Personal GPS At Your Service


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Scene Title Personal GPS At Your Service
Synopsis In a typical Peyton moment, Ms. Whitney gets lost in Central Park and is unsure if she should trust the guy offering her help.
Date September 8, 2009

Central Park

Central Park has been, and remains, a key attraction in New York City, both for tourists and local residents. Though slightly smaller, approximately 100 acres at its southern end scarred by and still recovering from the explosion, the vast northern regions of the park remain intact.

An array of paths and tracks wind their way through stands of trees and swathes of grass, frequented by joggers, bikers, dog-walkers, and horsemen alike. Flowerbeds, tended gardens, and sheltered conservatories provide a wide array of colorful plants; the sheer size of the park, along with a designated wildlife sanctuary add a wide variety of fauna to the park's visitor list. Several ponds and lakes, as well as the massive Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, break up the expanses of green and growing things. There are roads, for those who prefer to drive through; numerous playgrounds for children dot the landscape.

Many are the people who come to the Park - painters, birdwatchers, musicians, and rock climbers. Others come for the shows; the New York Shakespeare Festival at the Delacorte Theater, the annual outdoor concert of the New York Philharmonic on the Great Lawn, the summer performances of the Metropolitan Opera, and many other smaller performing groups besides. They come to ice-skate on the rink, to ride on the Central Park Carousel, to view the many, many statues scattered about the park.

Some of the southern end of the park remains buried beneath rubble. Some of it still looks worn and torn, struggling to come back from the edge of destruction despite everything the crews of landscapers can do. The Wollman Rink has not been rebuilt; the Central Park Wildlife Center remains very much a work in progress, but is not wholly a loss. Someday, this portion of Central Park just might be restored fully to its prior state.

Early evening, and the park has its usual complement of evening life - including the seedier sort, over where it hasn't yet been repaired. On the edge of all that sits Jake, just slouched on a bench, hands in the pockets of his hoodie, a vaguely unhappy look on his face. He's watching what goes by, but so far he hasn't really moved. It's been a long damn day and sitting still is good for now.

Central Park is safe enough in the daylight when it's filled with joggers and nannies with their charges and people on their lunch break and all of that. And it was still late, sunny afternoon when Peyton said goodbye to a friend she had met there. They had wandered deep into the park, before the friend suddenly got a call and had to run off — leaving Peyton on the road less travelled. Not one for the outdoors so much as for indoor parties, she's trying to find her way to the main path — she knows her way home from there, but it seems she keeps walking in a circle — very likely. Once Peyton gets lost, she gets frustrated, and then everything begins to look alike.

The girl's wearing a green sundress and flip flops, her hair in two braids. Luckily she has no purse or pockets, so she certainly doesn't look like mugger bait.

Note that not everything out here is interested in mugging. Jake looks up; give him a second or so to look the young woman over, head to toe, in a way he rarely gets away with. Chances are pretty good that he's going to recognize her, but that'll take a minute or two. One doesn't generally expect to meet the celebrity sort in the middle of Central Park, particularly in this area. A few seconds pass before he clears his throat and sits up a bit straighter. "Hey. You looking for something?"

Peyton has her cell phone out, thumb poised on the speed dial for 9-1-1. She glances over at the boy on the bench, frowning a little. He doesn't look dangerous, but then neither did the car salesman and marine n the bar when she got kidnapped. "Just the way home," she says, peering up through the trees for a moment — there's still some sunlight, the burnished orange variety that comes with sunset, as it's still summer, at least technically.

"Where's home?" Jake offers a smile, bright and engaging and full of shiny white teeth. He's not a predator, really - just a nice guy! But he can't help that hint of interest or the vague sense of unease people seem to pick up around him. Thus he doesn't get up, and keeps his hands in plain view, watching the girl with great interest. Damn, she looks familiar. Give him a little time, he'll get it sooner or later, no doubt.

"Over there." She gestures to the buildings that overlook the park. It's vague enough that it could be a general direction or the actual buildings, but there's enough of them and enough apartments within them that it's hardly a give away to her address. "I just can't find the freaking path." It's one of those meandering gardens that people wander into so easily but can't quite wander out of so well. The trees make it hard to see the ends of the path, and the darkening sky doesn't help as the shadows deepen.

"So… why not walk on the grass?" Jake pulls up his foot, picks a stone idly out of the treads of his sneaker. "The flowers can take it, if you're careful." Finally, though, he heaves to his feet and shoves his hands into the pockets of his jeans, perhaps preparing to demonstrate.

She looks doubtful. The overhangs of the trees make for low walkways, where one will have to duck and dodge to avoid banging a head or running into a tree. "Because… the path is safer, usually." Peyton scowls up at an ambiguous sign that seems to declare that every direction will lead to any number of sites one might want to visit. She's angry at herself for not watching the time and angry at her friend for abandoning her in the middle of the park. She gives a wave and begins to turn the corner of the path — a direction that will presumably head toward "home," but will bring her the wrong way, ultimately.

"Miss." Sigh. Deep sigh. "Follow me, okay? It's this way." Sure, it /looks/ like that way, but… great, now /he's/ going to have to stick to the path. He didn't pay it much mind when he came out here. There are a few crushed petunias. "I'm Jake, by the way." It helps to make it obvious that you aren't a bad guy if you introduce yourself. …Of course, Jake could /lie/… but surely he'd never do /that/.

Peyton frowns, and pushes some buttons on her phone — Central Park app lies. It says she's by the Hans Christian Anderson statue, when clearly that's on the other side of the park. So much for GPS. She chews her bottom lip before looking up at him, blowing her bangs with some exasperation — at herself, at her friend, at the ambiguous sign that seems to point her in five different directions but not the right one. You have to trust sometime. "Thanks. I'm usually not this clueless, but I got turned around - I don't usually hang out this deep in the park." She follows, but keeps an arm's distance, her thumb returning to the speed dial for emergency services.

"Not gonna give your name?" Jake prompts. "I could swear you look familiar. I'm sure I'll get it sooner or later. C'mon." And he steps over a short hedge and onto a completely different section of the path, then turns to offer his arm. "This way's faster." That's Jake, all about the shortcuts. Hey, at least he's being chivalrous for once?

She shies a little from the arm — skittish, it would seem, but blushes a little and gives him an apologetic look and takes the offered help. "Sorry. I'm Anne." She gives her middle name, the first thing that comes to her tongue, as a lie. "Nice to meet you, Jake." She's prepared lies for all sorts of encounters: No, I just look like her. I get that all the time. I don't even know who that is. Whether he buys the name or not, she's trying to be polite. If he turns out to be a decent guy, maybe she'll let him in on the secret later on. Once she's safe in public and looking at her apartment building from across the street.

"Pleased to meet you, Anne." It's the sort of thing his brother would say. Jake's not his brother in the slightest, though - the pair of them don't even look alike. He helps the young woman over the hedge and then starts down this more direct path. "Guess it's easy to get lost here. I wasn't really paying attention - I just noticed a bunch of little fences I had to step over on the way in." Not the law-abiding sort, but at least he's honest about it, right? "I guess if it weren't getting dark this would be entertaining - but since it's late, we can cheat." He shoots back a wicked smirk, pale brows lofted and green eyes gleaming, then pauses at another hedge. "Wanna climb this one or take the long way?"

"Climb's fine, as long as you're leading me out," Peyton remarks. It's probably amusing to watch her try to climb the hedges, albeit short, in her short little slip dress, trying not to scratch up her legs. "So you live around here or just doing the touristy thing?" It's hard to tell, really. Summer's all but over, but there's always tourists in New York.

"Student at Columbia," Jake answers, and then, the heck with it, reaches over the hedge and provides a literal lift to help the young woman over. He's strong thanks to the athleticism and the regular workouts; it does no harm to show off once in a while; unless there's actual protest she'll be set down on the other side. "You a native?" And finally he smirks. "Because I could use a tour guide." Finally it's safe to hit on the poor girl.

"What do you study?" she asks, not protesting, though she does return to the arm's distance away after hopping the hedge. "Yeah, born and raised for the most part." She glances up at the buildings, as if keeping her end destination in sight will get her there all the faster.

"At the moment, journalism, because it's an easy pass. They didn't have a decent major in running faster than everyone else." A grin gets tossed over one shoulder and Jake starts following the path finally; they're getting close to the rest of the world. "What about you? Student, working, other?"

"Um. Other, I guess. Between jobs." It's sort of a truth — she's between tasks for the groups she's trying to help change the world, right? They did a job last week, there'll be another soon. Then there's the task that's been set for her to keep trying to see, to look for Felix and Dean and that Legrime guy. They are all jobs, and more important than anything she's ever done before, even if she receives no money for it. "I didn't go to school, but I sort of watch over my parents' stuff for them." She looks around, and a smile finally cracks the stoic facade of her face. "I know where I am!"

Jake laughs at this blatantly innocent statement of delight - he can't help it, it's cute. "Oh good, because I am completely lost." He's lying - and teasing, with a great big grin on his face. "I've never been in New York before, see - there's so much /stuff/ here, you could drown in it." Brow-waggle. "Care to lead me out?" And he offers one arm solicitously.

Peyton laughs. "We're on the west side," she says, taking his arm and making her way out of one of the entrances to the street where the posh apartments stand sentinel over the park. "Where are you from? It is big, but … just think of little neighborhoods as their own towns. And it's hard to get lost in the street — it runs like a grid. It's just the one little bit of wilderness that gives me trouble." She gestures at the park.

"Silver Lake." It's outside New York a ways but still in the same state, and not too far away, all things considered. Jake flashes a grin and sidles along, perfectly willing to be lead by the arm. "But just because things go in squares here doesn't mean I want to try and drive it. Half the streets are one way and the other half are too narrow to be two way but nobody told the city planners that."

"I think it's because it wasn't always a street with, you know, cars on it," Peyton says with a smirk. "But right, I don't even have a driver's license. There's no point here, you know? And I'm 20. That's probably sad where you're from. Like living in mom's basement or something." Never mind she lives in her parents' apartment, but that's because it was left to her.

"Eh, I didn't bother spending on a car - what's the point? We figured we were going to go here pretty quick, it'd be nothing but extra bills and nowhere to store it," Jake opines. "This your place?" He's near the apartments. "Good thing we found it, it got dark quick."

"Anne," or Peyton, pauses in front of one of the buildings that is not hers. "Yep," she says. "Thanks for being my personal GPS." She grins a little. "I would probably still be lost, wandering around and beginning to talk to trees or something like an insane bag woman." She pushes her bangs out of her eyes in their fake blue contacts meant to throw off people — just change one feature, and it's amazing how many people falter in their recognition of you.

"Here, one sec." And Jake fishes out a notebook and, of all things, a pen, and scribbles the number of his cellphone onto one page, then rips that out and offers it over. "If you ever need a GPS and I'm in the area I'll be glad to help." Hey, she's cute. He's forgotten all about the deja vu and whatnot, and at this point it's just natural.

"Thanks," Peyton murmurs, frowning a little as she looks at the sheet of paper. She feels bad, having lied to him. She moves toward the doors to the building, where the doorman opens it suddenly. She has friends in that building, so he gives her a smile. "I … look, my name's not Anne, I lied to you. It's Peyton." She comes clean. AFter all, he delivered her almost-home safe and sound.

Squint. Stare. "Wait, Peyton?" …"As in…" Oh. Blink. Wide-eyed Jake. You can pretty much leave him standing there floored, because he won't be moving for a little while. The guy is never at a loss for words, though; he does manage one: "Wow."

Peyton laughs a little and ducks into the hotel. She'll hang out in the lobby until he's gone, then head to her own building next door.

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