To Hell And Back


aaron_icon.gif gillian_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif

Scene Title To Hell And Back
Synopsis In the wee hours of the night, Peyton and Gillian find Aaron at the mercy of the Nightmare Man. Again. This time, things turn out strangely.
Date February 19, 2010

The Trio's Apartment — Upper West Side

So many things can happen in the blink of an eye. A person can be there one minute and be gone the next, all a person has to do is turn away. Just like that, poof, they're not there anymore. They're missing. They're lost.

Although he is watched like a hawk, Aaron is one of those people. Monitored so closely, and yet in a moment he's no longer there, his form missing from his bed and no sign of his door opening, no movement. He had no fear going in, under the misbelief that the Nightmare Man could no longer exert any kind of power over him after he defeated him in his own head, not realizing that the tables might turn so drastically with Aaron in his. Such are the unfortunate circumstances that grip Aaron, as he unknowingly opens his bedroom window to dive out into the crisp winter air.

Peyton is still up. Watching television and the less-exciting baby monitor, she's getting sleepy but isn't set to sleep for another couple of hours. The clairvoyant got up from the comfortable couch for a few moments to go make a cup of tea to help keep her awake until Aaron's alarm clock rings and wakes him up, so she can sleep for a few hours. She returns to the monitor, frowning as she sees Aaron missing from his room, though a glance down the hallway shows his door to be closed — which means he's probably not in the bathroom. "Shit." She sets down the hot tea, sloshing it over onto the coffee table as she hurries toward the hallway, knocking on his door. "Aaron?"

Not asleep either, Gillian wasn't on monitor duty at the moment, but that doesn't mean she was sitting in the front room. A head peeks through the door from across the hall with a frown. She'd heard the curse, and the knock, "What's going on?" she asks, before throwing caution to the wind and just pushing the door all the way open. If the person watching the monitor has gotten as far as the door they may not have time to stand around and wait. They had the system set up for a reason, after all.

"Fuck!" she curses, quickly running through the door and reaching to grasp onto his arm. She expects Peyton to be a moment behind her, and help, but she's just trying to grab him before he gets to that 'dive out' part.

It's a close call, and Gillian's pull is enough to keep Aaron from toppling through the window. In fact, a moment after it looks like he'd have toppled out had they not been there, he just stops moving all together. It seems the bout of sleepwalking has ended, whatever brought it on having passed. Or something. It doesn't change the fact that he still appears to be sleeping, regardless of how gently or how rough he was pulled back from the window. He just doesn't wake up.

The clairvoyant darts in after Gillian, cursing herself for not opening the door herself — what if Gillian hadn't done so? They are far enough up that he would have been a pancake on Central Park West if he'd jumped. She helps grab his other arm, getting him away from the window, then slamming the window closed as an ice-cold wind blows into the room. Her face is pale and her eyes wide as she stares at Aaron. "Wake up!" she insists, shaking his arm, then reaches up to pinch his cheek and snap her fingers in front of his face. "Oh, my God."

Almost as soon as he's inside, and the window closed, Gillian slumps down to the floor against the wall and keeps a firm grasp of the one arm she grabbed. Just in case. "I'm not wearing any pants," she suddenly realizes with an adrenaline injected laugh of amusement. It's probably the wrong time to be laughing— or it could be the most right time ever. They got to him in time, that's what matters a lot more then the fact she's sitting on the floor in bare legs and feet, with only a long shirt and underwear on. She's walked around the apartment in that little before— and less sometimes.

And Aaron's asleep for it. The Universe is truly cruel.

He just lies there, despite the icy cold air, despite the shaking and calling from Peyton, the pinched cheek and the snap of her fingers in front of his face. And the laughing of Gillian. Apparently, there's nobody home upstairs. At least, not at the moment.

"If this were not fucking scary as hell, this would be the point we stick his hand in warm water or put whipped cream on his face, right?" Peyton asks, eyes still wide, but trying to not panic. She slumps next to him on the ground, but continues to smack his face until they are rosy.

"Aaron — if you don't fucking wake up this instant I'm going to call Dr. Brennan to come visit you," Peyton shouts, hoping to break through the sleep barrier with threats and volume, apparently.

A quick check is made of his arms, as if that might give a clue as to why he's so out of it. Gillian doesn't think he'd have a relapse, but she nearly did, so it's possible. "That's the guy he totally hated, right? Let's not do that unless we have to," she says, pushing her hand against his chest as if that'll help. Slapping probably works better. "Wake the fuck up, Aaron. I'm not pulling you out of the fucking window again."

Well, she will if she has to, but that doesn't mean she wants to!

The good news is that Gillian won't have to pull Aaron out of the window again. The bad news is … not so clear. As time stretches into minutes, he struggles a moment, as though trying to break free, but it's weak and short-lived, as he goes back to total and utter stillness.

Peyton gets up. "Be right back." She heads into her own room, rummaging around, the sounds of her in her closet audible through the walls. A moment later she comes back in with a little CD player — Hello Kitty and pink, suggesting that once Peyton was a normal little girl. She smirks a little. "If this doesn't wake him, I don't know what will…" she warns, then pushes play. 'N Sync's "Bye Bye Bye" begins to play through the tinny little speakers, and Peyton smirks. "You know, I loved them when this came out… I was like 10 or 11? I didn't know I'd actually hang out with Justin seven years later." Her cheeks color a little to suggest that her knowledge of Justin wasn't as innocent as the cute little Hello Kitty CD player. "God, I had bad taste." In music or men, she doesn't say.

"The more you know," Gillian chimes in, and can't help but laugh as she leans against Aaron's shoulder, quaking a little at the music, the Hello Kitty, and the implications. "Only famous guy I've slept with is known for something he didn't even do," she adds on, keeping a close hold on the young man, and perhaps trying to listen to his heartbeat rather than some of the worst music in existence. "You gotta introduce me to some famous guy someday. Preferably pretty, willing, and planning to go away after." Cause she doesn't want anything serious… What a bad thing for Aaron to possibly wake up to.

Apparently, even the sacrilege pouring forth from tinny speakers isn't enough to wake him. Aaron remains still and silent even after his alarm clock goes off, indicating his set wake-up time has been reached. If not for the heartbeat Gillian can hear over the tinny horror, one might think he were dead.

"You'd like Dave. You both have the tattoos in common. He's pretty, if sort of in a grimy way. You might need to take some penicillin after," Peyton quips, maybe hoping to shock Aaron into wakefulness, knowing he certainly wouldn't approve of the talk she and Gillian are having. "But he's sure willing." She winks at that, but the teasing tone doesn't meet the more somber look in her eyes as she stares at Aaron. "Aaron…" she says, then chews on her lower lip. "I don't have smelling salts or anything like that… why didn't I pay attention when we learned first aid in girl scouts?" What, Peyton, a girl scout? The secrets are just pouring out. "Fuck it, I'm calling the doctor." She gets up, bare feet padding across the floor to go find her cell phone. Evilly, she leaves the Hello Kitty CD player on.

"You have had one of the most interesting lives, you know that?" Gillian says, learning more and more about her roommate every day! "It's 1am, but I guess this is am emergency. I'm not kissing him to wake him up, though," she says, looking down at the sleeping figure. Not quite sleeping beauty, but he does have an attractiveness about him. Not the same as tattoo guy. "I'll avoid it if I have to take drugs after, though. Clean guys only. Stress free sex is supposed to come without the burn." While she talks, she pushes against Aaron's chest again. Wake up.

It's not the threats, the bad music, or the physical abuse that finally rouses Aaron. It just seems to happen.

Something feels different. Something strange, almost unreal to him. Aaron plays with his face using his hands, stretching the skin, feeling it as though for the first time, or maybe the first time in a long time. He's completely unaware of the fact that he's lying not in his bed but somewhere else entirely. That doesn't seem to phase him at all as he probes his face and head, then his neck, and then he finally opens his eyes. A look of confusion spreads over his face, as though what he's seeing makes no sense to him. He closes his eyes again and waits a moment before opening them, regardless of what goes on around him as though he's almost completely unaware of it, or else ignoring it.

Peyton returns with a cell phone. "True. I'm kidding. We were safe. But you know, it's not like the other chicks he's with are wholesome. I'm like Heidi of the Alps or something compared to them," Peyton says, with a chuckle. Her old life feels so long ago, like she's talking about someone else altogether. She frowns at the time. "I guess maybe calling isn't going to help — we might have to call an ambulance…" she begins, not liking the idea at all.

But then Aaron seems to be moving and not quite like a zombie, although not all there either. "Aaron? Are you awake?" she asks, reaching to turn off the horrible music finally.

"Oh, he's moving!" Gillian suddenly sits up, looking at him and keeping a hand on his arm. It squeezes a bit, to show she's there. "You awake? Cause you really scared the fucking shit out of us, Aaron. You almost bailed out the window!" And they stopped him, like their plan was supposed to do, but it could have failed. A few seconds later, and they'd have been running down the stairs with cellphones.

…Oh crap, she's still pantsless. She looks down, wiggles her toes, and just makes sure the shirt covers the essentials.

Not like Aaron hasn't seen Gillian's clone completely naked before.

The music is turned off. The horrible music Aaron hadn't quite noticed yet until it's suddenly not there. His eyes open again and he pushes at his nose with a single digit. Then his eyes seem to actually focus on his surroundings. "I don't know…. Am I awake? And why does my face hurt?" He groans, coming a bit more too and moving to sit up, particularly after hearing Gillian's news. And yet he remains rather calm, considering he was just told he'd nearly died. "I did? Oh…. God, feels like that was months ago, or years. Really just the once? I must have tried to kill myself at least a hundred times…. gets rather hard to count after, how many ever days it was…."

Peyton just frowns at this, kneeling beside him. She's dressed in her jeans and sweater, still, though her feet are bare and cold thanks to the window being open for who knows how long. "I thought we were done with that Nightmare shit," she says, her brows contorted and fear in her face as she stares at him. "Are you okay? Can I get you anything?"

"I think your face hurts cause… we were trying to slap you awake." We in this case being Peyton, but Gillian won't try to push her out in front of oncoming traffic. They can both get credit (or blame) for the slapping. "What happened with the dream? I thought you had the stuffed animal army to defend yourself with now?" Yes, she remembers her last dream, the one where he showed up and saved her.

Aaron shrugs, "Well, provided I'm actually awake, I'm guessing it is now." He looks into her face and licks his lips. "Food would be good. Something to drink. Can't remember the last time I ate or drank anything." Or had sex, though he doesn't say that and instead only scratches his neck. He eyeballs his clothing as Gillian explains things and asks her questions. That seems to make him pause a little, though he does mutter something about updating his wardrobe. Then he looks up at them. He can't recall if he ever mentioned the stuffed animal army to Peyton, but is quite certain he didn't. Despite the emasculating avatar he had, it doesn't make him blush any. Instead he just stands up and walks over to the stand that holds his guitar, and he picks it up. "Well, I don't clearly recall what made me jump off the balcony in the first place, but after that, I spent a long time feeling sorry for myself, trapped in some kinda of post-Bomb Hell. After that, I was pretty angry and killed myself in every conceivable way. It's actually remarkable how creative a person can be in doing that, given limited means."

He plucks a few strings, seemingly amazed by how his fingers can still move so well, and starts to play the Moonlight Sonata. Clearly he's still dazed from having what feels like such a lengthy experience but was really only hours at most. "After that, I pretty much just accepted everything. No point whining or crying over the fact that I was apparently in Hell, after all. Nobody there to whine to even if I did." There was lots of whining and lots of crying, as he recalls, to himself. There was nobody else there. "And now I'm here, so, I'm assuming it's all over or the Nightmare Man could no longer hold. One of the two. I suppose we'll find out at some point." He brings the guitar over to the bed and sits there playing, seemingly quite laid back. This isn't the suddenly confident Aaron that cropped up thanks to the Nightmare Man's attempt to getting him to kill himself — the one that still had issues and was merely finding strength from discovering a purpose. This is some other Aaron, possible one who's accepted all of the bad things that have happened to him.

"Stuffed animal army?" Peyton mouths to Gillian — neither of her roommates filled her in on that particular dream, but maybe it's because she's been rather busy trying to be helpful and unselfish and brave again, not to mention her issues with Danko. There's a slight frown as she considers the fact they kept a dream from her, but then Aaron is calmly telling them how he was in a post-apocalyptic hell of sorts. She simply listens, her frown deepening as she does so, arms wrapping around her knees as he plays the melancholic sonata. "So he's gone, you think? How can we be sure? I mean — we should keep up with the monitor system…" she frowns, realizing she failed her duty tonight — two minutes away to get a cup of tea had almost turned into a tragedy. "But I don't want to have to do that forever. I'm not … I'm not responsible enough." There's a tremor in her words as she looks away, feeling guilty. Her nightmare almost came true — Aaron almost killed himself, if two months later than the dream suggested he would.

"We can be careful for a few more nights, and if nothing happens, we can stop doing it," Gillian says, sure that if it's over over someone in the Ferry will be able to send word that it's over. She's got her Ferry connections, and they have more than a few people involved, she thinks. "But don't blame yourself, Peyton," she says firmly, reaching to push the girl in the upper arm with her hand. They can listen to music, but she's not going to let the other girl blame herself. Then she directs most of her attention to Aaron. He'd saved her from her wallowing in self pity and hate, and it certainly didn't last that long. "That's a lot to go through alone…" And he does seem different. A lot different. Is that a good thing? She's honestly not sure yet.

"I'm glad you're okay."

"Don't…" Aaron says when Peyton looks away. He sets the guitar aside, the music coming to an abrupt stop, and walks over to the girls. Perhaps it's impulsive, stemming from the fact that he feels like he hasn't seen her in so long. He reaches out a hand and gives Gillian's shoulder a squeeze and offers her a smile, before he kneels down next to Peyton. "I should have done this a long time ago." He reaches a hand to take Peyton's chin, to turn her head towards him. His deep sapphire eyes gaze deeply at her as he moves ever so slightly closer until his nose nearly touches hers. And then he tries to kiss her.

"Do wha-" Peyton begins, looking up from her little pity party, confusion in her face as Aaron is suddenly right there. While she doesn't pull away, she goes still with shock and surprise. When he parts, her cheeks are pink and she just stares at him for a moment, before her eyes drop and she gives a confused shake of her head. "You just … you almost killed yourself a second ago…" she stammers after. Not exactly the most romantic prelude to a kiss, and a rather confusing one for Peyton who had perhaps obtusely thought Aaron was more interested in Gillian all this time.

Eyebrows raise dramatically, and Gillian starts to pull back, moving to get to her feet, still bare and legs unpantsed. "Well— I think the two of you need to get around to having a talk. Maybe later once the adrenaline of nearly losing a roommate and the whole 'just woke up from forever in hell' passes," she's so helpful at times. Did she know he was interested in Peyton? Yeah, she sorta did. But she knows he loved her in his own way too, and she was grateful for what love he did feel for her.

"To answer you, Jill, yeah. It was a lot to go through alone," Aaron says, though the look of sadness on his face is only brief, "But you can only mope for so long, you know?" He offers a brief smile to Peyton, "And do what? Don't go blaming yourself for things you have no control over. It's pointless, and only hurts you more. Take it from me, I'm an expert." Despite the wisdom, it's delivered with a cold bitterness that suggests he's not completely over whatever it was that happened to him. He smirks at Gillian's pantless form before kissing the top of Peyton's head as he stands up, "I don't know about the two of you but I'm … well, not famished, but I'm going to eat and drink something just because I can."

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