Surprising Confidences


peyton2_icon.gif smedley_icon.gif

Scene Title Surprising Confidences
Synopsis Drunk and upset, Peyton's booty call becomes more of a confessional.
Date August 19, 2010

Upper East Side Peyton's Apartment

Sometime around midnight, a text comes across Smedley's phone. Simple, direct. Come over? There's no artifice as to what it is or isn't. A request for companionship, as clear as the little letters on the display.

When he gets to Peyton's building, the doorman has been told to let him in, so there's no hassle of calling for her and clearing him for the trip up to her apartment. When the knock comes, she heads to the door, holding a bottle of brandy in one hand. Her makeup's slightly blurred — not quite to the degree of raccoon eyes or trails of mascara, but smudged enough that tears are likely the cause. The dark eyes behind the makeup are a little glassy with too much alcohol, but she instantly reaches for him, stepping close, her free hand moving around to embrace him at the neck. She's tall enough in those boots that she's nearly eye-level to him. Her breath is sweet with brandy as she brings her lips to his. "Thanks for coming," she murmurs.

All in all, it's the picture of a sad, heart-broken girl pretending not to be.

He hugs her, of course, wrapping his arms around her to hold her tightly to him during that brief kiss.

But her state is a troubling one. So as not to stand in the doorway and attract unwanted and undue attention, Wes gently guides Peyton backward so he can fully enter the apartment and secure the door behind him. There are too many variables here. Peyton is upset, that's for sure. And she's been drinking, even if just a little. But does she want him to notice, to comment? Or should he pretend nothing is wrong. In the end, the western transplant cracks a sly, tired sort of smirk.

"I'd be a damn fool not t'uv. Pretty lady like you callin' me up in the middle of the night?" Since when does Wes get booty calls from trust fund brats? His smirk widening to a smile, Wes rubs his calloused hands along Peyton's sides as if she needed warming up. "So t'what do I owe th'undeniable pleasure?"

She steps out of the warm hug, letting one hand fall into his, loosely interlacing her fingers with his as she moves toward the sofa in the living room. "I just wanted to see you," she murmurs, her voice soft and low.

She drops into the corner of the couch, tugging him down with her before handing him the whiskey bottle. "I could get glasses, I suppose. It's probably more polite," she says with a rueful chuckle. "Brandy okay, or do you want something else?" she asks, standing again to go back toward the kitchen to grab two glass tumblers. "Did I interrupt anything important? I …" she comes back and sets the glasses down on the coffee table, then retakes her seat. "I just didn't want to be alone."

For as safe as she seems in her expensive apartment, Peyton seems to not want to be alone often. Still, it can be understood, and Wes can only count himself lucky that it's him she's turned to. When she comes back to the couch, he forgoes the drink in favor of another kiss, framing her face with his hands. "Only Carson's bellyrub," he whispers while he's still close. "But he don't mind."

He pulls in closer then, laying one arm over the back of the couch to open himself up as a pillow of sorts. Despite an urge to speak, Wes stays silent. He has no way of knowing if Peyton sees him as close enough to confide in, or he'd ask those nagging questions of why and what happened. Asking them anyway might just push her away. And maybe she doesn't want to talk.

So Wes consigns himself to be the pillow. The shoulder. The sturdy rock to lean upon.

He can't fuck that up.

She pulls her feet up onto the couch, then almost crawls to get closer, kissing him softly, arms sliding around his neck. This is something Peyton knows, something she has done often, something that should be as simple as riding a bike. After all, she's already been with Smedley. But even as she kisses him, her soft lips on his, tears slide from her eyes and down her cheeks, running into her lips and tasting of salt. For a moment, she continues the pretense.

But it's no good. There is a little shake of her shoulders beneath his hands, and she ducks her head against his neck, letting the hot tears stream there against his skin. The small little shake becomes a hitch of breath, a sob, that breaks the quiet of the room.

It's been a long time since Wes had a girl crying in his arms. Not since his youngest sister was in gradeschool. But after a brief moment of panic, instincts of a kind kick in. He curls his arms around Peyton once again, holding one firmly against her back while the other strokes at her hair. But even the hand in motion is strong in it's motion - an attempt at anchoring her to something solid.

Wes swallows hard, then presses tightly-held lips to Peyton's hair. Who is he to offer comforting words? What would he say if he even could? Peyton may be young, but he's sure whatever has her so riled up isn't the kind of trouble Kate ever found herself in and wanting her brother's comfort for.

The crying fit is silent but fierce, like a spring storm. Her shoulders shake, and now and then she hiccups a sob, but there is no moaning or whimpering. Her arms cling to his and she offers no explanation — though it's doubtful she could between the sobs for breath. Finally, she seems to run out of steam and her hands curl around the fabric of his shirt loosely, as if Peyton has no more strength to hold on to him.

She laughs weakly and shakes her head, still buried against Wesley's neck. "I don't think this is what you had in mind, was it… I'm sure I'm super attractive now," Peyton murmurs, her tone nasal from the tears. She finally lifts her head but artfully lets her hair fall to cover it, reaching to the end table for tissues.

He grunts. "You're human, Pey," he says as she moves away, leaning back just enough to allow her to do so. "So yeah, you're beautiful." And come to think of it, he hadn't had much in mind when he left for Peyton's apartment. "I'm in the business'uh givin' people what they need when they need it, kiddo." But he blinks, then swallows and clears his throat with a grunt. "Not that you're a kid. You're not." Fuck. "Or I'm… damn, there's no way to make that sound decent, is'thr?"

With a shake of his head, Smedley reaches over to the coffee table to tip the brandy from the bottle into one of the glasses. He doesn't fill it much at all - just a mouthful, really - and it's gone in an appreciative, courage-instilling swallow.

She wipes her eyes and blows her nose. Now she is a bit raccoonish as she glances up at him, makeup smeared around her red-swollen eyes. She offers a small smile and a shake of her head. "Beautiful. Right," she says, a little snort of derision. She bends down to unzip her boots, bringing her feet, clad in black socks, back up to tug underneath her.

She's close, still, but retreated a touch, embarrassed for the tempestuous weepfest. "Just a really bad night," she finally murmurs, bring a hand up to run through her long hair. "Ever want something, but you know you can't have it — not because it's not there to take but because it's not the right thing to do? Because it'd be selfish and hurt other people if you did it? And so it hurts you, instead, but you just deal, because you'd rather hurt yourself than those other people?"

"Pey." Wes tucks his chin and looks at Peyton from under the ridge of his brow. "Who're you talkin' to? I steal shit for a living and sell it to people. Medicine, drugs, ammo, guns…whatever people need. Sure, I'm hurtin' the people I'm snatchin' it from, but I'm helpin' the people I'm sellin' it to. Most importantly, I'm helpin' me." He narrows his eyes at her, pursing his lips in thought. His own selfish mantra isn't going to help Peyton all that much, but her self/less//ness is what has landed her in this mess, presumably.

"More oft'n 'n not, the only person lookin' out for you is you." He lifts his hand to poke a finger against her shoulder before he moves it up to to hair she just fussed with herself. "You can only ever really count on our own damned self, Pey. Sad, but s'true. So if you want somethin' to the point where it's hurtin' you not to have it? Fuck other people." Unless it's something incredibly self destructive.

She shakes her head. "This isn't that sort of thing. It's not… business, you know?" she murmurs, and she presses the heels of the palms of her hands into her eyes. "I don't even know if it's there for the taking. It might not be, and then I'd screw all sorts of shit up for no reason. And I'm not the only person who looks out for me. If I was…" That's the problem. This would possibly hurt the relationships she has with those few people who do look out for her, who have given her a purpose in her life.

"It doesn't matter anyway. That's the other thing… If I did this? If I did it, and by some miracle of miracles, somehow it worked, and I got what I wanted?" Her hands drop and her eyes well up with tears. "It'd be selfish. It'd be temporary, at best, and it would only hurt the person in question all the more. It wouldn't be fair." Her voice cracks and she looks away as those tears spill over onto her cheeks again.

"Never mind," she whispers, wrapping her arms around her waist as she stares out the window.

Fuck. Well, that didn't work the way it was supposed to. Wes sighs, scooting forward enough to slip his arms around Peyton's waist, his fingers seeking to lace with her at the same time he tries to pull her against his chest. It's not a carnal touch by any means - simply the thought that being close might help. "Sorry," he whispers into her hair. But it's clear enough now.

"So what does Person B think about all this?" Wes murmurs again, his eyebrows lifting as his eyelids lower. "I mean, have you talked to him about it?" Sure, it's a guess that it's a guy. And it may be a stab to his ego to admit it, but what else would drive a girl into such hysterics and over-analysis?

Every time the tears wane, they ebb again just moments later, clinging to lashes as she shakes her head. "It's pointless. There's someone else, for one. And even if there wasn't, and even if there was a chance he could, which," she gives a little huff of a laugh and a shake of her head. The little attention seeker, the paparrazi's pet, has a very low self esteem, it turns out. "Whatever." She gives a wave of a hand to gloss over all the reasons that is doubtful. "It's not like I'm going to be around long. It wouldn't be fair."

It's said flippantly, without thinking. She reaches for the whiskey bottle to pour more into the other glass, her hand a touch shaky.

Wes's hand shoots out at that, away from Peyton's waist and to her wrist, keeping it away from the booze on the table. "Now what the hell is that supposed to mean?" The question is just shy of gruff, and his eyebrows narrow. "You planning on taking a trip or somethin'?"

The hand on her wrist has Peyton frowning, then turning to look at him with a confused look on her face. Trip? Then realization dawns in her eyes, and she begins to laugh. Her head leans back against the sofa cushion, her face tipped toward ceiling as she laughs as if he'd told the funniest joke.

"Yes. You could call it that," she says a little out of breath a moment later, still not looking at him. "I'm going to die. So you see, doing what I want now because I want it now when I'm not going to be here in a few months would be pretty fucking selfish of me."

She brings a hand to her face, as if realizing that she's been with him without any qualms. "I mean… you know. With something … complicated like that. You… You're… I didn't expect to see you more than once, you know?" More and more awkward. "No offense."

"You have it fuckin' planned or some shit?" Peyton may think it's funny, but Wes sure doesn't. He pushes away from her and gets to his feet, straightening his jacket before he snatches the bottle from the table. Without thinking, he upends it to swallow the equivalent of a shot.

He sighs, his back still to her as he grips the neck of the bottle with one white-knuckled hand. "I didn't expect us to be nothin'," he mutters. "But damn, Peyton. You can't just roll over like that. I don't care if this fuck is the king of fucking England." He lifts a hand to scratch savagely at his head before he turns on his heel.

"You sick or some shit? You don't look sick. You look tipsy, but if you're lookin' t'drink yourself to death, I'll bring Prohibition back so help me."

Her laughter stops and she stares at him wide-eyed, perhaps surprised he cares. For a long moment she stares up at him, dark eyes huge in her fine-boned face. More tears run down her cheeks, rivulets of mascara-tinted tears.

"I saw it. On that day in June." The words are terse and somber, if not sober. Peyton lifts a hand before he can argue. "I know. Nothing's written in stone. I fucking know. And I know that half of what I've signed up to do contradicts everything I believe about this. I believe we can change the future. I believe that we can make things better for everyone." What did she sign up to do?

She shakes her head, dark hair falling across her face. "I don't think I can change my future. I can maybe escape that particular day, but I know who's going to kill me. It may not be the same way I saw, it may not be the same day, but it'll happen. Sometime."

Strangely, she's stopped crying.

The answer is simple to Smedley, but it's written in his language. Not hers. But from the way she's talking, and from what little he knows of her past, Wes can only assume Peyton is involved with one of the evolved activist groups that border on terrorism.

"Kill him first," he finally snorts, lifting the bottle again to take another swig. So gentlemanly. "S'starin' you in the face. If he's dead, he can't kill you. Yeah, you'll die. Someday. We all die someday. But it ain't right you knowin' anythin' particular about that day." He pauses, then shakes his head. "Assumin' those…visions are true. For all you know, someone put somethin' in the water."

"The visions are real," Peyton says, shaking her head. "There's a government place. The one that just got blown up on Staten? They were doing experiments to people there, using their powers and … I donno, mad scientist kinda shit. They took people I know — a girl who augments powers, and a guy who gives visions and combined them. Maybe using this drug that also augments powers. That's why we all had the visions. They weren't hallucinations. They were premonitions, Wesley."

She stands, her balance precarious for a moment before she stabilizes it. "And kill him first? He's like a freaking cockroach. I don't even know if he can die. Our paths keep crossing — it's just a matter of time. It might not be on the 8th, but…" she shakes her head and moves away from him, toward the kitchen. Maybe to get her own bottle since he's bogarted hers.

Suddenly she stops and turns. "Don't say anything to anyone," Peyton murmurs in a low voice, pointing a finger at him as if he'd threatened to. "Don't mention it to anyone. I didn't mean to tell you, and there's nothing anyone can do, so it's pointless to worry people, all right? I didn't mean to worry you and I'm sorry about that."

"You think you live in a bubble?" Wes takes a step toward her, bearing down and lifting his free hand to grab at the one she uses to point at him with. "You think you can be all concerned and selfless all the fuck time? Pey, people are gonna worry about you. I barely know you, and I'm worried about you. How the hell am I gonna not tell Cardinal," who is their only shared acquaintance, "the next time I see him? What kind'a man would that make me?

"You said you wanna change the future. Sounds great. Do that. But don't forget to carve a piece of it out for yourself. You ever think that's maybe how we got into this mess in the first place? People lookin' out for what other people wanted or thought, or what was best for the guy sittin' next door rather'n what was best for themselves? World's too fucking selfless, you ask me."

Her hand jerks out of his grasp as he all but yells at her. Brows furrow and she shakes her head. "Great. Worry about me, but keep your mouth shut about it. Cardinal doesn't need to know. He has enough on his mind. I don't know what he saw — it's like this mutual don't ask, don't tell thing between us, or something. He hasn't asked and I haven't asked, but that means it isn't fucking good and I don't want to add on to his worries, all right? He has enough without having to worry about keeping me safe. He's kept us all safe, he deserves a fucking break." The tears swarm down her face again.

"The world's not selfless. Cardinal is. I'm not — I just… of all the people in the world, he doesn't need to worry about it. I'm not going to burden him or anyone else with it. I didn't mean to tell you—" The angry tone in her voice is split by a crack and she brings her hands to her face, shoulders heaving again. "I didn't mean to tell you. Just forget it, okay? All I ever do is worry people and they get hurt because of me, because of worrying about me. My adopted parents. My … my birth f-father… Aaron…" Peyton shakes her head and turns away. "Please just forget it."

"I'll forget about it if you tell me one thing," Wes says, his voice so even that it only amplifies the torrent of emotion behind it. He kept quiet for Peyton's little speech, which gave him time enough to harness his own feelings. "I won't tell a damn soul if you answer me one question."

Wes steps toward her, but his fisted hands don't reach out to hold her or offer any comfort. He just stares down at the top of her head and swallows. "You saw him," he says moreso than asks. "Who is it?"

"Danko," she whispers, the word tasting foul on her lips. "Emile Danko. He's … he's a Humanis First member. I think he's former government or military or something, I forget exactly." Her words are soft. "He's not one of the ones that kidnapped me, I don't think. The main one's dead. Dean. The other, the Irish guy, I don't think so. I used to try to keep tabs on them, you know?" she gestured to her eyes. "But I can't live like that, 24-7. It's too much. And it gives me migraines. Doctor said I could have a stroke or something if I over use my power, so." She lifts a shoulder in a shrug. She dreamed the outcome in one scene of what that would do to her.

"But I … I testified against him, in a … sort of trial. Like, vigilante trial. And he swore he'd find us and kill us, those of us who spoke against him. He was blindfolded, but…" she shrugs again. She finally turns and moves back to the couch.

"I'm sorry, Wes. I shouldn't have called you. It was selfish of me," Peyton whispers.

Peyton's intercepted on her way back to her seat by a gentle hug. Wes comes at her from the side and wraps his arms around her slowly before he presses his face into her hair. "Don't you ever apologize t'me for lookin' out for yourself. Won't have it." It's only then that he lets her go just enough to follow her back to the couch, but he doesn't fully relinquish his hold on her.

The fact that she's harboring a want for Cardinal's attention isn't lost on him, and it certainly changes things in addition to putting past events in new lights. It would be a lie to say Wes isn't feeling a little used, but he's got some karmatic debt that he's also very well aware of. "If you want me to stay, I'll stay. S'up to you."

She sighs deeply at the hug, and returns it. Needy but also giving back, her breathing slows as she finds his rhythm with her own. He is warm and strong and can chase away her worries just by being there. "Stay," she whispers, tipping her head to press a soft kiss against his jawline.

It's not quite chaste — it lingers, her lips brushing the skin lightly when she lifts her head and then rests it on his shoulder. She may be harboring a want for another man, but it doesn't mean she doesn't want him, either. "Let me go clean up a little," Peyton murmurs softly. "And I'll promise to be more entertaining when I return."

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