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Darkness began to cloak the sky, but Sydney didn’t notice. He sat staring out the window of the upstairs bedroom, oblivious to the slight movement of the lake beyond. He hadn’t moved since he had arrived, but sat quietly in the chair, looking at the leaves swaying in the breeze and at the soft waves of the water.
He had been in the Sim Lab when Raines had come in to break the news to him. At first he was too numb from shock to do anything more than blink, and then a moment later, he felt as if he couldn’t breathe, and tears began to sting his eyes. It had been in the third moment that he had stalked out of the lab, and the building, heading toward his car and an unknown destination. But anywhere was better than the Centre, and White Cloud was where he had ended up.
Even now, the pain in his chest made his eyes fill. He blinked away the moisture, not wanting to give in to it; to give in would be admitting that it was true, and he couldn’t, not yet. He slammed his eyes shut, against that which he knew could not be avoided.
The moment Raines had entered the Sim Lab, Sydney had known; he had seen it in his eyes, and Sydney knew that it was truth. It was clear from Raine’s demeanor that he had not wanted to be the one; he had not wanted to face whatever emotion might spill from Sydney’s heart. But to Raines’ surprise, there had been no reaction from Sydney in the Sim Lab.
It had been somewhere on the road to White Cloud when the tears had begun rolling down his cheeks. The grief that only a father could feel for the loss of a child. The sobs followed each other, building in strength, until Sydney had to pull off the road, fearing that he would crash. It had taken all his strength to recover enough to finish the drive to the cabin. Once he was inside the door, the gates to his heart had opened, and he had been able to do nothing but submit to the emotions, the pain, the sobs that consumed him, and allow them their course.
The moon had risen to its fullness, sending shimmers of light across the waves of the lake as they gently rippled along. On any other night, he would have thought it beautiful; but now, such beauty merely sparked intense sadness in him. He could only think of the one who would never see its like again; and his heart felt shredded. He hadn’t known that it would hurt more than anything else which had come before it. It was an open wound that Sydney knew would never heal.
His eyes slowly refocused in reality as the soft knock penetrated his mind. He felt old beyond his years as he lifted himself out of his chair, walked down the stairs and toward the door, opening it. He stared at the man standing on the porch; his eyes held the same pain Sydney knew to be in his own. After a long moment, he held the door open moving out of the man’s way, then he gently closed the door behind him.
The younger man stalked into the room and turned to face the psychiatrist, who was leaning against the door, “How could you have let this happen?” Sydney looked away, wondering the very same thing, and Jarod continued, “You should have protected her from Raines, Sydney; if he hadn’t sent her after me in a Cessna during an electrical storm--”
Jarod’s voice broke with emotion, but his eyes never left Sydney. Under the scrutiny, the older man plunged his hands in his pockets, and staring at the floor, moved away, coming to stand in front of a window, his back to his student.
Jarod shook his head, “She trusted you, depended upon you, and you let her down. Just like you did her mother, and Jacob, and me; the only reason I’m still here is because I got the hell away from you.”
Sydney didn’t move, nor did he respond.
Jarod’s anger continued to propel him, “How can you just stand there? Don’t you feel anything for anyone? Miss Parker is dead, Sydney; she’s dead and we can’t bring her back......” He moved to his mentor and grabbed him, turning him around, “Damnit Sydney, say someth--”
The pretender froze. Tears were silently gushing down Sydney’s anguish filled face, the pain of tremendous loss sounding out far clearer than any words ever could have. Jarod swallowed hard, his own tears brimming over his lower eyelids.
He eased his grip on Sydney slightly, “Sydney.....”
But Sydney couldn’t find his voice. He stared into Jarod’s soul with eyes full of so many emotions, the pretender couldn’t read them all. And it was then that Jarod knew he could no longer be angry; he could no longer lash out the guilt he felt over Parker’s death, on one who obviously loved her as deeply.
Jarod’s face crinkled in sadness, his emotions threatening to overtake him, “Do you think....do you think she knew...?”
He couldn’t finish the thought, as a sob escaped his lips.
Sydney gently gripped Jarod by the forearms, pulling him closer, his voice a bare whisper, “That we loved her?” Jarod nodded and Sydney’s eyes flooded once again, “I believe that she did, yes.” His eyes looked into Jarod’s, “As much as I believe that you love me, and that you know how much I love you.”
Jarod put his arms around Sydney’s neck and pulled him close, holding him tightly. Sydney slammed his eyes shut, and laying his head on Jarod’s shoulder, he sobbed as he hadn’t allowed himself, since he had been a small boy in a nazi camp. Together they cried for their shared losses; for lost childhoods, for lost brothers, for Miss Parker. And they cried over the simple fact that it had taken such a tragic blow to their souls to make them face what had been in their hearts all along.
The moonlight continued to shimmer along the waves of the lake, as it gently caressed each peak, apparently oblivious to the sorrow in the cabin. After a long while, the two men stared out the window at it, each in the silence of his own grief, yet comforted by its presence, and each other. Each, thinking of the one who would never again grace him with her presence. There was little solace in beauty.