2010-08-04: Homecoming



Date: August 4, 2010


Surprise! Homecoming queen isn't the one to get crowned.


Sydney's Condo

There's something foreign about returning to home after being displaced for so long. The rattle of keys in the door shuffle as Sydney plays with the doorknob— it's sticky like a new-built never-lived in one, designed only for realtors and showhome types. The door opens announcing the blonde's presence into this abyss. Her appearance is haggard; one eye still discoloured thanks to the beating she'd gotten over a month ago, one of the many problems with anemia, slow-healing bruises. Her pale skin, tired eyes, and general out-of-place-ness only add to this haggardness. But at least she's in her own clothes (a black pencil skirt and a red blouse); the ones she'd worn for over a month while in captivity. The FBI had them cleaned and pressed. Her shoes? Runners. Somewhere she'd lost her shoes in Roberto's warehouse.

Stepping into the home, however, something seems amiss. Her eyebrows furrow solidly as her lips curl downwards into a frown. The sound of water running upstairs alerts her and puts her on edge considering the ordeal she's just lived through. Plucking a large candle stick from her dining room table she trudges up the stairs.


The sound only heightens her senses with each step, reminding her of another place that felt equally unhome-y even though she'd lived there for years.

With a kind of eerie shiver and goosebumps forming along her arms and neck, she reaches the bathroom door. Candlestick poised for action she flings the door open quickly, ready to strike whatever gangster may be on the other side.

Somewhere between the time that Sydney left her house to the time that she came back, someone had replaced the fixtures in the bathroom with gold ones. The taps, the handle on the toilet, the towel rack, the toilet paper holder… all gold. In a more luxurious bathroom it might look better, combined with the generic white porcelain, it just looks silly.

The shower is steaming and the curtain is obscuring whoever might be in there. At the sound of the door, the figure pauses and turns toward Sydney. The opacity of the curtain and the steam in the room makes it impossible for either to see the other. An oddly gruff voice yells out from the shower, "Whoever you are, you better get out! I got a gun and I'm not afraid to shoot!"

Inside the shower, Lizzie waits. Whoever opened the bathroom could be dangerous, she tried to make herself sound as manly as possible… but her voice (which she considers impossibly cute) is a little hard to make masculine. "Please please please don't be a rapist or a murderer… please please please please" she whispers to herself. While Sydney's neighborhood isn't as dangerous as walking through the middle of Harlem, it's not exactly Bedford Hills or Purchase quality. Sometimes, Lizzie just feels sorry for the poor woman. No security, no bodyguards, it's no wonder she's gone missing.

One thing Lizzie didn't consider is, who takes a gun into the shower with them? It isn't until after that pregnant pause that she thinks of it. Looking around quickly, she reaches over to the shower caddy and grabs the loofah puff. Concentrating as hard as she can, the plastic mesh slowly turns weighted and heavy in her hand. "Holy crap… okay Lizzie… it's okay… you can throw it… maybe?" Foresight isn't exactly her strong suit.

"Who brings a gun into the shower?!" Sydney's eyebrows furrow further at the room in which she finds herself. What thug saw fit to redecorate her bathroom and with such heinous combination?! Her lips purse into a kind of hardened scowl as she steps into the bathroom while her runners stick to the humid floor.

While the voice doesn't exactly sound manly, it doesn't sound impossibly cute either, not to Sydney's ears anyways, and she can't place it for the life of her. Finally she slides up to the tub, and tugs on the curtain, candlestick poised…

The shadow behind the curtain gets closer and then fingers that haven't been manicured at all (which only further proves that whoever the intruder is, it has to be some kind of murderer or rapist) curls around the plastic and whip it sideward revealing the young socialite in all of her glory.

The ear piercing shriek that echoes through the small bathroom is a bigger weapon than the loofah that's never thrown because in an instant, all that's left in the shower is a life sized golden statue of a woman poised to throw a shower puff. The face of the statue is familiar, as is the size and stature… Hallis Van Cortlandt. Whatever she's doing in Sydney's bathroom is anyone's guess.

The room is actually filled with shrieking as the blonde therapist responds in like-kind while the candlestick comes down on… a gold Hallis? While no one is hurt, it causes Sydney to scream again as she huddles on the floor, knees drawn to chest. Why is this stuff always happening? Her body curls on itself as she rocks back and forth, eyes clamped shut, as she continues to scream. There's little she can do other than react.

Why Hallis would be in her now-hideous bathroom remains to be seen, yet here she is all decked out in impressive gold.

The metallic clang of the candlestick smashing down on the head of the statue rings like a tuning fork and blends with the sound of Sydney's shrieks, reverberating for a minute before hers is the only sound in the bathroom aside the from the sprinkle of the water. The statue in front of Sydney stays as it is, in suspended animation for as long as the therapist screams.

A half a minute after silence has taken over the bathroom, that first ear piercing shriek that began the whole mess takes over and then winds down as Lizzie drops to the floor of the bathtub, shivering. The hot water helps the petite woman remember the few seconds before her transformation and slowly, her hand feels blindly for the edge of the tub.

"Sydney? Sydney is that you?" She calls out, tilting her face up to the spray. The steamy water quickly brings her body temperature up and behind her closed lids, the milky film covering her blue eyes slowly disappears.

As Lizzie drops to the floor and Sydney hears her name she manages to calm down some, tears streaming down her cheeks— post-traumatic stress disorder for the win. Her body trembles against her will as she peers back at the little blonde in the tub.

"H-H-H-Ha-Hal-Hallisss?" she stammers as she runs a hand across her face, pushing the tears away entirely. Her body uncurls as she crawls up to the tub. "Wh-wha-wh-why-wha-what are you doing here?" Her cheeks are red with upset as she pushes the hair out of her face.

While Lizzie isn't exactly the most modest person on Earth, she doesn't exactly feel the most comfortable in the nude while a sobbing Sydney is on the floor. It makes her feel a little dirty and in need of more shower. She reaches over and pushes down on the plunger of the fixture, stopping the shower and sending the rush of water through the tap. It trickles to a slow stop and only then does the smaller of the two blondes reach for a towel.

"Well, it's a really long story…" She begins in a sullen voice, something is definitely wrong with her friend. The younger woman's blue eyes search out every bruise on her poor friend's battered body and she wrinkles her nose. "What happened to you, Syd? Wait… Let me get out of the shower and get some clothes on and all that." She stop speaking long enough to wrap a large white towel around her body. "You look like death in last month's clothing. So, while I get dressed and make lunch, you need to take a shower and change. THEN we can talk."

She steps out of the tub and leaves little wet footprints across the linoleum on the way to the door. "By the way, we're going to need to get a bunch of new stuff…. I went a little crazy."

Agape that is the sight of her tiny friend in a towel, mannequin-Sydney stares. Not really at Lizzie, but certainly stares at the nothing wall in front of her, the numb taking over again as her PTSD is pushed back into dormancy. When asked the question, the therapist attempts to answer, but the sound gets stuck in her throat, muddled among the shock and utter confusion at the come-to-life Hallis Van Cortlandt in front of her.

Nodding slightly, she peels herself off the floor, managing to come back to life as her fingers and outer extremeties twitch. A glance is given to her shoes as she never really enjoyed that barefoot-sneaker feeling.

As Lizzie exits Sydney manages to move to the shower; the sounds of running water echoing down the halls of the townhouse.

Long after the hot water has run out and Sydney has had a chance to put on the clothing that her guest has laid out on her bed. An inviting scent drifts through the small townhouse, filling it with the same scents of Provence that Lizzie's grown accustomed to. The table is set for two, all of the cutlery is the same gold color that decorates the bathroom upstairs.

What might have gone unnoticed by Sydney upon her entry are the little touches scattered through her home. All of the light, electrical, and plumbing fixtures, along with a good portion of the little knick knacks in Sydney's house have been turned the same gold in the bathroom.

Lizzie is busy in the kitchen, her hair piled on the top of her head and secured by a garishly patterened bandana. A few curls spin down to frame her face and back of her neck. She's dressed too casually to actually be the Hallis that Sydney knows. A plain white t-shirt and old faded jeans, cover her body while her feet are left bare. At this moment, she's pulling a freshly baked pan of baguettes from the oven.

Dressed in light wash blue jeans and a grey t-shirt, Sydney shuffles into the kitchen only to gape again. Who is this girl? "H-H-Hallis?" she greets tentatively while tugging on the bottom of her shirt. Her blonde hair remains a touch damp and very wavy thanks to the moisture.

Equally tentatively she sits down at the table. "What… what happened to my kitchen?" Her eyes gaze from the light fixtures to her cutlery. "And… my cutlery? And… you… in… the shower… and the bandana… what…?" Her utterances fail as she can't complete a single thought or question, instead resting her elbow on the table and her chin in her hand and finally managing, in a quiet whisper, "Hi."

Some of the steaming soup is ladled out into Sydney's bowl and a piece of the fresh bread is ripped off and placed on her plate. Then Lizzie does the same for herself and sits down kitty corner from the trauma victim. "Hey," she smiles sheepishly, "Sorry about all this, it sort of went wacky for a while… You should have been there when it first started happening." A deep red tinge appears on Lizzie's cheeks and then she averts her eyes. "Well no, you shouldn't have… but anyway…"

"I was in Paris for a month or so after George and I split up and I got beat up in the middle of the street and you disappeared…" She furrows her eyebrows and shoots a look at Sydney, pursing her lips together. "Where did you go? What happened? Are you okay? Do I have to beat someone up? Or have Mister E. beat someone up?" The rapid succession of questions machine gunned at the poor therapist only stop as Lizzie eats a mouthful of soup. At least one of them looks healthier.

The spoon is dipped slowly into the soup and then left there as Sydney shakes her head. No one needs beats, not anymore, anyways. The crazy need need not be mentioned and their skeletons shoved into some other closet out of her conscious mind. Clearing her throat, she opens her mouth to speak, the shock still etched on her features, "I… was… kidnapped. And… Witness Protection…" It's explanation enough.

A vague nod concurs that she's okay or some semblance thereof as she brings the spoon up to her lips. The warm liquid does its magic, reviving her further as her nose scrunches, while scrutinizing the smaller blonde. "You. Were beat in the street? And… Paris? But… Afterlife?" her eyebrows furrow in confusion. "What are you doing here?"

"Wow… Kidnapped and witness protection? What? Wow… Whoah…" Lizzie leans back in her chair and gives Sydney a gaping, open mouthed stare, almost as if she just can't believe it. Blinking and shaking her head, the young blonde tries to wrap her head around the incredible news. "Okay, anything I had to say was just blown away. I thought my story was incredible."

One of Lizzie's knees comes up as she places her foot on the edge of the chair, it makes a convenient head rest for her chin while she eats. What's sitting in front of Sydney is a far cry from the prim and proper sometimes eater that the other woman knows. "So… Yeah… Jaden Caine's crazy psycho girlfriend beat the snot out of me in the street. Right after my eye'd just got better from her sister beating the crap out of me. So I took off… but… I didn't want to get fired…" She pauses, rolling her eyes and shaking her head disgustedly. "I should have just quit. Did you ever meet Sierra? George's ex-girlfriend?"

"A… former sociopathic client thought I could do something I couldn't so he took me, Amy, and Fred to be his personal therapists. It was… something," there's a flatness to the words, something lackluster without life or vibrancy, something clearly un-Sydney.

After swallowing a few quite spoonfuls of soup, Lizzie earns a near-smile, more genuine than most of what's graced her lips these last few months. "Wait. Some random woman gave you beats? That's… really strange." Her cheeks flush slightly as she considers the facts. And then she nods a little, "I think I met Sierra… once, maybe? But at the very least you've mentioned her…"

"Yeah well, she's a shapeshifter kind of person. I know know how it works, really…" Lizzie pauses, divulging someone else's powers used to be something distasteful to her but with recent developments, she doesn't seem to feel the same way. "Anyway, I paid her a hundred thousand to be me for a while. While I was gone, she took everything. Everything. She even tried to get back together with George as me!"

Putting her spoon down on the table, Lizzie waves her hand dismissively and rolls her eyes liberally. "But you know what? I don't care… I don't… I don't care about the money, I don't care about the job, or being on magazines. I was happy in Paris, you know?" The young socialite gives the therapist a whistful smile and lets off a deep sigh. "I should have stayed, I would have stayed. Sierra would have got everything she wanted and no one would have ever found out… except she cancelled all my credit cards, cleaned out my bank accounts, and blocked my phone number."

A disgusted expression washes over the ex-celebrity's face. "I had to beg for money to get a plane ticket back. I can't even prove who I am anymore, she's got all my ID." Except the passport she has safely hidden that no one will find out about. "So, I'm sorry I stayed here without permission, but I didn't have anywhere else to go." Pause. "Oh! Good news! I paid all your bills, did you know they were about to cancel your cable? Sydney, you need a personal assistant, who knows what's gone wrong since you were kidnapped. Kidnapped!! And the police didn't tell me anything!!" Well she was in protective custody, after all.

Sydney gapes yet again at the words. "That is insane! So no one actually knows what she looks like?! She could be like anyone and she stole your life?" She sips again at the soup, enjoying it and letting it do its magic. An almost-smirk quirks at her features, tugging them upwards as she assures beneath those gaunt features, "Hallis, I don't need this much space— it's more than I need and… you know me… I don't… well… Witness Protection…" she shrugs slightly.

"And I can't afford a personal assistant, Hallis. I'm just lucky I own this place and it doesn't belong to the bank." One thing to be thankful for, even if it draws blush to her cheeks from her still-broken pride. Better broken pride than credit rating, right?

"You can stay as long as you need. I'm… going back to work. Soon," her fingertips graze her bruised eyelid before dipping her bread in the soup. "Work," the shiver is suppressed.

"Well, you're just lucky I'm here," Lizzie starts again, picking up the spoon and twirling it in her fingers. She catches it in her fist and holds it up to Sydney for inspection. "Really Sydney? You can't afford one? Do you know how much gold you have laying around here? They've got commercials right now where you can put it in a little plastic bag and mail it somewhere and they'll send you back money. You'll never have to work again as long as I'm here." Presumably, this is how the broke Lizzie was able to buy food, pay bills, and get around.

The spoon is flipped again, this time the right way round and Lizzie digs into her soup. It was made a few days ago, but everyone knows that soup only gets better with age… until it spoils. This soup hasn't spoiled yet. "Mm! Oh! Oooo Syd… I have so much to tell you. I have an angel, an honest to goodness angel! His name is Gabriel, he saved my life from the stairs and the suitcase, the monkeys, the ratbread, and … ugh!!" She throws her hands up in the air and lets off a little squeal of excitement. "Sooooo much!!"

"So… are you suggesting we…" a knowing glance is given to Sydney's now-gold light fixtures as the blonde therapist smiles "…cash it all in?" There's a glimmer of knowing as she nods. "Alright. I will hire an assistant. But you have to interview them. You choose the assistant since your… er… talents will pay for her… or him…" Following another pause she sighs, however, "But. I still need to work. I need something… anything normal in life. Just… yeah…"

She leans forward before consuming another spoonful of soup. "He sounds like a great guy… so is he…? " she waggles her eyebrows knowingly, yes, she is suggesting that. With an equally knowing nod she finishes her bowl of soup.

Lizzie looks up from her spoon full of soup and gives Sydney a blank stare, "What… gay? No, I don't think so." The little blonde finally puts her foot back down on the floor and straightens in her chair, an expression of deep thought on her face. "I mean, he … no, he's not. I think he has a girlfriend or something. Either that or he was like me and running away from life."

To Sydney's suggestion that Lizzie be the one to hire the assistant, the little ex-celeb just shakes her head vehemently. "My track record for hiring people isn't very good lately. I just had my life stolen, remember? No way, you just tell me everything and I'll take care of it." The young lady had grown quite independent, all thanks to her long sojourn. She empties the rest of her bowl and pats the little growing belly, "That was great! I think that soup gets better and better every time I make it. Do you know that I actually eat now? I know, you totally don't believe it."

"I… didn't mean gay… I meant…" but Sydney shakes her head, her answer already given. And then, finding some semblance of her old self, still buried within the contours of her mind, she declares, "Well. I would like to meet this angel of yours with the angelic name. He will always be welcome in my home."

"You actually eat?" Sydney arches a skeptical eyebrow. Her fingers drum quietly on the table as she finally manages, "Thank you." What she's thanking the smaller framed woman for isn't clarified, however, instead allowing the gratitude to hang in the air unspoken.

"And yes. I will hire someone to deal with everything and only… get involved in cases I want to. I need… " her sanity back, her life, something normal "…a glass of water." She pushes away from the table and rises to her feet. "Want one?"


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