2010-07-06: Psychoanalyze That



Date: July 6, 2010


Takes place after Psychoanalyze This

“No matter what our achievements might be, we think well of ourselves only in rare moments. We need people to bear witness against our inner judge, who keeps book on our shortcomings and transgressions. We need people to convince us that we are not as bad as we think we are.”

Eric Hoffer

"Psychoanalyze That"

Warehouse— Cell

Silence had come over the room. Aside from the occasional hiccupy gasp for air. Fortunately, Sydney had found some semblance of control somewhere amidst the quiet. All of this for a Tuesday. Finally sitting up and away from Amy, Sydney slides away, curling into a small ball on the bed. Her eyes swollen from now-choked back tears are exhausted. Staring at whatever's overhead she finally murmurs, "I… am okay." And there she goes again, shutting down. Not feeling what she should; a fact her friends should know is not a good sign, compartmentalized trauma is of the worst sort. Harried and empty-feeling, she manages another murmur. "Also. I quit."

Rather than return to her own bunk — as much as it feels like her own; which is to say, not at all — Amy remains standing, leaning ahead with most of her weight and folding her arms on the edge of the upper bunk. She lays her head on her arms, a glassy gaze pointed at Sydney. The concern has never left her features, but it's dulled now, faraway and tired. She mumbles a faintly cynical response. "I don't blame you." More softly: "And… I think it's a little early to be completely okay."

Fred hasn't left his spot in the corner, glancing every so often at the door. His anger, as yet, hasn't dissipated, as is obvious should anyone get caught in his gaze. When Sydney and Amy get speaking again, he still doesn't speak. He doesn't trust himself to. What if he says something he regrets? He's smart enough to know that that could happen. That it's a very definite possibility that it could happy should he speak. So he doesn't. He leaves it be for the time being. Anyway, he wasn't being spoken to in the first place. Not directly.

Into this den of happiness and joy, the door rewards Fred's occasional vigilance by yawning open after the brief jangle of keys just outside. The glimpse beyond the cell is of a warehouse abandoned — not a single Irish accent to be heard. Though there is some Irish snoring from that always nearby table, where a man who was around when Sydney was brought back in now sits slumped and half-curled about a bottle of something very potent. All the doors beyond are closed, giving no glimpses into how far this quiet extends.

But blocking most of the doorframe, as he fiddles with what is now a fair bulk of keys attached together on a ring, is the gangster known as Roscoe — or the man with barely less of a questionable reputation as far as the occupants of this room, Laurence. He's sporting the part of his role, though, some frightfully patterned black and green shirt the only spot of interest in an otherwise all the rest black ensemble. There's still plenty of attention called to his face by the numerous scars mapping it, but he tilts his head just the same and grins when he greets the somber setting. "Shrink, other shrink," a spare glance for Fred over there, "Man shrink." Jangle, jangle with the keys. "Who's ready for their walk?"

"Ehn," is Sydney's eloquent reply to Amy. "I'm fine," she lies, while combing her fingers through her blonde tresses and closing her eyes. The clanging of keys isn't met with any anticipation from the blonde shrink, instead it's got the polar opposite effect. She shudders a little. It's, overall, not a happy or welcoming sound. Not after the last time someone took her from this room. But the reaction makes one thing abundantly clear— she is so not fine.

The title rather than the name, however, piques her interest. Slowly she sits up from the cot and looks at the occupant. Her face, doesn't look much better for wear compared to yesterday, but there's something not quite readable across it likely because it's a mix of conflict emotions all at once. "Consultant," she manages in greeting before swallowing and glancing at her colleagues. Reaching into her pocket, she extracts the small note with a single word written on it. Her head tilts, "Today, then?"

The keys and opening of the door have a much more obvious effect of fear on the older of the therapists: flighty, she scrambles suddenly away from the bed and steps backwards close to the wall, all on instinct. After learning of Laurie's plan — or rather, that he has a plan — Amy's reaction to realizing who their visitor is barely reassures her, so far; he could be any terrifying gangster, the way she eyes him on-edge. She does glance to Sydney skeptically, for confirmation, and next to Fred with some alarm (as if expecting the latter to do something stupid). "Sure…" she manages to say dryly with bravado she doesn't actually have. "…just let me get my walking shoes." Which she doesn't have.

Fred scoffs. "Not unless you're planning to walk me to Roberto, so I can have myself a pleasant little chat with him. Otherwise, I'm not going anywhere. You can punch me all you want. I'm sure you'd LOVE to do that. But I'm going nowhere unless it's to talk to the boss." He says angrily. "He has no right to treat any of us as bad as he has." And that's that. He doesn't get up, he doesn't bother to catch on to what's been said. He just…sits.

The grinning that the girls have earned flattens out as Laurie's head turns once again to remember that Fred is there. All of it is contemplated a mere second before he's moved off, dismissing that corner of the room. "Right— " to Sydney, "You sure we're not leaving him behind?" Tucking the loop of keys into his jacket pocket, he spares a single look for a watch with its face turned to the inside of his wrist, and then reaches behind to his jeans pocket for something to present to Amy: cheap flip-flops, a package of kiwi flavored gum. Then there's a narrowed focus right in on the blonde therapist, his therapist. Coming up to the cot, he crouches, giving that 'today' note an angled look, and Sydney an even more crooked one. "What do you say, Sydney Falkland. Gonna walk, or just take advantage of me some more?"

"Fred," the name is said softly, not as a reprimand, but certainly meaningful in its own right. The blonde's head shakes slightly. It's not a warning, it's not defensive, she's got none of that left. Instead it's gentle, reminding, perhaps like Fred had left milk on the kitchen counter.

"Yes. He's coming and so are you, Laurence," Sydney's voice cracks as she reaches for Laurie's shoulder to help ease herself off the cot— something she hasn't tried as of yet— but despite the crack, she's confident in her words, matter-of-fact even. "We're all getting out of here. Today. The note says." Her glassy eyes stare at his blue ones. "Doctor's orders. And I'm sure they're not just mine— " her eyebrows knit together at she stares at each of the injuries on the Consultant's face in turn. "Yes. We are all going."

After reiterating this fact, she attempts to lower her feet to the floor and inhales a deep breath. A glance is given to her bare feet; she has no idea where her shoes ended up. Not that she ever intended to wear them again after this. Slowly, carefully, she shifts her weight to her feet, but to no avail, she just hasn't the strength in her. It is simply not there. "I… will need to use you again… Lau— Miles." She swallows. "I'll pay for your therapy later," she murmurs lowly.

Surprised by Laurie, Amy reaches out somewhat unsurely for the offerings — and the gum gets a weirder look than the flip-flops. "Sugar-free," she notes, the comment feeling as out-of-place in their dire, dreary setting as the colorful wrapper itself. She maneuvers the footwear onto her feet with some balancing help from the wall, and with a wiggle of her toes, she's ready as she'll ever be. She watches with transparent worry on every part of her tired — but unlike some others', unmarred — face as Sydney gets down, but it's Fred who she moves over to.

Amy crouches in her new flip-flops in front of him and, not feeling particularly satisfied over being right (yep, Fred doing something stupid), sends an imploring look his way. She addresses the stubborn therapist on the floor quietly — under her breath. "Dr. Stone. Remember what you told me?" A quick look goes over her shoulder to Sydney and back. "If you stay here, you won't get a chance to fix it. Forget about Roberto. You can be angry later, but whatever this is, it's probably your only chance of getting out of this funhouse. Come with us. For Syd." With that, she rises and offers an hand down to Fred.

Fred looks u, glaring at the other man. "It's fine. Leave me here. I don't really care to be honest. I was never really worried about Roberto, personally, anyway. What's a little more time in here to me? It just means more time for me to figure out a way to stop him from the inside." His glare is then turned toward Amy. "You know as well as I do that anger can dissipate after awhile. At least the heat of the moment anger!" He snaps. After a few moments, he snaps out, once more, "Fine! I'll come! But this could seriously deter what I had hoped to do to help stop Roberto!" He doesn't accept her hand to help him up, but gets up on his own, following the group.

"And here we all go! Upsy-daisy." There were shoes in the other back pocket for Sydney, but they are to remain there as Laurie, nodding slightly to her signal, pulls her securely but carefully to him and then swoops that arm under her knees for the carry. It's a more traditional cradle than when he was trying to keep up appearances, letting her rest. And as he's perfecting the grip, making sure she's supported, he turns his cheek against her wild blonde hair and comments amusedly, "I don't think your goth boyfriend is much happy with me." Not that his tone blames or begrudges the man; he's almost proud.

But the watch that's now near Sydney's arm is ticking away and, tuned partially in that direction, Laurie gives an instructing nod towards the door for Amy. "You can stay behind or in front, but every other door except where we're going is locked." Funhouse, indeed. "Resist the urge to sock the drunken man just outside," there's a kind of poignant half-glance to Fred, "and we'll be golden— hold on, honey," the last as a warning to Sydney before the support behind her back vanishes briefly. He's moved something about from behind him to near his pocket. One might recognize the sound of a gun safety. Golden.

"You have that effect sometimes," Sydney mutters expressionlessly; her voice has no sarcasm, no merriment, no life, but it's a joke nonetheless.

Clamping her eyes shut, she wraps her arms around Laurie as the support is removed from her back. It's not really visible, but with the click of the gun her entire body tenses. She's a mediator not a fighter, but she's willing enough.

The group meanders through corridor after corridor of the warehouse, doors being unlocked in turn. The warehouse itself is shockingly silent tonight. Begging the question, where is everyone?

Staying behind is the order Amy has taken to, keeping a close eye on Sydney as much as she can while she follows Laurie. Her arms are, for the most part, kept wrapped around her as she moves; she's approaching every single thing with trepidation, but trying to be bold and prepared. For what? The endless possibilities race through her mind. The emptiness around them is a good sign, but she can't help but be unnerved by it. Every sound seems that much louder, including the ones she makes on her own: the shuffling footseps and the light crinkling of a gum wrapper that takes far too long to unwrap, which causes her to realize her fingers are shaking.

Upon exiting the the room, Fred makes a b-line to the unconscious guard. As he'd hoped, the guard did indeed have a gun. Unholstering the gun from the man, Fred takes it and follows the rest of the group from the rear, keeping his eyes and ears open for any sign of anyone unwelcome. If he does happen to hear something he deems suspicious? Well, he'll cover that ground when he gets to it.

"That would be because I emptied it," Laurie's reply is a controlled raising of his voice in the otherwise silence, carrying only so far as the male therapist that he eyes while pushing the latest door open with his back. "What are you doing, taking guns from strange men, anyway? Stick it away before you make a convincing picture to shoot on sight." Not that anyone's here, and he probably doesn't mean himself. But there's a wariness now that tightens his hold on Sydney some, and sees him standing against that propped open doorway this round to let Amy and Fred through first.

The pacing of the group is kept tighter knit as the large warehouse storage rooms turn into corridors and then into more private offices — their small windows darkened and their handles unyielding. Not only does the atmosphere feel more civilized, despite little use out of it from the Irish — or, perhaps, because of — but a beacon has appeared at various turns. A bright, neon EXIT sign with an encouraging little arrow built in.

And just beyond that last crisp white door, the neon melts into the curling rays of a mid-evening setting sun. Lingering light paints over the hood of a slightly used and completely distinction-less Honda Accord. It isn't the only vehicle in the fenced off warehouse district courtyard, but it sits unnaturally close to where the exit door lets out of the building, and with one door already open in welcome.

Laurie's nod finds which side Amy has gotten to, and then the opposite one of the car, after he's made a sweeping check of the visible area. "Go around," is the instruction to one therapist as he begins to prepare the one in his arms to be set down, "Help her in."

The tightened hold is met with an equally tightened grip from Sydney. She clings for dear life, worn and weary. Beyond tired into the realm of utterly exhausted, she settles into the grip. Despite the move and meandering journey, she can't make herself believe they're actually leaving. Somewhere, somehow, in the last week the hope has died from her eyes. But she clings to Laurie just the same, her mass of unwieldy blonde hair strewn about her head. She looks like she's been through an ordeal.

And then the door opens.

She gasps as the fresh air enters her lungs. It's cooler, fresher than the air inside. Unlike the others she hasn't had anything but dust-filled recycled air for days on end. Yet even with this gasp, she doesn't believe they're leaving. There's something isolating about that fact alone. The car is there and she's being put into it. She clings just a little tighter as Laurie begins to set her down and then she says something quietly, matter-of-factly, her eyes silently pleading, "You're coming." She guessed the answer long before this moment.

Amy does as she's told, and it's a good thing: without direction, she might be frustratingly useless at the moment, a far cry from being an Executive Director of anything. The open air has her feeling more anxious and targeted rather than free and her hurry to get far away is only making her tired self shakier. She goes around the car — to the rear door, after a moment's consideration — and pulls on the handle. Her hands reach out to touch Sydney's arm before the woman's even on the ground, and tries to gather her close to guide her inside afterward. "You better be right about him," she says quietly through her teeth. To Laurie himself, the gangster-consultant-savior, she blinks wide, concerned eyes. "So— so now what? Where do we go?"

Fred scoffs. "Well, if you give me a round or two, I'll keep it at the ready, in case it's needed." He says simply enough. "If something happens, two guns are better than one!" Another thing he states simply. "Who's driving?" He asks as they make their way out to the car, after helping to get Sydney into the car. "For that matter, where exactly are we?"

With helping hands, Sydney's moved away from Laurie, even as she tries to get closer for that reassurance. "I'm coming, I'm coming," he mutters, gaze over her head and out the opposite back-seat window at some horizon, where they're going next. "You just sit tight. Breathe in, breathe out." In what's become a rather common recent motion, he pulls his shoulders back to strip off the jacket in a hurry, setting it about Sydney in a move that completely disconnects her from being able to reach for him — conveniently while also giving her cover.

Pulling away from the inside, he gives the top of the car a good thump. "You're shotgun, Flintstone." The disjointed music of many keys is heard again as he steps around, motivating the back door shut with a foot while separating one particular key from the others and pushing those unneeded into a new pocket now that he's lost the jacket one. "It is not about where you are today," he announces in light recital, pacing around to the driver's side, "but where you plan to go and finding what you need along the way." The door snaps open. "Get in the car."

'Far' seems to have been the answer: far away from where they end up. It isn't a hurried, race-track of a drive — no more than anyone else in New York City — but it is one with a specific destination — and timeline.

The little driveway at the end is barely even that, nearly invisible until it's time to turn onto it, and a fairly blind turn anyway. Winding past civilization, it opens to a sort of look-out point that finds the setting sun in all its glory now haloing another vehicle already waiting there. A van, its side door is also already open, showing several uniformed officers of competing sections in their wind-breakers and badges. A separate road leads away in another direction; the one from which they must have come from.

They all begin moving as the Accord pulls up, the two FBI agents just barely elbowing their way in front of the marshals of Witness Protection. From his side, Laurie parks the car and then slips out his door to open Amy's for her. It's all there's much time for before the swarm of protective custody comes to usher the former hostages away.

Breathing in and out through the journey, there's an almost painful silence from the back of the car; the blonde therapist frozen in time and space. No joy, no excitement, not anticipation, just a lot of nothing. Her eyes twitch at the sight of the police, her fingers tucked securely under the coat-turned-security blanket as she tries to muster a feeling of something, anything, but try as she might nothing comes. She feels numb; frozen in time and space. Frozen here, in this car, having life happen to her rather than doing anything to influence it just continues her feeling of disconnect— the numbness that permeates her being.

She stares out the window at the police officers, and then she reacts. With the slightest, almost-not-there tremble. Her eyes narrow as they scan the faces.

Witness protection.

The words alone make her sick. Where she was pale before, her skin takes on a sickly green hue. But she still doesn't move. Underneath the jacket she remains frozen.

Where Sydney remains frozen, so does Amy, next to her where she's leaning lightly into the other woman. She's barely registered where they are by the time protective custody is on them, around the car. When she comes to the same realization — witness protection — it's as if she snaps out of her shocked daze into shocked surprise. She blinks a few times, slowly banishing the deer-in-the-headlights expression, and very lightly jostles her friend. "Syd," she prompts and looks over to her open door — when did that happen — and back again. "Syd, we have to— " Her voice cracks — so does a smile, queasy under the circumstances. " — have to go with them. For now. Okay? Can— can you get out of the car?"

Officers overtake Fred as soon as he steps from the car, some able to keep their questions on hold better than others. The ones that move to the backseat doors are full only of reassurances, inquiries as to the women's health, and if they can move. Though by the flurry of assistance, it would seem they are given little choice in the matter but to go with the law at least part of the way in the direction of the van. Hands and blankets in this amount as likely as overwhelming as anything else with the circumstances.

Meanwhile, a different officer has detached from the others, separating himself and, by a few footsteps and a directional nudge, Laurie from the pack. There's muttered questions, a smattering of technological terms here and there as the man tugs at the undercover man's shirt, checking a setting on something he finds hidden there beneath the folds. There's a stray gesture towards their feet as they continue to confer.

"… lucky so far— not a lot of interference where you've been stationed…"

"Lucky as a duck. I'll check in when we…"

Not a step taken towards that van, nor a single other officer glancing his way.

Amy's voice is grounding, reassuring, even. It pulls the blonde out of her trance. "I'm… " Sydney's answer to Amy's question isn't even uttered before officers are ushering her out of the backseat, muttering reassurances and asking questions she doesn't have time to process let alone answer.

And then there's the van. Still wrapped in Laurie's coat, and still barefoot, she glances from the vehicle to the party. Fred is coming. Amy is coming. Her eyes widen as she clues into something and she's snapped out of the numb. Adrenaline peaking through her body at the notion, and Adrenaline, is, in a way, a wonder drug.

And as it peaks she begins to slip away from the van, barefoot and wholly unexpected to move in light of the damage.

It's all a blur; one second Amy is in the car, the next she's being helped out, then she's helping the officers — — inasmuch as she makes sure Sydney is coming — and before she knows it, she's at the van, by its open doors. She gives a few shell-shocked nods to those who offer reassurances, and clings to the blanket's edges; she isn't cold — or maybe she's numb to it — but the feel of something comforting and new wrapped around her that isn't part of where she just came from is welcome.

"What's going…" To happen now? To happen to them? The words trail off as Amy catches sight of Sydney wandering; she finds herself looking over her shoulder, but the broken blonde therapist is hidden from her sight by the jackets of officers… agents… marshals; at this point she doesn't even know.

"… about eight minutes to really get the— " From around the shoulder of the speaking tech, Laurie's downcast gaze flits up with some unconscious awareness that some movement out there is not just the bustle of the law. Blue eyes find Sydney's flyaway hair around that ghostly face: the strange vision she makes separating from comfort to stumble back towards uncertainty, the darkness away from all the headlights against the sun.

Barely has he seen her there when he cuts the tech off simply by skirting very suddenly around the other man. His strides are short in number but long in reach as he takes as few as possible to cut away the space between him and Sydney, whose strength, adrenaline or not, can only falter.

As her failing legs betray her — the same instant — she has something besides the ground to catch her. Laurie's chest, to which she's become very familiar in the past few hours, is there the same as his arms, hands catching her underneath the shoulders to draw her in rather than let her fall.

Falling into Laurie's chest is reassuring, comforting, comfortable, even. Her arms wrap around him, clinging to him tightly. Her eyes again turn glassy as the emotional numbness wears away. Her arms tighten around him even more. She buries her face in his chest, resting the crown of her head under his chin. Her body trembles against his, and with her bare feet cold against the ground, she puts her own on top of his. His shoes warmer than it. Gasping for breath, her still pale face becomes wet with tears. "You're going back, aren't you?" she whispers into his chest. With a quiet gasp for air, she shakes her head, "You can't… it's not safe.. you're hurt…"

He's sprung some sort of trap on himself, Laurie, now enveloped as he is by the sudden tight arms of her embrace, the shudder of her instability, and — tears. Eyebrows shifting up in something un-described soften soon after, as does every part of his ruined features as she sinks further against him. The pressure points of her bare toes against the tops of his feet twitch the eyebrows again but he remains only with a glimpse of a smile, a pleasant and reassuring thing made somewhat distant by its nature. This smile only serves to make the truth easier, not inform her of a new one.

Rather than return her tightened cling, he remains physically distant beyond their bodies pressed together. No arms around her, when his hands come off of her shoulders — she's clearly able to hold on by herself — only the one reaches. His hand strokes the back of her hair, fingers briefly entangled; it's the same fleeting second in which he tips his chin down, pressing face, lips, against the top of the blonde head there.

Laurie's silence is only met with the same in turn, her eyes closing lightly at the fingers in her hair. And for a moment everything else is forgotten. The lights, sounds, and situation seems to melt away as she clings to him tightly, drinking him in. And for a moment almost everything feels right with the world.

After a few moments all apart she shifts her weight slightly and moves to try to find eye contact again. A single hand drops from behind Laurie's back, the other remains there to keep her steady as she reaches up to his face again— the second time in two days. Halfway she pauses, hesitation written on her face, but she finds a little big of courage through it and raises it the rest of the way to brush her fingertips against it.

Torn skin knit together greets her touch. Twice in the same amount of attempts, amongst the closeness, the clear as crystal blue staring down at her — Laurie seems to stiffen in place at the concept, and then execution of her reaching his face. But the strangeness has cleared from his expression, and he remains benignly watching her beyond that initial catch. Calm, knowing. Allowing. Where the hand falls away from her hair, so does the sound of a wrist-watch tick tick… ticking.

But it rises again, always present, when his fingers come up to press slightly against hers. He doesn't stop her from further contact, but the gentle press from him seems to discourage it. Or warn her. So does: "… Falkland…"

The word and the press of Laurie's fingers draw a nod as she lowers her hand to her side and leans away from him a little, but remains there, on his feet, her other hand steadying herself. "Sorry," Sydney whispers. "I'm sorry," she repeats after clearing her throat, her eyes still glossy. Managing to take a slow breath she shakes her head, "Tell them to screw themselves and don't go back in. You don't have to… it's not… you're not… just don't." She clears her throat again. "You don't have to be the boyscout all of the time… you just don't."

"Falkland— " There it is again, that vague warning made of her name. Once more, as she draws into her choked up instructions. "Falkland…" In a bid for emphasis, his dropped hand slips underneath her own lowered one, pushing it up slightly and then just offering a palm for her to rest her hand on. For him to wrap fingers in an encouraging squeeze that signals his turn to talk. To smile while she struggles to talk.

"You're not okay." Hardly a Hallmark sentiment, and rolled out in a slightly hurried fashion. "You won't be, either, for a time. But then, one day, you'll realize it's all right."

Hands — not his, not hers either — the rest of the world has caught up to their moment. And, betraying it, Laurie takes his hold on her hand to offer it to one of the jacketed gentlemen, giving her away to strong-armed officers who heft by elbow and shoulder to pull her away from the consultant who remains solidly in place.

The sound of the name wears her ragged. It's a name that doesn't feel like it fits anymore, a name that doesn't feel like it belongs to her. Her eyes plead a little longer, the weight of her gaze bearing on him, studying him, not looking away even as he gives her up to one of his colleagues. As they draw her away, her feet don't cooperate, they're the last to move as she continues to try maintaing that eye contact. And even as they manage to move her, her feet drag on the ground and her gaze remains on him.

They manage to put some space between the therapist and her client (or, as the case likely is, former-client), nearly having her to the van before she reanimates, finally allowing the moment to be fully ushered away from her face. She calls back to Laurie, "You're not okay either! You can't go back in there— you can't! You will lose who you are— DON'T lose that, Laurence! Remember Roberto is— " but she's cut off, ushered into the back of the van.

But she doesn't disappear, only her voice fades as she stares out the back of the van, tears welling in her eyes again. She holds up three fingers which she waggles them gently.

And, having unmoved from his spot as the van prepares to go, the officers speaking in low but important voices to their new charges, Laurie raises his hand to his forehead and jauntily salutes her. To the bustle of the vehicle beginning to move away, he lowers fingers and mimes reaching into a jacket pocket he no longer has, seeing as the article has managed to remain hugging her shoulders.

Crisply on that suggestion, he turns about on his heels and moves to the car door of the Accord, idly slipping his arm around to check the watch without really bothering to look at it. He's peeled out onto the secret dirt road long before the van has ambled its way past being able to see.

She swallows back her tears; Sydney is undeniably afraid for Laurie. She twitches as he mimes the pocket and then the van pulls away, disappearing down a road to a fate she doesn't know, doesn't trust, and certainly doesn't want.

Carefully, she reaches into the pocket as per Laurie's mimed suggested only to find a pink smiley faced lollypop which only draws more tears. Carefully she removes the white tie around the lolly and then the plastic. The lolly is put into her mouth as her shoulders bob with the shedding of silent tears.

Tears for Laurie.

Wholly convinced she's seen him for the last time.

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