Little Victories


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Scene Title Little Victories
Synopsis Helping someone stop using Refrain certainly is a victory of some kind. Aaron and Peyton extend a helping hand to Gillian.
Date September 13, 2009

Peyton's Apartment

It's a quiet Sunday evening in — but then most evenings in are quiet for Peyton and Aaron these days. The two are sitting on the couch practicing Peyton's ability, in what might be considered an amusing way — they're playing what could be called Pictionary, except that Aaron has a notepad that Peyton can't see except by use of her power. It's a way for her to build up some "stamina" and hopefully reduce or even eliminate the headaches that lay claim to her temples after she tries to use her power.

"What the hell is that? If that a table or are you being gross?" Peyton demands, reaching over with her bare foot to toe him in the ribs.

There's a startled jump from being toed in the ribs, but Aaron recovers rather gracefully. It's not the first time. "I told you I wasn't an artist. We should be like, using those cards Venkman had at the start of Ghostbusters," he says. "Then if you don't give me the right answer, I can do this," and to repay the dactyl assault, he tickles that bare foot.

It's all fun and games until someone knocks on the door. Or rings the buzzer. Either way, Gillian stands at the entrance to the posh apartment that she spent the night in not too long ago. There's a good sized bag hanging at her side, a light jacket, and a nervous and wandering eye. She looks a little sweaty, hands shaking, eyes red. One could think she suffers from a fever at first glance, especially since she clears her throat a lot, as if it's itchy. It's not a fever, though… it's lack of sleep and a physical response to something she's not doing.

And she could fix that. Even if they don't answer the door. "Come on, music man, be here."

Peyton squeals and pulls back her foot; the pupils of her eyes return to normal. "I have no idea what the hell you're talking about. Ghostbusters? That was a movie or something, right?" she says, with a shake of her head as she gets off the couch to head to the door. She peers through the glass hole. "It's Gillian," she says, opening it to the woman on the other side of the threshold. "Shit, you look like hell, Gillian. You okay? Come on in." She frowns at the woman and steps aside to let her in, pushing the door shut behind her.

"Only one of the best cult classics of all time. God, we're so renting it and I'm going to anchor you to the couch while you…" And then there's someone at the door. He takes the moment to take his daily pill, fetching a glass of water from the kitchen. When he returns to the living room, the little green and ivory capsule of fluoxetine is making its way down his esophagus with the help of the water he guzzles down. Gillian Gillian. How could he forget her? And boy did she look better the last time he saw her, pain included. "Put her on the couch," he says somewhat reluctantly. He can easily guess what's wrong with her. That's what he looked like on one of the worst days of his withdrawal. Peyton's thankfully only ever had to deal with him having the bad headaches, and she's had a fair share of her own.

"I can walk, I just— fuck," Gillian says, as she tries to shift the bag around. The withdrawl symptoms came more quickly and a lot harder this time around. It could be worse. She made it this far without being stopped, she didn't drop her bag, didn't lose anything… and didn't get hit by a bus, either. Things could have been much worse. Once she's down on the couch, she pulls the bag up in her lap. "I need your help— both of you, I guess. You— you knew about Refrain— you knew how it felt."

Shaky hands reach into bag, a good sized jewelry box gets pulled out, a small key turns, the lid goes open. No jewelry, just a bunch of empty syringes. Four, to be exact. And a fifth with a glowing blue substance. Luckily no one searched her bag. "Yeah, I know, I'm a fucking idiot."

"Oh, shit," Peyton says softly, as she slowly clues in on what's going on. She glances at Gillian and reaches slowly in to the box to take out the fifth syringe. Her brown eyes watch Gillian carefully to make sure the addict is not going to fight her — unfortunately, Peyton's seen her share of addictions, too, though none truly her own. Somehow she avoided that trap — probably because she never did the same drug twice in a row. "I'm going to go get rid of this, if you're asking for help," she says in a soft voice.

Aaron knows Refrain more than Peyton. He used the stuff twice. However much he did not want a third shot, part of him did want it — and that wasn't because he was trying to kill himself, either. There was just something about it. He wanted more. He takes a seat right next to Gillian while Peyton removes the last syringe and he eyes it. "Is this all you've taken?" He doesn't really want to know what those third or fourth syringes would have been like if only two did what they had to him. He hopes Gillian's only had the four.

"One more. I tossed it out when I used it, on the first," Gillian explains though she watches the syringe a little more than she wants to. "The first few weren't bad, they were actually good. Only sex I'd had in months," she says with a laugh, though it turns into a raspy cough before she pulls her hand away from the box. There's a twitch of fingers, as if she's wanting to reach out and take it. "I tossed out everything except those five after using it the first time— even before using it. I figured a few more… I figured it couldn't hurt. I wanted to remember. I wanted to get back what I'd… I didn't touch it for days after I met you…" she looks back at Aaron.

Peyton glances at Aaron, who seems to be rather take-charge in a way she hasn't seen before. She nods and heads to the bathroom, pouring the blue glowing liquid into the sink by pushing the plunger on the syringe. There's a rush of water that can be heard, and then she returns, sitting by Gillian and taking her hand. "It's all fake. It only seems good, but it just makes you feel horrible when you realize it's all in the past — and the only way to get it back is to take more. It's a bad cycle, worse than most drugs even, from what I can tell." She squeezes her friend's hand. "I'm glad you came to us."

It's a good thing Aaron's having a good day, or he'd probably be more concerned about having someone bring illegal substances into his home rather than the state of the person who brought it. He doesn't have to comment on Refrain, since Peyton beats him to the punch. So instead, he reaches to take Gillian's other hand. So she's had five doses. He reminds himself to talk to Peyton about Wendy once they've dealt with Gillian, for now though, his attentions on their new guest, and the fact that after he met her he had a four-day-long migraine, and Peyton's pain wasn't enough to make it go away. "What can we do for you Gillian?" Because anyone with a problem has to explicitly ask for help. The whole admitting they have a problem thing.

"I don't know what you can do for me, I just— you made it easier. I didn't… it didn't hurt as much when I left here," Gillian explains in a softened voice, looking over at Peyton. Her fingers squeeze their hands. New friends, but they just happen to be the first and only people who know she'd even touched Refrain. Her hands don't shake as they're held tighter, but her shoulders tremor a bit as she breaths.

"It— It's just… it's gone. It already happened and will never happen again. Even if you want it to." There's a shake of her head, another voiced laugh. "And maybe it's better that it's gone. I just— I wanted it back. I wanted to remember when I knew who the fuck I was, when I knew what was mine— when believed the fucking lies." There's a grimace, as if she realizes she's talking crazy, her eyes glued to that blue syringe. She still wants it back. "Can't you just— do that thing you did before?"

Peyton strokes Gillian's hair with her free hand, and her dark eyes well with tears; the party girl has a newfound sympathy for other people's woes, it seems. Not that she doesn't still throw her diva tantrums once in a while. She even pulled the 'do you know who I am!' card earlier today when someone hassled her about taking too long at the Starbucks counter.

She looks to Aaron, her own eyes pleading with him to help. She knows his head hurt worse than it usually has, because Gillian took so much, or gave so much, whichever way it works. "Maybe you should stay with us a few days…?" she offers. That way Aaron can "treat" her over the course of a few days, and maybe wean her off of Refrain while he lessens each bout and weans himself at the same time. Perhaps. She just holds Gillian and nods. "I understand."

Peyton took the words right out of Aaron's mouth. Of course, he's seen people detox. He lived on the streets for some time, and it was not a pretty place, especially after the bomb. Withdrawal is ugly. "I can." He places his other hand on top of Gillian's so as to cup her hand in both of his. "And I will. But those right there," he says, gesturing his head towards the jewelry box and its five empty syringes, including the one Peyton just recently emptied down the sink. "No more of those. And believe me, even with me, you're probably still going to want them. Addiction's a bitch." He'd know, since he's addicted to his ability. He looks quickly at Peyton before returning his gaze to Gillian, "I guess you can say those are the terms of your stay here. That shit doesn't come through the door. And you can bug us in the middle of the night if you need one of us. Well, I know you can bug me. Hell, I know I'm up half the nights anyway." On account of him barely being able to sleep. At least today's a good day.

Aaron gives Gillian's hand one last squeeze before he leans forward to the keyboard, which has more or less made itself home on the coffee table for the better part of his stay. He disconnects the old, high-quality headphones of his and turns the machine on. He rests his fingers on the keys but as is becoming a more frequent occurrence, nothing comes to him. "Any requests, because I'm stumped." And his ability all but relies on him playing music.

"That was the last of it. I don't— I'm not even sure where to get it," Gillian says with a small laugh, though she knows, and knows well… she could find it eventually. She wants to find it. Sometimes it'd taken days for the craving to set in to the point of shaking, this time it hadn't even been a full day.

Eyes slide shut as hands go through her hair. There's no super bleed of ability this time. It's duller, actually. Still there, partially. Easily enough to keep from losing control. Maybe even light enough to avoid too bad of a hangover. Perhaps she's too physically weakened to give much of her own energy. Cause that's where the energy comes from. "Anything— something upbeat. Something pretty. I listen to a lot of not-happy songs."

"Stay as long as you need. There's no one but us and no one will bother you here," Peyton says, resting her cheek on the other woman's head. "I don't know," Peyton says with a shrug. "Just nothing like that Romeo and Juliet song you play. I hate that song, even though I'm too happy to say so at the time most of the time." She frowns a little as a thought comes to her. "Is it better if it's just you and her — more direct, more powerful? Does my being here… what's the word… weaken it?" She doesn't know totally how his power works, though it seems to help many people at a time.

"That fact that you know that song is from Romeo and Juliet from nineteen sixty-eight and yet have never seen Ghostbusters is scary, you know that, right? I mean, it came out the year I was born, and I've still scene in like twenty times." Aaron scratches his chin, "Something cheery and upbeat…. Yeah, sad songs and love songs are pretty much my entire repertoire, 'least of things I've listened to or played recently." He lets takes Gillian's hand and gives it another squeeze before he gets off of the couch, "Back in a minute." When he returns, it's with guitar, and he sits not quite as close as he was previously to accommodate the neck of the guitar. He attachs a capo on the second fret and starts to strum what can only be called upbeat.

This time, I'll be sailing
No more bailing boats for me
I'll be out here on the sea
Just my confidence and me

And I'll be awful sometimes
Weakened to my knees
But I'll learn to get by
On the little victories

This time, I'll have no fear
I'll be standing strong and tall
Turn my back towards them all

And I'll be awful sometimes
Weakened to my knees
I'll learn to get by
And I'll learn to get by
On the little victories
And if the world decides to catch up with me
It's a little victory.

There's a difference between the effects of before and the effect now would be obvious. Gillian may be adding something, but it's not as fast or as strong as it'd been before. Probably a good thing, in the end. A slow gradual joy is better than a quick fix. Leaning closer to Peyton, she mutters, "You really need to see Ghostbusters. It's a good movie." It's softer than the shaky raspy tones of before, eyes open and staring, even if she's staring at nothing, really. The song's lyrics touch something just as much as the ability. "Sometimes a little victory is better than a big one," she finally says after the lyrics are finished.

Peyton isn't in a bad mood, except for her worry for Gillian, so the song's effects easily soothe away the little ghosts of sorrow and grief that always haunt her. She has a fairly stupid smile on her face and nods. "That's such a beautiful song," she murmurs, and she looks rather high, whereas Gillian is simply beginning to feel human. "He's really good, isn't he? I mean, besides the ability which is amazing, but he sings so beautifully." She smiles at Aaron, beaming like a proud and very high fan girl.

Which isn't quite the effect he'd hoped for, though it's been known to happen. "Now if only Prozac worked as good as me," Aaron says with half a smirk. He sets the guitar aside on the chair near the couch — it's own seat — before he turns himself to face Gillian and Peyton. She does look better, and he knows he can probably help with the pyschological effects — at least in the short term — but he's still concerned with the other problem. On the plus side, he's apparently more concerned with Gillian's well-being to be concerned with his own issues, which helps keep his head above the water as far as his depression is concerned. Nothing like others' personal emergencies to motivate a person.

Eyes slide shut and silence falls. It's not as if the craving has entirely vanished, it's still there… it's just softer. Quieter. "Both of you used it too?" Gillian asks quietly, though even as she says it she grimaces a bit. Maybe better not to even think about the little blue vial and the people who use it. "I know it was fucking stupid. Everyone kept saying not to use it. Not a good thing to be rebellious about. At least I didn't spend any of my own money on that… that shit." Better to make it sound like something awful.

Peyton nods somberly. She at least has enough presence of mine not to be giggly and silly, even if her mood is the best it's been in weeks. Months or years, even. "It's okay. We all do stupid things. I've rebelled against a bunch of stupid things. Like, you know, education, personal safety, hygiene." There was a nasty infection from a self-inflicted belly piercing at age thirteen. "It's not wrong to want to remember the past, but it's still going to be the past, and just a memory in the end. I've done a lot of drugs, Gillian, and I don't think they're necessarily bad," she glances at Aaron, knowing he'll probably disagree with that, despite his own Refrain usage, "but Refrain, it's more dangerous in a way, I think, than some of the others. Because it's emotionally addicting and it …" She pauses, trying to find the word she's looking for. She's not the most eloquent girl in the world. "It exploits people who have better pasts than they have presents. And that's pretty much all of us these days."

There's a look of disapproval at that remark, and Peyton did in fact suspect right. He disagrees. He's always been vehemently opposed to drugs, but he knows full well that everyone does stupid things. "We all do stupid things, some worse than others," he says, thinking specifically of stabbing Wendy with a syringe of Refrain. It will be an interesting session with Bella trying to work through that one. Which of course leads him to his next remark. "Just remember that all of these things, they're all bandaids. Even I don't cure you, I just take away the pain. I treat the symptom, not the cause. You need to talk to someone, eventually." And he'll use himself as an example of why if he needs to.

"Yeah, I know," Gillian says softly, voice trailing off for a few long moments. "Just help me get through the hard part, and then… then I'll handle the rest. I'm supposed to be strong," she says, even if she can't help but snort quietly as she says that. Shifting, she sits up a bit, so she can open her eyes. "I've been a little out of touch…" With the present, thanks Refrain. "Do— did they ever find that lady we went looking for?"

Well, that brings down Peyton's mood. She's been having nightmares of the things she saw — the woman on the hook coming to life, or Peyton being the one strapped on Cassidy's bed, or for that matter the one on the hook. Nameless people coming into torture her. Or people like William Dean or Danko or David Legrime coming into torture her. None of which she's told anyone about, of course. "I don't know," Peyton says quietly, and a shiver runs through her body. "But I haven't checked my email. Maybe they did." She hasn't looked for fear of what she'd find out.

It doesn't do much for Aaron's mood either. That was a big waste of spaghetti, that, but he knew even he wasn't going to touch it after hearing what Peyton saw. And of course, he may not know the exact content of Peyton's nightmares, but he's begun to suspect she's had them. He still checks on her at night, anyway — a habit he picked up the first few nights she finally started being able to sleep alone after her abduction. He worries about her, probably more than a roommate should.

Yeah, Bella called Aaron strong. He didn't feel it at the time, and while he feels a bit like it now, he still doesn't consider himself that strong. "Just remember that you can rely on other people. We are here to help." And it's OK to admit weakness, not that he says that. "Everyone needs somebody."

"I was using Refrain because I needed someone who…" Gillian trails off, shaking her head, though she's sorry to hear that they don't know what happened. "I think I need to find out who I am first," she says softly, obviously thinking about something quietly as she stares off into that space again. When she focuses and looks back at them, "I won't try to do all of it alone, though. Refrain was my way of trying to do it on my own, and we know that was a fucking brillant idea. I've dabbled in drugs, but never anything that fucked me over that much when I stopped using it."

"Find out who you are?" Peyton echoes. "I… I mean, it's your own memories. Did you think you'd find something in your memory that you can't remember on your own, maybe? Maybe hypnosis or something would work better, if that was what you were trying to do." Peyton gets up off the couch and heads into the kitchen, where a refrigerator can be heard opening, then shutting. She returns with three cold bottle of water, handing one to each. "Do you work or anything? I really think you should stay with us for a few days, let Aaron help you kick the habit. You should call in sick to work if you can."

The only thing that comes to Aaron's mind to complete Gillian's sentence is 'isn't here anymore.' Which makes him really feel for her, almost to the point that he tears up. Because that's the exact sort of memory he got when he tried Refrain. Both times. In those cases, they may as well be nightmares — glimpses of what will never be again. He takes a bit of time opening his water bottle while turned away from the two girls in his midst, eyes closed for only a moment. Refrain seems to do more harm than good. He takes a sip of his water before leaning back, letting Peyton do the talking for a bit. He's tired — not that such is in any way unusual.

"No, my memories are my own, they're just a lot fuzzier now. And it's… complicated. I found out I was adopted. My ability isn't even…" Gillian trails off and bites down on her lip, as if trying to figure out how to explain it. Instead she chooses to drink some of the water brought by Peyton. Once that's done, she looks back up, "There was this group of people who knew about Evolved before everything happened. And they made this experimental drug to… to give normal people that damn SLC and an ability. I found out that's where mine came from. I wasn't supposed to even have this… thing. Finding all that out— and there's guys involved. Classic tragic story, with some twists. Like being fucking plural. But it added to the confusion…"

There's a pause. "Did I mention I've died a bunch of times? So yeah, I wanted to get something back, I wanted to try and figure out what was real and what wasn't and all I got was… even if it had been real, I fucked it up and don't have it anymore, and even if it isn't my real name, it's the only name I want." There's a pause. "I kinda wish I would've gotten flight, though. Way better than glowing."

Peyton tries to follow but really, most of it doesn't make any sense without knowing Gillian's history. She just nods. "God. And I thought I had it shitty," she says, reaching over and squeezing Gillian's hand. "I don't even know what to tell you but … now you know it won't work and only makes things worse. We'll help you, the best we can. Aaron more than me, but hey, free rent." She shrugs. "You can stay here as long as you need to. Seriously. It's kind of nice to have people here."

Aaron can do little more than rub his eyes with one hand. "That's… fucked up." And he doesn't swear that much. Well, Wendy would beg to differ, but she's a special case. Much like Peyton, he can't really follow all of that, and the idea of people giving others abilities is somewhat disturbing. Although, it makes him wonder if there are people out there who could take them away. Free, though. Even he feels slightly bad about boarding for free, just like he feels bad for Bella treating him for free — though sixty bucks for one month's worth of a medication that he won't know if it's working until he's used it all isn't that free. "It is nice," he says, confirming it is nice to have people around. He went from living alone to living with someone, and it made a big difference.

"Sorry, I know it sounds confusing. And to think a year ago I was sitting behind a counter at the Brooklyn Public Library taking late fees," Gillian shakes her head again, even laughing. It doesn't work, and it doesn't take her back to a less confusing time. Not even close. "Thank you. Even if I sound like a… crazy drug addict." Cause she knows she does. As she looks at the glas, it starts to ripple. Her hands are shaking again, even if she feels better, the phyiscal reactions aren't lessened. "I think I should take a shower."

"Second door on the left," Peyton says softly. "Help yourself to anything you need." There's a basketful of unused mesh puffs and clean washcloths and the large spa-quality shower has a shelf with at least three kinds of shampoos, conditioners and shower gels to choose from. "I'll grab you something to sleep in." She leans forward and offers Gillian a hug. "Look, I know we've barely met and all but I really do mean it — I'll help you anyway I can, okay?" She reaches over and grabs Aaron's hand. "We both will."

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