Yes Dear


aaron_icon.gif gillian_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif

Scene Title Yes, Dear
Synopsis Gillian arrives at Aaron and Peyton's apartment to catch up with old friends and is delighted by Christmas presents.
Date January 21, 2010

Aaron, Peyton, and Gillian's Apartment — Upper West Side

The only real warning that the two who live in this nice apartment got was a phonecall. Gillian didn't call from the hospital, didn't want to call at all until she knew her voice would be steady, and she could manage to sound like herself. Course, with who she's meeting, all the facade she tries to put forward will unravel if she doesn't actually feel it.

Which is why she's nervous when she gets up to the floor of Peyton's apartment. Elevators are a lifesaver, especially considering the current mode of transportation. The wheelchair isn't a necessity, as she stands up from it and gets to her own two feet once she's at the door, but it's a good idea for long trips. Just as her phone call about thirty minutes ago said she would, she knocks on the door.

The pain may be different right now than before, but it's there, and it's strong.

That's definitely one of the downsides of Aaron's ability: People can't lie to him and say they're OK when they're not. He can see through the facade. Of course, that doesn't stop him from occasionally pretending he can't, and he doesn't call Peyton on it at least half the times he could. He's become rather detached— he's better off not knowing. Hearing that Gillian was coming today was probably the best news he's had since she called him the first time, eleven days ago, saying she was coming home soon.

Of course, once he knew she was on the way, he started to fidget. Couldn't keep still at all. If he was sitting, his legs would bounce, and drinking tea with shaking hands was clearly out of the question. The knock no the door makes him jump up, which is fine since he uses the momentum to get him to the door to open it. He doesn't even check to see who's there, which admittedly is a rather careless on his part. What if it were someone else at the door?

The bursting joy comes to an abrupt halt the instant Aaron perceives the wheelchair. He oddly dismisses Gillian's pain as in any way tied to that. Community service doesn't sound particularly dangerous in his mind, so why is there a wheelchair in the hallway? Before even saying hello or hugging Gillian, he sticks his head out the door and looks around the hallway, apparently thinking someone must have left a wheelchair in the hall. After seeing no explanation, though, his confused look slowly starts to sink to sadness.

The elevator doors open again, and Peyton gives a "whoop!" when she sees her friend at Peyton's own apartment. She runs down the hall to hug Gillian, wrapping her arms around the other's neck, though trying to be gentle of anything that might be injured.

The clairvoyant was at the library when Gillian called the apartment, so Aaron paged her that their long-lost friend would be arriving in half an hour's time. Somehow, Peyton's managed to make it just in time, despite being slowed down by her still-aching, but mostly-recovered foot. There's no cast or any noticeable limp, just cute fuzzy-topped boots, skinny jeans and a wool coat around Peyton's slim form to keep her warm. The girl's cheeks are rosy from the chilly air outside, though dark circles beneath her eyes suggest that things, as always, are not as good as they could be.

Sudden hug from behind! Good thing Peyton is taller than her. Gillian's all bundled in a big fuzzy coat, so there's no actual sign of injury, until she says with a laugh, "Careful— I just had surgery," she explains, not lying at all. Surgery to remove the bullet! But she doesn't have to say it was a gunshot! That'd require more explanation than she's willing to give. Or allowed, for that matter.

"The wheelchair's just on borrow, cause it sucks to try and walk long distances with stitches. The doctors want me to take it easy for another week or two," she explains, spotting Aaron's surprise at the chair, and it's still the truth. "I'm back," she adds, smiling a bit, dimples on her cheeks. And grateful for the lack of brand.

Having so much to take in, the simple statement of 'I'm back' actually helps draw Aaron's attention to that very fact. Gillian's back. And she's got stitches. Once Peyton's relinquished Aaron's living teddy bear, he reaches out to hug her, finally, though gently. It's not the tight hug she's used to, because the last thing he wants to do is hurt her. "You're staying here," are the first words to come from his mouth. That way he can dote on her for the entire time she's supposed to be taking it easy. Plus, he can make sure she doesn't overexert herself. If it weren't such a possessive statement, it could be considered a good sign, him being assertive.

"Surgery? Are you okay? What happened?" Peyton says, taking the handles of the wheelchair to push it into the apartment once Gillian walks through on her own accord, if Aaron remembers to quit blocking the door with his tall form. Peyton's less likely to buy some story of appendicitis or something she might try to feed Aaron, due to the no-talking clause of their deal with the government, as she knows Cardinal died, something she hasn't told Aaron yet. Especially since she plans to keep working with Endgame. She's been to the library to help with the filing that Liz asked for assistance with, and being in the library without Cardinal there has made her somber, though seeing Gillian has lifted her mood for the moment.

"I intend to stay. I can't go up and down stairs very well right now, and I don't think the kids would understand the whole 'no rough housing' as well as you guys do," Gillian says, returning the hug with a squeeze of her arm, closing her eyes for a moment. Just being around them again helps. Even if… "You know, one of those common things. Had to take something out. Nothing I need." Her voice comes across almost offhanded, but there's a surge of emotional pain. Briefly. After all the surgery, the bullet hole even looks like an incision. So only an expert could tell the difference. Or those who know. "Can you help me get the wheelchair in?" she asks, gesturing to it.

"Peyton's got it," Aaron says, gently tugging Gillian inside so they're both out of the way of the wheelchair. He's not entirely sure he buys her story, no matter how convincing it may sound. Beside not mentioning what was removed, there's what he can tell just by looking at her. She looks worse emotionally than he can remember. He wraps an arm around her, leaving Peyton to deal with moving the chair somewhere. "Couch time." The couch happens to be where he's leading her.

"Do you want anything to eat, drink? Anything you haven't been able to have? We have some left over pizza and soda and some cheesecake in there, and fresh fruit and chips and whatever, or I can order in, if you want anything," Peyton says, her voice bubbly with genuine happiness at seeing her friend, and a little bit of forced cheerfulness, as there's an undertone of sorrow that can't be wiped away so easily. She puts the wheelchair in a corner near the door, then leans against the wall near the kitchen. On the coffee table are a couple of video baby monitors that Gillian might find curious, but other than that, most things are as they were the last she was here.

"You don't have to treat me like a kid," Gillian says to the guy who leads her along, but she doesn't veer to move somewhere else either. The couch is a good idea, even if it takes time before she sits down. She starts to undo buttons on her coat, so she can carefully pull that off (likely with Aaron's assistance) and it's laid down on the arm of the couch, as she stops to raise an eyebrow at the baby monitors. She wasn't gone that long… The gloves follow soon after, and one of her hands has a bandage on it. One that's been written on, an address of some kind. "I meant to eat lunch, but I didn't get any, so pizza would be great. And soda too." With that said, she settles into the couch, and let's out a slow breath. After Antarctica, it isn't that cold out there. "What's with that?" she asks, gesturing toward the monitors with her unbandaged hand.

"Didn't you just have surgery?" There's a reason Aaron's coddling, not the least of which being the surgery. Although, there's also the part where has hasn't seen Gillian in forever. Naturally, he does help Gillian remove her coat, and spots her raising an eyebrow at the baby monitors. A light blush touches his cheeks as he takes the coat from the arm of the couch to hang up. He doesn't suspect she'll be needing it in the immediate future. And even she does, he can grab it for her. When he comes back to the question about what the baby monitors are, he takes a seat beside her. "That…. Those are a long story." One he's clearly hesitant to tell.

"Oh, about that. Yeah, she needs to know, since she did Refrain," Peyton says, making a face. "I guess the nightmares hit Refrain users worse, or so Cat told me. So now you're back, you need to know. There's some crazy oneiromancer that hates people or something and is jumping into our dreams to try to get us to face our issues or kill ourselves or something like that." The explanation rolls out rather flippantly, despite the horror it caused them not too long ago. "We had some problems with it, and so we slept in shifts. We used the monitors to help watch for signs of trouble. He can make you sleep walk and do crazy things."

She doesn't want to scare Gillian on the woman's first day back. "We'll watch you when you sleep, though, so don't worry too much," she assures the newly returned augmentor. "I just want you to know so you're prepared. Apparently that's part of it… knowing you're in a dream, and then you need to sort of manipulate your dream so that someone you trust can come help you, make you able to withstand whatever he's trying to do to you." Peyton gives a fleeting smile to Aaron. "Luckily mine helped me out in the waking world."

Business taken care of she heads into the kitchen to warm up the pizza in the oven, putting it on a pan with Parmesan cheese to crisp up the crust a bit. Kitchen noises ensue as she bustles about, getting sodas and plates.

"Oh," Gillian says, looking back at the monitors, and then over at her friends. She's careful not to twist around much. "I actually heard something about this, I think. A friend of mine who visited me in the hospital even though I didn't call her. She… she can see the future. Through dreams," she explains, looking away for a moment. She didn't call anyone in the hospital, and after visiting Peter she wishes she had. "She said that she was having bad dreams, that she tried to escape by leaving the state, and then ended up coming back. But she knew where I was and came to visit me, and mentioned that. So it came after you guys too?"

It is so impersonal.

"I haven't had any sleep walking experiences yet… But it'll be good to know someone'll be watching me. Will we have to get another monitor?"

The way Peyton just explains things as though she's reading from a grocery list unsettles Aaron some, given what had happened when they first discovered the sleepwalking problem. He could never have explained it so casually. "Maybe. We don't sleep at the same time, so we should be fine with just the two we have. Rather pointless to have three if we're all asleep at the same time." He scratches his nose, "Bad dream is a bit of an understatement."

Peyton returns from the kitchen, bringing soda for Gillian and tea for Aaron. "You shouldn't worry about watching us though, since you had surgery and just got back. You can sleep at the same time as either of us, and we'll cover. It's not a big deal." She smiles a little awkwardly. "I know you two like to snooze together, so I don't mind watching both of you, anyway."

They like to sleep together. Gillian doesn't blush, but she does smile a little wider for a moment. "It never hurts to have company, but if we start flailing at each other it might be dangerous… My friend said she accidentally killed her cat." And the last thing she wants to do is wake up choking Aaron, or wake up with a black eye… Even if they seem to have things under control. Also… stitches. She'll hope they don't disturb then.

They like to snooze together…. Aaron's cheeks flush red, unlike Gillian. The fact that he's currently the antithesis of the outgoing, charismatic bandleader he used to be does bother him some. Well, actually it bothers him a lot. "Wait, what?" Accidentally killed her cat? Peyton almost accidentally killed herself, so is that really far of a stretch? He lets out a groan and leans back into the couch cushions. The idea of accidentally hurting either Gillian or Peyton oddly hadn't crossed his mind, and it's not an idea he likes. "I'm never sleeping again…." To think, he's actually had a few decent nights' sleep lately. NyQuil for the win.

"Oh, hush. Our system works fine," Peyton says, with a shake of her head at Aaron. "If you're worried about that, then we'll just all sleep separately, but one person can watch two at the same time. We could rig some alarms or something, too. We'll be fine. I'll get some roofies and make you sleep, if I see you're not sleeping again." With that, she heads back into the kitchen, where the pizza is beginning to smell done.

"I'll be glad to have a bed that's bigger than a twin," Gillian admits, rubbing a hand against her cheek, a gesture of worry that she can't quite lose even when there's no brand there. "I missed you guys," she adds, smiling a bit, before she leans back into the couch, and then leans a little toward Aaron. Even if they may not want to risk sleeping together, she can still lean. "But I'm registered, legal, saw my parents again after avoiding them for like a year… I can use my own name now…" Visit her sister's grave. "And I'm thinking of going back to school."

The lean is more than accepted and Aaron wraps his arms around Gillian's shoulders. He's missed this, more than he'll ever be capable of admitting. His touch is gentle, though— he doesn't want to tear her stitches. "Don't know what I'd do in a twin bed. Me feet would stick out the end." Lightbulb, "Oh! Your registration packaged arrived, too. Um, I … don't quite remember where we put it, though." He looks thoughtful as he tries to recall. It's probably just on a table somewhere. It's not like he gets any mail with which to accidentally take it into his room with.

Peyton returns with the pizza, several pieces on one plate, then a couple of other plates in the other hand. "Your own name? I didn't know you were using a fake name, but I should have guessed it," she says, flopping on her chair opposite the couch. "I just never bother, because, well, it's usually pointless." She makes a face at that. This is what Fame gets you — one day, you want to be anonymous and can't be. "School's a good idea. I was almost thinking about it, but I don't know what I'd study. Plus I need to go help with going through the files at the library." Aaron might notice her mood darken a touch at just the word library, but she doesn't outwardly show any signs of grief.

"I only really used it for jobs and stuff. Not that I was working that much," Gillian explains, shrugging with only one shoulder. She's gotten used to this for a while. "I got this scholarship thing for all the stuff I did while I was gone. It's going to get me into any college I choose. I'm considering Columbia, but… I might start working for a library again soon too. Though not the Brooklyn one. Bad memories there." And Cardinal's… Well, she'll have to figure out how to handle that. Cardinal was the one she dealt with the most. "I'm thinking of taking literature classes. Maybe art. I already have an associates degree in library services."

"Who knew you were such a brain," Peyton says with a chuckle, reaching for a piece of pizza and putting it on a plate for Gillian, handing it to her so she doesn't have to stretch. "I mean, not that I ever thought you were stupid." Her eyes sparkle with her smile at Gillian, clearly happy to have her friend back. "That's good, though. It'll be good for you, and I'm glad you got something for going there. I know it was hard. I know… Well." She pulls her feet up to the chair, her arms wrapping around her knees. She stops there, before she says something in front of Aaron that she shouldn't, since she knows more than she is supposed to.

Aaron's rather used to being left out of the loop. Part of him likes it, part of him doesn't. He has enough problems of his own to be worrying about without having any idea what sort of madness the people he cares about are getting themselves involved in. Sometimes he can't help but wonder if he needs some normal friends. He takes his pizza and eats it silently— aside from the occasional crunching.

"I'm glad I got something for going there, too," Gillian admits, leaving the details out, but adding on somemore, to show Peyton what she's told Aaron. "The first place didn't have phones, or electricity. But I got to meet and help a lot of people who didn't have much. I'm glad to be back, even if I liked helping people. Made me feel… better about things." Even if she came back feeling distressed. Lost Gabriel. Lost Cardinal. Lost the future that she'd secretly wanted. "I also missed my journals. And my own clothes!"

"Speaking of clothes, I think Santa might have brought you some more." Peyton points to the fireplace, where Gillian has a stocking hanging on the mantel, though the others were taken down. It's full, and there is a stack of brightly wrapped presents sitting on the stones. "And before you say 'I didn't have time to get you anything,' I know that and you coming home safe is the best present ever anyway."

"Presents?" Gillian says, sitting upright just a bit. She looks like she might just jump out off the couch, but that would probably be bad. No, she shouldn't have had time to get presents, and she didn't. Not for them, at least. "Well, then you guys get me for late Christmas. Like almost a month late. But I'm totally present wanting. My parents gave me late birthday and Christmas presents in the form of cash, as long as I go and have dinner with them and my brother once a week. But that shouldn't bother me staying with you guys."

Peyton laughs merrily and gets up, picking up the pile of presents and the stocking to bring over to the injured Gillian. She stacks them beside her on the couch. "There's gift receipts for everything, if it doesn't fit and all," Peyton says, curling back up on her chair, eyes sparkling as she sits back to watch Gillian. "You don't have to open them all now or anything."

Inside the wrapped paper, most of the gifts from Peyton are clothing. Designer jeans, a pair of Jimmy Choo heels, a scarf and hat set for the cold weather. The stocking is full of small little somethings — Sephora makeup, candy, an iTunes gift card. No doubt there are stocking stuffers from Aaron too, but if he bought her a present, it's not among Peyton's.

"Oh, I'm opening them now, but it'll take me a while to try them all on," Gillian says, going about opening them. "These are good enough to be date clothes," she comments, grinning a little, as if she could manage to get a date. She does have a promise of lunch or dinner and a movie with someone, and she knows she'll dress up for it, but… would it be considered a date? Likely not…

"Thank you, Peyton, these are great," she says with a smile, moving to stand up and move carefully closer, so she can give the other girl a proper hug.

"You're welcome," Peyton says, looking pleased. "And you know, any time you want to borrow any of my clothes, the closet's open," she says with a wink. They're about the same size and she isn't wearing most of her wardrobe these days. She picks up the pizza and heads into the kitchen to stow away the leftovers. "I'm going to go hop in the shower — I just got back from midtown and I feel all… well, radioactive." She winks. It's an exaggeration, of course. "I'll be out in a bit."

At the mention of presents, the man with little means goes slightly red. No, Aaron didn't forget to get Gillian something. It's just not particularly special. Hell, what he found for Peyton was pure fluke, how could he possibly luck out twice? While Peyton sneaks off to store the leftovers, Aaron sneaks off into his room to retrieve a neatly wrapped box, flattish— and one might think rather book-sized. He sits down as Peyton announces she's going to shower and he gives a slight roll of his eyes at the radioactive bit. "Funny," he says, though he still holds onto the present as though it's a prized possession, rather than immediately handing it over. Once Peyton's vanished, though, he does relinquish his insane grip on it.

Keeping on her feet for a few moments, Gillian reaches to pull up her shirt to check the bandage. There's no sign of blood soaking through, so that's a good sign that her stitches haven't opened and she doesn't need to call the doctor. She's still looking when Aaron comes back, and she lets the shirt drop back down to cover the clean white bandage. It's clean! And not too big. So that may relieve him, a little. "More presents?" she asks with a smile, holding her hands out to take it, and begin unwrapping the box. Could it be a book?

The fact that there's no blood and it's a smaller bandage than he had dreaded does in fact put Aaron at ease somewhat. The fact that she's injured in any way, on the other hand, doesn't really help him, but it's better than it could have been, right? "Just one," he says, somewhat ashamed of the fact that he only got her one thing. Recalling all the journals she had, he got a letter-size, leatherbound notebook. Ironically, it's not that dissimilar from the one Peyton got him with music composition paper, although obviously it has normal rules and doesn't have Gillian's initials on it— like he could afford such an extravagant notebook. "I was kinda happy to hear you really missed your journals." He says it only after she's opened the present.

"You got me a…" Gillian smiles down at it, dimples showing up even more, and some of the pain washing out of her aura. In fact, she hugs it against her chest, as if holding it closer to her heart. "Thank you," she says, moving closer and having to put a hand on his shoulder and pull him down enough so she can kiss him on the cheek. Tiptoeing is a bad idea right now. "I look forward to filling it up with all the things I need to get out." Cause that's what her journals became. A place for her to let all her emotions and thoughts spill away. And without her journals, she wasn't able to do that overseas, even when she really needed to.

Aaron was holding it close to his heart a few times, too. Well, more than a few times, especially when he thought he might never see her again. He blushes only slightly when she kisses his cheek. After all, they shared more than just a cheekpeck in their declaration of being just friends, and then there was the whole he and Stef thing…. "You're welcome," he says, doing his best to not linger on thoughts of Stef. He's miraculously managed to not start crying this long, why ruin a good thing with bitter memories?

"I'd give you something… but you get me," Gillian says, keeping the soon to be journal close at hand as she moves back to the couch so she can sit down. "I'm going to be okay, Aaron. I missed you, but… I will be okay. You don't have to feel responsible for making me feel better in any way besides… well… normal stuff." There's a pause. "What I'm trying to say is… you don't have to use your ability on me."

Once Gillian's on the couch, Aaron reaches out to her to pull her against him. Carefully. She's pretty much his living stuffed tiger, though. "I missed you too," he says. What was that about not crying? "It's fine. You're more than fine. I don't need anything but the people around me." Only partly true, since he totally needs a life, too. But one step at a time.

"If I go back to school, you should do something too," Gillian says, closing her eyes as she leans against him. Even if they're just friends, it's good to be held. Some of her may wish it was another set of arms around her, but… it's better than no arms at all. She may have been pushing Magnes wanting to cuddle her away at almost every step, but she feels safer with Aaron. "You still haven't gotten a job, have you?"

A door closes loudly enough in the hallway to alert those in the living room that Peyton is coming down the hallway. She's dressed again, her coat in hand. "Hey. I'm going to run down to the market downstairs," the one on the corner, that is, "And pick up some ice cream and milk. You want anything in particular, Gillian?"

Thankfully, Gillian has her eyes closed when Aaron grimaces as she changes the topic. Peyton's announcement is only a temporary reprieve from the line of questioning he's certain will resume once they're alone. He knows Gillian will probably go right back to it, and he fears what she'll think of him when he confirms that he has not yet gotten a job. Granted, he's had things on his mind. Important things, or at least he tries to convince himself they're important. Some actually are, at least.

Oh Aaron. Gillian sits up a bit at the words from Peyton, enough to glance over at her and say, "I like pistachio icecream. And— oh, pick up some Cheez-Its for me while you're out." She loves those as much as her clone did. And she hasn't had any since she got stuck in Argentina! And when she turns back to Aaron, she punches him in the shoulder. "You need to get a job. Get out and meet people."

Peyton smirks a bit. Gillian has the ability to tell Aaron what he needs to hear, more than she does — especially since she's always afraid of hurting his feelings. "Pistachio ice cream. Weird. Cheez-Its. Got it. Okay. I may run another errand or two but I'll be back in an hour or two." She gives a wave and opens the apartment door, slipping through and closing it with a quiet thud.

Aaron actually lets out a stifled chuckle at the Cheez-Its, recalling Stef's delight in having a pack of them. But that's about all the humour that escapes him as the door thuds closed. What he needs to hear and wants to hear are two completely different things. A talk about him getting a job is not high on his list of wants. It's not even there at all. "Why would I want to meet people? They're either at least as miserable as I am or worse: They're happy. Besides, little busy making sure Peyton doesn't take a knife to her wrists again. Sleepwalking or not, she's clearly capable of it. Can't afford to be called into work when it's her turn to sleep." It's one of many excuses he's made for not working. It happens to be the one he actually believes, and the very thing that makes him sick to his stomach whenever he thinks of what might happen.

"Well, how about the fact that there's three of us now. Even if you guys want to let me sleep, I may not want to sleep the same hours as you guys," Gillian gives him a sideways glance as she does, looking him right in the eyes, even if they're pretty close together. "I'm not incapable. I'll have one of you pick up a super soaker and I'll walk in and spray you until you wake the fuck up," she says, then she leans back against him and closes her eyes again. She's really not that mad, but… "You need something to do. Something to take your mind off things. It doesn't matter if they're miserable or happy. You need this."

Direct eye contact? Say it ain't so. Aaron looks away shamefully and changes the subject. "Peyton's been acting kinda weird, lately. Well, ever since the sleepwalking incident. I don't know whether she's still shook up from it, or what, but she's been acting kinda funny. Being nicer than usual. She baked me cookies. She doesn't cook!"

"Don't change the subject," Gillian says, recognizing it because she does it too. "You're getting a job. Even if it's just coming with me to the Lighthouse when I get better and playing music for the kids. Understood?" It's forceful. She is going to handcuff him and make him do it.

And back to the uncomfortable topic again. There's a reason who changed the subject in the first place. Clearly he's not going to avoid it, however, so he does the only thing he can to prevent the situation from getting uncomfortable. He agrees. It's not that Aaron wants a job— he doesn't think he's fit to have a job. There are many things he doesn't think he's fit to do, but he agrees. "Yes, dear."

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