Monster's Refrain


aaron2_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif wendy_icon.gif

Also Starring

cassidy2_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Monster's Refrain
Synopsis Cassidy and Elisabeth get together at the Serenity Lounge to discuss what happened with Mortimer. Aaron comes to audition, Peyton to watch him. Then Wendy shows up and things get a little out of hand, particularly when Aaron chooses to forcefully return to her something which she gave him. Things go downhill from there.
Date August 10, 2009

Serenity Lounge

After what happened recently, Cassidy couldn't exactly talk to her partner about what happened with Mortimer. So she turned to the next best thing — her occasional partner, Elisabeth. Instead of meeting up at the normal bar and almost afraid of another bender like last time, they opted for dinner. After some debate they settled on the Serenity Lounge.

"Thanks Liz.. I needed someone to talk to that wasn't Coren. He doesn't exactly have much in the way of sympathy for the whole Mortimer situation." Cassidy is dressed nice with a pair of slacks and a nice forest green blouse, with her red hair pulled back into a French braid. They are already setting at the table, Cassidy option for a glass of water, since just the thought of a drink still makes her a bit queasy. She glances over the menu with a small undecided frown.

Elisabeth offers Cassidy a smile. She herself has been sticking to straight soda tonight as well — another bender like their last one is likely to leave her hungover, and she needs to be sharp for some things. The Captain wouldn't let her off for tomorrow, but gave her a personal day Wednesday to take care of her business, so that'll have to do. She's wearing a pair of white capris and a sky-blue halter-topped blouse, very casual. "It's all good, Cass," the blonde replies, her eyes skimming the crowd in the lounge tonight before returning to the menu. "I have to admit after meeting the man, I have a bit more sympathy than I want to for him." She grimaces and slants a glance at the woman. "He's… kinda nice, now that he's not all insane and shit." And what a bombshell to drop so casually.

Aaron was smart about things this time. Rather than going somewhere and hoping for the chance to audition, he set up a time. Having past experience and some referrals didn't help either. As he enters the Lounge, dressed in clothes definitely more formal than his usual attire, he only hopes Peyton will show up. After the days he had, it is refreshing to know someone with a comparatively gloomy outlook.

It's not quite time for his audition to start, and if he didn't have some good words backing him, he wouldn't be playing with the house as full as it is, either. He shouldn't be nervous, but is, and can't help but find himself constantly looking at his watch, a leg bouncing constantly as he sits in his seat. Waiting never is that much fun.

Peyton's dressed a bit more low key than usual — a loose black sleeveless dress with black sandals. Her hair is now streaked with blue extensions, and her contacts today are bright green. Just enough to throw someone off, to convince them she's no one famous. She looks around, noticing Aaron looking nervous and gives a little smile, if he happens to look her way. She finds an empty table near the piano. Once seated, she lets her hair fall forward, hiding most of her face.

"It was the worse feeling having to push him away like that before, Coren got there." Cassidy snaps the menu shut and sits it down, looking like she lost her appetite. "Coren means well and he's trying to keep my best interests in mind, but damn it Liz.. I didn't have time to explain anything to Mortimer. And I couldn't have him coming ah….. what?" the redheaded detective trails off and stares at her friend. "You…. saw him?" she grimaces and reluctantly asks, "How did he look? I know he looked as torn up as I felt when he ran off." She catches the entrance of Peyton, watching her for a moment as she continues to talk to Elisabeth, "I didn't want to chase him off, I wanted to drag him up to my apartment, " she states a touch blandly, glancing back at the blond with a little knowing smirk.

Elisabeth keeps her voice low, making sure it carries only to Cassidy. "Oh, I met him all right." She can't help the grin. "He's hooked on you too, that's for damn sure. But he cares about you enough to let you go. His own words," she says as she looks at the redhead. "And I gave him a couple places to try to pick his music back up. And pointed him in a direction for new papers too — what with warrants out on him and all, it's not such a good plan to be flaunting anything. We'll see what pans out for him." She sips from her soda and says quietly, "But I gotta tell you…. I feel weird for not running him in. And I fully realize the double standard that I'm spouting." Cuz she hasn't run in any of her lovers, after all. Or Vanguard people. The whole situation honestly has her stomach upset.

A look of relief crosses Aaron's face when he sees Peyton arrive, though he gets caught up in a short conversation with the manager before he has a chance to get to her table. "I'm here not a moment too soon, I see," he says quietly to her, with a wink, clearly judging her emotional state with his ability.

"You better be as good as they say you are, kid," the manager says to him, also quietly, once Aaron has come closer to the piano. The manager borrows the microphone that lingers above the top of the piano. "Ladies and gentlemen: Aaron Michaels." There's applause as the manager retreats to his office.

Aaron takes a seat and his fingers touch the keys of the piano. It's like electricity, and he plays a single soft chord without really thinking. So then he has to think — what song has that chord in it? His head bobs slightly as he begins to play a lovely introductory piece. It's at the close of that piece that a melody starts that may slightly familiar to the two off-duty police detectives sitting in the Lounge. It sounds terribly like the music that played in a certain NYU dormitory room.

When Aaron comes by her table, Peyton gives a shake of her head with a soft laugh. "I'm fine." It's hard to lie to someone who can sense your emotions, though. "No worse than before, anyway." She shrugs, and adds, "Break a leg" as he moves toward the piano. A waiter comes by as he begins to play, and Peyton murmurs a drink order without taking her eyes off of Aaron — the last time he sang, she couldn't quite stand to watch him, but now it's not as intense. She sighs softly and lifts her chin, her hair falling away from her face as her mood begins to lift. It's like a tangible weight being picked up off her shoulders.

"I know, Liz.. God I know, trust me. My moral compass goes crazy around him." Cassidy says softy, reaching out to grip the other woman's arm briefly. "Thank you. For trusting me on this. I have to believe that it was his ability that did that made him crazy." She desperately wants him to be better and to have a normal life, "Just hurts knowing I can't be there like I'd like."

Cassidy's hand drops away and she reaches for her water glass, intent on taking a sip, but as the music starts, the glass pauses in it's journey. It is lowered to the table again with a soft thunk. "God.. that song.." She mutters staring at the man at the piano. Why of all the songs did he have to play that. The memories of the murder scene clear in her head, of the smirk the dying woman gave her. Cassidy gives a shutter. If her appetite wasn't totally gone before it is now. So caught up in it, she almost doesn't catch the shift in the mood in the room. While she's feeling disgusted and her mood darkening… other people seem to be getting happier. This makes the detective frown slightly.

Elisabeth's ear for music is also more than a little tweaked by the fact that Aaron is playing that particular song. Christ, she thinks with a shudder. Seeing Megan Manning die in front of her eyes, being covered in the woman's blood…. those images even now send Elisabeth reeling with horror and shock. She slants a glance toward the stage where the musician is beginning his set, and she shivers a little. "Well, now, if that isn't like feeling a goose walk on your grave," she murmurs to Cassidy. Turning her eyes back to the redhead, she says quietly, "I know what you mean… I have to tell you that Library Cutie and I would like to have you and Coren for dinner." She meets Cassidy's eyes. "I think it's gonna be a little bit about trust. Need to know what works for the two of you." She keeps one ear on the piano, though.

Moments before Aaron opens his mouth, he remembers his promise to Peyton to sing something she can understand. And so he digs through the recesses of his memory to pry out the English lyrics that one him an award at a vocalist competition back in the mid-nineties. One of the benefits of songs translated into another language, rather than vice versa. He tips his head to the side of the microphone.

"A time for us, some day there'll be
When chains are torn by courage born of a love that's free
A time when dreams so long denied can flourish
As we unveil the love we now must hide

A time for us, at last to see
A life worthwhile for you and me

And with our love, through tears and thorns
We will endure as we pass surely through every storm
A time for us, some day there'll be a new world
A world of shining hope for you and me"

And then Aaron breaks his promise, but can't help it because he just has a fondness for the song in Italian, it's a more romantic language.

"Un giorno sai per vivere
La vita che ci sfugge qui
Un giorno sai per vivere
La vita che ci sfugge qui"

Aaron takes the time between the last chorus and final verse to not only show off his skills a bit, but because it's so good to be using a real piano again, even if it's only a studio grand.

"L'amore in noi supererá
Gli ostacoli e le maree dell'avversitá
E ci sará anche per noi nel mondo
Un tempo in cui l'amore vincerá
Un tempo in cui l'amore…. vincerá"

With soft strokes of the keys in the final play of the melody, Aaron draws the song to a close.

Peyton gives a little shake of her head. She actually hates this song, but she can't deny the power Aaron's power has. It's almost like finding yourself singing along to a Spice Girls or Backstreet Boys song before you remember that you're not supposed to like it. She smiles, despite the shake of her head, and nods to the waiter who brings by her drink — something with alcohol, something with fruit, something that tastes more like candy than liquor. She will have to remember to request something that was written after she was born, the next time she talks to the musician.

Red brows lift a bit at Liz, Cassidy didn't expect something like that. "Really, Han Solo is willing to meet my over bearing and over protective partner?" There is a some amusement to that question, her slips lifting into a grin, "I'm pretty sure I can twist his arm into coming and listening at least." She glances to the stage and listens quietly to it for a moment before sighing. "I think I preferred it in Italian," she mutters blandly to Elisabeth. "Some reason knowing the meaning of the words makes the whole scene that much sicker."

Her eyes scan the people closest to the stage, everyone is in a good mood, but the those around Cassidy and Liz…. Nothing has changed. Odd. "Hey Liz?" She starts, but then frowns. "Know what.. nevermind." She gives a shake of her head trying to dismissed the oddness.

Elisabeth facepalms at Cassidy and says, "For God's sake, his name's Richard. If you call him that to his face, I'll eventually have to explain. Don't make me explain." Her tone is warning. And then she grimaces visibly. "I should point out that the only Italian I know is a couple of operettas that I had to sing in voice lessons, and that — thank God — was not one of them." She tilts her head at Cassidy and asks, "What is it?" She hasn't missed that the people closest to the stage seem happy, but she's chalked it up at this point …. she doesn't know. They're friends and fans of the guy?

As people applaud around him, Aaron cannot help but stand and take a bow. His eyes catch momentarily on the form of Cassidy, and he can't help but find her face vaguely familiar, though it's hard to say from this distance. It's more the pain he sees in her than takes his eyes a moment to go over. Then he offers a bit of a half-smile and takes a seat at the piano to resume his audition. For those Jazz fans, he begins a lively rendition piano instrumental of Night Train.

The fake-green eyes of Peyton Whitney roam around the room as she sips her fruity drink from the purple straw. She watches people smile and relax as Aaron plays, but those further away seem less relaxed, less happy. Her gaze falls on Elizabeth and Cassidy, who look a little perturbed. The others nearby don't look upset or exceptionally curious. She chews her lower lip for a moment, watching the two (unknown to her) police detectives, before turning to watch Aaron play more. Her own brows are knit, not with emotional pain, for that has lifted, but with some concern.

"Too late.." Cassidy says with barely contained amusement. "He called the other day.." She explains a bit sheepishly. But when pressed, Cassidy bites her lip for a moment and says softly. "I just am noticing a mood shift. Over there near stage… There were some rather… depressed people." She murmurs, "They are… well anything but. Nothing but perky. " She motions between the two detectives. "You feel any better? I don't. "

As the applaud starts, Cassidy joins in and she turns to study him. "Except him…" she murmurs. Their eyes meet briefly and then he looks away, and Cassidy lets a slow breath out. Why was she holding it?

Elisabeth looks puzzled and glances toward the tables in question, though she does kick Cassidy for good measure under the table. "I see a bunch of people… enjoying his playing. His choices of music for the venue seem…. off. But maybe they're his friends?" she asks mildly. And then she gets up. "I'll hit the restroom — be right back." She slides out of her seat and makes her way toward the ladies' room the long way around, making sure to pass within the radius of the tables at the front.

Enter sandma.. Err, Enter Wendy. Artist. Socialite. Perky bubbly rah rah go America, evo. Tight satin pants and red soled heels, loose flowing purple blouse, a large real hibiscus that sweeps the hair off the side of her face. Peyton had texted her with where she was and away from slumming Wendy went to the beck and call of her friend. When she spots the woman, she heads over towards her. Elizabeth though. Ohhh there's an evooooooo. There's a brush of her hand as it darts out to touch Liz's upper arm and bump into her. Ohhh, audiokinetic. Peyton's seen this before, Wendy's tricks to getting to know people's abilities. "Sorry!" She chirps before tottering off towards Peyton.

The lyrics were definitely off for the venue, although the music and style of song was just right. More jazz and easy-listening than most other places. Otherwise, it wouldn't be serene. Aaron might choose to roll his eyes or groan if he had seen Wendy enter. It's a good thing his eyes are on the keys and not the door. Having said that, he will be more … civil towards her than he was the last time, only because he's not feeling quite as snarky as previous days. Night Train is a long song, and as a lively Jazz piece, it's tiring. But Aaron likes it anyway. If Elisabeth gets close enough to the stage, she'll feel any emotional pain being slowly syphoned away, which is a good thing or a bad thing, depending entirely upon one's perspective.

Peyton raises a brow at the little bump into Elizabeth, but hops up to give Wendy a hug when she gets to her table, close to the piano. "Hey, Wendy-bird," she whispers, since she's close to Aaron. She adjusts the hibiscus that she bumped askew, before taking a seat and pulling a seat out for Wendy. "Check it out…" she says, nodding to the happy looking people surrounding Aaron. "It really works. He sang for me the other day. It's amazing, really." Apparently Aaron and Peyton are no longer enemies — one benefit of illegal drug abuse.

Cassidy gives a firm nod to Liz, and watches her friend drift closer to the stage on the way to the bathroom. Of course, the reaching done by Wendy is not lost on the detective and her brows lift a bit. So instead of watching her on again, off again partner.. her eyes follow the weird girl. She watches Peyton greet the other woman, "Huh.." she says softly to herself, as she waits for Liz to get back her eyes drift to the man playing.

Elisabeth in fact does go to the restroom and stay in there long enough to make it look good. Heck, she might have even really used the thing. When she comes back, she wends her way back along the same path and then slides back into the booth. "You want to enforce a federal mandate off-duty?" she asks in a soft tone that carries to Cassidy alone. Because her attitude at this juncture seems to be leaning toward the 'not.' He did seem to make her feel better about things, at least. For a few minutes.

"Totally an empath" Wendy singsongs. There's a finger pointed in Liz's direction when she's finally wended her way to hers and Cassidy's table. "Totally an audio kinetic. God I must have touched… thirty of them in how many years" Wendy sticks a pinkie finger in her ear. "Totally screws with my hearing for a moment, it's like I get feedback from a mic" But she looks away from the others and towards Aaron. "Benji can play. Nice. Should hire him for my parents gigs. I'm sure they'd love him"

If Aaron could hear them now…. He brings Night Train to an end and begins Moonlight Sonata. By his reckoning, he can fit in one more song before his audition time is up. With any luck, it's been impressive enough to earn him a gig or two. Not that he'll hold his breath one way or another. It's been a blast having the opportunity to play what he likes again. He also looks forward to his time ending so he can get a chance to be with Peyton again. Of course, he doesn't realize he'll end up stuck with Wendy, too.

Peyton nods. "Do you feel it? What he can do?" she asks Wendy — but, as Aaron pointed out, the woman's devoid of any pain or sorrow anyway. Maybe she doesn't notice any difference. Peyton peeks out of the corner of her eyes at Elizabeth, and then back to Wendy. "Audiokinetic…" she draws out the word slowly. "Sound movement?" She chews her lower lip, thinking for a moment, her eyes on Aaron's fingers on the keyboard. "Like, she can move things by using sound waves?" she hazards a guess.

"That girl totally reached out and touched you," Cassidy comments with an amused look. Liz's question makes her grimace and then she sighs. "Truthfully, I'm not in the mood to be a bitch about upholding federal mandate.. I came here to try and relax and bitch about the fact, I have feelings for a man and had to push him…. ah…." the detective trails off as the strange touchy feely lady points their direction. "What the hell… ?" she murmurs glancing at the other detective.

Elisabeth shrugs briefly and glances toward the table with the two women, her smile easy. "Hey, I'm gropable. Although to be fair, she's really not my type." She does, however, sharpen her hearing so that she can hear what's being said between the pointers. Cuz well, that's just plain odd. At the same time, she waves to their waitress to come over for a refill, and she murmurs, "Send a round to the piano, if you don't mind. And that table as well." With a nod toward the women. To Cassidy, she comments, "She didn't pick my pockets, I didn't have anything in them."

There's a snort from Wendy. "No, generally means she can manipulate it, though there was this one guy I knew, in Australia, he could make a sound so bass that a car would literally vibrate across the parking lot. Was hilarious. Five bucks blondie is listening to us right now if she's that kind of Audio" Kiss, kiss to either cheek and the brunette takes her seat, patting the hibiscus after Peyton fixes it. "What he does? Dunno. He said he was a different kind. I feel…" Well, yeah, she was a smidge more happier and gives Aaron a wave. "Ohh, they're looking at us" Wendy flashes a smile and a wink to the table of detectives. "she totally is listening"

"Well, that's a waste of vibration," Peyton quips. "What he does? Oh, you know. Just, I've never seen anyone use that sort of fingering before, it's really unique," she says, improvising in case Blondie is listening — talking about Aaron's power is probably not polite. She widens her eyes at Wendy to drop talk of that sort of thing. Suddenly the waiter comes by with drinks for them, that they haven't ordered. He gives a nod toward Elisabeth, and Peyton frowns at Wendy. "Great, now they think we're lesbians or something," she says. "Not that there's anything wrong with them, but I don't swing that way."

"So weird…." Cassidy says softly as Wendy's mood improves. "I gotta… " She murmurs climbing to her feet. She isn't looking at the woman, she's looking at Aaron. "Be right back." she says softly to Liz, before working her way to the stage. Her eyes narrow slightly as she moves into the perky zone.

As she moves closer to the man at the piano, she literally feels those emotions stripped away. All the pain — all that misery — so much of it. She feels her emotions lighten little by little as she approaches him, even as she can feel his mix of misery and pleasure from doing what he loves. She stops, only thing keeping her from moving closer is the stage, and she now has a small smile on her face. Se can't help, even though there is still a lot of pain there, she does feel better.

It's good that Elisabeth has that neutral cop-face thing down pat. Or she'd be dying laughing. In point of fact, when the one girl starts talking lesbians, Elisabeth makes a point of leaning over to Cassidy and getting that sly 'hey, girl, check it out!' kind of look on her face. And she murmurs to her sometime-partner in crime….. and assorted other troubles….. "Now that's intriguing. Black-haired twinkle-toes girl there knows exactly what I can do. And can apparently tell what someone else can do too — I would assume the piano player." She smiles toward the two girls and slips out of the table behind Cassidy, leaving money to cover the check and tip. "If I were in the mood to make a few waves, now'd be about the time I'd start flashing a badge or something." She looks at Cassidy and the happy face she's got as they get within range and pats her friend on the back. "I'm kind of wiped. I think I'm going to head for home, if you don't mind. Enjoy the singer, Cass," she tells the redhead. And then deliberately waves toward the other two women with a huge grin. Her own emotional strains are definitely less within the piano player's radius, and frankly? She can't blame Cassidy a bit. "See you tomorrow, lady."

"Oh please, if I were a muff muncher, I'd be all over your drapes Pey" Wendy assures her. The wave is returned but Wendy's attention suddenly zeroes in on Cassidy. Whoah wait a minute…. She's Evo tooooooo?! Wendy nudges Peyton and points to Cassidy. "She's one. Damn. Wonder what she does. Wanna go visit Aaron?"

If Aaron had any sense of how much emotion he was syphoning away, he might notice Cassidy's presence, but he's too absorbed in performing to even notice her approaching. Besides, people move all around him all the time anyway. It's the nature of being in a place such as this. People do come and go from their tables. With Moonlight Sonata over, he's started a beautiful composition of his own, which he hasn't played in years. He doesn't sing the lyrics, but Peyton would likely recognize the music, even if it had the backing of a full band the two times she heard it way back when.

Peyton is just taking a sip of her drink when Wendy mentions her "drapes," and she spits the blue-colored drink out laughing. So much for that table cloth. It now looks like the blue Otter Pop bled to death on it. "God, Wendy," she says, covering her mouth and trying to stifle her laughing, lest she embarrass Aaron. She nods toward Cassidy. "Red head is all happy all of a sudden, huh?" She waves at Elisabeth when the blonde gives her cheery farewell wave. No use pretending like they aren't talking about them. "Uh, you go, it's a little weird if suddenly we march up to some stranger."

Pulling her attention away from the piano player, Cassidy turns her attention to Liz and then the other two women, but then refocus' on her friend. "Alright. Yeah… A moment longer." She comments softly, her attention going back to Aaron. "I'll call you tomorrow," she adds as the blonde moves away.

Left to her own devices now, Cassidy wraps arms around herself as she concentrates on what she's feeling, it's like slowly being stripped like…. well.. an onion. No.. parfait. Hell something with layers.

"Chicken" Wendy pats Peyton on the back before up from the table she goes, sauntering oh so casually - really - towards Aaron and his groupie who seems to be… good, is the woman making out with her own sel… nope, just hugging herself. And just like that, Wendy drops a hand on Cassidy's shoulder and leans against the woman. "So. Like him? Too bad he's totally gay. Loves men. A lot. We're talking, new guy every night" and with that touch…. booyah. "Niiice, another Empath"

He had prayed the voice he heard wasn't who he thought it was. But no, he just isn't that lucky. So, instead of the gracefully soft chord to end the song that ends his audition, it's staccato. Why? Because one can easily cover for some comments, but others are just plain surprising. Aaron grits his teeth and tries to restrain the desire to strangle her, or possible stab her with Refrain, the first package of which he happens to have on him… well, in his jacket, anyway. "Thank you," he says into the microphone, trying to let the applause draw away some of his anger, to little effect. He moves away from the stage, sits down at Peyton's table and notices the stained table cloth. "Any alcohol left?" he asks.

Peyton can't quite hear what Wendy says, but Aaron's tenseness is too obvious as he heads to her table. She points to either of the two free drinks that were delivered to their table, though not blue. "You played great. Do you know anything that was written after 1970?" she asks, grinning before he can get upset to show she's kidding. She leans forward to give him a hug. "It was great, though. How are you?"

Not a good think to sneak up on a cop when she's distracted, Cassidy jerks aways, moving to grab that wrist and she turns towards the woman. Frowning the detective, eyes the woman. "What the hell?" Taking a step away from Wendy, Cassidy's frown deepens. "How the hell did you know what I am?" Eyes flick between the two women, her voice drops as the music ends, "I hope your registered. I'm not in the mood to do my job.. So if your not.. I suggest you do, " she points in Aaron direction. "That includes him. Cause next time I see you all I will drag you in." She doesn't wait for a response, she turns sharply on her heels and heads back to her table, dropping money there and grabbing her coat to leave.

Wendy makes duck talking motions with her hand at the retreating Cassidy and rolls her eyes. "Get some Pamprin officer lady!" Wendy calls out before she turns and saunters back to the table and flops down into her seat. The drink ordered for her by Elisabeth is offered up since it's untouched. "She's an empath too. Bitchy one at that. Though, she said it with a smile!" As if that means something. "Heyo Benji, hows it hanging? Slightly to the left today? Or up high?"

"The last one I wrote the music to in oh-one. Does that not count?" He rubs his head, "I'm fine." Of course, Wendy joins them, and he definitely takes that drink, downing it in record time. The mere idea of a run-in with the cops is anything but his idea of a good time. "Sure it's not just you?" he asks Wendy. His desire to be anywhere near the crazy perky girl has completely left him. "Do you have no internal filtering mechanism?" He glares for a moment at her before turning back to Peyton. "I'd be better if I had a shotgun, though."

Peyton's eyes widen when Cassidy threatens Wendy and jabs a finger at her and Aaron. "Shit," she says. So much for laying low. That's apparently not an option when Wendy's nearby. "She a cop or something?" she asks, when Wendy returns to the table, before giving an apologetic look to Aaron. "Yeah, I guess it counts. No shooting the Wendy-bird, Tootles. Or was it Nibs? Nope, Tootles."

"Shoot me, I won't give you more Refrain Benji" She sticks her tongue out at him and flags a waiter down for a round of drinks for everyone. "Seems like it. Seems pissed too, maybe there's alike a gerbil or something up her ass, or just her police baton." She glances to Aaron, grinning like a fool. "Yup, I do. It's on right now. sometimes though, I have tact. I was telling Pey here that the blonde was an audiokinetic and that the woman who just left, was an emapth"

"Tootles? Nibs?" Aaron groans. "Quite frankly, Refrain blows anyway," he says, and can only stare slackjawed at Wendy as she claims to be censoring herself. "This is you censoring yourself? You're incredible. Learn some manners and some respect, please." He gets up from the table and looks at Peyton. "Next time, leave her at home." On that remark, he heads off towards the manager's office. He does, after all, have to see if he can hammer out a gig or something.

Ouch. Peyton makes a face and looks up at Wendy, hoping she isn't too insulted by Aaron. "Sorry. Though yeah, that might not have been the smartest, talking about people's powers especially if that audo… audio… super-hearing chick might have been able to hear you, you know? I'm not afraid of every shadow like I was a few days ago, but I'm also not quite ready to be hauled in for registering, I don't think." she says quietly. "He's here for an audition, so if the manager comes out, you know, don't mess it up." She nods toward Aaron's back.

Don't mess it up. "Jeeze Pey, he's only friends with one of the it girls of Manhattan and the daughter of a fortune 500 company" Wendy looks over to the retreating Aaron. "Doing it anyways, just to piss him off. I like seeing him all with his dander up and such. Some other emotion than depressed"

The marginalization of Aaron's pain doesn't really go over too well with him, nor does being screwed with because she thinks he needs to be as perky as she is. At least he gets to deal with the manager behind closed doors, after he makes a brief stop into the men's room to stare at the mirror and will away the desire to go and inject Wendy with her own 'medicine'. When he returns from the manager's office, though, he has a less-than-enthusiastic look on his face, and has brought a drink with him, which he quickly downs.

"Being your friend or mine isn't enough to compensate for not having a job, unless he's your cabana boy, and I don't think either of you want that," Peyton snipes back at Wendy but grins. She likes Wendy, even if Aaron doesn't. When Aaron returns, she frowns. "Didn't go well?" she asks quietly, faux-green eyes growing somber as she looks up at him.

"It does when you or I can help him get a job" Wendy points out before Aaron starts to head back towards the table. "Well Benji? Inquiring minds want to know. Will we be seeing you around here more often?"

"Could have gone better," Aaron remarks. "Apparently, the manager noticed how one of my friends, who will go unnamed…" He turns to yell right at the individual in question, "WEN… DY…" His face turns back to Peyton, "scared off two of his patrons. I can come back and play for free if she behaves." He stands up and moves behind Wendy. "I'll let you have the honour of paying for my drink." On that point, he turns and walks towards the coat check, where he left his jacket.

Wendy rolls her eyes. Right. Well, looks like the black AMEX is coming out. That should smooth over anything and everything. "I was under the impression Aaron, that I already did pay for your drink"

"No… hold on. We can fix this," Peyton says with a frown. "I'll tell her we know them, that it had nothing to do with you." She gets up to head toward the manager's office. "Stay," she tells Wendy, pointing a finger at the table.

Sit. Good dog. Roll over. Wendy just sighs and rolls her eyes and sits by her lonesome sipping one of the three drinks that has made it's way to the table. Her attention wandering now and then as someone other than her two friends catches her evolved attention.

For a fine establishment, it's almost mandatory that the manager be a snooty fellow with thin moustache and eyes like a hawk. When you run a business in such hard economic times, you just absolutely must be able to identify what is a benefit to your establishment and what is a hindrance. Anything that is a detriment absolutely must go. Balding on the top, with only a fringe of black hair left on either side of his head, the man looks at Peyton as she approaches his office, his beady brown eyes behind frame-less, circular glasses. "May I help you, miss?"

Peyton smiles sweetly at the manager. "Hi, how are you? I just wanted to come in and say that whatever happened out there, it wasn't what it looked like. Those other girls, that left? They were only here to see Aaron, too. They were my friend's friends. The dark haired girl, they're her friends, and they were there because we asked them to be, so we didn't scare away new patrons or anything, I promise!" she babbles, as if flustered and upset on Aaron's behalf. "They were only kidding around, pretending to be mad at Wendy, but they're not, not really. And Wendy, she's one of the Hunters, you know The Hunters? So like, we'll be back with lots of our friends and her parents and stuff, if Aaron's working here. Because we really like his music." She takes a deep breath and offers her hand. "I'm Peyton Whitney."

The Manager takes Peyton's hand and gives it a kiss in the way only skeezy managers can. "Ah, Miss Whitney, a pleasure. In that case, let Miss Hunter know that drinks are on the house … within reason, of course. I will make sure to get in touch with Mister Michaels in the morning to schedule a performance or two. But right now, I do have to tend to some administrative matters, so if you will excuse me?"

"Thank you," Peyton says with a bubbly little bounce and squeeze of skeezy-manager hand. "You're the best. I'll tell everyone I know to come here." She heads out of the office back to the table. "On the house, but leave a tip," she murmurs, and turns to look for Aaron. "Finish these and we can go." She picks up one of the drinks and takes a sip. She doesn't intend to get drunk, but, hey, one for the road.

"Looking through his eyes Pey? He's outside, come on" Wendy didn't bring a jacket, it's august. But she's up from the table, grabbing her impossibly small purse and offering to link her arm, starts heading for the door

Peyton blinks. "I never thought to try that… but to my friends? That might be … nosy." She tosses some cash on the table for a tip and follows Wendy. Once outside, she looks around for Aaron. "He's going to call you tomorrow about booking you, Aaron," she says, once she spots him. "See? It's all good."

"She only invoked our names is all. See, this is what having really rich friends helps to do. You're a shoo-in" Wendy pipes up, stalking out beside Peyton. "We heading anywhere else tonight or was this strictly a one night sorta deal tonight? Cause I could sure kill for a good messy burger right about now"

"So she made up for your inability to censor yourself," Aaron says as he walks up to Wendy and around to her back. "Thank you, but you didn't have to do that." Of course, it's all about pride. "And I'm sorry for this," he says, making sure to look Peyton in the eye, because to Wendy? Not so sorry. Clenched in his hand was one of the famous glowing blue mini-syringes, and he attempts to inject Wendy in the flesh at the back of her neck.

Peyton gasps. What do you do when one of your friends stabs another with a syringe, and not because it's full of epinephrin and they're having an allergic attack or something along those lines? "Oh, right, that will teach her — the girl loves that shit," she says a moment later. "But we should get her off the street anyway." She steps out and hails a taxi with a wave of her hand.

"What the fuck Benji!" She knows the prick of a needle, but that he did it in her neck and she couldn't see what it was. What the hell did he just inject into her. "Pey! What the hell did he put in me" In Aaron's vision, that brightness is quickly dimming thanks to his little act. When the other woman says great going, it's just another confused look. Peyton was in on it? Was this some joke? Was this so…

The dark haired woman freezes mid scrabbling at the back of her neck with her hands as the drug starts to take it's effects. Peyton may be hailing a taxi and Aaron may be doing whatever it is that he's doing, but Wendy is starting to scream. Not some 'ohh look there's a spider' kind. It's pained and comes from somewhere within the core of the woman as she gets her first bad trip on Refrain and goes down to meet cement.

There's a white tiled ceiling above her, fluorescent lights shining down from above and hurting her eyes. The sound of footsteps outside a door pacing back and forth barely heard by her over her screams in her current state. Wendy struggles against the restraints that they used to keep her where she is, trying to turn over onto her side and curl up in a ball. But she can't and it only aggravates her more.

The antiseptic smell of the tough love rehab facility permeating through the air and burns her nose. She can hear her brothers and parents outside, discussing stuff with the doctors while she's yelling for them to let her go, that it hurts so much and that she promises she'll get clean. Her body wracked with pain as she's starting the process of the withdrawal from all that she's cherished and used these last years. Every cell feeling afire and like she wants to die if they don't give her more of her drugs now. Right. Now.

The words, 'though you might want this back,' never leave his mouth. The scream was not expected, nor was the drug acting so quickly. Luckily, he Aaron was ready to catch Wendy to prevent her from hitting the ground. Of course, with the scream, she does very nearly hit the ground. With some effort, he picks her up into his arms to bring to the cab. Boy is he going to be tired by the end of the night. Stocking shelves is one thing, but carrying a girl a ways is another entirely.

"That hit fast… you must have gotten a vein," Peyton says, a little in awe, standing on the sidewalk a little too long before she hurries to the cab. She gives her own address in the Upper West Side.

"She on drugs? What the hell?" the cab driver asks, shaking his head.

"Don't mind her. I'll pay double, okay?" Peyton says, scowling. "Just hurry. She'll be fine." Her voice is a little tremulous as she watches Wendy freak out. "It's okay, Wendy, I'm here." She strokes Wendy's hair.

Wendy doesn't care, doesn't see, but the screaming abates after a minute or two, reduced to whispers as she's replaying her own hell. Those who think she's someone who hasn't gone through something, can't see in her head and see. Peyton would understand. Money doesn't necessarily equate with happiness. She's oblivious to Aaron's arms around her and getting her in, or Peyton's attempts to comfort. She just stares off, tears streaming down her face, a dribble of blood smeared where Aaron had indeed, hit a vein.

Shit. Shit shit shit. Aaron can see the blackness creeping through Wendy like auric tendrils, even in the dim lighting of the cab. He remains silent towards the driver. While Peyton strokes her hair, he actually cradles her once he has her buckled into the middle seat. Panic. Word of the day, emotion of the day. Tears actually come to his eyes, and he does the only thing he can think of. "Alone she sleeps in the shirt of man, with my three wishes clutched in her hand… The first that she be spared the pain that comes from a dark and laughing rain." God he hopes it works. Hopes it does something, but he can't keep his eyes open for fear of showing his tears. "When she finds love, may it always be true, this I beg for the second wish I made too…"

The cab driver shrugs. Double the fare is a hell of a tip, so he takes off. "Shh, Wendy, it's okay, it's not real," Peyton murmurs, tears in her own eyes until Aaron starts to sing. That helps her sorrow at seeing her friend in such pain, but it doesn't make her any less anxious and worried. She frowns at Aaron. "That was mean. I mean, I knew you had a mouth on you, but you know, that's actually illegal? I'm surprised. I always took you for a goody good." The latter isn't meant to be mean, just honest.

Whatever Aaron's doing seems to have some effect, even as her head lolls on his shoulder. His ability getting through somehow wending it's way to between her and the effects of the drug. Gives her some small thin barrier between the memories/vision and herself. Doesn't stop the crying, but at least the pervasive dimness to Aaron's vision isn't getting darker. She also manages to take Peyton's hand and hold it tight, squeeze it tight.

She doesn't have to tell him. He already feels bad enough about it than hearing it from her. Aaron doesn't reply to her. "But wish no more, my life you can take, to have her please just some day wake. To have her please just some day wake…" But his voice can't go any further, and he goes silent, resting his head atop of Wendy's. Praying. For the first time in several years, he's praying.

The car pulls up at one of those posh apartment buildings that encircle Central Park. Of course, they were a lot posher, before the bomb and the potential of radiation poisoning. "Thanks," Peyton says, rifling through her purse before she comes up with enough cash to pay the fare twice over. She hops out on the curbside and begins to pull Wendy out. The doorman is already holding the door, with a polite, "Ms. Whitney." He's used to strange happenings, clearly.

Once Wendy's out, Aaron picks her up again. It's his responsibility. It's his fault. His eyes are red-rimmed and glistening with tears. He follows silently along with Peyton. What else can he do?

Not much as Wendy's gonna be like this, quiet, slowly crying, for at least another twenty minutes. There's no objection to being picked up and hauled like some boneless dark haired woman. "Keep singing" in a voice so tiny and small, barely heard. "Keep singing. Please keep singing" Because whatever it is that he does with the singing, it's working and she doesn't want it to stop.

Pulling Wendy along with her, Peyton shoots Aaron an imperious look that says without words to do exactly what Wendy says. She leads them through the lobby, into the elevator and up to her apartment — well, her parent's apartment. It's not the penthouse, but it's high enough up to have a view of the park. It's still decorated in her parents' taste, from the looks of it, because it's certainly not hers. She leads Aaron and Wendy to the couch and helps lay the girl down. She disappears, and in a room somewhere, one can hear her rustling around before she emerges with a full-sized electronic keyboard, carried awkwardly in her arms. She sets it down on the coffee table, then crawls around to find the outlet. "Here. Sing." She curls up besides Wendy, petting the girl's hair back from her face as she prepares to watch Aaron sing her to sleep.

Again, glaring looks are completely unnecessary in the panic-filled mind and heart of Aaron Michaels. So consumed he is by grief that he's already started singing and it's only when Peyton brings him a keyboard that he notices he is still clutching the mini-syringe in his hand. It drops to the floor. If the situation weren't so immediate, he'd probably be in shock from his own actions. But he doesn't have the luxury to detach himself from the situation.

Anything that comes to mind he sings. When his voice grows hoarse, he simply plays the keys, and when his fingers are numb, he holds Wendy and hums to her, even if it hurts his vocal cords to do so. He keeps going until he absolutely cannot anymore, long after Wendy and Peyton have fallen asleep. The world blurs into the darkest night, and he finds himself alone, save for the sleeping forms of Wendy in his arms and of Peyton, not too far off. Tears never left his eyes.

Grief is a perilous thing, and when self-inflicted, it is a living and breathing nightmare from which there is no escape. The sight of the mini-syringe, even if only a vague — though totally horrifying — memory, nearly paralyzes him. There is a glance at his watch.

6:30. He hasn't slept in an entire day. His head throbs even though he's been working his ability the entire night, until he could work it no more. Slowly and very carefully, he worms his way out from under Wendy, brushing her hair from her face before going to his jacket, which he removed and set along with Wendy's purse. He wipes the tears from his eyes be he rifles through his jacket for the bottle of Excedrin, popping two into his mouth and chewing them.

As Aaron returns the bottle of painkillers to his jacket, he accidentally knocks Wendy's purse over. The impossibly small purse loses one item from its contents as it hits the ground. One of the bubble-wrapped packages slips out just enough for Aaron to spot. He pulls it out as he returns the purse to its rightful position. His eyes barely focus on the package before returning to the purse. In an act possible as bad as his first villainous act of the night, he goes through the purse, finding two other mini-syringe packages. A chill runs down his spine as he stares at all three in his hand, now, the purse forgotten. He deserves it.

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