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Author’s notes: Because she was ready to believe it, and so were we. I'm sorry for the italics abuse. This is an alternate universe to Someone To Trust.
Call it an… awakening.
- Sydney, Someone To Trust
People change, but it’s easier to believe that eye drops were drizzling down his cheeks, not tears, and that he’s using daddy to get position.
Maybe he wasn’t even watching the DSA of their birth, maybe he was waiting for her. She likes to imagine him growing impatient as the minutes go by, casually re-applying the eye drops and practising his sniffing. He likes to think he watches – if he indeed watches at all – with disdain, not grief.
But … God help her, she wants to trust him; she wants some part of her family to be normal. He says he wants a clean slate, and god help her, she wants to give him one.
She wants this to be his awakening.
Jarod sends her a picture of her father at Desert Vista Apartments. And because he is a bastard, it has no date on it.
Broots looks shocked, but Sydney just watches her. His entire face says you don’t know what he’s capable of.
That’s where he’s wrong. She does know what he’s capable of, so as much as she wants to go to daddy and ask what it is, and ask if it’s real. She doesn’t.
She remembers that Thanksgiving, with her mother’s cries of “stop, stop you’re hurting me.” She remembers her mother’s bruised and battered face.
She also remembers his denial, the hurt in his voice when she asked the last time.
Instead she goes to Lyle.
Trust can kill you or set you free.
And she so badly wants to be set free.
“I found a photograph, I’m not sure what it means.”
“A picture of… I’m not sure what it means but I think it concerns us both.”
Broots comes up in the elevator. The look on his face tells her just as much as the shake of his head.
“Why don’t we discuss this in my office?” Lyle suggests, looking concerned.
She clutches the manila folder tighter to her chest and nods.
As she passes him, Broots says, “They found her. She had been beaten to death and dumped in a ditch.”
Her face is impassive, and she nods as if he’s said nothing of interest; nothing about a young girl’s life stolen.
She follows Lyle; there’s nothing else to do.
Lyle stares into the middle distance when she tells him - when she finally manages to share her fears. Lyle stares into the middle distance, his face cold, and a part of her says:
He’s formulating a plan, he’s making this work to his advantage, he’s celebrating that you trust him.
And another replies, you’ve just told him my… his… our father might be a killer, give him a break.
He shakes his head as if in disbelief, even though he never interrupted her. “I don’t … want to believe it,” he says, and she can’t read his eyes because held-back tears are blurring her vision.
They sit in silence and she thinks about nothing at all.
You believe your father killed a mail-order bride circles endlessly, the words blurring into one constant stream.
Lyle finally looks up and says, “One of us will have to stop him.”
Broots finds more nothing. It’s one of his greatest talents. That and annoyance.
She paces and waits. Her heels click on the floor in a steady beat of click click click-click, as she pivots and does it all again. Her arches ache and her toes protest every swivel which is good – pain focuses her.
Predictably Jarod calls. She lets it ring six times before she barks “What?” down the line.
His reply is cool, almost mocking. “Did you get the photo?”
The bastard probably hand-delivered it to the front office.
“Yes,” she bites back, “is this revenge, Jarod? Can’t handle the truth about your father so you have to make up lies about mine? Your father killed my mother but that doesn’t work – that doesn’t fit in your little world of happy families. Instead you have to imply that my father kills mail-order brides!”
Tell me it’s a lie. Tell me it’s Raines. Tell me it’s not him.
She can hear his breathing which means he’s angry. She knows what he’ll say next – what he’ll probably later apologise for – but she doesn’t need to hear more about her father, doesn’t need to hear once again that she doesn’t know him.
She hangs up and goes looking for Lyle.
“You believe Jarod?” Lyle says, but there is no accusation in his voice, just curiosity.
“Maybe,” she replies, because ever since Florida she can’t stop remembering her mother’s face all battered and bruised, her eyes tired and resigned in the picture from her doctor’s report.
Lyle nods. “I do too.”
For a moment he is nearly her brother.
Her hips sway as she walks down the carpet to her father’s desk. Her face is impassive, cold and gives away nothing – just as daddy taught her. The photos skim across their father’s desk and stop when he slaps his hand down on them.
Confusion: “What’s this, angel?”
Lyle enters and stands beside her. They are a united front – for once.
“What happened?” she asks, and her voice doesn’t waver.
“I don’t know what you mean,” he says, but his eyes are focussed only Lyle, the edges crinkling in a slight glare.
Tell me it’s not you. Tell me…
“Tell me these are fake,” she pleads.
He opens his mouth and closes it. She’s not sure if it’s in rage or because he has been (finally?) caught.
“Well of course it’s a lie! What horrible lies is Jarod perpetuating now?!” he barks.
“He’s not saying anything we can’t see for ourselves, dad,” Lyle says softly.
Mr Parker looks back to his daughter. She recognises it (from all the betrayals, from the T Board, the lies. She knows it well) and knows what will come next.
“You’d trust Jarod over me?” he yells.
“No,” Lyle says, “she trusts me.”
The betrayal in her father’s eyes is too much to bear, so she leaves him. His eyes on the back of her neck almost burn. She hears him call her – angel, even now he won’t say her real name – and his accusations about Lyle, about Jarod.
She wants to believe him, more than anything else she’s ever felt. A sudden flare of doubt gnaws at her. A lie, it must have been a lie. It should be a lie. It should not make sense in her mind.
In her mind’s eye she can see her lying in that ditch with her limbs strewn and her skin purple and damaged. A beautiful woman who came for the chance of a better life and put all her faith in her husband – a man she never met. A man who killed her.
There are only two options: either her father stood by and let Raines beat her mother, or he beat her mother himself. It’s like a flip of the coin – heads I win, tails you lose – there can be no good outcome.
He probably deserves… no don’t think that. Never think that.
Lyle, she knows, is capable of many things – many terrible things. Miss Parker spares only a second’s thought to what he would do.
She always has believed in revenge.
Later – after – he goes to her office. There is no blood on his hands, and his suit is still clean and pressed.
Maybe he didn’t kill him… she thinks. Yes, she thinks, and maybe his best friend merely slipped and was decapitated by a twig.
He looks almost sad when he bows his head in a soft nod. “It’s done,” he says.
“What happened?” she asks, because he is – was? – still her father.
“I’ve sent him down to renewal wing for treatment. By the end he was raving and claiming that I had killed her.” Another shake of the head.
Being right never hurt so much. Maybe a drink would dull the pain, and maybe if it didn’t a large one would.
Trust can kill you or set you free.
Was it freedom? Was the deep pain and fear she felt freedom?
“So,” she says after taking a deep breath, “who’s in charge now?”
Lyle smiles grimly, and Parker shivers for no reason what so ever. “We are.”
His hands are at her waist and his lips at her ear. She shudders and it’s not from the cold.
“Isn’t this what you’ve always wanted, Parker?” he says, “to be in charge? Decide your own fate. He never would have given it over to you. He had you kill me and gave you nothing. But together we can accomplish great things. No one will stand in our way.”
Trust can kill you or set you free. Sydney said her mother said that. Ironic, in that her mother who was killed by someone she trusted.
“Together,” he says, and his breath is warm on her ear.
There is no fear left in her, perhaps because this is it, this is as far as she can fall.
Sydney called this Lyle’s awakening, and as Lyle’s hands gently move their way up her sides, she knows he was right.
She just doesn’t know what she’s awakened.