Short Notice


eileen_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif

Scene Title Short Notice
Synopsis Eileen meets with Peyton to briefly discuss the Belinda Aniston situation.
Date October 25, 2009

Staten Island — Abandoned Best Western

Sunday morning is a time when most people, at least back on the mainland, are either attending services at their local church or sitting down with their families at home to enjoy a breakfast as hearty as the faltering economy allows. The abandoned Best Western on Staten Island paints a very different picture of what things are like for the pariahs of American society — the cast-offs who have willingly entered exile in order to escape the law, including the government's draconian registration policies that groups like Phoenix are fighting so hard to change.

A light rain sprinkles the parking lot outside the motel in a thin mist that rises up from the glistening pavement like fog and shrouds its surroundings in a silver glow created by beams of sunlight piercing through the cloud cover overhead. As pretty as the dappled illumination is, it's something that's better enjoyed from the inside where temperatures don't hover several degrees above freezing, though the weather doesn't seem to overly bother the figure on the moped as it pulls into the parking lot and splashes through a puddle. A helmet makes the rider's identity difficult to determine, but there are only so many people it could be, including the young woman that Peyton is currently expecting.

Peyton of course is different from most people on this island — she has a home on the mainland, a posh apartment that most people of 20 or almost 21 wouldn't be able to afford for themselves. She has food and clothing and more money than a single person needs, all because of chance and birthright. The socialite still looks almost as miserable and almost as down-trodden as the true Statenites, standing in the rain under a bleak black umbrella. She's pale and weary looking, and when she sees the moped and the helmet, she takes a step back, remembering a vision of someone in a helmet kicking someone in the face and throwing them in a van. She doesn't know that person was Harlow, or she'd be even more frightened. Still, she stands her ground; in the doorway a couple of Shard's men stand watch, making sure that this is in fact just a meeting, and not some effort to kidnap or harm the clairvoyant.

The moped's engine sputters into silence, and in one smooth motion its rider maneuvers the vehicle's kickstand into position better suited for idling. A moment later, she's removing the helmet to reveal a headful of dark hair damp with rain, and although her face isn't one that Peyton recognizes, her austere features and pale green eyes definitely don't belong to Belinda Aniston's mother. "Peyton Whitney?" the stranger asks in an accent that's English in origin but still somewhat difficult to place with any real preciseness. Any lingering doubt about her identity is dissolved as she climbs off the bike, tucks her helmet under her arm with one hand and runs fingers through her hair to tame it with the other. "I'm Eileen. Sorry about the short notice."

The petite woman's face helps assuage any of Peyton's fears that this helmeted figure is the same as the one who inflicted so much damage on the unknown boy — that person seemed much taller, from the perspective that Peyton shared. "Hi," Peyton says, walking forward and offering her umbrella to shield the other from the fall of the rain. "Short notice is all we have, it would seem, so I don't think that's your fault." She smiles uncertainly. "I … I don't know that I'm the person to contact with all this. I mean, there's a number to call, for anyone who is going to offer her help, I guess. I don't … I don't think I'm the one who is supposed to actually round up everyone." She's just the person that Harlow will probably come after if no one offers to help. "What did you need from me?"

"Jericho tells me that you've been in contact with a member of Humanis First," says Eileen, visibly grateful for the shelter of the umbrella. Raindrops cling like dew to her skin and thick black eyelashes, making it difficult for her see without blinking the water away. Her cheeks are flushed with colour, but it's ears and the very tip of her nose that are pinkest thanks to the cold. "More specifically, someone who's willing to give us information about their operation here in New York in exchange for the Ferry's help. What else do you know about the situation?"

"If you talked to him, you probably got most of the information I have," Peyton says, though not in an unkind way. She simply doesn't know that much more than he does. "I met them a couple of weeks ago at St. Luke's Hospital, when I was … um, getting medical supplies for Shard. Her daughter ran into my cart, and her mother showed up a second later. Really cold and bitchy type. She must have known who I was, must have been following me or something for her to find me and Jericho the other day." She shivers at the thought, or at the weather, it's hard to tell. "She said she'd give up some HF people if I got some of the Ferry people or 'other X-men' to find a way to help her daughter. She gave a 48-hour deadline." Peyton takes a deep breath. "Apparently she can be reached at Stone and Sons based out of New Jersey. I don't really know anything else. I think her daughter's sick, maybe cancer or something. Her name is Belinda Aniston."

The expression on Eileen's face remains cool, complacent, even if there's something about her eyes that suggests the opposite. "Forty-eight hours isn't a lot of time," she concedes. "I'm with a group over on the other side of the island. Ex-CIA, paramilitary. Sometimes our work requires us to operate in tandem with the Ferry. Phoenix. I don't know what this Aniston woman expects the network to do, but if she needs guns, muscle, then we're her people." She looks out from under the lip of the umbrella, angling a glance through the lobby windows, perhaps in an attempt to catch a glimpse of the elusive Shard somewhere inside. Unfortunately, all she sees is her own reflection distorted by fat rivulets of rainwater worming across the glass. "Has anyone else come to you about this yet?"

Peyton shakes her head. "Just Cat… I called her first, since I don't know that many people to contact, and that woman — Jean," it seems so wrong to call her by a first name, "because she told me to get with Ferry and Cat's Ferry." She bites her lower lip, chewing it for a moment. "I'm not really clear on where one group ends and the other begins. I know other people who could maybe help but they're busy worrying about other things, so I figured she was the best bet." She looks worried, as if having two groups involved might be a problem.

"And I don't personally know any healers, myself. I figured she would What with her memory and all. But I don't know. I guess if more people call and offer help, then that woman can decide which is the best. Like… what, when governments go out to bid for stuff, right? Whoever makes the best offer wins." There's a sarcastic little laugh. "I don't know what she'll do if no one helps… I guess it will come back on me, if no one offers." The last is said with a tremulous voice — yes, Peyton's having a pity party. She never asked to be the contact person for a madwoman, after all.

Cat's name earns Peyton an arched brow and a faint smile that curls feline at the corner of Eileen's mouth. "Chesterfield," she says, her voice adopting a wry kind of quality. "Of course." By the time her eyes have shifted from the window back to the other woman's face, the smile has gone, replaced with a neutral curve that shows glimmers of teeth only when she speaks. "You oughtn't have anything to worry about. Chesterfield's people are suckers for causes like these, and as it happens she does know a healer who might be willing to lend the Anistons a helping hand."

Eileen pulls her helmet back on, careful to ensure that her hair is plastered away from her cheeks and brow before she tightens and buckles the leather strap under her chin. "Jericho knows how to get in touch with me if you need anything. I may swing by Stone and Sons to speak with Jean myself, provided you don't have any objections."

Peyton is too new to this underground network of Evolved, mutants, or X-Men, whatever one might like to call them, to know what the history or background between the various groups might be, what the source of that smile might be. "I … the girl seems nice, if that's helpful at all. Not like her mother. And genuinely sick. I don't… even if she wasn't threatening me, I would want her daughter to be helped, if someone could help her. If they'd asked nicely, I would have tried to help anyway," Peyton confesses. The thought of someone willingly visiting 'Jean' has her shaking her head. "Just be careful… I don't know what's there. There might be a lot of HF people there or something. Be careful."

Eileen steps out from under the umbrella, rainwater glancing off her helmet, and climbs back onto the bike. "You too," she murmurs, just loud enough to be heard above the patter of water. Thunder rumbles somewhere in the distance like a beached leviathan rolling over in its sleep. "If you see Chesterfield, tell her that the Vanguard remnant offers her its services. It was good meeting you, Peyton."

"Remnants," Peyton repeats. Phoenix, Ferry, Remnants… so many names to keep track of, and keeping names straight isn't always her forte. "Nice to meet you, too, Eileen," she murmurs, giving a wave of her hand before turning to head back into the Best Western turned hospital. At one point in her life, she wouldn't have been caught dead in a Best Western. Now it's a respite for the rain, a place of solace and safety in an otherwise hostile world.

As Peyton disappears through the lobby doors, the moped's engine roars back to life and Eileen pulls away from the curb, hanging a sharp left on her way out of the parking lot. It doesn't take very long for the sound of the bike to be absorbed by the encroaching storm, and if the darkening sky is any indication of what the afternoon has in store for the island, then the hospital's occupants should enjoy what little sunlight they have left.

There isn't much of it.

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