Just What He Needs


aaron_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif

Scene Title Just What He Needs
Synopsis Peyton brings Aaron back home from the hospital where they learn something interesting about his ability. They don't quite put two and two together, though.
Date March 31, 2010

Aaron and Peyton's Apartment — Upper West Side

Weariness set in on Tuesday. It replaced the shock that came upon Aaron when he realized he very nearly died— something he hadn't realized the previous day when he woke up in the hospital. It wasn't helped by the disappearance of most of his things from the hotel room he had paid for. Including his guitar. The weariness continues even now, as he and Peyton exit the elevator on the floor of their apartment. At least he's dressed in real clothes again. No hospital gowns for him, thanks.

What he spots makes him stop short, head cocked to once side. His guitar case leans against their door, holding up a winter coat that looks suspiciously identical to the one he stole from Peyton to clothe Marie in when they went out that blistery night. His bag, filled with the clothes he took with him, sits next to the guitar case.

"Huh. I told her to keep the coat," Peyton says, moving to unlock the door, then putting a hand on Aaron's back to push him inside. "I'll get those, don't worry about them," she says quietly, before he can try to strain himself by reaching for either guitar case or bag. She goes to pick up one then the other, lugging both into the apartment and dropping the bag on the ground near the door. The case, however, she carries over to the couch so that he can play it there if he needs. "Can I get you anything?"

"At least my stuff's not missing," Aaron says before he's shuffled into the apartment. He drops his coat onto the coat rack and precedes immediately to the couch, where he lies down. He's still not exactly himself, and he feels like he's run a mile to boot. He lifts his head up to watch as Peyton sets his guitar case within arm's reach, not entirely sure how comfortable playing will be with a handful of stitches on either arm. Her question distracts him from his pondering. It doesn't take much thinking before he says, "Real food would be a good start."

"Real food as opposed to take out? I don't cook very well," Peyton says with a chuckle, unbuttoning her own coat and hanging it and the other coat on the rack beside his. "I can manage, I suppose, if you don't expect anything gourmet. Or I can call for delivery, unless the restaurants have just given up even trying in this horrible weather." She leans against the wall near the kitchen entrance, to wait for his reply.

"I didn't say it had to be homemade. Just so long as it's not hospital food, I'm good. Hell, I'll eat cold pizza if there is any. Any leftover Chinese? And maybe some tea?" Aaron shivers a bit and curls up on the couch, "It's colder than a snowman's ass outside. I wouldn't be surprised if some restaurants are just plain closed, let alone not delivering."

"I don't really have any food here, but I'll see what I can get ordered. The place on the corner, if nothing else. I can run down and get that," Peyton offers. She goes back into the living room and turns on the gas for the fireplace, before picking up the lighter on the mantel and igniting the flame. It's fake, sure, but it's efficient. "I'll put some tea on and order you some food. The usual?"

"Should probably stock up on food, in case it gets as bad as they're expecting. Maybe bring some over to the Lighthouse. I don't know what sort of emergency preparedness they have. Things aren't really looking too hot out there…. no pun intended." He gets off the couch and seats himself in front of the fireplace, staring into the fire. "Yeah, usual's fine." It seems that his internal soundtrack consumes him them, as he begins bobbing his head and swaying to an unseen rhythm. Every so often, his fingers move as though on the keys of a piano.

"I have lots of food, just nothing … edible by itself," Peyton says. "Lighthouse'll be hard to get to in this much snow. I haven't been out to Midtown in a couple of weeks, now, either." He doesn't know she goes to the Library, but he does know she treks out to Midtown somewhere. She picks up the phone and calls the Chinese restaurant, ordering the usual — chow mein, fried rice, steamed rice, kung pao chicken, orange chicken, and hot and sour soup. It will last them at least a few days.

Aaron knows very little about Peyton's extra-curricular activities, beyond that she's out there risking herself for the ungrateful masses. It's almost something he'd see himself doing, if he had more practical talents at his disposal. His concentration in keeping the invisible music going isn't broken when he says, "Hard is not impossible. Won't be fun, but I haven't seen Gillian since she left. If nothing else, I would like to go out there, even if it is a pain in the ass."

"Gillian'd be happy to see you, I'm sure. It's not impossible, but… it's dangerous. Staten's not nice on a good day, and right now with this weather, I'm sure the boat drivers are charging an arm and a leg. I don't think you need to bring them food — I mean, Brian's got all his bodies, they're probably helpful in that way. But if you want to go visit her, I'm sure she'd be happy to have you."

"It's not nice on a great day, really. I still wish they'd move that thing to somewhere more sane." Aaron closes his eyes and basks in the glow of the fire and whatever song is going on in that thick skull of his. And with Peyton as close as she is, it almost seems like the warmth of the fire takes away his aches and pains — or at least the ones in his head, anyway. And the stiffness. Symptoms of his ability being underused. He seems completely absorbed in whatever tune is stuck in his head until he realizes that his head doesn't hurt, and he doesn't quite feel as run over as he did moments ago. Upon that realization, he stops moving.

"You're like… air banding your power now?" she asks, as she hangs up the phone and then returns to her space by the kitchen door, watching him curiously. "I guess that's more efficient than having to sing. Just… in order not to look all crazy you might wanna wear headphones and do it while sitting on the subway or something, people might think you're a music student. Or hey, maybe there's an iPod app with a keyboard on it or something and you can use that." Of course she would have to buy him the iPod.

"Apparently," Aaron says slowly, shifting on the floor to face Peyton, "I didn't … know I could do that." He brushes his hair from his eyes, making a note to himself to get a haircut while there's still a barbershop open. "After all my attempts to control this thing through sheer will and it works doing something as ridiculous as imagining playing music." He shrugs a bit, "Not that it doesn't make some sense."

The teakettle screeches and she disappears into the kitchen before coming out with a mug of hot water with a tea bag steeping inside. Peyton sets it in front of him, then plops on the couch. "Makes sense. I mean, your power would have to work even if you weren't a musician, right? So it's just a way of … focusing it… if you practice it enough, you can probably get rid of even the motions."

Aaron takes up the mug and leaves the warm halo of the fire to sit next to Peyton on the couch. "I was thinking just that…." He looks puzzled when he turns to his roommate, his eyes focused on hers. There's darkness there, and he can see it. "Didn't I just…?" He looks back to the spot where he was seated near the fire, then back to her. "I don't get it." Yet.

She's always masking her pain, so the fact that it left and re-entered isn't quite as noticeable to Peyton. It could just be the proximity to Aaron and the fact that he looks so fragile and that the bandages on his arms remind her of his recent actions. It could be. But it's not. "Just… what?" she says, tilting her head to look at him with confusion. "The food should be here in twenty minutes, they said." It's one of the shops below the apartment buildings, so they don't have to tromp through snow to get there.

Aaron is like a a Timex watch. Takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'. Fragile though he may appear, he's still alive despite all the shit he's been through. That has to count for something. Granted, compared to some, he's been through very little. He scratches at the three and a half days worth of stubble that has grown since the whole incident Saturday night and Sunday morning and sets a hand on Peyton's shoulder. His eyes close and he looks as though concentrating on something, head bobbing slightly to an invisible beat.

Peyton shakes her head. "Don't… don't tax yourself, unless it helps you. I'm fine. I mean, you don't know how it works. If you keep taking in what you just took in or something, that might not be good for you. And you need to focus on you, and you feeling better, not me, all right? I don't want you to strain yourself so soon out of the hospital. Just… you know. Take it easy and test a little at a time."

With a sigh, Aaron relinquishes his touch and returns his free hand to the mug in his other, holding it between both hands and keeping them warm as his tea steeps. "I don't like seeing you in pain," he says, hardly conscious of the fact that he's had a similar conversation before, though not in nearly the same emotional context. Last time he was being an ass about it. "You don't show it, but I see it anyway and … it makes me sad."

She smiles sadly at him, and curls her feet up on the sofa. "I'm not trying to hide it, either, not right now. It just doesn't do any good to fall down crying about it anymore. I'm sorry it makes you sad. I don't want you to have to feel my pain… you have enough of your own, you know?" She reaches over to push his shoulder lightly. "Don't worry about me. Worry about you."

In response to her push, Aaron pokes at one of Peyton's feet. "Yeah, I kinda worry about you anyway. Just the way I'm wired, I guess. But I seem to need you more than you need me. Doesn't seem quite fair— we should at least need each other equally." He sets his mug on the coffee table. "I don't think I know how to worry about me."

"I think for one, Aaron, you need to quit looking at your ability as a curse. I know some of that is my fault, I made you afraid to use it. I made it seem like a bad thing. But you help people. You make them feel better. That's not bad. It's a gift." She hugs her knees. "Go to the Lighthouse and teach the kids music… feel useful in another way, too. I think it's mostly that I feel like I have some purpose that's gotten me this far. I don't know a lot of things and can't help in a lot of ways, but doing what I do… it's important and makes me feel like what I'm doing has some significance. And it's worth trying to live for."

Aaron leans back into the cushions of the couch, brushing his hair back with his hands. "Given what it does to me, I'd say it at least qualifies as a curse lite. Gift or no gift, it has some pretty shitty side-effects. At least for me. Sure works better than anti-depressants, though." Oddly, he doesn't remark on being told to go to the Lighthouse. In part, he does have some concerns about what Gillian will do when she finds out about his … incident. But truth be told, he does feel rather insignificant and purposeless most of the time. Being given one really is just what he needs.

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