peyton2_icon.gif smedley_icon.gif

Scene Title Afloat
Synopsis Peyton accepts Smedley's invitation and finds herself on a small yacht in the narrows. The night does not go as planned, and ends with the two staying on the Staten Island side of the water.
Date August 27, 2010

Aboard What Jenny Thought in The Narrows

Summertime, and the livin' in Gravesend Bay is easy for those willing to give tourists after-dark trips on the water to see the skyline at night, lit up like a Christmas tree. Still, there aren't that many boats sporting those strings of soft white lights in the bay tonight. Enough, but not a lot.

One is piloted by Wes Smedley, and it's certainly not the nicest skiff on the dark water. Neither has it been his that long. The craft he regularly uses for his smuggling runs is less luxurious than the small, well-used yacht. At just under twenty feet, the boat is cozy, and the older motor put-put-puts as Smedley pulls it up to the dock.

He's traded in his usual sportcoat worn over a dark tee for a v-neck sweater over the same. The revolvers that are usually slung across his hips are also missing, but that doesn't mean the criminal should be considered unarmed, even if he isn't looking to get into any sort of altercations tonight.

The smile he gives Peyton as she stands on the dock is a sheepish one. "You've done this before, right?" he asks, his gray-blue eyes watching the curve of her right eyebrow. "Sure you have. 'Pologize for the rig. S'best I could come up with."

"I've been on a boat, yes, but don't expect me to know how to be your first mate or anything," Peyton says with a grin. "About all I ever did was lie out and drink, though not much of that here in New York." She's dressed in jeans, boots, and t-shirt, since it's not that cold until you're on the water itself, but carries a green jacket over her arm. Her hair is pulled up in a ponytail, the end tucked back within the elastic so it's a loose loop that will help keep her hair out of her eyes once the salty wind beings to blow.

"The rig?" She raises her brows, and smiles. "It's fine. Thanks for inviting me."

His eyes flit to hers for a moment before he reaches up to offer an assisting hand. "Thanks for comin'." She could have easily said no.

Once they've pulled away from the dock, he nods toward the back of the yacht - where, were it a bit larger and newer, several bikini-clad celebutaunts would gladly sun themselves while sipping mimosas. "There's drinks in a cooler under the deck there. Standard cache." What normal people would use for fish, probably.

Wes, meanwhile, mans the wheel. But once they've moved into what amounts to the middle of the narrows, he drops anchor and sighs, rubbing one calloused hand across his chest as if he were trying to smooth out the planes of it.

"Does the boat patrol come and yell at people for not being on curfew or anything? The … uh, Coast Guard?" she asks, moving to sit in the passenger seat beside the wheel as he steers the vessel, ignoring the drinks for now. She turns to watch the twinkling lights of the city as they draw away from it, the dock lights becoming smaller and smaller until they look like fireflies before disappearing from view altogether.

After a few moments she tugs on the jacket, the moisture from the water making the air much cooler than the 70 degrees or so it is "on land." When he heaves that sigh and rubs his chest, she observes, studying his profile, a perturbed look marring her features. "You okay?" she asks quietly.

The sun is down, yes, but it's only been down for about half an hour. Dark enough with the thick layer of smog that covers the metropolis that the lingering sunlight is dwarfed by the artificial light of civilization.

Wes shakes his head and sighs again, lifting his hand to rub at the back of his neck. "Yeah, I'm okay." It's a lie, and it isn't a very good one by the criminal's standards. "I just… I wanted to…" Well, saying it isn't going to help accomplish it, so Wes shakes his head and reaches for Peyton's hand again. The boxed in area of the boat where the controls are isn't as fun as the deck, as small as it is.

"You're not," she says, frowning. She's usually well mannered enough not to call people on white lies, especially when those white lies are self preserving in nature. God knows she's told plenty of that kind on her own — every day. She interlaces her fingers with his, and steps closer to touch his chest where he rubbed it a moment ago. Her brows quirk in worry.

"You don't have to tell me, though. Just… you know. I seem to unleash everything all over you like some drama llama, but I don't… I don't do anything for you in turn, and that's hardly fair. I'm willing to listen, if you want to talk, but I get it if you don't want to," Peyton says softly, her eyes solemn and dark as she peers into his face.

The muscles in Wes's face tighten, and Peyton can feel the same in his hand. He stares at the top of her left ear and swallows. "Sometime I wish I could," he mutters, letting his eyes slide along Peyton's hairline. "But I can't." Wes squeezes her hand intentionally then, and tightly. Perhaps a little too tightly.

He shakes his head again and starts toward the deck, leading the young woman with him. The idea is to sit - sit where they can feel the night air and see what's left of the skyline. Sit and imagine what the stars look like behind the thick shroud of clouds. Sitting is easy. All it takes is a careful bend of the legs and a strategic positioning of one's weight so as to minimize the effect of the slow rock of the boat on the water.

"Sorry," he mutters, chuckling a little as he sits. "This was supposed to be fun. Supposed to be…refreshing."

Peyton lets him lead her, quiet and not pushing when he chooses to push away the question, when he chooses not to face whatever it is. "It's okay," she murmurs, sitting and leaning her head back on the chair, looking up through the smoggy clouds to what little patches of sky there are visible. "If you ever want to, though, I'm here. And if you don't want to, I'm still here, okay?" She smiles over at him.

"This is nice. It's… quiet. There's not a lot of places in this city you can go and get this quiet."

A smile curls into one corner of Wes's mouth, but it barely touches his eyes. "Good t'know you ain't the city type that can't sleep without a traffic jam outside your window." He leans forward to rest his elbows on his knees, his hand slipping free of Peyton's.

"I ran into this snot-nosed brat the other day. Wanted to…I dunno, pick a fight. Should'uh given 'im one, but good sense got the better'uh me." It may not be the bulk of what's weighing on the man's mind, but it's something. Something to say. Something to talk to her about. "But thinkin' how he'd fare in, hell, even Iowa. S'a little consolation."

Peyton brings her knees up toward her chest, wrapping her arms around them now that she has both hands free. "Yeah? What did he do to pick a fight? And … I've never been to Iowa. What would they have done to him there? Force feed him a buncha corn and hogtie him or something?" she asks with a small smile that likewise doesn't reach her eyes — those stay solemn as she studies his face, clearly worried about him. "You know most people think I'm a snot-nosed brat, right?" she adds teasingly.


But Smedley didn't mean it like that, and when Peyton makes her joke, he tenses again, his eyelids sliding shut. "Put him in his place," he whispers. He coughs, trying to cover for the lack of strength in his voice at the same time he tries to get it back.

"But you're not, Pey." He turns to look at her then, his brow creased with a mixture of annoyance at the memory and something else. Something that remains a mystery, but resembles worry. "This asshole was. Waste 'uh skin thinkin' he'll be a tough guy by throwin' a batch'uh words at someone like me."

Wes sighs, leaning back again until he is lying down on the small deck, his hands over his face. "Fuckin' pathetic," he mutters against his palms.

She stares at him as he seems to try to dissolve or melt into the deck's wood as he sinks lower and lower, both physically and metaphorically, perhaps. She reaches out to touch his wrist, then curls her fingers around it to try to tug it away from his face. "Wes…" she says softly, shaking her head. "Why … why did he upset you so much? People are stupid, they say dumb things. You were right to walk away, let someone else teach him his lesson. It's okay," she says softly, not understanding why the strange encounter with some instigator upset him so much.

Stretching her legs out, she lies down beside him — it's not the most comfortable of "beds," though the rocking of the boat from the waves is relaxing. She strokes that arm, lightly, up and down, leaning her cheek on her other hand to peer at him.

"He shouldn't've," Wes grumbles, turning his head away from Peyton. At twice the brat's age, he shouldn't have even acknowledged the paltry attempt to bait him. He shouldn't have upset Wes so much but he did. He lowers his hand to curl his arm around the young woman, but he keeps his chin aimed away from her.

He takes a deep breath, scowling at the smog. "You're not what they expect. Neither am I, but…I don't handle it like you. There's enough prairie in me that I can't hide it. And I don't want to. It's my roots. It's…it's who I am. But I'm some braindead hayseed anymore'n you're a spoiled brat suckin' off the trust fund teat."

The brunette listens, her brows constantly knit together with worry, especially when it's clear he won't look at her. His words confuse her and she shakes her head. "I don't understand what you're talking about," she murmurs, her voice low. It's not judgmental, nor upset, but simply filled with concern for him and the earnest effort to understand. "You feel stereotyped as a … hayseed?" the word lilts up, as if she's unsure that's the correct term. "Like I do being a socialite diva brat, right?"

She shakes her head again, her hand moving up to touch his jaw lightly. "But I really was a spoiled brat. You're not like the stereotypical 'prairie' guy or anything. You have nothing to hide."

"Right," he snorts. "'Cause I'm not a criminal or anything like that."

Wes rubs at Peyton's shoulder, but the action is quick and rough enough to be as much for his own benefit as it is for hers. "I grew up in South Dakota," he says after a moment. "On a ranch. Got a degree in Animal Studies. So, I am a stereotypical prairie rat."

His free hand rubs at his brow again, then drags down his face. Forcing himself to fit in would make things easier, sure. But it also may prove bad for business. And would be a compromise - a forgetting Wes isn't prepared to handle.

"So am I," Peyton says with a shrug. "A criminal, not a prairie rat," she amends. "And I don't just mean the stuff with drugs and underage drinking. I mean like, breaking into government facilities and stuff like that. So I don't really care if you're a criminal."

She sits up to give him his space, arms wrapping around her long legs again. "All the best people are, you know," she says with a mock-haughty tone, her nose lifting the air as she smirks a little down at him.

"You're a terrorist," Wes blinks, lifting his hand away from his face and pushing himself up onto his elbows. He hadn't expected that. In retrospect, it makes sense. Victim turned activist. Terrorist. He stares at her in disbelief and shock, then chuckles.

"Maybe you and your make-the-world-a-better-place friends are the 'best people.' Me? I'm a thief that's only kept ahead of the law out'uh luck and the simple fact people are more focused on finding people like you than they are people like me."

He smirks, then reaches to pinch Peyton's thigh. "Maybe I should say thanks."

The look on his face is worth telling him a secret she probably shouldn't have. She laughs aloud. "I guess. I don't really see myself as a terrorist," she says, copying his tone and accent when saying the word. "I mean, terrorists are supposed to … what, cause terror, right? Deliberately hurt and kill people in order to make a point. That's the way I see it. What we do isn't about that. It's about rescuing people and saving lives, not taking them. And I'm not really one of the people shooting or anything like that. I'm pretty useless in a fight. But I'm pretty good at reconnaisance."

"I can see that," Wes says with another chuckle. Get it? See? Har har. He rolls over onto his stomach and curls an arm around one of the girl's legs. "So what? You Messiah?" What other groups have been in the news lately? "Is Phoenix still around? Or PARIAH, or whatever the hell they called themselves? Wait, sorry," he adds quickly, sliding a hand up her calf then back down again. "Don't want to jeopardize your terrorist plots. That wouldn't be very professional uh'me."

"No, Messiah are terrorists, they cause trouble just to cause trouble, I think. I'm not officially with anything that has a name." That's true. Endgame isn't "official" in any sort of way, and while she's an ally of Ferry, she's not totally in the know. She stretches out her legs and lets herself slide back down since he's not hiding from her anymore. "I shouldn't have said anything, but like I said, you just kinda … make me babble," she says, grinning a little as she looks up at him.

"That'll make two of us then," Wes muses as Peyton rejoins him on the deck. He pushes a lock of stray hair caught by the breeze back behind her ear, a smile tugging at half of his face. As tempting as it is, he doesn't lean in to kiss her. Instead, he just watches her face, all without focusing directly on her eyes.

"Go to Virginia with me."

The request is put up with an imperative tenor, and Wes's face only holds a glimmer of that smile. "Hillbillies are a little differn't 'n hayseeds, but they're good folk. And there's plenty 'uh sky 'n quiet."

Her eyes drop, veiled behind lashes, and she smiles, a slow-blooming thing, before he makes that query, and her eyes fly up to his. "Virginia…" she echoes, with a tilt of her head as she peers at him out of the corners of her eyes as if he'd lost his head.

"Virginia?" she says again, and gives a shake of her head. "You mean, for like a weekend, or …?"

It's as demure as Wes has ever seen her - the liver-of-steel, terrorist, celebutant - and it's a little unreal. Still, it pulls the smile back onto his face. "For as long as you want," he says in a softer voice. He reaches out to place his hand on her face again, letting his rough palm cup her soft cheek.

"Whenever you want. S'what I do. Move things from place to place." People. "Quiet like."

Her lips part as if to speak, but no words come. When his hand touches her cheek, her brows knit together and her eyes tear up, her face contorting as if in pain and she ducks her head against his chest. She hugs him tightly, then rolls away and gets to her feet, moving to the railing to stare out over the water. The lights of the city's skyline reflect in her dark eyes as they swim with tears.

"I'm not a thing you need to smuggle," she says softly.

It's a barb of a statement, even if Peyton doesn't know it. Wes frowns, his brows furrowing into a defensive mask. She has a point, but it's the principle of the thing that matters sometimes. He gets to his feet and braces himself against the opposite rail to stare at Peyton's back. "I know my work," he says flatly, swallowing down any emotion that may trickle into the words.

"You ain't a thing. But…this day 'n age, people need movin' about just as much as shit does. Can't discriminate. A job's a job." Money's money. "But…I didn't ask for that. I asked for…well, you've got a lot goin' on. And sometimes it helps to shut the door and not think for a bit. Clear your head. Then, when you go back, you can see it clearer." His frown deepens, and Wes looks to the deck. "Just tryin' t'help."

"I do have a lot going on," Peyton says quietly. "Like a business to get off the ground. I can't just take off and leave that on Cardinal's shoulders. I need to try to help get that afloat and working and in the — what is it, in the black? As soon as possible so that things are … you know. Set. Before I go anywhere."

Go anywhere in this case is a euphemism for die.

She brushes her lips across his cheek as he looks away. "Thank you, though. Thank you for caring and trying to help. I just… I don't think running away will solve my problems. Not in this case." Danko is the Hunter for a reason. If he wanted to find her, Peyton has no doubt he would. And that he will. Why it's taking him this long, she isn't sure.

Wes puts a hand on Peyton's shoulder to keep her near, his eyes scanning her face at the level of her eyebrows. He swallows once, and his jaw tightens as if in preparation for a speech of his own, but the moment is cut off by the soft yet pointed beeping of a watch alarm. The sound comes from the control area, and Wes curses under his breath as he moves toward it.

The mechanism that lifts the anchor roars to clunkly life once he's inside, all the while streaming a soft string of creative epithets.

She turns to look in the direction of the sound, his swearing making her lips curve upward in an affectionate smile, though her eyes still seem sad. She brushes aside the morbid discussion and follows him toward the controls, watching him as he works.

"What's the alarm for?" Peyton asks, glancing out at the water surrounding them, looking for any indication of trouble. "Or is it just that time you turn into a pumpkin?" It's a small and feeble attempt at a light-hearted joke, which is difficult when neither of their hearts are all that light at the moment. She sits back on the passenger seat, now that they'll be moving again. So much for the romance and relaxation of floating on the water away from stress of the city.

"Not me," Wes corrects as he gets the boat started and turns it back toward the New York City side of the narrows. "You. Last thing that needs to be splattered all over Us Weekly is the fact that Peyton Whitney was out after curfew on account'uh bein' in the Narrows with one un-registered Wesley Smedley, suspected Staten Island smuggler." His face is tight with concentration as he navigates across the dark blanket of water in the general direction of the docks.

"Peyton Whitney's penchant for bad boys lands her in a nest of thieves," he mock-anchors, his eyebrows doing the dance that many an Entertainment Weekly desk jockey's have perfected. "How low can she go?"

"Like I haven't been out after curfew before," she says irritably. "Just go the other way toward Staten and head for the dark side, and we'll be fine. No one cares about curfew there. And you have a couple of days before you have to register."

Not really expecting him to turn the boat to go in the other direction, she stares out across the water, brows knit together looking a little more like the petulant socialite stereotype so many cast her as in their minds.

The boat dies.

Not because it's not the best boat, but because Wes throws his hand across one of the switches. "You wanna go to Staten?" He stares at Peyton with genuine disbelief at the same time he racks his brain to think of a safe place on the island to take her. Then again, if she's hard-bitten enough to be in league with terrorist, recon or operations, she can't be made of glass and porcelain.

With a breathy chuckle, Wes starts the protesting motor once again and cranks the wheel in the other direction. If the lady wants to go to Staten, to Staten they will go.

"No one wants to go to Staten," Peyton says with a smirk. She thought he was using the curfew as an excuse to be rid of her— which is confusing enough since he was the one who asked her to meet him, but maybe he didn't expect the conversations to go the way they did. She turns to look at him, studying his profile, trying to figure out just why he's here with her, just why she's here with him.

"I'm not in a hurry to go home, that's all," she murmurs honestly. The dog's been fed — he can last the night without her, and she can call to have the doorman let him out. It's one of the perks of living in an expensive building. "We can just stay on the boat a little off shore, can't we? Maybe near the graveyard."

"Yeah," Wes says with a bit of that smile creeping through. He switches off the array of lights that are strung about boat and takes a deep breath. "Yeah, that sounds like a plan."

There's a lot to be read on Wes's face, even in the dark. Focus on the task at hand. Disappointment. Worry. Guilt. And it's all there, as plain as the nose on his face. After all, what's the point of wearing a mask when you're in the dark?

Once he's dropped anchor again, Wes shows Peyton to the small cabin beneath the deck. It's modest, but it's at least got a door and a bed. But after midnight, the man extracts himself, trying to make as little noise as possible as he collects a rifle from one of the storage compartments and goes back above deck. The boat graveyard may be a place safe from the authorities, but only because Staten Island's own brand of law holds sway.

So Wes will spend the night cuddling a SKS rather than a socialite, his eyes peeled and wary rather than closed and content.

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