Date: May 4, 2010
Aaron and Syndey encounter each other for the first time since January, when everything hit the fan. Things turn out … different.
"Same Shit, Different Day"
Dixon's Pub, established 1982. The sultry scent of malt permeates the air, along with the sickly odour of sweat and body odour. Even though the place has been non-smoking as long as the rest of the city, the place still smells a bit like an ash tray. All in all, it's not the most pleasant smelling environment, unless you happen to have a basket of hotwings in front of you. Best. In. The. City. Possibly the state. The tangy hot smell of the wings, the steam rising from them, is enough to cleanse the air long enough to breathe. With the outdoor air in the mid-sixties, one can't help but wonder if the owner has ever heard of air conditioning. At least someone cracked open a door.
Aaron's seated himself near one of those doors— one of the few pockets of fresh air in the place, save the occasional cracked window. Apparently, nobody ever bothered to make sure the windows could open. Some people have had to improvise. Seated at his lonely table, he nurses a whiskey sour, an assortment of other finished glasses all over his table, and munches on the finest wings of all time.
Having officially lied to Amy, called herself crazy — and claimed to have a psychotic break with reality, had one ward taken away, and another shot, Sydney is in need of a drink before heading home for the night. Trent is still in hospital, anyways and so it's just as well she finds herself here, taking some time to reflect on life before that long-ish walk back to the empty townhouse. Good thing she's getting Mr. Fluffykins back from Amy.
She steps into the bar and is almost immediately overpowered by the smell. Coughing, she manages to find a seat also near the door until she spots someone she recognizes. A former patient. She considers going up to talk to him, but that's against her code of ethics — unless he talks to her, her hands are tied. A waitress pads up to the blonde and takes her order — A B52 and a spiced rum and coke. Maybe the night will improve.
Not. Bloody. Likely.
One of the downsides to being stalked is that whenever there's a sound of someone entering the room, even over the ruckus of lots of drunk people competing for voice time, the stalkee looks. In this case, that's Aaron, who happens to have a pyromaniac stalking him. While he wouldn't feel terribly if this bar burned to the ground, he can't exactly hole himself up in his apartment. That's a good way to get cabin fever. Besides, he's out of booze.
The expression on Aaron's face when he recognizes Sydney is … unreadable. Even he's not too sure what he feels upon seeing her, and almost immediately turns back to his drink and food. How did the glass get so empty. He holds it up and stares at it, unbelieving, before flagging over the barmaid to get him another. One of the servers drops a whole tray of drinks, glass crashing to the floor and liquor spilling all over the floor in front of Sydney's table.
"Oh God, I'm so sorry," she says, as she pulls a towel from her apron and starts mopping up the wide variety of alcoholic beverages. Careful of the glass, dear.
Meanwhile, the folks at the nearby table — the destination of the ill-fated drinks — begin to get unhappy with their service, or lack their of. Those were their drinks, dammit. "What does it take to get a couple of drinks in this place, huh?"
The drinks crash to the ground and Sydney's black pumps are ruined. She should be angrier, but her irritation takes several seconds later to register because it's not actually hers, it belongs to the table of the ill-fated drinks. Twitching, Syd stares at the waitress, mouth agape as her shoes are in a sticky mess of alcohol, absolutely ruined. She could meltdown and lose it right here, right now. In fact, her now-tight-set jaw, and clenched fists indicate she's going to lose it. But then she does something unusual, she fights it.
"Please tell me there wasn't anything that's going to ruin my shoes in there — " not that they were terribly expensive. Fortunately she'd left the Jimmy Choos at home today even though she'd wanted to take them out for a test run. Running a hand through her blonde hair, she stands to her feet, "Would it help if I moved… I just want my liquor — "
"I'm sorry, I'll get your drinks." The server is clearly rethinking her career choices in that moment, shifting uneasily backwards away from the table and closer to Sydney, who then looks like she might go postal. "I'm sorry." It's more of a squeek, followed by a wince and a yelp as she cuts herself on a piece of broken glass. She finishes collecting the last bits of glass she can spot, wraps them in the towel and runs off into the back, bleeding and in tears. Another server comes to replace the drinks from the table of riled up lushes, who are happy to know the drinks are on the house.
The shouting in the back is barely noticable over the usual bar din, even as Sydney's server arrives with her B52 and spiced rum and coke. "We're really sorry about the mess. If there's anything else we can get you, it's on the house."
Aaron leans back in his chair, soon served his fourth drink of the evening. The chicken wings are nothing but bones in the basket on his table when he stands up. He carries his drink over to Sydney's table, dragging his chair along with him. He props the back up against her table and sits down. His glass thunks against the table as he sets it down. "Howdy, stranger."
"It's fine. Really. It's fine," Sydney releases a deep breath amidst a very strained — and exhausted smile. Just one more thing that makes today suck. As the drinks appear Syd downs the shot in one fluid motion before slamming the small shot glass back down on the table right before Aaron sits down. Unfortunately shots aren't exactly her cup of tea so within seconds she's in a coughing fit and lifts a single finger to indicate she needs a moment.
Desperately she guzzles some of the rum and coke. So much for taking the whole intoxication thing slowly, particularly as she hasn't been out like this in ages. Or drinking in ages, really. Finally managing to get her coughing under control she returns her own glass to the table pastes a weary smile on her face and raises an equally weary hand to her forehead. "Hi," she says quietly through that same smile. "Been awhile… How are you? Are you — are you okay?" She's heard some things thanks to one of her other hats, but doesn't bother divulging this.
"You mean, what was it like being nearly murdered, or finding out it's not the first time, or that your old friend and bandmate is a mass murdering psychopath bent on making your life a living hell and on top of that isn't in jail or the ground yet?" Aaron downs his drink. "Fine, how 'bout you?"
Sydney blinks, but manages to keep a nearly neutral expression. She disappeared, of anger is warranted. But then, she disappeared to take care of Jamie really. With a heavy sigh she brings her own glass to her lips and takes a small swallow before returning it to the table. "I can't complain," she answers smoothly before resting her hands on the table. Inhaling deeply, she tilts her head at him, "I'm sorry those things happened to you. And I'm sorry I disappeared for awhile. I had some… personal things I had to attend to." She's fighting her ability again, desperately trying to control it and keep her emotions to herself.
"I'm glad you can't complain," Aaron says. "A pity sorry wasn't there after I'd nearly been killed, again. You picked a lousy time to disappear to take care of personal things." He flags Sydney's server over, "Bourbon, straight," and then returns his gaze to Sydney, his sapphire eyes almost navy in the dim lighting. "A lousy time. But I suppose it's possible you'd be dead if you hadn't, so it's not a total loss." He turns his chair around so that he can lean back into, for all the hard-backed wooden chair can recline. It's the tipping game. Whoever's drunk enough to fall on their ass loses. "Took me a week to find a new apartment after the … barbecue."
"It's not a pity sorry, Aaron," Sydney is rubbing her right temple as she brings her drink to her lips again. "And how — " How did Aaron know things got so dire? " — why do you think I'd be dead if I hadn't?" She arches a single eyebrow at the end of the question. It's a suspicious enough question. "How is the new place? Do you feel safer?" And then she remembers something. The dream. She visibly shudders, but its her only tell. Everything else stays relatively neutral.
"Because Tom Wilkes is a crazed lunatic who'd kill anyone who's remotely connected to me simply to drive me battier and more paranoid than I already am?" By how he rolls his eyes, it seems he thinks it's rather obvious. Aaron doesn't catch the tell, which is probably best, and he shrugs. "It's smaller, cheaper, and most certainly not safer. Though it does have two fire escapes, at least, not that the one I had came in handy the last time. At least he doesn't have a key to this one. I don't think." He looks concerned then. "God, I hope he doesn't. The Hotel Pennsylvania was unbearable…."
"Tom Wilkes? The fellow that found you?" Sydney is about twenty steps behind Aaron's thinking. Why would Tom Wilkes rescue him just to kill him? "Why does he want to kill you?" She's met crazed lunatics, most still have motives. And then she ventures something bordering on brave, "Did he… were the… " she forces another smile before inhaling a deep breath, she's about to sound crazy, "Was it extraordinary and impossible… what happened I mean? With your last apartment?"
"Apparently, he wanted my finacee to himself. 'If you can't have her nobody can', type deal. Thought setting a fire in a music hall was a brilliant idea." Aaron stares at Sydney as though she's the one who needs a therapist. "He set the place on fire. About the only extraordinary thing about that is how extraordinarily bad my memories already were." Memories he hates to dwell on, and that get harder and harder to deal with as the days go by. His bourbon arrives and it's gone before the server has even left the table. "Another." The server gives him a strange look before she walks away to get him another drink. Aaron gives a nod to the empty glass, "About the only thing that keeps the nightmares at bay." And stops his bedroom from rearranging itself while he sleeps, but he sure as hell isn't going to mention that, even if he thinks he knows what Sydney was getting at with the whole extraordinary bit.
Sydney hmms. "Are there lots of nightmares or is it only on occasion? I could find something to help keep them at bay, you know. I have access to that kind of thing." Even if she doesn't write it herself, Amy would follow her recommendation. With a frown, she leans back in her seat. "Tell me about these nightmares? What happens exactly?"
Another glass of bourbon. This time, Aaron doesn't drink it. He just holds it, and stares into it. He doesn't need fire to be mesmerized by them. So many images of fire are burned thoroughly into his memory, just like the smell of smoke. That's one of the reasons he doesn't mind places that smell like cigarettes— it keeps away the phantom smell. He rubs his nose.
"Same as they used to be, but now they take place at home instead of in a music hall. Every. fucking. night. Except when I drink heavily."
With a heavy sigh, Sydney finishes her rum and coke and motions for the waitress to bring her another. Sure enough her drink comes and she raises the new glass to her lips. After swallowing she feels sufficiently ready to really discuss this. "Have you run into him since he lit the apartment on fire?" Her eyes narrow a little as she studies Aaron, continuing to push her own emotions under the surface. "Do you think it's possible that he's gone? Given up?"
Aaron snorts. "He saved me from killing myself so he could come back a year later and kill me himself, I highly doubt he intends to give up any time soon." Of course, there is the matter of the warrant for his arrest and whatnot. "Of course, I bet he has to lay low thanks to being labelled a serial arsonist. Or whatever they're calling him. Killed over a hundred people, I'd say that ought to get him a really fine place in Hell."
"I don't think burning in Hell is a real concern for your arsonist acquaintance," Sydney quips before clapping a hand over her lips with a wide mouth. An embarrassed smile edges her lips, "Sorry! I'm normally better filtered than this — I don't drink often — " or do a shot and polish a glass off as quickly as she did. Her cheeks flush an involuntary pink before she brings the glass to her lips again before observing, "It's good that he hasn't scared you into staying home all the time — "
"He did until I realized I was more likely to die walling myself up in my apartment," Aaron mutters, finally tending to his own glass again. Apparently, he doesn't mind her being a little uninhibited. "After that, I kinda wander around. Little gig here, little gig there. Short as I can do. And busking. I'm not about to stick in one place for too long, especially if there are a lot of people." Because he's already involved in the deaths of over a hundred people by simply being a target of the maniac.
"Well it's better to live life than hide away in fear. I figured that out … not long ago, actually," Sydney manages a very small smile. "But living life — it changes doesn't it? I mean what it means to live is entirely different than when you started. The routine is the same. Your job is kind of the same. In fact, nothin's changed other than you…" Now she's frowning. Forcing a polite smile she runs a hand through her blonde tresses and draws the liquor to her lips again. "I guess it puts a new spin on eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die…"
Aaron raises his glass to the last comment. "Amen." Then he drinks. "Only thing that changed was that I found out an old friend was a psycho out to kill me and that all the bad shit that happened was due to him. Just a change of perspective. Same shit, different day."
"But is it just perspective that changed? I don't even think the same way I did. I don't trust the same way I did…" that much is clear from how cold she was to Fred and the fact she hasn't told him about her recent legal troubles with Trent's aunt. Sydney takes another swallow. "It's amazing you lived through that. Twice." She manages another small smile, "And it's good you're playing. That was always the best thing for you."
"I can't really trust the same way, either. After all, someone I knew and had been friends with tried to kill me more than once…. Yeah, you're right. Not just perspective." He shrugs. "I believe the word is 'miracle,'" Aaron says with respect to him living through being nearly killed twice. "And what else am I going to do? My only real marketable skill is music. For good or ill, it's my talent."
"It's good to hear you use that word," she replies quietly as a small smile edges her lips. "Are you coping or just surviving?" Sydney shrugs. "Honestly, I'd be surprised if you're doing anything beyond survival. Honest." Her smile broadens a little. "And how about friends and the like — connecting to new people or too nervous?"
Another snort. "Yes, I have such a wonderful history with people, I think I'll try a few more. Maybe I can get another stalker or three to add to my collection, or another pyromaniac." His words are riddled with sarcasm. He shakes his head and empties his glass, which will hopefully be his last drink. Well, it will have to be if he intends to still be able to walk. "The thought springs to mind every now and then, but I'm mostly anti-social, as it turns out."
Sydney purses her lips together as she contemplates the words. "I get it. It's just easier than letting other people in." She blinks hard before finishing her drink. No more for her; she's at her limit. "Look, we're not in a formal session, and so I'm going to do something I never do." Give real advice. "Go meet people! I'm not saying make a best friend or anything, but it's part of living; the people that connect to us. I dunno. I'm one to talk, really." Her smile broadens in a large toothy grin.
Aaron stares into his empty glass. "That doesn't usually turn out well," he says, turning the glass around and around in his hand. Sydney's glass does likewise, slowly turning on the spot, around in a slow and shaky circle. He doesn't notice it. "I'm not fit to be company to anyone." He sets his glass down and Sydney's glass echoes it, sliding slightly as though pushed aside as Aaron reaches into his pocket for his wallet. He throws a couple of twenties on the table and stands to leave. "Nice seeing you again."
Sydney notices the glasses movement as she shudders with mild anxiety. Her eyebrows furrow as her gaze darts around the room and then falls on Aaron. "D-d-di — I-I-I" she points to the glasses as she continues to sputter. And then she remembers the dream. She frowns as she watches Aaron intently. "Did you do that? The glasses — did you do that?" Her voice has turned to a whisper as she lifts an anxious hand to her head.
Do what?" Aaron would be furiously blushing if he had any idea what Sydney was referring to. He's quite aware of his ability's perks, which he has yet to get under any semblance of control. It's something he wishes he could control — at least he could control something in his life. Anything. His expression grows concerned, "You OK? You don't look so hot."
"Th-th-the glasses! The glasses! Aaron — the glasses they…" Sydney fights a frown. "… they moved. No one was touching them and they moved." Her jaw tightens as she too stands to follow him. Her gaze rapt on him her lips part a little as if to speak but no sound is uttered. "I… I had this dream…" isn't she supposed to be the therapist. "And things were like moving in the air." She blinks. "You were like moving things with telekinesis or something — "
Aaron's eyes widen slightly, and then narrow. "This isn't really the venue for that sort of conversation." He straightens his wind breaker and heads for the exit, assuming she's going to follow him. Once he's outside by the curb, he stares into the sea of cars, buses, and cabs. "I should get myself a car. Damned near impossible to get a cab in Manhattan."
Tugging her tan trenchcoat over her shoulders, Sydney does indeed follow. She inhales that cool spring air once outside. It's a beautiful thing, fresh air. Especially after the smelly pub. "Driving a car is almost as impossible," she observes as she looks up the street and back down.
"Better to at least be in a slow moving vehicle. It seems we're walking." Just the thing Aaron wants to do after self-medicating. Walk. "On the plus side, my apartment's only a few blocks away." And by few he means nearly a dozen. It's a nice night, though, right? "This way," he says, leading the way. It's only a matter of time before it becomes obvious that it's not just a few blocks away.
And it becomes pretty apparent pretty quickly that the apartment is further than Aaron had suggested. She falls into step with him. "Where exactly is your apartment?" she asks mostly just so she knows. High heels aren't the most conducive shoes for walking. Regardless, she continues on without complaint. "Life has some pretty impossible possibilities, doesn't it?" the rhetorical question isn't all about the glasses, but it's left to hang in the cool spring air.
"It's low key." He keeps walking. One of the nice thing about hiking boots— they're pretty good to walk in. "So it's not just a few blocks away." Aaron does answer the second question, choosing to stay silent. Cat's out of the bag. He's busy thinking about what to do about it. The occasional garbage can falls over in the occasionally passed alleyway, but he seems so deep in thought he doesn't jump. He just keeps on moving. Newspapers rustle, litter jitters and drifts along like they're being played with by idle hands.
Sydney, however, does jump. The noises the movement, it doesn't startle her. In fact, it's enough to give her goosebumps, but she continues in the walk anyways. She does, however, focus her ability and attempts to send calming vibes to Aaron to minimize his agitation. Fortunately she has been learning how to control her ability some. Unfortunately, this isn't her strength. Suppressing her ability and controlling her own emotions are definite strengths; influencing others? Not so much.
Things settle down a bit by the time a small brownstone is reached. Aaron uses his key to let them in and then uses the elevator. No need to keep being physically active. Walking eleven blocks is exercise enough. After punching the button for the third floor, he leans against the back of the elevator and lets out a sigh of relief to not be moving anymore. Buttons 2 and 6 press themselves. "How are your feet?"
She blinks as the buttons press themselves. 2 and 6. Interesting. Sydney shrugs at the question. "These weren't the right shoes to wear today as it turns out. Not only did they get drenched in alcohol, effectively pickling my feet, but they pinch. Just a little." And then she stifles a chuckle, "Don't ask me why I wear them — it's a girl thing. I like these shoes. Even if the man that created them obviously hates feet."
Aaron lets out a laugh at the last comment. "Clearly." The doors open on the second floor. At least they won't have to be with the elevator when it opens on six. Once it's at three, he steps out and heads to the end of the hall. 313. No, he's not superstitious. If he were, he'd probably have jumped at the window by now. At least it's appropriate, all things considered.
With the light jangle of keys, he unlocks both deadbolts— yes, he has two deadbolts. The apartment's not huge. It's modest. A fair portion of the living room is taken up by a Yamaha GB1 Grand Piano. It isn't nearly as good as the old C7 he had, but it also wasn't nearly as expensive. It's a fair bit smaller than the one Sydney would have seen when she retrieved his guitar back in January of the previous year. Then again, the entire apartment is nothing compared to the old place. The old place was huge.
He closes the door behind Sydney once she's inside and locks both deadbolts. "Welcome, to my humble abode. Not nearly as extravagant as the old condo, I'm afraid. Piano's new, at any rate. Insurance paid out on the old one, but I wasn't about to spend thirty-five thousand dollars to replace the old one. This one's smaller. Fits better in the little space I have." The rest of the living room is consumed by a couch and a recliner next to a bookshelf. There's no television. The kitchen is hardly a kitchen. A small range, microwave, and a smallish refrigerator. The bedroom is presumably in the back. "It's well below my means, but if this place burns down, I have a feeling my insurance company will be pissed, so…. better it be less expensive."
Sydney glances around the apartment. Somehow she had imagined this apartment exactly like the last one. Now it seems like a silly notion — everything Aaron had would've burned in the fire, why would things look anything alike? Pressing her lips together she steps into the smallish living room and examines the piano; she'd never learned to play. "It's a good space. The neighbours don't complain when you play?" And then she catches herself and correct, "I'm not saying that you're not good" she holds up an apologetic hand " — just neighbours can complain at anything they see fit at any given time." She cringes a little, honestly not meaning to insult her host.
"How long have you been here? You seem to have settled pretty well all things considered…"
"The walls are surprisingly thick and I mostly don't give a damn when they do complain. I make extensive use of the soft pedal." He thinks to himself a moment, "I'm starting to wonder if they've moved. I haven't heard them complain as long as I can remember, actually. Then again, I am a bit drunk." There's also a liquor cabinet beside the couch that doubles as an end table. Aaron moves over to the piano and takes a seat on its bench. "So, you noticed some glasses moving, did you?"
"I could see that — try to keep the neighbours semi-happy. If they're still around. I never heard from my neighbours, but then I don't play anything." Sydney sighs at the question before sitting down on the couch. "I… I did. A few garbage cans on the way home. Newspapers waving… things … moving. And I had a dream." A very very very unsettling dream that causes her to outright frown.
"And I take it you usually have dreams about things and people?" He's seen Medium. Given what he's experienced, it would be no surprise to him that it's real, no matter how much he tries to deny that there's anything different about him. Aaron doesn't touch the keys, but there is some very light sound from the piano. Not that the couch has a particularly good vantage point of his hands if he were playing, but they're quite visibly still in his lap. His eyes shift to the keys and the sound stops. There wasn't anything particularly melodic. Just a bunch of ominious tones.
"No. Never," it's a legitimate question. "It was just an incredibly unsettling dream where there was this brunette lady and some military people and then this building was on fire and the guy had like used his hands to make it that way or something. It stuck with me because I very rarely have nightmares — " although she seemed to have more of them then usual for awhile there. "No, I… I seem to do something to other people's emotions. And sometimes they do things to mine." In a way it seems useless, but it's come in handy recently.
Aaron quirks a brow. The idea of someone setting a building on fire creeps him out a bit, and a bunch of random keys press down on the piano. Ominous tones. "Never mind the military people…." He walks over to the liquor cabinet and rifles through it. It's crumpled piece of paper he pulls out. A wanted poster for Tom Wilkes. Armed and extremely dangerous. He holds it up, "Don't suppose that guy looked anything like this, did he?"
The therapist all out stares at the poster for several seconds. "Y-yeah. I'm nearly positive that's him." Sydney manages to reply quietly as she twitches. It was a horrifying dream and it stuck with her for some time after she'd had it. Her face pales. "Tom Wilkes. Tom Wilkes can set things on fire without matches." Blankly she stares at the picture. "I thought about trying to find you after the dream, but — I was in hiding. There were people looking for people like us. And I had to protect someone who couldn't look out for herself through it all."
"That's some freaky-ass dream," Aaron says as he shoves the poster back into the liquor cabinet, pulling out a bottle of Scotch along with it. "Yeah, Tom Wilkes tried to fry me in my own home. He had the key from when he saved me from killing myself. Now I have no studio and have this tiny little thing because it fits better into my budget." He goes and seats himself at the piano with a newly poured glass of Scotch, which he nurses. "And I have to keep myself rather sloshed at night to avoid destroying my bedroom. Oh yes, my life is just perfect." His words are punctuated by a discordant slam of piano keys, despite both hands being nowhere near the keys.
"Tell me about it," Sydney exasperates, her own exhaustion culminating into a distinct feeling of exasperation. She leans her head back against the couch while staring up at the ceiling. "Well… judging by what you can do, you're not powerless, Aaron." Straightening, she pushes off her hands to a standing position, "You have something you can fight him with if you let yourself learn to control it. I'm not going to sugar coat this. It's fucking scary. What he can do is scary, but… in my dream you were pretty scary too." Her lips twitch into a semi-half-smile, ironic more than joyful in appearance. "Learn to control what you can do. It can be an asset. A wiser woman than me once told me that any ability can be a weapon if it can be wielded…"
"Control would be nice. I mean, if I have a normal dream, I might just rearrange the place, but when I have a nightmare…. Not much is left intact. I stopped replacing my alarm clock after the third one was smashed. And I obviously do everything I can to avoid making noise, lest I get evicted." He sets the glass of Scotch on the floor. Laminate flooring. No carpet, not rugs. For good reason. The keys of the piano come to life without direct interaction, playing out a melody anyone familiar with the works of Johann Pachelbel would recognize as Canon in D Major, though with substantial embellishments thanks to one David Lanz. Aaron pauses for a moment, "About the only control I've mustered. Rather convenient, since I never need another pianist to play a duet. I used to have every CD David Lanz released, this arrangement amongst them more than once. Just another thing lost. Thankfully, I had all of my property insured. I'll recover it eventually." When Aaron continues the piece, he plays mostly with his hands, his ability picking up as necessary.
"Meditation was recommended to me," the therapist quietly pads over to the piano. "I think it helped. At least it helped me figure out how to calm myself. When I'm clear-headed I can normally find control; most of the time." Sydney slides onto the bench next to Aaron. "Already you're able to play with it. You can do this… just take time trying to control it. And maybe the dreams just need to be talked about. What do you dream about? Always the same, or different every time?"
"You made a building come down on a bunch of military people," Sydney says honestly. "And I thought… I thought it was just a dream, but it can't just be coincidence that you can move things with your mind AND Tom Wilkes sets things on fire with his hand." She reaches out to play the piano now— the only song she knows: Heart and Soul.
The idea of him bringing a whole building down makes Aaron pause, which gives Sydney all the time in the world to play Heart and Soul. He recognizes the piece rather quickly, since it was one of the first he was taught to play nearly twenty years ago, so he plays accompaniment while Sydney plays melody. "Since when do you play the piano?"
The melody plays and plays and plays. "This is all I know," she admits with a sheepish grin. "My grandparents tried to get me to learn, but I wasn't interested. I wanted to see what everyone else was doing." Her fingers slips, effectively putting the wrong key in the melody and causing her to cringe. "And… that's why the piano playing should be left to the musicians and the therapy to the shrinks."
"Playing music isn't for everyone, no," Aaron says. "Listening to music, on the other hand…. I think everyone likes something. And if not, they're not human." He reaches down for his Scotch glass and polishes it off. "I should probably find another way to deal with the nightmares, before I kill my liver. It already takes nearly twice what it used to to mellow me out."
Promptly she puts her hands on her lap and studies Aaron for a few moments, "Yeah, I don't recommend booze and sleeping pills to bring on sleep." She chews the inside of her cheek, considering something before asking, "Have you ever tried yoga? Or…" She purses her lips together. "… is it just the nerves that keep you up? Or— thoughts? I might… heavy emphasis on the might be able to help with the nerves. Maybe."
"I…. don't know. I really don't know." He shuts the key guard of the piano and rests his hands on it. "It shouldn't be so hard to sleep, you know? And yet I'm afraid to sleep at night. I don't want to be evicted, and I can't keep buying new things to replace the ones that I've broken while I re-experience things that should stay in the past where they belong."
"I like… can control emotions. Sometimes. Theoretically. Or else I give off what I'm feeling to everyone unless I can control my ability. OR I feel what they feel if their emotions are … you know, I dunno how it works. I just know that's what happens." Sydney shrugs her shoulders, "Maybe… maybe I can help you relax or something?"
"Having someone around doesn't hurt," Aaron says quietly. Sometimes he feels resigned to his fate. This is one of those times. "But if you think you can help, please do. Be nice to get some semblance of my life back. All I have are some pieces, and I want the rest back, thanks."
Sydney nods slightly before reaching over for Aaron's hand. "Let me see what I can do. I think… I think it works better when I touch someone— although I could be wrong. I've only been doing this whole thing for like six months." Quietly she takes a small breath and focuses her energy, reaching out with her ability, focusing to try to calm Aaron. She manages to clear her own thoughts and develop a sense of calm in herself.
"Only four months here. I can, you know, duet by myself but otherwise it's not pleasant." Aaron's a bundle of nerves. No matter the alcohol or whatever else he happens to try to calm himself, there's always total and utter chaos roiling beneath the facade he's managed to build for others and mostly himself. 'Fake it 'til you make it,' the saying goes. Total and utter bullshit.
A book falls off the bookshelf and his empty Scotch glass rolls across the floor. "That kinda happens a lot. Things falling off of tables and whatnot. If I'm nervous or I'm not concentrating…. Never invite me to go antique shopping."
Sydney hmmms. "Maybe… take a slow deep breath in and hold it for a second before slooooowly letting it out?" Her eyebrows furrow some, but she closes her own eyes and tries to concentrate again as she attempts to push her calm onto him. "Or… do you want to talk about it all? Believe it or not, I'm not a horrible therapist… most days." She shrugs to punctuate her thoughts about that.
"Of course you're a good therapist. I did see you for … just over a year before my life turned upside down and you disappeared. Connected? I think so." Aaron's attempt at humour may seem … strange. Trying to calm Aaron down is like trying to perform surgery on a moving train. It takes a lot of effort, and he's a ball of jumbled emotions. The Scotch glass has rolled around in circles by the time it stops moving, though another book did manage to find its way onto the floor from its tightly-wedged space on the bookshelf. It's a miracle the other books didn't come with it. Clearly, he should invest in some doors for the bookshelf to give his mind one more thing to do before it goes tossing his property all over the place.
A wry smile is given a the compliment. "I try." Sydney glances down at the scotch and shakes her head a little. This doesn't seem to be working the way she wants it to. "Maybe you should consider moving? Like somewhere virtually off-grid where you won't be easily found? The thing is a person can't live in fear all of the time; it'll destroy them." That's why she pushed herself back into her normal life so quickly. And the jumble of nerves that is Aaron has that negative effect on Sydney and she can feel the anxiety. Oops. Bye-bye calm. She frowns as he withdraws her hands and stands from the bench. Fail.
When Sydney backs away, it makes Aaron nervous. The books that miraculously didn't fall all come down at once. The Scotch glass on the floor breaks into pieces where it was a moment ago just still on its side. The sudden noise of the books and the crack of the glass breaking make him jump and the piano makes a banging sound. It takes a moment for him to get himself under control. If holding one's breath until they start turning red is considered getting under control. He does eventually let the breath out and takes several longer, slower breaths afterwards.
As all of these things transpire, Sydney slides back onto the bench and takes a few breaths of her own before touching Aaron's hand and trying again. But with her own frazzled emotions, it likely won't do much good. Instead she apologizes, "Sorry. I'm not good at it." Not yet, anyways. "I didn't want to deal with it for awhile so I kind of ignored it which means I spent time I could've used to get good just laying it to waste…"
"Pretty much the same here. The convenient duet thing just happened and I managed to get good at that. But I tried to ignore what was going on. It was never this bad, though," Aaron says with a shake his head. "Not until Tom accosted me in my home. Ever since then it's been like this. I kind've wish I had a house in the middle of nowhere. I don't think anyone would care if things constantly sounded like they were breaking and shit. Or if the place finally collapsed one day."
"Have you thought about moving? Or would that only push Tom further into action, not that he has cared much about having an audience before…" Sydney's face turns sullen as she sighs. "I think what you need are control and rest… And it's hard to say if one isn't causing the other. I mean… if I'm stressed or upset my control is very diminished… but when I am rested it's better. But then better control is more reassuring so…"
"Now you know why I drink," Aaron says. "I don't know if you know how tired I am. My lack of control keeps me awake. If I need rest to gain control, man am I ever screwed." At least he nearly chuckles when he says the last part. That's something at least.
"I have thought of moving. First thought I had once I left the hospital after he bombed my apartment— at least, that's the story I tell people. He only torched the place, I'm the one who busted shit up. But no. I am not about to give him more victims. So I pick low-key, small apartment buildings. The less damage possible, the better.
"Although, I have been tempted to buy up a small house in the woods or something. Then there's no one else around to die if he comes knocking."
"Touché," Sydney quips before sitting once again on the couch. Drumming her fingers on the arm of the couch she sighs again before chewing on her bottom lip. Slowly she returns to her feet before running a hand through her blond hair. "Have you… have you thought about seeking him out? Or maybe looking for something he'd be interested in? I know he's determined to kill you, but maybe… maybe if you find him you could beat him to the punch?" Her eyebrows furrow. "It just seems like a better idea than running… of course, I suppose you'd need to figure out how to stop him before doing so…"
"Did you actually just suggest I find Tom Wilkes and kill him?" Because that's what it sounded like to Aaron. Not like the idea hadn't struck him at one point, but how do you go about combatting a man who doesn't need anything more than a thought to light something on fire?
"I wouldn't even have any idea how to pull something like that off."
"I'm not necessarily saying you kill him, but clearly he needs to be stopped. It's not like he's determined to take you out alone… if he were, no one else would be dead and he'd have more regard for collateral damage." Sydney's eyebrows knit even tighter together. "Look. I know sociopaths. I worked with sociopaths, I have a gift. It just happens to make them empathize with me whether or not they empathize with anyone else."
With another shrug, she suppresses a sigh. "Well maybe we can brainstorm a way together. I'm not good at this whole supernatural thing. But I can be pretty resourceful and maybe there's something we haven't thought of… I mean everyone has weaknesses right? It's just figuring out what his is and exploiting it…"
"Yeah, I knew the bastard for years. He's not one to back down from anything…. except the band. He didn't seem to have a problem running away from it." Aaron gets up from the piano bench and seats himself on the couch opposite Sydney. "The police haven't caught him yet. Maybe you're right, maybe … I have to do something about him, which means I need to learn how to control this properly. And I have a feeling I know someone who might be able to help with that."
Aaron knows only two people with abilities. Sydney, who professes to be no expert at her own, and then someone who seems to have a pretty good grasp of hers. Gillian.
With a quirk of her lips, Sydney nods a little. "I'm sure you'll be able to figure out this whole mind thing out, it'll just take time and if you know someone who can help—" she shrugs. "It can't hurt, and maybe you could keep more people from getting hurt." Sighing again, she pads towards the door. "I suppose I should go for now though. Stay in touch, alright? I'm back at Hope Hearth—you know the number, right?"
"I'd die without it," Aaron says, only to realize how bad it sounds. "Not seriously. Ignore me, I haven't actually entertained people in over a year. I'm not funny anymore. My humour is not what it once was. That and I might be drunk, but yes, I know the number." He grabs a notepad and pen off the end table and writes down his cell phone number, complete with his autograph. Then he hesitates to hold it out.
"Don't share this with anyone, 'kay?" Sometimes he wonders how he can manage to still actually carry a cell phone, given half the stalking he endured was over the phone.
Sydney takes the number and pockets it with a wry smile-one that's virtually chiseled onto her face. With a heavy sigh she reaches for the handle. "Look, I'll be in touch. And no, I won't share with anyone. It'll go in a confidential file somewhere tucked away in my office." Or her home. Or somewhere else. "Take care of yourself, Aaron."
Aaron nods. "I'll talk to you later." Once Sydney's made her way out, he closes his door and bolts it, twice. No sense it making it easier to break into his place, oh no. He wanders on over to the kitchen and pours himself a glass of orange juice.
"Time for some different shit."