Everything's Peachy


aaron2_icon.gif gillian2_icon.gif

Scene Title Everything's Peachy
Synopsis Only everything's not.
Date October 6, 2009

Aaron and Peyton's Apartment — Upper West Side

The afternoon out that was supposed to be somehow useful, uplifting, or in any way not depressing was clearly a total abject failure. Aaron found himself facing the same sort of situation he was in when he met Peyton again after all those years. Perfectly innocent conversation was met with disdain for … everything. People, their happiness… life. What was supposed to be an afternoon of healing did more damage than he should have let it.

As part of his completely illogical and damaging new plan to try not to drag Peyton down with him, he pretends everything's peachy. He's not the best liar in the world, but she's also naive, and so it works at times. She can't see people's pain, so he's perfectly safe to not be discovered unless he acts broken. And he is broken. The whole idea is broken. It might not be hurting Peyton directly right now, but if he keeps it up, he might just actually hurt her, one way or the other.

She's gone out. It's no surprise. Aaron's been finding her presence in her own apartment less and less these days. Between his frequent visits to Bella and her quest to save the world, or whatever it is that she does, he's found himself to be alone far more often than he'd like. Being alone is what turned him into the wreck he was in the first place, the wreck that fired off his mouth at Peyton, the wreck that allowed anger and rage to dictate behaviour…. the wreck that turned that same behaviour on himself. To say Aaron is no longer functioning on all cylinders is an understatement.

There's a lot of things that don't quite function properly. The human brain in general could be one of those, easily enough. There's always ways to fake it through a day, or ways to keep going even when one shouldn't. Faking it through a day means smiling even when someone doesn't want to, or pretending to understand something that's incomprehensible.

That's in some ways the dilemma facing the young woman approaching Aaron's door. Gillian hasn't had something to genuinely smile about in a while, but the dimples still get common use, showing up on her cheeks. They're there again when she knocks on the door and waits. Of course some people can't be faked out. Even with a smile on the face.

The darkness isn't quite as bad as it had been before, with some bright spots here and there, but it doesn't mean it's gone. Things haven't gotten all better. But they haven't gotten worse, either.

The folks who say the whole fake it 'til you make it thing works clearly have never done it with something that really matters. Like being happy. Aaron did that for a long time, and it only brought him to the dark place he has sadly returned to. And then there's a knock on the door. Aaron startles from whatever it is he was doing, and even he's not particularly sure what it was. All he knows is he's sitting on the couch and there's this vague sense that someone knocked on the door? He slowly gets up and moves to the door, though he can't see through the peephole. It's all blurry. He blinks a few times, and feels a warm wetness run down his face, which he wipes away. Clear. Tears. He wipes at his eyes and looks through the peephole again to see Gillian standing there, grey as always.

Aaron can't decide whether or not her presence all of the sudden is a good thing or a bad thing. Granted, he can't decide on much of anything these days, and clearly his reasoning is compromised. He opens the door, revealing his still teary, tired, and red-rimmed eyes and an expression somewhere between confused and relieved. At least he's not alone anymore.

"Man, you look like shit, Aaron," Gillian says as he opens the door, teary and tired. A step forward and all of a sudden he has arms around him, holding onto him. Hugs are not something she's ever been really fond of, but they're becoming more and more necessary as the days go by. "Can I come in?" she asks, as she settles back on her heels and continues to dimple slightly, looking around him and past him.

"Is Peyton around?" The bag hanging from her shoulder bumps into him. There's something partially heavy in there, or at least more than a few little things. Perhaps even enough of a lump to account for a change of clothes. Like she might be planning to stay the night.

"I'm glad you came back," he says, returning the hug with a very tight squeeze. It's all he can do to not break down right there. Physical contact really is his weakness, and there's a bit of a tremble even that she's likely to feel. Once she breaks the embrace, he shoulders more tears from his eyes and gives a nod, closing the door once Gillian's inside. "No, she's out." Aaron realizes that's one of the reasons he's so gloomy. "Again." Apparently he felt the need to add that, a little bit of bitterness surrounding it. "You're welcome to stay." Though his tone is more pleading than offering.

"Well, I brought a couple movies if you wanted to give them a watch," Gillian says, hefting her shoulder bag up as she steps further inside, letting the door close so he can lock it. "I'm glad you said yes, cause otherwise I'd be sleeping in the hall or some shit," she tosses out, moving further into the room and dropping the bag on the couch. "I picked up this movie about a kid that plays chess. Searching for Bobby Fischer. And a couple other movies. Action movies, and sports movies, you can pick. I do wanna see the one about chess, though, but that could just be me."

She looks back at Aaron, frowning a bit, before she says, "October's started and my powers haven't started fritzing out yet. I got someone looking into finding a scientist guy who might be able to help out. But— power's still working just fine. And I feel okay too."

Aaron offers little more than a shrug to the mention of movies as he locks the door. "I'd never let you sleep in the hall," he comments, almost sounding insulted. Chess. Movies about Chess. That could be just her, not that he'd say that aloud. There was a musical about chess…. For all he knows, it could be a good movie. Things just haven't been too enjoyable as of late, and then in walks the living reminder of how badly things suck. The news, though, that gets a reaction. At first it's a welling of more tears and then it's really quite a change. He loosens up and lets out a sigh of relief. Granted, hope is very easily dashed, but for now it looks like he might actually have some for once. A little bit of light to hold onto. It seems like he can finally breathe again, and he's taking in deep breaths as he wipes away the fresh tears and has a seat on the couch. "You know, you could probably stay here. There is that extra bedroom, and if you're constantly coming to this part of town, why not?"

"I have a place in the Lighthouse," Gillian explains, moving to settle down on the edge of the couch, seeming visibly relieved that the topic isn't on her possible future health. It's not really up there with one of the things she's ready to deal with. "I also have to help out there during the day, when the kids are awake, and they like it when I read them stories at night. But I can probably stay a few nights a week— it's safer than coming back and forth all the time." She pulls the bag into her lap and brings out movies. Most of them are older movies, from the 80s and 90s. A couple from the last decade, but not many. All in DVD format. All look used, complete with used stickers. "I haven't watched any of these yet— the actual discs, not the movies— so I hope they're not too fucked up from scratches and stuff."

The Lighthouse, as though that explains anything. Aaron shrugs again. He seems to be doing a lot of that lately, shrugging. Among other things. He has at the DVD cases, though, and inspects each of the discs, buffing their surfaces with his fleece sleeve as necessary. "Not the scratches you have to worry about. Got a good DVD player here, it's the disc substrate you have to worry about. It's very hard to see substrate defects, but if they're there, you're pretty much S.O.L." He sinks back into the couch. "You're my guest. Make yourself comfortable. I'll pop in whichever you want to watch first."

"You know a lot more about DVDs than I do," Gillian says with a laugh, shuffling through a few of the DVDs, some with pictures, some just with a white stripe and a title. It depended on where she got them, or the place. "I'm more a book person. Used to be a librarian. We handled DVD checkouts too, but it wasn't quite the same." Always other people to do a lot of things, different sections of the Library, all that. She doesn't pick yet, shifting through them still. "The Lighthouse is my brother's place," she adds on, explaining, perhaps realizing that she didn't say all of that. "He runs an orphanage on Staten Island. For kids who are like us, special. There's this one kid who's indestructable. Not that I've tested it out or anything, but that's what I've heard. And this little girl who sees the past. I really hope she doesn't look into my past, though. She's way too young for that stuff."

"Optical media: the distribution of the music biz. Kinda hard not to know a bit about it. That and having had to fight with a few defective discs in my time," Aaron explains. "Sounds like a tedious job." Then he finally gets an explanation on the whole Lighthouse deal. There's a protracted 'ah' of understanding, and a bit of a blush at the mention of the girl being way too young for that stuff. There are various things he can think of even from his own past that would probably fit in with those. "I suppose that explains why you stay out there. Is it really a good place for children, though? I mean, it's not exactly well-connected. What happens if there's a medical emergency?"

"We have some connections," Gillian explains, though there's hesitation in her voice when she gets to that point. "Brian knows a healer too, on the mainland. Registered. So if something gets really bad, and it's not indestructible boy, we should be able to get them some help." There's details that she's leaving out, things she's hesitating on. There's so much that she can't talk about. Things that are secret. "It's not too bad. I mostly do it for Brian, though. When we found out we were related he made me promise to help him out at the Lighthouse. I'm a shitty babysitter and a bad influence on kids, but— at least I'll make sure they're all good readers."

Aaron nods slowly. He's used to not having everything mentioned, living with Peyton and her doing … well, whatever it is she does. It's probably better that way anyway. He does give a bit of a snort to her being a bad influence on kids. "You can't possibly be that bad." Sure, she swears, but who doesn't at this point? "Don't suppose you guys know someone who can help me?" It's a really hard thing for him to ask, and his state of mind screams at him that nobody can help him. It's not quite squeaked out, but it's certainly not smooth in its tone. His voice wavers and cracks as he asks it. He fights not to break and steels himself for the negative answer he's almost sure is coming.

There are no DVDs picked out even now, but Gillian looks over at her friend and tilts her head to the side. "Depends on what kind of help you need," she says, reaching over to touch his arm and squeezing it lightly. "I mean I can't do for you what you do for me, and I don't know anyone who can… and the only telepath that I knew…" she trails off. There's too many people who have died. "But I know some people you could talk to. I know you saw a shrink, but maybe you don't need a shrink. Maybe you need a pastor or something. I know a couple— one in particular who's pretty cool. I'm not sure exactly where to find him now, but I can find out." But it may not be possible. "What kinda help do you need?"

The touch stiffens him for a moment when he fights himself not to break, but it's really only a matter of time. It's amazing how physical contact is still such a weakness for him. And she doesn't know anyone…. Aaron only offers the correction, "see," when his shrink is mentioned, and a light scoff at the idea that maybe he doesn't need a shrink. In his mind, he most certainly does, but it's all not working. Not the talking, not the meds. He'll feel better after a session, and by the end of the next day, he's all gloomy and ready to cry again. Not that there's any lack of crying when he's feeling better.

What kind of help does he need? He's gone paler just over the few seconds. Hope dashed. There's almost nothing he can say. Almost nothing.

"I want to die."

"Well I'm certainly not planning to send you anywhere that would help you with that," Gillian suddenly says, shifting to face him more fully, almost a frown on her face. When she could be dying, she hears someone say they want to die? It's disturbing in more ways than one. "But if you want to get yourself killed, there's plenty of ways to do it. I've seen a hundred of them at one point or another, and experienced a handful." Dying wasn't the worst part, though— the worst part was living through it, really. "Damnit, Aaron. There's what, a couple hundred thousand people who would probably give anything to still fucking be alive and you're…" She growls, trailing off. Yeah, not the best way to respond to a suicide threat, but she's not a shrink.

From his perspective, there is no one like him to take his pain away, talking doesn't last, the meds don't work. What else is there? Keep living through the heartache and the emotional agony and hope things get better while he slowly dies on the inside? "Not…. That's not…." It's amazing how quickly tears can fall enough to roll upon one's shirt. Aaron tries to move backwards, but there's the back of the couch in the way. Suddenly Gillian's become a problem for him and he's trying to get away and breathe at the same time, and failing miserably at both. "What I… What have I got?" It's clear he's having trouble articulating anything at this point, in between gasps for air then hyperventilation then back again, and he can barely see through the haze of the tears that won't stop now, and yet he's not even quite crying yet.

Something changes rather abruptly. Even with how upset Gillian is at everything that's been going on the last few weeks, and this situation, she's suddenly relieved of that burden. It makes her lean forward a bit in surprise, staring ahead of her, until she can finally sit back up and look at him. There's tears and he's having trouble breathing, and all of a sudden she doesn't even feel angry at him for the things he has to say. "Aaron— what don't you have? You have a place to live— you have people who want to be around you— Peyton hasn't kicked you out, and I don't doubt she would if she wanted to. I came back— You're a good singer, you play instruments— you're good looking, you're… You have things."

What little headache was forming is gone, which is in and of itself a confusing situation. Combine that with the mess of emotion running through him, emotional blinders and everything, and you get the quivering heap that is Aaron Michaels, once great (well, locally anyway) musician. It seems that his pained mind and heart have come up with negations to half of the reassurances Gillian offers. "She's never here. I'm always alone. Can't sleep." He's finally found himself able to breathe as he starts to sob, leaning forward a bit into the space between them. His trembling turns into shaking, and his tone goes to anger, though still greatly pained. "So whoopedy-fucking-do, I'm such a great musician who makes everyone happy while I never am and never will."

"Then don't be alone," Gillian says, standing up as she moves closer to him again, as if she wants to pummel him in the head. "If you don't want to be alone, then find somewhere else. Somewhere where you're not alone. There's a million people in New York. There's a thousand places that are open to the public that you can go to and meet people, talk to people, make friends— you don't have to…" There's suddenly a tingle of emotion that hits her. If it wasn't for the fact that she stopped experiencing pain for a moment, she may not have noticed. It makes her blink and stop. "…I thought you had to sing to use your ability?"

Which is precisely the look on his face when she comes closer. Fear…. Terror, actually. His anger never has had a long life and in his completely raw state, there are literally no stops for his emotion and little rational processing of his surroundings. Aaron freezes up until Gillian stops and looks confused at him. The question is completely neutral to the situation, which helps to defuse it. "If…. It's the only way… I can control it," he says between sobs. "It's happened a few times when I'm really emotional." Which he clearly is.

For a long moment, Gillian doesn't really seem to know what to do. There's a lot of situations where she'd just slap him and say to toughen up. But this isn't that situation. "Sometimes I wonder if it'd be easier if I died, too," she says softly, as she moves in even closer and wraps her arms around him again, cutting the distance between them into a very small area. "I know— I pretend I don't— I guess I do understand." He's lost things, she's lost things. He's lonely, she's lonely. "It's okay."

Aaron doesn't move as Gillian wraps her arms around him. Then he stiffens up for a moment before melting completely, all control lost. He sobs. Bawls, would probably describe it better, and he holds onto her for dear life, his only lifeline in his current state.

There's silence as Gillian just holds onto him, tightening her arms around him, pressing his face into her shoulder. "It's okay to be lonely— it's okay to be hurt— it's even fucking okay to hate the ability that you got." Sometimes she does. More than she would admit anymore. "It's okay… to not be okay. I don't think anyone is anymore."

No more words come from Aaron. He just slowly starts to quiet down, his clinging grip slowly growing more and more lax until he finally goes limp. It's certainly not the first time that Aaron has experienced this particular type of sleep. A combination of passing out from exhaustion and a cathartic release of all of the pain he deals with on a daily basis. There's the occasional sniffle, but the tears have stopped and he's remarkably still while he's in Gillian's arms.

While Gillian holds him, she doesn't move much besides breathe, and finally closes her eyes too, leaning her head against the couch. The DVDs she brought are forgotten and she's not going to be watching any of them tonight. She's just going to hold him while he sleeps.

Maybe, in a way, she can give back what she's taken from him. It just can't happen as fast.

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