challenge she hadn’t expected him to take her to another world! She’d expected maybe a jaunt to one of the other boroughs that made up her wonderfully exciting new life, the picnic basket(calling it that was a bit of misnomer as she found a shop that sold containers that didn't lose their heat or cold and could keep things perfect for DAYS.) looped around her arm, contained not her normal fair. No this time Belle had opened up her cookbooks, spent the time in the week before to perfect a whole other kinda pie. Tiny little hand Hot water crust Meat pies, filled with aromatic rosemary sausage, honey ham, and of course lovely bits of fresh bacon. In fact her whole basket was a wonder of finger foods, mini cupcakes, little fruit tarts, cold sour cream and dill cucumber sandwiches, spicy puff pastries. And of course a carafe of tea. Belle had does her dangest to extend her range in the kitchen and nod towards Pete’s home.

Belle was prepared to keep her expression fairly unimpressed, he screamed the kinda man who expected women to fall over themselves around him and Belle refused to be that easy of a mark.

That intention fell away as the vista he brought her to presented itself in grandiose splendor before her. “Oh-” Belle’s breath fogged out her eyes wide as she took in the impossibility of a frozen sea, the icons carved into its waves. For a long moment all she could do was stare, Pete had indeed filled the brief and she was stunned by the magsity of what she could see.

“Show?” She blinked coming back to herself, his words percolating through her stunned mind. There was more?
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#3
That the woman was resistant to his charms, or was at least trying to be, had been fairly clear for Pete. She was going to be a tough nut to crack, just like all good girls who made a bloke work for their attention instead of waving it in front of him in skimpy-to-nonexistent clothes. So when he saw that she was, in spite of herself, impressed, Pete allowed himself to feel a little smug. Oh, he didn’t show it, not beyond a little smirk on his face as he (and she, for that matter) peered off over the frozen expanses, but yes, he was pleased with himself. People liked to think that the hotshot secret agent was all reputation and no follow-through, counting on the mystique to do all the work, but Pete generally expected that for most people, the mystique had worn off, or been ruined by people like that Bond tosser. A reputation was no good if you couldn’t follow through on it.

“Yes, the show,” he said, honestly amused now, though not insultingly so. He took the blanket off the top of the picnic basket she carried, spreading it along the ground a few paces from the path, then offered to take the basket from her so that she could arrange herself modestly on the blanket. “I suppose that a bit of background is in order here? Well, not enough to be dull, but enough to understand a bit. This is a curious place, after all. I think that the whole bloody thing was man-made, or made by something that could passably be considered ‘man,’ because there are hills like these arranged across the whole planet so that whenever you step through a portal, you can end up on a hill and not have to wait more than an hour until sunrise. The hills are all more or less the same, but everything else? You could come here a hundred times and never see the same thing.”

Pete settled himself on the blanket with her, finally getting a look at the food she’d packed. All right, now it was his turn to be impressed and not be able to conceal it. “Oh, now this looks lovely,” he said. “I can say, quite honestly, that I’ve never seen anyone put this much thought into a picnic meal before, luv.” Unable to help himself, Pete picked up one of the little meat pies, sniffing it appreciatively first, then taking a savoring bite of it. “Oh, you are a bloody brilliant cook, luv,” Pete confirmed.
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#4
Belle wasn’t resistant to his charms persay; what she was was very wary of his very pretty face and her admitted weakness to it. So yes the viewed his actions with a big ole grain of salt, because she was too aware how easy it would be for her to just...slip and forget all her hard earned lessons about keeping her self whole.

Belles lips twisted into chiding little smile, he was clearly enjoying playing the word game and not answering her question, well that was fine, she could be patient!

..really she could!

“Not see the same...sunrise?” She asked to clarify, because as far as she knew you never saw the same sunrise twice anyhow! His compliment did bring a dusting of color to her cheeks, she knew she was a good cook, heck the returning crowds at the restaurant told her that! But it was still new enough to please her to hear. “Thank you.” she responded demurely.

“I wasn’t sure where you were planning on taking us so-” she gestured to the items, “Thought it would be nice not have to worry about plate and silverware.” The explanation was probably unnecessary, but she still felt compelled to give it. If for no other reason than to add SOMETHING to the dialog!

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#5
"Not see the same statues," Pete said, gesturing lazily at the scene. "I certainly haven't seen these ones before. The sunset? Well, I don't think those are ever the same, are they? Too many little things change... time, season, weather, quality of company..." He shot her a little smile as he reclined on the blanket, in no particular hurry to rush through the little pie. When life gave you good food, then you bloody well took the time to appreciate it, didn't you? There was a distinct lack of British-style cooking... well, actually, anywhere, now that he thought about it. You could find Italian food or (god forbid) bloody French food anywhere, and he wouldn't even start with the various kinds of Asian food, but British? Forget it.

"Well, you wanted breathtaking, I tried to pick something that was conducive with eating. We could have gone to see the firestorms through a curious little portal I know of, that'd certainly fit the 'breathtaking' bill, but eating there?" he smirked and shook his head. "Not a chance."

“You know,” Pete said conversationally, “I must say that for all the people on the Hub, you’re rather refreshing. Everyone has some sort of bloody agenda or other that makes them stay here, it’s not very often that you come across someone who just wants to bake. A pleasant turn of events, I have to say.”
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#6
“Wait-” Belle’s gaze swung between him and the frankly magnificent statues; “You’re saying every time they are different but we are in the same spot?” Belle blinked trying to wrap her head around that, “And no one sees them change?”

If Belle was going to be a bit mean or really just very fair, there wasn’t a LOT of of what she would consider GOOD british meals, the country did have a (fairly well) deserved reputation for...well boiling things to death and calling it dinner. But that didn’t mean she wouldn’t make a lovely victorian sponge or hot pie from that islands cookbook!

“I feel like there would be more running than eating at a firestorm portal.” She quipped wryly.

Belle blinked at the non sequitur; was he just trying to butter her up? Belle bit her lip trying to remind her self not to fall into his charms, “Well. Ah mean thats not ALL i want.” But...well it sort of was for the moment wasn’t it? She had the money now to send back to her momma, and all the Hub to learn from, she didn’t NEED to contain herself to simple books any longer, not when her whole life was now filled with every possible combination of things to see and hear.

“And you? Are you just passing through?”

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#7
“Oh, we won’t be in the same spot, luv. I’m saying that you can come here a hundred times and never come through in the same place, it’ll just look the same. You’ll come through wherever it’s an hour or less until sunrise. Now… think about that, think about how far apart each little spot like that would have to be to manage it, and try to think about just how long it must have taken, and how many artist must have worked here, to make all of this.” He thought, occasionally, about bringing through some flying tosser to have him zip up to orbit, or whatever passed as orbit on this place, and get a real measure of how big the place was. Somehow, he never really got around to it. The mystery was too lovely to ruin with actual facts.

He pretended to consider her point about the firestorm, but couldn’t help from chuckling a little. “Well… that or screaming and hiding. You basically have the gist of it, aye. It does look bloody marvelous, though. From a reasonable distance.”

Pete could probably have done some homework on Belle before he’d come to meet her tonight, but that was one of those things that was generally frowned upon by the fairer sex, he’d found. Given that a spy’s homework was generally a bit more thorough than just googling your name and taking a look at your Facebook profile, he supposed they had a point. It left him feeling a little underprepared, but he was with a baker, not a bloody assassin. He could probably survive a little lack of information tonight. “Am I passing through?” He seemed to consider it a moment, then shook his head. “Probably not. I mean, I suppose you never know when you’re going to decide to try something else, but it’s not like I have a world to go back to. Any other one would probably just feel wrong, or might even have another me there already, god forbid.”

He popped the last little bit of crust into his mouth, looking contemplatively at Belle as he swallowed it. “All right, I’ll bite, luv… What else is it that you want?” She could, could be a femme fatale just playing it slowly, of course, just biding her time until she put her master plan into motion. She ran in the right crowds for that to be possible, but he really, sincerely doubted that.
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#8
No Belle was not a Femme Fatale in any stretch of the word, while she had somehow managed to tag along on now several quests...she would place her position somewhere along the lines of camp cook/mascot.

And maybe that was why she was so off settled by him; Belle really couldn’t think he was after more than a notch on his belt, she wasn’t special, she was what she appeared to be.

She’d returned his flirtation, playing the game, but now that he had actually taken her on a date...Belle couldn’t really convince herself that she could really hope to compete against what ever extraordinary women he knew.

Belle even while sitting hardly touched her food, back ramrod straight using what ever tricks of posture to disguise the padding between her breasts and the cute little decorative belt which along with the floral full skirt was also suppose to help hide her extra weight.

“You don’t have a world?” Belle blinked at that compassion softening her stiff pose “Oh hun I’m sorry.” She’d thought he was like a few others she’d seen; basically holding an outpost FOR his world’s intelligence agency.

And than he had to ask and Belle found herself floundering for an answer that less than a month ago would have been a simple well worn wish list.

“Ah-“ Belle’s hands twisted the fabric of her skirt helm, “ah suppose im looking for the next thing.” Belle smiled a rueful thing, “I never expected to beable to have what I do now. At least not for years and years based on my old plan.” She admitted.
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#9
Pete shifted a bit uncomfortably at the completely expected sympathy from Belle. “Aye, some tossers on my world decided to muck the whole thing up. Lots of mucking about with time travel, cosmic this-and-that that they didn’t understand as much as they thought they did. We had eyes on them trying to fix it all, although I’m sure they’d claim they had it all hushed up and secret. Figured out that they weren’t going to be able to manage to clean their mess up, so we went with our own solution and started evacuating through here.” He opened the thermos of tea, rummaging about until he could find the cups. “Didn’t have enough time to spread the way to get here around very far. We managed to get London out, near as we can tell. Could be that other places got a way out up and running and evacuated, too.” He was quiet for a minute as he poured the tea out. “I did what I could.” And that, in the end, was what he had to tell himself every day.

“Since then, I keep tabs on the worlds we convinced to take our people in. Do them favors, keep them up on anything that might be trouble. There’s less to tell than you might think, really.” He paused before he reached for another pie (they really were brilliant). “Not hungry, luv?”

He could relate a bit with her dilemma, he supposed. He had it easy in a way, he didn’t have to try to look for a new calling. He was an agent, and that’s what he’d always be, even if he was doing it on self-imposed rules. “A few million pounds in fancy jewels falling out of thin air isn’t usually what you expect, no,” Pete said, a little smirk on his face. Yes, he’d had eyes on that little sale at the bloody wizard’s shop, if only out of curiosity. He’d been tempted to have some strong words with the bugger after what had happened, but he couldn’t justify it. While he might have been happy to let people pay him to risk their lives, he had made the risks pretty bloody clear, hadn’t he? “All the same, you could have opened a bakery back on your world. Something’s keeping you here, aye?”
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