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Scene Title Lullaby
Synopsis Aaron picks Gillian up in a cab after she gets the bad news. She has to spill the beans because Aaron knows something's wrong.
Date September 17, 2009

Aaron and Peyton's Apartment - Upper West Side

The text message had been sent a while ago. The corner of choice had a small restaurant with outside tables. Check already paid, Gillian sits with her plate almost empty, picking at it. There's no one waiting in line for a seat, so she's not been shooed off. Upper East Side still has some nice places, and while it's not the Orchid Lounge which she'd just left, it's nice enough. The borrowed dress from Peyton fits snugly in some spots, loose and long in others, but looks good.

The lemonade may not be strong, but it's something. Every so often she fetches the phone from her purse, to check the time since she sent the text.

For someone who found out she's got a month to live, she's not visibly breaking down. The make up has been wiped off, so there's the likelihood that it'd not always been the case… And to certain eyes, everything's blacker than ever.

When Aaron pulls up in the cab, he's actually startled by the sight. When he last saw Gillian earlier in the day, she'd looked fine and now she's looking bad, quite possibly worse than she did when she came home with Peyton that one night or when she showed up at their door for empathic rehabilitation. Once the cab comes to a stop, he pulls out a pill bottle from his jacket and knocks back his now-familiar ivory and green capsule — fluoxetine — and downs it with a drink from a bottle of Evian. The pill bottle slips back into his jacket as he moves to depart the cab, "I'll be back with her and then we'll head back to the apartment." Then he leaves. Of course, he already made those arrangements with the cab when the driver picked him up at the apartment.

"Gillian," he says as he approaches the girl. People can fool others by looking OK, but he can see inside them, and this new pain disturbs him. He was originally going to insist upon checking her arms, behind her knees, and between her fingers and toes for injection sites, but now he's got other concerns. "Come on, Gill. Let's go home." Funny how he calls it home even for her.

Pulling out a handful of cash, Gillian lays an extrasized tip onto the table, leaves her plate and lemonade and takes his hand. "Home, huh— well, I'm not so sure about that. I haven't really had a home for almost a year. It's just been a place to sleep, you know?" She shakes her head, sounding a little rambly, but she doesn't seem to be strung out. Or even shaking from withdrawal. She'd mostly been through it at this point. And from what's gone from the plate, her appetite returned.

Perhaps a good sign, if she wasn't so bleak looking to his eyes. "I don't think I'll be able to stay with you much longer. I'll need to… to go back to Staten. Stay with my brother again. I need to— uh— do some things. While I…" Her raspy voice starts to cut off, catching a bit, and she shakes her head. "Not tonight, though. I can do that tomorrow, or… the next day."

It seems to Aaron that, whenever he's feeling good after a session with Bella, something dashes that all away. "It's home to me. Has been the whole time. First home in a long time," he says, gripping her hand lightly in his. His expression goes from concerned to confused with her rambling. Despite the fact that she's no longer exhibiting obvious signs of withdrawal, that other thing is just looking so very, very wrong. "Come on, whatever it is you can talk to me about. But wait until we get home; probably best that way." Because he has a feeling that whatever it is, if she shares it, will not be pleasant. He raises a finger and shakes it at her, "And you're always welcome. Just remember that."

"I know. And I'm glad that I met you and Peyton," Gillian says in that softened tone, not stuttering, but not quite looking at him either. Not because it's a lie, because it's obviously not. Seems similar to shame or self loathing. It gets shaken away after a moment, as she makes her way toward the cab, to slide in. Before she does she turns around, "Peyton let me borrow one of her dresses. Do you think it looks nice?" Despite being obviously borrowed, it's something fitting for a party. And it looks good. Would look better tailored for her, probably. Until they're back "home" it's unlikely much will be said that isn't… common.

Aaron helps Gillian into the cab while blushing at her question. "You do," he says, finally, before he gets in himself. Once they're buckled, he takes her hand back and gives it a gentle squeeze. He wants to say a few things, but holds his tongue on that until they've pulled up to the apartment building, only conversing about, well, nothing but the completely superficial. How the food was at the restaurant she was at helped to cover part of the trip home.

"Keep the change," he says to the driver as he hands him several bills. Not the cheapest cab ride, but he's never been known to be particularly frugal when it comes to taking care of people. Travelling up to his and Peyton's apartment is more silent than the cab ride, and once he's got them both in the door, he closes it. "Peyton's out again."

The food had been good. Gillian specifically mentioned that she ordered one of her favorites. The lemonade was good, too. Only thing that would have made it better was a little more sugar in the mix, or one of those flavored lemonades. Strawberry-kiwi. That's her favorite. She wants to get that soon. Superficial as it may be, she doesn't go much further into it until they get out of the cab and behind the safety of the apartment door.

"I didn't inject myself with anything," she says, reaching to rub her arm selfconsciously, even if she did just say that. "I thought about it, but— it's not worth it anymore. I already know where I've been and what I've done. So it's kind of… stupid." She shakes her head. "I found out about my parents. Their names. Alison and Jeffrey. My name was supposed to be Stephanie. I was named after my grandmother… My parents loved me and my brother…" All these things should make her happy.

There's a gentle arm placed around Gillian's shoulder as Aaron leads her to the couch to sit her down, or lay her down, whichever she chooses as he takes a seat beside her. "Talk to me, Gilly," he says, holding her hand again, interlacing their fingers. "I can see something's wrong. And I've learned that it helps to talk about it, even if it hurts."

At first, Gillian starts to pull away from the arm. It's a fraction of a movement. Doesn't go very far before his hand takes hers and she finally leans back into it. Loosened fingers tighten at his words. "I've not very good with talking to people. I don't… I— I guess it doesn't fucking matter anymore." She glances up at the ceiling, tilting her head back. The combs that kept her hair up have come loose in some places. A lock of black and brown hair (her roots have grown out quite a bit) falls down against her cheek.

"Remember that… that experiment that I found out I was part of? That gave me my ability when I was an infant. I found out a little more about that. There was a… small percent chance, one of those point zero blah chances, the kind that seems so small, you know? Of a… genetic thing. I don't know all the details, but a problem. The kind that kills you."

The lock falls off her cheek as she gives her head a slight shake. "And I'm the unlucky one. According to this guy who— according to this guy— My birthday is on October 29th. I'll be twenty-three years old. And I may not even live to see it. This power that they gave me is going to kill me."

He does remember her mentioning it. The whole idea of it seemed so weird, so sci-fi, and yet, well, they kind of live the science fiction every day. He also remembers wondering if there was possible a way for them to take abilities away. Let him live normally again. But when she mentions percentages, genetic problems. The kind that kill you…. Aaron's face pales at the words and when she says she's likely to die, his own eyes tear up. "Oh God," he says, and it's very quiet. He wraps his arms around her, pulls her closer to him, and kisses the top of her head. "That's not fair."

Pulled in closer, Gillian's eyes close. It's difficult to see, with him kissing the top of her head, but there's some tears forming on her lashes, threatening to fall if she blinks too much. "Don't cry, you're gonna make me cry again," she says, squeezing his hand. "I kinda… it's— it's fucked up, and it's not fair, but nothing fucking is, you know? What's fair for one person isn't fair to someone else. I have some things that I'm supposed to do, but…"

She trails off, leaning against him. Her free hand raises up to rub at her eyes. "I'm going to get my tattoos fixed. And then I'll… do what I want to do before… If my ability goes out of whack in October, I'll know he's right and I'm dying. I'm not planning to throw myself in front of a train. There's people out there who can save people from near death. Who's to say they can't fix me, especially if I augment them."

Sniffle. Aaron can't help but be all teary now, especially considering all of the emotions that have run through him in therapy the last two days. He hugs Gillian tighter. "I… you said you had things you had to do. Promise you'll come back, when you're done?" He wipes tears away on his shoulder. "I'd like another friend, and… I don't want you to die."

The hand stays near her face, but Gillian doesn't sob. The small tremors that start up in her shoulders give away some of her upset before they settle again. Breaths deep, she's obviously trying to keep herself under control. "I'll come back. No matter how many times I've died I'm not— I don't want to give up. I've heard of two futures that completely changed— I've stepped into the way of bullets to stop a prophetic dream from coming true. This isn't even… I don't have to— I'll change it. And if I can't… well— then I want to live in the fucking present, you know? I want to… see people I care about, I want to…"

There's a trailed off sound. "Don't tell anyone about this, Aaron. I wouldn't— if you couldn't already see that something's really fucking wrong…"

Aaron sniffles again, wiping away more tears, which have started to ebb. All of the talk about prophesies and futures go way over his head. He doesn't even want to know. He nods his head, though. He doesn't know if he can handle the news too well, though. "I almost wish you didn't tell me, had made something up. I don't know if I can handle this." This coming from the person who isn't dying. "I'll be here."

"Sorry," Gillian says, apologizing rather easily for the moment. It takes her rubbing at her eyes again before she starts to move so she can turn and glance at him. There's so much going on in her life, how odd one of the few normal things happened in the last few weeks. Just a guy who helped her get over her drug addiction with his roommate.

"Just— I'll be okay. It's just like any other terminal disease, but we live in a world of fucking miracles, right?" Miracles and monsters, but she'll take the miracles right now. They're better than the alternative. "It'll be okay. And I'll come back and visit you and Peyton as often as I can. No matter what happens."

Aaron lets out a sigh as he wipes away the last of the tears, only one arm around Gillian now. "Oh, this week…" Miracles. Pff. He relaxes some with Gillian there in his arms. "If you stay strong, I think I can," he says at last. "And you'll beat this, whatever it is." Because he'll be damned if he lets one more bad thing rule him. With all of the torturous healing he did with Bella, he's not going to let this news drag him right back down under the water. "Gotta keep breathing."

"Don't make me regret meeting you, music man," Gillian moves her hand to actually punch him in the shoulder. It's almost said with a smile, even, but that might come off as forced. "Just let me sleep on it and then I'll… go and take care of some things. I promise you I'm not just going to die in a hospital bed."

"Hey," Aaron protests as he's punched — not that it's a hard punch. Smiling for him has been fairly forced lately, too, but he actually manages a legitimate one for a moment there. "You better not." He leans back a bit more into the cushions of the couch. "It's been good having someone else here." He brushes his hand through some of Gillian's hair. It almost seems inappropriate to him, yet he cannot help but feel a great deal of affection for her. "Want me to help you to sleep?" By which he means musically.

For a moment, that smile is genuine, if not large. "Yeah— just let me get out of Peyton's clothes," Gillian says, moving to stand up from the couch they'd been sitting on, the couch they'd been caught in a possibly questionable position on. "I'll open the door to my room when I've changed." With his help, she almost thinks she can get through this without crying or being forced to tell the others. That's something.

Aaron chuckles slightly at that and he nods, sitting up on the couch and stretching his legs a bit while he waits. After a moment, he gets up and slowly walks down the hall to the open door. Sure, it's only the middle of the evening, but poor Gillian's been detoxing, and she's had a rough day to boot. He knows how easy it is to fall asleep after a good long cry. He toes the door closed just a bit. "Scoot, under the covers," he says.

The dress has been hung up, so as not to wrinkle, the shoes tossed over to the side, and Gillian wears a light t-shirt instead of the tank top, and the same pair of boxers as she'd been wearing the other day. Pushing the covers aside and pulling them up, she scoots into the middle of the bed that once held Peyton's parents. It's been her bed for a while now, but soon it may not be. "I was told I'm like my mom. She used to like faeries. Would make them come to life out of story books for me— she could make illusions. I liked that. Cause I've dreamed of faeries every so often. I guess part of me didn't forget that, you know?" It's such a simple thing, but she closes her eyes. "If you know any songs about faeries, I know it's stupid and childish, but I'd like to hear it."

That talk about her parents makes his eyes water slightly as he lays himself down next to Gillian — on top of the covers. He brushes hair from her face and tucks it behind her ear. "I'm sorry, I don't. And it's not stupid or childish." He smiles this sad smile. Because he's still emotional from everything that has transpired these two days, he's so close to crying again. He sniffles. "I uh… I'll always have this song kinda ingrained in my head and, you might remember how I came home yesterday and pretty much crashed." He licks his lips, "That was a long and good sleep. I know it was because I cried my heart out and I don't know if you want to do that but, I hope my power can give you the peace I felt after I did that."

"Hush now baby don't you cry
Rest your wings my butterfly
Peace will come to you in time
And I will sing this lullaby…

Know though I must leave my child
That I would stay here by your side
And if you wake before I'm gone
Remember this sweet lullaby.

And oh, through darkness, don't you ever stop believing,
That love alone, with love you'll find your way
My love…

The world has turned the day to dark
I leave this night with heavy heart
When I return to dry your eyes
I will sing this lullaby
Yes I will sing this lullaby…"

The final notes are merely ooohs.

A long good sleep from crying his eyes out? Gillian doesn't scoff or make fun of, because deep down she has a wish. One she can't really fulfill. As he sings, the deep sorrow and pain ebbs away, becoming something much more peaceful. The knot in the back of her head doesn't unravel this time— it's not as powerful as drugs. It's something nicer, really, slower, comforting. Not a song about faeries, but it makes her think it's something her mother would have sang to her. If she could. By the time he's finished, her breathing is slow, the tension bled away, and she may well be asleep.

Until a raspy voice whispers, "I wish I could do this for you, too." And if she'd met him two months ago, she could have. Too late now.

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