It's Not About Us


aaron_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif

Scene Title It's Not About Us
Synopsis The aftermath of Gillian's arrest begins for Aaron and Peyton.
Date November 16, 2009

Aaron and Peyton's Apartment — Upper West Side

After the line went dead, Aaron lay in bed for some time before endeavouring to seek Peyton out before the emotions welling up within him burst forth. Only he was so tangled up in emotions, he failed to notice he was also tangled up in bedding. Thank God for plush carpet. Although there's definitely an audible thud, especially for Aaron — the object of said thud — it doesn't hurt him nearly as much as hitting solid flooring would have.

After crashing down, Aaron lies there for a few more moments. The gravity of the morning's events haven't quite caught up to him, and the trip to the floor has shaken a few things loose in his head and have acted as the proverbial slap in the face he could have used earlier while on the phone, where he could have offered Gillian something, anything. He could have told her that he'd miss her, or that he loves her and will definitely be waiting for her when she gets out. But how long will he have to wait? The prospect of Gillian going to prison for anything…. it doesn't inspire hope in him. He grapples with his bedding to free himself from a somewhat self-created mess while his emotions unravel at an even slower pace.

Peyton's coming down the hallway when the thud is heard. She's fresh from the shower, hair hanging in wet strands around her face, dressed in jeans and a sweater, though her feet are still bare. She knocks on the door. "Aaron? You okay?" she calls through the door, one hand moving to the door knob should the answer come back in the negative.

Once Aaron has loosed himself from the tangle of bedding, the pain from landing mostly head first on the carpeted floor of his bedroom finally hits him, despite the fact that in all of the mess he didn't notice the knock or query from Peyton. "Ow." He rubs at his head. It's when he feels emotionally numb that the knock and Peyton's voice register, and he can't help but look at the door wondering if he maybe imagined it. "Peyton?" It's a very cautious-sounding probe, given his fairly shaky grasp on reality right now.

"No, it's the freaking pope," Peyton says with some amusement. The knob turns and her head peeks in. "You okay?" she asks, frowning a bit as she looks at the man fighting with the blankets on the floor. She just arches a brow as she leans in the doorway, waiting for him to explain.

How does one explain having so much trouble untangling themselves from their own bedthings? Aaron tries and fails to comb his wild hair down with his hands. Bedhead suddenly seems a greater concern than whatever has him looking as frightful as usual, though with decidedly less color. It's only once he's given up trying to straighten his hair and his eyes touch the phone lying on the floor amidst the blanket he did manage to free himself from, that he looks up at Peyton with a horrifyingly pitiful look. "Gillian is in jail."

"What? Shit. Does she need us to go make bail? Where at?" Peyton asks, looking ready to flee from the room and go get her checkbook and cab it to whatever precinct her friend is at. "Did she call Brian? What happened? Get dressed, come on." She runs a hand through her wet hair, as if annoyed that she just took a shower, meaning she'll have to go into the autumn cold with wet hair, but clearly it's not a true matter of concern for her, just as Aaron's is not for him.

"I … I don't know. She wasn't given time to explain," Aaron says. He already sounds like he's completely given up on the situation. "She said you could check in on her, with your ability, whenever. So that I know she's OK." He seems oddly unemotional, something very uncharacteristic of him. "She said she'd probably be there for a while." The panic from earlier seems to be walled up somewhere as he recounts the details from their brief phone conversation.

"I … she didn't tell you where she was or anything?" Peyton says, with a shake of her head. She comes in to sit next to Aaron, frowning. "She doesn't want us to come get her? I can probably make her bail or get bonds to… where did they get her? What did they say she did? Is it for not being registered or what?" She asks too many questions, knowing she's asking more than he knows. Her hand reaches out to take his. "I can … maybe call Felix or something?"

Aaron shakes his head slowly. "I don't know, but I don't think she's fighting whatever it is. Said she'd get herself out of it." It takes him a bit to notice that she's holding out her hand for him, and when he takes it there's a very weak tremble to it. And his grip is mostly slack. Clearly he's not all there.

"Okay," Peyton says softly. "Listen. She's a smart girl, and she's been doing this stuff a long time. I'll make some calls, see what I can find out. I'll call Brian and maybe Felix, see if they know anything or can help her. But she's strong. She can handle whatever it is, all right? It's … I wouldn't be able to, but she can." She squeezes his hand.

Aaron nods. "She said she was OK, and would be." It's only then his eyes finally start to tear up. He squeezes her hand back. "But, she knew I wouldn't be. That's why she gave you permission to check in on her— for me. Made me promise I'd still be here when she gets out," which he says in a way that almost sounds like he shouldn't still be there. The squeezing of Peyton's hand slowly translates into shaking.

"She'll be okay," Peyton repeats, because there's nothing else she can stay. Her own eyes tear up, and she wraps her arms around Aaron in a hug. She wipes her eyes and pulls out her cell phone, glancing over her shoulder to scroll through the coded names within, finding Brian's and pressing send. When he doesn't answer, she leaves a message, her voice soft and somber. "Brian, it's Peyton. Apparently Gillian's in jail, but I don't know the details or what she got arrested for. I figured you'd want to know. She says she will be okay — she called Aaron, I don't know why she didn't try for an attorney or something else. Must know something we don't." She hangs up and sets the phone down, hugging with both arms once more.

Aaron leans into Peyton as she hugs him, and his arms wrap tightly around her, as though she might slip away from him somehow, too. He seems to shrink when Peyton mentions him. "I…" He instantly shuts up, knowing the weird, panicky feeling he has building up in him. He knows it well enough to understand that talking right now isn't going to be terribly productive. Better not think of anything. He breathes and closes his eyes, lying his head on Peyton's shoulder and trying not to think of what has just happened to his life.

"Come on. Up. Let's get some breakfast and coffee and we're going to resume living whatever semblance of a normal life we have. Because that's what she wants, okay? There's nothing you can do, and it sucks, but she wouldn't want you to sit here crying over it." She has tears in her eyes as well, but she wipes them again as she disentangles from the embrace. She stands in one fluid motion, and then holds out a hand to help him up. "You can do this."

It takes a bit of kicking of his feet to get away from the remaining bedding before Aaron takes the hand. He doesn't have quite as much faith in his ability to deal with this situation as Peyton does. Though he does wipe away his own tears, they keep coming back. "I don't know what to do," he says.

"Stand up," Peyton says. There's a firmness in her voice that isn't usually there. She knows she has to be the strong one here, and that means tough love for Aaron. "Come on." She gives a tug of the hand, but she's not going to pull him to his feet. He needs to stand on his own. It's a small symbol that suddenly makes sense in the concrete.

Aaron does manage to pull himself up to his feet, face going a little red because of the tone she uses and the tug on his hand, though also because he didn't notice that he wasn't already standing. He takes a deep breath before following wherever Peyton leads, like a lost puppy.

"I'm going to call Cat and hopefully Brian will get back to me, and maybe I can call Felix Ivanov and see what's going on," she says conversationally. "What were your plans for today, before Gillian called?" She leads them into the kitchen, and heads to the refrigerator to pull out eggs, bacon and orange juice. He usually cooks, but she apparently plans on doing it today.

"I wasn't awake long enough to make plans," Aaron says, having a seat when he discovers Peyton plans to cook. Certainly he's taught her a thing or two in his time here. It shouldn't be a disaster. He can relax. See? Relaxing. Well, it would look more like relaxing if he could stop his hands from shaking. Instead, he just drums his fingers on the kitchen table.

She pours him a glass of orange juice and puts it in front of him, then pulls out a skillet and puts it on heat. "All right. If you hadn't gotten the call — if you just thought Gillian was somewhere, the Lighthouse or whatever, and not worried, what would you do now?" she says quietly. "Because that's what you're going to do, Aaron. It sucks and I'm worried too, but there's nothing you can do if she didn't even want us to come bail her out." She cracks eggs into a bowl, adds some water, and begins to stir quickly with a fork. Leaving that aside, she tosses some bacon into the pan. Apparently she isn't totally clueless.

Aaron stops the drumming of his fingers. He can't even begin to think of what he'd be doing otherwise. It's not something he can pretend didn't happen. He resumes drumming. There is one thing he'd do, and he's only certain of it because he does it every day. "Shower, eat, go and leech the pain out of some poor bastard or another." Well, technically several, but that's splitting hairs. "Then come back here and figure out what else to do."

"So that's what we'll do," Peyton says, matter of factly. "You go shower, and then come back out for breakfast, and we'll go find some place for you to busk a bit. I'll call Cat while you're in the shower; maybe she has some connections who can help us out." She looks up from the skillet, dark eyes on him as if she would will some strength into him. "And don't you dare think of doing anything bad to yourself. This sucks for you, it sucks for me, but it's not about us. It's about Gillian. And she needs you to be okay." She pauses, picking up the egg mixture and pouring it into the skillet. "Okay?"

Aaron leans his head on an elbow propped up on the table. He brushes his hand back through his hair. His hand goes back up to rub the tears from his eyes and brush them away, even as he fights to prevent more from coming. He acknowledges Peyton with only a nod and after a quick drink from the glass of orange juice she set in front of him, he heads off to shower.

Only once he's left the kitchen does Peyton let the tears that she's been holding back fall. She's not as close to Gillian as Aaron, but she counts the girl as her friend — one of the few true ones she has these days. Or ever. She picks up her cell and dials up Cat Chesterfield, to see if the woman who seems to know everything has an answer for this dilemma.

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