The Right to Grieve


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Scene Title The Right to Grieve
Synopsis Peyton and Faye resume living after the death of the one man who binds them together.
Date March 23, 2010

Upper West Side Peyton's Apartment

It's getting close to evening hours when the door to the guest bedroom finally opens. Dressed in a bathrobe over pajamas, the woman no longer looks or feels like the mother of a twenty year old. Faye could now pass for a big sister, as she glances into the open hall bathroom and sees her face in the mirror. Most of the signs of aging have faded, and she's back to the way she looked when she'd still been in the Coast Guard. It's odd— the physical change, along with the psychological damage…

Of feeling a man she loved die. It didn't seem violent, or painful. It was passive in comparison to the one time it'd happened before.

"Peyton?" she asks, moving slowly toward the front of the expensive apartment. They never finished the second batch of cookies. They never even got to eat the first… Nor did they get to watch their movie. The whole day changed from what they'd imagined… But at least they're both still here to talk about it.

Peyton is curled up on the sofa under her purple chenille throw, not sleeping but simply staring into space. There's nothing on the television, and the room is mostly dark — a fire helps to warm the room and there are a couple of candles lit here and there, scenting the room with a sweet apple scent. She lifts her head and is on her feet as soon as she hears her mother's voice.

"Faye," she says, looking relieved to see her mother awake again. "Are you feeling okay? Can I get you anything?" she asks, perhaps to earnestly — it's easier to fuss over someone else than to deal with her own feelings, after all. It's easier to get food and drink and medicine than to try to sort out her conflicting emotions from the night before. Her eyes are puppyish as she looks into Faye's face, searching for some task she can do to help make things better and to also take her mind off her own thoughts.

Like mother like daughter.

There's a smile that tugs into being on Faye's lips, before she walks closer and wraps her arms around her daughter. "I'm okay," she simply says, even if it's only as true as… the sky being blue. These days it's mostly gray. That's how this feels. Gray and thick, with threatening storms of freezing rain and snow. "I think we should go to my apartment tomorrow, after I finish checking in to work, and do a few rounds. There's… I have some photographs. From before."

When they first met, she'd not wanted to talk about the girl's father at all, but now— now she might think she has to. Or maybe she wants to for herself, too. "Ones that he took, so he's not actually in any of them. You should see them."

She said she'd wanted to, didn't she? To her father. Just two nights before. But it's too close right now. Peyton just shrugs non-comitally in the hug, and kisses her mother's cheek. The events still make no sense to her, and she's angry at so many things — at Ryans and at Winslow himself and at the world in general. But not her mother.

"This kid Magnes Varlane — do you know him? — he brought some meatballs by. Why I'm not sure, except that he wanted to apologize to me for something. Do you want some?" she asks, brightly enough, trying to be cheerful for Faye even if a glance at Peyton's swollen eyes will tell another story.

"Peyton," Faye says almost immediately, keeping a hand near her to hold on to her arm. "I know you don't want to talk about this, but— we need to. About Al— about what happened. I'm sorry I wasn't… Here. After." Falling unconscious had not been her shining moment, and even if the hospital released her, she spent so much time still recovering. They've both had their chances to cry by themselves, and now—

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you about him when you asked. I honestly didn't tell anyone. My parents never even knew who the father was." It'd been one of the things she'd held onto. A missguided desire to protect him. As well as hold on to her little secret.

The younger woman turns away, though she is held in place by a gentle hand. With her back to her mother, Peyton lifts her chin a little, as if to bolster her courage. She doesn't want to cry anymore in front of Faye — Faye lost him twice. Faye knew him and has a right to grieve. Peyton didn't know him at all. All she has to grieve is the fact she will never truly know her father.

"You have nothing to apologize for, Faye. I probably wouldn't have … I wouldn't have been able to do as much as you did. I wouldn't have … I wouldn't even exist, if you were more like me. You didn't know he was what he was, and I don't blame you for not telling me who he was — if he never knew he had a kid, that wouldn't be fair to spring on him." How strange that he knew, that he was watching her all along anyway.

"I'm just glad you're okay," Peyton whispers in a smaller voice. "I thought I lost you too."

"I never regretted having you," Faye says, staying behind her, but wrapping her arms around the young woman who— is actually taller than her. It doesn't matter so much, they're almost the same height. "I regretted losing you— I regretted that I couldn't give you a life that you deserved, but…" But now they get to be together, and Winslow had given then about ten more likely years they can have that time. He'd known about her.

That still shocks her. He'd known more than she did. Her name— he'd watched her grow up through a camera lense…

"You can still know him. I can tell you about him— you can see the pictures I've kept for twenty years. I know it's not a lot. But you should know more about him then…" Then the last moments.

She's trying so hard to be grown up. She wants to prove to Faye that she can be strong, that the older woman doesn't have to protect her or worry about her anymore. The arms around her break down the defenses — the wall there is tenuous at best; if it were a real thing, it would be crooked, made of ill-shaped stones in incongruous layers, sunlight peeking through holes in the mortar. The first words that come to Peyton's lips are not mature — they sound like the words of a petulant teenager, though in this case it's hard to deny their truth:

"It's not fair," Peyton whispers, her shoulders rising and falling with a shuddering sob.

Childish or not… "No, it's not," Faye says quietly, pressing her forehead against the back of the girl's head. Though she can hardly be called a girl right now. Even with the walls up and fragile, they're both trying to do the same thing— only Faye had twenty years to know the man was never coming back into her life. She'd been married since then, she'd moved on—

That just makes her wall a little stronger— a dam with a hole in it, threatening to break eventually. But she can stick a patch over it and hopes it holds.

"You should have had more time. If he'd known about you for that long— he should have given you the same time that he had. But— I guess I can give you what he had. I can use my FRONTLINE connections to pull his file. You can look at him from afar, like he looked at you."

"Words," Peyton says softly and shakes her head. "A file isn't … no. I don't want to read about what … what they said about him. It's better to just know the few moments I had." Too short as they were, and wasted on worry about how to protect him, when he never intended for her to do that — when he knew he would be leaving her within moments.

Somehow, there are no tears. They seem to have dried up. Peyton turns to face her mother — who now looks like her sister. "I'm just confused. I don't know how I feel. Part of me is angry, that he came to see me for his sake, not mine." Her eyes seek her mother's and she reaches up to touch Faye's youthful face.

"How are you going to explain this," Peyton says, a soft huff of a humorless laugh punctuating the words.

"I wasn't planning to," Faye says, giving a small smile, even if there's very little to smile about. It'd been for him— not for her. That makes the situation somehow worse than it could have been. Likely she intends to pull the file anyway, for her sake, but she doesn't have to share anything she finds, not with the young woman who she holds on to. They both could be called young women, now. "Even if he did everything wrong in his life— he gave me you. So even now I'll thank him for that."

It's a sentiment that has come up before, and likely to come up again… because it's truth.

"We should do something with the rest of the day. Maybe watch a movie we never got around to."

"Whatever you want to do," Peyton murmurs, squeezing her mother once more and then letting go. "I'll go heat up some dinner and we can do that." She moves toward the kitchen, then glances back. "Oh… can you … not mention to anyone, not that you would, about the shadow person? It's sort of … you know. Not for public knowledge," she adds quietly — Cardinal tried to protect her and Winslow; it's her turn to protect Cardinal.

Not that she would? There's a hesitant expression that crosses her face, but Faye's arms drop away and she allows the younger woman to move toward the kitchen. "I won't mention him," she says, but the way it's said… "I'm not very good at keeping these kinds of things a secret, if it's something that my superiors would ask me about, but I didn't see him, and I didn't catch a name." She doesn't remember it if she did, at least. "So I'll leave it alone. Hopefully no one else that showed up reported it." Cause if they directly asked her— she's not sure she could lie about it.

"But let's have those meatballs. You said the name Varlane, right? That's odd. The leader of my squad has the same last name."

"Thanks. It's … his situation is complicated." Like whose isn't these days? "And really? It's not a common last name, I'm pretty sure. They're probably related. He's a bit of an odd one, Magnes. He's the one that tried to fly me away on that roof the night of the gala. That's why he came up to apologize, actually, not that he needed to," Peyton chatters — Aaron would know it's a fake brightness, that her mood was still dark and melancholy, were he in the apartment — and chuckles a little as she puts the bowl in the microwave to heat up the food.

"Maybe, flight sounds somewhat like what she can do too," Faye says, head tilted to the side. It's a total change of subject and they both likely know it— but there's only so much else that can be said. The pictures have been there for twenty years, and they'll be there twenty years more, if necessary. "I'll have to ask her if she's related to anyone named Magnes sometime. We haven't really talked much about our families yet." And in some cases, that was probably for the best…

The microwave beeps, announcing that the food is done. Out come plates and the meatballs are spooned out, forks gathered, beverages poured. The mundanities of eating the food and watching a movie will be a welcome relief after the frightening and tragic night no doubt burned in both of their memories — it's a welcome relief for Peyton, at least, who curls on the couch eager to watch someone else's conflict play out — without using her power to do so.

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