Kitten and Crisis


peyton_icon.gif richard_icon.gif

Also Starring


Scene Title Kitten and Crisis
Synopsis After a traumatic event, Peyton seeks sanctuary at Raytech. On top of bad news, she gives him more bad news, courtesy of her ability.
Date April 2, 2018


The telephone exchange was quick. Peyton’s name and number popping up on Richard Ray’s personal cell was a rarity. Maybe knowing that Peyton can literally see how busy (or not) he is if she wished to prompted Richard to pick up. On the other line, breathless and frightened, Peyton asked if she could meet with him.

Rain and poor roads have taken the place of traffic when it comes to traveling by car in the Safe Zone, so it’s nearly an hour before an Uber driver pulls up outside of Raytech. The passenger door opens and out pops first Peyton and then the small boy in the yellow raincoat. She pulls up his hood, though her own hair is still damp from the drizzle and getting damper as she hurries from car to building.

The tone of her voice was all that it took for Richard to agree to a meeting immediately, and in fact he's waiting at the door as she comes inside - flanked by two of the building's guards, decked out in AEGIS armor and watching the parking lot past her with wary gazes.

"Peyton," he greets tersely, stepping aside and waving her in, "Come inside - is everything alright, what happened? Do you or the kid need a medic at all?"

Jonah clings to his mother’s hand and has been crying, but now it seems to have subsided to a small sniffle now and then. He leans against Peyton’s hip and stares up at Ray. “Someone shot someone,” he whispers soberly — apparently Ray is a trusted adult.

Peyton shakes her head at the questions — no, everything’s not all right, no they don’t need the medic. She opens her mouth to speak but Jonah is already doing it for her.

“Danko,” she murmurs, her voice low so it doesn’t get picked up by the guards. “I tried to call Brad but it went to voicemail. There was a SESA agent there, actually but I just ran. I called 9-1-1 though, I told them it was him, but they may not believe me. I don’t know if SESA will believe it, either.” Her tone is grim, matter-of-fact. The tears she’s already cried still stain her cheeks but she seems to be out of them for now.

The words of her son bring a slight widening of Richard's eyes, and he looks back to Peyton — and then that name is said, and he pales a shade.

"Jesus," he breathes out, turning his attention to one of the guards and ordering firmly, "Lock the place down, but do it quietly. I want security to know every goddamn squirrel that scampers across that parking lot for the next couple hours."

"Understood, sir," says the guard, giving the woman a concerned look of his own before tapping a communicator at his collar and starting to subvocalize orders.

Richard sweeps an arm for them to follow, heading past the reception desk shaking his head and starting down the hallway. "I know you like dinosaurs, Jonah," he offers with forced lightness, "How are you with cats?"

“Do you have squirr-wells?” Jonah says brightly, forgetting, momentarily, the stress of the day. At the question, his eyes widen. “I like cats! I don’t have any cats or dogs. At home — I mean in Toronto — we have peewee goats!”

“Pygmy,” Peyton murmurs quietly, but with a smile. Her brow knits as she glances back at the guard, before she follows Ray. “Thank you. I didn’t want to go home to an empty house. I was trying to keep track of things,” she gestures toward her eyes, a little bloodshot, and red-rimmed from tears, “but I don’t… I don’t know.”

She presses her lips together, taking a deep breath through her nose, and releasing it, clearly trying to keep calm for Jonah’s sake. “He didn’t see it,” she says more quietly. “Thank God.” It’s clear that she did.

“Good,” says Richard quietly to Peyton, pausing to gesture into a side room - a break room, it looks like, for the guards and receptionist and such. There’s a television screen included seamlessly in one wall, some comfortable seating including a couch, and a counter for making coffee and microwaving snacks.

The coffee maker appears to be automated, and could not be more intimidating if it was purposefully designed like that. The glowing red ‘eyes’ on the thing judge all who dare step before it to request such brews. Obviously, Warren built the damn thing.

“Sit down, I’ll be right back— “

Down the hall and into his office, Richard Ray returns a few minutes later with a cardboard box. He crouches down a bit, beckoning Jonah over. “Now, I’ve got to talk to your mom, so while I do - can you keep an eye on him for me?” A tiny red-furred kitten peers up with wide, curious eyes. “His name’s Richelieu - he’s very young so you have to be gentle with him, okay?”

When Richard comes back, Jonah’s playing with his plastic dinosaur in front of the television. Peyton is sitting on the corner of the sofa watching, smiling as Ray speaks so gently to Jonah. The little boy gasps, clearly doing his best to stifle his excitement, because kittens are fragile and he knows this.

“He’s so tiny and cuuuute,” he whispers, setting down the dinosaur and reaching in the box to pet the kitten with the utmost care.

Peyton’s eyes shine with gratitude. “He’s used to zoning out grown-up talk,” she says quietly. “I think we all sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher to him when he’s playing.” Even more quietly, she murmurs, “I thought Danko was dead. But the timing… this guy, young, went up to this SESA agent and had some information for her. Needed her help. And then…”

She shudders.

“I’m sorry to bring this to you. SESA, the Military Police… they should be handling it, but… “ she laughs a little weakly. “Old habits, I guess. Besides Brad, my instinct is to run to you.” Her cheeks flush just a little in her pale face.

Richelieu makes a soft and happy little ‘mew’ as the child reaches down, and nuzzles back at his fingers happily.

Richard watches them for a moment with a smile, and then he pushes himself up to his feet and steps over to Peyton, easing himself down to sit. “Maybe so, but he can still use something to focus on,” he says quietly, resting his hands on his knees and leaning against them, a frown pursing to his lips, “So are you.. are you sure that it was him? Did you actually see him yourself?”

She nods. “It was him,” she says, her voice flat in her effort to keep the emotions from rising again. Her hands twist one another; every time she stops moving them, they tremble, before she folds them into one another again. “I mean, I know it was him in the street. I can’t be sure it was him who shot but the timing… there was a shot and then a few minutes later, he was out on the street — slipping into the crowd. He didn’t look afraid, like everyone else. Just… “ she rubs a hand over her eyes. “You know. Cold.” Like Danko.

“Okay.” Richard reaches over, his hand covering one of hers, fingers pressing against them in a reassuring clasp, “It’s okay. You’re safe, you’re far away from him…” Then he draws in a slow breath, exhaling, “This is a shitty-ass question to ask, but have you tried to see what he’s up to since then?”

Her hands are cold, still damp from the rain. She shakes her head. “I can,” she whispers, glancing at Jonah to make sure he’s still happily playing with Richelieu. Reaching up, she wipes her eyes, beginning to well up with tears, then takes a shaky breath. She turns her head slightly, away from Jonah, letting her dark hair fall like a veil around her face; obviously she hasn’t let him see her use her ability before.

Pupils widen, swallowing up her brown irises. It’s only a brief moment before she closes them again, and when she looks up, her eyes are once again normal. “On a boat, coming up on land. I think Staten, but…” she lifts a shoulder. She hasn’t seen most of the shorelines for so many years.

‘Staten. It makes sense.” Richard draws in a deep breath, and then exhales, his fingers squeezing hers reassuringly, “Okay. You’re right - you should go to SESA about this. Do you want me to call in an agent I trust to talk to you, or— would you rather just reach out yourself?”

The fact that he’s likely to look into this himself should go without saying. Peyton knows him that well, after all.

Peyton laughs a little weakly. “I’m living with Brad Russo. I’m pretty sure SESA will know,” she says a little wryly, lips curving into a smile that doesn’t quite reach her red-rimmed eyes. She lets out a shaky sigh. “I thought these days were behind us.”

Her gaze moves to Jonah and she swallows, audibly. “Two months here and it’s like old times. Maybe coming to New York was a mistake.”

Unaware at the moment of the turmoil his mother is in, Jonah giggles as the kitten tumbles head over tail chasing the little boy’s wiggling fingers.

“I’m sorry, Peyton,” says Richard with a sigh, his head shaking, “It’s not— normally like this in the Zone.” He closes his eyes, “I wish I could say it never will be again, but— things are moving again. I’m worried.”

At the child’s laughter, he smiles faintly, looking over and watching him for a moment. “This guy that got shot… did you catch any of what he was saying?”

“Not really,” Peyton murmurs. “It was a crowded street. Outdoor market. We were just shopping.” Her brows draw together again and she shivers. “He called her Cassie I think, and knew she was an agent. She was really young, looked like a kid, you know? He wasn’t much older. He said he needed her help but that was about all I got. Other people were talking to me; I wouldn’t have noticed any of it if he hadn’t knocked into me and Jonah trying to get to her. I was worried for her.”

She reaches up to wipe her eyes again. “I feel like it’s 2009 all over again,” she says with a chuckle, though it’s not an amused one. “The more we change, right?”

“Cassie. Got it…” Richard shakes his head ever so slightly, “I sure hope as fuck it’s not two-thousand and nine again.” One hand lifts, rubbing at the nape of his neck, “Hopefully this is just— just going to be a little jolt of activity and it fades.” He doesn’t believe that, and it’s obvious.

He nudges, shoulder to hers, “You gonna be alright?”
Her smile is rueful, but she lifts her shoulders, taking a deep breath. “I have to be,” she says, simply, with a glance toward Jonah.

“An hour of a pity party’s enough, right? Too long, really, when you have a kid. He didn’t look like he recognized me, so there’s that, and,” Peyton smiles again, this time sadly, “I’m not falling into whatever it was I was doing back then, trying to be a hero and getting in over my head.” She squeezes his hand. “Thank you for being here. I should’ve just gone home, but…”

She trails off and looks back to Jonah; the little boy is sitting with the kitten in his lap, petting it softly and murmuring to it. He suddenly looks up, perhaps at the lull in conversation. “Richelieu sounds like Richard,” he tells Ray. “Is the cat named after you?”

“Hey, you don’t have anything to finish that ‘but’ with— you ever need me and can reach me, I’m here,” Richard says with a faint, rueful smile. He wasn’t, once, and that didn’t end well for either of them.

He looks over to Jonah and the kitten, then, and he chuckles softly, “Sort of. It’s a double pun.. Richard and, well, Cardinal Richelieu. From The Three Musketeers, you know?”

“I know,” she murmurs, her own expression a little sad. She should have known then, too.

Her brow rises when he talks about The Three Musketeers. “He’s smart, Richard, but he’s still six,” she says with a smirk.

Jonah looks a little skeptical. “The candy bar?”

“It’s a book,” Richard replies with a grin, hands spreading helplessly, “You’ll read it when you’re older, I’m sure. I’ll get you a copy myself.”

He slants a sidelong look back to Peyton, “I mean, he might’ve seen the movie. I don’t know what you let him see.”

“Not yet. If it doesn’t have dinosaurs…” the boy’s mother says with a grin and a roll of her eyes. “He can tell you all about The Land Before Time, though.”

She nods at the kitten. “Is that one of your sister’s idea? You never seemed like a cat person to me,” she says lightly.

Jonah looks up. “Can we get a kitten? Unless Mr. Ray has dinosaurs yet.”

“Ingrid-bloody-Ryans, of all people,” says Richard with a roll of his eyes, “Walks in the front door, all but tosses me a kitten and leaves, saying it’s fate. And I mean, I couldn’t just toss it out the door or something…”

He chuckles, “No dinosaurs yet, kiddo— so if you’re looking for a kitten, go look Ingrid up, I’m pretty sure she has more.”

One hand comes up to scratch at his chin, and he pauses, “Ah. Could I ask a favor, Peyton? I don’t have any right to, and this is a purely— personal matter, honestly, but…”

“Did you ever meet Jean-Martin Luis when you were with the Institute?”

At the name Ryans, Peyton makes a slight face. It’s not a fair thing to do, but she still sees Benjamin Ryans as the person who ended her father’s life — even if he chose to end it himself. “I don’t know her, aside from what Nicole’s told me,” she says quietly. “She seems lovely, though.”

She shakes her head at the advice to Jonah. “I think Brad’s more of a dog guy. We’ll see. Right now I feel like fleeing back to Toronto,” she confesses. Jonah doesn’t seem to be too worried by his mother’s tone or words, going back to playing with Richelieu.

At the question, her brows draw together and she looks down; they’ve never spoken about what happened in those months where she was in Massachusetts and not New York. She glances down, before nodding slowly.

“He was kind to me. I liked him,” she murmurs. “I haven’t seen him since before…” Her hand turns upward in her lap in a vague gesture. Before everything ended.

“Jean-Martin is… the walking example of what paves the road to hell. Good intentions,” says Richard with a shake of his head, “We rescued him from the Ark, but— he wouldn’t stay. I tried to get him to stay with us but he slipped away, said that we could revisit the question when the smoke settled.”

A slow breath in, “I… recently discovered that he has information about my parents. My biological parents. Can you find him?”

She bites her lip to keep the words unsaid, that Ezekiel also had good intentions. She’s quiet for a moment and then she nods. She owes it to him to try.

Again, Peyton glances to Jonah, to be sure he’s still playing peacefully with the cat, before looking away again. Once more, the black pupils of her eyes dilate, but they almost instantly constrict again, immediately welling up with tears. Her hands come up to cover her mouth as she takes a swallow of breath, before one drops to take cover his.

“I’m sorry,” she whispers.

At her reaction, Richard’s eyes widen a little. “Oh,” he breathes out, “Oh, no. Jean-Martin.”

His other hand reaches over to cover her own, giving it a warm squeeze, and he ducks his head down, grimacing, “Damn it. I told him he should’ve stayed with us. No wonder he never— he was supposed to reach out to me, was supposed to be in touch. I should’ve known something had happened… fuck.”

“I’m sorry,” Peyton repeats, free hand reaching up to wipe her eyes. “I know that family stuff…” she shrugs. She was adopted, too, so she understands the desire to know about his family, where he came from. “He was a sweet man. Despite everything.”

She turns to look at Jonah, a small smile returning to her lips as she watches the kitten clumsily climb over him — it’s hard not to smile at the sight. “Hopefully it was peaceful. I’d like to think so. He must have been under a lot of stress, hiding.”

“He was a good man. Misguided, but…” Richard shakes his head, “He was a good man. And— he was old, I’m sure it was peaceful. Quiet.” Lies, but they’re the pretty lies that one tells to keep pain at a minimum. “I’ll find the information some other way.”

He looks back over to watch the kitten climb over Jonah, unable to help a brief chuckle, “Sorry. I think he’s going to want a cat, after this.”

“If I can help somehow,” Peyton says, a little slowly, like she isn’t sure it’s the best thing to offer, “let me know.”

His words about Jonah make her chuckle as well. “Probably. He’s in love with that kitten,” she says, before sighing and standing up. “I should get him home. I really appreciate you being here, letting us come here, put some distance between what happened and the apartment. The diversion, too,” she adds with a nod toward the kitten.

Louder, she speaks to the child. “Jonah, come say goodbye to Mr. Ray and give him back Richelieu.” Her pronunciation of the name is properly French.

Jonah makes a pouting face but stands up, then picks up the kitten to bring to Richard. “Thank you for letting me see the kitty,” he says, holding out the cat like it’s auditioning for the part of Simba on top of Pride Rock.

Richelieu hangs limp in Jonah’s hands - much like Simba - and looks up to Richard before letting out a soft ‘mew’. The man can’t help a smile, reaching out to collect the kitten and gathering him into his arms, the little reddish furball snuggling up against his chest. “Thank you for playing so gently with him,” he says back to Jonah, “He loved meeting you, I could tell.”

He tips his head in a nod back to Peyton, “Anytime you need me, Pey. And if you hear anything more about— well— about the shooter? Let me know, I’ll see what I can do.” This translates in Richard-speak to I’ll have Niki snipe the sonuvabitch from a mile away probably.

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