Hold Back The Night


jericho_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif

Scene Title Hold Back The Night
Synopsis Jericho and Peyton go out on a date, Staten ghetto style.
Date October 13, 2009

Staten IslandShooters Bar and Bistro

A place that used to be a cafe and is making a slow progression towards being a dive bar. During the day, the balcony and a good portion of the sidewalk is taken up by outdoor chairs and tables, where people can enjoy a beer as well as a sandwich or whatever else is on their menu - a decent, if simply array of bar food. During the evening, unless it's a warm night, these are taken inside, and the kitchens are closed. A wide variety of beer is available, along with hard liquor and maybe a few wine labels, but nothing fancy. The interior decor is similar to traditional British pubs, with a hardwood bar and brick wall. There's an old pool table towards the back, along with a dart board. The building is actually two storeys high, but whatever is upstairs is inaccessible to the general public.

The call came out of the blue, and was one of those awkward moments where Jericho had to explain to Peyton how she knew him and how he got her number — of course, that kickstarted the memory into gear, as there's not that many people that would have gotten her phone number from her "boat chauffeur to Staten Island," of all things. So it is that Peyton has come to Staten of her own volition and not to bring stolen medical supplies to stock a deserted hotel-turn-hospital or to pass out food packages, or to do any of the charitable acts she's gotten used to doing on Staten.

What to wear to a date on Staten Island poses a challenge. The normal short dresses and high heels the former socialite would have worn would imply she's selling something she doesn't intend to sell on the island; the baggy jeans and practical shoes and grungy sweatshirts she normally wears for charity duty certainly don't show off her charms, and it is a date, or she thinks it is, anyway.

So it is that Peyton steps into Shooters dressed in dark jeans, knee-high black boots, and a snug black sweater — nothing too dressy, nothing too flashy, but still flattering, or so she hopes. Despite artfully applied makeup, Peyton's face shows a want of sleep — dark smudges under her eyes, a pallor that makes her normally honey-kissed skin look just a tiny bit sallow.

She scans the crowd for the tall, dark stranger with the sailor-swearing mouth as she makes her way through the crowd, careful not to bump into anyone as she heads toward the bar.

There are a lot of sailor-swearing mouths and relatively tall and dark individuals at the bistro tonight, and not a constituency that a young socialite such as Peyton herself would be particularly wise to mingle in indiscriminately. Fortunately, there's a highly discriminating character among them, and he isn't long before shouldering his way past the x's and y's of Statenite off-duty, a pint of some interchangeable ale in each hand.

He's wearing black too. It isn't cheap, but it's classy— hopefully, and is offset by jeans and a few gray stripes that hopefully rescue him from the precipice of Gothic melodrama that young men otherwise, honestly, can't afford to exhibit. "As salamu alaykum as they used to say in the raghead tar pit that birthed me," he offers, by way of greeting, angling his curly head over at the nearest booth. He offers the glass blithely. Here. "You're underage, right?"

"If you asked me out in the hopes I'm jail bait, you're out of luck," Peyton says, accepting the beer with a smirk as she follows to the booth. She graces Jericho with a smile, a rare thing these days on her face. "But I'm not quite 21, no. New Year's Eve." She's been drinking and worse for so long that the "milestone" birthday really means very little to her. "Cheers," she says, clinking her glass against his after she slides into the booth. "What does that mean… As… salam… whatever you said. I shouldn't try to repeat it, or I'll probably insult your mother or something on accident," she adds, taking a sip of the beer, and managing not to wrinkle her nose. She's used to ritzier stuff, and usually drinks cocktails in flourescent colors with maraschino cherries at the bottom.

It's got a light, nutty flavor, which is probably— exactly how you aren't supposed to describe it to Jericho, who's all white teeth and dark curls, seeming oddly incisored with every syllable he speaks and smile he imparts. He drops himself neatly onto his half of the boothe, opposite, and a quarter of his own drink is gone in a single pull off the only discreetly smudged rim. "I don't mind if you insult the old woman. I like keeping her around to blame her for my bullshit.
"You know, kids these days." He's older than her, probably; old enough to know better, which inculpates him for the style of his humor rather than exculpating him. Jericho's eyes thin to obsidian spurs. It's a bald question, based off extrapolations, subtle signs, her circumstances, things he would have had to know better, to be smart enough to be able to figure: "What happened to yours?"

So much for small talk. Peyton takes another sip — the flavor grows on her, as is the case with most beers. She glances away, and shrugs one shoulder. "Nothing that interesting to tell, I'm afraid," she says with an apologetic smile, feigned, of course, as if she truly is sorry for not having a more interesting story to tell. "The bomb. One of those unfortunate circumstances things; both of them in the same place at the same time? They were at a lawyers office to get a divorce." She crosses her legs under the table, surprised she's being this honest with someone she barely knows. "I wasn't in town." She glances back up at him. "How long you been here?"

"Staten?" Small-talk, like most small things, is relative. Nobody crawls around here in the layered refuse and ashes of Staten Island without certain complications being involved. Everybody is complicated. Deadbeat dads, mothers with scarred wrists, rap sheet, or enough felonies to've qualified for one if the island had cops anymore, but the closest thing you'll find to justice is karma's cataracted eye.

"Few months." He flicks an eye up at a passer-by, glances down at her again, jaw propped on the heel of one hand. "I was in Georgia before one of those cunt government sectors broke our fuckin' door down and threw me into Moab Federal Penitentiary without trial. Your boy King's sob story ends the same way, right? Used to see him in the yard."

A felony might scare off most girls, but then, Peyton has drunk driving on her own record — rehab instead of jail time, because she was under-age. Of course, she wasn't the one driving. She doesn't even know how to drive. "What were you in for?" she asks, curiously. "And I meant more, how long you been here, the US?" She takes another sip of her beer, then brings her hand, damp with condensation, up to push her bangs out of her eyes. "I don't know Shard's story in detail, but yeah, he was in prison, I guess. "You Evolved?" she asks, a jut of her pixyish chin toward him.

"Fuck; long as I can remember. Cairo was a vacation spot. I don't think most of us who got our asses stomped down the fuckin' hole at Moab were in for any damn thing," Jericho answers while, coincidentally— you know, not answering the actual question.

"You know Phoenix, PARIAH, them kids? They aren't all wrong. The government's pulling shit on Evolved that isn't right. We're the next fucking step, and somehow that makes us second class citizens. Don't get me wrong: there were some real killers and douchebags in there, and no one thinks the Midtown Man was a good idea. But Shard? Come on, what'd he do besides make more money than God could use? I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Even Norman White was relatively fuckin' sane starting out, in there.

"Yeah, I'm a flamethrower." Sounds so much hotter than 'pyrokinetic,' y'know what I'm sayin'? He rocks back on his bench, creaking, sets his shoulder against the cushioned flat of the seat. "You never said what yours was."

Peyton's eyes narrow as she listens. She doesn't understand most of what he says, but she nods in agreement about the government. That part she can believe. Cat tried to warn her about letting people know she was Evolved, and she didn't believe her. Words like Frontline and Humanis First; Peyton was more worried about not getting her party on, and left the safehouse. A week later, she was kidnapped. She believes the fairy tales now, the ghost stories; she believes in the bogey man.

"Flamethrower. That's cool," she says with a nod. "I … see what other people see. Clairvoyant, I guess, that's what they put on my card when they made me Register."

For a protracted moment, Jericho only stares at the younger woman, almost— okay, perturbed by that. See what other people see. Clairvoyant, she guesses. What would disconcert a young man more than finding out his hot young date has the supernatural capacity to see what he's doing. By himself. After. He's gone out of sight.


Well, probably nothing she hasn't seen before, on the bright side. Jericho blinks twice, brightens again. Fuck it. "That mandatory Registration thing is more bullshit: just makes people targets, and I don't just say that because I was part of a breakout. I haven't heard of fuckin' anybody benefiting from having one of those cards. That's a Hell of an ability, though. I know what I'd use it for—" he splits his cheeks with a grin, all teeth, and they're white, even, hearkening back to a family, domesticity, comfort before prison and hiding from the threat of its return. "What do you use it for?"

"Nothing fun," Peyton says with a shake of her head, long hair swinging around her cheeks. Usually in Staten she has it tucked beneath a cap, tries to make herself look more like an adolescent boy than a 20-year-old woman. Though on Staten, neither is really safe.

"I've only had it a little while," she adds, glancing down, her cheeks coloring a little. "I was … kidnapped… and ever since, it seems everyone else who gets kidnapped, the people who know I have this power come and ask me to see if I can see them." She sighs. "I've seen a lot of shit I would rather not, believe me."

There's an almost shy glance back up at him, and a smile. "I haven't ever used it on anyone who's not in trouble that's a friend of mine. I wouldn't do that. It'd be wrong." She has her morals, though they're not as strict as some.

There's a curl of Jer's brow at that, considering, the bite of hard thought and embittered skepticism softened somewhat by the pleasant percolation of ale through his veins and the fact that there's a pretty girl sitting not too far away, by turns bashful and troubled. "I d'no. There's looking for your friends when they're already in trouble then there's— maybe some chance you could stop them from getting there by going on the offensive, right?

"All the secrets you could know. They could help a lot of people, if the right people knew about them. I mean, not to tell you how to use your ability or bullshit like that" Jericho motions with a reed-fingered hand. There's a scab healing on the back of his middle knuckle, diamond-shaped, the split of blunt impact down to the bone. "But there's too many fucking Evolved being taken these days. Moab, Humanis First! were the fuckers who came at you, right?

"Did you see the old lady with the photograph when you came in?" He lifts his chin at the doorway, filmed over by diffused nicotine smoke, the thin sulfurically yellow light from the denuded ceiling bulbs.

"I've started. Trying to use it to help, in advance. Or at least to do some good." She's not sure the Shard newscast hijacking counts as doing much good, but it was something, right? "I have to know someone to see through their eyes. At least by sight, or a little bit. I can't just, you know, wish that I could look at whatever your mom's looking at and voila, suddenly I have your baby album in front of me, just because that's what she's looking at. Maybe some day, I don't know. I've only had the power like a couple of months." Her voice is low; he may be a charming and handsome young man, but she knows there are plenty of people she should not trust on this island.

She glances toward the door. "Yeah, I saw her…?" Her voice lilts upward into a question.

'Charming' is relative. Handsome; Jericho should hope so, though he isn't as vain as some of the mahfuckin' underwear models he sees running around with guns and purported sob stories, but you know, Egypt did a few things right.

He follows the trajectory of her eyesight out into the open space of the street, from over the geometric distortion of his pintglass, the steady slicking of perspiration down to puddle on the level of the table. "Seems to be the mommy of some poor baby hooker. There's like a dozen gone missing ever since the Happy Dagger burned down. Some kind of ecosystem inequilibrium thing. The biggest predators in the Rookery flew out, left it open to scavengers.

"Sometimes I think White's right. I mean, McRae— he's the old man who runs the little hippie commune that adopted me," and might even know he's referred to as 'the old man who runs the little hippie commune that adopted Jericho;' Peyton had seen him, briefly, the atmokinetic at the dock. "even he has to admit the shit we were born achieve the effects that governments dump billions of dollars into biochemistry, telecommunications, and weapons technology to achieve.

"Seems like there's only ever one way to get heard anymore. Hell. Took more than even the motherfuckin' Bomb to wake you up, didn't it?" Tact is for sobriety.

She listens, her pupils swallowing up the brown of her eyes as she shifts focus to the woman out in front of the bar, seeing the street from her point of view, before constricting once more, returning her focus on his face. "So you do know who I am, huh?" she says — after all, what would he know of what she was like before the bomb, if he didn't recognize her? "I'm not really like that anymore," she says quietly. "In my defense, I was young and stupid. And yeah, self-centered. It didn't seem to affect me." She pulls a face, clearly annoyed at her younger self; annoyed even at her self of just a few months past. "How long you been Evo? Would you care about all of it if you weren't?" she asks, curiously, fingers curling around her glass. "Especially if you had money and shelter and everything you needed not to worry about it?"

"Two years? Three?" Jericho stares into blank space for a moment, before his brows notch down with a scowl: he can't remember very clearly, insofar as he can't do the arithmetic in his sheep-curly head despite that the momen the discovered his ability to wield flame stands out in the murk of memory and darkness like a bullet scar in a painted wall. "Hell yeah, I'd care.

"I love having fire. It can't mean nothing, that it scares animals and wigs the shit out of those xenophobic Commie yellowbellies—" random insults strung together, but she knows what he means. 'Bigots,' "but I can fucking master it. Anyone I care about, anybody I want to protect, I don't need to buy, steal or make something to have in my hand to fight with. I carry it around in me. Only way I wouldn't have to worry about dbags coming at me because of what I can do is if they were all dead."

That possibility rarely seems nearer than when there's the keening of the mourner outside. The lady— not nearly so old as Jerry had made him out to be, is grabbing people by the sleeve. Men, mostly. Ones who're drunk enough, coarse-looking men with squared-off fists, who look like they might have known her girl— Biblically, because that's a surer bet than any kind of kinship or friendship she'dve wanted for her. The photograph is creased. The girl in it has red hair.

"Wouldn't blame you if you'd rather go back, though. You still scared Humanis First!'s gonna come back for you?"

"It's scary having the power, but I guess it's good if you could use it to protect yourself. Mine's… I mean, I can check to see if the coast is clear, or see if someone's watching me, without having to turn my head. It's useful that way. I would make a fucking great shoplifter," she says with a smirk. "Too bad I didn't have it a couple of years ago when that was my rebellion du jour." She flashes her teeth at him. But then things are more serious.

"I … I'll always be afraid of them, I think, but I don't think they're going to come for me specifically. It was just a chance that they found me, and they don't know that I can do anything useful. They think I just get weird jumbled images, visions that make no sense." She tilts her head, looks at him with narrowed eyes. There's something in her that suggests she's not merely white-bred European-American, though her parents certainly were. "What would you do with my power?"

The look Jericho levels her then is a rhetorical question sketched out in cinnamon skin and stark-boned features: What do you think? Sort of a dumb rhetorical question, in retrospect, but he went a round or two before she showed up and young men can not be relied upon to speak with consistency or clarity in such circumstances. The girl that that look was intended for, however, is not merely white-bread European-American, and is more than what her parents were. "To Humanis First!? Give them what they fucking deserve."

Peyton nods. "I'm trying… I … look in on them, try to find information on them, for some people." She doesn't say who. She scowls angrily. "They have my friend again. The girl I was kidnapped with, Wendy. They have her again. Her, they can use. She has a weird power — she can tell what other people can do." She gives a scoff of a laugh. "She knew I was Evolved before I did." She nods toward him. "Your old man, the bald guy, right? I saw him at the … rally… the earthquake." She pales at the remembrance of it. "He's okay? I don't know exactly who is who and on what side on that stuff. It scares me," she confesses.

"McRae's lucky with his ability like you are," Jericho observes, after a moment. It's taken a few minutes for the amusement she'd sparked with her predisposition toward to fade from his swarthy features. He'd be pretty fucking angry too, if they took one of his. It's been said. "He can use it from pretty far away. Wasn't him out there when White lost his shit at the carnival— just Chuckles and some of our people. But yeah, they're all right. Shard got the white kid out all right. He's fine.

"And hey, I hope they find your friend. You tell me if you guys need any help, a'ight? Some of the most powerful mutants there are living with McRae right now. Teleporters, telepath, me," signed off with the even white of a crooked grin, sensitivity wrapped up in the clever concealment of a rogue's sensibilities, "even some fat puppeteer bastard. You just let me know. Right now, though? Seems like you could use a fuckin' break." He lifts the pintglass in a toast. "Come on.

"Bet you've never done a train before."

"Do a train?" she says, with a shake of her head, picking up the glass to drain the now lukewarm beer.

The clairvoyant's graceful but marked progress toward inebriation is noted by the flamethrower, who smiles with all the gentility that a brash and adventurous young cultist fresh out of jail could possibly supply.

Naw, she's not in that much trouble. "There's an old station just outside the Rookery that's fucking perfect for it and I know the freight schedule. You get down below below the platform, on the ground level, and the two ton train cars pass by like half a foot from your face.

"The sheer power on that. It's the most fucking incredible thing you've ever been near short of McRae calling lightning, I swear, and completely safe—" He picks himself up, hauls them out, speaking animatedly, a lighter appearing in his fingers somewhere between the description and cajolement, his thumb clinking its one-note metallic song, arrhythmic, winking sparks, this fidgeting excess of energy that's both at odds and complemented by the sly curl of his grin. It's a little bit of a taunt, a touch of boy braggadocio the way getting a girl out to see a scary movie is. The clinging's nice. The night is young.

And for a few hours, the monsters and the darkness, both, held back and far away.

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