Muddy Waters



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Scene Title Muddy Waters
Synopsis When Hiro Nakamura sends Peyton Whitney back in time, Rhys' game of names and identities causes confusion and distrust in an environment where neither is welcome.
Date May 23, 1915

The ties that bind family together pull tight across the vast distances of our lives.

A cloudless sky looks like a single canvas of crystal clear blue spanning one end of the horizon to the other, broken up only by the towering shapes of skyscrapers on the eastern side of the sky where Manhattan bristles up like the concrete, glass and steel mane of some urban beast. To the west, the Hudson river divides the land and separates New York City from New Jersey across the waters.

From even the most distant shores, we can often experience the unexpected tug of familial bonds calling us back.

Out on Pier 12, the cool breeze blowing off of the river blows the dark tresses of Peyton Whitney's hair about, lashing tendrils of chestnut colored hair snapping wildly. Though the air has a coolness to it, the sun is still hot atop her head and shoulders, her shadow small and dark, directly beneath where the brunette stands, looking out at the water. The time, day and location were decided days ago, and now that she's here, there's no one waiting for her.

When a family member is in need, no matter the distance or the divide between, there is an impulsive and ingrained urgency. A need to protect the genetic line, an obligation to defend one's own past.

A horn out on the water signals the passage of a tugboat, dragging a distant seagull-laden garbage scow across the river, a brown and red silhouette on calm waters. Somewhere during that horn blast, he must have emerged, for the sound of footsteps on the pier are too close behind Peyton to have walked all the way down in such a short time. "Hello," is a softly spoken greeting from a man who's command of English is fluent but still subtly accented.

The bond of blood is stronger than most, diluded not by time, but by emotions and actions. Even then, even in the most strained of relations…

Hiro Nakamura is a darkly-dressed phantom at Peyton's back, his dark hair tied into a low tail behind his head, the anachronism of a brown-leather sheathed sword on his back distinctive as it is seemingly impractical. "Are you prepared?" Hiro's question seems to imply a certain amount of forethought on Peyton's part, physical and emotional.

…there can always be time to heal the damaged thread.

The tall woman spins to face the Japanese time traveller, sunglasses shielding her eyes and so it is hard to gauge her reaction to his presence but for a slight parting of her lips before she closes them once more and nods. She's dressed for fall in jeans, boots, a light sweater and a light gray peacoat that swirls with the wind, hoping that wherever she is going, the classic lines of her outfit will not stand out.

One hand pushes the sunglasses up to her head, her brown eyes searching his, this man whose power she knows of from her work with Endgame, this man who somehow can give her what no one else could: time to know her father. From her shoulder hangs a messenger bag of brown suede, and one hand comes down on it, to pat it. "I didn't know what to bring," she begins, looking a little worried. "I … I have his photo album of the pictures he took of me, and I have his wallet, with identification from 2010, but I don't know what else I'm supposed to do." Her voice is soft, uncertain of herself. "When are we going?" It's a strangely framed question, an impossible question, except in this time of powers and heroes.

Dark eyes narrow, as if not quite understanding what Peyton is talking about. Hiro takes a few steps forward and looks Peyton up and down. "Keep your focus on what you are going back to do, no— distractions?" Brows pinch together as Hiro considers the young woman, then looks out towards the water. "Your life will be in relative peril from the moment you set foot where you are headed, and you will need to rely on your French as well, presumably."

Something disquiets Hiro as he turns his stare back to Peyton, one brow raised. "The boy," is said with a bit of tension, "he did tell you where you would be going, didn't he?" Hiro's expression has a certain tightness at the corners of his eyes, a wariness that implies he's not entirely aware of what may be going on around him, an awkward footing.

"Do you have a weapon?" These are details that Rhys Bluthner seems to have not painted in to the overall picture.

Life in peril? She knew her very existence might be jeopardized if she fails to warn her father in time, if whomever is going back to kill him succeeds, but she didn't think she would be a target. Peyton swallows hard and shakes her head, her wide, deer-in-the-headlights gaze telling a thousand words that she can't quite pull out of her throat to speak.

"No — France? I mean, I speak French, but… but no, he didn't tell me where or when or what I'm supposed to do. I do have a gun," she adds, before Hiro thinks all is lost. Only because Cardinal had insisted, and insisted she practice in the basement yesterday.

"But I'm not like, a sharpshooter or anything, you know? I thought I just had to warn him…?" The lilt at the last word turns the statement into not only a question but a plea.

"Rhys," Hiro grates out as he lifts a hand to his forehead and rubs the heel of his palm over one eye, "Zan-nen na koto desu…" Hiro murmurs as he exhales a sigh and turns his back to Peyton, marching a few steps down the pier slowly to put some distance between he and the brunette, then turns around slowly as he sweeps one hand over the top of his head.

From a small distance now between she and Hiro, the time-traveler stalks a few steps towards Peyton and angles his head to the side. "Belgium, nienteen fifteen. During the first world war… he should have told you." There's an anxious expression creasing Hiro's lips down into a frown, knitting his brows together, causing him worry that should be even more than it is, had he known the truth.

"The man you are looking for is fighting on the side of the French military against the Germans, you will be going to the town of Ypres," and Hiro struggles with the Dutch pronunciation as any foreign speaker would. "You will need to stay out of the way of the fighting and find him. The gun is… a last resort."

Peyton thought she might go back as far as the Eighties, the Seventies, or her own personal favorite, thanks to her retro style aesthetic, the Sixties, but …

"1915?" she echoes, her dark eyes rounding as she stares at the man in awe and no small amount of fear.

So much for blending in.

"World War I?" she echoes, and she shakes her head, stepping back, her brows furrowing together and the tears springing to her eyes. "I … by myself? How … I don't understand!" she whispers with fierce anger and terror, shaking her head again. "What name is he going by, and who is trying to kill him — I mean, besides the Germans?" Her second set of questions might suggest at least a small modicum of common sense, despite the hysteria painting itself across her features.

Exhaling a sigh and rolling his eyes, Hiro suddenly looks irate. "Idiot," manages to be in English as the swordsman rebukes his partner, turning a narrow-eyed look back to Peyton. "I cannot wait to take you back, despite what it may seem like, I do not have all the time in the world. I cannot risk traveling back in on my own personal timeline while I am present in it," and admittedly he got that rule from Doctor Who, "not without risking a Rift." Peyton can almost feel the capitalization in the term.

"The boy should have told you that his name is Thomas Zarek, he is a French soldier. You should be able to find him at a building called the Cloth Hall, it has a clock tower you can see from anywhere in Ypres." Scowling, Hiro strides past Peyton to the edge of the dock, lifting his hands up to sweep over the top of his head again, smoothing down his already tightly pulled hair.

"Rhys will have some explaining to do when I return," Hiro notes flatly, looking back over his shoulder to the brunette. "I apologize."

The anger and tension that emanates off Hiro does little to calm Peyton, and she looks like she might cry. She's already messed up, and she hasn't even started! "Rift?" she echoes, but he's already on to the details. Whatever he says after Zarek is probably lost as she stares at him, shaking her head with confusion.

"Wait, what? Zarek? Like — like Kain Zarek? Why is he going by Zarek? Oh, God, please don't tell me I'm related to Kain," she says, her eyes growing saucer-big with that particular thought and she takes a step back. But she has to do this, or she might not exist at all.

"What am I supposed to do, just tell him someone's trying to kill him and tell him not to … what, I don't understand, Mr. Maknamura!" Her voice is escalating in both timbre and volume, and she slaughters his name to boot. "What am I supposed to do?"

"This is why we shouldn't have added anyone late to the roster," Hiro murmurs to the water then lifts a hand up to rub his hand across his forehead. "You keep him safe, whether you have to lock him in a closet by himself or get him out of Ypres. Whatever you have to do to prevent Thomas Zarek's death… that's all you need to do. Be smarter than your enemy…" Hiro looks askance to the water, then back to Peyton and holds out one hand.

"We need to go," Hiro apologetically offers with a slow shake of his head. "I do not know who you are or aren't related to, that is Rhys' job to know. If he chose not to tell you these details… I…" Hiro's hand dips down just a touch, as if reconsidering this. "I am sorry," he reiterates, straightening his arm again.

"But he trusted you to do this," is perhaps not the most confidence boosting thing Hiro could say, "for better or worse."

The words do not soothe her fears, but her father's existence and thus her own — according to Rhys — weighs on her shoulders, and she nods, pressing her lips into a thin line, possibly to stop herself from asking any more questions Hiro has no answers to.

Peyton steps closer, reaching for his hand, glancing once more down at her attire — perhaps if she tucks her hair in a hat, she can pass for a boy. At least the peacoat is somewhat era-appropriate. The boots might pass if it weren't for the iconic red soles. At least they're flat. Her hand slides into his.

"I'm sorry, too. I'll do my best," she whispers.

Hiro's palm is surprisingly soft, for a man carrying a sword that likely implies a violent lifestyle. Squeezing Peyton's hand, the time-traveler offers a furrow-browed look at the young woman, then turns to look aside at the water. "We all do what we can with what we are given, nothing more and nothing less. Just remember the arsenal you have at your disposal, and do not belittle your own abilities. Great…" Hiro closes his eyes and breathes in deeply.

"…Or small."

Ypres, Belgium

May 23, 1915

"West flank, west flank! Keep 'em up an' on the move! Go! Go! Up on the hill go!""

English is not the first language that Peyton Whitney expected to hear in her first moments in another century. The rush of transferrence through time is unusually rough, expelling the brunette with a forward momentum that she did not have a moment prior. Suddenly she's off balance, falling head over heels down onto cobblestone, rolling over and langing up against a sack of grain spilled out from a toppled carraige laying in the middle of the road.

Drizzling rain falls from the gray skies, boots splash through puddles past her blurred field of view where her head had lightly bumped against the road. Dazed, all she can hear is muffled shouting and the slow pop of single-shot firearms in the distance. A noisier, moe mechanical and steady rhythm of popping sounds even further away, the noise of early generation machine guns.

The Dutch tongue is just as muffled in the form of young women in dark grays and browns, dressed stained with mud and blouded spattered with blood running in the opposite direction of the soldiers. Gabeled roofs span upward from Peyton's field of view, a quainte European village with plumes of smoke rising up from the distance.

Beyond the brown shingled roofs, a massive clocktower of dark stone dominates the horizon, most of it bathed in flames with thick columns of ink black smoke rising up from within. A muffled voice is shouting something at her side, a hand is pulling at her collar, Hiro is trying to pull her to her feet.

"Peyton!" she finally hears, and the swordsman is trying to pull her out of the way of what sounds like approaching thunder.

In reality, it is the thundering hooves of Belgian cavalry.

The clairvoyant is used to dizzying visions and headaches, but few of either have been as disorienting as being thrust almost a century into the past. She brings a shaking hand to her head, wincing as she fingers what will no doubt be a bump, then turning to try to make sense of that roll and rumble of approaching horse hooves. Her lips part and she scrambles to her feet, though her designer boots slip a little in the muddy puddles of the cobblestone road.

Finally gripping Hiro's hand, she lets herself be pulled to her feet; her eyes wide and her face pale, no doubt leaving the temporal manipulator with absolutely no confidence in her ability to get this job done.

She turns, looking this way and that, backing up to get out of the road with what little sense she can grip to, before her eyes alight on the blazing tower. She swallows and turns to face Hiro.

"I don't think he'll be in there," she says a little wryly. "Oh, I can find him with my power. Don't let me get run over — I won't be able to see…" she begins, holding on to his hand tightly, her dark eyes going darker as the irises shrink and the pupils expand, her mind seeking for Albert Winslow's perspective of this strange and older world.

Ducking down and pulling Peyton to the side behind the toppled carraige, Hiro makes certain to keep her facing away from the pair of dead horses laying in the street behind her as the cavalry charges past with a riotous clatter of hooves on cobblestone. When Peyton's pupils dilate wide and her stare goes distant, the world fades away to an otherwise different environment.

" — et back! Get back!" A voice is screaming, ringing in Peyton's ears, a strong British accent that seems to be coming from the body she is psychically inhabiting. Fire surrounds her, a hot orange-red glow that chars brick and stone, creaking wood awash with fire overhead, shaking vision. "We've got t'get out've here! Down to th' stairs! Down! Down!" As the field of vision swims around, there's a half dozen young men in gray and brown uniforms looking horrified, trapped in a burning stairwell of wood and stone.

"«Captain! Captain the Germans are below us! Captain we can't go back down! Captain the Germans!»" While the French is rattled off at an exceptionallt fast clip, Peyton is remarkably able to keep up with it as one of the frightened young soldiers shouts at Winslow's back. "«Captain!»"

Whipping around again, Peyton can see Winslow's arms lash out, hands wrapping around the young French soldier's collar. "I don't speak French God-damnit! I know y'bloody well understand me, now get down thse stairs or I'll shoot you m'self!" Winslow slings the soldier in front of himself, pushing him forward before unholstering his small, boxy pistol and urges him forward. "C'mon! We'll give 'em a run for it, or we'll bloody die tryin'!"//

Somewhere above, wooden supports crash and clatter, their planned escape route to the roof of the Cloth Hall officially cut off by the noise of collapsing timbers.

The only way out, is now through.

As her pupils return to their normal size, Peyton spins to stare at the burning Cloth Hall, the reflection of the fiery edifice in miniature in her dark eyes as her lips part in fear and worry.

"He is in there," she gasps, swallowing as she turns her face to Hiro, dark eyes pleading. "The roof collapsed — we have to help him!" she tells the short Japanese man, tugging his arm and waiting for the troops of men and horses to pass, so that she can move toward the burning building. That the man was British and not French, contradicting Hiro's words, doesn't seem important to mention.

"Th — wh-t a — we waitin — — or?" Hiro's speech has an odd staggered quality to it, single words and partial sylables omitted out as he flickers like a badly tuned in television. His body flashes and gutters like a candle on the wind, and when his fingers pass through Peyton's hand, his eyes go wide in realization of what is happening. " — eyton!" Hiro shouts, looking around at the smoke filled streets and the stone-walled buildings with their rain-slicked roofs.

" — re h — " Hiro's warning goes largely unheard as he winks out of existance entirely, disappearing without flashor fanfare, just suddenly ceasing to exist entirely. Gunshots ring out down the street, a few rapid fire pops of small arms fire, then relative silence save for the explosive shots happening in the distance.

"HIRO!" Peyton's scream is filled with terror as his hand slips through hers and he simply vanishes. The sob that follows is muted by the gunshots before silence reigns again. She realizes, too late, she doesn't know what to do — even if she saves her father, she has no idea how to get back to 2010. Will Hiro be able to find her? Tears stream down her face and she looks back to the Cloth Hall and takes a deep breath. The one thing that matters is there — if she can't do this one thing, nothing else in her life even matters. It won't even exist.

Peyton glances around, then breaks into a run, toward the flames and smoke that anyone in their right mind would be fleeing from, not running toward. Her hand dips into the bag at her side, curling around the gun inside and slipping it into her coat pocket.

Ypres would be a beautiful city at any other time of year, nestled within the hilly Belgian countryside, sprawling with buildings that have a — rightfully so at this juncture — old world charm. It is the signs of conflict all around that leaves the severity of this situation more in the forefront of Peyton's mind. Bodies are strewn across the street as she runs, civilians the lot of them, brown and black jacketed, some women in plain dresses, the how and why of their deaths unexplained as Peyton breezes past them with hard falling footsteps.

The soldiers she sprints past ducked into sidestreets or hiding out in the blown out fronts of houses or businesses do little to stop her. One woman running for her life isn't surprising in the chaos, the sounds of gunfire sometimes so close that the surprise of not geting shot in the crossfire seems more unusual than the more grim alternative.

It's hard to tell how far Peyton has run by the time her stomach aches, her legs burn and her lungs scream for her to stop. But one second she's running, and the next second she's being snatched right off of her feet by someone that leapt from her periphery. An arm collides into Peyton's midsection, lifting her up off of her feet and swinging her out of the way of a volley of gunshots that ring so loud in her ears.

Thrown aside, Peyton is literally hurled into a barricade of sandbags stacked one on top of another, even as a brown-haired man in a tan colored uniform levels a rifle against one shoulder and fires, a shell spinning out from the side as he ratchets on the bolt-action slide and fires again. Peyton can see that he's bleeding, red staining one shoulder of his uniform, the same one he's bracing the butt of the rifle with.

By the time peyton's vision has straightened, the ringing in her hears has stopped, and vertigo has faded, the soldier is lowering his rifle and turning to Peyton with blue eyes wide and brows furrowed.

Something is spat at her in Dutch.

The wind knocked out of her, it takes a determined effort on Peyton's part simply to remind herself how to breathe, and when her dark eyes focus on the face above her, they widen and she shakes her head, the back and forth motion making her slightly dizzy.

"Je ne parle pas NĂ©erlandais! Je ne parle pas Allemand!" she says immediately, not sure which of the two languages the soldier is hissing at her, her eyes starting to well up with tears again. "I need to find someone in the hall, I need to help them," she continues in French, the accent good though studied, not authentic to the region at all. "Do you know an Albert Winslow?" she asks, then shakes her head. It's the wrong name in this world, in this past. "A Thomas Zarek? I need to help him!" Her words are earnest, pleading, before her eyes fall on his shoulder, and her brows knit. "You are hurt," she murmurs, worriedly, though her eyes dart to the Cloth Hall; her priority lies there.

Blue eyes narrow as the soldier considers the frightened young woman in front of him. Brows go up, crease his forehead, and looking down the street briefly, he exhales a sigh and slips down into a crouch nearer toher than he was a moment ago, offering out a hand with fingertips dirtied by soil, dark under his nails, calloused palms and healed scars.

I am Thomas Zarek,»" is perhaps not what Peyton was expecting from the dark-haired soldier, barely her age, "«and unless you are going to help repel the Germans from the walls of the city, or have some more ammunition in your bag, there is little you can help me with.»" Brows furrowed, Thomas gently offers his hand out to Peyton, a hesitant smile crossing his face.

"«You, on the other hand, could probably use a helping hand. I thought all of the French evacuated weeks ago?»" Peyton Whitney's story is a touch more complicated than that of a waifish Frenchwoman in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Perplexity mars Peyton's features as her brows furrow into another frown when he says he's Thomas Zarek. In that second, things become both more clear and less clear at the same time. Hiro's confusion makes sense — why Rhys told her she was looking for her father makes less, and Peyton bites her lip, eyes narrowing as well as she runs a hand across her now dirty face.

Her name certainly isn't a French one, and she isn't sure how to introduce herself. ""«I … I'm sorry, they told me to find you but I thought they meant someone else,»" she manages, and that's close enough to honest as she takes his hand in her own, manicured in a sharp contrast to his callouses and scars.

"«I'm supposed to help you. Someone's…»" Someone's trying to kill you is a ridiculous thing to say in the middle of a war. She closes her eyes, and shakes her head. "God dammit, Rhys, I'm going to kill you," she mutters in English, before her worried gaze returns to the Cloth Hall.

If she isn't supposed to save her father, does it mean he'll be okay without her help? Is she supposed to save Zarek and Winslow, and Hiro and Rhys simply miscommunicated?
Her dark eyes return to his blue gaze, not so unlike another Zarek she knows, and her uncertainty of what to say is clear. "«We need to get out of here. Is there somewhere safe?»" Maybe she can rely on his chivalry to keep her safe to, ironically, keep him safe — by getting him out of wherever his would-be murderers would be.

Squinting at the English and not able to put it all together, Thomas seems to get enough as he gives Peyton another more thoughtful look before adding, "«I think a whole great world of people are trying to kill me right now, my dear. But if you want somewhere safe, I might recommend Canada? The Canadian boys out here say their country's nice and calm, I might head out there after all this is over, because I think I've seen enough of the country for — »"

A gunshot ricocheting off of brick nearby to where the barricades are stacked has Thomas ducking, swinging his rifle around and aiming down an alley, popping off a shot into a lone soldier standing there, sending him flat on his back with a splash of a puddle he lands in. Blue eyes darting around the street before he exhales a sigh that causes him to slouch back towards Peyton, brushing her shoulder with his.

Silent for a moment, Thomas turns to look att he young woman and arches one brow slowly. "«Did you say Winslow?»"

That ricocheted shot makes Peyton duck and squeak, glancing with wide eyes when he expertly shoots their would-be sniper, the quip about Canada almost always being the place to go when the shit hits the fan lost on her lips. The joke would be lost on him anyway. When he repeats the name she first spoke, she glances at him with those Bambi eyes.

"«Yes, do you know him?»" she asks, unsure about the wisdom here — putting the two men together might be asking for lightning to strike both — if she's supposed to save one or the other or both. Peyton swallows and rubs her eyes. "«He's in there,»" she says, nodding to the flaming structure. "«Or he was, a few moments ago… I … I think.»"

She realizes that this is not a time where clairvoyants are normal. "Fuck, I have no idea what I'm doing," she mutters to herself. "«We need to get out of here. Not your house or barracks or anything like that. Somewhere no one would think to look for you.»"

"«You sure are a weird one, but don't worry yourself…»" Thomas lifts up one hand, resting it gently on Peyton's shoulder and giving it a squeeze. "«The guy you're talking about? If it's the same one I know, Captain Winslow, he's a tough nut. If you said he's over by the Cloth House, though…»" Thomas shakes his head slowly, "«I was supposed to rendezvous with Winslow's men, but I heard they were routed out on the fields when the Germans came in with their gas. If you saw the Captain, then I need to deliver some intelligence out to him, but you…"» Zarek shakes his head and offers a laugh as he looks down one end of the street, hearing the pop of gunfire from there, then exhales a sigh. "«You stick with me, okay? I won't let anything happen, and when we're done finding the Captain we'll hunker down somewhere, maybe head back to the Canadian barracks.»" Exactly where she said not to go.

"«Don't know who it is you think's out to get me, but if you might've been asleep all this time, you might realize you're in the middle of a war, dear. You just stay down, wait for my signal that the street's clear, then follow behind me okay?»"

Completely heedless of Peyton's warning, Thomas offers the flash of a smile to Peyton, then squeezes her shoulder just a little more firmly. "«You understand?»"

"«No, wait, I need to think,»" Peyton says frowning, uncertain about the two men pairing up — if Rhys lied to her to get her to save Zarek, the two men rendezvousing might endanger both of their lives — all of their lives. She rakes a hand through her hair, unsure of what to do, before she suddenly grabs his arm.

"«What would you do — if I weren't here — tell me what you'd do for the next few hours? Where would you go — if I hadn't ran into you?»" It's not much of a plan — but it's all she has: go in the opposite direction.

"«My name Peyton, by the way,»" she finally tells him, since she needs him to trust her.

Peyton?»" Causes the arch of a brow from Thomas as he considers the brunette, but with the crack of a smile he offers a nod, crouching down behind the sandbags and indicating for her to do the same, keeping them out of sight even as they're both soaked by drizzling rain. In closer proximity now, an assessing look is given up and down Peyton, considering her clothing with a studious expression before offering a slow, bobbed nod. "«Cute name, not very French, but cute. If I hadn't plucked you out of a sure death, I was goin' to head to the market plaza and see if I could rendezvous with the Canadians, not much a lone soldier can do on his own, now is there?»"

After looking briefly over his shoulder to the dead German laying in the alley, Thomas looks back to Peyton with a slow shake of his head. "«I dunno, maybe I'd have run into your Winslow? If we're after the same Brit that is, but it's hard to say. All I know is staying here is beginning to get picked off by a sniper.»"

Peyton crouches, staying a little behind him, her hand sliding into her pocket to curl around the firearm there, the cool metal giving her little sense of security. "«Then we can't go to the market. Listen, Thomas, I know this sounds insane, but I was told that I needed to come keep you safe — I know, it's ridiculous, but I think we need to move fast, and get you as far away from where you would be. We need to get away from the market plaza, as far away as we can, in the opposite direction."

Still, her eyes flit back to the Hall, worried about her father, and uncertain about the decisions she has to make here — to save this stranger or to save her father, to trust Rhys or to trust Hiro?

"«I was confused about Winslow, I thought you were the same person. We need to get you away from the market and from here. Which way?»" Peyton's low voice quavers as she she hopes she's making the right decision.

"«Well, how about you help me decide. We go north, we hit the river, we go east we run into the German front, we go west we'll probably run into the Canadians, we head south and I'm pretty sure we'll be shelled into a fine red mist. This city is surrounded, darling, so unless we find some friends real soon,»" Zarek looks down to his rifle, "«I'd say we're about five or six bullets from a very abrupt ending to our trip.»"

Hesitating, Thomas offers Peyton an askance look, eyes narrowing as if noticing something, but then hesitates and shakes his head. "«C'mon, I'll take you back to the Canadians, get you safe and out of this firefight, then maybe you can tell me who you are and what you're doing out here without a shred of idea what you're in to?»"

Rising up from his crouch, Thomas closes his eyes, slowly shaking his head before he offers out a hand to Peyton. "«Take my hand, stay close, we're going to run to the far side of the street and stay behind the cover of the vendor stalls once we get past that carriage.»"

When he puts it that way, there just aren't that many options. Peyton has to wonder why anyone thought she'd be the right person for this job, as she heaves a sigh, and nods, slipping her hand into his. "«Okay, but if you see anyone out of place — besides me, of course — be really careful. Or run. Or something.»"

As his attention is on the street and the carriage, she pulls her gun from her pocket with her free hand, holding it down by her side as she peers past him, waiting for his signal to run.

Of course when Thomas looks back and it looks like that innocent young girl is holding a gun, there's a wary pause in his posure, a stiffness, then a feigned smile and the wave of one hand for Peyton to cross the street. Without ever truly breaking stide, Thomas carries off down the street ahead of her once they cross. There's a thunderous osund of explosions, far, far to the south beyond the walls of the city, beyond even the distant sound of gunfire, flashes on the horizon in the fog imply violence on a far larger scale than Peyton can see thorugh the city.

Catching up to the carraige, Thomas stops at one corner, looks back over his shoulder to Peyton, then peers out from behind the carraige to the street ahead. Assured that the path is clear, he waves her on and then takes an unexpected right turn, moving off the cobblestone onto a narrow dirt street between houses. Water hangs in yellow puddles on the road as Thomas comes running up along the front face of a building, ducking inside the stoop and hugging his rifle to his chest, nodding once when he sees Peyton come into view, urging her to take up residence in the shallow depression in the building against the front door.

This is much too like movies that Peyton has never deigned to watch, finding gunfight movies boring — but darting from carriage to building to avoid being shot suddenly seems like a skill she should have studied more, if vicariously through the cinema, and now it's too late. The clairvoyant at least doesn't stumble in any potholes as she has done in the not so distant past of her own lifetime, and she manages to sprint to that nook without tripping. Her own gun is held lightly. Her head turns to track him with her eyes — despite the gun that might make her seem less than innocent, she still has that deer-in-the-headlights look that conveys very real fear.

Just before Peyton reaches the building that Thomas is hunching down in, he springs away from the doorway and crosses the street in a diagonal sprint, several of the buildings down here are on fire, smoke pouring out from the windows, ash blackening the sky. The sounds of gunfire are — surprisingly — drawing closer with the progress being made. This time when Thomas eaches the building, he doesn't wait for Peyton but instead points across the street again, then dashes out across the road to take what amounts to another right turn.

He's doubling back in the direction they came from?

Disappearing out of Peyton's field of view, Thomas looks to be trying to cover more ground than he'd suggested to her before, but he's left her to follow his zig zagging pattern around the incindiary remains of buildings being gutted of their wooden innards by intense heat and flames.

"Fuck," Peyton mutters as the man is springing away — how is she supposed to keep this man safe? How is she supposed to keep herself safe? Why hadn't anyone told her it was a warzone? She suppresses the urge to cry — her only real hope of helping this man is that maybe just by virtue of falling into his life, she's possibly held him up from being wherever he is supposed to be when whoever is supposed to kill him shows up.

Time travel is giving her a headache — that and hitting her skull on cobblestone streets coupled with smoke inhalation.

Taking a deep breath of sooty air, Peyton darts in the same diagonal path laid a moment before by Thomas, keeping her head ducked in case anyone shoots at her slim frame.

When Peyton emerges into the alleyway that Thomas had ducked into, the narrow space between a large, stone-walled building and a smaller brick one is a soupy mess of shallow water and mud ina low-lying spot between two higher dirt roads. When Peyton steps into the alley, there's a rifle-butt waiting for her, hitting her crooked against her temple, blossoming spots in her vision and sending her sprawling backwards down to the water, her handgun thrown from her hand as she strikes the ground with a wet splash and a spray of brown mud everywhere.

Pain lances thorugh Peyton's head as she unfortunately remains conscious on the ground, blood warm on her skin where the impact split her open. Though when Peyton's vision squares on the rain-dappled attacker waiting for her in the alleyway, that it is Thomas Zarek pointing his rifle down at her comes as something of a small surprise.

Now I think would be a good time…»" he snarls in French, brows knit together and rain running in rivulets down his forehead, matting his dark hair to his brow. A droplet of water rolls off of the end of the barrel of his rifle.

"«…for you to tell me who the hell you really are.»"

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