2007-02-25: Liar, Liar


Job_icon.gif Sydney_icon.gif

Summary: Job stops by Sydney's apartment to return a lost item and gets more than he bargained for.

Date It Happened: February 25th, 2007

Log Title: Liar, Liar

Sydney's Loft

They say that happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory. Unfortunately, Sydney possesses neither — only a rolled up dollar bill with trace amounts of blow on it. She sits cross-legged in front of her coffee table, reviewing a series of photographs depicting the Mendez paintings that are being kept elsewhere in the loft under a tarp. As wired and alert as the drugs are making her feel, they provide no further insight into what the pieces might mean, or who they're supposed to portray; if there's one thing Sydney knows about art, it is that it's completely subjective.

Sydney's evening might not be off to a great start, but the knock that comes from her door can only mean it's about to get worse. On the other side of the barrier, Job thinks about the real wisdom in doing this. But, he doesn't turn to leave and stays firmly put; if Sydney hasn't noticed that her pocketbook is missing by now, then it's surely his obligation to make sure she notices by returning it to her. Really, he would've preferred giving it to her in the bookstore, or the park or anywhere but her apartment. Not only is it awkward, it's unprofessional. Or at least will be, if she decides he's still her psychologist.

Sydney's dark eyes snap up to the door. She wasn't expecting visitors at this hour — and that alone is cause enough to be wary. One hand slides under the couch behind her, her long fingers curling around the crowbar that she keeps there for protection. "Who is it?" she asks in a voice that's as hoarse as it is loud.

Already, this is shaping up to be a less-than-pleasant encounter. "It's your psychologist," Job replies through the door, "You left something in my office the last time you were there, and I'm here to return it." Honesty is the best policy here; Sydney's trust in him has already been damaged once, and it will do no good to damage it further.

About half a minute later, preceded by no small amount of shuffling, banging into things and cursing, the lock turns and the front door swings slowly open. Silhouetted in the doorframe is Sydney's lanky shape — half-clothed in a men's dress shirt that's several sizes too big for her and comes down to her mid-thigh. She wears the sleeves bunched up around her elbows. "You could have just said 'Job.'"

"Could have," Job says in agreement, "But didn't. You look terrible, by the way. I take it things aren't going so well at this moment."

"Thanks for noticing." But Sydney doesn't sound very thankful at all. 'Irritated' would be a better word to describe her grating tone as she steps away from the door, allowing Job entry into her apartment. "Are you always this perceptive?"

"Oh, always without fail." Job decides, after a moment of deliberation, to enter the apartment, although for what reason he keeps to himself. After looking around for a moment, he summarizes his thoughts; "Nice place. Eccentric, but nice."

"Five years in the making. If you're gonna stick around, do me a favour and take off your shoes. The floors are the selling point — something happens to them and the landlord sticks me in the iron maiden he keeps in the basement." Sydney shuts the door behind Job but does not lock it. Instead, she turns away from him and meanders into the kitchen to heat up some leftover Chinese take-out from earlier in the evening. "You like chicken feet?"

"Not much meat on them, but sure, why not? Feet are tasty." Job obliges Sydney's request and removes his shoes, which may well be more expensive than some of the woman's furniture. He then follows her into the kitchen. "You dropped your pocketbook, and then managed to consistently slip away before I could give it back to you. You're difficult to track down, do you realize that?"

While the microwave hums in the background, Sydney pulls herself up onto the kitchen counter and takes a seat on its edge, bare legs dangling into space. "It's a good thing you stopped by," she agrees, "I was about ready to break into your office so I could look for it." As usual, it's difficult to know if she's being serious; the sincerity in her voice contradicts the mischief in her smile. "You didn't read it, did you?"

"Just your address, and that was it," the doctor replies, "Let's face it, I'm a psychologist. If I want to know about your life, I can just wait until you decide to tell me about it." But all the same, he does pass the aforementioned pocketbook over. Hers, not his.

"Wow," Sydney remarks, "I'm impressed — you didn't even flinch." She idly flips through the pocketbook to ensure that no pages are missing. "I wish I was that good at lying. Then again, you have to be, don't you? Lots of practice, telling your patients that you care about their problems."

That gives Job pause, although only for a few seconds during which he does not break his even gaze with Sydney. "It's mix and match," he says in response, "Some problems are boring, it's a challenge to stay awake. Other problems… well, those are the problems I hope to hear about. The interesting and fascinating ones. Humans are a strange breed, you know. The only species in the world with a concept of secrets."

"I dunno about that." Sydney places the pocketbook on the counter and glances over her shoulder to check how much time is left on the food. "One of my foster moms used to have this piece of shit Pekingese that would piss all over my bed and hump the pillow every time I left the house."

"That's, tragic," is all Job can think of for a reply. How *do* you reply to that?

"No, what's tragic was the look on her face when she figured out what the smell coming from the storage space under the stairs was." BEEP. Sydney slides off the counter and pops open the microwave door. "Damn, that's hot," she says, waving her hand in front of her face, "just look at the steam."

Job can't help but wonder exactly what it was she *did* find in that storage space, but he has more than a few guesses. "So, what have you been up to anyway?" he asks, changing the subject, "Job working out for you still? Sponsor still checking in on you? You look like you haven't slept for days."

Blowing on the food to keep the steam out of her face, Sydney dishes it onto a single plate that she then places in the space between them. "Oh, same old," she says, fishing two forks out of one of the kitchen's numerous drawers, "trapped in an underground conspiracy with a time-traveling kook who thinks he's the next Yojimbo. You know, the usual."

Job nods understandingly as he accepts the fork. "So, your sponsor fell back into a pattern of irresponsibility and as such, you have expanded your narcotics diet. Well, worse things *have* happened."

"I am being entirely serious. If you don't believe me, just stick around — he'll be back." Sydney sounds pretty confident. So confident, in fact, that she leans forward and jabs at Job's chest with her own fork. "Actually," she says, "you should spend the night."

Once again, Sydney receives an even stare, but this time with a quirked eyebrow. "I'm sure you understand if I'm reluctant to do that," Job says, "You are aware, I'm sure, that as soon as I do that, I cease to be your psychologist due to a serious conflict of interest."

"I said 'spend the night,' not 'screw me sideways.' Look, I already have one houseguest — two's not gonna hurt." Sydney sinks her fork into a piece of meat, then frowns when it doesn't go in all the way. Okay, maybe utensils weren't the best idea. Abandoning the fork, she picks up the foot with her fingers and begins to gnaw away. As far as Chinese food goes, these "phoenix talons" aren't the worst in New York, but they're not the best either — far from it. Sydney pauses to spit a fragment of bone into a nearby napkin. "Besides, I never scheduled a follow-up appointment."

After watching Sydney try her luck with the chicken feet, Job decides, perhaps wisely, that he'd be better off not partaking of them himself. "I will grant you that," he says, "Alright, we'll call it an experimental treatment." And maybe, just maybe, whatever drugs she has hidden will 'accidentally' fall into the toilet.

Accidentally. Sure. "One condition," Sydney adds, almost as an afterthought, "don't go into the spare room. There's a girl back there — name's Kellie, and she's in kind of a dark place right now. I haven't gotten the chance to talk to her yet, so it's probably best if we leave her alone."

"Right. Girl in the back, dark place, probably not bound for slavery, don't bother, got it," Job repeats, "That's a pile if I've heard one, but I'll trust you here. I will not go into the spare room, even if you tell me otherwise."

"It's not a big deal if you do." Sydney wriggles her sauce-covered fingers at Job. "I can just make you forget what you saw, remember?"

"Sydney, you have a gift that is dangerous at best and downright evil in the wrong hands," Job says somewhat scoldingly, "It's not a toy. And probably should not be used at the county fair on the guy that tries to guess your weight."

All of a sudden, the expression on Sydney's face is very serious. She isn't smiling anymore. "Yeah, about that — you're the only one who knows what I can do. If you don't keep it to yourself, I /will/ mess you up. And not in the good way."

"It's not exactly the sort of thing I should be telling to other people, for your benefit and mine too," Job replies, "Say I did tell someone, and, for the sake of arguing, some shadowy corporate agency comes looking for you. Well, it's only natural that they'd be suspicious of me as well. It would be inconvenient for both of us, especially when we have to leave civilization behind to embark on an epic journey to save the world from 'Giant Radioactive Rush Limbaugh'."

"You have no idea how accurate that really is." Sydney runs her fingers through her hair, realizing too late that she still has sauce on them. When she does, her mouth twists in a terrible, toothy grimace, and she lets out a low moan of disgust. "Sick. I'm gonna go take a shower." Scowling, she dumps the rest of the food in the trash. "Don't you disappear on me, Job. There's some beer in the fridge if you want something to drink. I'll be back — twenty minutes, tops."

"We're assuming I won't pass out due to a combination of physical and mental exhaustion," Job answers, "So if that isn't the case, twenty minutes. Tops."

Sydney disappears into the loft's master bathroom and shuts the door behind her. A few seconds later, the sound of water pattering against the shower's porcelain floor can clearly be heard. She'll do her best to be in and out in under twenty — but like everything else in life, there are no guarantees.

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