aaron_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif

Scene Title Pothole
Synopsis Peyton comes home in a cast after breaking her ankle and finds Aaron asleep in her chair.
Date December 12, 2009

Aaron and Peyton's Apartment — Upper West Side

Peyton wasn't supposed to be home this late, but before Aaron could worry too much, he received a text saying she would be home soon — nothing more, nothing less. Funny, half a year ago, breaking her ankle would be have seemed like the end of the world to the former club girl and party goer. It's hard, after all, to dance and party on crutches. Now, she's more worried about Mack and the library and its cache of guns and the fact that Aaron is home without someone to watch him sleep than she is about her ankle.

Sometime around 6 a.m. she unlocks the door, then hobbles in on her crutches, her foot in a hot pink cast, a little sock pulled over the toes to keep them warm in the chilly morning air. She drops her keys and purse and coat on the table near the door, then awkwardly maneuvers herself through the living room to check the couch for Aaron's form.

Surprisingly, Aaron has dozed off on the chair — Peyton's favorite chair. It wasn't his intent of course, but when exhaustion calls that hard, it's really difficult to resist, and so he found himself slowly jerking his head up every so often until he could no longer startle awake and was gripped by total and utter exhaustion. Truthfully, it's not terribly shocking since he professed to have difficulty falling asleep when it was his turn to do so — far too anxious to sleep when Peyton still looks unrested. The thought of her dozing off while he's sleeping was simply too terrifying to allow him any sleep. As a result, he now gets even less sleep than usual.

Peyton heads to the couch and does the awkward shift of balance from crutch to good foot to couch, resting the crutches on the ground once she's sitting. She doesn't dare lie down with Aaron already asleep — so she merely stretches her injured leg out on the sofa, while watching him sleep. Her brows knit together, a little angry at herself for leaving him alone. Isn't that what she's supposed to try not to do, if her nightmare was any sort of omen for things to come? And yet, here she left him again. What could have happened, if he had a nightmare? She shakes her head, one hand wiping her eyes of the tears that spring up at the thought.

Even Aaron would admit to handling solitude very, very poorly. It's not something he enjoys much, since he feels it often even in the presence of the people he cares about. That's just one of the unfortunate side effects of all of his emotional baggage and the resulting chemical imbalance that is severe depression. So is insomnia. It's actually been a few hours since Aaron dozed off, and he already appears fitful, his breathing going really quick really fast, his skin clammy in a cold sweat. And then his eyes shoot open, though he's too dazed to immediately grasp his surroundings, paying attention instead of getting his breathing back to normal. Sadly, nearly having a panic attack is how he wakes up a lot.

Peyton jumps a little when his eyes fly open, then she winces at the resultant pain shooting through her ankle. The drugs they gave her at the hospital are starting to wear off, and the pain has regained its edge. "It's okay, Aaron, you're okay. I'm right here," she says, reaching a hand across to touch his arm lightly. "I'm so sorry. Are you having a … nightmare?"

Aaron's other hand goes to touch on Peyton's as he takes a deep breath. Then the free hand goes to wipe a tear out of the corner of his eye as he shakes his head. "No, no. Not like that, don't worry about it, I'm fine," he says as he leans back a bit in the chair. The usual lie, that he's fine when he's not. It seems to be an incredibly bad habit. He stretches his neck a bit, rolling his head around to help loosen the tension in his neck and upper back. It's only after he sighs with relief that he goes rigid again, noticing the cast — how could he miss it? Hot pink casts stand out like a sore thumb, or in this case, ankle. He looks from it back to Peyton, back to it. "What?"

"Pothole," she says, with a shrug. It is true, just not the whole story. "I turned my ankle in a pothole." Never mind it was to get away from crazy people shooting at her. There's no reason to worry him more than he already is. "I'll be fine. Just a few weeks of ugly cast and crutches. At least I'll be easy to find, right?" she asks, making an attempt at humor.

Aaron crosses over from the chair to the couch and wraps his arms around her. He lets out a snort of laughter. "It's not ugly, it's cute. I should autograph it." He leans back, leaving only one arm around Peyton. "And you should be more careful when you're out doing things like that." Clearly he doesn't completely buy it. Being able to see a person's emotional pain, of course, is a bit like cheating in that regard. "Especially careful now. Crutches slow a person down."

Peyton simply nods. She wasn't out doing anything, but returning to the library. They had gone to a club and to a diner — she wasn't doing anything dangerous at all for once, and yet, she still ended up on her knees begging for her life and her friend's. "I wasn't doing anything dangerous. Not that danger didn't find me anyway," she says with a shake of her head. She looks up, brows knit together in worry. "I didn't mean to leave you here by yourself all night, though. I'm really sorry. Go back to sleep, and I'll watch over you. I promise."

"Seems to do that an awful lot," Aaron remarks, curling up on the couch and resting his head on Peyton's shoulder, one arm behind her back. "If you have to move, just make sure you put a pillow under my head so I don't put my neck out or anything." He closes his eyes, though he doesn't expect to sleep again. "And remind me to autograph your cast."

There is another slow nod. She's still in a bit of shock from seeing Mack taken. "Stretch out. You'll get cramps that way," she says quietly, her eyes staring straight ahead. "Don't be mad. It's not like I meant not to come home. I was worried about you the whole time I was at the hospital, but there was no reason for you to come sit with me and get swine flu or something in the ER, right?"

"Who said I was mad?" he asks, although his muddled tone indicates he may be a little, though that stems from Aaron's insecurity and belief that he's neglected. He stretches out a bit. "I'm actually amazed I haven't caught anything recently, given how little sleep I get. Can't even remember the last time I was sick, beyond, well, being so fucked up." Aaron stretching out ends up placing his head in Peyton's lap, and he looks up at her. "Need me to sing you a song?"

"Maybe it's part of your power or something," Peyton suggests. "I'm sorry you don't get enough sleep. I know it's my fault… or well, my dream's fault. But it's not me. I'm pretty sure of it. Wendy had something similar happen, and so did the dick she's dating… some sleepwalking, bad dreams. I don't think it's just us. Or your power. Or mine, for that matter." She stares straight ahead while she talks. It's not quite sorrow that makes her mood dark, but rather fear and worry. "I'm okay. But if it would make you feel better, sing away."

It's not even her dream's fault, although that's definitely a new contributor to the anxiety that keeps Aaron awake most of the time. He shrugs at her suggestion, since it's not really something he's particularly concerned with, although he does perk up slightly when she mentions that Wendy's dating some dick. He smirks ever so slightly and then just shakes his head. "Nah. I think I'll just lie here and try to sleep, if you're OK."

"Sleep. I fell asleep for a little bit at the hospital, so I probably have more in me than you at the moment," she murmurs, hand stroking through his hair lightly to help relax him. She doesn't add that her leg is starting to hurt too much to sleep anyway. "I'm sorry I made you worry," she adds in a smaller voice. Her nightmare from the other night is apparently giving her the guilt trip he isn't.

"'s OK," Aaron says, his eyes drifting closed as she strokes his hair. As it turns out, he can and will fall asleep right now. He's definitely exhausted enough for it, and the little bit of encouragement by way of her physical contact with him seems to help. But even after he drifts off, he still has a distinctly sad expression on his face.

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