2009-11-18: Shopping, Shopping, Breakthrough?



Date: November 17, 2009


Two blondes get it on in a hotel room, shhhh it's therapy (really).

"Shopping, Shopping, Breakthrough?"

Washington D.C.

It's been a rough couple of days for the young socialite, well not completely rough… but for someone that is used to having everything in life handed to her on a silver platter, it's been a little difficult. First there was the revalation that there was some woman out to get her, a woman that had erased all traced out of her mind. Then there was the fact that she'd lost a bit part in a movie to Mitsy (of all people). Then compound to that Olivia's fifth engagement party in three weeks, it had just begun to feel like a little much, especially since Trenton had been calling nonstop to make plans between them. The D.C. getaway is exactly what was needed. That and a call to the therapist.

As Hallis peruses the racks of an upscale boutique in Washington D.C. she pulls out her phone and begins to dial. When it's answered, she actually smiles into the phone and her voice changes from the commanding, bitchy tone that she had been using with the sales associate to something a little more sugary sweet. "Doctor Falkland? It's Hallis Van Cortlandt, are you free to talk for a bit? I'd come to the clinic but I'm a little ways away right now so I was hoping we could squeeze my weekly session in over the phone."

Hallis may hear the Super Mario Bros theme as Sydney's phone rings within Bloomingdale's. Like Hallis, Sydney is hidden between racks and racks of clothing, looking for something different to wear today. "Hi Hallis, it's good to hear from you. I'm actually surprised our receptionist didn't call you, she was supposed to actually cancel my appointments. I'm unexpectedly out of town… but we can talk on the phone. I have some time just doing a little shopping…" She finds a navy dress that she pulls off the rack and holds against herself.

Laughing (which Sydney may hear from a few clothing racks over), Hallis is also measuring herself against a lacy little number in the mirror. "Really? Me too. I'm trying to find something that'll surprise George. He's been so nice to me, even letting me come to stay with him while I try to get some things straightened out. I've been terrified of everything and everyone I don't know lately." It is then that Hallis heaves a deep sigh and licks her lips, deciding against the white and opting for a dark blue number.

The laughter does draw Sydney's attention. "Are you… are you in Bloomingdale's by any chance?" She peers about the store, looking for Hallis. And then she spots her in front of the mirror. "Hallis! So strange to run into someone I actually know here!" She offers the other woman a warm smile. "How is DC treating you?" She glances at what Hallis is looking at, she flushes involuntarily, but maintains her smile.

Turning swiftly, Hallis nearly drops her phone in surprise as she spots the woman coming up behind her. "Ohmygod! You're here! What are you doing here?!" Dropping the cellular into her purse, after hanging it up of course, she rushes to the other woman and gives her a big hug. "You have no idea how happy I am to see a woman that I can actually talk to and that I know. I mean know know and not just know exists… you know?" Even Hallis' expression turns to confusion after mentally reviewing her words after they're said. "What I mean is… well it's a long story. Something I needed, really needed, to talk to you about. You have no idea how on edge I've been. I went out and drank at least a dozen martinis last night just so I could sleep."

"I'm doing some consulting for a client. He needed some extra support so I came this way," Sydney explains as she closes her cellphone, pockets it, and returns Hallis' embrace. "Well it's great to see you too! Honestly, it's nice to see a friendly face. There've been a few not-so-friendly ones since I got here. I don't think many government types love their jobs." She smiles easily, but the smile fades as quickly as it came. Her expression turns to utter concern, "What … what happened, Hallis? That sounds like a very stressful situation? Are you alright?"

Looking around the somewhat crowded store, Hallis shakes her head. "We should go outside or somewhere that we can't be heard really easily. Did you find everything you needed? Or do you want to just come back?" It is plain to see that Hallis has already decided on her purchase, well the main part of it. She points over to the register where apparently someone has amassed a mountain of clothing on the counter. "My stuff is over there. I'm going to get this too." She's probably been here a while.

"I can come back," Sydney nods at Hallis. "Just make your purchases and then we can chat about this outside." And then, in a moment of weakness, she takes a white spaghetti-strapped dress from the rack, and purchases it, "If I don't like it, I'll just return it. Maybe I'll be able to avoid a return trip." She smiles as she puts the dress on her credit card, and waits outside for Hallis to join her.

It only takes about ten minutes before Hallis emerges from the store with four or five bags full of clothing. "I met a man last night that told me that I shouldn't pack but just buy new clothes while I'm here. I'm beginning to think that even though I was prepared for this trip, I should have just listened to his advice." The young blonde begins as she nears Sydney. As they walk, Hallis seems to be steering toward a certain hotel nearby. "Mind if we just go to the hotel or something? I don't think it's bugged… I just really want to relax without having to look over my shoulder." She gives the other woman a sidelong glance and her lips twitch to a semi smile. "I met a man the other day that told me that I need to stay away from the woman that erased my memories or else she would do something very drastic. But I don't know who I should stay away from… so I've been afraid of stumbling on her by accident, you know? I really don't want to die."

It's at this moment that something clicks in Sydney's head. Cassie was the girl with the bad hair. Hallis was made unconscious by Cassie. Cassie thinks that Hallis is out for her hence the self defense question. Oh dear. Sydney just nods as her face pales slightly in putting this together. Nothing like being a giant puppet master who can't tell anyone what she knows. She offers a weak smile, "Alright, we can go to the hotel. I can understand that you need some safety to be able to talk about this." She allows Hallis to guide her back to her hotel. Wrinkling her nose, she notes, "This is where Ivory put me up…" She smirks and then blushes speechlessly with nothing else to say.

Hallis is fairly silent all the way into the room, idle chit chat about shopping is really all she manages to maintain until they reach the spot of sanctity. After dumping the bags rather unceremoniously on the floor beside the closet, Hallis motions to one of the two chairs in the sitting area. "Do you want any room service or anything? Or we can raid the mini bar." Apparently she's not very concerned about the price of the expensive mini bottles within the tiny appliance.

"I'm okay actually, but thank you, Hallis. If you need something though, don't hesitate for my sake," Sydney sets her bag gently on the floor and sits in one of the chairs. "So… you don't know who you're running from, but you need to avoid them according to a third party who .. you don't know?" She tries to sum up what Hallis has already said, clarifying it for herself and the other woman.

Nodding quickly, Hallis moves to the mini bar and grabs a short glass. Two ice cubes and an entire little bottle of vodka later, the small woman sits herself down in the chair opposite her therapist. "I know the man that told me. He works for the government and the government was the ones that put all the people on trains, like in the holocaust. But this man, he can do things too. So I think that maybe he works for her because he said she doesn't take orders from him. It's just… scary, you know?" She knits her eyebrows together into a small frown and takes a large gulp of liquor. "He said that she was going to do something worse to me. What's worse than raping my memories and stealing things that I know?"

"I can see why you'd be scared," Sydney soothes. "And it's good to acknowledge that fear, especially given what this gal has done to you in the past." Running her tongue over her lips, she frowns. Her face pales further as she can't break confidentiality, but between these two patients something must be done. "Well it's good you've come here to protect yourself." She pauses and then tilts her head, "Who do you think this gal might be?" Pause. "Could she be connected to the convenience store fire?"

"Yeah, she is… when I try to remember the robbery, there's black spots. I think she was working with them and helped kill Mister Ling and that guy in the suit." Hallis mutters, her eyes going a little watery. The logic is practically infallible. "I mean, why else would she do so much to try to cover her tracks? I just know that I bought those shoes for her, I still can't find them anywhere in my closet. Maybe I was trying to pay her off or something? Or maybe … I don't know. I read the story in People, I must have escaped and saved all the people in the convenience store, but I can't remember what I did."

Sydney blinks again as her face is completely white. How is she going to deal with this? "Do you remember what she looked like? That might help you avoid her? I remember you called her… the girl with the bad hair… do you remember that?" She's trying to be proactive. She crosses her arms over her chest, "So you think you saved all of those people then?"

Shaking her head slowly, "I don't remember anything about her. Nothing… even when I try to remember talking about her, it's like there's words that are missing. Or I just can't remember at all. There's nothing there." Another swift gulp of the straight vodka cocktail is taken and Hallis shudders violently, apparently the liquor isn't that good. "I don't know. I read the article in the magazine and the newspaper articles. I can't remember how anyone in the building survived. I must have done something, because the newspapers and magazine said I rescued them… so I must have… right?"

Sydney hmmms. "Not necessarily, but perhaps. Newspapers and magazines spin stories to their advantage." She leans back in her seat and smooths her very curly hair. "What does George say about all of this? And what do you make of it all? How are you processing this information?"

"George is going to find me some help, someone that can find out what this woman wants and why she wants to do 'drastic things' to me." Hallis chews on her lower lip and a pensive expression crosses her features. "What could I have possibly done to this woman to want her to do this? Really? I don't do anything except shop and go to parties. Sometimes I do little modeling stints or get bit parts in television shows or movies… but why would that make her want to do this? It's horrible."

Sydney frowns before she settles her lips into a comforting position, "These are frightening times for many people. The government has many on the run for their lives." Her lips twitch lightly. "Some have no trust for anyone. But with good reason. It could be she's just as scared of you as you are of her. Had you thought of that?" Comforting smile.

Shaking her head, Hallis swirls the ice cubes around in her glass in a rather agitated fashion. "Why would she be scared of me though? What could I possibly do to her? Pay someone to fix her bad hair?" She casts a swift glance at Sydney and purses her lips. "It doesn't make sense. I mean, yes, George is a congressman, but he wouldn't load people onto trains. He told me he wouldn't, and I believe him. He's a good man."

Blink. Sydney's words are slow and laborious, "You. know. About. The. Trains." She blinks again, tucking a loose blonde curl behind her ear. "How do you know about the trains?" She quirks an eyebrow at Hallis and leans forward in her chair. This has already been a very telling session.

Lowering her head, Hallis averts her eyes from Sydney's and clears her throat. "I have a friend that can do things… she helped the train people. She was the one that helped me see that not all people who can do things are bad, like Flint, Knocks, and the mind raping woman." A trembling shrug is given to her therapist and Hallis finally looks up to meet her eyes. "I was going to try to do something to help. Maybe start a fund or something like that. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person alive that can't do anything special, everyone I meet can do something. Even the government man that works with the mind rapist. But I can make money, my face sells things. And I can't do anything special, which kind of makes me safe from the trains. Right?"

Sydney's jaw stiffens as she nods. She's not as comfortable with this as she could be. Or even should be. "Yes, you should do what you can to help. You are actually in more of a position to help than people that … do special things." She offers a tight smile to Hallis. "They have to hide. The government is rounding them up, and you have your freedom. I think though, they need more than money." She offers Hallis another consoling smile, "But yes, raising funds is still important. Raise funds to help people like George stop this nonsense. People like Ivory." Mmm. Ivory.

"What else can they need more than money? Money can buy anything. And anyone that says it can't.. well they're wrong." Hallis is quite firm with this belief, it may be the root of all evil, but it can also do a heck of a lot of good in the meantime. "What I mean is… Money can help them in so many ways. Special people shouldn't have to hide what they are, just because they can do a little something extra. People need to know that they're out there and they're not all bad. But it's not like they can give me a couple of babies to use as poster children… so that would have to wait. But if I got them money, they could use it to buy houses or make schools so people like Flint and Knocks and the mind rapist don't have to hurt people."

"I don't think they want attention," Sydney says rather honestly. "But you're right, money may help them." Although, isn't Eric really wealthy? Isn't that what Hallis had told him? Gene probably has access to everything he needs. Moistening her lips, she peers at Hallis, "Do you know how to get money to the evolved? I know that many of them are trying to stay concealed right now. It's a scary time for them…"

"Because the government is rounding them up in secret." Hallis nods in agreement, and then she looks over to Sydney and then she puckers her lips and widens her eyes a little in that pensive expression of hers. "And it's all because they're a secret that the government can do it. I mean, do you know anyone famous that's special like that? Have they disappeared? This isn't a movie like V for Vendetta, this is America where people are supposed to have rights." There it is, the soapbox. All of this is terribly surprising, coming from the mouth of a woman whose biggest concern a few weeks ago was what kind of shoes to wear to the bar.

"I have at least one friend that escaped from the government," Sydney sighs as she raises a hand to her forehead. "I have another that helped with the train rescue." She swallows again and nods a bit, "The problem is like that in Men In Black. One person can deal with information. One person is smart. People give into fear easier than hope and trust. Fear is easier to muster. If everyone knew it could be completely disordered. We could run around hurting each other. The country could enter into lockdown…"

"It's stupid and silly. If everyone knew that they were out there, it wouldn't be a big deal. It's like the drinking age. I mean, it's supposed to be twenty one, but I'm twenty and everyone knows that I do it. I get served in bars all over New York City. Even George buys me drinks at dinner." Hallis complains. Yes, she has issues with the legal drinking age, but money has gotten her out of it time and time again. "It's easy for the Men in Black to take things that are hiding in the dark. If the special people were in the light, it wouldn't be as easy to make them disappear."

"It wouldn't be easy, but would they lose that edge they have. Their safety comes from no one knowing about them in many ways. A mob mentality goes along with fear," Sydney observes as she examines Hallis. "Besides there's no limit to what people can do." She hmms and suggests, "What about people who can read minds? Or perhaps control a person's thoughts? A person's emotions? What kind of harm could someone like that do? Would the public accept someone like that?" Sydney can barely accept herself.

"What about what they do to people when no one knows about them? What about the mind rapist? She violated me, and there won't ever be a punishment to her for that. She probably doesn't even care who she hurts as long as she gets what she wants." The socialite pouts, looking away. "I know that's how people see me, and they probably think I deserve someone stealing everything I have… but they don't know what it's like to try to remember what's in those holes. It's scary. It's really scary."

"But how often do they harm someone without meaning to?" Sydney asks idly. "I'm guessing many don't even realize they have abilities. And no, I don't think you got what you deserved. I think it's frightening and I'm sorry it happened to you, but the girl that did it was probably scared. And in many ways, rightfully so." She sighs, "I know George is one of the good guys, but not everyone knows that. And you've been seen together… between these things… someone could jump to conclusions if already afraid…"

Hallis frowns deeply and almost glares at Sydney, her temper is definitely flaring with righteous indignation. "So instead of just talking to me about it, she steals my mind. That's about as retarded as saying the woman was wearing a short skirt so she deserved to be raped." With that said, the young blonde gets up and stomps across the room to the bar, grabbing not one or two, but every little gin bottle in the mini bar and pours them into her glass. She doesn't even bother with the ice cubes any more, she doesn't care. "I thought you would take my side in this, I thought you would see how wrong it is. She stole my memories and who knows how I got home? I could have been killed or hurt or worse, someone could have taken my shoes? Haven't I lost enough?!"

Sydney sighs as she soothes. "I'm not defending her. But there comes a point when sometimes there are things in life beyond our control… when we have to at least acknowledge someone else's emotional state, even if their actions are wrong." She stares at Hallis, "I was engaged once." Looking down at the floor it becomes the most interesting thing in the room, "After only two months together I was completely smitten. Head over heels. Nineteen years old with a very handsome much older fiance who I adored. And I thought adored me." She swallows. She generally doesn't divulge personal information in therapy, but this time it seems appropriate. "The first time he hit me I thought it was no big deal. Happens to everyone, right?" she shrugs. "And he apologized almost immediately after. I forgave him and moved on. He did it time and time again. And every time I forgave him." She silences. "I finally left him when he broke my cheek bone six weeks before our wedding." She swallows. "It would be easy to blame him. But there are so many other factors. He learned that from somewhere. It wasn't my fault, but not his alone either… all of my studies tell me that it came from somewhere. His parents, maybe? Someone taught him to act that way. It wasn't right. It wasn't good. But it wasn't only his fault."

"What if I'd died on the way home? Or what if she killed me? Would that have been George's fault then? Or…" When Sydney begins to tell her story Hallis just stares at her and takes long guzzle after long guzzle of her drink. She's fairly inebriated now, and it shows. She begins to sniffle and tears rim her eyes as the story unfolds. "Sydney… I killed someone." Hallis admits, never actually acknowledging that she's ever done anything wrong in her entire life. Always being the victim. "I think I get it now…"

Sydney blinks several times in utter shock as she stares at Hallis. She wasn't expecting an admission of this sort, merely some empathy towards the other. Swallowing, Sydney tilts her head, "What happened?" She manages to maintain her composure as she studies Hallis. "Life isn't black and white, it's grey." She offers a very weak smile.

Shaking her head, the tears begin to flow… as does more alcohol into her system. "No, this isn't grey… this is black. I've been trying to be good, I've been trying to actually do good things. But I'm just as bad as the rapist, probably even worse… because they did try to punish me and I got away with it." Hallis takes another large gulp of the numbing liquid, emptying the glass. "He was just some kid from Yonkers… I don't know. From Yonkers. I hit him when I blacked out at the wheel. My lawyer got me off on some technicalities… but Daddy paid the family off and they moved somewhere." Crouching down, Hallis grabs another bunch of bottles, finally wiping the fridge clean of any more refreshments. She doesn't bother with the glass any more, she simply carries them to her chair and begins to swing them back one by one.

Sydney stares at Hallis for several seconds before standing moving towards the girl and wrapping her arms around her client, embracing her in a a giant bear-hug. "Shhhhh," Sydney rubs her back. She soothes, "It happened. You've acknowledged it. Secrets are what have power over us." Her voice is hushed, comforting. "Now you have a choice. No it's not fair to the kid's family, but you can make the world a better place still. You're still here…"

"I didn't even care a few weeks ago, Sydney…" Hallis bawls, using one hand to wipe away her tears and the other to chug back yet another little bottle. Shuddering with grief, she sobs coarsely and leans against the other woman. "It's all George's fault! He's just so… George-like and I'm this horrible little woman that can't do anything right…"

Still rubbing Hallis' back, Sydney quietly soothes, "But you care now Hallis. That's what matters." She holds the other woman, and takes a few deep breaths. She manages to get her own mood into a kind of peaceful calm. "George is good for you, but you're still changing yourself. While he's inspired you, you've been doing the work. You're choosing to work on your vices. And you want to be more. It's you in the end, Hallis. Even if George inspired it…"

Sniffling a little, Hallis' sobs subside and she nods. "I've been trying really hard. It's just so hard. No one understands." And herein begins the trip of self pity. "I mean, I've been trying to be good, trying to do the right thing. I don't know what happened with that other woman, but I bought her shoes… they were really expensive… maybe she didn't like them?"

"It probably had nothing to do with the shoes, Hallis," Sydney says honestly as she releases Hallis and squeezes her shoulder. "It was probably fear. Fear does terrible things to people. I'm not justifying what she did, but trying to help you understand her motivations." She offers a very small smile. "And you are trying. It'll be awhile, but it takes time."

"Yeah… she was scared because she probably thought I was going to turn her in, right?" Breakthrough! Perhaps Hallis had been listening to Sydney the whole time and it just took a few drinks in her for it to sink in. "I wouldn't do that though, I know how scary jail is. I was there… Sure I had a private cell and stuff, but still."

"Exactly," Sydney nods as she silently cheers in her head. This is the moment she lives for as a therapist. "It's a scary time for people like her." She offers Hallis a hopeful smile, "But she doesn't know you wouldn't do that. I know you wouldn't, you're a good person, even if it took awhile for you to discover it yourself. I'm glad you understand what was probably going through her head."

Hallis looks up at Sydney through the tears streaks and the smeared makeup. Her nose is all red and snotty and this is likely the worst she's ever looked in her entire life, aside from a few really wild parties… but … "So, what do I do? Should I send a letter through that government guy maybe? Try to really apologize to her and explain?"

Sydney hmmms, "That's a good idea. Writing letters is a good way to express yourself. But instead of handing it to the government guy, I want you do give it to me." She narrows her eyes a bit, "This is a therapeutic exercise first and foremost. After you and I go through it together we will decide whether it should be sent to the girl." This Sydney has time to figure out whether Cassie could handle that and Cassie won't go after Hallis again.

Nodding again, Hallis takes in a very deep cleansing breath. "Okay, I'll do that instead of my journal then?" She's bargaining now, trading one piece of therapeutic homework for another. Not that she's actually started the journal, she meant to, but other things got in the way. Like the weekend. And then being mind wiped by Miss Bad Hair Day. "I guess I should let you go though, we've had more than my fair hour… I'll probably owe you my grandmother's estate if you stay any longer. I'm sure she wouldn't like moving out."

"Yes, do that instead of your journal. This is an exercise for you to forgive yourself. You need to see your own sincerity. You're a good person, Hallis." She smiles as she pads towards the door. "Well, I'm glad I could help." And then she glances at the watch on her wrist and grimaces just a little, "I need to get some work done too." She picks up her bags and opens the door, "Remember to take care of yourself. These are unusual times." That said, she walks through it and down the hall.

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