2010-01-14: If This Works



Date: January 14, 2010


Sydney and Lena meet up again…

"If This Works"

The Mall

It's been almost two weeks since Tiago and Lena were rescued by Gene, and in that time, Lena has not contacted Sydney at all. Chalk it to up to two parts busy and one part emotional trauma; really, she was being considerate of the empath. But finally a day has come in which she has been left to her own devices, with new traumas that she would really rather not linger on, and a friend left dangling without word for too long. So a call was made, a message left: can Sydney meet her at the mall's food court in about an hour?

At the appointed time, Lena has scouted the food court and managed to secure a table near the center. With it being wintertime, it's easier to disguise herself. A black knit cap has been pulled down over her newly dyed hair and a pair of bright pink sunglasses hide the changed shade of her large, distinctive eyes. Her jacket has been unzipped to reveal a black knit turtleneck, and a red and white striped scarf is wound around her neck, a fold of it drawn up over her chin to hide it. And, of course, the gloves. It means that Sydney might have a difficult time spotting the young woman but it pays to try to confound facial recognition software.

On the table in front of Lena is a plastic tray from the nearby Taco Bell booth. A paper bowl of french fries done up in faux-Mexican condiments is being poked at with a plastic fork but she's more focused on looking around for Sydney than she is on actually eating. It's no wonder she's still so skinny.

Following the phone call, Sydney had walked around her building and block twice before even approaching the mall; she doesn't know if Agent Barker planned on follow her. She'd left her house with her blonde locks piled under the safety of a black scarf (wrapped around her hair and neck) and a black beret used to cover her face. A pair of Audrey Hepburn sunglasses rest on her nose, even though she's walked through half of the mall already. She's dressed in black slacks and her black peacoat that she adores. As she approaches the food court, however, she removes her sunglasses and then the beret followed by the scarf.

As she stands by the Kentucky Fried Chicken stand, she wrinkles her nose in disgust, shuddering at the greasiness that is KFC. Running her tongue over her lips, she scans the food court, altogether unaware of where Lena actually is. It seems the girl has found a way to blend in the crowd.

Blending in is good! Let's hope that Lena's attempts at disguise are as effective on any naughty observers as they are on Sydney. The girl herself has better luck; Syd's stationary, and distinctive enough with that bright blonde hair. One of those visual sweeps spots the therapist but before Lena hops up to hurry over, another moment is spent in making certain she's alone. Anyone watching? No? No. Good!

She's getting better at this spy crap by the day.

Chucking the uneaten Taco Hell into the nearest garbage can, Lena then winds her way through the crowd to reach Sydney's side. It's almost nervous the way she reaches out to gently nudge the woman's elbow. "Hey…hey, Syd?"

Jumping abruptly at the nudge and her own name, Sydney's anxiety creeps through the people nearby, "Geez! Try not to sneak up on a girl like that, Lena…." There's something different in her voice. Her tone is flatter than usual. It lacks its usual warmth and lustre, but her lips quirk into a smile regardless. She sideglances the various individuals around the pair showing some measure of anxiety through their randomly suspicious actions. Rolling her eyes at her ability, she nods towards one of the nearby booths. "I…" she doesn't really know what to say. Or how to say it. So instead she slides into the booth. Finally she manages to say, her tone warmer than before, "I… I'm glad you're okay…"

Lena is not the only one expressing some anxiety. Here is a woman whose life she helped turn upside down. Although she's relieved to see her alive and in one piece, guilt prevents the exuberant hug that might've helped the situation. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry, I didn't…jesus, it's good to see you. You okay, Syd? I mean…" Oh wait, they're walking to a booth. The girl hastens to follow, sliding onto the bench opposite and reaching up to pull the sunglasses off. Surprise! Her eyes are green, and full of worry as she studies Sydney's face.

"I'm glad you're okay too. I'm so fucking sorry I didn't call you before this, Syd. It's been…I dunno where to even start, you know?" The sunglasses are fidgeted about in her hands, Lena looking down and then up and then down again. Awkward. "But they didn't get you. I…I was so scared they would."

Sydney hmmms. She's unsure for the first time in a long time and deep within the pit of her stomach she wishes she could talk to Fred again. She inhales a deep breath before releasing it slowly. And then, wholly unsure what to say, she fidgets with her sunglasses between her fingers, silently considering her words. There's much to say, yet nothing to say. Finally, she manages a staccato'd response: "I'm fine." The edges of her lips flicker upwards for a millisecond at her own response, it's amusing on some level, but only slightly. Her lips return to a straightened state.

So unsure, so hesitant, and so anxious, Sydney is careful not to tip her hand."Who exactly are they anyways, Lena?" she asks with raised eyebrows.

Unfortunately, Lena does not see the humor in the situation. Her concern, the outright worry, only grows as Sydney does not respond in a very Sydneyish fashion. "Are…are you okay? I'm so sorry, Syd. I am. We didn't…when they shocked us, we didn't tell them you were…like me. But…" This isn't playing at all as she'd imagined it. An anxious glance is sent around the foodcourt, a quick check to see if anyone's looking their way, before she lowers her voice. "It was…it was the guys Wynn was in charge of. Alpha Protocol," she whispers, not needing to feign the nausea felt at speaking that name in public.

Then something occurs to Lena. The sunglasses are dropped, and she slides one gloved hand across the table as if intending to take one of Sydney's. Her eyes are wide. "Oh jesus…did they get you? We thought…Pete said he'd warn everyone, and we called as soon as Gene got us out. Are you okay?"

Shifting in her seat, Sydney gently closes her eyes and takes another cleansing breath. "I am fine," she tries to remain sedate, wishing more than anything that she could cut off her own emotions at will, unfortunately her control really isn't that good and only happens by accident, not will. Swallowing, she feels her eyebrows knit into a solid v. "I was warned. I haven't been to the townhouse in ages."

She wishes more than anything that she'd picked up a drink before now as it would give her something to do amongst her silent concentration. "And I wasn't gotten(?) by anyone." Not in the conventional sense of the word. "I just don't like being trifled with." Her eyes narrow. Someone is trifling with her. Who? Jury's still out. She takes another deep breath, trying to focus her thoughts and emotions, but her own anxiety keeps getting in the way.

"I…what? I don't understand." Lena slowly draws her hand back to her side of the table, face knitting up in a look of real pain. She does understand, or thinks she does. So a moment after the plea for clarification comes the confession. "Syd, I'm so sorry. It was…we didn't want to give up the townhouse. I swear to god we didn't. She…this shrink, she was in charge of us, and she put us in these chairs. There was…it was…" It's a little like pulling teeth to get the description of the torture they suffered out of Lena. Neither Jade nor Peter has required the girl to speak about it, for good reason.

But Lena draws a shaking breath and tries anyway, for Sydney's sake. "She put these things on our heads. And…and electricity. It was like…it was bad. And…and one used a stick on me, a cattle prod, I don't…she made Tiago watch, Syd. I'm so sorry. So sorry. We didn't mean to." By the end of it, she has to press the heels of her hands against her eyes. "I'm sorry."

Sydney stares openly perplexed by Lena's words. Hearing the details about electroshock therapy would normally her skin crawl and would generally cause her to vomit, but she still isn't sure what's true and what's a lie. Wordlessly she turns her gaze to the table like it's some object of fascination. "Y-you think this about the townhouse? I… I don't care about it." Not anymore. She cares about safety. Friendship. Loyalty. Wrinkling her nose, she shakes her head slightly, but she's still unsure of what's true and what's not. Not having use of her ability during her time with Cory wasn't helpful. Closing her eyes she mentally shuts off a switch in her brain. And there it is: perfectly logical Sydney. Unfortunately logical Sydney also lacks tact, "Do you, or have you ever known a Joseph and Mildred Carter?" There's a pregnant pause before she adds, "I can tell if you're lying. I know when people lie to me."

Way to successfully confuse a traumatized girl, Syd! Lena is valiantly battling an honest to goodness (and potentially disastrous) public crying jag. She hasn't had a really good cry in…too long. Through a series of deep breaths, hiccups and much eye-rubbing though, she staves off the waterworks only to get caught off-guard by the switch from strange'n'cold therapist to robot. "W-what? I don't…no. No, I don't think so. Syd, what's…what's going on? I don't understand, you think I'd lie about this shit? What's wrong?" Because something definitely is. If she didn't have the history with Sydney, there's a good chance Lena would be spooked and run. In fact, she's strongly considering it anyway, and alternates staring at the woman with glancing around nervously while wiping at her cheeks.

Annnnnnnnnd. Huh. It doesn't feel like a lie. "Oh." Beat. "Then the government agent who visited me was playing mind games," there's still no emotion in her voice. It's gone. Entirely gone. Her words are robotic. Steely. Empty, even. They lack any passion or presence that generally exists in her tone. "I can't disappear. The police will think I set up Bryce's murder… so I couldn't disappear. And I like working with the police," there's no expression in her face, no light in her eyes, nothing. If she had emotion she'd be apologizing for now, but she doesn't, and so she genuinely does not feel sorry; she feels nothing.

"Fred said to talk to you. And I have. And now I know." Of course, this brings a myriad of other problems. Logical Sydney tilts her head at Lena, an action bordering on curious, "I need your help."

"What?!" It is only overwhelming paranoia that allows Lena to keep her voice pitched at spy levels. The word, emphatic though it is, escapes in a breathy hiss. She looks as if she's been hit. "Visited you? It…what? Syd? You're…" You're going to have to forgive Lena as she performs a far more thorough scrutiny of the surrounding areas, plainly expecting agents to pop out at any moment. The glasses are popped back onto her face once that's completed.

"Shit. Mind games…y-yeah. That's…that's what they do. They tried…they were going to execute Chi, to make me talk. When I didn't…when I didn't they used electricity. It's…" Wait, what? "H-help? I don't…if I can. I mean…yeah, Syd, of course. You're…kinda creeping me out right now though. I'm so sorry."

"Barker. Agent Cory Barker found me in my office when I was clearing it out. Not supposed to be working. But she looked like you. Dark hair, hoodie. JD even went to her. I thought it was you…" and as Sydney starts telling the story, tinges of her emotions begin to return to her face. Her lips twitch slightly before she carries on with her story "…it wasn't. She held a gun between my eyes," the words are still distant, overly logical, and not displaying the emotions expected of her. "And she knew what I can do. Mostly because my emotions got away from me when I thought I saw you," Sydney's had the happy reunion once, but it hadn't been Lena; it had been a stranger in her friend's place. "She had this syringe that she pushed into my neck which is still bruised from my near-strangulation" a detail she had, very consciously, left out for Fred. "It made me very chatty. And she had me half-convinced you and Chi were murderers. I didn't really believe it, but I didn't know what to believe. No one called me."

"She enlisted my help. I want to feed her bad information. I can't go anywhere, not while Bryce's murder is being investigated. I think they know that. They knew a lot."

Were Lena not already pale (except for the blotchy red mottling both her nose and the apple of each cheek), Sydney's recitation would drain the color from her face. It isn't just what she says; it is how she says it.

"Jesus fucking christ," the young woman sums up at the end of it, voice small and faint. "I…I should have called. I'm sorry. It's…it's been…Syd, I'm so sorry. I…" Lena owes her. That much she knows. She owes and she has to help, even if the thought is enough to make her stomach flip over in protest. "Have you…I mean, do you really think you can…can tell her things and make her believe them? They're…they're bad, Syd. And if she found out…" Any woman who'd conduct an initial interrogation of a possible witness using a gun? Probably not the most stable person in the world.

"If they find out, they find out," is Sydney's response. "If they find I'm not cooperating they'll come after me for more information. If I give them bad information at least I'll have done my ethical due diligence. Fr-" she begins to say her friend's name and something happens, her lips twitch into a momentary smile, she's coming out of her other-worldly state "-this other person I talked to about it sort of agreed. Although he was more concerned for my safety than the internal collapse of a government organization coming after people like us."

"I know I could hide, but hiding would eliminate my future permanently. I would become a prime suspect in Bryce's murder and I could never live a normal life, even if all of this does blow over." She hmmms quietly, "But I need to believe whatever you feed me is the truth. The stuff they put in my neck… I couldn't help but give information. And I need to forget my own plan. Somehow." She shifts her gaze away from Lena.

That smile is not entirely reassuring, all things considered. Lena still looks as if she'd like to throw up. Especially once she digests that last remark and it occurs to her how the therapist wants her to help. "You want me to knock you out?" she asks. Her voice is far more breath than actual tone. "Syd, that's…I don't know if you'll even forget everything you should. It…Hallis was different, she was on lots of drugs. You're not like that. Can't we…can't we like talk to Gene or Pete or…or someone smarter than me?"

"I want to be a saboteur for our side. And to do it, I'll need you to help me forget I asked and then feed me false information. It's the only way I think this will work." Sydney stares at Lena intently. "I know what I'm risking, and after being with Bryce I have a shockingly high pain tolerance. I can push my conscious self into another corner of my mind when I'm in that kind of pain." Her jaw tightens and she furrows her eyebrows, "I don't think Gene would agree and I have no idea who Pete is, but… Lena, I'm not running anymore. I've been doing that for years and my problems caught up with me. People shouldn't have to run for their lives. I want to remove their element of surprise."

Lena opens her mouth to fill Sydney in on Peter, but then thinks better of it. If the woman truly wants to forget…

She sighs, and rubs her eyes. It plainly doesn't feel right to her, to agree to the plan, but she owes so much. "Okay. I…I guess. If you think…you're gonna be out for a long time, Syd. Like…maybe a day. And I dunno even if you will forget so if you wake up and remember, you should just…maybe come up with Plan B, okay?"

Lena casts a look out over the food court before returning her gloomy gaze back to the therapist. "We should get you a motel room, I guess. The book said people usually forget maybe an hour before they got the drug, so…"

"But after… I want you to feed me information that will tactically help our side. Tell me names, places, things that will be of help to us. If they fall for it, we may get an advantage. And if they don't…" Sydney presses her lips together. She won't say it. What she's proposing is treason. "Lena, I don't know any other solutions. I've sat for hours thinking about what to do long before you even got in touch. I… I can help us by thinking I'm helping them." She frowns. "I'm open to suggestions if you have other ideas…"

"Alright. Motel room it is. So… I'm going to need to forget a lot then? Does that just mean a higher dose?" Can Sydney's system handle a higher dose?

"Yeah." It's another sigh, full of resignation. Lena is agreeing to everything but she doesn't have to like it. "I'll call Gene after, to warn him. Him and Pete, they're probably gonna be better at coming up with stuff like that. I dunno what else you could do either. I'm…I've just been hiding. If you can't do that, and they're showing up at your office…" She sighs again, scootching to the edge of the bench and standing up. "We've only been here like…I dunno. Fifteen minutes? So you'll forget meeting me. If we get a room now, and it works, you'll lose the last house. I'll give you a big dose and hopefully it works. You don't OD or anything, don't worry. Cmon, we gotta hurry."

"Thank you," Sydney slides out of the booth and nods. "Lena, I'm sorry. If this works… I'm going to think you're…" she frowns. "…suspect you're a murderer again…" With a heavy sigh the therapist leads the way out of the mall towards a motel down the street. She replaces her beret and sunglasses as they step outside before reaching into her jacket pocket and extracting two sealed envelopes. The first has the words For Sydney if This works. She hands it to Lena, "I might not believe you… or anyone if they tell me what I've done. Keep this. I know you can probably let my memory return but if it doesn't… it contains information about my plan, written for me by my own hand." She swallows hard.

It would be a lie to say that it doesn't hurt. And one can't lie to an empath, in any case. Lena's grimace shows the sting but she keeps pace with the older woman, accepting the envelope and ducking her head in acknowledgement. It's folded and slid into her pocket. "Yeah, well…not the first time people I care about think shitty things about me, it's kinda the story of my life and I pretty much deserve it," she observes with a thin smile. "But I guess some things are more important. What's in the other one?"

"This is for you," Sydney passes the second envelope to Lena. "If things don't go as planned, then when everything blows over…" she swallows. "I don't have a lot, but what I have is yours. Nothing would make me angrier than seeing my grandparents get everything…" She sighs. Yes, she's given this a lot of thought. "Also, I have a letter to Gene in there explaining everything. I know he won't be happy about this… you're not responsible for this Lena. I know what I'm doing…"

That gets more of a reaction. Lena stops dead in her tracks, staring first at the envelope and then at Sydney. "You what? Me? Why…Syd, you can't…no. Nothing like that is going to happen, okay?" Damn their being on a strict time-table. Forward progress begins again, bringing them nearer the motel, but again…Lena doesn't have to like it. "I wanna believe you do, Syd, I really do. But these guys…promise me you'll call me if it doesn't stick, okay? If you still remember when you wake up. Call Jade's cell, she's with me, she's okay too."

And as Lena stops so does Sydney. "I'll be in touch if things don't go as planned and we can try to come up with something else. I don't want to out you guys. And you'll need to pretend for me that you don't know what I'm doing." She sighs. "I care about you guys. You're more than my roommates. You were like my family…"

"I'll…I'll try. You did a lot for us and we owe you a lot. But I'm telling Gene after, okay? Jesus, he's going to freak out, I just know it. After this is all done, I swear to god, he's right…we gotta run away to Disneyworld." Lena's sigh strains the seams of her jacket. But she carries on, for the sake of the woman beside her. Not far from the front office's main entrance, she stops again and nods towards the doors. "Go on, get a room. We'll get you stretched out, I'll dope you up and then I'll leave."

"Alright then," Sydney nods. "And yes, go ahead and tell Gene and that Pete person that I don't know." She shrugs a little. "I promise I'll be safe." Although she won't remember promising it. "You're a good person, Lena," she says before stepping inside and registering at the front desk. Taking her keycard, the blonde leads Lena up the stairs the room. As they reach it, Sydney kicks off her high heels.

The younger woman probably doesn't agree with Sydney's assessment of what sort of person she is, but she's hardly about to argue the point right now. It is a gloomy Lena who follows Sydney up to the room, glancing frequently over her shoulder and twitching the curtains shut the moment they're inside. "Get comfy, take off any jewelry. Pantyhose too if you're wearing it, you don't want anything that's gonna be squeezing you wrong while you're out 'cause you won't be moving much," she advises once the room has been sealed up securely.

Carefully she takes off her mother's ring and gently puts it on the table next to her. Following that she removes a pair of dangly earrings and sighs deeply as she lays down and closes her eyes gently. "Lena," her eyes flutter open again, "We'll make things better. We will. Things will be good again sometime. I promise." That said she closes her eyes and presses her lips together. "Take care of yourself, okay?"

The gloves she's wearing almost 'round the clock now are slowly stripped off and her fingers flexed. It's cold out, Lena has to chafe her hands together to get the blood flowing again. "I hope so. And…and don't worry, Syd. Jade and me, we're pretty safe right now." She pauses, then adds softly, "Tiago too, I think." Before the therapist can question the girl about what that might mean, Sydney would feel a palm against her forehead, and a rush of powerful euphoria before the darkness comes up to take away conscious thought.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License