2010-03-16: Dancing With Myself



Date: March 15, 2010


Fred and Sydney talk. It doesn't go well, in fact, it goes poorly.

"Dancing With Myself"

Fred's Apartment — Brooklyn

Fred sits at his office, a bottle of Scotch and a glass half full. It's been a few days since Sydney and the children left. While he's gone into work, he's been distracted. Slowly he brings the cup to his lips and downs half of the drink in one go. Playing on his stereo is Billy Idol's song 'Dancing With Myself'. His mind goes back to when Sydney told him that they were leaving. It's the one constant thought, one constant memory, in his mind that keeps replaying over and over again. He can't help but wonder if he'd done something different, or said something different, she might've decided that they should stay.

Several Days Earlier

The horrible sinking feeling continues in the pit of Sydney's stomach. It's been there for the better part of two weeks. Jamie's anxiety has been grating on her for some time now, and as-per-Amy's advice it really is best to act in the best interest of former-client as well as herself, especially when the two interests intersected. She'd moved the kids already during the day, there are some discussions that are better in quiet, and knowing herself, this is one she realizes she ought to have one-on-one.

She'd worn her goth gear for the span on the day — too busy running errands to dress in her usual garb. She sits on the couch with her legs crossed, one over the other. Her short black skirt, black blouse, black fishnets, and black boots all contrast substantially against the light coloured couch — and Syd's even paler skin.

The apartment itself is oddly quiet, unusually so for the last while — the quietest it's been in some time. Sydney is waiting. She's been waiting and will continue to wait.

It has been a long day at work for Fred. He had a particularly hard time with the AP, which carried on to his work at the community centre job, where he had to talk one of his patients out of committing suicide. Needless to say, it's been an emotionally taxing day. Arriving home, he heads off first to his office to drop off his briefcase. From there, he goes to the living room and gives a tired smile to Sydney. "Heeeeey. How's it going?"

Every conversation seems to turn into the perfect emotional storm these days — but perhaps such is the life of a fugitive, in constant emotional turmoil. Her lips were frowning until Fred enters. Her lips curl into an equally weary, sad, even, smile, "Hi." The word is hesitant, unsure, perhaps. Uncrossing her legs, the brunette plants her feet on the floor. "It's… going…" is her quiet reply. "I…" she glances around. Her boxes of research are gone. Jamie and Trent are nowhere to be seen. All-in-all the apartment feels empty. Comparatively. "A-Are you okay?"

Fred takes a deep breath in and sighs it out. He's too tired to notice the what's missing. At the moment, he doesn't really care. He shakes his head. "It's just been a long day. A patient was attempting to commit suicide. Had to talk them out of it." He collapses on the couch. "How was your day?" He asks, looking at Sydney. "I see you're wearing your old school clothes."

A pang of guilt stitches through Sydney's side. This does nothing for Sydney's resolve, but then, that's why she'd moved the kids earlier. She needs to be strong now — a fact she mentally reminds herself. With a heavy sigh she nods, "I've… had days like those." She shoots him a still-weak, somewhat-forced, smile. "My day was busy." She glances down at her get-up while the flicker of a reminiscent smile spreads across her lips, "Not what I choose to wear now, but… it brings me back and… they feel safe." Like nothing can hurt her or come after her. "I… the time has come… for …"

Fred furrows his brow. "What's it time for?" He asks, cautiously. "Syyyydney?" He pauses. He knows what it's time for. Or he's pretty sure he knows. He's been dreading this conversation. "Do I need to get us something to drink, first? Water? Coffee? Booze?"

Sydney's expression changes. Her eyebrows furrow, her lips frown. She's been dreading this conversation. And in a way the coward inside her desperately wanted to leave without having it, but that wouldn't be fair and the notion of not having the conversation broke her heart. "I… yes. Booze, maybe?"

"I. I'm… " she stares at the floor. "…Jamie's not doing well…" she finally begins to explain. It's like pulling off a bandaid, right?

Fred clears his throat and stands up, heading over to where he keeps the alcohol. He picks out whiskey and two glasses. Filling the glasses to the appropriate levels, he carries the glasses back to the couch, handing one to Sydney. "Jamie? What's wrong with Jamie?" He asks, curiously. "Is she…well no, obviously she's not doing well if you said she's not."

"She's… anxious. Very anxious. So anxious I can't sleep at night. I thought it was my own anxiety, but it's not… I…" Sydney shakes her head a little. "When I'm not around her it's… it's better." Her lips twitch into a weak sort of smile. "She's worried about you, I think." Biting her bottom lip she adds, "I am worried about you, but it's not… it's different." She brings the glass to her lips and sips at it gingerly.

Fred sighs. "I know. I know there's reason to be anxious. But…I wish I could assure her that it was going to be all right, that nothing was going to happen to me. And that I was going to make sure that nothing happened to any of you." He gazes at Sydney seriously. "I know that I can keep you all safe. You, Jamie, and Trent. I know that I can."

"And I'm sure you know what you're talking about," Sydney admits before sipping at the whiskey again, letting the amber coloured fluid burn at the back of her throat. "I… need to look out for Jamie though. And she's not wrong, if they found out you'd be screwed, even if we got away. It's a struggle to assure anyone when the fear isn't entirely unwarranted. And I know her fear is grounded in past experience. She couldn't handle it if something happened to you… " Forget about Syd's own feelings on the matter for the moment. Pressing her lips together, she sets the glass on the coffee table and rests her elbows on her legs before resting her chin in her hands.

Fred shakes his head. "Nothing would happen to me because they wouldn't find out." He says quietly. "There are some things about me so far that they haven't found out. Things that, if they found out, would put me in a worse position than them finding out that you were hiding at my place. And that's the truth. Having you two here is the least of my problems."

"What things?" Sydney asks quietly her own eyebrows knitting together into a solid-v. She was already concerned, still suffering from a vast amount of anxiety (which for once is entirely hers). Her lips purse together as she stares at the glass, the pit in her stomach is filled with butterflies that leave a horrible sinking feeling. "I… moved us." And then she adds with a small shrug, "It's safe. I think."

Fred shakes his head. "Stuff that I'm not allowed to talk about. You shouldn't even know about me working for the AP. It would have been better if you didn't. But there are more things that I can't talk about." He says softly and downs his whole drink in one go. "You what?" He's shocked. He thought she would have told him first. "But…to where?"

"Fine. You know what? Have your secrets, Fred," Sydney manages quietly. Oddly there is no tone, no defiance, nothing amiss. "I… don't need to know. Apparently." She shakes her head slightly. "You have secrets. I may as well have one," she says with a small shrug. "It's not like my own feelings are even a secret. It's not an ideal situation, but it'll work for awhile. I promised it would only be a few weeks when I came to your door, I'm sorry. We stayed longer than I intended. I'm sorry."

Fred shakes his head. "I…you know it's not like that, Sydney." He says softly. "But I can't. It's one of those things. Like my patients." He sighs. "It's a paper company, though. I can say that much." Not that that helps. "I didn't care about you staying here. I want you to stay here. It's been no imposition on me. I've never considered you an imposition." He pauses for a moment. "Look, I want to help you. But I can't help you if you won't let me. If I know where you are, I can keep them away from you."

That same sick feeling eats at the pit of Sydney's stomach. "It's fine. Honest. I'm fine. I don't need to know anything. Everyone feels fit to keep me in the dark. All of the time. I can deal. I think… I think I've had enough secrets the last few months to last me a lifetime." She shrugs again before managing to stand to her feet. "We'll be fine. I'm not entirely sure it'll last long, but it'll work until…" she inhales a deep breath and forces a brave smile "…until I can figure out a more permanent solution. I'll give you a call once I know where we'll stay long-term…"

Fred's worry is written across his face. He obviously doesn't approve of this final decision. "I just…I wish I could keep my eye on you. I'll be worried sick about you guys. I'm worried sick as it is. But I'll be even more worried!" He says quietly. "I want to know that you're safe. And the only place I know how to do that is here. I know how to keep my home safe. I know how to keep it safe from the AP and from others. I don't know how to keep you safe otherwise."

"I'm a big girl. I've taken care of myself before, I can do it again. Believe it or not," Sydney attempts to be reassuring, but Fred's worry is influencing her. At least she knows where it's coming from, this time. Her own eyebrows continue to furrow. "I… don't know what else to say. I can't let a twelve year old girl live in fear like this. I can't. It's not responsible. Not really," as usual her resolve is fading. IN fact, in a way, she's telling herself these things more than Fred. Reminding herself. "We'll be okay," she manages to say quietly. "I know we will…"

Fred gives Sydney a look. "It's not you that I'm worried about, Sydney." He frowns. "That came out wrong. I mean, I am worried about you. But I'm even more concerned, it some ways, about Jamie. She needs the most taking care of here." There's a pause. "Look, what is the more responsible thing here: Not letting her live in fear or keeping her in the one place that you know she can be kept the safest in, despite the fear that she's feeling there? You are responsible for keeping her safe…this is the safest place for her. Out of all the people who can keep her safe, I'm the one who knows the most about how the AP works, directly from the inside. AND because of that I can keep her the safest. That's what's most important. Not her fear."

"Really? Really? You're going to play that card on me? Are you? Really?" Sydney shakes her head just a touch, just enough. "You think I don't know anything, do you? Seriously. I'm not some airhead who just stepped out of graduate school as a fluke. I didn't wake up one morning and decide, 'I should get another degree because I'm not nearly educated enough'. You think I haven't thought about this? Really?" Her face scrunches into a scowl. "And the fear does worry me. Do you know what Jamie does when she's afraid? Well she's got a history of running away. Do you really think I haven't thought this through? Do you think I haven't weighed the options? Do you think I wouldn't consult someone unbiased in all of this? You think I'm that shallow and guided by my feelings?"

"I thought…" her hurt is almost palpable. "I thought you knew me," she forces a smile, one that certainly doesn't belong on her face — a smile without any joy. "Turns out you don't. You don't even trust me to make a thought-out decision."

Fred lets out a hollow laugh, devoid of emotion and shakes his head. "You're letting your emotions cloud you now!" Is said with a little snort. "You know I know you better than that! What you should be realizing, and I'm sure you have, is that I'm trying to protect you all. You're making it more difficult than it has to be! I'm not saying you didn't consider this carefully." He sighs. "Look. I'm just trying to make sure that the decision isn't make without all the due consideration! It's a little thing called 'consensus'. I want what's best for you guys as much as you do, and I want to help you with that, but I can't without you telling me what's on your mind, all the facts, and without you letting me be a part of the discussion, because I'm possibly one of the only people who can protect you from the AP, whether you stay with me or not!"

"No. I'm letting your emotions cloud me now!" Sydney objects as she shakes her head again. "I had this all figured out. If we sat around and discussed this for weeks on end; nothing would get resolved, ever. I hate that. Sometime, someone needs to make a decision and I didn't do this lightly. We talked about this weeks ago — you were part of the discussion. Like it or not, that's what it involved." She turns towards the door. "I should go, maybe. We're not getting anywhere. Other than angry." And hurt, but she doesn't bother to say that. There are times she would give anything just to be without her ability, now would be one of those times.

Fred is probably just as hurt as Sydney. And it shows. "You didn't tell me everything though. If we're going to trust each other, we need to tell each other everything that we can. Like you didn't exactly tell me about Jamie running away after a while, if she's afraid. You did not tell me that. And you know what? I may have understood. I know just as much about the mind as you do!" He sighs. "After all this time, it still feels like you don't trust me, Sydney! That's the truth of the matter for me!" And it shows. It shows in his emotions and on his face. "You know what? Fine. Go. Look if I care." His words are a bit harsh, but that happens when people are hurt. That's that.

"Feels like I don't trust you?! You're the one with the secrets all of the time! You're the one with your mysterious things and dangerous job… and I've let that go. I've let it go a lot. And I can't tell you everything — she was my patient!! My client!! Last time I checked patient-therapist confidentiality still stands! And I may not be a practicing therapist at this moment, but I still know my profession. I know what I am and am not allowed to talk about. Despite how grey the rest of my life has become." Sydney stomps towards to door, her boots punctuating each step. Promptly she unlocks it, opens it and steps through the frame, but before she closes she peers back in, "You know what — we're not your problem anymore. Look out for yourself. Clearly you and I never actually trusted each other. Clearly. I hope your secrets keep you good company," Sydney says coldly before slamming the door behind her. This conversation likely couldn't have gone much worse. She blinks back tears as she treads down the stairs.

In The Present

Fred finishes his present drink and fills up his glass again, almost full this time, and 'Dancing With Myself' still playing in the background, nearly done. "Why? What have I done? Sydney…wherever you are…I still care. I still…" He lets out a long breath in a sigh. With the song, he repeats the words, "'So let's sink another drink, 'cause it'll give me time to think.'" With that, he downs half of the glass in one go, taking a big gulp, laying his head on the desk, closing his eyes for a few moments.

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