Midnight Smack


aaron2_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif

Scene Title Midnight Smack
Synopsis Aaron goes to unusual lengths for a good night's sleep.
Date September 19, 2009

Aaron and Peyton's Apartment — Upper West Side

With Gillian no longer staying at the apartment, Aaron has had little to occupy the night with but his feelings, which are a jumbled mess. Since sharing everything he has with Bella, he's felt emotionally raw, and after Gillian's bombshell, he's felt almost always on the verge of crying. So it was on another sleepless night that, probably against his better judgement, he wandered into Peyton's bedroom. There, he curled up next to her, on top of her covers, and feeling that presence beside him, he finally fell asleep.

On the couch, Peyton's a pretty still sleeper, but in her own bed, King-sized as it is, she's used to sprawling wherever she may. She's always been a restless sleeper, the type that will end up turned around with feet on her pillows and head at the footboard without quite knowing how she got there. Somewhere towards morning, her arm flies out as she stretches in her sleep, smacking Aaron rather solidly across the face.

When her head hits bone and flesh rather than soft mattress or pillow, Peyton sits up in bed and shrieks, reaching for her light and knocking off everything on the bedside table — nail polish, alarm clock, glass of water, cell phone, and lamp — in the process.

Company was more his intent than sleep — which he honestly didn't think would come — so being woken up by a solid whack across the side of the face is less than expected. There's a grunt of pain that is quickly drowned out by the various things toppling to the ground, broken glass included. All Aaron can really do is sit there, deer in the headlights, unsure of whether to laugh or to cry, and turning red from the utter mortification he suspects will come when he has to explain this recent act of stupidity.

A light comes on; the lamp didn't break, but the glass of water did on the hardwood floor. The shadows in the room are skewed from the lamp's strange position on the ground. Peyton gives Aaron a confused look, then reaches down to try to grab her cell phone out of the puddle of water that's spreading. "Fuck," she hisses, bringing her hand up to her mouth to stick a bloody finger in her mouth. She's calm, however, and reaches over to grab the lamp and put it back on the table, getting the cord out of the way of the water. "You okay?" she finally manages, turning to look at him.

Confused look versus one of utter humiliation. Which one wins? Aaron cowers ever so slightly, and feels even worse when he sees she cut herself on broken glass. His plan to feel better has totally backfired. He rubs slightly at the side of the head that Peyton hit. It's a dull ache, one he figures shouldn't bruise. "You missed my nose," he offers as a bad attempt at an ice breaker for this particularly embarrassing situation.

Peyton laughs, and scoots down to the bottom of the bed to climb out, rather than get out on the side with the broken glass and water, and rather than pushing him out of bed. She heads to the far end of her room, which is more like a suite — there's a vanity area on the far end, along with an attached bathroom. She grabs a towel, then heads into a walk-in closet, coming out with a pair of flip flops on her feet. She heads to the side of the bed, and picks up the broken glass carefully, using the towel, dropping it into a wastebasket under the bedside table with a tinkling sound.

Next she wipes up the water with the towel, leaving it there on the side of the bed before kicking off her flip flops and climbing back in. She's apparently not worried about the cut finger. "Can't sleep?" she murmurs sleepily, pulling the cover back up over herself. Her eyes close, though she's awake, listening for his answer.

Aaron feels utterly useless as he watches and finds himself unable to do anything to help. Of course, his first instinct is to shake his head while choking back tears, but with Peyton's eyes closed, that just doesn't quite work and so the first part of the answer is the breathing sounds of him getting his emotions under control enough to even say, "No. Almost never can."

"Sorry I hit you. I kinda move a lot in my sleep," Peyton murmurs, her voice sleepy still, despite being startled awake by a person in her bed when she didn't remember one being there when she got in. She reaches over and pushes him to turn with his back to her. "Close your eyes," she demands, her hands moving to his shoulders to begin to rub his muscles, try to ease his tension.

"It's OK, I shouldn't have…" But then she's turning him over, and he resumes the position he more or less had prior to Peyton waking up. Aaron closes his eyes and every touch is soothing. It's something he misses from the nights they'd lie together on the couch. Then again, contact is just something he misses in general, and the same thing that happened when Bella hugged him happens now with Peyton massaging his shoulder. He starts to sob. What little control he has over his emotions is relaxed along with the tension in his shoulders.

"Shhh," Peyton whispers, and rather than massaging his shoulders, wraps her arms around him from behind. She rests her head on his back. "It's okay, Aaron." It's a strange thing for her, to take care of someone else, to be the strong one in any situation.

Aaron goes still within those arms, reaching his own up to cling to them for dear life. He shifts to grip one of her hands, and leans to kiss it. It's wet from his tears. "Thank you," he says, his sobbing slowing as he melts in her arms. Finally, his head reclines against the pillow as he goes completely still, save for the occasional shaky breath. Asleep once more.

Once he's asleep, Peyton's eyes are open for some time, as if keeping watch over him for once rather than the other way around. She's been selfish, not recognizing how hard things have been on him — of course they have been. He was suicidal before she got kidnapped; did she expect all that to go away just because he was watching over her and more worried about her than himself? She's young, she's naive. Maybe she thought they had — sometimes worrying about someone else makes your own problems fade away. But then not everyone has Aaron's curse of a power. She matches her breathing to his, and eventually falls asleep curled against him from behind, her cheek resting on his shoulder.

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