2010-02-18: Belief



Date: February 18, 2010


Sometimes believing what you want is just easier than what could be the ugly truth…


Fred's Apartment — Brooklyn

It's an average day in the neighbourhood. People working, people coming through pipes, people wearing collars in top secret government prisons for people with abilities. Fred, while he spent a little time at said top secret government prison, spent most of his day today at the community centre he works at. Upon arriving at his beloved apartment, with a giant happy grin on his face, he says calls out, "Yaba daba doooo! I'm hooooome!" For one reason or another, he's extremely happy today. Very much so.

Something has changed, very noticeably. The papers that were once strewn about the coffee table have disappeared. The papers on the table are gone. But beyond a little tidying, more has changed. The very air of the apartment feels different. It's a strange emotional mix; dark and dismal, really. There's something akin to anger, frustration, confusion and a deep seated heartache that consumes the mood of the apartment. It's oddly quiet in a way. Kind of like the calm before the storm.

Pale face and red-eyed, Sydney crouches in the kitchen, packing up all of her research into various boxes and bags; she doesn't intend to waste all of her hard work and start from scratch — that would only add insult to injury. The sound of Fred's voice peaks that anger, but instead of outwardly displaying it, she kicks the box she had been packing, takes a deep breath and forces a strained smile before padding towards the entranceway and leaning against it. Her gaze meets him calculatingly. She has no words.

Fred looks around as he enters, moving to the coffee table to put down his briefcase. There's a frown. No papers. Besides that, there an unusual air about the place. "Sydney?" He calls out. "Jamie, Trent?" It's certainly a full house. All they need now is twins and a couple more adults, and they're set. "Finally he sees her. "What…what's going on?" He asks, walking up to her, his brow furrowing in confusion as he looks past her and sees the boxes. "Why do you have boxes? What's going on, Syd?"

Still pale faced, she watches him carefully. Sydney opens her mouth to speak, but nothing comes out. Her eyebrows knit into a solid-v as she glances towards the spot where Tracy materialized just hours earlier. The memory is very present as her gaze flits to the blanket she'd insisted that Tracy cover up with.

Finally after several more moments of silence, Sydney tilts her head, before observing quietly, "I was going to ask you the same thing." Her expression has lost its good humour. Her eyes are distant, bloodshot from tears. And finally she asks, her voice barely a whisper, "H-how could you?"

Fred takes a few steps toward Sydney, placing a gentle hand and her shoulder. "How could I what?" He's visibly confused, and concerned. "Have you been crying?" He sighs. "What's wrong, Syd? Why were you crying? Wh…why do you have those boxes? What happened too all your research?" He blinks a few times.

"D-don't touch me! Don't you dare touch me!" Sydney snaps back as she pushes his hand off her shoulder. "I… I trusted you! Completely! As usual I'm a total and complete idiot!" And now she's blinking back tears, "H-how could you?! Y-you've been working with them all along! You didn't… you thought I was stupid enough not to figure it out? I… I guess you were right. I blindly believed you. I sat there and listened to the lies and bought into them. I bought into the defence mechanism and the lies, but…" Head shake. Her eyes burn hotly with tears as forces them back, but it's futile. She can't reach a level of stoicism to suppress her feelings, she's too upset for that. Tears trickle down her face as she takes a step back.%r

Fred takes a step back, caught off guard by Sydney's abruptness. "I…what did I…do? C'mon now. You're not an idiot!" He tilts his head. "You have no reason not to trust me." He shakes his head. "Who have I been working for? Who is 'them'?" He still seems quite confused. "I never lied to you, Sydney. The defence mechanism…that wasn't a lie! I've never told anyone about my sister! And when I told you I liked you, that I do like you, I wasn't lying. Because I do. I haven't lied to you."

"Don't… don't lie to me anymore," Sydney urges as she blinks back tears. "I… I know you work for the Alpha Protocol," she finally manages as she uses her sleeve to rub at her watery eyes. "I had a visitor through the pipes who warned me." She presses her lips together before adding, "And it wasn't Jamie."

"I'm such an idiot. I can't… I'm like the worst fugitive in the history of people running away from things…" she chokes on her tears again. "And the worst part is, I don't even hate you for it! You lied to me all along — since that day at the community centre, are working for people who would rather see Jamie and I with tubes in our noses, or gosh knows worse, and essentially have concealed this other life from me. It's like I don't know you, yet I can't bring myself to hate you. I am that much of a fool."

Fred lets out a little chuckle. "You're gonna believe someone who came out of the pipes? Really?" He sighs. "Look, lets say I do work for the Alpha Protocol. Okay? If I did…don't you think I would have turned you into them by now? You've been staying here for almost a month. If I work for them, I could have turned you in at any point. But I haven't. What does that tell you? Either I don't work for the Alpha Protocol, or that I do work for the Alpha Protocol but that I really do care about you. About you and Jamie, and that I don't want to see either of you hurt. And don't want to see Trent hurt either, now that he's being cared for. I'm not a heartless beast. I'm not Hades' three headed dog. I am Fred Flint Stone. The man who cares about…who loves Sydney…Amelia…Denise…Falkland." Yes. That's right, folks. She may not have the name of a cartoon character, but he remembered it!

More confused than ever, the woman's cheeks flush a deeper shade of red. What more is there to say? He's summed up all of Sydney's confusion and packaged it neatly into something borderline laughable. She raises her sleeve and wipes her tear stained cheeks again. She takes a deep breath as she steps towards him again. "I… I love you too Freddie," she manages in between her teared hiccups. "I… I'm so confused," she finally admits quietly. Tracy wouldn't lie, would she? She lifts a hand to her forehead. "I know Tracy…" not well and not under the best circumstances. "…she's not some random person in the pipes…" butterflies fill her stomach. More than anything she just wants to forget Tracy ever visited, but she needs to keep Jamie safe.

Fred takes that extra step in as Sydney steps toward him, feeling her confusion. Giving her a smile, he says, "I know you're confused. It doesn't help that this person…this…Tracy? It doesn't help that she told you this about me. It can't help. I know you're probably scared. You want to keep Jamie safe. Who would want to hurt an innocent child, after all? I know I wouldn't. Besides…" He enfolds Sydney in a hug, if she'll let him. "If I was working for the Alpha Protocol, don't you think I'd be there to try and do some good, not to do harm? If I was working for them, I'd be trying to undermine them. You know me, Syd. You've known me since high school. Don't you know that I'd want to help people, not cause harm to them?"

Not only is the hug accepted, the former blonde leans into it. "I know. It's so ridiculous, I just… I'm worried about Jamie. And now Trent. And everything going on…" She's thrown out of whack. Completely out of whack. "Fred I… I'm sorry. I shouldn't have… I'm just… " Her cheeks redden further as she leans against him. The mood of the room is changing some. The confusion remains, but Sydney's temper is dissipating and being replaced by the warm feelings that accompany the hug.

Fred keeps the hug, letting it sink in. "I know…I know you are, Syd. I know. Of course you're worried about them. Anyone would be." He rubs her back lightly as he continues to talk. "You have no reason to apologize. I can understand your anger. It's only right that you would get angry. After all, someone comes around, tells you that I'm a part of something you've been trying to ruin. Maybe she's right. But so what if she were? I'm trying to help. I'm one of the good guys. I'd never let anything hurt you, nor Jamie, nor Trent. I'd do everything in my power to save and protect all of you, regardless the cost."

Sydney settles into the hug, resting her head against him and closing her eyes contently. "I just want them safe," she admits with a content sigh. "I love you Fred. I — I don't even understand how I could think that of you…" She leans into him further. "I'm sorry. I must seem like a crazy person sometimes." She stands on her tiptoes to plant a soft kiss on his cheek. "Thank you for… talking me down." She flushes further, "I… I sent Trent and Jamie elsewhere after Tracy… I panicked. I wanted them safe. And… not around me. I'm not easy to be around when I'm unhappy." She winces. "They were… confused."

Fred smiles and nods a little. "I understand, of course." He chuckles and brushes some hair out of Sydney's eyes. "And I love you too, Syd. Don't give it another thought." He takes a deep breath in and slowly lets it out. "What else am I here for if not to calm you down…and to feed you and the kids?" He grins. "You know what? As an act of good faith, I'm not even going to ask you where you sent Jamie and Trent off to. I especially want Jamie safe, just like you do."

A small smile forms on Sydney's lips. "And the kids eat a lot. I had no idea kids ate so much," she observes as her fingers gently caress Fred's cheek. "I'm sorry. I really am." She seems to apologize to Fred a lot. "Forgive me? Again?" Her nose wrinkles as she tries to meet Fred's gaze.

Fred places his forehead against Sydney's. "Apology accepted. Not put it out of your mind." There's a pause. "Remember how I said I did something top secret?" There's a pause. "Well, let's just say it has to do with taking a true accounting of what really goes on with the Alpha Protocol. I'm not going to lie and say I didn't know about them. You've had enough lies. But you understand why I couldn't tell you, don't you?" He smiles softly. "I don't like the Alpha Protocol either. Something has to be done. But I've been sworn to secrecy for a reason. And I could get in trouble for even telling you this much." He sighs. "Maybe that's how this Tracy person knew about me, and why she thought I was a part of it. But I'd never hurt anyone. Especially when they're innocent. If there are any dangerous people with abilities, then perhaps they should be kept away. But that's like anyone in society. If someone is dangerous, if they have an ability or not, they should be kept locked away. But if they're not dangerous…especially children like Jamie, they shouldn't be locked away. Not ever. They'd not hurt anyone."

With a heavy sigh, Sydney nods a little — her forehead still against his — as her fingers rise to his hair and fiddle with his curls. "There are some very dangerous people with abilities," she agrees quietly as she gently closes her eyes. "That's how I learned about them in the first place. There was this shooting at a restaurant. This woman could possess people's bodies, and she wasn't nice about it. And I don't think she'd be easy to contain in a conventional prison." She sighs again before a soft smile forms on her lips, "I know you're looking out for us.. all of us.."

And then with a mischievous she asks, "So tell me Dr. Fred, am I dangerous?"

Fred smiles softly, placing his own hand over hers. "You see. The dangerous ones should be kept locked away. But if they're not dangerous, and they're not doing anything to hurt anyone, than there's no need to lock them away." The Company understands that. The AP not so much. "Of course I'm looking out for you. And if I found out that the Alpha Protocol has located you here, I'd warn you and tell you and the kids to get out of here as quickly as possible." He says, softly. He chuckles. "You? You're as dangerous as they come! I think I'm gonna have to lock you away myself!"

"Makes sense. It's like any weapon. If a person is going to hurt others, they have to be put away," she agrees easily, her smile broadening for a moment as his hand covers hers. The smile fades just a bit at the notion of a warning, "I don't really care about myself. I'm… a big girl. I can handle… whatever they'd throw at me… but Jamie…. I just can't stomach the thought of her going through that again." Sydney's cheeks flush, "The Alpha Protocol wouldn't be happy with you if you did that, I think. As it stands you're harbouring two fugitives —"

She giggles lightly at his response, "Mhmmmm. Very dangerous. Don't I know it. Might have to lock me up and throw away the key or something…"

Fred nods firmly. "Exactly. Put away the weapon, throw away the key. And that's that!" There's a little twinkle in his eye. "Don't worry. As long as I'm around, I'll make sure that Jamie won't get hurt." He says, softly. "As for me? I'm a big boy. I can handle the Alpha Protocol." He smiles. "If they found out I was harbouring you two…well, I'd just whisk myself away somewhere. I'd go to…Fiji. Yeah. I like the sound of Fiji." He grins and gives her a little wink.

"I bet Fiji would be nice this time of year, or any time of the year," Sydney observes with a wink of her own. "Thank you. For looking out for us. I don't really know what I did to deserve this, but… I'm very lucky to have you Freddie," her tone is softer now, more reflective. "Jamie is the only reason I ran in the first place. Some things just aren't okay, even if the government is doing it." She finally lowers her hand from his hair and down to his tie which she's straightening again. "I like this one," she says softly.

Fred chuckles. "I've never been to Fiji…but yes, I'm sure it would be nice. I wouldn't wear suits and ties either. I'd wearing bathing suits and colourful t-shirts all day long. And I'd go surfing." He grins. "Perhaps I should go on the run anyway. After all, why not? Could be fun!" He sighs softly. "Hey, I'm the one with the gun, right? If I can't protect my friend and her charges, what can I do?" He says softly, smiling. "I don't know…I think I prefer the one with all the smiley faces on it."

"So you do wear something other than suits and ties?" Sydney asks raising both eyebrows. "I was starting to think you slept in them," she smirks. "I'd have thought you were born in them if I hadn't seen you in goth gear all of those years ago. You were cute back then. Even in the all black with the Death Metal attitude to match."

"I like the smiley face one. But this one is… I dunno. It's like dignified or something." Her cheeks flush again.

Fred laughs. "I do sleep in them, don't let my comments mislead out! I'm only out of these suits and ties when…well…I guess when I go swimming. But that's rare." He grins. "I was cute back then? Gee, thanks. Just when I thought you might think I'm cute now! Well, I guess I know where this relationship is going. I'll just go sleep on my office floor now, thank you!" He smirks. "Well, I am dignified. I always have to be prepared to like…meet the queen of England or something."

Sydney giggles lightly, before she teases, "Hmmm. Jury's still out on the cute now… " her fingers linger on the tie and then she adds as an afterthought, "…but then I guess I can't keep my hands off you, can I? A good psychologist might think that means something. Or something." She leans forward and plants another kiss on his cheek. "Yeah. You and the Queen are like besties. Someday you'll have to introduce me or something…" she smirking again as she loosens his tie.

Fred smiles. "Well, if I don't like the jury's verdict, I might have to overrule it. I'm the judge, you know." He grins. "I think a good psychologist would say that you've got over attachment issues due to an infatuation caused by hormone secretion." There's a pause. "Then again, good psychologists have been known to be wrong, haven't they?" He continues to grin. "I'll be sure to introduce you to the Queen just as soon as she has a free moment." He clears his throat. "Well now…shall I order in some Chinese?"

She pulls the tie over Fred's head and then puts it on her own. "Now I could pass as you if I wanted! I might need the suit, but I think the tie is the secret to your magical powers of deduction and things…" Sydney nods though at the question, "Yes. Chinese would be good! But make sure wherever you get it from gives fortune cookies. I must get a fortune cookie."

Fred laughs. "Oh…so the tie is the secret to my magical powers of deduction, eh? Not the extensive training I did to become a psychologist? Okay. I'll buy that. And I'll keep the real secret all to myself. And no one will be the wiser!" He winks and nods. "Yeah fortune cookies. I'll be sure!" He smiles. "Can't get enough of those cookies."

"Mmmmhmmm. I know everything about everything now. I might even be as smart as you." Sydney glances up at the ceiling for a second and hmmms as if using the tie's magical powers, "Ahhh. I'm getting something, I think…." She closes her eyes and dramatically raises a hand to her forehead. "The tie is telling me…. you didn't need my help on homework all of those years ago… you did have a crush on me." At this she opens her eyes, lowers her hand and winks at Fred before pulling it over her forehead again. "And yes. Cookies rule. And the fortune only comes true if you eat it. The fortune, I mean. Not the cookie. So only eat the fortune if you want it to come true…"

Fred snorts. "Oh no. Of course I didn't need your help all those years ago, because everything always comes easily to geniuses. That tie must be doing wonders!" He laughs, shaking his head. "You know…I think I'll eat the cookie instead of the paper. I get my fibre other ways, thank you very much! And I don't need the fortune to come true. My life is amazing already!"

"Ha! I knew it! Secretly pining for years," she teases. Sydney grins broadly and then shrugs, "Fine. Suit yourself don't eat the fortune and risk losing out on amazing stuff. Maybe you could've won a million dollars." She winks. And then she asks, "And what makes your life so amazing? Work?"

Fred grins and winks. "You know me. I'm a big, giant secret keeper!" Laughing, he says, "Okay, well, I've got the number of this great Chinese place nearby. They're the best Chinese food around!" He says with a wide smile. "Good fortune cookies too. Do you have any preference to what you want?" He asks, forgoing the whole fortune cookie fortune thing. "You wanna know what makes my life amazing? You and the kids."

"I'm easy-going. Chinese pretty much all tastes the same in the end. I still don't know how they manage to do it, but it's true," Sydney shrugs, still grinning. Her smile softens at the last bit though. "You make my life pretty amazing, Dr. Fred." Her cheeks flush further. "I don't know about you, but… when this is all over, I don't want… I mean, I want to…" she's getting tongue tied and she knows it, so she takes a deep breath and then tries again. "What I'm saying is that I want to …. " Why is this so hard to phrase. "I told you I love you and I mean it." Like that explains everything she's trying to say.

Fred chuckles and shakes his head. "Well, I'll figure it out for us, then." He grins. "Well, I…have I told you about my long lost sister?" He grins wider. "I know what you're trying to say…me too." He ruffles her hair playfully. "Okay, I'm gonna order now. What do you want to drink? I'll order that too!"

"Hey! Not the hair!" Sydney objects with another broad grin as she smoothes it down and tries to reach for his. Once again, she's too short. She reaches up towards the crown of his head to ruffle his hair to no avail. "Diet coke, I guess?" it's more a question than an answer as she shrugs her shoulders.

Fred smiles a little. "What, not the bear, did you say? I don't see any bears around here!" He laughs, pecking Sydney on the forehead. "I'm gonna go order us the food. Just relax and I'll be done in no time."

Sure enough, Sydney does relax. She pads into the living room and plops down on the couch before propping her feet up on the foot stool. With a contented sigh, she closes her eyes, recognizing that the mood of the room has changed substantially as hers has risen significantly. In fact, once again, everything feels right with the world.

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