Tromping Through The Snow


aaron_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif

Scene Title Tromping Through The Snow
Synopsis Peyton proves to Aaron that she does care, again, despite the things he does.
Date March 28, 2010

St. Luke's Hospital

It was with confusion that Aaron briefly rejoined consciousness, in an ambulance of all things. If not for the general feeling of malaise from one part psychological shock and one part blood-loss, he may have remained there. Instead, he drifted off again.

He's been up a few times, but has drifted off again. The only person currently awake in his room is Marie Anne Joseph. The three-hairs-over-five-foot blonde is curled up in a chair, wrapped up in Peyton's coat, watching Aaron's sleeping form. There's no apparently fitful unrest in him. He's just still.

The nurse shows Peyton to Aaron's room. Peyton peeks in, to see that it is in fact Aaron, but without turning and craning her neck, she doesn't see Marie until she's a few steps in. Something tells her she's not alone, and she turns to look at the younger woman. She chews her lower lip for a moment, not knowing what to say, before looking back to Aaron, then back to Marie.

"What… did he say why?" she finally manages, her voice small and rough at the same time, her arms wrapped around herself; one hand wrapped in gauze from the broken glass. She's spent too much time in hospitals in her short life.

The frizz of the previous night is gone— apparently Marie has had the opportunity to bathe. Her light blond hair swings back and forth when she gives a quick shake of her head. "No." Her voice is light with an airy quality to it that makes it sound similar to a woodwind instrument, her enunciation slow. "He didn't say much after he told me his story. But then, I fell asleep. There was so much blood," her voice catches in her throat. She can still see all of the little notches, three rows of ten on either arm.

She rises from the chair and walks to Aaron's bed, placing a hand on his face for just a moment. Then she turns her blue-grey eyes upon Peyton, her head inclined sightly to one side, "He's a good person, you know, even if he's broken. He speaks the truth." She takes off Peyton's coat, her old jacket still worn underneath. "This belongs to you."

"Keep it," Peyton says, shaking her head at the offering of the coat, her hands not coming off of her own arms, as if she's holding herself together by gripping her biceps. "I didn't say he was a bad person. I never said it or thought it," she says quietly, her eyes leaving Marie's face and moving back to Aaron's. "But he needs more help than I can give him. I don't know how… we always seem to fight, and I'm not enough to fix what's wrong with him. I can't give him back his past, and no matter what I do, it always seems to come back to this…" she nods to him — she took him in when he tried to commit suicide via Refrain; in her nightmares, he committed suicide; in his nightmare, he committed suicide. "I don't know how to fix him. I think … I think he needs professional help."

Marie puts the coat back on the instant Peyton says she can keep it. Her eyes don't seem to quite fix on anything as she speaks, as though she's staring off into space. "Perhaps you need to tell him that." She straightens the coat and bundles up. "He wasn't right to throw things, that wasn't nice at all. He's too hard on himself and he thinks that if you don't love him, you must hate him, and that confuses him. He's broken, and he may never quite be whole again." She slinks past Peyton to the door. "Just remember that he's a good person and he speaks the truth. If he wasn't, I wouldn't have gone with him."

"Speaking the truth doesn't necessarily make people good," Peyton murmurs, with some irritation. The girl might be right, but at the same time, she's only known Aaron for what, a day? Less? She doesn't need the lectures. "You don't need to go. I can go… he'd probably rather see you than me, when he wakes up, anyway." Peyton turns toward the door, gauze-covered hand reaching up to brush the tears that start to well up.

"No. It doesn't." The strange blonde shakes her head and all but blocks the doorway with her petite form. "He won't want to see that I'm the only person here— the only person who stayed for him. He blames himself most for all of this, and blames me second. That's just the way he is." She turns again. "I know you're going through a lot right now, but he's going to be OK. And so are you." And then she walks away.

"It isn't your fault," Peyton finally manages to say — though mostly to the other girl's retreating back. Whether she heard or not, Peyton isn't sure, and it's just one more thing to add to her list of regrets. At least Marie got a new coat out of it. Peyton sighs and moves into the chair that the tiny thing had been curled up in, and lowers herself down to do the same — curl up and watch Aaron sleep.

Stillness. Aaron has never slept so still.

There's a certain stiffness that can only ever be attributed to a hospital bed, and it's that stiffness more than the pain in his arms that makes Aaron wince as he moves. He finally comes back into the land of the waking some time after Peyton parked herself on the overlooking chair. He thought he spotted Marie one other time he came to, so doesn't speak up at first, thinking the presence he detects is her once again. Slightly more alert, he begins expecting the IV in the top of his right hand and the gauze bandages affixed to his lower arms, ending just above his wrists. He stretches his jaw out, feeling a bit of strain. His body feels leaden, and it takes a great deal of effort just to move. His eyes drive closed again and he sighs, a pensive look on his face.

"Aaron?" Peyton says softly, voice not much more than a whisper — loud enough for him to respond to if he's awake, but quiet enough to ignore if he wants to pretend not to hear it, or quiet enough not to wake him. She watches carefully for a sign that he heard her voice, dark eyes shining with tears that linger on her lower lashes but do not quite fall.

The voice actually startles him a little bit, but he's far too tired to do much more than flinch a little — which in turn causes him to wince a bit — before turning to face its source. Aaron's thoughtful expression then turns immediately to one of sadness. "Oh God," he whispers, a hand going to his mouth. "Oh God, Peyton…. This was not supposed to go like this."

She gets up and moves to his bedside, her good hand taking his, lightly so as not to hurt him. "It wasn't supposed to go like this?" she echoes, and gives a shake of her head. "Meaning, what? Are you sorry you're awake?" It's not meant to be mean — it's meant to gauge if he has any sort of will to live; if he really tried to kill himself, or if it was a cry for help. A single tear slides down her face, and her gauze-covered hand reaches up to brush it away.

Aaron's own hand, the one Peyton isn't holding, mirrors her gauze-covered one in reaching up to brush the tear away. "I shouldn't be here. I wasn't supposed to end up in the hospital." He shakes his head, returning the outstretched hand on top of his other, squeezing Peyton's hand between them. "I didn't try to kill myself. Things were so muddled, I couldn't think, I needed to focus and get some perspective, and — I got carried away…."

Peyton's brows knit together and she shakes her head. She doesn't understand. "You cut yourself… for perspective? I … I don't understand, Aaron. You don't hurt enough as it is, you need to hurt yourself more? Your whole life… you're always in pain, aren't you? Why do you need to feel more?" She should understand the psychology of self mutilation better — having been friends with addicts and the like, having been in a rehab program herself, and knowing cutters and having to share group therapy sessions with such people, but she still doesn't get it.

One hand leaves Peyton's as Aaron rubs his face. There's no way for him to describe it. It just helps, even if it's unhealthy. "Lord knows it's unhealthy. God…." He shrinks away from Peyton, but doesn't push away her hand, seeking at least some comfort in this bizarre and embarrassing and shameful situation. "I don't know how to describe it, but it made it easier to think. It made me feel better," he glances around, "Well, until now, anyway."

"It's okay," the woman holding his hand whispers, shaking her head. "I don't understand it, but I guess it isn't any different than any other self destructive activity… drinking, drugs. sex with strangers. I've done all that, so who am I to judge? I just don't have physical scars from any of it." The emotional ones are there, even if she isn't one to admit it. "But I think you need help that I can't give you, Aaron. I don't know how to make it okay for you. I don't know how to help you. No matter what I do…" She gave him a home. She gave him her friendship. It wasn't enough. "I'm not strong enough to help you. I'm not … good enough."

"You've done more for me than the supposed professional help," Aaron remarks, "Remember, I have a shrink and antidepressants. They didn't give me a home. They don't stay with me and try to make me feel better. Well, maybe the therapist tries to make me feel better, but the meds certainly don't do squat. You're better than them." He lowers his head. "You're good enough for me, Peyton. God knows I don't deserve what you've given me."

She looks away, though the profile view shows the tears glimmering in her eyes "No matter what I do, it keeps coming to this… or what this looks like. I believe you, if you say you didn't mean to kill yourself, but you almost did. They're going to keep you here for 72 hours. It's mandatory. Suicide watch. After that, it's up to you if you want to stay longer. You're welcome to come back home. But I'm just afraid… I can't … I can't lose anyone else…" she bites her lip to keep from sobbing, the tears splashing own her cheek as she turns away. "It's too much. Richard, Wendy, Win- Winslow," she stumbles over that name, not sure what to call the man she knew for perhaps 15 minutes and yet who gave her life. "I can't lose you, again."

Aaron looks away, too, ashamed of causing Peyton more pain. It seems to be one of the only things he's good at. "I'm sorry," he says, "You know me, I didn't think…" He sniffs, shaking his head. Finally, his own eyes are red-rimmed and welling up. Mentioning Wendy didn't help. "It won't happen again…." Then he looks confused. He doesn't recall ever hearing about Winslow, but then, he's not sure he's supposed to know the names of anyone she associates with. All the cloak and dagger stuff, however much it bothers him, he respects the need for secrecy. That's one of the reasons he's generally not interested in hearing any of it. He sighs and closes his eyes to hide his own tears. "I don't know what I'm going to do, Peyton, but you're not going to lose me."

"Shhh," she says, and reaches up to wipe her tears. Enough of those. She takes a deep breath and turns back, eyes not-quite-dry but no longer dripping. She needs to be strong for him — he hates it when she is, but obviously her hurting doesn't help. "Don't be sorry. Just don't… don't hurt yourself. I'm sorry if anything I did… I wasn't understanding earlier, and I should have listened instead of assumed, but what you said and what it looked like… I just got mad." She shakes her head. "Winslow. My birth father. I met him, but he's gone now. Dead."

"So did I…." Birth father…. "Oh God. Oh God, Peyton. I'm so sorry," Aaron says, reaching out a hand to touch her arm. What can a person really say? And here he's been so stuck on himself to pay attention to what's going on inside Peyton's emotional aura. "For that, too." He nods to the bandaged hand, figuring she got it cleaning up the mess in the kitchen. "At least you still have your mom. And you have me, even if I'm lousy company."

"You didn't know. I don't know how I feel about it, really. I didn't know him enough to mourn him. I can only mourn the fact that I didn't get to know him, you know?" Peyton says quietly, though he of all people can tell she's not well. She's not lying, though — she's not saying she's fine, so maybe she actually is learning for once. She's not hiding. "Can I get you anything — for while you're here?" He'll have to be here a couple of days.

"Life sucks sometimes." Most times. Aaron squeezes her arm. "Let me know if I can help you. Sometimes it's good to get away, get some perspective." He closes his eyes and rolls his neck a bit. "Your company is more than enough. So long as you drop in once or twice, I'm sure I'll be fine." Not that he'd argue if she stopped by more frequently. And yet he might. He remembers how it was when Wendy was in the hospital — though for significantly different reasons.

Peyton chuckles and glances at his bed. "Do you have room on there for me? I wouldn't mind a nap, actually," she says softly. It's more for him, but she makes it sound like it's about her. "I haven't had more than a few hours of sleep. And I don't have enough energy to go tromping through the snow just yet." She's not very wide, and it always works on those hospital shows.

"I'm sure I can make room," Aaron says, shifting over to the side of his IV. It'll be a tight fit, but sure enough, there is in fact enough room. "Join the club, or well, I guess in the last bit I've had plenty of sleep, but I'm still exhausted. And I don't blame you. Tromping through snow is no fun at all."

She lightly sits first, then pulls her legs up, turning to her side so that he can lay flat. She tucks her head against his shoulder and wraps an arm around his waist, gentle and careful not to jar anything that will hurt. She'll stay there until the nurse comes to tell her visiting hours are over, and only then will she go home.

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