Grammar Lessons


peyton2_icon.gif smedley_icon.gif

Scene Title Grammar Lessons
Synopsis Linguistics are not their forte, but on this evening, Peyton and Smedley find it's a wonderful life, once in a while.
Date December 21, 2010

Redbird Security Smedley's Apartment

The scene is not as Currier and Ives print worthy as Christmases of Peyton's past, especially those spent at her family's cabin in Aspen or their cottage in Martha's Vineyard. It doesn't look like the lush holiday scenes of glossy high-society magazines, like one in her own Park Avenue apartment might. But it's homy and quaint — a small noble fir in the corner by the window glows with white lights, a popcorn strand, and burgundy and silver bulbs; a fire crackles and snaps in the fireplace, the dogs curled up in front of it.

The television — a moderate-sized plasma, since Peyton has been spending all her time here, anyway and decided she couldn't stand the small second-hand tube television that the apartment had started with — is on the final scene of It's A Wonderful Life.

Peyton's dark eyes sparkle with more than the light of the fire; tears glimmer on long lashes when she peers up at Wes to see if he's teary at all.

There's a strange nostalgia painted across Wes's face, and in the soft light of the television coupled with the tree and the fire, his grayish eyes do seem to glimmer with what might be a little extra moisture. His arm tightens slightly around Peyton's shoulder, and a sigh escapes him with one long bellows-like push of air through his nostrils.

The decorations were Peyton's idea, of course, but Wes didn't object in the slightest. It's been years since he's been in a properly festooned home for the holidays, and he isn't about to risk disturbing the delicate balance of it all for fear of shattering it like one of those glass bulbs hanging from the tree.

When Wes glances down at Peyton, a smile tugs into one corner of his mouth before he leans to span those few inches and lay a kiss on her forehead. He doesn't mention the fact that he was able to make good on his promise. He doesn't comment on the movie, or even ask for her opinion of it, given the fact it's her first time with the Christmas classic. He simply holds her with that single arm, his fingers on her shoulder gripping her tightly as he presses his lips to her brow.

She smiles as he kisses her, closing her eyes and sighing with something like contentment — it's a rare sound these days. The pressures on each of them since they have known one another seem to mount each and each day. One crisis gives way to another — one heartache to another. Evading death might be a reason to celebrate, but it just means that it lurks around the corner, somewhere, more mysterious and in a way more frightening than its earlier incarnation.

She lifts the remote to stop the movie, curling one foot beneath her as she shifts position to look at him and perhaps give his shoulder a reprieve from the weight of her head. Two hours is a long time to stay in one position. "Thanks," she says, the single syllable heavier in meaning than it should be.

To his credit, Wes doesn't shift too much when Peyton moves his head and frees up his stiff shoulder. He smiles at her, lifting his other hand to stroke at her hair. "Don't mention it," he murmurs, almost embarrassed at the weight of that simple word.

His smile spreads a little further across his face, hinging on a laughing grin. "You liked it then?" he asks with a slight lift of his eyebrows. It was a surprise to find out she'd never seen it before, and it has Wes wondering what other tidbits of classic Christmas Americana she's missed out on.

She nods, though her eyes glimmer a little more with the tears that threaten to fall. She knows too well now what taking someone out of their timeline might do to everything after, but at the same time, seeing the full life of a man well-loved with a family makes her own feel somewhat empty in comparison.

"It was sweet. I like that actor. What's his name?" she asks; an irony from the girl who has on her cell phone the phone numbers of at least fifty current celebrities. She stretches to reach for the mug of eggnog on the coffee table, sipping from it before resting it on her knee.

Wes's eyes widen at Peyton's question, and it's all he can do not to break out with what could only be construed as condescending laughter. "Jimmy Stewart," he says, rubbing her shoulder with his hand again. "You know. From…shit, um… you know, that movie with the crazy family and the rich kid fiance. My kid sister was in a play of it once." Not that Peyton would be able to fill the mental gap for him.

"And Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. And the one with the big rabbit." Someone in Wes's family must have been a fan.

"A big rabbit," Peyton echoes and she shakes her head. Apparently she didn't grow up on TMC classics and her parents didn't try to make her watch the oldie but goodies — she was a spoiled brat, which meant she watched whatever she wanted, and black and white films from generations past were never on her list.

"The name's familiar. I think I may have seen something of his once." She shrugs, and curls closer to him, closing her eyes. "Any other must-see Christmas traditions I'm missing out on? All I really did as a kid was go to Rockefeller for ice skating and the big tree… I always wanted to see the Rockettes, but my parents said they were crass."


Quid pro quo. Peyton's hit on something that's foreign to Wes, at least in it's official name. He hums, leaning back into the couch as she settles against him again. It's a welcome closeness, despite how homey and frightening it may be to his more practical sentimentalities. "You've seen A Christmas Story, right? Red Ryder BB Gun and horrible pink bunny suit?"

"Yeah, that one I saw. Does that count as a classic?" she says, sounding surprised. Apparently being in color and having a cast that's still mostly living might exclude something from being a classic.

"I even saw it in French dubbing. They'd stick it in the last week of school in my French class since the kids weren't really likely to learn anything that week either."

She grins, and adds in a very good French accent: "Vous tirerez votre oeil dehors!"

That laugh finally spills out of Wes at Peyton's French expulsion, and he pulls her closer still, turning his head to bury it in her hair. "I have no clue what you just said," he admits in a voice still racked by his mirth. "But I don't think it was about Ovaltine."

He turns his head to nuzzle playfully at her neck, staunching his laughter there against her skin. "Just…don't ever talk like that again, or I won't be able to keep from bustin' up at you."

Her mouth drops and she shakes her head. French was the only subject she cared about in school. "I said you'll shoot your eye out," she explains, but she crosses her arms and narrows her eyes at him. "Fine. No French pillow talk for you," she adds.

Her eyes move to the fire, watching the flames flicker and dance for a long moment before turning back to him tipping her head slightly to brush her lips across his jaw.

"Je t'aime," she whispers — it's easier to say it in another language, but her heart pounds all the same.

Wes does his best to suppress what can only be described as a giggle, but it slides into a hum at the kiss. He doesn't speak French, and so has no idea what Peyton's said. Still, he returns the kiss by planting one on her cheek.

"I could talk atcha in pig-latin, if y'want," he teases, slipping his hand from her shoulder to pinch at her side. "Ouyay, reay, osay, rettyay."


She should be angry that he's laughing at her confession of love, but she can't help but giggle. And then shake her head. "That wasn't even words," she protests to his attempt at Pig Latin, shaking her head.

Peyton nestles closer, moving to slide into his lap, arms moving around his neck as she brings her lips to his ear. "Je means I," she whispers, kissing his jaw. "'T' means you," she adds, moving to his cheek. "And aime means love." Her lips brush his, and she pulls back, studying his mouth for a moment, her teeth catching her lower lip as her eyelashes come up, her dark eyes seeking his pale gaze.

It's easily found, and the expression there is one of stunned surprise. His pupils dilate slightly, but in another moment, his grin is back, making those windows onto gray prairie skies sparkle as if touched by the first pinpricks of starlight.

Wes's hands, which have settled on Peyton's waist as she shfited to his lap, sneak to pinch her again as the grin splits his lips. "That ain't even a sentence, Miss Know-it-all." Pleased with himself and the irony of it, Wes lifts his hands to cradle her jaw and pull her in for a kiss.

Of course the words aren't lost on him, even if he takes the few seconds to poke fun at her choice of translation.

"I'm better at French than English," Peyton teases back, not quite ready to say it all together in a language he's ready to understand.

Baby steps.

But she is ready to prove her proficiency in French and does so by giving him a longer, more lingering sort of kiss, her fingers curling into his hair.

Now that sort of French Wes has experience with. His own hands slide back to Peyton's back, making it easier to turn her into the couch after a few moments. The cozy atmosphere of the Christmas tree and the fire still licking at the logs in the grate are more than enough to make Wes's heart swell, but Peyton's long awaited admission fills it almost to bursting.

Cold inquisitive noses be damned.

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