Only the Lonely by The Lurker
Summary: The vulnerability of a colleague surprises Miss Parker.
Categories: Indefinite Timeline Characters: Broots, Miss Parker, Sydney
Genres: Character Musing
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes Word count: 1765 Read: 2241 Published: 03/06/08 Updated: 03/06/08

1. Chapter 1 by The Lurker

Chapter 1 by The Lurker
THE PRETENDER
“Only the Lonely”
by the lurker

The Centre
Broots’ Area


“All right you two, I’m out of here...”

Miss Parker moved quickly toward the door, and before either man had a chance to so much as wish her a good evening, she was gone.

Broots turned to Sydney, a look of slight bewilderment on his face, “Wow, she was in a big hurry.”

Sydney’s face was carefully neutral, but the softness of his voice belied the emotion there, “As she has been for the past month or so....”

Broots frowned in Sydney’s direction, but chose not to comment; the older man’s voice was tinged with an emotion that Broots did not wish to intrude upon.

Instead, the tech changed the subject, “Got any plans tonight, Syd?”

“Just going home, Broots.” He smiled at the tech, although it never reached his eyes, “You have a big evening planned?”

“Yeah....I have a date with Edna in Maintenance,” Broots leaned in conspiratorially, “Rumour has it she has a penchant for the, uhm, unusual.”

Sydney arched an eyebrow at him, “Really? Well, that should prove distracting.”

Broots began puttering at his desk, “Yeah, I’m taking her to O’Malley’s, I’ve heard it’s one of her favourite places.”

“Then it’s a good choice, have fun, Broots.”

Sydney walked toward the door, but Broots’ voice stopped him, “Syd? Everything okay?”

“Yeah, fine.” Sydney smiled reassuringly at the younger man, although once again, it never reached his eyes, “You have a good time. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Okay....”

Sydney disappeared quietly down the hallway leading out of Broots’ tech lab, a cloud hovering over his head.

******************

Sydney’s Office

Sydney glanced at his watch and frowned; it was close to noon, and there had been no sign of Miss Parker. She had missed the morning meeting with Raines, and had not called in, nor had she answered her phones. No one knew much of the man she had been seeing; what if something had happened? He shook his head at himself, Mr. Parker surely would have run a background check on the man. There really was no reason to worry.

The voice from the doorway startled him, “What’s the matter Freud, you have a look of constipation on your face.”

He glared in her direction, “Consternation you mean....”

She smiled and leaned against the door frame, “No, I said exactly what I meant. It’s constipation.”

A look of long suffering slowly spread over Sydney’s features, “Uh-huh.”

He stared at her for a moment; there was a glow about her, and while he wanted to see her happy there was some part of him that was annoyed by it.

His face turned dark, “You missed the meeting with Raines.”

She smiled, “Nosferatu will live.”

“You didn’t leave the reports, Miss Parker, Broots and I had to do some fast talking in order to keep him off our backs.” The reproach in his tone made Parker cringe inwardly, “You could have at least called in....”

“Oh stop pouting, Sydney.....You’ve been handling Raines forever, I don’t think you need my help in dealing with him.” Sydney looked down at his hands, frowning, it wasn’t lost on Miss Parker, “Syd? You okay?”

“Mmm-hmm, fine.”

She moved closer to him, examining him, “I’m sorry about this morning. I should have called in; I didn’t mean to make you worry.”

He snapped at her, “I do not recall saying that I was worried.”

Her eyebrows arched at him, “Well excuse me for making the leap, Dr. Snagglepuss." There was a palpable hurt shining in his eyes, and she softened her tone, "You’ve been a little out of sorts lately, Syd, you sure everything’s okay?”

“Yes.”

It was obvious by his tone and demeanor that he was not being truthful, but she decided to let him suffer with it, “Fine then. I’ll see you later.”

She turned quickly on her heel and was gone. Sydney just stared in the direction of her exit, a loneliness permeating his eyes. He hadn’t felt so far removed from others in a long time, and it had blindsided him slightly. He was generally far more secure in his relationships with those around him, but for some reason, he couldn’t shake the isolation which had crept upon him. He shook his head; whatever it was, he needed to leave it outside of the Centre.

It was on days like these that he missed Jarod the most.

*****************

Broots’ Area

The clicking sound of Miss Parker’s heels alerted him to her approach. Broots could tell from the sound that she was disturbed. He tried to brace himself for an onslaught. A moment later she entered his area, and stopped in front of his desk; however, the anger he was expecting to see in her eyes wasn't there. Instead, her face was filled with concern.

“You saw Syd this morning at the meeting....”

“Uhm, yeah....”

Parker continued, “Did he seem...okay to you?”

“More or less.”

“What does that mean, Broots?”

“Well, I wouldn’t say he was in an up mood, but I wouldn’t say that he was walking around under a black cloud either. Why do you ask?”

She snapped, “None of your business.”

“Fine.”

She began pacing, and Broots shrugged, returning his attention to his work. A moment later, she leaned on his desk.

“Has he said anything to you?”

“About what?”

“About anything that might be bothering him, you moron.”

“No.”

She frowned at him, picking up on the fact that he wasn't being entirely forthright, “Out with it, Broots.”

The tech sighed, annoyed at once again being placed in the middle, "Miss Parker...."

"You know something, tell me."

Broots hesitated for a moment, then begrudgingly he spoke, “He made an offhand comment last night about how busy you’ve been lately.”

“That’s none of his--” She stopped herself, and then a moment later continued, “What, exactly, did he say?”

“Just that you’d been really busy lately.”

“And?”

“And nothing. It just seemed like he was feeling....I dunno, a little neglected maybe.”

An incredulous look crept over Parker’s features, “Neglected? By me?”

“Yeah.”

“That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard you say.”

“Fine. I’m just telling you how it appeared. Take it or leave it.”

She shook her head, “It just doesn’t seem like him.” Broots shrugged and she wondered aloud, “I suppose even Freud has his moments of fragility.....”

**************

Jarod’s Room
The Centre


She keyed in the code and the door slid open. After a moment, her eyes adjusted to the low light, and she stepped into the room, allowing the door to close behind her. Sydney was sitting at Jarod’s desk, his head down upon it.

“Syd?”

He didn’t move, and Miss Parker deduced that he must have fallen asleep.

She approached quietly and placed a soft hand on his shoulder, shaking him gently, “Sydney? Wake up, Syd....” He stirred with a moan, and she shook him once again, “Come on, Syd, you’re going to wind up with a stiff neck if you stay here like this much longer.”

He lifted his head and looked at her, “Miss Parker....what time is it?”

“After ten.”

His voice held a note of sarcasm, “Shouldn’t you be out on a date or something?”

Parker shook her head at him, and leaned against the desk, “Is that what’s been bothering you? Honestly Sydney, sometimes I’m not sure if you’re six or sixty. Jealousy does not become you.”

"I am not jealous."

"Not in the simple sense of the word, but you
are jealous nonetheless...."

His eyes glistened with sadness, but he said nothing; instead, he leaned his head back down on his arms, a depressed sigh escaping his lips. Shaking her head, Parker stepped around the back of the desk chair, and placed her hands on his shoulders.

Gently she began to rub the muscles around his neck, and was surprised by the tautness she found there, “Syd... you’re so tense. What’s the matter?”

He didn’t answer her, so she silently massaged his shoulders, gently kneading away the tension. After several minutes, she ran a soothing hand up and down his back a few times, and then knelt down next to the chair, stroking the back of his head.

“Sydney?” The sadness in his eyes held a depth which frightened her, “Talk to me.”

He shook his head, Parker sighed and stood up, ceasing the delicate strokes of his hair.

He spoke then, his voice a soft plea, “Don’t stop. Please.”

With one hand she began rubbing the back of his neck, “This isn’t like you, Syd.”

He centered his forehead onto his arms, allowing her to work the muscles with both hands, his voice a mere whisper, “I know.”

“It’s disconcerting to see you like this.” She worked her hands down his back, “Don’t trust me enough to talk to me?”

“Of course I trust you. It’s just.....”

“What?”

“I guess I’ve been feeling a little...isolated of late, that’s all. It’s nothing, really.”

“Isolated....” Parker frowned, and knelt by the chair again, looking into his eyes, “Sydney, are you telling me you’re lonely?”

He smiled slightly, embarrassed, “It’s silly, isn’t it.....”

A pang of regret hit Parker, and her brow furrowed. She hadn’t realized how wrapped up in herself she had been; and while she knew it wasn’t her job to look after Sydney, she knew that in recent years he had come to rely on her as a close personal connection.

She lovingly stroked the back of his head again, “It’s not silly at all. I didn’t mean to ignore you, Syd.”

“You haven’t Miss Parker. We’re just colleagues, and you have a life outside of the Centre. I understand that.”

“I think we’re a little more than just colleagues Sydney.” His eyes darted to hers, the hope in them plain, Parker’s mouth dissolved into a smile, “Do I really need to say it?”

“No.”

She looked into his eyes, “But you need to hear it right now, don’t you Freud?”

He smiled weakly at her, “Maybe.”

She gently pulled his arms from the desk and took his hands in hers, “I know I don't show it easily, but you’re one of the most important people in my life Syd; you have been since I was a little girl. I’ll always be around if you need me.” She stood up and kissed his forehead, “Now stop pouting....”

He chuckled at her as he watched her walk out of Jarod’s room, the door closing behind her. He felt a little less lonely for the first time in weeks. It felt good.

fin



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