The Small Amount of Solace


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Scene Title The Small Amount of Solace
Synopsis When Peyton comes home in pain, Wes takes care of her, finding some solace for himself in the act of creating it for her.
Date August 28, 2010

Upper East Side, Peyton's Apartment

Before Peyton even opens the door to her apartment, barking can be heard in the hall. It's not just Von, but a deeper canine voice as well. They both sound happy, at least. And why shouldn't they?

About an hour ago, Wes Smedley took the liberty of coming over to Peyton's place. It wasn't hard to feed a lie to the doorman and the desk - he's been here before at much later hours and left late enough the next morning to carte blanche his way in without Peyton buzzing him up. Even if he does get the less stinky male equivalent of the fish-eye.

The fact of the matter is, Carson was getting listless. It's just the sort of thing the proximity of a younger dog can cure. The two wrestle together for a few moments at a time before Carson flops over to rest a bit. Then, without warning, the play begins anew. It's been like that for awhile. But the two dogs are winding down, and their boughts are more infrequent as they stay relatively close to the couch where Wes has settled himself with the television and a longneck from the case he brought with him.

The door opens and Peyton peers in from behind it to be sure that it is Carson's deep bark she hears, and that it is Wes who has let himself in. She snorts a little to see the dogs playing and she steps into the apartment, letting the door shut behind her. Carson notices her first, given his better hearing, and comes running toward her, which brings Von as well. She bends down to let them greet her and to give them scritches and rubs, though her eyes are tight around the corners, her brows knit together in a scowl that doesn't match the smile on her lips.

"Well, hello boys. I'm outnumbered, am I?" she teases, tilting her head toward the man on the couch.

"No more'n usual," Wes teased right back, that one-sided grin on his face. He lifts the longneck in salute, then tips the mouth toward the kitchen. "Fridge, if you want one." From what Peyton can see of the label, it looks like a Yuengling.

"Carson ain't got his bits anymore. So you can't really count him in the mix." Carson looks back at Smedley when he hears his name, and the man shrugs apolojetically. "What? S'true, boy. Ain't my fault. Blame Mama for that one." He takes another swig from the bottle, then leans forward to pluck the remote off the coffee table and switch off the television.

She doesn't go to the refrigerator but to the light switch to dim the overhead to all but off, then to the couch where she kicks off her flip flops and climbs on, curling up and lying her head on his lap. She looks a little wan, and for the brief moment her eyes are open, peering up at him, they are blood-shot.

Then they close, dark lashes fluttering against her pale cheeks. "You can go if you want," she says quietly, not that it will be easy for him now that he's serving as her pillow. "I'm not really feeling well, so I'm not really good company."

Von chooses that moment to retackle Carson, and there's a canine scrimmage complete with low playful growls and then a high pitched puppy bark — a rare thing from Von, the deaf puppy, but Carson brings out the instincts in the younger dog — and Peyton winces, bringing a hand to her head.

Wes is a little surprised when Peyton joins him, but his arm goes around her all the same. He squints back at that bloodshot gaze, trying to make sense of it. If she's drunk, she isn't showing any other signs of it. When the dogs go at it again, and Peyton reacts the way she does, Wes adds his protective hand to the side of her head before he gives a short, sharp whistle.

Carson immediately looks over with wide-eyed penitence, and Smedley glowers back at the older dog. When Von tries to play again, Carson gives a low wuff before he lies on his side, refusing to react to the smaller dog. It takes the pup a few minutes to understand that his playmate isn't going to continue. Von lies down in front of Carson, just in case the older dog changes his mind.

Wes moves his hand to stroke at Peyton's hair a few times before he speaks, and when he does it's in as soft a whisper as he can manage without being inarticulate. "You okay, babe? You look beat. Awful early night. When'd you start? 2:30?"

"Not drunk," she says, her brows deepening in their scowl. "Just a migraine," she whispers, her own voice dropping in volume as well, as if her prior words had hurt too much to continue. "It's okay. I tried to use my power on someone who has more than one mind, I guess. I thought I'd only see the one I know, the clone I know, but I guess it doesn't work that way. It's really disorienting and I get a bad headache out of it."

She opens one eye to peek up at him. "I'm okay. I just need to sleep it off, probably. You can go if you want," she repeats, though she makes no effort to move to let him up.

If Wes were in any other kind of work, that might just be the emptiest threat he's ever heard. Still, it's enough to make him smile down at her and continue his light stroking. "Tough bein' a terrorist, huh?" he whispers. He moves then, just enough to stretch and set his beer down on the coffee table. "I know you're comfy," he says, the strain in his lowered voice audible while he makes the transfer of beer from hand to table, "but you keep that up and my leg'll fall asleep faster'n you will. Howsabouts we move you to the bed, hm?"

"It normally wouldn't be a problem. Just… clones are bad, mmmkay?" The verbal allusion to South Park probably goes over his head, but Peyton smiles at her own joke. She sighs a little at the mention of bed. "I'm not an invalid. I don't need to be in bed at six o'clock, you know," she murmurs, but she does lift her head and move to sit up. The shift in position makes her wince. The headache's gotten worse since she left Redbird, though the jostle and noise of the subway surely didn't help it.

Neither does the fact that she tried to look for Teo, Teo and Teo one more time on the way home, with less success and more pain than the first. Peyton hadn't even been able to make sense of the static and hum of that attempt. She hates to admit that Cardinal might have been right.

"Eeh-easy now, Pey," Wes says as he takes the opportunity to stand and move in front of her. It's a tone he's used before, but the last time he was talking to a frightened horse. Wordlessly, he bends down and carefully wraps one arm around Peyton's back, slipping the other under her calves and moving it up to the crook of her knee. It's not an entirely smooth operation, but with a grunt he gets her up off the couch and into his arms. His back will surely protest this abuse in the morning, even if Peyton doesn't weigh all that much.

Letting her down into the bed is the easy part, and it's warm enough that he doesn't need to turn the blanket first - or turn the lights on for that matter. A moment later, he's crawling in beside her. "I can getcha an asprin, if you want," he whispers, and now that he's able to get closer to her ear, it's probably a much more tolerable volume.

She makes a whimper of protest. "I can walk," she gasps as he gathers her up — she's not at all heavy, but she's a tall girl, and he's not that much taller than she is. Her eyes swim with tears suddenly from the gesture, the care and concern for her well being from this man who was just a stranger a couple of weeks ago.

When he lies her down, she closes her eyes tight, trying to keep those tears from slipping below her lash-line. Her throat squeaks a little with the effort and she rolls so that she can bury her face in her pillow.

A muffled "Huh uh" can be heard, a shake of her dark head helping to distinguish the mumble as the negative. She lifts her had to murmur a little more clearly, "I had Tylenol already. It won't touch it. Caffeine helps, but then I can't sleep. Catch 22. I'll sleep soon enough. Just … just stay."

A hand rises to press and rub comfortingly against Peyton's back between her shoulderblades before it curls around to hold her against the man it's attached to. He tries not to move her too much, sensitive to the condition she's in. "Yes ma'am," he murmurs into her hair.

Wes swallows, closing his eyes and trying to focus on his breathing. If he hadn't come here today, before Peyton got home, she probably would have suffered in silence. But Carson did need a pick-me-up, and he did stay, even before she asked. Would he do anything she asked? His brows knit together. Maybe. There's no telling how long she is for this world, or him for that matter. So if in that undetermined amount of time he can reach out and lend a comforting hand to a young woman like Peyton, it might just make up for the harm he caused to another.

His thumb idly sweeps over her bare arm, and he moves his head to bury his face in her hair, breathing deep. No matter how you look at it, at this moment, he's lucky. That can't be taken for granted. Just as he embraces this small amount of solace, there's a new weight on the corner of the bed. Wes lifts his head to find Carson settling down in the traditional three-turns-and-down pre-sleep dance, and a smile drags itself onto his face once more. There's a short-lived rumble of puppy feet on the floor as Von takes a running jump to join them, but the pup curls himself up so that his head lies on Peyton's ankle. Good boys, Wes mouths before he lies his head back down.

Her shoulders rise and fall with a silent chuckle as she feels the sudden addition of the two four-legged boys on the bed, and then Peyton sighs deeply. If she weren't in pain, it would be a happy and contented sigh. For now, it's one of appreciation. She reaches up to run her hand through Wesley's hair as he nestles against the back of her. It isn't log, however, before that hand drops limply and her breathing falls into the even and light rhythm of slumber — something neither of them have had enough of lately.

Now and then, there is a soft noise of pain or fear from her, but a soft touch from Wesley soothes it away and she lies still again. It will be at least twelve hours before she wakes fully, her exhausted mind and battered psyche in need of the kind of rest one can only get when protected and safe.

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