Talk Less, Smile More


vf_magnes_icon.gif vf_peyton_icon.gif

Scene Title Talk Less, Smile More
Synopsis is just among some of the advice Peyton gives Magnes as he attempts to get to know her again in an unfamiliar place.
Date November 13, 2011

The Hub

In one of the subway cars that's a bit farther down the track and away from the comings and goings, Peyton lies on her back, blue hair fanning out around her like an azure halo, as she throws a faded blue racquetball at the far wall of the little train car, to catch it as it rebound back each time. It's hardly the most entertaining of pastimes, but it's late and the dim lights in this part of the tunnels are too faint to read by. There are a couple of magazines nearby, and perhaps surprisingly, a couple of actual books on top of them, one of them set down, marking its place at about three quarters of the way through.

Despite the repetitive nature of her game, there's a look of concentration on her face, as if she's focusing very hard on…something.

Sometimes, exploring is the best way to clear one's mind, so Magnes has been walking around, exploring the tunnels a bit, at least as far as he's allowed to explore. He's wearing some black boots, a pair of blue jeans, and a green t-shirt with the Surge logo.

When he hears the ball, he very carefully climbs up into the train doors. "It's hard to get around without gravity…" he grunts, then spots Peyton laying there. "Oh, Peyton…" he says with a tone that sounds a bit too familiar with her name. "Sorry if I'm interrupting."

Peyton doesn't react.

The ball is thrown, once. Twice. Three times. The sound of it hitting the wall and then her hand creating its own rhythm. Ba-dum. Ba-dum. Ba-dum.

The fourth time, she misfires a little, and it hits the edge of the window, causing it to bounce off and toward Magnes. Her eyes follow it, and then Peyton jumps — the way one does when they didn't realize someone was in the room they're in.

She sits up, shoving her blue hair back as she tips her head in his direction, eyes widening as she puts a hand to her chest.

"Hey. Did you say something?" she says, brows drawing together a little. "Or are you still looking for your tongue the cat caught?"

Magnes' head is suddenly pushed back when the ball bounces off of it. He winces, rubbing his forehead, then starts to walk a little closer, taking a seat next to her. "Sorry, I was just a little… shocked. I mean, you're kind of a celebrity. I always liked you in magazines… I mean not in a weird way!"

"Huh," says Peyton as she studies him when he moves closer. "You don't seem the type to follow TMZ or In Touch or that sort of thing, but I mean, I wasn't the type to have blue hair back then, so I guess we all change. You know. In an apocalypse." She looks at him, squinting a little, as if to determine if he's anyone she knew before the Virus.

"It was a long time ago. I didn't do anything important, just hung out with people who had talent. But I'm glad you liked it, I guess?" She's not shy; her tone's not modest, but a little skeptical, as she watches him out of the corner of her eyes. "So you came from outside? How the hell've you survived?"

"Well, with following you it was more like… what's a good way to put it…" Magnes coughs a little awkwardly. "I saw you on TV once and I really liked your eyes, so I guess I just got really into following you. I know it sounds shallow and all, but…"

Quickly latching onto her questions, he shifts to that instead. "Oh, well, it was tough, you know. Doomsday bunkers, gravity powers, fighting Vanguard." He turns to face her, lifting his leg onto the seat. "I've been through a lot, even before the virus. I won't lose to something like this. And I won't give up hope that we can overcome even this kind of situation. Nothing is impossible, Peyton Whitney."

"I mean, isn't that why most teenagers like celebrities or people hanging out with celebrities?" Peyton says, with another shrug. "I had boy band posters up when I was a kid — it wasn't because they were the best musicians. Anyway, I'll take the compliment. I never really thought much about my eyes, except maybe to wish they were blue or to decide what eye shadow to wear. So thanks for the compliment."

The use of her full name and the optimistic speech make her tip her head, though. "Okay," she says, slowly, nodding. "Are you convincing me or yourself? 'Cause I don't have any reason to not believe you, but the world's pretty shitty. I'm not sure there's really any overcoming it. We either get sick and die, get killed by Vanguard, or survive until we die from something else." This is all said very matter-of-factly.

"Even if we don't find a way to overcome this situation, at the very least, I'm not afraid of the Vanguard. I'm not afraid of Kazimir." Magnes stares down at his hands, looking very serious now. "If it comes down to fighting Kazimir, if that becomes our only option… I won't back down. Gabriel can do a lot of things, but when you have that much power, you become arrogant, you aren't expecting the unexpected."

"Sorry." he tries to smile. "I didn't mean to get so… intense. Danger isn't really a thing I've spent a lot of time running in the opposite direction of. Maybe one day I can tell you those stories."

Those dark eyes of hers widen a bit when he grows serious. "Backing down isn't always the wrong thing to do," she says with another shrug, pulling her feet up onto the bench so she can wrap her arms around them.

"If you live another day and it lets you help someone else get away." The words sound good enough, but they strike her as false, and she shakes her head. "I mean, in theory. I don't fight. I don't go outside. So, you know, I don't really know what I'm talking about. Except that Vanguard's headshotting our scavengers like it's some war video game or something. Your…gravity powers was it? Aren't going to help you much if you get a bullet to the head. So play it smart and follow orders around here, and you might survive."

She reaches down to rub a scuff off of the toe of her boots. "Survival's the goal."

"I know, I want everyone to survive, and, well, I also don't want this to be the place where everyone dies. I want people to be able to see the sun again." Magnes holds his hand out to her, locking eyes. "It's okay to have hope, it's okay to believe that this isn't the end."

Peyton looks at him for a long moment, then down to his hand, and then her brows rise. "Jesus, you're like a hot male Polyanna or something," she says, rolling her eyes and getting up from the bench, moving to the other side of the car and hooking her hands on the overhead bar while she looks at him.

"Listen… Magnes, right? Let me offer you some free advice. You've been lucky so far. Super lucky. And you're, like, win-the-lottery lucky to find us here, because whatever luck you've been running on, it's gotta be pretty much on empty. But you go around like some prophet of hope, you're probably going to get yourself beat up or worse. And if you think you can go fight the Vanguard on a wing and a prayer…" she shakes her head. "I myself never did believe in God, but if he ever existed, he's dead now. So the prayer won't help you."

"I'm not exactly wanting to fight the Vanguard, you know. I'm not about to just go run out there and fight them or anything crazy like that. I want to find a better way." Magnes turns, placing his foot on the floor again so that he can continue watching her. "I never considered how things might be in an apocalypse. Everyone… everything… I never considered how painful hope might be. God, this world really sucks…"

He has at least a slight look of defeat, though he adds, "I hope I didn't offend you, I just… I don't know, I'm still getting used to this."

Peyton watches him, her brows knit, giving her a perplexed expression. "Getting used to what? The Hub? It has to be better than out there, right?" she says, cautiously. The only people she imagines have it better 'out there' are the ones trying to kill them, after all. "You didn't offend me. I'm not that sensitive. Ask anyone" She huffs a little laugh at this.

She sighs, looking out the open door to the platform — not because there's anyone there, but because it's somewhere else to look, other than Magnes' earnest face. "Listen. People adapt to shit. We're like cockroaches. And we do what we have to, you know? And for some people, that means accepting the fucked up reality that this is. Thinking it could be better? That's what gets people killed. People like Messer. Her head was probably in the clouds when she got shot. Lancaster, she probably got cocky, I don't know. I do know that to survive, you need to worry more about yourself and less about everyone else."

"To the apocalypse itself. I'm just… it's like, you always see them in movies, you know? But it's hard to get used to the reality of it. That there's a roving psychotic army out there, rage zombies, an entire underground society like this. It's hard for it all to sink in, even uh, after all this time." Magnes, worst actor in the universe, tries to quickly latch onto the next thing she starts saying again. "I want to survive, but if I had to trade my life for everyone here, I would."

"It's sort of just life as we know it, these days, to me," says Peyton, with a shake of her hair. "And that's a nice thing to say, but it's not a possibility, so it's safe. No one is ever going to collect on that promise from you. But hey, maybe it'll get you laid with one of the more naive chicks. Try Melanie, she's pretty innocent. You'd be just her type. She's about this tall, big blue eyes, curly hair, freckles."

Peyton holds a hand up to her shoulder. "She gets a hard on for all the danger chasers. She's sweet, but a little dumb. And I say that knowing full well I'm a little dumb." She tips her head to study his face. "You really should smile more. You have nice teeth."

"I'm not trying to impress you, Peyton. You never were the type to get impressed by that stuff." Magnes suddenly pauses, clears his throat, and holds up a finger. "I mean, you don't seem like the type to get impressed by that stuff." He holds his chest, looking a little stressed.

He can't help but consider, why is his composure being broken now? What happened to his expanded consciousness, why is he under so much stress?"

A whole host of things race through his head as he does not, in fact, smile. He instead lays his head back and closes his eyes. "This sucks… this isolated feeling. I miss flying, I miss my friends, I miss my life, my apartment. I even miss my gradually imploding social life that I had…"

Peyton doesn't catch the faux pas — at least, she doesn't think it means he knew her before. "Well, I used to be easily impressed, but no one every tried to impress me by offering to give up their life for me," she says a bit wryly.

She sits down across the way from him, watching him for a moment. "It's been a while. You gotta accept that this is your life now, Gravity Guy. It's the only way to find some semblance of existence where you're not constantly comparing what used to be with what is. You find little things that make you happy." She points to her hair. "Old me would've never done this to my hair, but it's something stupid to look forward to, when one of the scavengers finds some and squirrels it away for me. Pretty soon there won't be any more, but for now, it's a dumb small thing that makes me happy when I have it. Better than pining after my apartment, I guess."

Picking up the ball that dropped near the door, Peyton tosses it against the wall again. "You'll make new friends. Just tone down the Pollyanna a little bit or you might get punched."

"It's been my nature for a long time to keep hope, to try and inspire other people. If we were gonna save the world, I didn't wanna be the one who dragged everyone down." Magnes finally manages to smile. It's weak, but genuine, making eye contact again. "I'm glad you're here. Reminds me of home. Well, what home used to be. If this is home now, though… I guess I need to find a way to feel like this is where I wanna be."

"I think that's pretty much my role, so you can't have it," Peyton says, regarding dragging everyone down, and it's at least a joke. A self-deprecating and cynical joke, but a joke all the same. She manages a small smirk to sell it.

She tosses the ball to him lightly. "Here's a little hope for you, Polly. Not everyone's as jaded and bitchy as me, so you probably can make some friends. They just won't be the same crowd that wants anything to do with me and mine." She leans back, resting her head on edge of the seatback. "It's nice to be someone's reminder of home, I guess. Most people sort of roll their eyes when they remember who I am. Who I was."

"I don't see what's wrong with you." Magnes quickly fumbles to grab the ball, then holds it against his chest. A nice, horrifically awkward nerd catch. "So what if you weren't some singer, or actress? Your existence made people happy, isn't that enough? I don't need to seek out people just because they're as positive as I try to be. And I'm not always positive either…" He tries to toss the ball at her. It's a bad toss, but it's at least kind of near her. "Jaded or not, I don't really mind being here. I don't really have to think so much right now…" When he says that, it's as if something heavy is suddenly weighing in his mind, and his mood seems to sink again.

"Well, I didn't mean there's anything wrong with me, just that I'm not Suzy Sunshine," Peyton says a little defensively, like maybe he's heard people talk shit about her behind her back — which she knows some of them do. "Remember, I'm the worst," she mimics Aislinn's intonation from the day before. But it's with a smirk. Clearly she's not too offended by it.

The ball is caught, and she glances down at it. "You don't have to think so hard… why? I mean, yeah, I'm not a brainiac, so it's not like you have to work hard to keep up with me. But that isn't what you meant. Right?"

"I just meant, you know, about day to day life stuff…" Magnes starts to rub the back of his neck a little nervously. "Rules, Edward Ray being kind of intense, stuff like that." He watches the ball with some measure of minor dread, as if expecting to have to try and catch it at any moment. "You don't have to be a perky princess or something. Honestly… I'd rather stare at and talk to you and be bad at catching this stupid ball than think about my problems. But I know that these little moments of peace can't last forever…"

As if on cue, she tosses the ball again — at least this time he's probably expecting it. "A little weird, but okay," she says with a shrug of her shoulders. "I mean, who am I to judge what you do with your spare time." That he's met Edward is not missed, though. He's studied for a moment, before she speaks again.

"I could do your nails. I have some some black nail polish, though it's a little gloopy. It won't look prissy at all."

"I mean it's not as if you're on TV anymore. We don't even really have TV anymore… I mean, we don't have TV anymore, right?" Magnes asks, as if he's suddenly not sure. He also manages to very narrowly clap the ball between both hands, and lets out a quick breath of relief. "I could tell you some cool stories that uh, you know, that I heard. I could get to know you, that doesn't seem like it'd be boring."

"I wasn't really 'on TV' unless you count TMZ. And yeah, no, no TV," Peyton says.

He didn't say no to doing his nails, though, so she goes to her little corner stash of belongings, rifling through the odds and ends until she comes up with a bottle of black polish. She moves over to sit next to him and uncaps the bottle, then reaches for one of his hands. "It's never boring to talk about me," she says.

It's her favorite subject.

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