The Lambs


belinda_icon.gif harlow2_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif

Scene Title The Lambs
Synopsis Moving supplies for Shard's 'Save Staten Island' plan, Peyton runs into a sweet sick girl and her mother. It would all be very innocent, if her mother weren't— you know— Harlow.
Date October 9, 2009

St. Luke's Hospital

St. Luke's Hospital is known for its high-quality care and its contributions to medical research. Its staff place an emphasis on compassion for and sensitivity to the needs of their patients and the communities they serve. In addition to nearby Columbia University, the hospital collaborates with several community groups, churches, and programs at local high schools. The associated Roosevelt Hospital offers a special wing of rooms and suites with more amenities than the standard hospital environment; they wouldn't seem out of place in a top-rated hotel. That said, a hospital is a hospital — every corridor and room still smells faintly of antiseptic.

Peyton A-K-A Ms. P. Whitney, according to the laminated nametag and permission slip hung around her neck, was given a candy striper's uniform to complete her disguise. This might have been construed as a faintly pervy joke by the grinning, pepper-haired old Ferryman who said so, but it's worked like a charm so far, and hospitals aren't particularly charming places when you're stealing from them.

Not while there's still daylight out in the sky outside, uniformed guardsmen muttering ominously into wires every other corner to watch over the seemingly endless traffic flow of terrorist victims, the radiation sick, children. The NYPD on speed dial, security cameras winking darkly down from the ceiling corners. She has the invoice and order number printed in hand, creased along two axes into quarters, a two-shelfed medical cart to push, rattling sadistically loud, ahead of her.

Its got medicine in it. Cartons of bottles of antibiotics, painkillers, cough syrups, antibacterials, a veritable treasure trove of things that Staten Island desperately needs, and Shard's faction cousin to the cause has deigned to give. Her van waits outside, out back, the bodyguard Shard had granted her in the driver's seat with the wheel in his capable hands. Closer with every step.

Why she's here, she's not sure. The last time she did what Shard asked, she found herself fleeing in a crowd of hysterical people as buildings collapsed in the distance and gunshots cracked much too close for Peyton's comfort. She keeps her head up, walking with confidence, because in her experience of crashing parties and breaking rules, people don't question someone who acts like they belong. The confidence is all feigned, of course, for in the back of her mind, she's sure she's about to get arrested. Her vision flickers to the people she's passed in the hall, to see if they're turning around to follow her; then to the security guard at the front desk, to see if he's showing any concern at what shows on the monitors in front of them. She can't spend too much time on any one person — just a second or two — otherwise she can't see what's in front of her. She risks the seconds of blindness, a way of glancing behnd her shoulder without actually having to.

It is one of those short-lived windows of blindness, if window's the word you ought to be using there, that Peyton's cart crashes.

It isn't really her fault, honestly. Sure, Peyton had turned her head, wasn't quite watching where she was going, but her cart's a miniature warning in and of itself jangling that much noise between screws and rivets and swiveling wheels, and the other girl was running. All right: more of a jog, really. Dense of limb, ever so slightly overweight, Belinda had already run far enough that her preferably sedentary lifestyle had started to take its toll. She crashes hip-first into the push rail, her hair in its Goth shade of red roostertailing over her hooked shoulder, sends the cart swerving to the right, one corner clanging into the wall and a wheel riding up the waiscoting panel at the base of the wall. Cartons slide. Bottles pop out from their compartments, jumble inside plastic wrapping that soeone had had the forethought to bind the smaller components in, but still—

"Oh my God, I'm so sorry!" She's younger than Peyton by more than a few years, probably not even out of high school yet, and she conforms promptly to the hierarchy implied by the disparity of their ages. She's on her knees, breathing heavy, moonmilk face blushing hard. "I'm really sorry, let me help— I was— I wasn't watching where I was going, I'm trying… I— I'm kind of lost. That— ooh, I hope you're not in trouble," she adds instantly, craning her head over Peyton's shoulder. Any number of faces have turned to stare.

Peyton gasps as she feels the cart hit something; her pupils constrict until she can see and she blinks at the bright red hair of the girl. "It's okay, it's okay, it's fine." She kneels down to push things quickly back into their place. "Don't worry about it, I was sort of distracted." She smlies and stands, her heart pounding but she reminds herself to act like it's no big deal. She holds a hand out for the girl to rise back to her feet. "Are you okay? I didn't mean to hit you." The faux-candy-striper keeps telling herself she belongs here, that no one will question her, that it's all fine, as if willing it to be will make it so.

No yelling or scolding or skinny chicken talons lodging into the meat of her arm. Belinda looks up hesitantly, pushes the hair out of her face with the back of one wrist, her fingers stretched clumsily around the corner of the carton she'd picked up. "Y-yeah," she says, smiling weakly out from underneath the thick pigment of her blush. "Yeah, I'm fine.

"I'm really sorry, though, ummm." There's an abortive reach for Peyton's hand, before she realizes she still has the medicine in her own. Hastily, she pushes it back onto the nearest shelf, scurries to heft the next one up, brick it into place next to it. "This stuff looks really expensive. M-my name's Belinda." She offers it like she's serving her head up on the chopping block for Peyton's disposal, wincing: you know, just in case her supervisor needs, or something. When she does take Peyton's hand, finally, her own fingers are cold, weak, softer even than the trust fund baby's own.

Behind Peyton, the security guard shakes his head. Gruffs out one warning, simple: "No running, ladies. Please watch where you're going."

"No problem. I'm Peyton," she says. Her nametag says P. Whitney, so no point in lying, right? "Where are you, um, supposed to be? Are you running away from someone?" she asks, frowning a little, her eyes flicking to the door, oh, 30 feet away — but right now it feels like 30 miles. She slowly begins to push the cart; apparently the security guard doesn't seem that worried that a Candy Striper is pushing a cart of meds she shouldn't have access to. She shivers a little at the cold hand, frowning with worry for the younger girl.

There's a shake of Belinda's head, and then her free hand goes to the top of it, clamping down. For a moment it isn't really clear why, likely, some intimation of a terrible migraine or a head MRI and a lawyer swooping down to demand Peyton's involvement in the girl's sudden aneurysm and surely this Belinda chickie's about to shoot blood out her nose and pass out seizing— but no. It's nothing of the sort.

A tug, shift, and she merely reseats her wig, that brilliant tomato-silk head of fine, straight locks.

She brushes an invisible cavalcade of flecked lint off the black of her pant leg. The name is matched back to Peyton's face, and there's a slight furrow of recognition in the girl's brow, half-formed, temporary, before it's shrugged off. Naw. They've never met. "I'm trying to meet my mom, 's all," she says. "I ppassed out at school earlier today and they rushed me here. I'm really… really not looking forward to going back. Girls can be so catty about embarrassing stuff, you know? None of them would even help me, they j"

"Lin?" She freezes in her shoes, goes stock-stiff, her eyes huge in her head. Twenty feet behind her, down the hallway to the peripheral car park that Peyton was trying to get to, there's an Amazon standing under the fluorescent lights. Leggy to the point of coltish, blond, her dress suit neatly contoured to her wasp waist and surprisingly generous curvature, sunglasses that soften and obfuscate the harsh angles of her face with the exaggerated insectoid design of their swoops and curves. "What are you doing?" Click declares approaching highheels. Click-tik-tok. They look nothing alike, mother and daughter. They dress nothing alike.

"Miss," the shift of her attention to Peyton is as tangible as frost fastening to a stone, despite that her eyes are blocked with syrupy amber lenses. "what happened?"

Peyton's almond eyes widen a bit as she realizes the girl is sick, and then her features soften in a look of sympathy. Girls can be catty — in high school, she was one of the catty girls. She knows it now. Then, it seemed simply natural — there were haves, and have nots. But did she ever make fun of a girl for being ill, for having something like cancer or whatever has made this young girl lose her hair? Many years of drug and alcohol abuse make those memories faint, but she hopes not.

Her brown eyes flicker to the woman down the hall, and she sighs. The Ferryman waiting in the van outside must be thinking she's been nabbed and probably bailed on her already. Watch her finally manage to get outside and have the cart of drugs to herself on an empty alleyway.

"Ma'am," she says politely, and then smiles back at the other girl. "We just sorta bumped into one another. Everything's okay. I'm awfully sorry." Peyton can be charming when she wants to be, after all. "I'm sorry you're sick, Belinda. I wouldn't want to be here either, but maybe they can make it better this time." She glances to the door, her freedom just on the otherwise, before glancing back at the mother and daughter, so very unalike. Much like herself and her own mother, when she had one.

Oh, what a polite young woman. Ms. Aniston grasps the jointed hinge of her shades, tugs them down a fraction of an inch to study Peyton from over them. Her eyes are blue or green, something pale enough to make the pupils constricted in their centers stand out like bullet entry. There's barely that slender shaded fraction of a glimpse, before she's pushing them back up onto her face, nodding her head once, briskly, enough that the glacial chunks of her curls shift, bounce, rebound. "No need to apologize. Clumsiness comes with the condition. Unfortunate side-effect.

"We should go see the doctor now," she adds, showing a neat row of teeth, a smile. "Take care, Miss Whitney." She offers her daughter a hand. Her daughter takes it, and nowhere clearer is the mismatch than the difference between their extremities: the younger woman's hand round, Pilsbury dough-boy white and textureless, the woman's bronzed from what one might presume to be a tanning bed, thin knuckles and sharp fingers.

Belinda flashes Peyton a shy grin that doesn't quite conceal her discomfort at being made to hold her mom's hand in a hospital. She'd probably feel worse if she knew Peyton's history, what this reminded her of.

"Bye, Belinda. Get well soon, 'kay?" Peyton says softly, her voice ringing with surprisingly sincere sympathy. She didn't intend to feel bad for anyone in this hospital; not that they don't deserve it, but all she wanted was to get in and out quickly.

Once the two are on their way down toward the other end of the hallway, Peyton continues on her path for that door, hoping the van is still outside. She uses her power to check the security guard's vision, and the cool and chilly blonde's, not knowing just whom she was looking at. She probably wouldn't be able to walk those thirty feet if she did, of course.

The van is still outside. Tall tires, matte white superstructure, glimpsed just beyond those plateglass windows, promising safety and legitimacy to both the girl behind the cart and the chilly blonde whose glance does, for the briefest of instants, correspond exactly with Peyton's own regard. A benign backward glance over Harlow's shoulder. Then she's turning her head around again, her glossed lips meeting at knife-edged symmetry around a smile. She listens to Belinda call, brightly, "Bye, Peyton!"

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