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22 January 2009 @ 09:59 am
[fanfic] What Love Is (Maphne, PG)  
Title: What Love Is
Author: tiptoe39
Pairing: Matt/Daphne
Rating: PG
Summary: My fanwank explanation of how Daphne and Matt felt comfortable saying the Ell Word after 24 hours or so. Written a month or two back, reposted now because I need to believe in this couple when new eps start up again.
Incredible amounts of thanks to boudecia7 for beta-age and fine-tuning my language.

Daphne Millbrook does everything fast.

That’s not something that began with her power manifesting; it’s been true ever since she was a little girl. She was always the first one done with her test paper. The music teacher kept telling her not to rush when she played the piano. And nobody quite understood how she got through as many books as she did.

She’s the same with people. It takes too long to get to know someone, to build up trust and friendship. Half the time it’s illusory anyway, so she blows through people the way she blows through traffic, too fast to catch and too clever to be crushed. There have been men, too, and they have never been anything but a fun ride ending in a fiery car crash. When it’s over, Daphne gets up and walks away from the wreckage. She doesn’t even remember their names, if she knew them to begin with.

She wouldn’t know how to give her heart away even if she wanted to. And she doesn’t. It’s a messy thing, love, like being stuck in molasses. And that’s about the worst fate she can imagine.

Daphne Millbrook does everything fast, except fall in love.

She’s in Matt Parkman’s apartment with a gun on him. She sees the gun shaking in front of her and she knows it’s because she’s shaking all over. He puts his hands up, says “Shoot me,” looks at her with eyes devoid of fear. She can only think that he’s doing something to her mind, putting his fear into her, because she’s the one with the gun and she’s petrified.

But she watched him for a little bit in that airport, sneaking around behind fast-food kiosks and behind bags. He was fun to watch. He sat patiently, big smile on his face, like somebody’s faithful dog. Little kids came by and asked to pet his turtle, and he indulged them, smiling and joking with children and parents as it went. He was simple, harmless, cute.

Except he wasn’t. Harmless, that is. Or simple. Because he looked at her last night the way he was looking at her now, not just with affection but also devotion. It was an emotion she’d never experienced, giving or receiving. What was it to be devoted to someone?

She thinks it must be the ability to turn around and wait to get shot, because that’s what he’s doing.

Daphne drops the gun.

He brings her into another room and is patiently explaining his plan, but Daphne is a magpie, constantly attracted to the brightest and shiniest trinket in the room, and she tunes him out. She’s moving slowly from wall to wall, reading the titles of the books on the shelf, looking at the wind chime hanging outside the window. And then she sees primary colors and sparkles.

“You have a kid?” she says.

Matt breaks out of whatever self-induced trance he was in and blinks. “How’d you know?”

She holds up the little plastic container, the one that says Maybelline and contains glittery lip gloss. “You don’t seem like the type to wear this.”

He blushes. “Oh. Yeah, she’s not… she’s not my kid, not really, but she was here for a while. I was trying to get in contact with her doctor when you, uh…” He holds out his fingers like a gun and pretends to recoil as a bullet bursts from the imaginary barrel.

“Is she sick?”

“No. She’s great. Mohinder and I…”

“Mohinder Suresh?”

“Yeah, how’d you…”

She shrugs, but her stomach turns. “He was on my list to recruit. Two names after you.”

“Ah.” He laughs. “You’re wasting your time. Mohinder’s… well, he’s a hopeless good guy, kind of like me.”

She feels sick and sour. Should she tell him what she saw in that lab? Somehow she knows it will only upset him, and Daphne finds herself strangely unwilling to make him upset. What the hell is that about?

But then Knox is at the door and her heart’s pounding in time with his knocks, and Matt goes into another self-induced trance, a real one this time, closing his eyes and concentrating. Through her fear Daphne watches him closely. A big body, like Flint’s, with shoulders wide enough to use as a shield. She could hide behind him and be forever safe.

And he’d let her.

That’s devotion, she supposes.

He’s going on about Primatech or something like that but she’s still shaking. She knows what she has to do and it’s becoming harder and harder by the minute. If only she had a way out. If only she’d never fallen into this mess. If only he didn’t have dimples when he smiles.

“We should go,” he says. He’s all business now, implacable steel.

It makes her chest hurt a little. “Not yet.”


Daphne sits on the couch. “I want to see pictures of your little girl.”

A slow, slow smile spreads across his face, and she feels it like flame in her gut. Is this what it’s like to be attracted to someone? All of a sudden she’s shifting back and forth in her seat, trying to quell the blaze. This was a big, big mistake. She would never have done this if she knew it would feel this good.

He comes to sit next to her and opens an album across his knees. She leans in and feels the encompassing warmth of him, the solidness of his body. She'd touched his face, felt the stubble and the smoothness, and she wonders now how it would feel to touch the rest of him. She’s touched men before, but she’s never taken the time to feel them. It might, just might, be different with him.

He slides a strong finger over the page and points to a red-haired girl with hollow eyes. “She looks sad,” Daphne hears herself say, although the girl is smiling.

His face turns to hers. “How can you tell?”

Don’t turn your head, don’t, don’t, don’t. “I don’t know, there’s something about her that seems… like she’s not a normal girl.” Daphne takes a deep breath. “She kind of reminds me… of myself.”

Oh, God, she turned her head.

He’s everywhere now, the concern in his eyes, the careless slack of his mouth. She can feel his closeness in her own face, like radiating heat, and blood rushes to her cheeks. And then oh God his hand is in her hair, moving slowly back, back, a smooth, soothing motion that fades to nothing again. “Were you unhappy?” he says. She watches the motion of his lips helplessly. “As a child?”

Daphne, the girl who’s faster than anything on earth, very, very slowly shakes her head. “I don’t want to talk about that,” she says. “Tell me more about your daughter.”

Too late. He has hands on her shoulders again. “I would make you happy,” he says seriously. “I would do everything I could to make you happy.”

Her heart makes a sound like a wail in her chest. Her eyelids are sliding closed. He’s moving toward her.

Oh, God.

She leaps to her feet. “I’ve, uh, got to visit the little girls’ room,” she says, knocking her knees together. “I’ll be right back, OK?”

Without waiting for an answer, she’s zooming to the other room and dialing a number on her cell phone. She needs the reminder.

He’s putting the album on a table when she returns to the room and she nestles into his arm when he extends it. They grin at each other like keepers of a shared secret. His smile is flipping her heart upside-down and back again. She manages to keep herself in his embrace for maybe ten seconds before the heat becomes too much and she backs off.

“What’s wrong?” His face looks older without the smile. Grayer.

“You’re a nice guy,” she says hurriedly, wringing her hands, “and I like you, Matt, I really do, but I don’t know about this whole future thing. How am I supposed to believe it? You don’t even know me, not really.”

“You’re wrong.”

The voice is like a drumbeat, and she falls still. His hand is rising through the air toward her face and she’s unable to stop it from making contact. Warmth runs through her. “I saw the future,” he said. “I was there, I was me in the future, and I knew everything about you. and even when I came back to the present I still know. Everything.”

“Everything?” She’s scared all of a sudden.

“Don’t worry about that.” He shrugs it off. “The point is, Daphne…” His hand falls to her wrist, and he takes her hand in both of his. It’s a point of heat in a world of light. She finds her fingers curling around his big thumb. “In that future, I’d loved you for years. I can’t give that feeling up now. You made me so happy. And I know. I know I can make you happy.”

“One hour,” she says. She hears her own voice, chalky and scared.


She tries to put some hardness into her voice. “We can put off going to Primatech for one hour, right?” He nods. “I’ll give you one hour. Prove it.”

“Prove what?”

Daphne tucks her chin into her shoulders and looks up at him, mustering all the coyness she has to offer. “That you can make me happy. “

Why should this fluster him so much? He’s asking her for forever; she only wants an hour.

But he’s running around, pulling curtains down, adjusting the lamplight, putting a CD in a dust-covered stereo. His version of high-speed. He trips over his own feet as he lifts a stack of old magazines off the coffee table. As a last touch, he apologizes profusely to the turtle– “It’s nothing personal, but I don’t really think I need a chaperone anymore. You understand–” before scooting his cage into the corner, behind the table and out of sight.

And then he’s there, winded, his cheeks red and breaths coming short, but holding out his hand like a gentleman and inviting her to sit. She does, keeping her eyes fixed on him. He crouches near the sofa and rocks a little bit back and forth on his toes. “So, um. Let’s see.” He clears his throat and coughs a little. “Excuse me. So I’ll start from the beginning, OK?”

He’s silent then and it takes her a moment to realize he’s waiting for her to say yes. She nods. Since when did anyone ever ask her permission to do anything?

“So. My name is Matt Parkman. I’m a cop, or at least I hope I’m still a cop because I’ve had some insane weeks recently and I think the department might have canned me by now.” He gives a low, bitter chuckle. “I used to live in L.A., and I’ve been married once, but there was an affair, and then this whole mind-reading thing…” Matt rolls his eyes and Daphne knows the intention behind it. You get the idea.

“Um, things you should know about me. Besides that I read minds, of course.” It’s an afterthought, and that amuses her more than it should. “I once held a family hostage in their own house.” She gasps. “To my credit, I was trying to keep my friends from killing one of them, or himself, for that matter. Anyway, it’s a long story and I only have an hour, so… Moving on. I do the dishes well. I sort laundry well. But I can’t cook very well and I can’t read very well. When you get pregnant I’ll go out any time of night to get you what you’re craving. You’ll have to stop stealing, though. It’s just a reputation thing. If your name ends up on the books and I want to keep being a cop…”


He looks up, jarred.

She scoots over on the couch. “Sit down.”

She tells herself it just looks so painful to be hunched over like that. But really, she misses the feel of his warmth next to her. She’s kind of cold all of a sudden, and what’s more, she thinks he looks cold, too.

He sits, and although he doesn’t touch her, her skin is already reacting. “The point is,” he says, with eyebrows raised and a pout lingering around his lower lip, “it’s going to take more than an hour. Or even a day. I can’t make you fall in love with me under a time limit. That’s not how it works.”

“Then why all this?” She gestures around at the dimmed lights, the CD player’s merry spins as gentle music tiptoes through the room. “What do you think you can do now?”

“I hope– can I–” He starts and stops, stares at her hands, his own fingers twitching as he reaches out and pulls back. Impatient, she reaches out and twines her fingers with his. Immediately she’s in that red-hot haze again. “I hope,” he says, unfazed by the conflagration that’s turning her skin bright pink, “I hope I can convince you I’m at least worth a shot. You don’t even have to touch me yet,” he goes on, looking meaningfully at the hand that trembles even as it holds onto his. “You don’t have to kiss me, you don’t have to love me. You just have to believe there’s a possibility, and that’s enough for me right now.”

Daphne doesn’t know what she’s doing, but it feels a whole lot like melting. Like her outsides have been peeled away and she’s spilling out liquid and warm across the floor. She’s also floating, she thinks, because she’s off her butt and on her knees. Floating and melting and finally falling, forward, toward him.

“It’s not enough for me,” she says in a throaty voice.

The pleased spark in his eyes is all she sees before he’s cupping her chin in both hands and kissing her.

She’s never been kissed like this before. It’s tentative and joyful, and she can feel his lips turning upward near hers. He’s tasting her lips, getting to know the feel of them, and with every breath she fills up a little with the smell and taste of him. Her heart is slamming itself into fits in her chest. She’s overwhelmed, turned on and inside-out. She’s going to suffocate. His hands are so warm.

“Oh, my God,” she says when she can move her mouth again.

He says nothing. He’s just smiling, and those damn dimples are out again.

She grabs him by the collar and kisses him again. She’ll kiss the silence right out of him if she has to. She’s been sideswiped, and she needs to regain the upper hand.

But then he opens his mouth to hers and she’s breathless and aroused again. Oh, my God, she thinks. Is this what love is?

He pulls away then. “Don’t you know?” he asks, frowning a little in concern.

“Know what?”

His fingers are tangling in a strand of her hair. “What love is.”

Daphne takes in a breath and holds it a moment. “S-should I?” Her voice shakes.

He gives a little laugh. “Let’s dance,” he says, and stands up.

She follows him, less because she wants to than because she needs to; she’s become blindly addicted to something in his proximity, and the thought of turning away is turning her stomach. And she needs to know if this will all fade away just as quickly as it’s come over her. So many things do, after all; people meet, feel, touch, then walk away. She’s seen it. With her, it’s even worse. It’s hard to find anything permanent when you’re always speeding off somewhere.

Still, the music is gentle, and when he sets up a solid pace between them she falls into his orbit naturally. His hands put slight pressure on her waist; his feet step one by one in a direction, and she steps in turn. It’s elementary slow dancing, nothing fancy. He’s simple in that way. He doesn’t try to dazzle or romance her, he just holds her, his chin digging a little into the top of her head. She wonders if his eyes are open or closed. Whether he’s smiling.

“I’m scared,” she says.

“I can tell.”

“Because you’re reading my mind?”

“Because I can feel you shaking,” he says, and his hands grip her tighter. “It’s OK,” he goes on. “I’m not going to hurt you. I would never let anybody hurt you.”

“How are you going to do that? How can you protect me from anything? I’m too much for you, Matt. I know I am. You could never…” It’s then that she realizes how sharp her tone is. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what I…”

“You’re right.” He laughs. “You’re far too much for me. You’re the most aggravating, fascinating, amazing woman I’ve ever met and I’m going to have to stay on my toes if I’m going to keep you around. But I can’t wait. I can’t wait.”

He leans down now, looks her in the eye. “When my wife and I split up I thought it was the end. I’ve tried so hard to just forget about it all and concentrate on work, concentrate on all the drama and the danger that goes with being… the way we are… but it’s lonely. I’m lonely. And no matter what I do, I’ve been sort of dead inside.”

She can see that deadness now. It’s like a dark sphere hanging in the back of his eyes. She stares at the shadows beneath his chin and on the lines that trail faint as dust across his forehead. She’s never looked at anyone this closely before. She wants to reach up and smooth those lines away. They don’t belong on a man this good. It’s not fair.

“You make me feel alive, Daphne,” he says, and a smile begins to light his eyes, lifting the shadows away bit by bit. Daphne is startled by how relieved she is. “You’re a hell of a shot in the arm and you’re just what I need. I need to start sharing my life again. Divorce is hell, you know? You leave it thinking, how could I be so stupid as to try to trust someone? But then you don’t trust anyone, and life starts flying past you, and you think, God, how did I end up here?”

Her hands leave his shoulder. She covers her mouth. The music fades out.

He’s staring at her, she knows, but she can barely tell through the tears that are suddenly welling up and trickling down across her cheek and onto his cupped hands. She’s just heard her own story read back to her. Her circumstances are different, surely, but the effect is the same. The loneliness is the same.

Does he know what he’s just done? And does he know how freeing it is to understand that someone else on this planet feels the same way?

Another instant and she’s pressed into his chest with warm hands stroking her hair and shoulders. “It’s OK,” he says softly, kissing the top of her head. “It’s OK.”

She wants to believe him so badly it hurts. And she wants this to be love. Because if it isn’t, she doesn’t ever want to fall in love; whatever this is, it’s the most wonderful feeling in the world.

She struggles to put a word to it, and the only word she can think of is “home.”

A half-hour later they go to Primatech, and in the caverns of a woman’s mind, fighting against an evil vision of herself, she is able to say it. And afterward he will tease her about it, and she’ll feel like a big awkward kid, but never once will she ever doubt it.

Because Daphne Millbrook does everything fast, including fall in love.

That’s OK, because she does it right.

Tags: ,
speccygeekgrrl on January 22nd, 2009 06:12 pm (UTC)
Awww! I got kind of wishy-washy and Matt and Daphne as they went on, but this is just made of sweetness. He's too much of a big teddy bear to keep out of your heart... ♥
Tiptoe39: maphnetiptoe39 on January 22nd, 2009 07:58 pm (UTC)
i know i know... God, I want them to work so badly and i really wish they would stop being mediocre. Sigh.
I have a PhD in derrière millinery.: going going gone - daphnecruiscin_lan on January 22nd, 2009 07:09 pm (UTC)
Wait for it... wait for it...


This testing of cruiscin_lan's emergency squee-casting system brought to you by tiptoe39's fic.
Tiptoe39: pridetiptoe39 on January 22nd, 2009 07:59 pm (UTC)
yay~~~ in the event of a real squee, I fear what would happen. :D

incidentally, how'd you find this? I didn't publicize it at all yet. not that i'm complaining mind you! happy to have you here :)
I have a PhD in derrière millinery.: I C WAT U DID THAR - daphnecruiscin_lan on January 22nd, 2009 08:27 pm (UTC)
The heroes_exchange flist. I got lost looking for my own flist but was ultimately distracted when I saw "Matt/Daphne."
Tiptoe39: cmere youtiptoe39 on January 22nd, 2009 08:52 pm (UTC)
well it's nice to meet you! :D
I have a PhD in derrière millinery.cruiscin_lan on January 22nd, 2009 08:56 pm (UTC)
Of course it's nice to meet me; I'm an awesome person to know.

I mean, it's nice to meet you too! And I'm glad to have found some Matt/Daphne fic that actually fills all the holes the show's left open. They've been horribly underutilized, in my opinion.
Tiptoe39tiptoe39 on January 22nd, 2009 10:00 pm (UTC)
likewise, and i'm totally stealing your porntitles meme! hee!
I have a PhD in derrière millinery.cruiscin_lan on January 22nd, 2009 10:06 pm (UTC)
Chyeah beans! It's serious awesome funtimes.

Methinks I doth make up too many words.
saavikam77: Heroes Eclipsesaavikam77 on January 22nd, 2009 07:22 pm (UTC)
Oh, man, this was fantastic! I love your take on how it might have gone for them - it sure would have worked better than what we got on the show.

Who knows, you might manage to convert me yet! ^_~
Tiptoe39: matttiptoe39 on January 22nd, 2009 08:01 pm (UTC)
Ehhh, don't worry about conversion or lack thereof. If anyone thinks Mattmo isn't still my absolutely OTP they are sorely mistaken~~

I think it was boudecia7 who said that what frustrated about the Matt-Daphne hookup was what they didn't show us about the two of them growing together and making a connection. This is me filling in holes. (Which is usually what slash does. But I digress. :D)
i_sudokui_sudoku on January 29th, 2009 05:43 am (UTC)
It's so fluffy and heart warming. That at least explains why the sudden outburst of L word by Daphne.

In case, you asked, I saw this on your journal when I looked for any new comments to the "Turning Hate into Love". I actually wanted to write about "Why Matt acted like he didn't know Mo" and "called him Suresh" in the same scene as what you wrote but different scenarios of course. I just don't have the time to do it yet.
Tiptoe39: cmere youtiptoe39 on January 29th, 2009 12:48 pm (UTC)
Hey, thanks for the feedback. And... just write it! It doesn't have to be on the meme. If you have ficbunny, write fic. I'm glad you got an inspiration from it! :)
i_sudokui_sudoku on January 29th, 2009 10:31 pm (UTC)
Actually I already got the idea before, just haven't started writing it ;p
It keeps gnawing at my mind subconsciously. As you said, there should be more going on in between Knox's visit and their going to Primatech.
Apostle of the Church of Roryologystars_fell on March 28th, 2009 04:21 pm (UTC)
brb, going off to cry like a little bitch for probably the millionth time since last Monday...
Tiptoe39: maphnetiptoe39 on March 28th, 2009 04:45 pm (UTC)
::snuggles:: there there. <3