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Scene Title Cut
Synopsis Words hurt, as Peyton and Mack find out when Peyton shows her disapproval of his acceptance of what's happened to him over the past few weeks.
Date January 3, 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.

The sun set a long time ago. On Mack, on the city. On New York. Figuratively and literally speaking. Everyone thought the world changed when 19 individuals flew two planes into two buildings and left a festering scar in the collective American heart. Who knew that it would only end up being the beginning.

Its not a cheery thought that has taken residence in the back of Mack's brain, but then, its not cheery work he's been doing lately. Finally free from captivity and the funk that followed, he's finally started doing his job in the new year. A few months late, maybe, but its for someone else to decide whether or not its too little too late. At least he's been busy. The day has been one long marathon session of phone calls, interviews, surveillance- well, he isn't a cop anymore, so maybe 'casing' would be a better word for it -and good old fashioned investigation. At least the library is still standing and apparently mostly undisturbed.

A text message. That is the brilliant, kind hearted fashion Mack decided to tell Peyton he wasn't dead. Maybe it was douchey. Maybe it was cowardly. But there it is. At 10:32 PM he sent her a text message that read simply, 'Not dead. Long story. Need to do some reading; come see me if you promise I'll still be not dead after.' Peyton is a smart girl, and his code is pretty simplistic. Almost sloppy, given the medium. In any event, its true enough. He is at the library, sitting at a table in a conference room. One of the ones Cardinal used to give briefings in. The walls are touched with life in Xiulan's special way. The vibrancy of art gives the lifeless building a more welcoming air; or at least it does to Mack. A simple black leather dayplanner is open in front of him, as well as two pocket notebooks, one full sized notebook, and three plain brown files. Pictures, professional looking documents, and hand-scribbled notes are all here en masse. At least he's not sitting around drinking himself into oblivion. Sure, there's a partially empty bottle of whiskey, but its not empty and he's working. Give him some credit. A pair of jeans that look worn a few days and a black button up- one of his old cop shirts -make up his attire, though the shirt is undone so one can see a holster strapped around his chest. He hasn't shaved today- maybe yesterday, either -and he wears a chain around his neck that used to support his badge. Now it only carries notebook with a piece of paper on it.

He looks tired. But not from the whiskey, despite its presence. And he looks like he's got more energy than Peyton has likely ever seen in him, all at the same time. This may have been what he looked like before she met him, before he quit SCOUT, before Cardinal recruited him. Other than his eyes, as always protected by sunglasses, he looks… healthy.

Peyton saw some of what happened to him, through her vision, but stopped looking after Tamara told her he would be all right in her cryptic manner. But that was still days and days ago, and she is worried. Worried because "soon" to Tamara is not soon to her. She's still waiting for Cardinal and Claire and Cat and Liz to make it home. So when the message comes, she's relieved. She might be angry later.

Wearing a backpack of all things — when has she ever worn one? — Peyton hobbles into the library through the secret door, giving a wave to the cameras so that Mack will see it's her on the monitors before he gets his rifle. She finagles her way through the various security measures to come to the area that the "residents" reside in. "Hey, Mack, it's Peyton. You here?" He better be here. It's hard to make your way across midtown in crutches, as public transportation and cab drivers don't go past a certain point.

"In here." If Mack was distracted, staring into the facric of reality as represented in the various windows of information before him, he's not once he hears her voice. He moves quickly, slipping into the hallway in time to catch her hobbling. "Ah, shit." With that he's at her side, attempting to help her along, if thats even possible. "What happened to you?" The almost ever-present note of depression is gone, though his voice really isn't any less harsh than before. At least he's drank so little that he doesn't even smell of alcohol. Just himself, and a trace of Ace cologne. Its Calvin Klein which, for him, is a spendy item. Of course, eighty dollar cologne is probably the equivelent of Brut to Peyton, or at least that would be Mack's assumption. Of her assumption. Oh, well isn't that a tangled mess. "C'mere, let me help you babygirl." The way he says the word is completely innocent, though. "Fuck, what happened?" One last time, for good measure.

"Shit, you really do heal, don't you," she says, a touch of wonder in her voice as she looks at him with wide eyes. "You had a bunch of holes in you I think the last time I saw you." It's said light-heartedly enough for what was a rather traumatic night, but she's had so many traumatic experiences that they're becoming almost mundane. "I broke my ankle… in a pothole. The night… running away from …" okay, so much for mundane. Her lower lip trembles and she clamps down on it with her front teeth. "When you got taken," she finally breathes out. She glances away, to blink away tears as she leans crutches against wall, then pulls the backpack off of her back. "There, that's all for the library. And you." It's some non perishable food, a six-pack of Guinness, batteries, candles, flashlights, matches. Useful things.

Mack takes the backpack immediately, throwing it over his shoulder carelessly before wrapping Peyton in something one might describe as a 'bear hug'. He's mindful not to tweak her ankle, little consolation as that might be. "I'm so sorry, Peyton." Genuine emotion mixed with no swearing; its an odd combination. And then he's trying to lead her back toward the conference room, with its abundance of chairs. "I really do heal. Don't think people realize what a fucking curse being evo is, but… well, anyway, I'm no Claire, but I'm still not dead. I'm sorry you were hurt because of me…"

The clairvoyant reaches up to wipe her eyes, cheeks turning rosy from the fact she's shedding tears in front of the crazy hobo. "No, nothing to be sorry about. It's not your fault, and a broken ankle is nothing. I'm only … I was only worried about you. I couldn't find you… I used my power, but it didn't do any good. Tamara said you'd be all right though." Her voice is husky as she tries not to begin crying in earnest. "You … you knew that person?" This is in a smaller, more fearful voice.

"I… yeah." Mack pats his pockets, reaching into the right pocket of his jeans, and then growls quietly. "Fuckin' great time to quit smoking…" Mack sighs. "That… the girl… was Giselle. My. Wait. Well, she was my fiance. Before the bomb." Speaking the words, especially in clear sight of the damage it caused, is like dragging nails out of his own throat for Mack. And it shows.

"Your… your fiancee did that to you? That's… Gabe, that's fucked up." She sits and looks at him with wide, frightened eyes. People have enough enemies in this world without loved ones trying to kill them, don't they? "I'm so sorry. Are you… what…" she frowns. What do you say? She finally settles on, "Is there anything I can do to help?"

"She. Well, Giselle was angry, and hurt. Its really complicated, Pey. And they knew I'm a regenerator. Yes, its fucked up. You weren't supposed to get hurt. I don't think they thought anyone would be with me." Mack pops a piece of gum into his mouth. "Don't worry about me. I'm torn in two between loving someone and causing pain to people I care about. Its two different worlds and I don't have any idea where they collide. But my personal life I leave at the door, and if I can't do that, I'm useless to you guys…"

"It's… that's still not okay. For her to hurt you… on purpose…" Peyton manages, her brows knitting together as she stares at him. "I … she must be one too? A regenerator? You thought she died." She chews her lower lip as she does when she's nervous, curling up in the couch as much as she is able with the hot pink cast on one foot. "Tamara said they would be back soon, but that was like … that was like two weeks ago, I think." A traitorous tear slips down one cheek.

"No, its not. And no, she isn't. I… we haven't really talked about it, very much. You have to remember, shooting me… its like if she punched me in the face. Its wrong. But its not something you just… cut someone out of your life for. Not someone you've known for over a decade. In my family, bonds are strong. A little violence… fuck, I don't know how to explain it." Mack shakes his head, setting one buttcheek on the table. "Its painful, and I don't. I haven't sorted it out yet. Anyway. I talked to Liz a couple days ago. She called me."

Peyton just stares at him, dumbstruck for a moment. "Shooting you… kidnapping you… torturing you… that's not something you cut someone out of your life for? Wow." She shakes her head, and reaches for her crutches, pulling herself back up. "Good, I'm glad Liz is all right. I've checked in on them a few times, but I can't make sense of what I see most of the time, so I gave up on it, especially when Tamara told me it'd be fine."

She situates herself on the crutches, then frowns, reaching into her back pocket and finding a card, tossing it onto the table Mack sits on. "That's, um, Bones. That guy we saw that night? Tall giant guy with dreads? He is some sort of … um, inspector. Buildings. He was at the library the next day when I came to see if you were around. Hired to look this place over. I told him … well, I had to tell him that some people were living here, and he agreed to lay off for a bit until whoever's in charge is back. Cardinal's not back yet, so I guess it's you." With that, she begins to leave the room without a goodbye.

"Liz, Card, and Claire are all fine right now." Some of his 'research' involves foreign countries and newspapers, after all. "And theoretically could be home soon, though they still have some dangerous work to do." Mack's voice is quiet, but hard- God, its hard. He's many things; rude, crass, brash, straight forward- but he's rarely ever mean. At least, not to people he cares about. "I'm sorry you got hurt. But next time you deign to fucking judge me or my actions you better be ready to find a way to live the last sixteen years of my life because you don't have a God damn idea the steps these shoes have walked, and all that time; how old were you sixteen years ago? All that time, I've been doing everything I can to help everyone else, and there's been one person who's never asked me for anything. Nothing. One person, who's GIVEN to me. One fucking person. Don't ever fucking judge me." Angry? Unchecked fury is raging in Mack's blood. If he has to follow her crutch-walking out of the library, well, he's not beyond that. Either way, once the last sentence leaves his lips he's back in the conference room popping open the top of his whiskey bottle and sucking several shots worth out of its mouth, slamming the bottle back down and splopping his Irish wine over onto his hand and the table.

Crutches make it hard to whirl around to throw back insults face to face, as his words sting her from behind. She looks over her shoulder with narrowed eyes, angry tears blinding her. But she has no retort. What is there to say — that she's been through hell and back herself and more than once? It would fall on deaf ears, or self-righteous ears at the moment. Her face crumples, and she shakes her head. Too many words flood through but none make any sense to say. She moves as fast as her crutches will carry her, having gotten more agile on the devices in the three weeks she's been on them. "If you see Cardinal before I do, tell him to call me," is all she manages, finally, at the lobby, her voice as even and emotionless as she can make it. And with that, she is out the door, to navigate the ruined streets of midtown.

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