2010-08-08: Live Your Life



Date: August 8, 2010


You steady chasin' that paper… Just live your life

"Live Your Life"

Sydney and Lizzie's House

The townhouse is average looking— a brownstone. The difference between it and its neighbours? The lawn is brown, there are no flowers, and the outside has been relatively ignored. Of course, much of that has to do with its owner being away for months on end and her current laissez faire attitude about the lawn; there are more important things in life. Like breathing.

The paint on the white door is peeling, something the owner really should attend to, but once again, she doesn't care. In front of that? The creaky screen door is locked shut.

Strangely, unlike every other house on the block, the curtains are drawn and the windows are closed. allowing no natural light or fresh air into the home almost like the house that time forgot. But one sign does indicate someone is home. A shadow passes the front drape every moments like some figure inside is pacing.

And someone is about to receive a visitor. The figure, at first, takes all the time needed to examine each foot of land owned and abandoned in front of the townhouse, details sapped up at the leisurely pace taken to walk that last block from the actual parking spot acquired. By the time Laurie actually sets foot directly in front of that particular chosen brownstone, the shadow has had time for plenty of pacing. With none of that indecisiveness of step, the consultant trots a short block of stairs, strolling the rest of the way past dying greenery to the faded door.

It's once he's nearly there that he pulls both hands from the pockets of his cool cut black riding jacket, strange, perhaps in the August weather, but not to the manner in which he arrived — parked a block away. One curls protectively around something pulled from those depths while the other rises to the screen door. Rather than test the questionable mesh surface, he veers his aim to the frame and gives several firm, but playfully paced, knocks.

At the sound, the shadow stops in front of the window. Completely still. Moments of implied hesitation pass before a distinctly female voice yells, presumably to some other occupant in the house. "Lizzie?!" But no reply comes. The roommate is probably out. Or something. Perhaps buying more food which is a novelty considering the petite blonde wasn't eating at all when last the pair parted.

After several seconds of indecision, the shadow moves. With five rather loud clicks, the white door unlocks— and with a deep careful breath, Sydney turns the handle.


She shivers at the sound, even though she's wearing a rather heavy leather jacket, a sweater, and blue jeans. These days she never feels warm or secure enough. Peeking through a small crack in the door a streak of blonde hair and a dark eye are her only visible features, until she gasps, and allows the door to swing open further.

Since the last the consultant saw her, her face is better for wear— with only one discoloured eye, slightly purpled, which it likely will be for several more weeks thanks to her obvious anemia (as featured in her ridiculously pale skin). Cracked and unmanicured fingers (despite Lizzie's behest) cling to the door's edge, whitening further as she tightens her grip.

She whispers, "I need to wake up."

In some ways, the consultant is both better and worse than the last time that Sydney saw him for real. On the one hand, his scarred face is patterned with bruises fresher even than hers. On the other, they're cut around by the clean frame of his hair-cut. The side-burns, goatee — a mustache that twitches when he lifts part of his mouth in a half-formed smile at the sight of her, even as she is.

As of yet trapped on the opposite side of her screen door, Laurie aims to make himself as comfortable as possible in that case. Shifting his stance to favor one leg, he gets his elbow against the door frame he'd just knocked on, letting him rub a thoughtful hand under his chin at her choice of response as he lightly leans. "Overrated."

A glance goes out to the neighborhood, her lawn, then finds its way back to her for a cursory examination of her person — as though he hadn't already absorbed all those details when the door opened. "Would you look at that," is pointed out with a kind of point at the door, deformed slightly by all fingers staying gripped to that something in his palm, "I think that might be the only jacket to survive. You're clearly better at this than I am."

"L-L-Laurence… Y-y-you're you're not— they said… you …" Sydney sucks in a quick breath, trying to find some way to finish her though, wholly unsure if this is actually happening. "…died…" Her one saving grace that lets her know this may be happening is Laurie's appearance. In all of the nightmares he started looking much cleaner than this and then she somehow caused the worst to transpire. Blinking a few times, she pushes the door out of the way and unlocks the screen, yet her perplexion sustains.

After another moment, she opens the screen, still stunned as she finally processes the words, her cheeks flushing involuntarily at the comment about the jacket. "I… was cold?" it's more a question than a response as she takes a single step back, "You could… come in?"

"No, no, I'm not." It would seem, perhaps, a droll commentary, all things considered, but Laurie is gentle in delivery even as he maintains an upbeat and more pleasant expression. "Rumors of my death, etc, etc." Giving a bit of an disregarding hand-twirl, he dismisses these charges, the seeming facts now blown apart by his presence. This does nothing to disrupt his careful observance of her feelings as to the matter, though. His eyes watch her every movement opening the door, and he remains absolutely in the same position the entire time, giving no sudden jerks or even any indication that he'll come in when the screen moves.

"Then I'm glad its doing its job. Looks better on you anyway." Thus the jacket is equally dismissed by the same twirling hand motion and he gives a slight shift of weight, still without pressing further towards her personal space. "Are you… sure?"

With a loud sniff, her weight shifts on the other side of the screen. Blinking hard she tries fights that creeping feeling taking over her features. Her lip and chin quiver and she sniffs again with a minute bob of her shoulders. Lips press together, fighting back her peaking emotions, suppressing them somewhere inside her, preventing them from spilling in giant crocodile tears.

With another loud sniff, she pushes the screen door open. Eyebrows furrowing, she sniffs again before reaching out to envelope him in her embrace, those impending tears running down her face.

Even as she's beginning to show the warning signs, Laurie remains breezily cavalier, gesturing that hand about and being slow about getting away from the door frame. "I know you're not my biggest fan— " It's as far as he gets — in one way. Sydney's call to closeness accomplishes two things: he shuts up, and he passes over the threshold between doorstep and residency when he's wrapped around by her. Before committing to the embrace, one hand juts out to catch the screen door and he navigates it quietly shut, followed by a grip to the regular door. But even as he debates, a distant glance over her head, shutting this one, too, something halts him halfway.

So, instead, he drops away from the doors and to her, hands taking her shoulders. She's allowed a moment to remain as she wants, but then he uses a gentle grip to pull her away just enough that he can see her face, look into her eyes. A hand ghosts along her cheek, around fading bruises that match his, and then that thumb slides away the tears there. "Now, now. If you keep hugging me all the time, you're just going to spoil me."

Sydney's shoulders bob underneath Laurie's hands underneath her quiet sobs. As his hand brushes her cheek, her eyes close gently, pressing those emotions inside, back where they belong, hidden from the world and concealed from everyone else. The last sentence, however, earns the consultant a smile through tears, even as the therapist brings her hand to her other cheek, brushing the streaks of salty water form her face.

"Sorry… I…" she tries to apologize and then shakes her head, she can't explain, instead her cheeks flush a brighter red with her embarrassment. "Hi." She clears her throat. "…I … Laurence…. how are you alive?" Her eyes narrow a little with concern. A hand reaches up to motion towards his bruising, "What… happened?"

"No, no, no apologizing either," the consultant instructs brightly, "You know better than to let me give you a hard time. 'Miles is an obstinate block of nonsense'. Isn't that what the report says?" He grins in a bit of a delayed reaction to her own smile, now pairing with her soft greeting instead. "Hello! Hm, greeting. Now the conversation's official, I guess we have to ignore everything that happened back there…" He waves a hand towards the door, even stepping backwards as though to exit through it, "Perhaps I should…"

But question draws him to a stop, pulling him up straight as his eyes jump from unfathomable depths of blue to sparkling with humor in a span of an instant. "Well, I'm no doctor," he starts, prefacing with apology as he raises a hand to his chest, laying fingers against his body there, "But I believe it has to do with some sort of functioning in here and in the brain…" Clearly joking, his mouth just sort of smirking through its exaggerated thought process, he tips his head when she reaches, in his usual dismissal, but also conveniently away from her hand. Throughout, he squints aside at her. "Would yooouuu… believe me if I said I always look like this?"

"Ha! You wish the report was so positive— " Sydney quips back sarcastically to her own surprise as her lips twitch back into a tight lipped near-smile after remembering everything from the last few months. The house itself looks barely lived in and is sparsely furnished. A single couch, coffee table, and chair occupy the living room just off the entrance of the house. The floor is hardwood, the walls purple, and the furniture cream-coloured. A vague glance is given towards the door, the only source of natural light in this room with the drapes all drawn. She bites back a shuddered instinct as she glances at it and swallows, trying to force herself to look away.

With a sharp breath, her body tenses. Thoughts are pushed towards the question and she shakes her head with a small smile while still staring at that door. And then, trying to find some airiness of her own she states quieter than she intends, "Nope. You… were prettier back then…" the words are deadpanned lacking that good humour only moments ago, but there is a glimmer of mischief in her eyes.

Laurie's facial pull of distress and offense at her correction is not so hindered by memories of anything, only the obviously joking way with which he makes the reaction. "Maybe I was just censoring to be nice to your sensitive lady ears…" Muttering neverminding that she would have been the one to write it. With an idle sort of movement, he gives a side step that puts his body somewhat more in front of that door, positioning him squarely in the center of her stare. Meanwhile, his own gaze examines the room, and he's only called to attention by her quip. It's one, even quiet, that elicits quite a strong reaction from him. Fists closing in frustration, he brings them up to his shoulder, shaking one and bending that shoulder back slightly in animated distress to go with his gasping ahh — like a man who's just watched his prize horse lose a race.

"Thwarted!" He exclaims, hands un-bunching to show palms of surrender, "I was going to ask you to the prom and I wanted us to match," fingers tip towards his bruises, hers, "Corsages are so overdone…" Easing away from the joke, he still ducks in some squinty-eyed consideration, "Wait, did you just say 'pretty?" Narrow, suspicious eyes. "Careful now, therapist. You've got my ego in your hands. I warn you it's fragile and doesn't play well with others…" Pause. His head turns away from her, spying off into the distance of her house. "Or, wait… maybe that was also the report…"

With the door blocked, Sydney's posture relaxes, the outside world out-of-sight and for the moment out-of-mind for the moment. The prom comment earns another smile, small, a little sad, but certainly there, "Very creative, Laurence, you know the real way to a girl's heart." Pressing her lips together again she hmmmms before taking another step back into the house, her cheeks flushing that same pale pink.

Finally, evenly, she states, "It was a very lengthy report. I bet there are books written about you." Fingers rake through her hair as she shifts her weight again. An odd silence comes over her, even considering how quiet and withdrawn she's been lately. Cheeks flush even brighter as she tilts her head at him, "I… was… worried… about you." The flush a little brighter as a vague glance is implied towards the door, "He's still… around." She shivers before pushing the thoughts away.

The grin is broad and unashamed when he's questionably complimented, though Laurie's face turns ever so carefully sly when he can't help but add: "… is it through her chest?" When she's occupied in taking that step away, purely for his own benefit, the consultant's eyebrows draw in, his mouth inching flatly in an allowed moment of puzzlement over some trait spotted in the therapist. But as she speaks again, he's all bright eyes and smiles for her, signs of the momentary change gone.

"Those poor books," he muses while taking her lead and furthering his placement into the room. His hands draw along his jaw, ending smacked together, edges of fingers pressing against his mouth. "Yooouu… should probably think about picking up another hobby…" He's not worried. Nor is he particularly reverent with her belongings when he chooses to remove one hand and take a firm grasp on her drapes, yanking them quite seriously open and admitting the better part of the day to flood into the room. "We're all around," still with that absence of grounding, that dreaminess of thought, "All the time. You, me, him, her. To accept one is to accept all."

"N-no!" Every muscle tenses as the sunlight comes into the room. Her face squints against the sunlight, scrunching into a an odd scowl as she marches forward to draw the drapes closed. Conscious or not, she's created for herself a new prison, much like the one she'd left: sunless, windowless, and private. Eyebrows furrow as she gives the drape a tug while adamantly shaking her head. "There's always someone though. Always. Even when I think it's over I have to look over my shoulder…" Hypervigilance has become her rule of thumb as she shivers again pulling that too-big-for-her leather coat tighter around her body only to remember it's real owner is standing right there. Almost awkwardly she shuffles further into the house, towards the kitchen, leaving the window to Laurie's discretion.

Under her feet the floor turns to linoleum, something she swore she'd change when she moved into this space. She's maybe lived here a month since then, even though she's owned it for eight. From the kitchen she calls loudly, "Pie?"

Although Laurie's hands retreat harmlessly into his pockets when the therapist comes over, as soon as she's shuffled her way on out, the drapes are once again drawn aside to allow in some of that natural goodness. "… This time it was me." Muttered musings to the outside world; it doesn't respond but for a car passing by the street on its own way home. The sound of Sydney moving away is processed, the change in her footsteps. But it's at her voice that his head swivels very quickly over his shoulder and then he somewhat bounds from the place near the window into the room proper, choosing a slightly less leaping, but ever enthusiastic pace to finish the way into the kitchen. "And how!" Though also low, a 'to himself' sort of quality, this is spoken a touch louder.

Crossed onto the linoleum now as well, the consultant is quick and handy to scope out every detail of the kitchen's being. It's a critical and snobbish study, palms to counter, thumb running studiously along material as he glances away to find appliances, dishes, anything.

The kitchen itself contains large rows of cupboards that look like they've seen better days with peeling paint— another thing Sydney meant to finish, now she hardly cares. The island in the centre has two barstools and a breakfast bar. For a townhouse kitchen it's not tiny, but it's not large either. The the side of the room are boxes upon boxes of unopened kitchen utensils, things Syd hasn't yet had need for so she hasn't bothered emptying them.

She cuts two pieces of pecan pie and loads them rather lopsidedly onto two plates (and consequently making a mess of pie on each of them, she's not good at moving it to the plates) before returning it to the rest to the fridge. "I made it last night." She couldn't sleep, but that part is conveniently left out.

One plate is pushed towards Laurie along with a fork; it contains the bigger piece of pie. "So… he's back in the pysch ward…?"

Finding his way to those boxes, Laurie has no hesitation cozying up to someone else's personal belongings; he's soon unpacking several utensils, turning them skeptically in his hand before opening and shutting drawers to find the most sensible home. A glance here or there gauges Sydney's possible reactions to each location, but does not slow his intentions in sorting out as many of the things as possible before an appearing plate of pie provides quite a distraction.

A clean sideways cut by the fork distributes the first piece, though he wavers it in the air some at her first. "So they say. The DA's fighting it." Judgment lacking, the statement is exactly that, wiped clean of all importance. Instead, as he stuffs the fork into his mouth, holding it there, he becomes preoccupied with side-stepping in a vague turn about the kitchen, finding and eyeing each indication o failing decoration.

"This place could use an accent color," is decided when the bite is done and he's scooping down for another. "If you're feeling especially classic… a still-life of some fruit over the sink." Several more instances of examination and then, fork nearly through that second scoop, he glances over at her as easy as can be: friend to friend. "I have a lot of free afternoons right now…"

An eyebrow is arched at the unpacking that she hasn't bothered to touch, but she's not wholly unsettled about it. Like her office there's little actually personal in this house. Even the boxes contain only kitchen supplies— those rare items that everyone buys but rarely uses. Including a Slap Chop that never actually worked.

"He'll get out again," Sydney states matter-of-factly before shovelling a forkful of pie into her mouth while leaning back against the counter. She chews thoughtfully before letting the fork clink against the plate, resting it there for a moment. Contemplatively, she murmurs, "If his mind isn't completely fractured… there's no hope he'll stay there. He can get out and if he wanted, he could get out of prison."

A vague glance is given to the walls before she nods. "It needs work. The cabinets need to be stripped and painted, but the wood's in good shape. I'd planned on getting rid of the lino too." Her head tilts slightly as those eyebrows are arched again, "Is that an offer? I could use some help… if you're free. I can feed you pie. And Lizzie makes good soup." Not that she's been terribly motivated to do it these days.

Yeah, that Slap Chop was given a good turn-over and eying before it was definitively not placed in any cupboards. Laurie actually sets his plate down near it, giving the side an idle flick. By this point, more than half of his piece is already vanished, and with the surface of the plate where it'd been scrapped quite clean of runaway crumbs, too. His eyes meandering the counter island, the consultant has only the suggestion of a shrug, more in his voice than an actual movement. "If he does, I'll kill him."

It's as simple as that. Admittance that could be used against him in court one day. But Laurie hasn't a care in the world when he swipes that topic aside, spinning to put his back against the counter, hands resting at either side at its edges. "Feed me pie… you'll make me fat. Then I'll be fat and unpretty— " A raised hand wags an allowing finger in the air between them, "But at least I'll be handy." There's a bit of a pause as he adjusts his pose to let his hands go, bringing both up to his precise goatee. "Soup, hm. Interesting." His head lolls lazily at an angle to find her, fingers following vaguely, "How do you feel about — no, wait, no. Let me guess — no! I'll surprise you."

"But… how?" Sydney's eyes narrow. "He's… not like other people. I can't even figure out how he was caught in the first place unless he was drugged up or something beforehand. Or…" if Roberto's ability never came back. With a heavy sigh she abandons the rest of her pie to the counter; her appetite hasn't really returned, even though she's back. It's probably a good thing she eats calorie-laden pie.

"Wait. What are you surprising me with?" eyes are narrowed again, almost suspiciously, "And I actually make more than pie. Sometimes." Not lately. A glance is given to her gold light fixtures (a la Lizzie) accompanied by a wince, "I need to replace those too." The good news is they're real gold so there will be cash to replace them!

"If I told you, then it wouldn't be a surprise," Laurie scolds her merrily, twirling his pie fork and then diving it in. Somewhere in there, the rest has disappeared and he's left with about two smaller bites. The first he now swallows before squinting at her with purpose. "You should finish yours. You'll offend the chef." He shows her the way by delivering that last portion to his mouth, then twirling a bit to find himself at the sink. The twist of the knob and running water cascades over a plate with barely any visible evidence it held food at all.

When everything's been run down, rinsed, and set aside, Laurie finds his way towards Sydney, hands wandering towards his back pockets in a move representing bashfulness, same as his lowered gaze. But his blue eyes are bright and clear when they lift to her. "Alright, therapist, I'll be out of your hair now."

"Somehow I don't think the chef will mind…" considering Sydney made the pie although she might try to finish her piece later. Cheeks flush lightly as he closes the distance between them, but she doesn't look away— her dark-eyed gaze remains on the consultant all the while.

Her lips press into a tight thin line curling slightly upwards before she takes a step towards him, closing the distance just a little more. "Laurence?" Her gaze remains fixed, "Thank you," the gratitude is uttered quietly before she shrugs the jacket, her proverbial safety blanket over these last few weeks, from her shoulders to pass it back to him. "For everything." Her lips twitch again with that emotion she fights, pressing it further beneath the surface.

He nods to acknowledge his name, "Sydney." And gives a soft laugh at the gratitude — not necessarily against it — but a way to dismiss his deserving. The coat passing between them is accepted all the same. As the leather jacket comes forward, Laurie wraps his fingers not around that but around Sydney's own, clasping her hands with his and keeping the jacket between them. Warmth in his touch is reflected in his gaze on her, lightening blues with that intensity. "Just live your life. For everything. That's the control that you have, over everyone. Eventually, you might even find someone you don't want to hide it all inside with anymore." Gentle squeezing and then he's pulling his hands to himself, and leaving the coat in hers. "Who knows," a twitch of a smile, mysterious and fleeting; he winks, "It might even be you."

Separation by several paces occurs before he twists over his shoulder, pointing authoritatively at her and that abandoned plate. "And eat your pie, young lady!" His greatest and most deliberate instruction yet, and then he smoothly aims to the door.

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