2010-02-14: Signals Crossed



Date: February 14, 2010


Sydney apologizes for taking in a street kid… Fred's shockingly cool about it.

"Signals Crossed"

Fred's Apartment — Brooklyn

Sydney had sent Trent to run to the store to pick up some fresh clothes for himself (it'll be telling if he comes back with clothes — sending homeless children off with cash isn't always the smartest thing, but today there is little choice). Jamie is up on the rooftop practicing and Sydney is cooking dinner. Dressed in her dark wash jeans and black wrap-around sweater, she's in the kitchen icing a cake. It's a valentine's cake — heart shaped. She'd baked it that morning before she'd gone to the library and found Trent. And now she's icing it… and having a moment. She'd iced it with pink strawberry icing, and is just finishing the text across it. In big letters it says specifically, "I'M SORRY". When she got back to the apartment, she quickly realized she should've cleared this with him first. And so she's apologizing. On a cake. Hopefully it's sweet enough to work its magic?

It's been a long day so far for the proprietor of this fine residence. He's had lots of…work to do. Valentines Day is busy for psychologists, what with plenty of lonely single people sad about their situations. That and people recently out of relationships. As well, Fred has had to make some stops, quickly, at another office of his. A more…private practice office, if you will. So it's as such that he's just arriving back at his apartment at present. "I'm hooooome! Yaba daba doooo!" Rings Fred's voice. It's a joke, of course, as he knows how people often react when they hear his full name.

At the sound of Fred's voice, Sydney hops out of the kitchen cake in hand normally she would laugh or have something witty to say to his greeting, today her own thoughts are not in line with such things, in fact, she's been abuzz with nervous energy since her and Trent arrived at the apartment earlier in the afternoon. "Hi Freddie! Have a good day?" her weariness and remorse is filling the room as she smiles weakly at him, trying her best to keep her cool. "Ummmm…"

Fred smiles widely as Sydney hops out of the kitchen with the cake. "My day was good!" He says, looking at Sydney, not paying too much attention to the cake as yet. "Busy. Had to stop at a couple of my offices. The community centre and another one. It's been a busy day for Dr. Fred." He says softly. As the remorse and nervousness hit him, he frowns deeply and furrows his brow in great concern. "Okay…deep breaths Fred." He murmurs, trying to calm the feeling. "Either I'm feeling really nervous and bad about something or are you…?" He finally sees what's on the cake for the first time. "Oh…" He looks at Sydney straight in the eyes. "What's…what's wrong Syd? What happened?"

"I'm a horrible person with no boundaries," Sydney exasperates as she places the cake on the coffee table. "I… I went to the library today…" Which is totally normal considering she does it like everyday for at least a few hours. And then she adds as a side thought, "I checked you out a book I thought you'd like. You've probably read it though — it's dream psychology and I've always enjoyed stuff on dreams… and this is one of my favourites…. They gave me a library card under the name Susan Shane. Anyways…" She swallows. Clearly this is a tangent compared to what's making her nervous.

"I went to check out a book for Jamie.. something on gymnastics, annnnnd… there was this kid…" she cringes as she says it. "He's homeless and he won't go to the cops. He's eleven Fred! ELEVEN. And orphaned and his aunt neglects him and he's been living on the street for three years and no one's bothered to find him… I tried to get him to go to the police, and then to Hope Hearth… but…" she shrugs. "I'm SO SORRY. I know I'm a terrible a person and I shouldn't have done it and we're just guests here and I shouldn't have done it and should've checked with you and I'm a HORRIBLE PERSON…."

Fred frowns deeply. Her emotions are running his own amuck. It's difficult enough trying to pay attention to your own emotions while someone else is talking, but when their emotions are taking over as well? It's most difficult indeed. "Thanks for the book." He murmurs. "But you're gonna have to slowly down just a tad and take a few deep breaths, think of a happy calming place. You're not a horrible person." He smiles at her encouragingly. "Now, take a moment to collect your thoughts and in a slow, steady, and purposeful sentence or two, tell me about this eleven year old and what you should have checked about with me."

"Right. Breathe." Sydney takes a deep breath and releases it slowly. Her cheeks flushing as she does so, "I'm sorry! I'm trying not to share them with the world that's why Jamie is on the roof and Trent — that's his name is out doing other things…" She cringes again. "Okay." She takes another deep cleansing breath, "Okay. So. He came home with me…" she cringes again. "I am sorry. I am. I'm so sorry. I owe you like so much and now I'm doing this… I just… I couldn't leave him outside Fred. It would've been unethical. And I couldn't make him go to the police, I can't even go near there… what was I supposed to do? But I know I shouldn't have done it. I should've just told my ethical code to screw itself — make it lay dead in a ditch somewhere and keep it there until everything with the government is sorted out…"

Fred places his hands on both of Sydney's shoulders, smiling softly. In a gentle voice he says, "You did the right thing, Sydney. Don't you EVER change the way you are or your ethical code. If our positions were reversed, I may have done exactly the same thing." He speaks understandingly, without judgement. "I might have to buy a few more groceries for us to feed the extra mouth, but that's okay. I'm fine with that." He smiles. "And you know he'll be safe and taken care of here. It was a good thing for you to do."

There's a definite sense of relief that fills the room at the touch. "Th-thank you." And without thinking Sydney wraps her arms around Fred and squeezes tightly in a giant hug. 'I am sorry for the burden we're being. I swear somehow I'll make it up to you," she exasperates into his chest before looking up at him now smiling softly. "I promise I will."

Fred is slightly taken aback by the hug, but embraces her all the same. "Anytime, my friend. Anytime." He holds her in the hug for a good while. "A burden would suggest that you are all a heavy load or a great misfortune to me. Which none of you are. Though…I don't know the new kid, but I'm sure he won't be." He says softly. He grins widely, scruffing up Sydney's hair a little. "Come on now, I didn't help you because I wanted you to pay me back! I'm helping you because I want to, and because it's the right thing to do!"

"And why do you want to help us, Dr. Fred? Just lookin' for a way to play the hero, I imagine," Sydney clucks her tongue. "Hey you! Watch yourself!" She urges back as she tries to reach for his hair to scruff it up. She's somewhat shorter than him though, so this isn't the easiest task. "AH! You've grown my friend!" she exasperates as she pokes his midsection instead with a suppressed giggle. "I bet you're still ticklish though." She beams.

Fred laughs. "Of course I'm not looking for a way to play hero. Especially when I already AM a hero!" He says with a mischievous grin. He steps on his tip-toes so that Sydney really can't reach his hair. "Hey now! I can't have you mussing up my hair! I just learned how to style wings into it!" He grins with a wink. "Oh…aha." He lets out a small giggle at the poke. "I'm not ticklish. But I wouldn't test that out if I were you!"

"Ahhhh!" Sydney fake pouts at the tip-toes. "And whyyyyyy shouldn't I test it?" she asks with an equally mischievous grin that extends to her eyes. "I know you liiiiiiike it." She giggles lightly as she does indeed tickle him as her lips extend into a broad grin. The mood of the room itself has changed significantly since Fred walked in. He walked into regret, remorse, and nervousness and has entered a land of playfulness, joy, and… flirtation(?).

Fred laughs. "I can give you a few reasons not to test it! One of which people that I would then try to tickle you! And I don't think we'd want that, would we?" He smiles widely still. "Now, however, I believe would be a good time for me to dress into my nonwork clothing. Don't wanna muss up my suit and tie after all. That wouldn't look professional in the least!" He says with a nod.

Sydney backs up and clucks her tongue while shaking her head in a mock reprimand. "Tut. Tut. Playing in your work clothes. That won't do. Nope. Nope." Her scolding expression curls into a very broad smile again. "And I wouldn't muss up anything. Too talented for that," she beams before she leans forward and straightens his tie. "I like this one," she says somewhat softer as she runs her fingers down it to fix it.

Fred chuckles ever so slightly, a little nervously. "Well, I'm certainly glad of that, my friend." He says with another little chuckle as Sydney starts to straighten his tie. "So um…have I told you that I've thought about trying to look for that long lost sister of mine? I mean…how many Wilhelmina Stone's can there be out there, right?" He shrugs. "Especially ones that were adopted at some point."

"That's great. You should try to find her, there's nothing I wouldn't give for that sense of… family," her smile is a little more forlorn now, but the mood hasn't change much, "Besides, I bet she's looking for you too, Freddie," Sydney says softly as she finishes straightening it and pats down the lapels of his jacket. "Do I…" Hmmm. "…do I make you nervous?" She wrinkles her nose as she gives him a lopsided smirk.

Fred smiles softly and nods. "That's what I was thinking, you know? I want that sense of family again. You know, as children we were in French immersion, something I continued into high school a bit, as you know, and we kinda used it as our 'secret language', our 'code language'. Our parents didn't know or understand it, so we could tell each other stuff without fear of our parents knowing what." He smiles a little bit at the fond memory. He blinks. "Nervous? Of course not, Syd! I've no reason to be made nervous by you!"

"I always wish I had a brother or sister," Sydney says with a still soft smile. "I just… it would've been amazing. Although, I think it's probably better this way, Nana only screwed one person up, you know?' She knows her issues. Her fight for being allowed to be herself. At his answer she nods, "Good. I'm glad." She stands on her tippy-toes and plants a soft kiss on his cheek before she's flat footed again and takes a step back. Butterflies try to escape her own stomach and her cheeks flush a pale pink while her gaze turns to the floor.

"I'm telling you Syd, there's nothing like having a sibling." Says Fred. "Despite the fact that I haven't seen or heard of my twin sister in over a decade, to have grown up with each other, and to know she's out there somewhere, it's amazing. And I love her. With all my heart. It just pains me that I haven't seen her in so long and that I don't know what she's made of her life!"

That's… interesting. No reaction at all. Silently Sydney listens and tilts her head at Fred. She thought… did she think wrong? Huh. She issues him a weak, albeit present smile. "I… can only imagine." Did he not notice among the chatter? Or… something else? Even more nervously she takes a step forward again, rises on her tippy-toes, and plants a kiss on his other cheek before lowering herself flatfooted onto the floor.

Fred looks Sydney in the eyes for a few minutes before smiles. "Yep. Maybe if I find her I'll introduce you two. I wonder what she's like now…Wilma. That's what I used to call my sister. Drove her nuts! She wanted me to call her Mina instead. But…well…I just always called her Wilma. We were Fred and Wilma. That was that." He gives Sydney a little pat on the shoulder. "I'm gonna go change and then work in my office for a bit. Don't be a stranger now, ya hear!"

"Fred…" Sydney whispers before swallowing nervously. "Can you just…" Wait? Talk about that? Say what you're thinking about? None of these things come out of her mouth. Instead with surge of courage she says, "…shut up for a second…" before she's on her tip-toes again to softly kiss his lips.

Fred furrows his brow. "I…" He wasn't exactly as caught off guard by this kiss as he was by the hug earlier. He saw this coming a mile a minute…though he didn't exactly do anything to stop it either, despite wanting to. He knew he shouldn't. After a moment, he shakes his head. "No…no. We shouldn't." He says, gently pushing Sydney away. It's not out of meanness, but rather something else. "I can't. It's just…I…" He can't exactly say he's feeling guilty. He searches for another reason, and after a moment, he speaks. "Look, there's a kid on the roof and another probably returning soon. And…well…it's not that…it's hard to explain."

And Sydney's eyebrows furrow in return as she takes a step back. "I…" Yes, she's confused. Very confused. Her cheeks flush a much brighter red before she backs up. Away. Out of Fred's bubble. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have… it was stupid…" she manages once there's several feet between them. "I should… I should go cook dinner or something." And then she tacks on, eyebrows still furrowed, "…two kids to feed…" She points fleetingly towards the kitchen before turning away and walking towards it.

"Sydney…I…" Fred pauses. "I…it wasn't stupid. But…" Yes, folks, if they were a couple, he'd be sleeping on the couch tonight. He lowers his head and sighs. "Yeah. Two kids to feed. Gotta get on that, I suppose. I'm gonna go…search for my sister." He turns and putters his way to his home office.

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