Boon, Not Bane


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Scene Title Boon, Not Bane
Synopsis … is what Bones promises to be, while Peyton says she's trying to be the same. Somehow, the two still manage to piss one another off, and Peyton finds herself down another ally this week.
Date January 9, 2010

New York Public Library

Once upon a time, the New York Public Library was one of the most important libraries in America. The system, of which this branch was the center, was among the foremost lending libraries /and/ research libraries in the world.

The bomb changed that, as it changed so much else.

By virtue of distance, the library building was not demolished entirely, like so many others north of it; however, the walls on its northern side have been badly damaged, and their stability is suspect. The interior is a shambles, tattered books strewn about the chambers and halls, many shelves pulled over. Some have even been pulled apart; piles of char in some corners suggest some of their pieces, as well as some of the books, have been used to fuel fires for people who sought shelter here in the past.

In the two years since the bomb, the library — despite being one of the icons of New York City — has been left to decay. The wind whistles through shattered windows, broken by either the blast-front or subsequent vandals, carrying dust and debris in with it. Rats, cats, and stray dogs often seek shelter within its walls, especially on cold nights. Between the fear of radiation and the lack of funds, recovery of the library is on indefinite hiatus; this place, too, has been forgotten.

After going through the Library's main rooms one by one, accessing their various states and their locations, consulting his blueprints, Bones settled on the map division on the first floor, the outer-walled room having four windows, two looking out on to Fifth Avenue and two looking out on to 42nd Street. He made sure he brought along enough of his emergency electrical supplies to power a couple of high-powered LEDs for a week's worth of nights and started moving himself in with what few possessions he has. Having stopped by a hardware store on the way back with some of his things, he bought enough weathering tarp to seal off the bulk of the cold coming in from the four blasted out windows. He kept a couple of the tables in the room to organize his belongings and his supplies and removed the bulk of the chairs. Standing in the middle of the room, fairly satisfied with his work, he walks over to one of his packs and takes out a protein bar, munching on it.

Having called Bones a couple of days before to ensure Mack had in fact talked to him, and learning that Mack is mostly moved out, Peyton decides it's safe to stop by and drop off some supplies for those who still live in the library and check in on the Sandhog. She comes in through the lobby, waving at the cameras to let anyone beyond the locked doors who might be watching know that it's her, then follows the noises toward the room that Bones happens to be in.

"Hey," she calls down the hallway, so that he, or anyone else, won't be startled by her presence. "It's Peyton." She's dressed in jeans, a boot on her good foot, a soft black brace-like walking cast on her injured foot, and one of those bubbly soft parkas for the snowy weather. She finally leans in a doorway and waves to Bones. "Why in the world do you want to live here?" she asks, curiously.

"Because I am a potentially dangerous Evolved who could seriously injure himself or others should something unforeseen happen." Bones says as if he is giving the text book answer for his reasoning. The one that people have to accept whether they know him or not. "Besides, I like living off the grid, I happen to have a liking for old architecture and preserving it, and I could eventually get this whole place back up and running. Pet project." he shrugs and takes a bite out of his protein bar and beckons her in, his LEDs hanging from the once rather grand chandeliers. "Already found some nice places to hide my things under the floorboards."

Peyton raises a brow. "Getting this place up and running won't do any good if the rest of Midtown looks like something out of a Terminator movie," she points out. "Don't do anything too grand, that gets too much attention, until you meet Cardinal, all right? I don't know what Mack told you, but he's not really the person in charge. He's just more in charge than me." Like that's hard to do. Everyone's more in charge than she is. Zuleyka the teenager with the pink AK7 is more in charge than her. "I figured you might be getting antsy without talking to someone, so I told Mack to call you, but… just … you know. Don't have the press out for a new ground breaking on some historical restoration project, all right?"

"I'm going to start on this room. This room alone is going to take me months because at has two street-facing walls and two floor-to-ceiling windows on each and has been exposed to the elements for… how long?" Bones asks, already seeming a little territorial about the place. "This might be a quaint little base of operations, but to me it is also an antique that has been sorely neglected." he says, turning a chair around and sitting down on it, leaning with his arms on the backrest. "Besides. I'm one person with a day job." A day job that allows him to put in irregular hours so long as he puts in the hours regularly and meets his quotas on assignments by the end of each month. "I get your point. Let's move on, shall we?"

"Fine," Peyton says, crossing her arms as her brows knit together. "So what exactly did Mack tell you, besides that you should, you know, move in? You should know there are other people who live here… please don't shoot any of them?" she says with a tilt of her head. "I'll try to send word that you're around, so they're not worried if they see a strange giant man around."

"We giants prefer 'vertically extravagant'…" Bones notes, crossing his own arms and on the chair as he takes the last bit of his snack before he continues to answer her question. "Mack told me that you are a happy little band of people who live the morally gray life in an attempt to make the white seem a little whiter and the black a little whiter too. Still not sure you have a convert on your hands, but I promised I would be a boon rather than a bane." he says, standing up from the chair and kicks the legs out from under it, catching it by the backrest quickly with his right hand, causing it to spin like a dradle on the floor until it hits the table and settles itself on all four legs just as if it had been neatly tucked that way on purpose.

She stares at him. She's known people who can talk, and talk a lot — she's dated enough Hollywood actors who like to hear themselves talk, but she's never known anyone to talk like Bones. "Boon rather than bane," she echoes, with a shake of her head. "Well, he's mostly right, but I wouldn't call us happy," she says with a shrug. "Most of them are pretty pissed off about the ways of the world, and rightfully so. I know my life has been pretty much anything but happy for the past few months, ever since me and everyone else in the country found out I was Evolved." She steps into the room, limping a bit on the walking cast sitting on another chair. "So what'd you tell your bosses about this place?"

"Happy was my way of saying 'pretty pissed off'." Bones explains, giving a few little hops on the old wooden floor and looks down at it, tapping it a few more times with his booted feet. "I told them that I have completed my primary objectives: shutting off the gas, disconnected the electricity so that if the grid suddenly comes back on it won't surge the main breakers, and examined the building and judged it to be structurally unsound. I told them I would be doing ongoing work here for some secondary objectives. This is acceptable since this is still a historical building and a New York landmark." he sighs and walks over to his pack once more and digs out a box of coco pebbles which he opens and begins popping them dry in to his mouth. "So if anyone important, like say… the cops or the FBI comes poking around and sees lights or tools or other signs of life, it all comes back to me doing some shoring up so that the structure might be recovered."

"You guys just got around to theoretically shutting off the gas three years later? That's impressive work. Glad to know my hard earned tax dollars are hard at work for the city of Manhattan," Peyton says. She can be facetious, too, see? "Thanks though. For covering for us. Really, Bones. I appreciate it." She sighs, hugging her arms around herself. It's still chilly in here, if not as chilly as outside. "Did Mack say where he's living? Since you said he's not around here." She tries to sound nonchalant. Merely curious, like a fellow freedom fighter should be for one of her comrades.

"We lost a very large contingent of Sandhogs in the blast. They happened to be working on a light excavation project. Mainline pipe rupture. We're still recovering manpower." Bones explains before further defending his fellow Sandhogs. "And we had to secure the parts of the city that are still inhabitable first. This is a wasteland. Rats don't even like living around here anymore since there's not so much as a banana peel to gnaw, not to mention the possible radiation and the structures just waiting to collapse on people. So no. Wasn't very high on our agenda." He flips a piece of cereal up in the air and catches it in his mouth. "But you're welcome. - And Mack is living in some apartment building." he flicks out his cell phone and punches a few buttons before sliding it across the table to her, the screen displaying a simple text from Mack with an address. "Isn't the first and most important part of being a guerilla group or a citizen militia to have superior communication with one another than the other guy?"

"I'm not a guerilla or a militia as far as I know," she says, straightening her shoulders a bit and lifting her chin. Her eyes fall on the address, then she shrugs, and looks away. "To be honest, I'm not talking to him. Mack. Or vice versa, I'd assume. He certainly didn't let me know he was moving out, but that's fine. He's probably off with that crazy bitch who shot him … and you… and took my money when I offered it, because she had some grudge with him. Says she never asked anything of him and that he forgives her but doesn't expect someone like me to understand." Her voice trembles just a touch, mostly from anger and a little bit of hurt, but there isn't a hint of jealousy in the words. "You know I was kidnapped? He doesn't get it. That I've been kidnapped, and I've seen people … tortured… through my power, you know?" Her eyes fill with tears and she looks away. "It's not something you do to someone you care about."

He pauses as he sees those tears again. Does this woman ever have a conversation without the waterworks turning on? Bones cocks his head to the side and makes his way around the table to pat and rub the middle of her back. "Mack did not exactly strike me as Mr. Sensitivity. Or Mr. Sane for that matter. You really shouldn't expect people like that to be concerned with your pain and discomfort because they are either too busy taking care of themselves or are just that much in to themselves." he says, sitting down on the table and setting the box of cereal next to her. He leans down and begins untying the laces of his boots.

Peyton blushes a little at the tears and at the fact he's patting her back. "I'm sorry," she whispers. "I'm not really … this emotional." Yes, she is. But he doesn't need to know that. She wipes her eyes and stands up. "Like I said. Not happy. Been kidnapped and had pretty much all of my friends kidnapped or disappearing on me or off on some weird war that isn't in the newspapers but might blow us all up any day now. So yeah, I'm a bit emotional. And when someone I considered a friend tells me off for daring to question his logic in forgiving someone who shot him full of bullets and tortured him for two weeks, I get more emotional." She sighs, a long heavy shuddering exhalation. "I'll get out of your hair."

"Pretty hard to get in to my hair in the first place. There aren't that many places to hide." Bones says, smiling casually as his boots it the floor and he stands up on bare feet that are thick with a pronounced callous on their bottoms. "You want me to see you home?" he asks, picking up his box of cereal once more, always seeming to be eating something. His toes wiggle a little on the hardwood floor and he actually rolls himself up on to point seemingly on a whim or perhaps a form of stretching.

She jumps a bit when those giant sized boots hit the wooden floor with a loud SMACK. Her dark eyes watch him fidget and Peyton smiles, a slow, sweet thing that doesn't quite make it all the way up to her somber eyes. "You're always moving. You one of those ADD kids growing up, or is it just all that sugar dancing around in your blood stream?" she asks, slipping her hands into her pockets and glancing at the door to lead out of the room to the hallway that will lead out of the library. She doesn't answer the question about him seeing her home.

"I have an extremely high metabolism. When I am awake, I am moving. When I am asleep, I am hibernating. And I was raised in a very active household." Bones explains quickly, the fact that she is eyeing the exit not getting by him. "Now do not deflect again. Midtown is dangerous no matter what time of the day or night. Do you want me to at least see you out of midtown or walk you home?"

"I would have asked even if I wasn't deflecting," Peyton replies with a wrinkle of her nose, but her eyes sparkling with a bit of amusement at last. "If you want to. I … I mean, what kind of asset am I to this group if I can't come and go on my own?" Her fear of Midtown has escalated of late, however, due to the number of people kidnapped in the area that she's known and seen. "I have a gun, but…" she shrugs. Basically by the time she'd know to use it, it'd be too late.

Bones begins to walk towards the door where there are already a pair of heavy tire-tread sandals waiting for him. He steps in to them and straps them on with the velcro. "Well, for as long as I have known you and been involved with this group in so minor a role, I figure you are the kind of asset that needs an escort out of midtown and I believe I am the 'vertically extravagant' person to do it." he shrugs, reaching to the small of his back and removes his pistol, ejecting the magazine to check his round count, pushes it back in and pulls the slide back before replacing it in his waistband. "Now lets get your size six ass out of the wilds and back to civilization, shall we?"

Peyton laughs a little and follows, but her cheeks blush at his less-than-subtle statement. "Meaning I'm a liability and I can't take care of myself," she says quietly, reaching up to push a strand of long dark hair out of her eyes. She glances down at her cast and shrugs. "Probably true. The guy who helped me when I first manifested my power, he said every time he saw me, I was falling over something. It's true. I'm horrible at this kind of stuff. I don't know what I'm doing, and I probably am more of a liability than an asset, but I want to help and I want to make a difference, so that's gotta be worth something, doesn't it?" she heads into the hallway toward the door out. "My power is useful. But I want to be useful, too, even without it."

Giving a loud double clap of his hands on the way out of the map room he has made his new home, the lights go out which plunges the area in the a pitch blackness. Bones is there though, his hand grasping Peyton by the shoulder and steering her through the dim, his night vision impeccable from his years of working in and subterranean urban environment. His free hand trails along the wall and his foot nudges the baseboard until he reaches the stairs of the main hall where there is some light shining in from the outside. "Steps." he announces and finally lets go of her. "My mother used to tell me that those who can, do not, which means those who cannot or should not must throw caution to the wind and allow the chaff to blow away on the breeze so that new seeds may be sewn and the harvest will not be tainted and life may thrive." How profound, oh wizard.

Peyton blinks when they are plunged into darkness by the Clapper of all things. "Clap on… Clap off," she sings quietly and then shakes her head as he passes on the wisdom of his mother. "Geez. No wonder you talk the way you do. Were you raised by Jedis or something, Goodface?" she asks, reaching for the wall with an uncertain hand to help guide herself down. She is getting used to being blind, due to her power that renders her blind to her own surroundings. "Couldn't you turn that off after we get out?" she adds with a sigh.

"The clapper." Bones finishes for her as he jogs down the stairs towards the street. "And that saying is quite a bit shorter in Chinese." he says when he turns around to watch her descend the stairs. When she complains about the lack of light, he chuckles. "You want to know why you don't know the name of the guy who invented the Clapper?" he pauses a moment and shrugs his shoulders, holding up his arms helplessly. "Because he invented a piece of shit." he answers simply enough.

"So why do you use it?" she says with a shake of her head. Men. They install things simply to install them. "Light switch too boring? I think it works well enough. Plus, you know, you can do the hokey pokey without accidentally turning the lights on and off," she adds helpfully as they reach, finally, the front door.

"Because I was too cheap to invest in one of those new wireless light switches." Bones replies as they reach the large front door and walks out on to the landing, looking about and deciding that the coast is clear. He gives a hop up on to one of the column pedestals and walks out to stand on that outcropping, balancing himself on the edge. "C'mon. Shake your ass, but watch yourself." he says quoting the song but using it to tell her to hurry up but be careful.

"Wireless light switches? Don't the old normal ones work?" she asks, with a shake of her head. Boys and their toys. She hobbles slowly down the steps, wincing when the casted foot takes the brunt of her weight, but managing it down not too slowly. "I can get a cab once we're past the ruins," she offers. "Though I just live in Upper West Side. Right across from the park," she says conversationally.

"Of course they don't worry. The power's out and I am running mine off of car batteries." Bones says, jumping down off of the column landing to land on the second stair landing and jogs to reach Peyton's side. "Yeah, I figured you for an upper west side girl…" he rolls his eyes, his hand coming up to toss a few of strands of his hair back over his shoulder.

She frowns at his roll of the eyes. "Fuck you, too," she mutters under her breath. "I can just walk myself, Goodface. Don't, you know, lower your standards to walk with me since clearly I'm beneath you and I don't mean just shorter than you," she says, her eyes narrowing. "You act like Upper West is so awful, like I'm some snob and like I'm looking down on you, but it's the other way around, isn't it? How ironic."

"Bye." Bones says as is suddenly walking the opposite way away from her as he is cursed at, not even waiting for her turn down his company or go on about their social views. He heads back towards the library, leaving her alone though as soon as he hits the shadows, he begins following her out of midtown at a distance.

At the rate she's losing friends, Peyton isn't going to have any left by the end of the week. Oh, wait. It is the end of the week. Shit. She scowls and begins walking faster, though it's awkward due to the walking cast that makes for an uneven gait. Her long legs eat up the sidewalk at a fairly brisk clip, though it's hardly difficult for someone with longer legs, like Bones', to keep up with her.

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