aaron_icon.gif peyton2_icon.gif

Scene Title Certifiable
Synopsis Aaron comes to Peyton to say good bye, intending to seek long-term, intensive therapy.
Date May 29, 2010

Peyton's Apartment — Upper West Side

Gillian dropped him off. The parting wasn't as weepy was one might expect, since he fled from the vehicle after saying good bye. Compared to what it was when he left, the weather is practically tropical as Aaron crosses the sidewalk to the apartment building that was his home for half a year. Entering it again after a month feels strange.

It's only once he reaches the door to Peyton's apartment that he hesitates. It doesn't take much to recall all of the awkwardness that exists between the two. Fear of that awkwardness makes him pause and do something very, very strange.

He knocks.

The owner of the apartment only arrived late last night herself, and today is cleaning day. It's amazing how dusty an apartment can get with no one living in it. Pausing in her orbit of the living room, Peyton drops the dust rag and spray — the weekly housekeeper won't be back until next week, since she fled to Miami for the duration of the storm. Scooping up Von, Peyton makes her way to the door. She's dressed for cleaning in cut off sweat shorts and a t-shirt, her hair in a ponytail, her feet bare.

Checking to see who it is first, she swings the door open, and steps forward to give Aaron a hug, the small reddish dog in her arms squirming and clamoring up to greet Aaron as well with a lick to the underneath of his jaw. "Hey! Come on in," Peyton says, stepping aside so that he can do just that.

The mere idea of wearing short anything is completely foreign to Aaron given the temporary ice age they've experienced. Despite it being practically tropical in comparison to what it's been, the cold still bites.

The door opens and there's Peyton with a puppy. His replacement, as it were. Perhaps he'd be bitter about it if the little guy weren't so damned cute. And it licks him, too. "Hey you," he says to it, giving it a light scritch under the chin, a reflection of how Von greeted him. It already feels awkward as he comes into the apartment and sets his things down near the door. Closer to the door than the hall. He doesn't take off his boots. "It's been a while. I'm sorry I haven't called…" since cellular service died. Even though it's been back, though spotty, he hasn't called.

He looks around the apartment, nervous. Despite the adorable little furry addition to the place, he can't help but recall the last time he saw Peyton. Not in the flesh. Just a figment of his damaged psyche. The thought makes him flinch.

"Hard to call without phone service. Should have gone with Sprint," Peyton quips, letting the dog down. There are a couple of child-proofing gates leaning against doors to the hallway and doors to the kitchen, not set in place yet. "You have impeccable timing, though, since I just moved back here yesterday. The power was out in most of the city, except places with their own generators. I was crashing at Cat's til yesterday."

She nods toward the little puppy who is sniffing Aaron's feet. "You smell your sister, I wonder?" she asks, though the dog can't hear her. "Hailey took one of his siblings," she explains, in case Aaron doesn't know that's where the dog hails from. "This one's deaf, we think, so his name is Von. You know… Ludwig Von Beethoven, but I figured Von fit him a little better, he's so small."

Aaron snorts at the Sprint joke. What with the puppy and the joke, it's the most he's smiled since he started hallucinating her presence at the Lighthouse— and that smile faded rather fast. He frowns to himself when she mentions Cat. It gives him goosebumps, in fact, so he happily uses Von as a distraction, stooping down to scritch him behind the ears.

"Yeah, of course I know Beethoven, silly. Poor little guy." He stands back up, still fully garbed in his winter-wear. "I thought I saw a dog there. I guess that explains it. There a whole litter, then?"

"I know you know Beethoven, I just meant… explaining why he's 'Von,'" Peyton says with a chuckle, though her eyes narrow slightly at the frown of Cat's name. "Plus, he just looks like a Von, for some reason, I donno. And a little fox. Isn't that right, baby?" To get the dog's attention, she taps her foot on the ground, and the pup turns, padding its way happily back toward her. "He's smart, though. Super smart. Just sad those giant ears don't work except to make him look cute." Puppy love.

Her eyes flicker back up to Aaron. "What's wrong? You seem upset about something."

Aaron watches as the dog goes over to Peyton for more scritches. It's so cute it even brings a tear to his eye. He turns away. "When is there ever anything right?" He goes about straightening his coat, which doesn't need straightening. "I just … I. I came to say good bye. I'm not staying."

What if I was alright?

What if I wasn't wound so tight?

Peyton picks up the puppy, kissing its head, before turning to look at Aaron again, brows knit in confusion. "Oh? I thought you were just coming back to stay here," she says, her voice a study of neutrality lest he think she is angry or otherwise take things the wrong way, which is what usually happens when the two are in a room together.

"What's wrong, and where are you going, Aaron?" she asks, a little more directly. "You know you're free to stay here if you want. I can't promise I'll be around a lot — I haven't been able to do anything for … for my friends, you know, with the snow, and I'll probably be spending time there now that the snow's going to finally melt, but … if you can stand that, and knowing that I'm doing things that you might not approve of, you know my door's open to you."

What if I had the balls to be bad?

Would you still look at me like that?

It usually is what happens. Aaron is a master at taking things the wrong way. He frowns again. "It's not that at all," he says, moving forward a bit. There's still distance between them, distance he keeps for whatever reason, mostly involving nerves. Articulating this particular line of thinking is very difficult. At least he leaves out his psychotic break…

"You said I needed professional help once… well, maybe more than once, but who's keeping track, right? It's time I do that. And I don't know if I'll come back. I don't want you thinking I will or expecting it or … anything that will bring you pain if I don't make it back to you."

Would you be mad that I had held the old me back?

Von is set on the ground once more, and Peyton gives Aaron her full attention, her eyes worried as she looks at him. "Professional help might be good, Aaron, but I don't think you need to be put away or anything. What do you mean, you might not come back? Or do you just mean… that you might not come back … to see me, that you'd just… move on?"

Her words are slow and careful. She's no stranger to therapy, having had it thrust down her throat when she went to the rehab facility after the car accident she hadn't caused but took the blame for. She knows it's altogether possible that someone giving professional help might suggest she be struck from Aaron's life, that she's a bad influence or someone who he should avoid on his path to recovery. After all, if it weren't for her, and her friendship with Wendy, would Aaron have ever tried Refrain? Ever tried to kill himself? It's hard to say, but therapy could lead to fingers being pointed at her as a catalyst.

Why can't I be somebody else?

Somebody who isn't too cool to believe it's OK to be just me

"Weekly therapy didn't exactly work," Aaron says quietly. He's not looking for an argument, especially not about him getting better. "As for not coming back, I don't know, OK? I don't know what's going to happen and I don't want you to feel guilty or anything or sad, or whatever, if I don't come back. I probably will, but … I don't know. I don't have any answers, Peyton."

Maybe I was too much

Maybe I'll take it down a notch

"But where, Aaron? You're not — you're not like mental ward crazy, trust me on this one," Peyton says, frowning again. "What's… did you try to hurt yourself again?" her voice is quiet, full of fear as she stares up at him, arms wrapping around herself. "And if you … you need to at least let me know you're okay before you disappear forever. A phone call at least. Otherwise I'll be forced to peek in on you to make sure you're alive, and I don't want to do that to friends unless I have to."

Maybe I'll have the guts to go mad

Maybe I'll mess me up real bad

Aaron snorts. "Pretty fucking close to crazy, actually." The words escape before he can actually think about what he's saying. Yes, he kind of did, but he doesn't answer the question. "That's what this visit is about. To let you know." Except he's not OK, so he doesn't say he is. "And you won't do that. Please. You'll only feel guilty or sad or something, and I'm not worth that. I'll be OK." He sighs, "I'll still call." Though probably not as frequently as before the cell towers went out, when the calls were daily.

To think, the last time he argued with Peyton, she was insisting he was certifiable. Granted, it was just a hallucination….

Maybe I'll make you wish you had the old me back

Her brows furrow and her eyes fill with tears. "I'm sorry I wasn't able to help you more," Peyton whispers. "I wish I … had some power that could help fix whatever is wrong, instead of just spying on people, you know? I don't know how to help you better." She steps closer to offer another hug. "Do you want me to go with you? I'd … I want to know where you are in case something goes wrong, Aaron. Things … you've seen the movies… I know they're just movies, but things always go wrong in those places, and if you stop calling and I didn't know where you were, I'm going to worry, and I'm going to use my power. I'm telling you that now so you don't get mad later, all right? I can't promise not to use it if I think you're in danger."

Why can't I be somebody else?

Somebody who isn't too cool to believe it's OK to be just me

It's a strained hug, mainly because Aaron's still thinking of the Peyton hallucination that hurt him worse than the real Peyton ever did. The hallucination was all him… His own tear-filled eyes search hers, and then he brushes her tears away. "I don't know where I'm going to be, not yet. I don't want you to see this, but I will call you. I will tell you where I am. I'm sure you'll be able to visit at some point. Just don't cry." He reaches his hand under her chin and pulls her closer, kissing her on the forehead. Maybe it's cruel, but he uses his ability anyway because he doesn't want her to cry. He can't handle that.

The sudden alleviating of her sadness gets a shake of her head. "Don't do that," Peyton says, though she's not angry or hurt — logically she knows she should be, and she clings to reasoning. "I hope wherever you go it helps, Aaron, but call me if you need me to come get you, all right? I … I'm not equipped to help, I know, and I'm a fuck-up in so many ways, I know I can't really help anyone except to offer a place to stay, but you always have that at least."

Her arms tighten around him before she steps back, tears no longer falling, thanks to his ability, but her lashes wet as she looks up at him. "Thank you for looking after me, too," she adds, smiling — at least his power will ensure that Aaron sees a smile on her face before he leaves.

What if I can't remember who I'm trying to be?

"Sorry," he says, though it's clear he doesn't mean it. Aaron grits his teeth as she steps back. He collects his things and opens the door. "That's my only regret. That I won't be here to keep doing that, to keep looking out for you." He looks at Von. "I guess it's his job now. I hope he's up for it." Aaron finally wipes his own tears away as he walks out the door. No smiling from him, even if Peyton's smile made his eyes brighten. Just a little bit.

As he's walking away, his voice can be heard calling over his shoulder. "You're not a fuck-up."

Why can't I be somebody else?

Somebody who isn't too cool to believe it's OK to be just me

Peyton watches him go — the effect of his power ensuring she can't be too sad for the time being, there is still worry as she follows him with her eyes to the elevator. Once he steps inside, she closes the door, sitting on the ground and letting the puppy clamor into her lap. Her focus shifts from the room around her to Aaron's eyes as he descends to the lobby. Her intent is to watch and listen as he travels to wherever he thinks he can restore his sanity — whether he likes the eavesdropping or not.

Just me…

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