Christmas Is Family


aaron_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif wendy_icon.gif

Scene Title Christmas Is Family
Synopsis Peyton treats Aaron and Wendy to a Christmas tree and stockings for the three of them plus Gillian, even if she won't be there. Christmas decorating ensues.
Date December 14, 2009

Aaron and Peyton's Apartment — Upper West Side

The living room does not look like Peyton's living room. Wendy or Aaron might think they entered the wrong apartment accidentally upon arrival, mostly due to the 12-foot-tall spruce over by the window. It's already been bedecked with white lights, though Peyton was a responsible home owner and turned them off for the time being, since the tree is very much fresh, filling the roomy apartment with the smell of evergreen freshness. Boxes of ornaments are set around the living room, and a note on the coffee table alerts them to her whereabouts: "Off on some Santa Claus business. All is well. Be back soon. You're both recruited to help me decorate this damn tree. Take pity on Tiny Tim. God Bless Us Every One." It is signed with a loopy heart and a just-as-loopy P.

Coincidence that they both arrived back at Pey's at the same time. Wendy with coffees in hand and a tired look on her face. The older of the Trio letting Aaron unlock the door and let them in with very little argument or much of anything. Day 2 of no refrain, regoing through the whole withdrawal process the hard way.

So the bright tree brings about a raised brow and a glance towards the empath, then back to the tree. "Think she's happy?"

"Not really," Aaron replies. It's one of the one things Aaron's actually good at. He can tell if a person is happy. Whether or not they think they are or feel like they are, he can see that deep down, it's simply not the case. And after the whole nightmare ordeal, not particularly surprising either. "No shock, though." Not that he's that happy, either. The last three Christmases for him have been anything but enjoyable. He's hoping this one will be different.

The note is still on the coffee table, but it seems that the young lady of the house beat the others home, as the sound of the blow dryer can be heard in the bathroom. In addition to the ornament boxes set everywhere there's room, there are four new stockings on the mantel. Aaron, Peyton, Wendy, Gillian. The last one might be a touch optimistic, but it seems Peyton is including anyone who has called her apartment "home" in any sort of way in the past weeks.

She wasn't really asking. And there was superficial temporary happiness, and there's that long term shit that Aaron seems to be able to see. "Not that I'll be around here Christmas day, I have to hop it out to Hamptons" No, she doesn't make it sound like a burden. She's looking forward to the holidays. "Still gotta get Logan his present" One of the coffees is passed over to Aaron - see, she's playing nice. "Peyton! We're home! There's a big ass tree that looks like it belongs on Times Square when it took trees!"

Beyond the tree, the stockings attract Aaron's attention. After he unlaces his boots and pulls them off, he walks over to the mantle, the note going mostly unseen. He hasn't even seen a stocking in 3 years, so the fact that there's one with his name on it is somewhat surprising, and it invites some feelings for him that he hasn't felt in a long time. He touches the one with his name on it, tracing the letters. And of course, he stares at the one with Gillian's name on it. Unyielding.

The blow dryer turns off a few seconds later — she can't hear over the thrum of that thing! But there is a bit of a clatter and then the door of the bathroom opens. Peyton comes out, already in PJs, which for her consist of pink and red striped boxers with the word PINK on the butt, and a pink tank top to match her hot pink cast. "Hey, guys," she says, eyes flickering from one to the other as if to gauge moods — she doesn't have Aaron's power — and also their attitude toward her Christmas explosion in the living room.

Aaron looks at the stockings for a short while longer before turning his attention to the tree. He walks around it and then walks over to Peyton and wraps his arms around her, kissing her lightly on the cheek. In standard Aaron fashion, he then picks her up, because he won't have her hobbling around the apartment, and brings her over to the couch where he sits with her in his lap. "I have something here for you," he says, before digging around in his coat. He just bought the thing, now where did he put it? "Ah!" He pulls out a Sharpie, still in its package.

Peyton smiles at the hug and the kiss on the cheek, then squeaks as he picks her up. When he sits her down she shakes her head. "I'm not crippled you know. Well, not permanently." She laughs at the sharpie. "Both of you, it's the first thing you said about it - you're like little kids. 'Can I sign your cast?'" She smirks, then sombers. "So I have some information, about the nightmares. It is someone with a power. An oneiromancer." She's getting better at saying the word. "They call him the Nightmare Man, I guess, but no one knows who he is exactly."

Wendy's itching, not literally but more figuratively. She doesn't partake in the touching and the oohing, but she is appreciating that there is a stocking for her on the mantle. "I bought some too, billion colors, but you go ahead" Unwarranted permission for Aaron to have at Peyton's cast instead of her. She could draw on it later. "You do realize right, Pey, that I'm not staying for Christmas, that I have my parents out in the coast?"

She settles the cardboard tray down on a counter. "No, I didn't say could I, I said I'd put original Wendy Hunter art on it." Yet, here goes Peyton barrelling forward with news about the nightmares. "Wow. Guess we all pissed someone off?"

Aaron's tearing the package open when Peyton mentions the Nightmare Man. "Well, I suppose that makes Bella's sleep study idea, well…. I mean, we at least have our current setup to try and prevent … bad things from happening, no need to go in and find out what's going on if we know, right?" He gently tugs Peyton to the side so her cast is in his lap. As one could imagine him doing to autograph photos or compact discs, he pulls the cap of the marker off with his teeth and goes about autographing the hot pink cast with the black, permanent marker. As it turns out, he has rather fine penmanship. Of course, some might call it girly, especially when he adds a heart next to his name. Then he adds the note, 'Watch out for potholes.'

"Could just be some jackass who gets his kicks torturing people," Aaron offers as an alternative.

Peyton smiles up at Wendy. "I know, you should be with your family at Christmas, Wen. But you're mine for a few days, and you can always call this home when you need it, and so you get a stocking." She nods to Gillian's. "She's in some jungle somewhere, from what I can tell, so she's not likely to be here either, but she gets one too." The clairvoyant glances down at her cast and shakes her head with a chuckle, then sombers again. "So I guess they have a couple of ideas of how to defeat him… one is basically just to try to deny him. The other is to … be aware you're in a dream, and maybe change your dream, if you can. I don't know. Sounds like bullshit to me. I didn't know I was dreaming until I was awake."

She swings her legs off Aaron's lap to hop onto one foot. "So you guys going to help me decorate? I know the decorations are boring and not like, sentimental to you all or anything, but I thought we could use a little cheer." The ornaments are beautiful works of art, something one might see in an interior design magazine depicting what Christmas looks like for the rich and famous. No handmade handprints or framed pictures of little Peytons amongst the gold, silver, pearl, and cranberry hued decorations.

Mention of sentimental of course reminds Aaron of the various sentimental decorations he used to have, before his family's home was destroyed in the bomb. Though he has to wonder, for a moment, if some may have survived the blast. It's not that the building was completely destroyed or anything. Probably not safe to go look, though. "Cheer is definitely something that comes in short supply."

Peyton picks up a couple of ornaments and strings them on the tree, then remembers it's not on. "Can you flip that switch for the lights," she instructs Aaron, and when he does, the tree sparkles and flickers with white lights. "It's a little Charlie Brown of a tree… I paid Joe the bum to go get it for me, and I think he spent a little of the tree money to add to his wage, but that's okay," she says, looking at the tree fondly. "It's the first tree since… well." No need to finish that sentence.

Aaron complies and of course switches the tree on. Then he stands in awe of the height. "You call a twelve-foot Christmas tree a little Charlie Brown?" It's twice as tall as he is. Peyton going silent at the remark makes him go silent as well. It's the same deal for him, sadly. He tries to lighten the mood. "I hope you have a stepladder stored somewhere, or we're only getting balls on half this tree."

The latter has Peyton laugh, rather than cry, so mission accomplished for Aaron. Wendy's cell phone rings and she lifts her hand in a wave to take it, heading down the hallway to "her" room. "Yeah, there's one in the hall closet," Peyton says, glancing up. "You'll have to do the climbing, I think. I didn't really think about that. My parents just paid someone to do it when I was a kid." She glances down at the ornaments. "I had a pink plastic Princess tree in my room. I think that got thrown out though."

Of course, decorating the tree reminds Aaron of Annie, but he manages to fake a smile anyway as he goes to the hall closet to get the aforementioned step ladder. He may as well cover the top of the tree while Peyton works on the bottom. Once he has the ladder, he brings it out and sets it up near the tree. "Climbing I can do." He looks at the tree and at the boxes of decorations, "Have any garland hidden in all of those?" Though rich-ish his parents were, they decorated their own tree, coming from humble beginnings and all.

"Yeah. I meant to put it on before you guys got here, but I was running late," she says, turning and opening another box. In it is a garland made of silver and opalescent beading. She passes him a coil of several yards, then picks up another and begins winding from the bottom of the tree around. "Thanks for doing this… I know it's probably not… well. It's not like real Christmas to you, but it's something?" Peyton murmurs in a soft voice.

Aaron, meanwhile, starts from the top down, winding the garland until it can criss-cross in a very traditional styling. Occasionally, he straightens it a bit, or shifts it from branch to branch until it's just perfect. Or close enough. It has been three years since he's done this. Only once the garland is on does he respond to Peyton, as though the winding of the garland took all of his attention. "Of course it's something," he says, coming closer and wrapping his arms around Peyton again. "I spend Christmas with family. Right now, that's you." Once he releases Peyton, he starts to hang some of the Christmas balls on the branch-tips. Right now is a time to be cheerful. But eventually, he's going to ask why she's suddenly acting so strangely towards him.

"I usually ignored it and just spent it partying, but that seems to be mostly over." Look what happened the last time she went to a club! Mack got abducted! "My birthday's on New Year's Eve," Peyton adds quietly. "Funny that I'll be 21 and it doesn't mean a damn thing, except that somehow I managed to live that long." She smiles ruefully, picking up ornaments and beginning to put them on the tree.

"I don't remember all of my twenty-first birthday. I got completely shit-faced, because somebody said it was fun." Aaron's face falls at the memory, "It so wasn't." He takes a tray of balls with him up the stepladder as he goes about decorating the upper portion of the tree. "Just don't go out and get drunk on your birthday. It's a full moon, all the weirdos will be out," he says.

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