A/N: Please see my important note at the end of this chapter!
Moving to the couch, he grabbed an afghan that was folded over the top and shook it out softly. As gently as possible, he spread it out over her, relieved when she didn't wake. He decided to let her sleep until Jack arrived.
A few last moments of peace. Then they'd dive into this nightmare together.
Chapter 3: A Plan
Sydney slowly drifted back into awareness when she felt a hand gently shaking her shoulder. Allowing her eyes to slowly drift open, she immediately had two realizations. First, that Weiss was the one waking her from her slumber. Second, that her head was pounding. And suddenly it all came flooding back. The doctor's office, driving home, coming to Weiss's in tears… the tumor
She looked up at Weiss and noted the sad smile on his face. "I thought you'd want to get somewhat oriented before your father got here. He should be here in a couple of minutes," he explained.
She sighed and nodded gratefully, pushing herself into a sitting position. She immediately regretted it when the pounding in her head grew more intense. She dropped her head into her hands, realizing she must've cried harder than she'd realized to create such a powerful headache. Logically, though, she knew that having a malignant tumor in her brain was also a likely cause. Suddenly, she felt Weiss's hand on her arm. She looked up and saw him holding a glass of water for her, while a bottle of Tylenol sat on his lap.
"I figured anyone would feel like shit after a morning like yours," Weiss explained.
Sydney smiled as best she could as she took the glass of water from him. "Thank you," she said, her voice rough. He waved off her thanks as he twisted open the top of the Tylenol bottle. Shaking two pills into his hand, he quickly handed them over to her. She placed them carefully in her mouth and swallowed them in one quick gulp, sipping the water for a moment afterward. Finally, she reached forward and set it down on the coffee table, looking back up at her friend.
"How'd he react?" She asked softly.
There was no need for Weiss to clarify who she meant, he already knew. "He was… well, he was Jack. He didn't want to believe me at first. He was somewhat angry. By now, I'm sure he's got everything all planned out."
"I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing," Sydney stated.
Weiss sighed. "In this particular case, I'd say it's a good thing. No offense, Syd, but I think you could use a little help right about now."
"I know," Sydney replied, nodding. Weiss was surprised at her lack of argument. He had to remind himself, once again, of how much what she'd been through these past few months had changed her. She was no longer the same Sydney Bristow that she was when she battled this disease the first time.
Weiss's thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the door. Giving Sydney a reassuring look, he raised himself off of the couch and walked over to the door. Glancing through the peep-hole confirmed that it was indeed Jack Bristow on the other side of the door. Weiss opened it and stepped aside to allow Jack to enter the apartment.
"Jack, thanks for coming," Weiss said, gesturing the older man toward where Sydney sat on the couch.
Seeing his daughter clearly made Jack pause. Though she had pulled herself together somewhat and didn't look quite as distraught as when she originally showed up on Weiss's doorstep, she was obviously still overwhelmed by the whole situation. Her shield of armor that closely guarded what she truly felt inside was missing. For once, it was as if Weiss could literally see right through her. He sensed, by the visible softening of Jack's expression, that he saw the same.
"Dad," Sydney said softly as she stood.
"Sydney," Jack replied, moving toward her. Weiss watched as father and daughter embraced. He looked down, allowing them some semblance of privacy. He was relieved to see Jack actually acting like a father. He knew it was something that Sydney needed right now.
When Weiss looked back up, they had pulled apart. "We're going to figure this out," he heard Jack say. Jack then looked back at him. Weiss took that as his cue to join them. He walked over and sat next to Sydney on the couch, while Jack took the chair next to Sydney, angled so that he could face both of them.
"I spoke to Dr. Gage on my way over here," Jack begun. "I made sure he understood that this was to be kept quiet. He's agreed to administer your treatments at his facility, no records kept. He suggested a four-week cycle of chemotherapy followed by a cycle of radiation for the amount of time it takes your blood cell count to return to normal. He thinks it's the most effective course of treatment for now. He thinks surgery would be too risky. Now, the difficult part is going to be concealing this from the agency."
"And why are we concealing this from the agency?" Sydney asked, confused.
"Sydney, if the NSC were to find out about this, they'd only push for neurostimulation more than ever. If they find out that there was a tumor in your brain, threatening to destroy any memories you may have suppressed somehow, they will take drastic measures. And if, God forbid, the odds were to turn against you, I'm not entirely convinced that everyone in the agency would disagree with them," Jack explained somberly.
"Okay. That all makes sense, but Dad… I'm going to have to be going for treatments pretty frequently. How are we going to explain that to the agency? They're going to start to suspect something," Sydney pointed out.
"I realized that, too. Which is why we're going to tell Dixon the truth. Based on his reaction to learning about the security tape, I have every reason to believe he'll support us on this as well. And we're going to need his help."
"With what exactly?" Weiss asked.
"With fabricating medical records for Sydney and convincingly leaking them to the necessary parties," Jack replied.
"Medical records saying what?" Sydney questioned.
"Saying that you're suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and that you're being treated with intensive therapy."
There was a brief silence as Sydney and Weiss took in what Jack was explaining to them. It wasn't long before Sydney slowly started to shake her head. "Dad-"
"Sydney," Jack said, cutting Sydney off. "I knew you weren't going to like this, but I've thought about it and it's the only thing I can come up with. It's the only thing that would be truly believable."
"He's right, Syd," Weiss suddenly cut in. Sydney looked at him, shocked. "Look, I hate it too, but after all that you've been through, no one's going to think twice when they hear PTSD. And your therapy would be privileged so no one will be the wiser."
"If Dixon feels it's a good idea, we may be able to get Dr. Barnett to help. She could set up a few random appointments with you just for appearances," Jack added.
Sydney took a deep breath and looked at the ground. "I've already had two years of my life taken from me, my friends," she paused, "Vaughn, my home, my memories, and now my health. I don't know if I can give up my sanity too."
"Syd, you'd still have your sanity," Weiss assured her.
"But not to my own colleagues," she argued, looking back up at him.
"No one's going to think less of you if they find out you've been diagnosed with PTSD. To be completely honest, I'm surprised you weren't truthfully diagnosed. You've been through hell, Syd. You're going through hell. This doesn't mean you're weak, that you can't handle more stress than ten other agents combined. And this certainly doesn't make you crazy. People are just going to see this as something the agency is making you do in order to keep tabs on your recovery," Weiss reasoned.
She sighed, her expression even more weary than when she first entered Weiss's apartment. "Well, it's not as if I have a choice in the matter. I guess it's the only way… I'll do it," she conceded, nodding.
"Good. Dr. Gage said he'd like to start your treatments in the next couple of days. I'll inform Dixon of this first thing Monday. I suggest you take the day off, it'll look more convincing. So you can schedule your first treatment with Dr. Gage then. From there, we'll just figure it out as we go," Jack told his daughter.
Sydney merely nodded, unable to look up at her father. Weiss glanced at her before meeting Jack's eyes. Weiss nodded at the older man, silently communicating that he would make sure Sydney was okay. Jack nodded back, once, and rose to his feet.
"I'm going to stop by the clinic and speak to Dr. Gage personally. I'll speak with you after I meet with Dixon on Monday," Jack said before turning for the door. Weiss stood up to show him out, but Jack waved him off. He watched Jack quickly let himself out. He then looked down at Sydney, whose eyes were still focused on the floor. Sighing, he dropped down next to her, wrapping his arm around her shoulders. She didn't look up.
"What about Vaughn?" She asked suddenly.
"What about him?" Weiss questioned.
"He's going to know. He's going to figure it out."
"Possibly. But I'll do everything I can to convince him it's PTSD. He might just buy it," Weiss reasoned.
"He can't know, Eric. He can't find out. He has a new life now. I don't want to drag him through this again. I don't think either one of us could take it. If this gets bad, I want to leave. I want to go away. I don't want anyone to ever see me like that again," she said quietly, a tear sliding slowly down her cheek.
"Hey, hey. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. If you don't want Vaughn to know, then we'll just have to make sure he doesn't. As for the rest of it… we'll just cross each bridge as we come to it, okay? Take it one day at a time."
She sighed. "You're right. One day at a time."
"Agent Vaughn, come on in," Dixon said from his desk, gesturing to the seat across from him.
Vaughn entered, shutting the door behind him. He quickly crossed the room and sat down. "Your secretary said that you wanted to discuss something with me, some new information."
"Yes, new information," Dixon confirmed.
"Is this concerning the mission? Shouldn't Sydney be here?" Vaughn asked, confused.
"Sydney took a personal day," Dixon explained. "Actually, that's why I called you in here. I wanted you to know that Sydney won't be accompanying you on this mission. I'm sending Weiss instead. He's already been briefed."
"Is everything okay?" Vaughn questioned immediately.
Dixon sighed. "I suppose you're going to find out eventually. I'd rather it be from me instead of in the hallway gossip. I want it clear that this is to be kept confidential, though. I'm only inclined to inform you now because of your relationship with Sydney." He paused, inwardly wincing at how much the word 'relationship' simplified the complicated mess that existed between these two people. "Sydney was diagnosed with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Her doctors are concerned. She's going to be treated, of course. I know that her frequent absences will spark rumors. I just wanted you to know the truth."
Dixon watched the emotion that played across Vaughn's face. Seeing the pain in the younger agent's eyes made him truly believe that lying to him was the right choice. Dixon didn't even want to imagine how Vaughn would've reacted had he been told the awful truth.
Clearly at a loss for words, Vaughn finally managed to speak up after a good minute of silence. "How bad is it?"
Dixon sighed, unsure of how to answer Vaughn's simple question. "We have every reason to hope that, once she gets the proper help, she'll be okay," he replied honestly.
Vaughn nodded. "You have my word, this will stay between us. I really appreciate you telling me."
Dixon could only nod back, trying to ignore the guilt he felt in his heart.
Keeping one hand on the steering wheel, Weiss quickly reached into his pocket with the other to silence the ringing cell phone. He silenced it immediately before taking it out and opening it, bringing it to his ear.
"Weiss," he answered.
"Eric, it's me," came Vaughn's reply.
"Mike, what's up?" Weiss asked, keeping his voice as soft as possible.
"We need to talk," Vaughn replied simply.
"About what?" Weiss questioned, playing dumb.
Vaughn sighed. "I think you know."
Weiss paused, glancing to his right where Sydney dozed silently, her head resting against the window. Her face looked as white as a sheet. "Okay," Weiss said finally. "But I can't right now. Can we do it tonight? Say eight o'clock at my place?"
"Yeah… Yeah, that's fine. I'll see you tonight," Vaughn said before Weiss heard the phone click. He hung up as well, stuffing the phone back in his pocket before glancing at Sydney to make sure he hadn't woken her. Her eyes were still closed and Weiss could only guess that she was still asleep.
Moments later, he pulled into the parking lot of their apartment building and parked the car in the closest space he could find. He turned the car off and looked over at Sydney. He hated having to wake her, but he knew what happened once the side affects kicked in and a car was not the place for that to occur. Sighing, he leaned toward Sydney and reached out to gently shake her shoulder. That did the trick. He watched her eyelids flutter open slowly as she reoriented herself.
"Morning, sunshine," he said softly. "We're home. Let's get you inside and then you can go back to sleep, okay?"
Sydney nodded slowly. "Yeah."
Weiss grabbed the keys from the ignition and got out. He rounded the car to open Sydney's door for her. He steadied her as she climbed out, wrapping his arm around her waist. With his other arm, he reached behind her to close the door. He looked down at her to make sure she was okay. She nodded at him and allowed him to help her make her way to the elevator. They rode up to the second floor and got out, walking toward her apartment. When they reached her door, she dug into her purse for the key.
"I got it from here, Eric," she said, sounding out of breath. "You can go home."
"Nice try, Syd, but did you really think you were going to get rid of me so easily?" Weiss asked.
"A girl can hope," she replied as she unlocked the door.
"Ouch, Syd. That hurts," he joked, clutching his chest.
She shook her head at him as she entered the apartment. Weiss followed closely behind, shutting the door behind him. "It's for your own good, trust me," she replied somberly as she dropped into the closest chair and leaned her head on her hand.
"Feeling sick already?" Weiss asked sympathetically.
She nodded. "A bit. Mostly just exhausted."
He walked up to her. "Well then, maybe we should get you into bed, huh?" He said lightly. He held out his hands to help her up. She took them, pulling herself to her feet.
"Are you really going to hang out here all day?" She asked him.
"Your TV's better," he teased, smiling.
She allowed a small smile to cross her face. "Thank you, Eric."
"No thanks needed. You go to bed and call me if you need anything. I mean it."
"Yes, sir," Sydney said in mock-seriousness before turning and heading toward her room.
Weiss allowed himself to watch her retreating form until she was safely in her room. He sighed and walked over to the couch. True to his word, he turned on the TV and began flipping through the channels. He flipped through the channels for a couple of minutes before finally settling on a Friends repeat.
The episode was nearly over when Weiss heard a knock on the door. He eyed it curiously for a second before switching off the TV and rising from the couch. He made his way over to the door and checked the peephole. He was relieved to see Jack standing there and immediately opened the door.
"Jack," Weiss greeted. "Come on in." Jack entered silently as Weiss closed the door behind him. The two men faced each other somewhat awkwardly.
"I just came by to let you know that I spoke to Dixon today and everything is in place," Jack stated.
"Yeah, I got a call from Mike, so I figured things went as planned," Weiss replied.
"What did Vaughn want?" Jack asked.
"He said he wanted to talk. Don't worry, I know exactly what he's going to say and I know how to handle it. It won't be a problem," Weiss assured him.
"Good." Jack paused, glancing around room. "Did Sydney go for treatment today?"
"Yeah," Weiss replied, looking toward the floor. "She wasn't feeling great when we got back, so I sent her off to bed about a half-hour ago. She'll probably be up soon." The two men shared a knowing look. The only reason Weiss knew she would be up soon was because it wouldn't be much longer before she was sick.
"I'd better go then. She won't want me here for that," Jack stated solemnly. Weiss nodded, knowing Jack was right. Though he and Sydney had made progress in their relationship lately, he knew that they had a long way to go before Sydney felt comfortable with him taking care of her, seeing her at her weakest.
"I'll let her know that you stopped by," Weiss said as Jack headed back toward the door.
"Have her call me when she feels up to it."
"Thank you," Jack said as he opened the door and left.
Weiss decided it was probably about time he check on Sydney. He quietly made his way down the hall and to her door. Not wanting to wake her if she was sleeping, he knocked very softly on the door, but received no response. Opening it slowly, he quickly noted that the covers were throwing haphazardly across the bed and Sydney was nowhere to be found. He took a step inside and noticed immediately that the bathroom door was cracked open and that the light was on. And then he heard coughing.
Gathering every bit of emotional strength he could, he raised his hand to knock on the door.
To be continued…
A/N: Okay, I know that update took a really really long time, and I really am sorry for it. I tried to get ahead in my writing so that I could always stay a chapter ahead in case something like this happened, but it just didn't work out. The Alias Marathons have consumed my life these past few months. I am running them entirely on my own this year and it's just a hell of a job. I love doing it, but it unfortunately takes my attention away from other things. My marathon is April 23rd (if you're in the LA area, PLEASE COME!) so things should calm down after that, though I do still have to do some work to make sure the other marathons all go smoothly. And if you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out aliasmarathon(dotcom). It's for Juvenile Diabetes and it's oh so much fun! And on top of all that, I had strep throat again, we have initiation coming up for our new Theta members, school sucks, and I have a meeting with an agency next week (cross your fingers for me!). So anyway I hope you guys enjoy this chapter and, though I can't make any promises, I'll try to be better with updates.