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Rating: 3-3-3

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Thread Contributor: Pete WisdomTaking her breath away Tag: Belle
Marvel Comics-Marvel 616-Adjacent

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#21
There were things about himself, his past, his experiences, that Pete could tell this woman that would probably make her blood run cold. He was fairly sure of that, and those weren't even the things that he thought affected him the most. He was a product of his work, though, that much was true, and a product of the world that he'd originated in. Perhaps a different Pete in a different world would have had a better time of it... Or maybe not. Some things, you never knew.

"That's the thing, luv," he said. "Happy endings are for fairy tales. We read the happy endings, but what we don't read is what happened the day after, and the day after that, and every day that followed. There's only one ending, and once that comes? We won't really have any time to be happy or sad about it." It wasn't a bitter statement, or even a dark statement, if you asked him. It was just practical and realistic.

He changed gears, then, slipping his hand under hers and leaning onto his other arm, that charming, devil-may-care smile sliding onto his face. "But you do have me curious now, luv," he said, stroking his thumb over the back of her hand. "What promise do we have for tomorrow?"

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#22
Belle would freely admit that she was not so jaded or experienced in witnessing horror to be unaffected by the stories Pete could likely tell; the difference was that while she might be rightfully horrified, she could and must forgive him if he repented those acts, felt guilt for them, even if he thought them nessary.

“Life continues.” Belles smile was soft as she answered his rhetorical question; “Cinderella and her Prince likely argued, fought, but the happy ending is a life lived, in love, for how ever long. To have known contentment, belonging. Even if storm clouds darken.” Belle gestured to the gorgeous day/night. “I am going to remember this as a good day when I’m I’m going to final rest-“ belle winked “hopefully in many many years-“ she grinned playfully. “And it will make up part of my life that made me happy. Regardless of what comes.” She continued more seriously.

Belle’s soft smile shifted to accommodate his desired change of subject; philosophical debates on the nature of fate and the human condition really weren’t approved first date conversation after all and she wouldn’t be rude enough to ignore his verbal cue.

“Well now I suppose that depends on you.” She retorted coyly, “an’ iffen I should expect another callin’”

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#23
There were so many things that Pete could say about Belle’s reply. For the most part, he just thought that her overly rosy view of ‘forever’ was naïve. Eventually, the prince was going to do something wrong, Cinderella would complain about him putting on weight and never being home, things in the bedroom would dry up, and eventually Prince Charming would catch her shagging one of his mates (or one of hers, if he was lucky, that admittedly would at least have its own entertainment value). All of that came after the ‘happy ending’… or it could, really. The happy ending wasn’t the end, and when the end came… well, his was a long time coming.

At the very least, it seemed that someone would have some sort of happy thoughts about him after he’d punched out.

“On me? Well, I’m an open book, luv,” he said, not quite untruthfully. What he did? No, not a lot of people knew that, nor would they get much of an answer from him on the subject. What he was thinking? Well, that was something that even fewer would ever get to really know. Who he was, though? That was something everyone seemed to have a pretty good handle on, and Belle was a quick one. “An’ I didn’t know that you wanted me to come calling again tomorrow, but far be it from me to not give an eager lady what she wants.” That wry smile slipped across his face, and he teased his fingertips across her palm. “Have to work before you decide you want a less exciting life, aye?”

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#24
BShe had freely admitted that ‘forever’ would have pain, but her point was the hope that the good times would outshine the bad when the time came to leave that life.

‘Open book’? Not hardly. But Belle didn’t expect exact truth at this stage, they were still flirting, coy and this was after all a first date. Touching the heavy subjects they had already was by the standards of her mama, quite the social faux pas.

Berry colored lips broken into a coy smile- “Ah moved from ah tiny quiet town in Georgia, ta Gotham for an than left that life behind for the wonder of the interdimensional Hub.” Belles Head tipped down to smirk. “Ah might like some excitement.”

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#25
“Well, you certainly seem to like excitement. I don’t know many bakers that go running off to strange worlds and come back with legendary shields. So maybe I have something I can contribute to your time,” Pete admitted, grinning a bit. “An’ I think that I’m well-adjusted enough to admit that maybe, just maybe, spending time with someone who’s not trying to kill me might do me a bit of good, aye?”

The sun was rising higher now, a golden glow shining through the slowly-clearing vapor fog surrounding them. The ice statues below them held the glow of the sun, shining like golden diamonds all around them. “I suppose the question, then, is what really gets your blood pumping, luv.” And honestly, he wasn’t sure about that. She presented like a good southern girl, all simple and respectable, but she spent a good deal of time in a certain brothel, for one thing, and she seemed to be connected to a whole slew of people who definitely couldn’t be considered normal… not that he’d been nosing around her life. Well, no more than he did for everyone, at least. Or… not much. He was a spy, after all.
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#26
The reference to the shield she’d adopted brought a embarrassed flush to her cheeks, the way he phrased it sounded like she was souvenir shopping, when the truth was much deeper, she KNEW Steve Rogers, or at least a version of him, and the idea of his dying, having never woken..it broke her heart. Taking his shield, honoring the sacrifices he had made, would have made, Belle was slowly learning how to wield the heavy item.

“-Archivist, Restorer-” she corrected eyes cast down; her being a simple cook was new to hub, and an another version of a her; she had the skills, saw the need and filled it. Here there was less need for someone that could take hundreds years old documents and bring them back to legibility. For someone who loved the written word to a probably unhealthy degree. Blue eyes met his, not challengingly, but with the steady knowledge that what she did could looked be down on as ‘simple’ on who she seemed to be could be dismissed as just a basic southern girl.

But this girl held a fever for knowledge, a vast, if ad hoc, education amassed by reading literally any and everything she could get her hands on, from scientific periodicals to trash romance.

“Ah opened Soul Food after that.”

If Pete was as good as he thought he was, she likely already answered his question-- the passion in those two simple job names held a lifetime of a struggle and work to get to a point where she could find work in a field that was both competitive and low paid.

“Ah thought you were a spy?” Belle’s lips curled slightly challengingly, “What do ya think?” sweet, but there was spice too inside of her, her red hair informed her actions more than Belle would admit.

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#27
“I’m a spy, aye,” he admitted. “Don’t get me wrong, luv, means I can tell just about anything about you that I want, probably to a degree that feels outright creepy at times. But something tells me that there’s a difference between what you’ve done and what it looks like, aye?” He traced his thumb along her wrist, feeling her pulse faintly beneath the light touch. Right now, he supposed, would be as good a time as any to admit it… “When you do what I do, luv, there’s two types of people you get to talk to about anything, your coworkers and your enemies. You’d be surprised which ones are easier to open up to, too. So… you might say that I’m a bit out of practice doing anything with anyone who isn’t some shade of terrible.” He shot a little smirk up at her. “You might be the first one in a while, luv, now that I’m not exactly answering to a higher authority to tell me not to.”
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#28
What she’d done vs what it looked like.

There were a very ways Belle could interpret that sentence, of course her concentration wasn’t helped by his thumb tracing over her sensitive skin. “Ahn not sure what ya mean by that.” She admitted slightly breathless.

One could easily assume her gaze was guileless, vapid even, yet she was smart enough to be wary of dangerous men making noises about how they could only talk honestly to her. No matter how sincere he seemed to be in the moment.

“Is it freeing? Or frightening? Ta no longer have anyone stopping you?”

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#29
Pete couldn’t help grinning at her answer, and couldn’t stop himself from lifting her hand up to his lips, his eyes beyond wicked as he lightly kissed that pulse point that he’d been exploring. “I mean that with some of the things you’ve gone off to do, some people might think you’re holding some secret, that there’s some agenda you’re working at, that the ‘good girl’ bit is just an act. It certainly looks like it from some angles. Me, though?” he shook his head. “No. You’re just what you say you are, but that makes you a little hard to pin down, luv. Not that I’m complaining.”

When she asked what it felt like, he actually had to think about it for a moment. “Feels bloody good to not have to worry about my life being over because I slip up and say the wrong thing to the wrong person now,” he admitted. “Same time, feels like I don’t have to worry because it already is over. Sometimes…” He hesitated, realizing he was getting pitifully close to complaining, and he needed to mind that. “Sometimes it feels like I’m just pretending to be anything really relevant anymore. When you don’t have anyone monitoring your work, how do you really know you’re doing anything, aye?”

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#30
The very thought that someone could look at her and think undercover superhero or somesuch! Artless genuine Laughter bubbled out, “well am’m glad you’re na so silly ta think ah work for another spooky organization or run around in a mask and cape at night.” Honestly the very thought!

Belle conveniently forgot about the fact that she was upping her personal defense skills to include the literal shield of a fallen super hero.

Still grinning Belle bit her lip at the kiss, the delightful tingling was growing to the point where she was fighting the unladylike urge to press her knees together under her concealing skirt.

But this conversation seesawed again and she found her expression growing serious. ‘Already gone’ she couldn’t argue that, he’d already lost his home, world, a huge percentage of the population never even had warning. And no matter what he told himself she couldn’t imagine that didn’t keep him up at night.

There was a dozen things she could say; yet suddenly Belle understood her was a man who lived to serve, a country, a people, an ideal. With the sure knowledge that it could never be perfect but with the absolute determination that HE be the one that did the dirty work and made the hard calls so people like her could have their little dreams and live a life unknowing of the men like him how sacrificed everything.

He’d said it himself; his people were scattered, all he did now was basically freelance work to stockpile favors. There was no ‘greater good’ no goal because there was no higher plan to serve.

Pete was directionless, surviving by doing what he knew best, and that wasn’t enough to fill the need in his soul.

He needed a cause, a leader he could put his loyalty to, knowing that he was working towards something that would last beyond his life.

Or at least that was what Belle rightly or wrongly concluded.

She didn’t have an answer, he clearly would have considered sliding into another universe and taking up a similar life; but that must have ringed hallow or he would have done so-

“What do you want?” Belle sake seriously, turning her hands to grip his lightly. “When you are laid to rest. What do you want your life to have been?”

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#31
“You run with some very… exclusive circles, luv,” Pete said, grinning back at her laughter. “There are usually some pretty steep prerequisites in the super-club, aye? An’ they decided you made the cut anyway. Makes some people suspicious. Hell, made me suspicious for a few minutes, but… nah.” He chuckled a little, trying to not focus south of her neck as she shook with laughter.

She had a lovely laugh, of course, and that was without him taking the chance to leer.

The conversation was a literal roller-coaster, with Pete being able to take emotionally charged answers and then completely dismiss the darker moods that came with them for him. His life had ended at a point a few years ago, yes. That was then, though, and this was now. If his whole ‘thing’ was that there was no end until you were dead, it had to mean that the lousy things that happened weren’t the end, either. “I’ve tried a few things. Thought about settling in a few worlds, but they couldn’t really appreciate my skills. I’m their man here at the moment, it pays the bills, but it’s just a byline in their budget, completely forgettable.” That didn’t really answer her question, of course, did it? “I s’pose that if someone didn’t remember me as a complete tosser they’re better off without, I’ll know I did something right, aye?”

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#32
Belles scarlet lips turned upwards in self deprecating humor- “or maybe everyone needs the mom friend to bring cookies.” On the Quest she’d been more cook/moral keeper upper than really anything useful. The work needed doing and she rather thought she’d done it in a much tastier fashion, but the truth was they would have gotten along just fine with out her.

Pete it seemed at least to hold no delusions about Belle’s status as anything other than what she seemed; which could almost be seen as an insult of she looked at it sideways and let herself be silly enough to go looking.

“Well here’s one that will never think that.” Belle raised her mug to her lips, letting the still hot tea warm her insides.

She wished she had an answer for him, but Belle wasn’t a miracle worker, she was just a normal woman who wanted to comfort the man who’d shown her some of his pain.

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