Cataloguing the Possibilities


cat_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif

Scene Title Cataloguing the Possibilities
Synopsis Cat lays the cards out on the table for Peyton, who doesn't like the hand she's been dealt.
Date August 3, 2009

Village Renaissance Building, Fourth Floor Safehouse

She's done her homework, spent some time looking up the name Peyton Whitney to read about the woman and have a sense of her before meeting. It's influenced the way Cat goes about this, in fact. She comes to the fourth floor and the door of the appropriate unit in shorts, a tank top featuring Carlos Santana's image, and athletic shoes. Five feet eight inches, brunette with hair tied back into a ponytail, and with an acoustic guitar slung over one shoulder.

Her hand lifts and makes contact with the door three times, then she waits for it to be answered.

Peyton rolls off the bed, wincing as the knock hurts her headache. Pushing her ability a bit too far, trying to get a sense of it, she's now suffering the consequences — something like a migraine. Her room is dim behind her when she opens the door — she herself is in jeans and a Killers t-shirt, her feet bare. "Hi…" she says with some surprise, having expected it to be Brian or maybe Maya on the other side of the door. "If you're looking for Gillian… I'm just crashing here, I don't know where she is," she says, apologetically.

"No," Cat replies with a grin, looking the woman over and comparing her with perfectly remembered paparazzi shots, against video footage. "I'm looking for you, Peyton." No attempt is made to come in, she remains where she is and leaves that choice to the socialite. Her expression is calm, the eyes show a trace of grief mixed with some other emotions, things that suggest this woman's been leading an interesting life. And she carries herself, despite the very casual attire, with the poise of someone who'd been raised in money and society, the kind of world Peyton's own parents would have pushed her toward.

Peyton's head tilts slightly as she looks up at Cat. "Come on in," she says with a shrug, opening the door wider to let in the other slim and tall brunette. "So you know my name…" she says, hinting for the other's with a smile. She heads over to the couch to sit, one foot curling beneath her as she waits for Cat to join her and explain who she is. "Brian told you I'm here, I'm guessing?"

"It's not hard to know your name," the brunette much closer to thirty than twenty answers with a laugh, "I'm Cat." Into the unit she goes, closing the door behind her before joining the shelteree on that couch. The guitar is placed next to her, she turning to face Peyton. Her right hand extends to shake once and release. "Brian told me a few things, but I knew you were her before that."

The younger woman takes the hand; her own hand was once perfectly manicured but now sports a few chipped and ragged nails, broken from the climb through the air vent in the hospital. "Nice to meet you. And thanks for… the hospitality," she says, smiling weakly. "So do you run this place or something? I… are there rules for living here? I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do or not do…"

Warm skin, soft, smooth. Neatly trimmed nails, no polish. But near the fingertips are calluses. From the guitar, maybe? Cat makes eye contact as she nods once. "Likewise. And yes, I'm fairly tall on the food chain here. How're you feeling, Peyton?"

In her head, Cat is calling up pages from Chandra Suresh's book about seeing through the eyes of others and wondering what that would feel like.

"A little headachey. Brian helped me focus my power earlier today… and I just practiced again with a friend but that time, it didn't last very long. I think I burnt out a bit, and now have a migraine, I think… feels a little like a hangover," Peyton says quietly, as if a more boisterous voice might jar her head too much. "Other than that… scared and confused, to be honest. I don't know what to do, what to believe, really."

"I remember the feeling very well," Cat confides with a slight smile forming. "It was nearly eight years ago for me, at Yale. I'd just started my second year, and Father wanted me to shift from studying music to pre-law. So, trying to keep him and myself happy, I went to work doing both. And it was fast becoming a disaster of epic proportions." In speaking of Father, the grief in her eyes increases some, the voice becomes more solemn.

Peyton just watches, her brow furrowing slightly, unsure how studying law and music at the same time is similar to her situation. But, she has faith that there's a point to the anecdote. She nods to show she understands. "I had a few arguments with my parents about what they wanted, versus what they wanted. Sounds like you were a more dutiful daughter than I was," she says softly, a little sarcasm aimed at herself in the comment.

"I'm not so much one to back down from challenges," Cat replies with a grin. "I wanted to make Father happy, and I wanted to do what I had a passion for at the same time, so I struggled to do both, and when I needed it most, help turned up. I discovered I never had to study; I could just show up in class and listen, do all the reading, and when exams came it was all there. Every little detail."

"So your power is like… super memory or something?" Peyton says, lifting her eyebrows. "Did it give you headaches?" She gets up for the moment and goes into the kitchen to grab a water bottle and the bottle of ibuprofen that's sitting on the counter. "Want some water? Soda?" she asks, as she opens up the pill bottle and taps out four of the little pills.

"Headaches? No. But it was amazing, and a little scary," Cat shares. "Like most gifts, it has parts of blessing and curse, Peyton. Most people are able to remember things and move on, they fade over time, the less pleasant ones become not so sharp, get fuzzy. I don't have that advantage. There are lots of things I'd love to forget, but I can't. They hang around in perfect detail, just as if they happened two minutes ago if I call them up, or something triggers one."

"But," she adds, "advantages and disadvantages, it's mine and I wouldn't want to let it go for anything. In time, you'll probably come to feel the same."

"I saw," Peyton says slowly, "I saw what that man did, in the hospital. The people he killed." She comes back to the couch and curls up in the corner once more. She's tall like Cat, but looks frail and helpless. "I hope I can forget that. I'm glad I'm not like you, then, because maybe one day I can." She shivers and takes a swallow of the water, then tosses the four pills in. She swallows hard. "Will people really come looking for me, take me somewhere, make me do things against my will just because I'm Evo?" she says suddenly.

"We've a lot of attention on us," Cat replies honestly, "and that attention isn't always good. Some people fear us, some want to be us, some just wouldn't care one way or the other. I'm opposed to the Linderman Act and Registration, it seems to me too much like being tagged as sex offenders. They're the only other people required to register themselves. The Registry, also, can be abused. There's too little oversight about who is and isn't declared dangerous."

"And there's an organization out there called the Company, which partners with DHS, but doesn't register people like us in the same way. They mark them with something behind the neck and drop them back out on the street with a hole in their memories."

"And now there's Frontline, which has a draft possibility attached to it."

Peyton frowns as the names of "enemies" rains down on her. The threats sound like Brian's, and wash away Wendy's skepticism a touch. "But… they know who I am, they know I was supposed to register," she says, her voice a little tremulous. "And I'm not… I mean, I'm no one important, I know that, but people still know who I am. Does that mean I can't ever leave, or live a normal life? I don't want to have to hide." A tear slides down her cheek and she closes her eyes. "I don't know what to do."

She nods slowly. "You've decisions to make, and if people know you were supposed to register, if you were given a test for the SLC, then your name and face would be recognized. DHS could come looking for you, Peyton." Cat's voice is calm, not meant to raise alarm, but to simply outline the options. "The general public won't know you have an ability, but your name would be on the list which could see you drafted for Frontline and it's possible your name could be leaked. I'm not very confident in the Registry being secure."

"So you could likely leave here if you chose, go register yourself, and return to your life but there'd be the risk someone would spill your secret."

"You could live your life boldly, declaring yourself Evolved publicly, but that also makes you a possible target for Humanis First. It has serious risks. There are, of course, other options."

"They gave me a test at the hospital," Peyton says quietly. "And they must have called the police, because a cop came to bring me in to get registered, but that's when the hostage thing happened and Brian got me away." As she listens, her face grows paler with each possibility Cat catalogues. Finally, Peyton looks up, something akin to hope on her face. "What are the other options?" she asks, taking another drink from her water bottle, then wiping her mouth on her sleeve.

"You could be given another identity, have your face altered," Cat tells her, "and fade into the population with a fresh slate. You'd not have to lose your financial advantages. There are ways to take all your resources and put them into places which don't connect to your old identity, and for you to still draw earnings from them, filtered to who you'd become."

The hope drains from her face, along with the color. "That's… Wow. I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone or something," she says quietly. She then looks up, her eyes narrowed a bit. "It's not the finances I'm that worried about, if you think that's my priority. It's more… I don't want to hide from life, you know?" She closes her eyes and holds the water bottle against her forehead. "Thanks for telling me what's going on," she adds, after taking a deep breath. "I appreciate it." Her parents did teach her some manners, after all.

"Nor do I," Cat replies with a nod of understanding. "I'm active, I don't hide from life at all. I just don't have my legal name attached to much about me these days. My resources, which I use to be comfortable and keep this building going, among other things, don't lead back to me. In the organization this is part of, there are people with abilities and without. We believe in helping people when they need it. You're one of them, Peyton. A person needing help."

"No one will stop you from leaving it that's your wish. But there's room for you here as long as you want it."

"Thank you," Peyton says, reaching up with both hands to rub at her eyes. "I appreciate it. Really. Even if I seem like I don't. I just can't process everything. My power… I have to learn to see through other people's eyes, but it doesn't make my own situation any clearer for me." She drops her hands. "Thanks for coming by, Cat." She has the flat affect of someone a bit shell-shocked, now that the tears have passed.

"That's the thing you need most right now, Peyton," Cat agrees quietly. "Time to think, for coming to understand what you have, to learn mastery of it and experiment. It must seem the world turned upside down, and getting your bearings isn't always easy at all. That's why I recommend you stick around, for that very reason." She rises then, placing a hand on Peyton's shoulder and squeezing gently once if she can before moving to the door.

"I'll visit again soon. Keep your head up."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License