2010-04-23: Normal Or Something Like It



Date: April 23, 2010


Fred visits Syd at her office.

"Normal or Something Like It"

Sydney's Office — Hope Hearth Distress Centre

After months of being away from work, Sydney was, fortunately welcomed back to all of her positions with relatively few questions (an attempt on her life back in December actually was a useful explanation) although being back at work itself is somewhat unsettling. She hasn't found her groove over the last few days. In fact, she feels utterly different, strangely out of sorts, particularly as she attempts to pick up the pieces of her life.

She sits in her Hope Hearth office, playing with her desk toys — she hasn't seen patients yet; easing back into work means catching up on her cases (the ones that her colleagues had picked up when she left), organizing herself, and convincing Amy she isn't delusional. She pulls a single metal ball on her desk pendulum and watches it swing.

The therapist herself appears professional though, despite her current work-tasks. Dressed in a high-neck little black dress, black pumps, and with her blonde tresses curled she almost looks as if she'd never left. Other than her serious lack of colour — this would be unusual in her attire, but she's gotten used to wearing black again over the last few months.

With everything changing, with the AP shut down, and with people being allowed back to their 'normal' lives, Fred has gone back to the work he was doing before he went to the AP…working completely for the Company and working in his 'regular' practices. However, knowing how hard it must be for people to go back to their normal lives after all that happened to them as a result of the Alpha Protocol, and having thought much about Sydney, he decides that a visit to her is in order. Making his way to her office, and being directed to the room that belongs to her, he finds himself standing in front of the door. After a few moments, he knocks, waiting for her to allow him in.

"Come in," Sydney calls as she steps out from behind her desk, smoothing her dress, unsure of who will be at the door. She steps towards the door to open it — despite her words. Tilting her head, she manages a smile and her tone reflects genuine surprise, "Hey! Fred, what are you doing here?" She doesn't let him answer the question though before beckoning him into her office and over to her all-too-uncomfortable couch that she's been meaning to replace for months. Not that she remembers — that was back in October she put in the request. Now she has forgotten.

As he's about to open the door, it gets opened by the occupant of the room. Fred offers Sydney a kind smile, entering as Sydney motions for him to enter. As the door closes behind him, he gives Sydney a good look over. Adjusting his his tie (an orange tie with a smiley face on it), he tries to smile wider. "I wanted to see how you were doing. So, how are you doing?"

"I'm… good," Sydney manages with a smile as she assumes her regular chair before tilting her head and truly considering the question. Her eyebrows furrow, although she's still smiling, "I mean. I think I am. I don't really know." This is punctuated by another shrug. "It's been surreal. I guess that's the only real explanation I have." Biting her bottom lip she shrugs again before crossing her legs and leaning back in

Fred takes a seat across from Sydney as she takes her own seat. "I can only imagine how the whole experience has been for you. I'm just relieved that you weren't caught." He says softly. "And I'm glad that everyone who is not a danger has been given their lives back…or that it's been attempted to give their lives back, anyway." He says, still as softly. "How are Jamie and Trent doing?"

"They're good. Trying to connect Jamie with her real guardian," Sydney's smile fades some. "It'll be good for her. They're like a real family and know what they're doing." Pressing her lips together she folds her hands in her lap and stares silently at the floor for a few moments. "I'm not a parent, that much is evident. The pair almost got themselves killed under my supervision. I would be a terrible — " she can't even bring herself to say the word. "But. Trent would be worse off where he was so — " Now she manages a sheepish smile.

Fred offers a little nod, watching Sydney carefully, not responding for a few moments. "I know what happened to Trent and Jamie wasn't…ideal. But considering the circumstances, it could have been a lot worse." He takes a deep breath in. "But that was hardly your fault. I know you'd make a wonderful mother. Just look what you did to try to ensure that they'd be safe? I'd call that good parenting." He smiles widely though. "I'm glad to hear about reuniting Jamie with her proper guardian though. And what's the plan for Trent?"

"I'm a terrible parent, you don't need to lie for my benefit. A good parent would've kept a better eye on them and it never would've happened in the first place," Sydney runs a hand through her hair as she reflects on the experience. With a small shake of her head she manages a weak smile, "But yes, I'll miss Jamie, but it's best she's with her real guardians. They are better equipped than I am." She purses her lips together, "Trent, however… I'm hopeful that they'll let me be his foster m-parent." Once again the word mom evades her.

Fred pauses for a few moments, shaking his head. "But you were living in extenuating circumstances. You don't know how you would react under normal…" He chews that word out for a moment, thinking it over. "Under normal conditions." He smiles kindly. "I think you'd be a good mother." He nods a little. "Let Jamie's guardians know that should Jamie wish to talk with someone, that I'd be willing to do so. I know that you were her therapist originally, but…I'd still like to put the offer out there. Same with Trent." He smiles widely. "If you become Trent's foster mother, for that's what you'll be, a mother, if he wants to talk with someone about anything and everything, I'd be more than happy to be that super cool dude who talks to him about…whatever he wants to talk about."

"Foster mother," Sydney cringes at the m-word. "I'm sorry, parenthood never seemed like something on the horizon for me, not that I'm very old, it's just that statistically people with poor family situations grow into adults who cultivate poor family situations." She pauses, "But you know that." She tilts her head at him and smiles despite herself, "I might take you up on that. He could talk to someone." She eyes him carefully, "So tell me, what are you doing now? We're all back to our normal lives — or… whatever that is… what is that to you?"

"Children with poor parental figures turn out to be poor parents themselves, or find themselves in similar relationships as their gender identifiable parent. Or both. And so on and so forth. Yes." Fred nods a little. "And while we both could say we know that on personal levels…well, we've not been full out parents yet, either of us." He chuckles. "Well, the offer's out there. Feel free to take me up on it." There's a slow, deep breath at the question. "Well, I'm still at the community centre that you first found me at. So I might dedicate more time there. Although, I had worked for this paper company as a psychologist for the company, so I might try to get a job back there as well…they had good benefits." He shrugs. "And Primatech always treated me fairly well. That's the name of the paper company, Primatech." He smiles. "Though I hear Yamagato Industries has an office here, and I hear that they're an awesome wicked employer. So I might see if I can get a job with them as well. But we'll see."

"Huh. Look at you — the industrial psychologist," Sydney manages another smile before emitting a small sigh. "Well I'm back at work — obviously. I'm back with the police too, it's pretty awesome, but they're giving me some time to ease into both. I won't be teaching again until the fall though." She wrinkles her nose, reflecting on the shame that it is, "But I might not even do that. I mean, if I'm allowed to be Trent'd foster parent." Yup, the word mom just freaks her out.

Fred lets out a little laugh. "Aren't I just?" There a little grin, though it fades slightly. "The police, huh? Well, after all that's happened, it a good idea to ease back into it. You don't want to rush back into everything." There's a little nod to the last statement, about teaching and Trent. "You don't want to be doing too much if you're looking after Trent. Although…if you did enough teaching and got tenure, that would be even better, wouldn't it? Because then you'd have a steady job that you would know that you couldn't lose!"

"Maybe. I think I have really good job security here though. I know it's non-for-profit, but I have security. I mean I disappeared for months and Amy took me back with open arms." Sydney's cheeks redden a little. "But tenure would be good. I would miss the one on one patient time. It's what I'm good at. I think people respond to gentleness, you know?" She shrugs again. "Are you happy to be done with… them?"

Fred nods. "Well, she sounds like a wonderful woman, having taken you back." He says sympathetically. "Gentleness is important. Though of course, if a patient is irate enough, usually nothing helps until they calm down a bit." He nods. "Like the first patient I ever had who also had an ability. He would get so furious that no one believed that he had an ability." He chuckles and sighs. "Turns out he was right and the rest of us were wrong." He shrugs. Pausing for a moment, he finally nods to Sydney's question. "I'm glad that I have nothing to do with them now. I hated working for them, considering what they did to people." He nods again. "I just…want to be a normal person doing normal work again, you know?"

"She is a wonderful woman. She's got a lot to offer and has been an incredibly friend and mentor to me for ages," Sydney can't help but smile as she talks about Amy. "I never had a sister, it's nice to have someone just as crazy as I am. Although she'll think I'm off my rocker for taking in Trent." She shrugs. "And so life is supposed to just go back to normal now, I guess." Her eyebrows furrow. "But I don't feel the same. Does that make sense? Do you feel the same?"

Fred grins. "Nah, I doubt she'll think your crazy for taking in Trent. It's a noble deed worthy of a…a…well, an award of some kind." He says with an even more playful grin. "You never had a sister, you say? You know, I have a sister. Did I ever tell you about her?" He says, laughing a bit. Just as suddenly as he was playful, he goes serious again. "It's not going to be easy, getting back to a 'normal' life. Things will probably never be the same, but that's life now." Offering a soft and gentle smile he says, "What you're saying makes perfect sense. I can't say I'm exactly the same either."

Sydney rolls her eyes, but plays along, "Whaaaat?! You have a sister?" She, too, smiles playfully. With a heavy sigh she also turns serious again, "Nothing's easy anymore. I can't even believe it in a way. Getting home has been weird. I've been on the run so long I didn't even think about it. AND I own a townhouse now. Which is weird." Because she didn't pay for it, and hasn't talked to Eric since early December.

Fred nods a little. "Oh yeah. A twin sister to boot! But I've not seen her in AGES!" He grins, but alas and alack, the serious part of their conversation must go on. "Of course, it's not gonna be easy to get back to your old life." He smiles. "You own a townhouse now? How did that happen, if I might be so bold as to ask?"

"I take in strays — it's a problem of mine," Sydney smirks. "More than once it's happened. The townhouse was bought by a friend who insisted so I could house more people." She shrugs. "I had like five people living in a tiny two bedroom apartment. It was an adventure." She shrugs again. "I couldn't go back there after my hospital stay in December because — well — the house was on the Protocol's radar after one of my roommates was captured."

Fred chuckles softly. "Apparently taking in strays has become a little bit of a problem of mine as well." He says thoughtfully. "But that's not the worst thing, ever. It's commendable." He smiles kindly. "Well, now you've got a place for more strays. Who knows, I may come a-knockin' at your door myself."

"Are you a stray Dr. Fred?" Sydney asks with a single raised eyebrow and a tilt of her head. "And it is good to have space for them if they should come knocking. I can't say no." Her lips curl into a broad grin, "Commendable or not, it could be deemed a character fault or a strength, I suppose."

Fred offers a tiny smile. "I might just be. You never really know what's going on with Doc Fred." He chuckles softly. "To me, dearest Doctor Falkland, it is quite the character strength. Maybe I think so, though, because of my own parents…adoptive parents, I mean. Since they took me in when I was a stray after my own parents died."

"I could see that," Sydney says with a small shrug. "I think I'm still at a loss to understand where my attitude towards strays comes from. I swear my grandparents never really wanted me there. Not really. I was a stain on their daughter's otherwise good reputation. They always treated me like a freak — well before I knew I was one." The mother Syd never knew; would never know. With a sigh she manages another smile, "Well, maybe someday I'll feel normal again."

Fred shakes his head. "Hey now, you're no freak. If anything, I feel like the freak. Surrounded by a bunch of people with abilities and not having one…now that's freakish." He grins softly. "Or…I was surrounded people with them anyway." He shrugs. "Your grandparents were counterintuitive parents. They didn't care what was good for their child, or grandchild in your case. They just cared what looked good on them, and what they thought was the perfect child. Nothing less." He shakes his head again. "That's no way to raise a child."

"And they wonder why we don't speak anymore. I bet you anything they didn't even know I fell off the map. There's something odd about not being missed by your own family," Sydney issues Fred a smirk. "And I agree, that's no way to raise anyone. Not even a puppy let alone a child." Puppies are awesome. "And now that everything is semi-resolved, any big plans? I guess you weren't on the run and that makes it easier. I guess my biggest plan is actually settling into the house and trying to get custody of Trent… and taking patients again. That would be awesome."

Fred smiles kindly. "I guess neither of us have really had family that would miss us, have we?" He says thoughtfully. "My adoptive parents died, and your grandparents don't care. We're in the same boat, you and I. Are paths are crossed in many different sections." He smile. "I've got no big plans. My life will go on as normal, except that I've got one less job to worry about of course." He replies. "If you need help with getting custody of Trent, let me know. I can coach you in regards to what to do with the government officials, and what to say, and I can be a witness to say that you're fit to be a parent. I've got some experience with this, with the kids I see at the community centre."

"That could be helpful. I'd appreciate it; don't really know what I'm doing, just that Trent needs a home, I have one, I'm a more fit guardian than his last one, and, well, I'm attached to the kid. I still need to wrap my brain around the idea of being a m-mother." She winces at the word. "Sorry, it still freaks me out…"

Fred smiles and nods. "Of course. I'll write something up of things we need to go over. I'll bring it over soon or something and we'll work on it." Slowly he starts to stand. "But now, I'm afraid I have to get to my own office. I've got a full evening of…filing ahead of me. Fun times to be had." He chuckles softly. "But I'll see you soon. Don't be a stranger now, you hear?"

"You know me, never a real stranger," Sydney stands as she follows him to the door. "Take care of those files — good luck with everything." She grins again, things are interesting. Strained. Odd, maybe. But interesting. "Take care of yourself, hey?"

Fred opens the door and turns to look at Sydney before he leaves. "I'll make sure they're really taken care of." He chuckles. He looks at Sydney for a long moment before nodding. "You too, okay? If you need anything, and I mean anything, just let me know. Someone to talk to, who understands what you've been through, or anything else…just let me know."

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