Watching Entropy and Pain


peyton2_icon.gif smedley_icon.gif

Scene Title Watching Entropy and Pain
Synopsis Text messages lead to an evening under the stars for Peyton and Wesley, who have unexpected effects on one another.
Date August 25, 2010

Upper East Side

Maybe I've been the problem, maybe I'm the one to blame
But even when I turn it off and blame myself, the outcome feels the same
I've been thinkin' maybe I've been partly cloudy, maybe I'm the chance of rain
Maybe I'm overcast, and maybe all my lucks washed down the drain

With two dates down of the four three that she managed to garner at the Tartarus auction last week, and one more to go, Peyton finds that she is happy to have her evening free tonight. She's rusty with the dating thing — getting to know strangers is tiring. Both dates went well enough. Amadeus and Linus couldn't be more different, and yet both gave her something she hadn't had in a while — a chance to smile and laugh and not think about anything deeper than stomping on the right arrows of a dance pad. Tonight, she's curled up on her sofa with her puppy — the no dogs on the couch thing lasted about three minutes — watching Project Runway, DVRed from the other night. Now and then she does the rounds, checking in on the various people she's tasked with monitoring.

Von, deaf as he is, seems to be fascinated when the television is on, his ears quirked forward as he watches the motions on the display.

Buzz. Beedle-beep. Buzz.

Peyton's phone chimes with the notification she has set for when she receives a text message. The screen displays both Wes's name and number, along with the words:

ET'd say ur out clubbin but i know ur prolly sittin at home sippin ur whiskey listening to Thorogood. Am i right?

The image of the cowboy typing on the tiny keys of a cellphone makes Peyton smile. She raises a brow. The allusion is lost on her, but she still chuckles, reaching to pause Project Runway on her television.

watching runway. I <3 Tim Gunn. WWTGD? No whiskey. All about the Snapple 2day. Still respect me? she types in, rather ably like the digital native she is. She sets the phone down on the couch arm and clicks play again, just in time for a "This worries me" from Tim.

A little time goes by before the phone buzzes again. Maybe, just maybe, it does take Wes that long to compose a text message. It's probably a safe bet that the phone is equipped with some sort of T9 or auto-capital function that needs to be beaten into submission. That, or he's doing something else at the moment.

Runway? Dunno that. And yes. Why wouldnt i? Gotta be kind to ur liver sometimes. Sportin sexy sweats too i bet

Something like that! you? she begins to type — then realizes that sounds like she's asking him what he's wearing, which is just a little creepy. She backspaces. Something like that! What RU up to? she corrects, then hits send before reaching for her Snapple bottle and sipping about more of her Strawberry Lemonade.

Same old same old. Shit to do on SI tonite. Wish I didnt. Id have more fun w/ u.

The text brings a smirk and a raised brow. U haven't seen me sober yet! :) Is she really flirting via text with a smuggler? Peyton Whitney's life is simply surreal at times. She's tempted to peek in on him and see what he's up to, but for as unethical as she was in her teen years, spying on a friend out of idle curiosity is one principle she tries not to break.

If Peyton did look in on Wes, she'd see him making his way across the bay and toward the derelict island. The trip takes time - time Smedley doesn't spend texting Peyton, and so her phone doesn't buzz for several minutes.

Then maybe i wont bring over a 6pack the next time i see u. Sober could be fun.

But he was sober last time, and unbeknownst to Peyton, that means something.

I've been thinking 'bout everyone
Everyone, you look so lonely

Scritching Von's red fur with one hand, Peyton reaches for the phone and reads the text again. Come over later. No 6pack req'd. This is starting to be a regular thing. Except never planned. She doesn't know what this means or what he means to her or vice versa — but her apartment is big and lonely, and Wes knows her secret so he won't expect a meaningful, long-term relationship (if he were that kind of guy, anyway).

Meanwhile, Peyton rolls her eyes as one particular Project Runway contestant is safe again, and flips off the television.

It might prove a mistake.

Wes texts back with a succinct Yes ma'am before going dark for several hours. When he does show up, the clock on Peyton's DVR is approaching midnight. God love her doorman.

When the door is opened to reveal the smuggler, he doesn't look too bad considering the hour. He is leaning with his shoulder against the doorframe, and a mischievous smirk is plastered on his face. "You still want comp'ny?" he asks with a subtle lift of an eyebrow.

Peyton answers the door not in Saran Wrap or a negligee or anything meant to impress, but instead in just pajama boxers and a tank top. The door opens quickly enough that she must have been in the living room, and she doesn't look too groggy. It's the first time he's seen her not drinking nor just waking up nor crying. Instead, her eyes are clear and the only flush comes from seeing him leaning in her doorway rather than from the flush of alcohol in her system.

"Of course," she says simply, moving closer to tip her face to his, brushing his lips lightly with hers. There is no taste of whiskey or other alcohol on her breath. Tonight, apparently, Peyton is in fact teetotaling as she said. "Come on in."

He does just that. When he enters the apartment, the rucksack slung over his other shoulder comes into view, but he does his best not to draw attention to it. He simply leaves it at one end of the couch, and once free of it, gives Peyton a tight hug. The embrace, however intimate it may be, has a platonic and, for lack of a better word, human flavor to it.

She looks young in that getup, as casual and real as it may be. So young that it puts Wes a little on edge. "Deserved a nice quiet evenin'," he muses, the half-grin settling back onto his face with apparent ease. "And here I come to ruin it."

"You're not ruining it. I wanted a night in, and I'm still getting that, right?" she says, nudging him with her knee before nodding toward the kitchen. "You want something to drink? Eat? I have some leftover Thai food, and I have the usual liquor cabinet stuff. I won't make you drink Snapple," she teases him.

Von lies sleeping curled up on the other end of the couch, though when Smedley sits, he does peek one eye open for a moment before closing it again, deciding that Wes is no threat but also that sleep is at the moment more important than paying attention to the cowboy. Carson's not with him, so he's less interesting, in Von's mind.

"Water's fine," Wes calls after Peyton. He doesn't linger long on the couch, and when Peyton returns from the kitchen, he's not even in the living room. Instead, the cowboy has wandered out onto the balcony. He stands with his arms folded and leant against the railing, his face turned toward the dark, hazy night sky. The wind isn't bad, but it's enough to flutter the edges of his coat, and occasional bursts make the bottoms of the twin holsters just visible.

But when I look at the stars,
when I look at the stars,
when I look at the stars I see someone else
When I look at the stars,
the stars, I feel like myself

Peyton grabs two bottles of Dasani water from the refrigerator, not opting for ice since it's already cold. She doesn't think he'll be so picky to ask for a glass. She raises a brow when she sees the living room empty but for the fox-eared dog, and the living room slider open. She pads on bare feet across the wooden floors, stepping out on the balcony. She notes the guns, but such things don't bother her anymore — not in a friend's hands, anyway.

Wordlessly, she hands him his bottle of water, then leans on the balcony, twisting the cap off her own bottle. The wind picks up her long hair, the strands blowing across her face as she stares out across the canopy of trees and the lush green lawns of Central Park across the street.

"You ever actually see the stars, Pey?"

The question comes after a long moment of silence once Wes has taken the proffered bottle of water. He doesn't open it, though, content to hold the cold plastic in his rough hands. "I mean, really seen 'em? So damn smoggy here, and all the lights… you can't really see what's goin' on up there." Not like you can in other parts of the country. Wes lowers his eyes from the choked-up sky to look at Peyton, and a smile eases onto his features.

She glances up at at the sky, looking for the glimmers of light that are the stars she's grown up with. It's strange to think that the same stars look different elsewhere, that someone else's vision of the sky can be so completely different from her own. "I've seen them from places like Aspen and Whistler," she says, blushing just a little, knowing that saying such things can make her sound like the spoiled rich girl she doesn't want to be anymore.

"But I wasn't really interested in looking at them, you know?" she adds, glancing back at him, curious as to what he's getting at. "You missing the country?"

"Only when the city starts crowdin' in a bit close, Mouse." We straightens with a tired sort of sigh and opens his water bottle, taking a quick swig. "Can't beat the quiet open, out where you're miles away from anybody walkin' on two legs." To think, he came here to hide. "Got half a mind to go back that way next week." As horrible as the circumstances surrounding it were, Peyton has to count herself lucky that A) her ability doesn't put her in danger and B) she doesn't have to hide it anymore.

Wes walks along the edge of the balcony until he reaches the corner, and once there he slides down to sit with is back against the railing so he can peer out between the supports. "Maybe someday I'll snatch your ass away to Devil's Tower. Show you what stars're supposed to look like."

Peyton raises a brow at the new nickname. She's been compared to a lot of things, but given her social nature and her tall height, mouse has not been one of them. She lowers her self to the ground, long legs bending until she can wrap her arms around them, peering at him with her own back to the railing.

"I guess I was in the country once, besides skiing," she says quietly, one foot covering the other as she stares down at her pale silver pedicured toes. "I was at a rehab out in Utah for a couple of months. We had to do some stuff, like hikes and camping and horseback riding, little outings to try to get us to connect to each other and nature and take our mind off the drugs or the alcohol. Thing is, I wasn't actually alcoholic, you know? Or an addict. So I was a little bitter about being there and all the stuff that was supposed to help me when I wasn't the things they thought I was." Apparently it's sharing time.

She brings her dark eyes back up to his face and smiles. "Devil's Tower? That's like, that big giant rock in the middle of nowhere, right?"

Wes watches the park below while Peyton speaks, looking at her only when she asks her question. It's easier to share when you're not being stared at, n his experience. Her idea of Devil's Tower makes him snort out a chuckle, and he wiggles one booted foot to nudge her in the thigh. "It's a golf course and a park," he points out. "And where the aliens'll make contact, I s'pose."

He looks back to the swath of green once again and exhales. "Ain't been to Utah in a long damned time. Glad to know it's still there." But the question of Peyton's addict status needles him, and he squints at her. "If you weren't an addict, how'd you land yourself in rehab?"

She hugs her knees to her chest, resting her chin on her knees. Her eyes drop again, long lashes fanning her cheeks. "I was with a friend. A celebrity type." She doesn't repeat the other girl's name, but it's easy enough to look up the information on the internet. "She was driving. We were both drunk. But when we got into the car accident, she asked me to say I was driving, because it'd be worse for her, right? She'd already had a DUI and she's older than me. I was still a minor, so it'd be wiped from my record after a little bit."

Peyton's brows knit and she sighs. It sounds so stupid, in hindsight. "It was dumb," she admits. "Really dumb. I'll regret it forever, but not because of the fact I lied or because it was hard on me. It's basically my fault my parents died when the bomb hit. If it weren't for me, they wouldn't have been where they were." Her eyes finally slide back to his face, before dropping down again.

Stars lookin' at our planet watching entropy and pain
And maybe start to wonder how the chaos in our lives could pass as sane
I've been thinking 'bout the meaning of resistance, of a hope beyond my own
And suddenly the infinite and penitent begin to look like home

He's silent for a long time, and when he does react, it's with the toe of his boot again. He pushes it against Peyton's thigh, his own eyebrows knitted together, his mouth curved in a frown. "Don't say shit like that, Pey. Ain't healthy. Things… things are what they are." He takes a deep breath and looks away then, as if he doesn't believe his own bullshit.

"You can't change what's done. Y'just…learn to live with it. S'hard. Ain't gonna lie and say it ain't. But y'…y'just do."

"I am. Or, I'm trying, you know," she says quietly, frowning a little. "It just… came up. And I tend to tell you shit that I don't tell anyone else. I'm not sure why." She looks at him a little suspiciously, as if he's making her do it against her will, though the look is meant to be humorous. "Maybe your power is making people tell the truth. You sure you're not evolved?" she teases, hand coming down to grab his booted foot playfully as he nudges her leg.

Wes wiggles his foot in a mock-attempt to free himself. At the end of his 'struggle', he leans his head back against the railing behind him. "Dammit. Bitch hobbled my ass." He chuckles at the country-boy joke, then shakes his head.

"You wanna pick up one of those kits and test my blood?" He holds out an arm, his hand curled into a fist. "Have fun. It'll turn blue every time you prick me. By the hand'uh God." He drops his arm, his hand spreading over his thigh, and he looks at Peyton's temple. Humor is good. Humor distracts.

I've been thinking 'bout everyone,
Everyone, you look so empty

She laughs softly at his jokes, then unwinds her arms from her legs so that she can crawl toward him, kissing him softly, then turning so that she sits between the V of his legs, her head resting in the crook of his neck. "No. I believe you, and it doesn't matter anyway," Peyton says softly, a little sleepily.

One leg bends while the other stretches out, bare foot resting on his boot, her bare leg lying on top of his jeans. "I just mean… you have a way of making me feel… safe. I forget to edit myself or something around you," she murmurs, face turning toward his neck, lips brushing his jawline.

Hello there. Smedley can't help but smile when Peyton crawls into what amounts to his lap. He gently curls his arms around her, laying a kiss on her head before he strokes at her wind-blown hair with one hand. Her kisses pull deep murmurs from his chest that can only be compared to a sporadic purr.

"Maybe I just got a way with wild horses," he whispers, placing a line of soft kisses along her hairline. It's getting difficult to be the good guy. "But thanks. And for the record, you're the first girl's ever been able to hobble me." Whatever that means.

"Hobbled?" she says, squeezing the toe of his boot playfully, then tipping her head to look up at him, her dark eyes flicking left to right across his face as if trying to read what he means. "I don't want to hobble you." She moves to kiss him again, softly, one hand reaching to stroke back his hair lightly, though when she breaks the kiss to look at him questioningly, there is a touch of worry in her face as to what his metaphor actually means.

But when I look at the stars,
when I look at the stars,
when I look at the stars I see someone else

When I look at the stars,
the stars, I feel like myself

"I don't want'tuh be hobbled," Wes answers when the kiss breaks, his eyes trapped. He tries not to look at Peyton directly, but rather the pieces of her. But with her this close, it isn't an easy task. The result is Peyton's worry being met with a face filled with insecurity and fear. Wes swallows back the discomfort and reaches to cradle the back of her head in his hand, letting her hair fall between his fingers.

The kiss is more than just anchoring. It heralds a welcome distraction from many things. Memories of the past. Fears of the future. Dates for a selfless cause. Lunchbox gadgets for a selfish one.

Even stars.

Everyone, everyone, we feel so lonely
Everyone, yeah, everyone, we feel so empty

Listen to the song here.

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