This Week in History


peyton2_icon.gif smedley_icon.gif

Scene Title This Week in History
Synopsis The morning after, Peyton and Smedley's pasts make things more awkward than usual.
Date August 10, 2010

Upper East Side Peyton's Apartment

Some men rely on routine. It offers them comfort, and to some degree, security. With a routine, one knows what to expect. Wes Smedley's life is far from routine, but some aspects of it are pretty rote. Get a job. Do the job. Get paid for the job.

According to routine, Wes should have taken Peyton back to his place. But he didn't. It would have been difficult to explain to Maddie, and Peyton's apartment was closer. He should have kicked her out after a brief bit of post-coital cuddling, but, of course, he didn't. You've got to hit point A before you can even think about point B, after all.

Peyton had asked him to stay, and so he stayed. Sending Maddie a quick, covert text message so she wouldn't worry and so Carson would be taken care of wasn't a big deal.

Wes is reluctant to get out of bed the next morning, partly because sleeping on a real mattress is a welcome change, and partly because a warm, soft, and affectionate female body is always a hard thing to leave. But coffee is important. The need for caffeine pulls Wes away from Peyton, into his boxers, and then to Peyton's kitchen where he takes the liberty of brewing a pot. Memories of last night are stirred further by the possibility that the smell of java will wake his host, allowing him to potentially coax her into another round. Impatient, he takes a cup before the pot has finished brewing and plants himself on the couch, grabbing one of the many magazines strewn across the coffee table and flipping it open.

In her bed, Peyton finally fell into an actually restful slumber sometime near morning. For a long time, she simply pretended to sleep, enjoying the warm arms around her that helped to give her the illusion of safety. The problem was Wes couldn't protect her from her dreams, and when she finally succumbed, it was into a fitful and restless sleep, tossing and turning and no doubt waking him more than once with frightened whimpers that couldn't be mistaken for pleasure.

Once Wes has left her bed, she continues to sleep for another twenty minutes or so before her lids flutter and her dark eyes open, with the realization she's not alone in the apartment. Standing, she finds a short red satin robe, wrapping its sash around her waist as she pads down the hallway to the bathroom, the door closing there to alert him to her wakefulness.

Wes turns his head at the sound of the door, and a sly smile tugs at one side of his face. He sips his coffee, willing to wait Peyton out. Newsweek's focus for this week is on reactions to mandatory registry, and the rest of the issue is pretty standard fare. Politics, what's happening overseas, cultural up-and-comings. Wes thumbs his way through, reading snippets of articles and captions with vague interest. Once he hits the final essay piece, he starts working his way backward.

He's almost to the table of contents when he sees it. It's not very big - just a little graphic in the inner right hand corner of a spread. This week in history - but the photo of two young Manhattan socialites showcased beside one of the entries contains a face that is undeniably the owner of the swank apartment.

August 13, 2009: Evolved Socialites Wendy Hunter and Peyton Whitney were kidnapped by the anti-Evolved terrorist group, Humanis First. They were held captive for five days, after which they were able to make their escape. Wendy Hunter, heiress to Hunter Telecommunications, was murdered in her apartment in May 2010.

Wes nearly chokes on his coffee, saving himself by spitting out the liquid in a spray over the table and the floor beyond. He stares at the magazine again, re-reading the text twice before throwing the magazine back onto the pile and abandoning his mug beside it. He moves quickly back to the bedroom, but his heels thud on the hardwood between floor rugs, betraying him. He grabs his clothing as he comes to it - shirt, pants, jacket - and the last is tossed onto the unmade bed so that the cowhand can retrieve his holster from the bedpost. He checks to make sure the single six shooter he had on him last night is still equipped with all of its rounds before he buckles the holster around his waist and over his still un-done jeans.

The toilet flushes, followed by the sound of water in a basin, and a moment later Peyton steps out of the bathroom, glancing down the hall toward the living room first before she hears Wes in her bedroom. She steps across the hall and moves to lean in the doorway, the smile fading as she sees him in a rush to dress.

She hadn't expected him to laze about in the bed with her all day, but the hurry he seems to be in is perhaps a little surprising. She arches a brow, but aims for the diplomatic:

"I can make you a bagel or something to eat on your way," she offers, her voice a little rough from want of use. One hand comes up to shove her tangled, touseled hair out of her eyes. The makeup from last night all worn away, to Smedley's eyes, she will probably look all the younger and more vulnerable this morning.

As if her voice isn't enough to rattle him to his core.

Wes inhales sharply and staggers back when Peyton makes herself known in the doorway. When he sees her, he lifts a hand to drag it roughly through his hair and letting his forearm obscure her view of his face. "Mornin'," he finally chokes out, still not looking at her. He swallows audibly, his efforts paused by her presence. Yes, decorum is called for. No, he doesn't want her to think it's because of last night, or anything like that. It's just…he can't be here. Not with her. Not now.

"There's coffee," he grunts, turning his back on Peyton and screwing his eyes shut. He drops his hand and tilts his head back, taking a deep breath in the process. "I used the last of the Sumatran. Hope…hope that's okay." Wes's voice is strained, as if he were trying to hold in a sneeze or something.

Was her mirror lying? She ran to the bathroom upon waking to make sure she didn't look like a troll and to splash water on her face and take a swig of mouthwash so that round two (or is it three) would be pleasant, and she hadn't thought she looked that bad — a little tired, eyes bloodshot and those telltale dark circles she gets when she doesn't get enough sleep, but otherwise, she thought she'd looked okay. "That's fine," she says, regarding the coffee, tilting her head to try to see his face, but then he's turning away from her. Wife? Cardinal would have told her if Wes had a wife, wouldn't he? "Are you feeling all right?" she asks, sympathy in her voice even though she herself feels hurt by Wes' aloofness. "Can I get you something? Advil or Tylenol?" Maybe it's just a hangover.

"That'd be a blessin'," he grunts again, but there's a quick breath in the middle of it. He clears his throat and rolls his shoulders once before gathering up the open front of his jeans in one hand. How the hell can he be expeditious and polite about this? Swallowing, Wes turns around and starts to walk. His pace is brisk, but stilted. "'Scuse me," he manages to mutter before he leaves the bedroom. This, unfortunately, takes him right past the girl. If she looks carefully and quick enough, she'll see the light catch the streaks of water on his cheeks.

When he approaches the door, Peyton backs up and out of the way, just about to turn to head into the bathroom to retrieve the pills for what she assumes is a headache — or at least what serves as a good excuse for his distance this morning. But so close to him, she catches sight of the tears and stops, awkwardly in the middle of the hallway.

"Wes," she says softly, reaching to touch his shoulder as he moves away from her. "Are you okay?" Her face is contorted, a mix of hurt feelings for herself and concern for him wrought upon her features. "Did I — did I say something, do something wrong?"
To (Veronica, Tasha, Daphne, Peyton), Brooklyn pages: raaarr

Even the brush of fingers against his shoulder stops Wes in his tracks. He lowers his head and grits his teeth, his ragged breathing loud enough to be heard in the uncomfortable silence. His free hand curls into a fist, and the muscles in his arm tense beneath the tan skin.

"It ain't you," he says after a moment, his voice quiet. "It ain't you or nothin' you did." But saying what something isn't is barely helpful, and Wes knows that. It's a shame too. Peyton was different. If only he'd known how different.

"It's just…" But Wes lets the words hang there. He swallows, then presses his lips together tightly in agitation. With a shake of his head, he charges forward toward the bathroom. Let her think it's a hangover. Let her think he has to go vomit his guts out. Let her forget he only had two Scotches last night.

Left behind in the hallway, Peyton stands stunned for a moment, staring at the door as it closes her out. She blinks her eyes hard, willing away the hurt tears that have welled up there. "Stuff's in the medicine cabinet," she calls through the closed door. "Help yourself to whatever you need." It's actually well-stocked with men's toiletries, having been predominantly Aaron's restroom; Peyton has her own within her bedroom suite, but she tends to use the "guest" bathroom as often as not.

She shakes her head, moving into the living room and glancing at the coffee cup and magazine and the evidence of the coffee's spill on the coffee table and floor. She frowns and moves to the couch, glancing down at the magazine and thinking she understands.


She sits down, curling her feet beneath her, staring at the picture of Wendy and herself taken sometime in the week before they were abducted. Her only guess is he didn't realize who she was, and now that he does — well, clearly he's disgusted with himself. With her. She closes her eyes to blink back more tears.

In the bathroom, Wes doesn't do more than fasten his jeans before he sits down on the toilet seat and lets his head crash into his palms. Shit. Shit. Shit. If she didn't live on the fifth floor, he'd consider escaping out a window. But even still, all he has are his jeans and his gun, and walking through Manhattan in broad daylight with a revolver slung on your hip is a sure way to get arrested. Not getting arrested is the whole point of… this.

Wes curls his fingers into his hair, trying to get a grip on himself. She's not her, no matter how young, or pretty, or evolved she is. She's a different person. She's alive and well, and probably going morning-after-insane out there thanks to him.

It's cowardly to run, tail tucked. And he can't afford it - not with Peyton working for Cardinal, and Cardinal potentially crucial in figuring out the lunchbox gizmo. Steeling himself, Wes stands up. He looks at himself briefly in the mirror before he opens the door and heads back toward the bedroom, his steps much slower and methodical than before. But he sees her there, through the open doorway, sitting on the couch in the living room. Wes turns, stepping into the room and moving to one side of the couch, pointedly not looking at Peyton. But her distress echoes in his face all the same. He comes to rest against the wall, facing the side of the couch, and slips his hands into his pockets.

"I got no good excuse for…behavin' like that," he mumbles, his eyes locked on his own toes. "'Cept for bein' an ass. But…well, that ain't really an excuse as much as it's truth. Anyway. It isn't you." It's him? More to the point, she isn't her. "Just some…bad memories. Th's'all. And I wasn't careful, and it all got slopped over in't your bucket, and I'm sorry 'bout that." Wes swallows back a lump in his throat and lifts his eyes to look at her, but they stop at the magazine in her lap.

Now it's her eyes that don't meet his, her dark lashes wet with tears though her eyes themselves and her cheeks are dry. Peyton nods, once, twice, and offers a slight smile. "I hadn't realized it was already a year," she murmurs quietly. "It seems like it was just yesterday sometimes, and other times, like it was ten years ago. And I'm sorry you must not have known who I was… I should have known you didn't. I mean, you're not the type to care about that shit, but I'm sorry that I didn't tell you and …" and what? Save him a waste of an evening? She shrugs, the loose satin robe slipping off one shoulder before she tugs it back up self-consciously.

Still without looking at him, Peyton stands up, tossing the magazine onto the coffee table and padding on her bare feet toward the kitchen. "I'm gonna get some coffee," she says. "It was a nice night. I hope you have a good day." Clearly, she knows he wants to leave, and isn't going to try to stop him.

The dismissal is wounding, not that Smedley doesn't deserve it. But he furrows his brows as he watches Peyton leave the room. He looks down at the floor - at the coffee seeping into the carpet and ruining the magazines on the coffee table. With a resolute sigh, Wes departs, but he doesn't leave the apartment. He doesn't even go back to the bedroom to finish gathering his things. Instead, he goes to the bathroom to grab a towel. He even makes an effort to pick the least-nice one he can find.

So when Peyton passes back through the living room, she'll see him still there, crouched and dabbing at the carpet to get up as much of the coffee that hasn't already soaked in as he can.

Mixed messages. Her hands wrapped around a cup of coffee, Peyton leans against the wall and gives a shake of her head. "Don't worry about the rug," she murmurs, watching his shoulders and his back as he blots at the mess.

"Really, it's no big deal. I'm sorry it startled you. If … if it matters at all, I'm not like I was then. I know you keep seeing me at bars drinking like I'm a lush so I probably do seem like a total party girl with no brains, even though you said I'm not… You're right. I'm not. I haven't been… not since I joined up with Cardinal and his plans. It's just been a really, really bad …" week? Month? Year? Life? She shakes her head, and doesn't finish the sentence.

In a brief fit of frustrated rage, Wes flings the towel across the room. It lands with a slightly damp thump and slides across the hardwood before coming to a stop. "I said it wasn't you," he says after a moment without moving another muscle. "And it ain't. It ain't who you are. It ain't…it ain't any of that. I like you." Which is one of the main reasons this is so hard.

Wes stands then, and turns, his arms limp at his sides. He looks at her, or rather her right eyebrow. "I don't want to leave here with you thinkin' any different. That," and he points toward the coffee table, barely lifting his hand, "What happened to you…" But Wes presses his lips together and forces himself to look Peyton in the eye.

The throwing of the towel makes Peyton jump slightly — she has no where to back up, as she's already leaning against a wall, or she might back up a few steps. After all, she doesn't know Wes well at all. He could be prone to violence when angry for all she knows.

"Okay," she whispers, when he says it isn't her, that he likes her. When he stands, she follows his tall body's rise, tipping her head to meet that gaze, eyes flicking left then right, as if trying to read in his irises the contents of his mind. "It happened. I'm fine."

When Wes brings a hand up to rub at the back of his neck, his palm is shaking. But he keeps his eyes on hers, despite the growing urge, the necessity, to look away. "Yeah," he says as exhales. "Yeah, you are." A statement. A realization. A coming to terms with the fact.

Wes closes his eyes and dips his head, but only for the span of a breath. When he looks at Peyton again, it's at the bridge of her nose. But he walks toward her, his arms slightly raised, offering a hug.

This is the strangest morning after she's ever endured — and she's had her share of them. Peyton frowns, more with worry for Wes than herself, but she steps into the hug. Last night, his arms offered her a comfort and solace that he likely didn't know she took from them, but now it feels she is comforting him as she wraps her arms around him. She has a feeling it will be the last time they share this sort of embrace — it might be the last time she sees him at all, if her judgment is right.

"Thanks," Peyton murmurs softly, her face buried in his chest, inhaling his masculine scent.

With her folded in his arms, Wes dips his head to press his lips against Peyton's head. She hasn't showered, but the natural stink of woman that he catches with his nose in her hair is something that grounds him. Holding someone in silence, free of games, of dances, or any other form of manufactured intimacy is the real comfort. He rubs her back with one hand, then gives her a squeeze.

"You're welcome," he whispers. "Sorry about the rug."

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