The First Peyton


magnes_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif

Scene Title The First Peyton
Synopsis Magnes seeks to make peace with his past, and Peyton is a part of that.
Date March 21, 2019

Brooklyn College Winslow-Crawford Academy

Even though the initial discussion was difficult, Abby was right, Magnes has been clinging to an idea. This idea that he can just go back to the past and hold onto things.

He needs to make peace with the past, and discover the present, continue moving forward into the future.

Which means addressing something he's spent some time avoiding. The clusterfuck of complicated feelings regarding Peyton. Someone he spent a considerable amount of time avoiding in every world he could after the virus.

Now it's time to face that, and to face the unresolved thoughts and complicated emotions regarding the first Peyton.

The Peyton who started his entire journey to begin with.

He walks into the school in his long coat, his clothing at least fashionable enough to look like someone who belongs where he is. Asking around for her office, when he finally makes his way to it, he knocks on the door a few times.

Unlike the last time Peyton saw him, his hair is long, to his shoulders, and he has a bit of neatly trimmed facial hair, and an overall slightly larger, more intimidating presence than the Magnes of old.

She’s already been told she has a visitor, and the surveillance camera’s footage reveals his face when she taps a button on her computer. Thankfully, it gives her a few moments to prepare, emotionally. Mentally. She knew he was alive — but that’s about all she knows, given Liz’s reticence about whatever happened.

She also knows there were unspeakable horrors. Executions. Robots.

That he’s alive doesn’t do much to relieve that heavy mantle of guilt she’s worn for the past seven years.

When he knocks, Peyton rises, smoothing the skirt of the Chanel dress she wears, heels clicking on the hardwood floors of her office. She takes a shaky breath before she opens the door. A tentative smile curves her lips upward.

“I’m so happy to see you,” she says. It’s a banal thing to say, after what’s happened, but there’s a sincere warmth to her voice that’s a little husky, like she might be about to cry, but the professional facade stays in tact. “Come in,” she adds, holding the door open wider for him to pass. The office isn’t overly large — a desk, three comfortable chairs in front of it, a large bookshelf full of books on one wall, a bulletin board with notices and children’s artwork on the other.

"I only went there to save you. I didn't care about everything else, I was tired of saving the world." Magnes blurts this out as if he's been holding it in, while his back is turned to her and he's going to take a seat, easing his back against it. "But I'm just… glad to see that you're alive, and healthy." He sounds as if he didn't expect to see her alive, for whatever reason. "Reaching your full potential."

"Peyton deserves that." he says as if talking about someone else entirely, especially considering that he said you before.

Peyton’s dark eyes widen a little at the outburst, but she smiles and shakes her head as tears spring to her eyes immediately. Ironically, they’re followed by a little, breathless laugh. She doesn’t sit behind her desk, but instead beside him.

“Why do you sound like you’re apologizing when it should be me?” she asks, searching his face, looking both for the boy he was and the man he is now. They were both so young then, that day in Alaska.

“I’m so sorry.” The words are far too insignificant, far too small for the grief and regret she’s held on to for so long. “I’m sorry you went there for me and I’m sorry for what happened to you, and that I was there at all. But you did save me, in a way. All of you did. If you hadn’t come, I don’t know what would have happened.”

It’s a little bit of a lie. She has an idea, thanks to what others have told her about the wasteland future that they had averted. “I don’t understand how you’re here. But I’m so glad you made it back,” she adds.

"I don't hold a grudge against you, I'm not bitter about what happened. If not for what happened I wouldn't have my daughter, I wouldn't have met the woman I wanted to marry. She's… gone, my fiance, she didn't make it back, but still, I don't regret the trip. I don't regret the lives we saved on the way back." Magnes makes no mention of the losses, he tries not to dwell on the losses when he can.

"I learned a lot about people's 'souls', if you can call it that. Something about people deep down inside of them, regardless of some of the mistakes they might make, or the dark paths they might go down." He looks over at her, then reaches out, offering his hand to hold her's. His face certainly, under the superficial changes like the hair and the most exhausted look of his eyes, is still very much the face she'd always known.

He manages to smile, despite the multiple range of emotions that wash over his face. The sadness, regret, guilt, for whatever reasons that these are things he should even be feeling right now. "Without going into much detail, I learned about you in a way that you never really showed me, and I realized that all I wanted when I got back here was to see if you made it, see if you were happy, healthy."

He takes a moment to just stare into her eyes, then just says, "All I wanted was to save you."

She listens, her brows drawing together at those details that hint at what he’s been through, trying to connect the dots with those that Elisabeth has also told her, and with all that’s left unsaid. Her expression shifts from confusion to sorrow, overlaid upon the guilt that she never seems to shake.

When he reaches for her hand, she doesn’t pull away from it, squeezing his lightly. “I’m very sorry for your losses, Magnes.” Her voice is quiet and low. “And I’m sorry for who I was back then. I don’t know why you were always looking out for me, but I know I was never as appreciative of that as I should have been.

“Until it was too late.” She presses her lips together, managing not to cry. Her dark eyes are solemn as she studies his face. “So thank you. And I am. I mean, as much as anyone can be, with all we’ve been through. Happy in more moments than not, which I think is all anyone can ask for.”

Peyton squeezes his hand again. “I hope you can find that too.”

"It's no secret that I had lots of crushes. You were a big one. You were the cool, sexy socialite, Peyton Whitney. I wanted to know you, to hang out with you. You were just cool to me, it didn't matter what you said or did. You were one of those girls I kind of put on a pedestal. My naive young repressed brain just saw you as a dream girl." Magnes gently squeezes her hand, his smile a little more relaxed.

"It just so happens that I'm the type of person who storms a heavenly armed base full of robots just because I got stuck on a doe-eyed girl and didn't want her to get hurt." He explains all of this very honestly, very candidly. Even though he'll always be some level of awkward, this is something he would probably have never been able to explain so honestly and clearly in the past. "Not to toot my own horn."

Peyton’s cheeks color a little at the description of her former self and she lifts a hand as if to wave it away. Socialites and celebrities and parties are far from her life now — with the exception of some high-end fundraisers and galas now and then.

“I was a silly and scared little girl who cared too much about things that didn’t matter, and tried to fill emptiness with anyone who gave me attention,” she murmurs. “That girl wasn’t worth your time and certainly not worth risking your life for, but… I’m glad you came out…”

okay might be a stretch. “That you came back from wherever you went,” she amends. She tilts her head. “You have a daughter?” He’d said his fiance didn’t make it back, but nothing about the child. “If she’s anything like the one from the future, I’m sure she’s amazing.”

"I wasn't that different. I was a lonely person back then, I didn't know how to navigate life. I'm still not great at navigating life. Happiness was difficult, and I still had so many crazy ideas about what my life was supposed to be. Now I just want it to be… I don't know… normal. No more robots and pirates and people who think they ascended to godhood." Magnes stares down at her hand, examining the back of it.

"I feel like your true soul is showing now." he observes, whatever that means. "And my daughter, Addie… she's amazing. Smart, her mother was teaching her other languages, she's just adorable and amazing and I might have spoiled her too much. But I'll be careful as she gets older." He looks back up into her eyes. "Once we're more settled in, I might see if maybe you can teach her."

Once again, her brows draw together as he talks in loose brushstrokes about the things he’s seen, and a little deeper when he talks about her soul.

“I won’t argue with you, except that I was a different person then, than I am now — because of what’s happened to me since, which you’re a part of. So thank you.” She nods to one of the pictures on the bookshelf of the brown-eyed little boy with a mop of brown curls. “Jonah’s a little spoiled, too, so I understand. It’s hard not to, especially when they’ve seen too much, like I’m sure yours has, if Aura is any indication.”

The prospect of having the child in the school is met with a smile and a nod. “We’d be happy to have her. I don’t teach, myself. I just facilitate. I’m good at that, but I don’t have the patience or education to run an actual classroom.” It’s an ironic statement, but she means it sincerely. “We have a board that makes the decisions for curriculum that I’m not qualified to make, and an amazing faculty and staff.”

"I plan to try and get a job at Yamagato, whenever I can finally reach Kimiko. Starting to wonder if I should just drop the whole trying to keep being a physicist thing, but it's what I have experience with." Magnes doesn't explain how or why he's suddenly a physicist now, but he smiles and gently releases her hand. "I hope that you aren't raising him entirely alone. I mean, I guess what I'm saying is, I hope that you aren't alone."

He motions a hand a bit, still feeling like he hasn't found the right wording. There is the awkawrdness that is far more familiar about him. "You know, man-wise. I think too many people are alone. If I'm going to be, I at least want to live vicariously." he says a bit darkly, then shakes his head. "Sorry, dark humor keeps the abyss away and all."

“Yamagato seems like an amazing place to work and live. You deserve something nice. Even if it’s not being a physicist,” her brows lift, as if she’s double checking that she’s got that detail right, “there are so many jobs over there. I’m sure you’re well suited for something.”

The rest, she chuckles at. “It’s the 21st century. Do I really need a man?” she asks, looking a little amused. “Jonah’s my first priority, but the past couple of years, there’s been someone, which is good for him — to have a strong, kind, and intelligent man in his life. Emphasis on kind.” Her smile turns a little wry at that. “But… even if Brad wasn’t around, I’m not alone. I have a village behind me. Or really several villages, at this point. The one in the safehouse in Canada, then my first school up in Toronto, and now here. He has a lot of wonderful people in his life to look up to and learn from. I hope that’s true for your Addie as well.”

"Brad. On name alone, I'm leagues outclassed." Magnes laughs, but shakes his head. "I think you're strong, but I guess because of how I am, it's difficult to imagine not being with someone for a long time." Which probably says a lot, considering that he just implied about being alone forever. "Oh, yeah, it's definitely true for Addie. She'll have Delilah, Elizabeth, Elaine, Robyn, Sable… so many people."

"But…" He shakes his head. "Physics is strange. I can do experiments that no one else would be capable of doing. But I guess it's a matter of who I trust to tell about that part of my ability. If I'll trust a company, no matter who is running it."

Peyton chuckles. “I don’t know how classy he is, but he’s a good person. Brad Russo… you know. The Ryans that isn’t a Ryans. He’s with SESA, but often away on business, unfortunately. It sounds like you have a great village for Addie then. I look forward to meeting her sometime.” Somehow she’s sure she will — New York is a lot smaller than it used to be, and even before, somehow certain people seem to find one another time and time again.

Even across different universes.

“I understand,” she says, about his ability. “You don’t want to be used for your power. Be careful with that.” Her smile turns a little wry before fading completely, and she looks away, pressing her lips together. Because they had both been used for their abilities, in 2011.

“Maybe you could teach at the college. Or if you don’t have a doctorate, work toward it,” she suggests, brows lifting, turning her focus back to the present, and the near future, rather than the past.

He suddenly coughs, choking on his own spit when she says Brad Russo. "Oh, yeah, we've met." as if he's just flashed back to something awkward rather than bad.

"I might have a doctorate." Magnes answers this as if he's unsure. "The nature of how I, uh, came home, made certain things a little bit complicated. But I'll let you know. It could be interesting to teach here." He kind of shrugs, because life is complicated. "Teaching kids to use abilities and about math and stuff, it'd be interesting. I've learned a lot about abilities, I'd say that I have a very unique experience in seeing the nature of them. But, as far as my own, you're right. My ability is dangerous in its potential to change the world, that's why not everyone can know what it is."

"Anyway… we should hang out." He leans back in the chair a bit, perfectly balancing himself in a way that would normally make someone fall one way or another. But he just remains tilted back in an obviously unnatural way. "When you're free. As friends obviously, I'm not looking to compete with a Brad. I can defeat robots, not Brads."

“Most of my students are SLC-E but most are unmanifested. But the college does have classes and programs for SLC-E studies and understanding abilities, so that might be another route you can take. I don’t believe there are PhDs for that, so experience in the field is probably how they choose those professors, or lecturers, they might call them,” Peyton says with a smile.

The splutter about Brad makes her lift her brow and she looks amused, as well as the constant use of his name as a common noun. “I try not to hold his given name against him,” she says a little wryly, “just as I hope people don’t use mine against me. Brad and Peyton is about as annoyingly WASP as you can get, isn’t it? It wasn’t planned. I ran into him in Toronto when he was up there for some business, and we tried the long distance thing until I came here about a year ago.”

She frowns again at the complications that seem to have arised from wherever he’s been and how he returned. “I hope someone’s helping with that. SESA? Do you have a place to stay? I imagine getting yourself declared alive takes some legal paperwork.”

"It's an idea. I guess I'll weigh it into my options." Magnes smiles and shakes his head at the names. "I don't hold your name against you, the nerd part of my lizard brain just attributes every good quality possible to certain names."

"SESA's helping. I have resources and offers, I just…" He vaguely motions a hand. "I've been going through a lot, so I haven't gotten myself properly settled. I'm doing better with the grief, but I need to find a therapist again. There are a lot of days, or moments in the day, where it just hits me all at once. But I know that if I'm going to take care of Addie, I need to settle and stop staying in limbo."

"The fact that I'm here…" he motions his head, vaguely to indicate 'here'. "It's all still surreal. Difficult to ground myself in it. I'll probably need a SESA therapist who I can even talk to about classified information."

“Grief is like that. Even when you think you’re past it — there are days it swells up and hits you again when you don’t expect it,” Peyton says quietly. “So don’t be hard on yourself if that happens — it doesn’t mean you’re not making progress, that you’re not coping.”

Her smile is soft. “Caring for someone else helps. I don’t know that I would have managed as well as I did without Jonah, to be honest. I don’t know if I would have felt I had a reason to try.”

The smile turns a little brighter and she laughs. “We have quite a second generation going. Kaylee’s, Delilah’s, Richard’s, Liz’s…” well, Liz’s is Richard’s, too, but that’s new and she associated Aura as Elisabeth’s since she saw the little girl with her newly returned mother. “When she’s ready, Addie is welcome here, too.”

"She is a Varlane, so she'll probably be getting into some trouble. But her mother was always a lot more sensible than me." Magnes stands to stand, then leans in, moving in for a hug. "Never feel guilty about me, okay? I wouldn't do things differently, because I wouldn't have gained what I have now, and I wouldn't be who I am."

Peyton rises when he does. “Well, I’m hoping more for the nurture than nature aspect when it comes to Jonah, myself,” she says, a little wryly, given Magnes is one of the few people who know who Jonah’s father is. The fact she can make a small joke about it means she has come quite a long way herself, though not so far of metaphysical distance as Magnes.

She hugs him lightly. “Guilt is a lot like grief. You think you’re over it and then it hits you again like a ton of bricks. So I can’t make any promises,” she says, stepping away and studying him for a moment. “I’m sorry for what it cost you but it looks like you came out a strong and kind person, despite of it all — or because of it. I only wish it hadn’t all been forced on you, and I’m sorry for my part in what happened to you.”

Peyton manages to say it without a crack in voice or composure, her dark eyes solemn as she moves to the door to walk him out. “Thank you though for coming to see me, for letting me see that you’re all right. It means a lot, Magnes.”

It's not quite enough to keep that inevitable wave of guilt at bay, but it might hold it off a bit longer before it hits again.

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