A Banner Year


elisabeth_icon.gif peyton2_icon.gif

Scene Title A Banner Year
Synopsis As the one-year anniversary of horrible events come to pass, Liz and Peyton bond a little in their misery and self loathing.
Date August 20, 2010

Redbird Security

As foggyheaded as Peyton's been this morning, thanks to much too much alcohol the night before, there was a moment of clarity that had taken her by surprise. Last week, she had observed in her small ways the anniversary of her kidnapping at the hands of Humanis First. While doing some mindless filing this morning, it occurred to her that it was not very long after her escape from the shipping containers that she was asked to try to find Liz — and failed. And after that, Felix. August was not a good month for anyone, it seems, except perhaps HF and Danko.

The revelation came, no doubt, because Danko is flitting through her mind, his sunken gaze leering at her in the reflections of windows and from every shadow she passes.

Selfish. She had said she was selfish to Wes last night, and now that she realizes Liz is probably going through worse than she has this past week, she seeks her out. Peyton's footfalls descend the stairs to the basement and the shooting range set up down there, her hands around a fresh cup of coffee mixed the way that Liz likes to drink it.

The blonde ex-cop has spent whatever spare time she can manage lately in between FRONTLINE runs — and there are plenty of them out on Staten Island. She's been damn busy and looks a hint on the worn out side right now — working on finishing the basement of Redbird. She and Jaiden got the last of the soundproofing walls and the firing line's counter finished the other day. Right now Elisabeth is standing on that firing line, a 9mm pistol in her hands as she plinks away at a target at the far end of the first lane.

She's been at it a while. There is a pile of targets next to her, each shredded to the point of almost non-recognition. The man-shaped silhouette at the end of her lane right now has at least two clips already in it and she's sliding another into the handgrip of the pistol. A pull of the slide to clear the bore, and the gun comes back up to fire another series of gunshots at the target. And there's not a sound to be heard — not even the muffled cracks that should be audible from this side of the bulletproof safety wall. There are at least four used paper targets sitting on the floor at her feet — with at least as many holes as the current one already has. That means at she's been through a shit-ton of bullets today.

Peyton watches for a moment, blinking in anticipation of the percussive blasts that never actually come to her ears, then shaking her head and chuckling at the involuntary reaction as she moves closer to stand at Liz's side. She's certain that Liz heard her come down the steps and that she heard the soft laugh, or else she'd be more careful about getting so close to a woman with a gun in her hand.

"Let me guess," the brunette says, a sympathetic smile curving her lips as she holds up the coffee cup to show Liz, then sets it down on the little shelf for holding ammunition and the like, for Liz to grab once she's one. "That's Danko Number Five?"
WATCH> Ellis has connected.

Indeed, she heard Peyton's approach. But she doesn't stop firing until the clip in her weapon is empty, setting the weapon on the counter in front of her before turning to look at the younger woman. Elisabeth's blue eyes are cool and shuttered as she eyes the brunette. "Danko? No," she says quietly as she picks up the coffee cup. "All Danko did was kill me." Her tone is devoid of inflection, as if she were speaking of the weather. But the impact of the words is perhaps more striking for the austerity.

There's a little shiver that runs through Peyton at Liz's blunt words. The younger of the two is so afraid of that impending doom that she feels she can't evade, and here Liz has gone through it once before. "Ah. I thought maybe it was on your mind this week. I … I realized that it's been a year. For me, last week, and," her dark eyes drop, lashes fanning her cheek as she reaches up to tuck a long lock of dark hair behind one ear, "it was so much worse for you. I can't even begin to guess what it's like for you. Unless… you weren't thinking about it at all and…" Her eyes come back up, wide, and her cheeks color. "And I just went and brought it up… Oh, God."

Sometimes, she is awfully awkward for having been a social butterfly.
Elisabeth takes a long swallow of the coffee in the cup, her blue eyes flickering toward the target down the lane from her. When she looks back at Peyton, she says quietly, "I'd have to be a lot crazier if I weren't thinking about it constantly right now." Something in her demeanor is… vulnerable. As if she can't quite box it all up and put it in the dark corners to forget about it. "A lot of people died because I couldn't keep my mouth shut. Did you know that?"

Peyton's brows dip toward one another in an empathetic frown, and she reaches to touch Liz's arm lightly, uncertainly, then dropping it again. "Not your fault. Not even close to being your fault," she whispers, tears springing to her bloodshot eyes as she stares at Liz. "Please don't beat yourself up for that. And you've helped so many more than that, I know you have."

She drops her gaze again and lifts the cup of coffee brought down for herself to her lips, taking a sip. "I … just wanted to let you know that … you know. I understand. Not to the full degree, I'm sure. I don't think many could. Felix, of course. But if you needed anyone to talk to…" She stammers a little, and just trails off in the end.

How many does she have to help to feel that the stain on her own soul for giving up the safe house — and yes, Teo told her to do it. Told her which one to give, even! But still… How do you weigh the number of lives in the balance? Elisabeth's jaw clenches and she looks at Peyton with an expression carefully controlled into neutrality. "I know, Peyton. And I appreciate the offer. Honestly…. I don't know what to say."

Elisabeth nibbles on the corner of her lip and says softly, "Felix understands and is a comfort. Richard…. saw the aftermath. He's walked me through …. a lot of bad shit." There's a but in there. Peyton can probably work out what it is, though Liz says it aloud too. "I just… don't want to be a burden on anyone over something that happened a year ago. Not when we've got so much current shit on our plates."

There's a tip of her head and Peyton's eyes come back up again. "I understand," she says softly. Not being a burden is something she's striving for herself, though she's now become one to Wes Smedley of all people. Inadvertently. "I guess that's why I'm offering. If you need it. You don't have to say anything, though. Just… that it's okay if you need to let down the facade."

Her eyes drop to her coffee cup, before bringing it to her lips to sip again. "And it's okay not to. Because I know… if you let it slip, it's hard to put it back." She shrugs. "Anyway, I'm sorry that I didn't think about it earlier. It dawned on me today, kinda out of the blue, and I wanted to check on you."

Heh. "I'm hoping it doesn't fucking occur to Richard either," Elisabeth admits softly. Though she doubts that's the case. "He doesn't need to wonder if I'm going to crack on top of everything else." She shoves her free hand through her hair and sighs heavily. "I'll hold it together, Peyton. It might be a rough week, though." She looks down at her coffee cup, admitting softly, "It's been … a banner year for me. Kidnapped, tortured, killed… resuscitated. Felix killed and resurrected. Richard killed and resurrected. I know there are others in that list, but quite honestly? It's those two that ….." She trails off, shrugging.

"Yeah," Peyton says softly. "Well, I won't tell him, but I'd guess he knows. Unless he hasn't figured out how to use his cell phone for a calendar yet." There's a wry grin at that. "It's been a hell of a year." Everything in her life has changed in the past year. Friends, family, Evolved power. She stares at the target; her eyes are unfocused but not dilated. She's merely a million miles away. After a few seconds, she shakes her head, literally shaking herself out of the thoughts she was sinking under.

Impulsively, she suddenly moves toward Liz to hug her with one hand, the other carefully holding the coffee to the side so as not to spill. "Thanks for taking me in, by the way. I mean metaphorically. Endgame, and all. I don't even know where I'd be," she murmurs, eyes down again, before she extricates herself and begins to move away, back toward the stairs.

There's a blink and Elisabeth is startled by the hug, but she tightens her arm around Peyton when the younger girl says thank you. "No," she replies quietly. "Thank you." She grins slightly as Peyton pulls away and admits, "I wasn't sure about you when all this started. But you've grown up a lot, Peyton. In case we forget to say so very often? I admire the person you've become…. the socialite didn't impress me much, but the woman I work with? Impresses me a lot."

Peyton's cheeks color a touch and her eyes threaten to spill over again. She smiles. "I was a horrible person for most my life, you know? But I wasn't evil. Just … spoiled and immature. It took seeing someone being evil to me personally to get me to care about others," she murmurs, her low voice somber. "Don't admire me for that, but it's nice to know that I'm not the same person I used to be. It means a lot." She nods back to the targets. "I'll let you get back to killing whoever that is."

"His name was Doug. Or … at least, that's what he went by," Elisabeth says softly. "And when Cat and Phoenix captured him…. I couldn't put a bullet in him. She had to do it for me. I panicked."

There is a wealth of self-loathing in that statement.

"That was one of the Humanis First assholes, right?" Peyton says at her place on the stairs, a little shiver running through her at the name. "Don't hate yourself for not killing him, Liz. It just means you actually value life, even a scumbag like his. It makes you better than he is, and it doesn't make you weak or anything else. Because you're not. You… you and Cardinal? You're the strongest people I know. I only hope that you've rubbed off on me a tiny bit, so I can be as strong as you someday."

Her voice cracks on the someday — someday will be too late. She turns and heads up the stairs, the ascending footfalls much faster than the descending ones just moments before.

Elisabeth might have said more. There's a vague snort of derision, perhaps, at the idea that we're the strongest people Peyton knows. Has the girl not realized yet that Liz is a shaking mass of terror half the time? sigh Maybe the illusion is good. Liz doesn't really know. She does know, however, that she needs to get the hell out of here. Maybe go back to the apartment. Maybe get the hell out of town for a couple of days. Who knows?

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