As The Leaves Turn


peyton2_icon.gif smedley_icon.gif

Scene Title As The Leaves Turn
Synopsis …so does the world. Peyton and Smedley discuss the past and what may be her last actions on this earth while taking a Sunday afternoon walk.
Date October 17, 2010

Upper West Side

The Fall day is cool, crisp and clear; the foliage on the trees glows with the burnt colors of autumn, russets and oranges and golds. A perfect day for a walk through the park and window shopping with coffee cups in hand. It's days like this that the future doesn't seem so bleak; that one can forget that half the city is a burnt crater; that in just three weeks' time, the city might very well be burning anew, that hundreds or thousands of lives might be lost to raids and riots.

The visions of June are never far from Peyton Whitney's mind, though they seem to be on the proverbial back burner today. One hand curls around a blue leash attached to Von's collar, another holds her cinnamon dolce latte from Starbucks. She's dressed for the season in a red swing coat and knee-high brown boots, her hair held back by a headband — she could be from another time, perhaps the '60s, except that she's stopped by a window displaying plasma televisions playing for the moment a bit of a newscast, the words "evolved" on the digital headline before the show cuts to a commercial.

Despite the weather, Carson pants as he stays at Wes's side, the leash slack between his collar and the man's hand. But they couldn't very well take Von out to the park and not the older dog. His own coffee finished and discard a block ago, the thumb of Wes's free hand is tucked through a loop of his jeans. But when Peyton stops to watch the screen, he pulls it free, his brown leather jacket shifting slightly as he lifts his hand to her waist. With a grin, he leans in to kiss her temple and whisper in her ear.

"Prob'ly just a promo. Whatever it is, it'll either be on later or they'll run it more'n once," he assures her before he gathers a bit of her coat in his grip and gives her a gentle tug away from the window. "'Sides," he adds, leaning away. "I think your set's bigger'n that one."

Peyton nods, sidestepping for a moment to toss her coffee cup in the trash can so she can take his arm with her free hand. "It just caught my eye," she says with a shrug. "I never used to care, you know? Before I was Evolved. I was really self centered. If I wasn't, why did it matter? No one I hung out with was, so it didn't affect me."

She shakes her head and gives a soft snort. "I mean, how egotistical. Aside from the fact that compassionate people compare about other people… Both of my birth parents were, you know? But I didn't know that — so I didn't care. And yet all this affects… affected… them." It's hard to speak of them in the plural and know which tense to use. Faye is alive. Albert is not. Of four parents, she only has one living.

She shrugs and continues to walk. "Well. At least you meant me after, not when I was a spoiled brat. Of course, back then… I wouldn't have met you, I guess."

"Would that be such a shame?" Wes asks, turning his head to look at her as best he can without risking running into Sunday pedestrian traffic - even if the two of them with dogs in tow are cutting a pretty healthy swath out of the relatively quiet sidewalk. The humor in his tone is evident, but there's just a pinch of something else in his voice.

"I don't know if I would'uh wanted t'know you then," he muses, looking away from her in favor of the street. The hand holding Carson's leash uses that slack to cover Peyton's on his arm for a moment, giving her fingers a slight squeeze. "Then again, I don't think your parents'd take to kindly t'me hangin' around you, spoiled or not."

The clairvoyant shakes her head. "It wasn't that long ago, Wes. I only manifested a year ago. My parents died four years ago. But no, you wouldn't have wanted to know me. I wasn't a good person. You … you should have seen your face, the day Amadeus was in my apartment with the weed."

She chuckles, but it's humorless. "I did so much worse before. Never enough to get addicted to anything, but pretty bad. Mostly by luck, I think, really. It sure wasn't by any sort of planning on my part." She squeezes his arm. "And you know, you would have been the best of anyone I dated then. If you call anything I did dating."

The proverbial spring in Wes's step loses it's bounce when Peyton corrects him, and even more so when she brings up Amadeus. The muscles in his arm tighten underneath her hand, his fingers curling into a fist at his abdomen. But insulting boys like Amadeus Deckard and the drooling, blinged-out masses of those like him that haunt his imagination when it comes to Peyton's past would only be a sideways insult to her.

"I ain't never apologized to you for that day," he mutters, half under his breath. He doesn't really want to apologize, but it would seem like the polite thing to do. Maybe even the expected thing. "One'uh my sisters had…has asthma." You don't really get rid of it, after all. "So things y'light up never really had an appeal t'me. Pa would'uh tanned my hide if he'd'uh caught me with s'much as a cig. And chew is just gross." He shudders, grimacing at memories of fellow cowhands spitting into old soda bottles kept by their bed, and the risk of knocking one over and spilling the foul contents.

She frowns at the tension that suddenly comes over him, and she tightens her grip for a moment, shaking her head vehemently at his apology. "You don't have to explain. It was a stupid thing to do, especially since I don't … I know things like that mess up my power, and doing it with someone I've only met like three times… it was dumb. You're right, and I'm glad you came along when you did. I don't know if … I don't know if I would have come out of it so soon, if you weren't there to … what's the word, like… with electricity?" Her nose wrinkles, as she can't get the word that's ont he tip of her tongue.

She smirks, then and stands on tip toe to kiss his cheek. "So it's not that it was a drug, but because it was smoking? That's kind of cute." She begins to walk once more. "I'm sorry about your sister."

Wes studied husbandry in school - not engineering. But he does squint as she tries to think of the word, mulling over possible terms in his own head. So his brow is wrinkled when Peyton stops their progress to kiss him, the contact smoothing his skin and replacing his thoughtful frown with a gentle smile. When they start down the sidewalk again, he slips his arm out of her grip to wrap it around her shoulders, giving her upper arm a tight squeeze even as he turns his head to kiss her temple.

"Conductor?" he offers, then shakes his head. "Don't be. Lucy was a bitch. I mean, I love'r like family, but she never did me much in the way'uh kindness. Be glad you don't have siblings. Little sisters can be devils."

"I have a brother," she says quietly. "Haven't met him yet. Faye's son. And I guess I had some by Winslow, but they're gone. Dead." Her voice and eyes take on a far-off quality as it does when she talks of things she doesn't want to think about. "Grounded!" she says suddenly, eyes sparkling and mouth perking back into a smile as she comes across the word she means. "You … you sort of grounded me, but that sounds wrong, like a parent punishing a kid. I mean it more like what you do to avoid a shock."

He snaps his fingers in response to Peyton's triumphant answer, and he chuckles a little. The humor is strained though - he is old enough to be her father, and it's a fact he tries to ignore most of the time. "That's what I'm here for," he offers with a shrug that pulls her a little closer to him as they walk. "To prevent and put out fires." Electric ones, presumably.

"Brothers ain't so bad," he adds with a haughty sort of sniff. "I mean, speakin' on behalf'uh brothers." Since he can't comment on the whole having a brother thing. "I mean, we do our best. We're okay."

Peyton arches a brow. "I think you're a little biased there, on account of being one," she says with a grin. "But it might have been nice to have one. Maybe I would have turned out better, if I had someone else to keep me in line growing up."

She pauses while Von decides to mark a fire hydrant. "I should meet Neal though. I'm not really sure why I haven't. I know Faye wants it, and I do, too, but… I guess I just keep getting caught up in everything and not wanting to … open up something new." She looks away from him, her brows knitting together for a moment. "It's dumb. I should call her tomorrow."

Of course, Carson has to inspect the job Von did on the hydrant before he adds his own mark to the veritable wall of canine graffiti. But the delay gives Wes a chance to catch Peyton's eyes in his, his brows furrowed even as a smile twinges in the corners of his mouth. "I like t'think I was a good brother," he murmurs. "But don't you be raggin' on yourself like that. You turned out just fine enough."

He leans down those few inches, lifting the hand that holds Carson's leash to tilt her face up with a crooked finger applied to her chin so that he can kiss her. "I know it's family n'all, but if you want me there, all you gotta do is ask." She should meet him, if only because she may not be long for this world.

Her eyes soften as she looks into his, and she smiles a little crooked, Mowgli-like smile. "You're sweet," she murmurs, and kisses him again. "Maybe. I … it should probably be just me, the first time anyway. And … I don't know if I told you, but my mom, she looks more like my sister than my mother. She already did — I mean, she was just 15 when I was born, and she looked great for her age. She's … she's gorgeous."

She tugs Von back to the sidewalk and resumes walking, her eyes on the pavement. "But when my … when Albert died, he made her younger again. She looks like she's twenty something now. So it's weird. You know. In case you meet her — don't flip out."

She swallows, and squeezes his hand. "Of course," she adds, a little mischievously, "she can't ever complain about me dating an older guy, can she?"

Wes's chuckle in response is an awkward one, but he gives Peyton's hand a squeeze in return before he swallows audibly. "I'll keep that in mind," he says, shaking his head. "You don't need to be worryin' though," he adds, his eyes narrowing. Was she worrying? "I mean, I ain't about t'go tradin' you in. Hell, Pey, your mama made you, and…" There's no easy way out of the hole he's started to dig, so Wes does the only thing he can think of to save himself.

He stops short and uses the sudden motion to pull Peyton in and sweep his arm around her waist, hoisting her up to plant an almost cartoon quality kiss on her cheek.

The tall brunette laughs as she's suddenly pulled into a kiss, and Von excitedly clamors around the two, jumping up on pant legs and boot legs, and tying himself around the couple, as well as Carson, his tail wagging happily.

"Well, great," Peyton says with a grin as the kiss relents. "I wasn't worried about you liking my mother or anything, but now I am." Her eyes sparkle and it's clearly not true. "She does say we have the same taste in men, though. She'd probably like you. And yuck, that suggests I'd have, like, liked my father, which is… yuck." Once in a while, she does sound like a typical 21-year-old who hasn't seen so many horrible things.

When he sets her down again, Wes takes another second to pinch at her arm with a grin. "You just like 'em like you like your whiskey," he teases, his eyes dancing. "Ain't nothin' wrong with that." After stealing another kiss, he goes about trying to untangle Von's leash. Carson, though more subdued than his young friend, isn't much help, as he's convinced there is something on Peyton's boots that must smell interesting enough to put the pup in such a frenzy.

The whole mess is comical, with Wes bent and trying to direct Peyton to turn this way or that while he either holds or tugs on Von's collar. They're both laughing by they time it's all set straight again, and their conversation turns to lighter topics, such as clothing displayed in the windows of fashion boutiques, or an opulent car that roars down the street beside them blaring something vaguely resembling music.

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