2010-01-17: True Colours

Starring:

Fred_V4icon.pngSydney_V4icon.png

Guest Starring:

Date: January 17, 2010

Summary:

Sydney revisits a therapist she doesn't remember talking to in the first place.


"True Colours"

Dr. Fred's Office

After a few days without her memory, and complete confusion about the entire thing, Sydney managed to deduce a few things from her missing thoughts: 1. She'd visited a community centre (probably?) following her conversation with Agent Barker, 2. She'd talked to a therapist there — a therapist who shares the name of a former childhood friend, she'd taken his card at least. And so she's returned to the centre, looking for answers about what they'd talked about.

She signed in with the receptionist with her real name — and the receptionist seemed to recognize her aside from calling her Ms. Falcon. Wrinkling her nose, she sits in one of the waiting area chairs and crosses her legs (in her grey pencil skirt — all-in-all she's far more put together than the last time she came here: decked out in a black trenchcoat, black blouse, grey pencil skirt, black belt, and black high heels), altogether unsure of exactly who she's set to see.

Fred has had a generally quiet day today. Not many people come in to see a therapist on a Sunday. But then again, maybe not a lot of people know the the community centre is open on Sundays. When the receptionist informs him that he has someone here to see him, none other than 'Ms. Falcon' again, he casually makes his way into the waiting area. "Sydney." He says with a bright smile. "I wasn't expecting to see you again. Especially not so soon!" He tells her, approaching where she's sitting.

So she did come see him! And it is Fred! Standing to her feet to greet him, she forces a warmish albeit confused smile. "Fred. I… hmmm." Her eyebrows are raised as she studies him. "I didn't expect to see you — Wow. Just WOW. So you're a therapist now…" Oh no, they've probably already had this conversation before. "Um… I'm sorry. Things from the last week or so are a little bit… hazy." She offers him a weak grin. "Can we talk in your office?"

Fred furrows his brow in confusion. "Yeah. I'm a therapist now. We…talked about this when you last came to talk." He's worried now. "Please, let's talk in my office. I…" He leads her onwards to his office, closing the door before he speaks again. "Please, have a seat." He says, indicating the seat that she sat in last time…not that she'd remember. He takes the seat across from her. "Is everything alright? What's going on? People don't just forget something like that."

Sydney follows Fred to the office. None of this jogs her memory. There might be a tinge of deja vu, but nothing that anyone would call a memory. She sits where she's instructed and peers at Fred curiously. "So…" the door is closed and now she's going to sound like a crazy person. "I came here recently? What exactly did we talk about? Fred… I can't remember anything about the last week or so. Did I mention an agent or something visited me? That's the last thing I remember clearly…"

Fred looks directly at Sydney as she speaks. "Yes, you did come here quite recently. You mentioned that an agent visited you. And that it had to do with…with…with people who had special abilities. You were worried about what to do. You wanted my advice. Whether to help this person or not to help. You were quite uncertain in the matter."

"I… I told you that?" Sydney remembers feeling uneasy about everything. "And you didn't have me committed? Oh Fred! I have no idea what happened! Honestly! I remembered talking to Agent Barker and then feeling uneasy and unsure of what to do about Chi and Lena and now. NOW I can't remember what happened. I don't remember coming here or anything I'd done until just a day or two ago when I woke up in a motel room in downtown New York." She lifts a hand to her forehead. "And I'm trying to remember, but it's like blank."

Fred bows his head. "Yes, you told me that. In fact, I had considered that you were having some delusions. I won't lie to you. But then you used your ability on me. That changed my opinion right as San Francisco rain." He says softly. "You told me…if I'm remember correctly, that this 'Agent Barker' told you that your friends were murderers. You've had a rough time trying to decipher if she was telling you the truth or not. Because you don't want to believe that your friends, your good friends, are murderers."

"Huh. Well, that's the brunt of everything I guess. I remember what happened to me, but then I can't remember anything else," Sydney can feel the butterflies in her stomach trying to escape once again. "I Just don't know what happened. Like… it's empty." She shrugs a little at Fred. "Unless… what did you advise me to do anyways?" She frowns slightly.

Fred pauses to think for a moment. "Well, if I'm remember correctly, I suggested that you take up this agent's offer. You can then see, from the inside what is going on and make an informed decision from that as to whether you believe this Agent Barker or not. Does that seem like a reasonable assessment to you?" He asks her softly.

"Probably," Sydney nods. "That sounds reasonable given the nature of everything." She purses her lips together and hmms quietly again. "Did I tell you anything about my friends? Like… how I met them or how we're connected or anything?" She looks at him hopefully. She knows things about Chi and Lena, but she hasn't built that rapport with Fred, not in memory.

Fred tilts his head, thinking. "I think you may have mentioned how one of them might have an ability as well." He nods. "With what you've told me already, you know that you can trust me with anything else, right? And we were friends, back in the day. I'd like to be able to think that friends can trust each other with secrets that they can't tell anyone else. And being therapists adds to that trust." He says with a kind smile. "You can trust me, Sydney. With anything. And I want to help you get your memory back. If that's what you want."

Sydney's lips twitch into s smile for several moments before she casts her gaze downward, "You're too good to me, Fred." She sighs heavily before nodding, "Yes. Of course. And it might be the key to my memory." She swallows and then frowns, "It's like this. One of them — Lena — she can make drugs through her skin and bodily fluids at will. And I've seen her erase someone's memory before…" She shrugs. "What if I confronted her about it and she erased my memory? Or what if the government did it because I learned something about them? I'm sorry… I know I sound paranoid, but given the circumstances, I think I'm entitled…"

Fred shakes his head. "Shakespeare wrote: 'A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.'" He smiles widely. "I am that friend. And I want you to grow. I want you to remember, and I want you to be all you can be." He says softly. "I think…if the government wanted you to work for them, they wouldn't erase your memory. But that's just my subjective analysis of the matter. As for your friend…why would she wish to erase your memory?"

"Oh Fred! It's such a mess I've found myself in and all because of this ridiculous thing I can do!" With a healthy measure of frustration, she frowns. When asked why Lena would want to erase her memory, she shakes her head, "I don't know," Sydney admits in a breathy whisper. "I thought she was my sister. I never had one… of course, you know that," she half-smiles as she suppresses a nervous chuckle. "I'm sorry. I'm just feeling…" she shrugs as her uneasiness fills the room. "I'm trying to control it… I'm sorry…"

"I wouldn't call your ability 'ridiculous'. Not in the least! I'd call it…marvellous. Spectacular. A wonderment of modern evolution." Fred says kindly and brightly. "Well, maybe this girl, Lena, had her reasons for erasing your memory. Good reasons. Then again, maybe they were selfish reasons. Maybe she didn't want you to remember being asked to join this group, because she was afraid you'd capture her. And then, she undershot where the memory was." A sudden feeling of uneasiness fills his stomach. "I…whew, that is some ability you have." He says, chuckling nervously as well. "But…but it's fine…don't you worry about me one bit."

The female therapist's lips curl into a broad grin. "You're something of a dream, Freddie." Sydney makes a list on her fingers, "You haven't had me committed, don't think I'm crazy, and are oddly encouraging about my ability. You're either the perfect therapist or the perfect friend. And I'm not sure which." She grins at him broadly. "But then you always were supportive. And you're right, maybe she'd do it for good reasons. I can't know because I can't remember."

"I'm sorry to unload all of this on you. We don't really have a conventional therapist-patient relationship going on here, considering our shared history…"

Fred grins widely. "Well…you know…I…I've always tried to keep an open mind." He says softly. "Can't exactly have our kinds of history and not have an open mind, you know? That and being a therapist. It's hard close your mind to certain things." There's a tiny nod. "Well, if we don't have a conventional therapist-patient relationship, at least we can know it's out of the ordinary. Or it's a true friendship." He says quietly with a nod. "Our history does change things. If this were an ordinary patient telling a therapist something type of situation, there wouldn't be as much freedom to talk."

Fred adds, "Not in the way we've been able to talk, anyway."

"It's true. Life wasn't exactly easy on either of us," Sydney scoffs with a half-smirk. "But then I guess birds of a feather…" she shrugs a little as she studies him carefully. "It's true, I guess you're not really my therapist then, are you? You're my friend." She studies him, calculating what to ask him now. "So.. as my friend, should I call this girl who may have erased my memory? Or do I assume she's a murderer like the government told me…?"

Fred shakes his head. "No. Life wasn't easy on us. But we made it through just fine, I'd say. Except, of course, for a bit of memory loss." He says softly. He sighs. "It's hard to say what you should do here. I don't exactly have an answer to give you. I mean…given what this friend can do, is it possible that she could have murdered someone? Maybe, if you join the government, you can look into her file? And if you do that, you can put the facts together for yourself."

"I have a feeling it wouldn't really be joining. It'd be like informing. I doubt I'd have access to files and the like. And no, I don't think she could've murdered someone. I've met murderers. See, I consult with the NYPD and I've done psych assessments for the DA's office. She doesn't fit any profile I can make sense of," Sydney sighs heavily. "In fact, I think I'd be as likely to murder someone as Lena is. Honest. I don't believe in hurting people either. And Fred, she's only nineteen. Still a kid in a lot of ways." She shrugs. "But then there are always outliers. Those people who do things that we can't predict or don't expect. And perhaps I'm not as good a therapist as I think I am…"

Fred nods a little bit. "Some people are excellent actors though. They can fool even the best of us." He says softly. "I've done work for the FBI, I'm a consultant and counsellor for them as well, you see, and I've seen some pretty convincing people there in the interrogation rooms. And, if she's a friend…well, your trust of her may have caused some mistakes to happen. BUT!" He smiles kindly here. "I bet you're a brilliant psychologist. I'd trust your judgement of a person just about any day."

"Always the encourager," Sydney grins at him. "You know, I don't know if I would've made it through those days without you. Nana and papa weren't exactly loving people…" She shakes her head a little. "Anyways, well… I've always trusted you, that's fared well for me so far. And I've known who to keep distance from most of my life. Although, I don't know how much of that is instinct and judgment of character and how much is part of my ability."

Fred grins widely. "If you can't be encouraging, then get out of my office!" He says chuckling softly. "We were friends, Sydney. And we were in a pretty tight knit group, we were. I think we helped each other through. Goodness knows that if it weren't for you, I probably wouldn't have made it either. You were like…the anchor to my ship." He says quietly. "Your ability has been of help to you. Of that I've no doubt. And you know you can trust me as well." He pauses, looking at Sydney for a long moment. "I say join this group. Take up this woman's offer. It can't hurt you to do that."

Chuckling back in response, she nods. "Well, not that you can force anyone to do anything." She nods, however. "My ability has helped me," Sydney agrees. "Alright. I'll help this agent and see what happens. I just hope I'm not doing something I'll regret. Honestly, I don't know what to think about my friends or anything going on, or if the government is even taking people like me. I just don't want to see people hurt. No matter what's happening I want to believe in doing no harm. I haven't changed that much."

Fred chuckles and shakes his head. "No. Quite right. You can't force people to do something they don't want to do." There's a pause. "I'm sure that what you're doing will at least help open your eyes to some important facts. Beyond that, who knows what you will learn." He says quietly. "And perhaps you can be the most help, working for these people. It's important to go to where you're needed the most."

"You're right. You're absolutely right, as always," Sydney nods a little. "I can't make anyone do anything. And I'll have to stay neutral through it all. Shouldn't be that difficult." As far as the forcing people to do something they don't want to she offers a joke, "It's like that joke, you know the one… how many therapists does it take to change a lightbulb?"

Fred nods. "Exactly. Staying neutral could be your best bet, during this time. Don't wanna do anything too rash." He takes a deep breath in and lets it out slowly. He laughs. "It take three therapists to change a light bulb. One to actually change it; one to tell him why Freudian psychology states that that it is phallic to change a light bulb and that it springs from issues with his mother; and one to state that Jung would say that changing a light bulb spring from the collective unconscious telling us that we need to change a light bulb to shine light on our very souls and to validate our existence."

Sydney laughs at Fred's response, "Huh. I heard the punch line different than that. I always thought it was one, but the lightbulb had to want to change. But yours is much funnier." She winks at him, "Like I said, it shouldn't be hard to stay neutral. We're professionally neutral you and I." After these words she fishes through her purse and takes out a card before rising from her seat, "You should call me sometime. You're my friend, not my therapist, and clearly this means that we need to meet outside of this office next time."

Fred grins. "Well, both are pretty funny." He says, chuckling. "Of course, the lightbulb might want to change, but the question is, does it want to change because it's bored, lonely, or feels it can be more than just a mere lightbulb?" He offers with a little wink of his own. "Being professionally neutral does help people be neutral in other situations, but it doesn't always help them."

"Touche," Sydney grins in turn. "And are you neutral in most situations, Fred? How about dealing with me last time? Did you stay pleasantly neutral or did you cross that professional boundary? I know when I turned on my stereo yesterday I still had it set to play good old Death Metal…"

Fred nods a little. "Yes, in most situations I attempt to stay neutral. But how a person appears on the outside is not always how they are feeling on the inside. A person who is neutral on the outside might be a sea of rage on the inside." He says with a nod. "Which is something I'm sure you know." He smiles. "I must say, I think I stayed 'pleasantly neutral', as you put it, when we last spoke." He tilts his head. "I still listen to a couple tapes that I have of Death Metal…when I've had a particularly bad day."

"I'm not a sea of rage anymore," Sydney says plainly. She stares at him several minutes, focusing intently on the man across from her as she takes her seat again. "Are you?" Their crew hadn't exactly been the Brady bunch. They weren't smiles or joys, not the laugh out loud group that many had become part of in high school. "I made my piece with it when… when I couldn't deal with my life anymore. I just let go of everything at that point. Took awhile though."

Fred looks quite seriously at Sydney. "A sea of rage? No. That doesn't mean I don't still get angry, though. Which I do. I won't lie. But these days, instead of needlessly bursting out at people in anger, I try to calmly and logically think things through and then work things out." He nods. "When life is difficult, we lean towards people who we feel will understand us the most. For us, that was the goth and the metal crowds. Going to concerts where people used chainsaws on metal and pretended to hurt themselves. That pain, no matter how fake, symbolized to us the pain that we felt. It signified to us the tortured dreams we had at night."

"I know. We were all in pain. All of us. And it seemed like the only release at the time. I still can't believe some of the clothes I wore during that phase of my life though," Sydney shakes her head slightly. "Lots of black. Lots of chains. And the worst is my grandparents never even knew. Not really." She shrugs and sighs heavily. "It's a shame that life dealt us that hand, but I'm the better for it now. I think it makes me a better therapist. A better human being. More compassionate maybe."

Fred smiles softly. "We all act according to the cards life deals us. Our lives weren't the happiest. We'd lost our parents, we had been adopted. You by your grandparents and myself by an older couple. We had a hole in our hearts that we felt couldn't be filled." There's a short pause for a moment. "Life is full of difficulty. And perhaps you're a better therapist because of it, and maybe I am to. But it is important to remember why that is so. It isn't enough to just remember 'Oh yeah, such and such happened to me in my life.' No, we have to remember what it was like for us, or else the lessons we have learned from those times are moot."

"Well, it sucked. And it didn't get much better until…" Until she'd dumped Bryce. And then she lived a bit of a ghost life. "….but it's good now. I've learned to forgive and move on, but never forget. When we let ourselves forget the past we get stuck. It's like a form of running from our problems. Instead we have to accept it as part of ourselves and move on." She grins at him, "I'll never forget any of it."

Fred taps the side of his nose a couple times. "I think you've got the gist of it. Though I knew you would, a smart cookie like yourself." He says, winking. "No, we can't run from our problems. That can just cause more problems of it's own." He agrees. "There are certainly some times I shall never forget. Not for the life of me. But, there are times I'd like to forget, if I could."

"You're right. It's better to live on and remember rather than forget," Sydney shakes her head at the comment about her being smart "You were always brighter than me. You were the brain, I was the emotional one. I still am. And when those emotions get away from me." She shakes her head. "It's bad news now. Fortunately I've learned something."

Fred gives Sydney a look. "Now you really are talking crazy! Maybe now is the time to commit you. I am not brighter than you!" He says with a firm nod. "You are the brightest bulb in the batch. The one that never needs to be changed!" He says seriously. "Why do you think I was always coming to you for help with school work? It wasn't because just because you were my friend, you know! You knew what you were talking about!"

Sydney returns the look. "You are too brighter than me!! You always got the best grades! And aced the exams!!" At this she nods firmly. "And when I explained things to you, you always seemed to understand them better than I did!" She smirks slightly, "I always thought you asked for my help because you secretly liked me, but now the truth comes out, you thought — quite mistakenly that I was smarter than you!"

Fred crosses her arms. "That's no excuse! Einstein did horribly in math when he was in school, but look at what he accomplished!" He nods firmly, as if that settles it. He chuckles. "Maybe I did secretly happen to maybe have a crush on you…but sometimes a secret remains just that! Besides, you were my friend. And friends help each other."

"No excuse?! You're still smarter than me! That much is clear!" Sydney giggles lightly as she shakes her head. "Huh. So is that an admission to a secret crush? And yeah, friends help each other which explains why I helped you, but it doesn't explain why you asked me." She teases with a broad smirk.

Fred laughs. "FINE! I'm the smarter one! Have it your way." He grins softly. "I don't admit to secret crushes, thank you Ms. Falklkand." He grins. "Why I came to you is self evident…I wanted your help! That's that. I wanted a friend's expert…high school student opinion of whatever I needed help with!" He says, grinning.

"Mhmmmmm. Sure, sure. I was a hottie back then, I know it's true," Sydney continues to tease with that same broad smirk. By now she's utterly beaming. Her mood has changed significantly from the moment she originally stepped into the office. "And yay! I won the smart argument! And you totally didn't need the help!"

There is certainly feelings of familiarity and affection emanating from Fred as he recounts all this with Sydney. Whether the affection springs from friendship, a secret crush, or both might not be as certain. "You say I didn't need the help, I say I did. Agree to disagree?" He says with a smile.

"Sure. Agree to disagree," Sydney smirks with a shake of her head. She hasn't teased anyone like this in years. And the familiarity and affection are easily returned. It's amazing the wonders memories and laughter can do for the soul — and one's mood. There's a moment's hesitation as she studies him further before she adds, "I always thought you were determined to win… or have you turned over a new leaf…" she arches a single eyebrow.

Fred chuckles softly, shaking his head. It is certainly amazing, yes, what memories can do. What good memories can do. "Determined to win?" He shakes his head. "No. Not determined. I just…I wanted to strive to be the best that I could be, despite all the bad time." He says softly. "I know now that what's most important isn't necessarily being the best, but seeing the best in everybody."

"Wow. You've gone all after-school-special on me," Sydney teases equally softly. "But you're right. Seeing the best in people is a gift. And in some ways a curse." Her smile fades into a softer gentler one, "It would be easy to think of some people as good and others as bad. Seeing the best in people doesn't allow that." She swallows before adding, "It was always easy to see the best in you though. You're a good egg, Fred. Somehow, somewhere, you ended up coming from good stock."

Fred grins. "Call it a result of an early-life crises. A young version of andropause." He says with a little, playful wink. "When you learn to see the best in people, you can't see them as 'good' or 'bad'. Sometimes you see them more in…" He frowns for a moment, thinking it over.

"More…shades of grey." He says thoughtfully. "You can say we're all good people. Or we're all bad people. Or good people that made bad choices or vice versa. Once you seen the shades of grey, the people doing bad things not because they want to but because they have to, or because they think it's the best thing to do, well, things aren't so clear." He smiles warmly at Sydney. "That means a lot, it really does. And I think…I think you're a good person too. I do. Otherwise you wouldn't have come to me as worried as you were."

"Hmmm. Are you secretly trying to tell me that right now you're just acting the way you think best? Interesting. Subconsciously, what are you trying to tell me, doctor?" Sydney seems all serious until she punctuates the question with a playful wink and smile of her own. "So in essence you think of humanity as a myriad of pragmatists trying to figure out what seems like the best idea given the circumstances? So by that definition there is no good or bad. Just people, living." She hmms again, "And then goodness is a measure as to what factors into one's decisions. Like a person chooses whether they will be primarily selfish in their decision making or primarily collectivistic?" She smiles. "I'm just trying to follow the logic here, Fred…"

Fred taps the side of his nose again. "You see? You're at least as smart as me!" He grins. "I don't think it's so much that goodness factors into people's decisions, per say, but rather is a result of their actions. An act that might be primarily selfish might also have beneficial effect on others, and thus be seen by them as good. So I suppose it also largely depends on a person's point of view on the situation." He explains thoughtfully.

"So, for example. If I was a terrorist I would think my actions justified. I would see my life as the end justifying the means? So in a way, in someone's mind, somewhere, I'm in the right?" Sydney continues to follow the logic bunny trail. "But then the question remains. Aren't some things just right while others just wrong? Or if we follow any hazy value system is anything and everything justifiable." The notion about her being as smart as him is met with a broad smirk, "Ha! Seriously, not nearly as smart as you! I think I got in far more trouble… and you were always smart enough to either stay out of it or squirm out of it. I always ended up in the thick of it!"

"That is absolutely correct. If you were a terrorist that thought your actions were justified, no doubt. And undoubtedly there would be others who thought the same and who thought you were right in doing said terrorist actions." Replies Fred. "As for some things being right and others wrong, I can't answer that for you at all. Each person has to make their own decision in that regard. Certainly I think so. But…using the terrorist scenario again, what the terrorist thinks is right might not be what you or I think is right." He says smiling. A chuckle escapes his lips. "No, that just means I wasn't smart enough to have some good ol' fashioned fun!"

"But there must be some reference point. For example, all people when they're cut in front of in a line will think some kind of injustice has happened to them." Sydney shrugs slightly. "Right and wrong are not simple things to understand, but regardless, we need to try to understand them."

"Ha! Well joke's on you! Getting caught was never fun! And I always came out as such a disappointment to the guardian-types." She winks again, "Buuuuuut it did give me some good stories and reference points."

Fred smiles. "That's where I leave all of this to the philosophers. I am a psychologist. And unlike popular belief in some circles, psychologists are not philosophers." He says jokingly. "Well, it's a good thing I weaselled my way out of any trouble I did get into, isn't it?" He says with a little laugh. "Couldn't quite get you out of trouble though, I'm afraid to say."

Sydney beams, "Ha! Your pretty face got you off scott free too often." Beat. "Wait, maybe I wasn't as hot as I thought." At this she shrugs. "Nah. I just grew up with two people who still blame me for their daughter's death. Anything I did wrong got put under the microscope." She shrugs again, obviously having made her peace with it, and then asks with a mischievous grin, "Did you even try to get me out of trouble? You probably let me shoulder the blame!" Wink.

Fred laughs. "I doubt they could even see my face under the makeup I wore." He says, chuckling. "I wouldn't let you shoulder any blame! Unless, of course, it was well placed." He winks. "No, those were some interesting days though, I must say." He grins and shakes his head. "Not days I'd want to live over again, however. That would be a bit much."

"Touche. You did wear a lot of makeup — so much that I didn't know what was under it!" Sydney winks at her own statement as she continues to beam. "I think you'd win the prize for most makeup in our group." With a sigh she nods in agreement, "Yeah, I'd rather not ever live with the grandparents again. I couldn't do it. They don't speak to me anymore though. And I have no intention of speaking to them." They owe her an apology. She was nearly strangled. Subconsciously, she tugs at the scarf around her neck, loosening it and showing the remnants of her bruising.

Fred grins. "Well, such was life, eh?" He chuckles. "We all have lives that are hard. That have been difficult. It couldn't have been easy to have grandparents such as your own." He shakes his head. Subconscious or not, the marks are shown. He sighs. "I never realized that…" He shakes his head again. "I'm sorry."

Sydney visible twitches. She'd spent so much energy covering the remnants of her scarring and bruising from the entire world, not just Fred, and she'd exposed them. "Oh… it's nothing. Just my former troublesome life caught up to me a few weeks back." Her cheeks flush involuntarily. "It won't be catching up to me again. Apparently." Bryce is dead. "Now I have new problems to deal with." At this she half-smiles. "At least I've put the past away for once…"

Fred shakes his head at Sydney. "But still…they're so red! And…" He sighs. "I'm sorry. I don't want to bring up painful memories. You…you'd probably go to a shrink that wasn't and old friend for that." He says quietly. "But if you do want to talk. You know…you can talk to me." He nods firmly. Subconsciously he moves to scratch his back, which has a story all to itself.

Sydney's all too infamous tell causes her lips to twitch. Running her tongue over her lips, she narrows her eyes at Fred before sighing. This chat with him today has been incredibly therapeutic for the blonde and talking about it might be a good thing. "I… well, I almost married someone back when I was nineteen." That's a story in and of itself. "He wasn't a bad guy until we were engaged. And then… well…" frown "…I became … his punching bag." She shrugs slightly. "I dumped him before our wedding and fled to a distress centre. And had managed to dodge him until a few weeks ago. Five years later and he's still as rage filled as ever… was as rage filled as ever… he's gone now…" She tilts her head at him.

Fred listens to Sydney's story, shaking his head. "That's horrible. But I'm glad that you're safe now. And I'm glad that you had sense enough to run from him. No one should be anyone's personal punching bag." He says softly, perhaps quite understandingly. "You had every right to not want to be with him. He wasn't any good to you."

"It is what it is. Or what it was. He was found murdered shortly after he put me in the hospital. Fortunately I was in the hospital at the time of his murder." Sydney's face flushes further. "I'm sorry. I don't really like thinking about it. But… it just happened." She sighs and then offers a small smile, "I know he wasn't good for me and that leaving him behind was a good thing. But my grandparents… they always thought he was the good one in the relationship. Hence the not speaking to each other."

Fred smiles. "Always the smartest cookie in the jar. This just goes to prove my point." He says happily. "Now, it's getting close to the end of the day. If you don't have any plans, how would you like to go grab a bite to eat?" He says, smiling. "After all, it's not every day a friend comes to you twice a week about a problem. That warrants some kind of celebration with food." He says with a wide grin.

And Sydney smiles in turn, "Not the smartest. Just not the stupidest. But yes. Dinner would be good." It's so nice for something to feel normal for the first time in ages. "Thank you. For this. I think I needed just.. something normal." She rises from her chair and smoothes her pencil skirt.

Fred chuckles softly, standing up. "Not being the stupidest makes you pretty smart in my books." He says kindly. "No thanks needed. I'm just glad to have gotten reacquainted." Is said softly. "Now, what are you in the mood for? Italian? French? McDonalds?" The last one is said as a joke, as evident by the wink that Fred gives Sydney. "Whatever you want, we shall have."

"Italian," Sydney answers with a growing grin. "Yes. Italian. But please, please don't talk in the accent." At this she absolutely beams as she pads to the door. "I'll give you a minute to collect yourself — I'll just be in the hall…" She winks at him as she steps out the door.

"Mamma Mia! No Italiano accenta?" Fred grins brightly. "I'll be right out, Syd." He says, chuckling, as he starts to pack up his papers into a suitcase to end the day.

Shaking her head slightly, Sydney quips back, "That's what I was afraid of." She's literally beaming. This is the first time in ages she's felt like herself. Her easy-going, laughing, smiling self.

LOG CONTINUED in Shining Through

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