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[personal profile] non_horation
Commentary #1, for [livejournal.com profile] sunshine_queen



I thought of this fic when I was in freshman psych, because we were talking about brain injuries and hypnosis, and it was kind of like, "Dude, Syd, don't mess with the brain! That thing's delicate!" And then I was talking to someone about how sad it would be if she broke her own brain and this plotbunny was born.


This is the first time that she's ever been strapped down like this of her own volition. My fics always have such bizarre first sentences. Her arms and legs are bound to her chair -- it's almost like she's paralyzed -- and a metal cuff has been fitted around her forehead.

The doctor asks her again if she is certain about this course of action, and she snaps at him to get it over with. He asks her if she understands the consequences of failure and she replies that she does, suppressing a shiver. She has seen the woman, the doctor had shown her. Once a concert pianist just like the guy in the case we studied-- she wonders what horror this poor woman had been trying to erase one wonders how a concert pianist even happens upon rogue groups of memory doctors-- the woman had been staying at the facility for nearly a year with no signs of improvement or recovery. She could still play the piano beautifully, and knew the names of nearly every major composer ever born ack, that bit sounds so clunky!, but nothing of her own life. Not the day she started school, or her wedding day, or even what happened yesterday. She has nothing anymore, this woman. Of course, this had been horrifying and saddening, but she knows that this is something that she needs to do if she ever wants to go home again.

She wants nothing more than to go home again. And poor Syd, this is all she ever wants.

The doctor nods, and places the gas mask gently over her mouth, telling her to count back from twenty. She doesn't even make it to thirteen bad luck number, I guess? before she is gone.

She wakes up in a dark alley, with no clue how she got there. Brushing her hair out of her eyes, she staggers out onto the sidewalk, into the throngs of people. Looking around, at the signs on the buildings, she starts to feel nervous. Hong Kong. She is awake for the first time, alone in Hong Kong. This is a big city, she could be in danger. She wonders briefly how she knows this before her instincts take over. This was the hardest/most confusing part, because I had no idea how much spy stuff she might remember. I needed her to get to the safehouse in one piece, though.

Running breathlessly to the nearest pay phone, she hits the numbers in an order that she knows by heart. Luckily for Syd, practically all of her life-protecting skills were ingrained so as to be second nature and didn't get fried by the brain damage! Training ex machina. When she barks her identification number into the phone, the man on the other end seems surprised, and she wonders why. Because she's dead, duh! The man tells her to go to the safehouse and wait for contact, and she snaps an affirmation before slamming the phone down and running again. She doesn't remember the endless hours spent training herself on the locations of international safehouses until locating them became instinctive is that even a word?, but she still ends up in the right place in a matter of minutes. She enters the safehouse, stating her identification number again to the guard at the entrance. The guard also seems surprised to see her, but she doesn't think much of it. She doesn't really know why she's here, how should she expect him to?

He leads her to a room and locks the door from the outside, for her protection, until someone can come to take her home. She waits without asking questions ew, thats not very Sydlike, because she really wants to go home.

-----

He wonders what the hell he's doing in Hong Kong. Six hours ago, he'd kissed his wife goodbye and rushed to an office he didn't even work in anymore ouch, clunky again! And run-on like whoa, on the premise that Kendall had found something and needed his assistance. The night had just gotten more surreal from there. This is a common occurrence with Syd, he's just not used to it anymore. He had ended up boarding a plane to go halfway across the world and see a woman who might be his dead girlfriend from two years ago. And here he had thought that his life would stay normal once he had left the Agency. Ick. I hate this entire paragraph.

At the door of the safehouse, he doesn't really understand his own apprehension. It probably isn't her, and all he'll have to do is arrest the impostor and go home. It won't even be difficult for him to spot the differences; he would know Syd anywhere, even after these two long years. Oh, naive Vaughn.

The guard unlocks the door for him. He opens it, and she leaps into his arms, trembling.

"Oh, Vaughn, I just woke up and I don't know where I am or why I'm here and I've been so scared . . ." she sobs, burying her face against his chest. He is startled by this reaction, and even more by the feelings she elicits in him. Heh. He cannot believe how he is hit by her sheer Sydney-ness heh, it reduces his vocabulary by quite a bit, too in this moment. The way she moves, the way she looks, even the smell of her, though it is masked by a sterile hospital smell that horrifies him. Oh, Sydney, what have they done to you? Buddy, she did this to herself.

He knows he's lost as soon as he starts stroking her hair, and whispering to her that she's safe, and everything's going to be okay.

-----

When she has calmed down a little I use "a little" way too much, they sit down together, and he tries to explain why he's there. He is desperate to ask her where she's been for the past two years, how she managed to survive the fire, the names of everyone who had ever hurt her so that he can make them pay, but he knows that work comes first. Though really, most of those things will probably end up applying to work anyway.

She interrupts his stumbling explanation, staring at him with liquid brown eyes. I really like that one sentence for some reason.

"Why are you wearing that ring? I - I love you, are we married? Why don't I remember? What happened to my -"

His heart breaks at her innocent confusion.

"Sydney, you've been missing for almost two years."

She frowns at this. "You're married? To someone else? I don't understand."

"You were dead, we all thought . . ." He doesn't know how to justify himself to her, he had never imagined this. He's lucky that this isn't crazy-ass canon!Syd. She'd beat his ass. To his surprise, she nods as if this makes sense.

"That's what happened. I don't remember. I just woke up now for the very first time."

He doesn't understand. "The very first time? You've been awake before. You came in here; you spoke to the guard . . ."

She shakes her head. "No. You're the first person I've ever seen."

He tries to question this, surely she's seen other people before, but she refuses to listen to his reason "to his reason"? WTF with her characteristic stubbornness. As they talk, it becomes apparent that there are massive holes in her memory,  which is  the understatement of the year and that she truly believes that she has never seen anyone before him. Growing progressively more frantic, he tells her that he's going to call home and tell everyone that she's safe. She acquiesces, saying that she really wants to go home.

Fleeing the room, he calls Director Dixon on his cell phone. After giving his identification and being routed through to the office, he hears Dixon's voice come on the line.

"Ag - Vaughn. I assume you have news?"

"It's Syd. It's really her, I know it."

Not daring to hope Aw, Dixon loves her, too, "You're sure? It's not just wishful thinking -”

Firmly, "No. It's her. But there's something really wrong. I think she's been drugged or something, she doesn't remember anything."

"What do you mean?"

"She thinks I'm the first person she's ever seen. She's convinced that she just woke up for the very first time. I'm not sure of the extent of her memory loss, but it's definitely extensive. Vaughn is a robot. He speaks in very short sentences. She needs to get home and see a doctor right away."

There is a long pause. He knows how Dixon feels, the other man had been close to Sydney for a very long time, and facing the prospect of losing her when she has only just returned to them is horrible.

"I understand," Dixon says, finally, "I'll have the Naval Hospital personnel on standby pending your arrival."

He gives a perfunctory thank-you to the director that should probably have a capital D and hangs up. He feels a pressing need to check on Sydney, to make sure that she's not getting worse. To see how much she's really lost.

He opens the door to her room, and she flies at him again. It's deja-vu all over again.

"Vaughn! Where are we? I just woke up for the first time, and I've been so alone, I didn't know where you were -”

Holding her close to comfort her, he reminds her that he was just outside phoning home, to let everyone know how she's doing. Doesn't she remember him telling her that a few minutes ago?

Frowning at him, she pulls away. "What are you talking about? I'm seeing you now for the first time. We've never talked before." And then Vaughn's soul died.

-----

The utter horror that he feels at what has been done to her has still not faded on the flight home. She is asleep now, so he doesn't have to try and figure out how to talk to her, which is a welcome relief. This thought makes his stomach churn with guilt. This is not her fault. Except for the part where it totally is!

What seems to be happening is that she is losing everything new in her memory every few minutes. He has had to remind her five or six times now that she isn't his wife, that he is married to someone else. Which must be destroying him. Poor Vaughn. Nothing that he says seems to stay with her for very long.

She calls his name and is glad to see him every time she reawakens, and his biggest fear is that she will wake up the next time and forget him. And that's my absolute favourite sentence in the entire fic. It just captures the essence of their new relationship to me. Yay.

-----

Getting her off of the plane was more difficult than he had been expecting. My verb tense just died. All the strangers in uniform surrounding her made her get very upset and agitated, and she'd had to be sedated.

He had been sitting by her bed, holding her hand while she slept, for what seemed like hours before a doctor came in and asked him to wait outside so that she could assess her -- "Agent Bristow," she'd called her, which always makes him think of her father I seem to be very fond of these sorts of interjections-- and her condition.

So now he's sitting in an uncomfortable chair in the waiting room is there any other kind?, sipping at his ninth cup of coffee. He can only hope that the doctor can make her okay again. Dixon has come to see her, and his friend Eric that came out really weird. It makes it sound like he doesn't even know Syd. Hm.  has somehow managed to charm his way up here, even without the proper clearance levels. The other two men are sitting in silence, waiting for him to fill them in. He wishes that he knew what to say.

"She doesn't remember anything," he finally says, "Just me. She remembers me -- who I am, sort of -- but not anything I tell her or anything in our past, it's just the here and now, and she's really scared . . ."

Dixon looks at him sympathetically and tells him that Sydney will be alright. Some of the best doctors in the world are employed at this hospital, they will know what to do. Except that she's really gone and done it this time. Stupid reckless Sydney and her brain-frying ways. Sydney, he says, will be back to normal before they know it.

He asks where her father is, and is informed that the NSC placed him in solitary confinement nearly a year ago. It's amazing, he decides, how quickly things change when you are no longer in the loop. Irrationally, he wishes Jack could be here. Jack would be able to fix things, and make Syd better. If anyone could fix Syd, it would be the Jack-Vaughn combination. Sheer force of will.

They sit in silence again, not wanting to say what they're thinking, all wondering what will happen if she doesn't get better. The rest of this fic. Which is nothing, since my idea died.

------

They sit in the waiting room through the night, and by the time he thinks of calling his wife, it's too late and it wouldn't be fair to wake her. At least, that is what he tells himself.He is such a sucky husband. Seriously.  Giving her the news can wait until he knows more about the situation.

He feels stifled by the atmosphere in the waiting room, and then abruptly goes insane as if the walls are closing in, crushing him . . . What will he do, if she doesn't get better? What if she dies again? Heh, and how many people can say that? He thinks that he will lose his mind if he gets her back only to have her stolen from him again so cruelly.

It's as if he has been living in black and white for the past two years. She reappeared, and suddenly he is able to see the world in vibrant colour. But now he is about to lose her again, and going back to grey might kill him. Nice, Vaughn. Poor Lauren.

-----

After much more waiting -- and he can only imagine what she must be going through, he wishes desperately that he could be there with her -- the doctor returns to talk to them, looking grim. Irreparable brain damage, she says, and his mind just shuts off. The doctor keeps speaking, something about intentional damage to the hippocampus, Heh, doing this bit through Vaughn was so that I didn't have to fudge as much of the science. but he doesn't really hear any of it. All he understands is that there is nothing that they can do. Sydney, his beautiful Sydney, is going to be this way forever.

He stares straight ahead as the doctor tells them that Sydney will be held in the psychiatric ward at the Naval hospital until her next of kin choose to move her to a more permanent special care facility that can meet her needs. He leaps out of his chair, suddenly insane! enraged.

"Syd doesn't have any next of kin, with her father in prison and her mother on the CIA most-wanted list! And besides, she's fine! Now he's in denial. She can function, she needs help, not a nuthouse - "

Dixon puts a hand on his shoulder, effectively stopping him in his tracks. He will make the arrangements, and make sure that she is cared for. Poor Dixon, this must be breaking his heart. The doctor hands him several cheerful-looking pamphlets, and tells them to come see her whenever they're ready. Sydney is in her new room now, resting, so if they would take care not to alarm her, it would be appreciated.

The three men peer at the pamphlets for a moment. All look bright and happy, and have special accommodations to meet the needs of patients with brain damage. They also all look very institutional. Maybe because they are institutions? He knows that she would hate it in a place like that, but he doesn't say anything.

I just never got around to finishing this fic, and now I can't even really remember what I was going to do, except have Vaughn drift away from Lauren over time. Hm. Oh well, it was an interesting concept, I guess.
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Tess

April 2007

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