Disclaimer: Don't own it, don't have any money either… I just like to play with the characters now and then. Dance Monkeys! Dance!
Rating: T for Teen
Spoilers: Up through Built to Kill II
Summary: Some things in life are just hard to get through alone. Isolating yourself from the world is both a comfort and a curse. And asking for help can sometimes be the hardest thing to do.
A/N: I got the idea for this fic while talking with another fan. And then I remembered the Lord Alfred Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott." Hopefully the whole thing ends up making sense in the end, since apparently TPTB have chosen to forget about an entire storyline. :P
Acknowledgement: Thanks go to my conversation partner for not only waking up Beelzabunny, but also for giving this piece the once over. Any other errors belong solely to me.
"So, what exactly am I supposed to do?"
The doctor smiled and set down her pen to explain. "I'm here to listen to you. Offer some advice, if I can, and possibly help you work some things out." She was surprised that her patient was not aware of the process. "Haven't you ever spoken with a counselor before?"
She shrugged and offered, "Once…when I was a kid, but that's it." She slumped back into the chair and said, "We're not real big on the whole psychology racket."
"That seems to be the case for a great many people, but that's not why we're here, is it? Your friends…they seem to be concerned about you, and how you're coping with some things." The doctor tried to bring the subject to the forefront.
She exhaled sharply and leaned her head back. "Yeah, I know… I'm just-just not used to talking about this kind of thing."
"Okay... How about we start with some background questions? It'll give me a chance to get to know you a little better first." She waited for her patient's answer, and then it came in the form of a nod. "All right then… We'll go with the basics… Tell me about your family. Your father, for starters."
"He's dead," was the curt answer that followed.
"Were you close to him?"
"Once… I thought." The answer was intriguing to the doctor, and so she pressed further.
"Nothing, I guess… I found out he wasn't the man I thought he was. It just changed everything after that." The doctor could tell it was a difficult thing for her patient to discuss and decided to save the topic for a later time.
"It's always hard when the realities of our parents' lives become revealed to us, but it is a part of the development process." She made a few notes and then looked over at her patient again. "What about your mother?"
"What about her?" The agitated look on her face spoke volumes to the doctor.
"Is she still living?"
She rolled her eyes and said, "Yes, she is."
"How is your relationship?"
"We…fought. We fight… I guess we just don't see things the same way most of the time." The doctor watched as her posture became more rigid and she notated the behavior change.
"What kinds of things do you fight about?"
"My father… My life… Who I date… All the normal mother daughter stuff, I guess." Once again the doctor noted the way she tried to push the attention away.
She set down her notepad and laid her hands over her lap. "If you don't want to be here, there's nothing I can do for you."
She watched as the patient's face betrayed a hint of fear. It was obvious that she held everything tightly in her grip, and for those patients it required a small amount of fear to get their attention. "It's not that I don't want to be here… It's just that I don't know how to do this."
The doctor knew she had the upper hand at that point. "Here's how it works… I ask the questions, you answer, and once we have a basis to work from, your answers will guide where we go from there. Okay?"
The patient reluctantly nodded and said, "Yeah… I'm just not used to this. I don't like not being in control."
"Have you been in control lately?" The frightened look in her eyes told the doctor what she needed to know; the demons haunting her patient had been in control.
"No… And it's why my friends have been worried, I'm sure." She leaned forward and put her face in her hands.
"Tell me about your mother… Why do you really think you aren't getting along?"
The patient sat back up and answered, "She and I don't see eye to eye on a lot of things… She doesn't approve of my dates, but she's not exactly in a position to judge. She's had more than her share of thugs."
The doctor made a note and then asked, "Thugs… That's an unusual term to use. What makes you call them thugs?"
"You make your living at the expense of others, or living outside the law… That makes you a thug. Besides, they've never treated her right, none of them."
"Even your father?"
She laughed at that notion, "Ha! Especially my father. He was probably biggest thug of all."
"Did you always feel that way about him?"
She became very quiet and sat perfectly still. After a few moments the doctor looked up to see the vacant stare of her patient. When the doctor was about to ask another question, she heard the faintest of whispers. "I thought he was the sun and the moon… My Lancelot."
"That's an interesting way to put it… Did you see him as saving you from something?"
"No… He was my love, and my curse." That stopped the doctor cold. It was such a strange answer to a simple question.
"Would you care to explain that answer?"
She leaned back in the chair and stared up at the ceiling for a moment. "He was my escape from reality when I was a kid. I could always isolate myself from the world just being with him. I felt safe, even when I shouldn't have. I was protected, behind those four gray walls and four gray towers…"
"That sounds a little cryptic. Why did you describe it that way?"
"Have you ever read Tennyson?" The question surprised the doctor. Tennyson was not for most of the world's population, and she was one of them, even though she had read a few pieces in her studies. For someone with her patient's background, it was even more puzzling.
"Briefly… In college."
"Well, my father took me to an art show once, and they were showing some Pre-Raphaelite art. There were a series of paintings based on Tennyson's 'The Lady of Shalott.'" Her face took on that faraway stare again, and the doctor simply took her notes and let the story flow. "The paintings fascinated me and the image of the fair-haired woman floating in that boat haunted me. I never knew why when I was younger. When I got a little older I looked up the poem and even then it didn't really sink in. But there was a passage in the poem that kept repeating in my head.
'Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Through the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four grey walls, and four grey towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.'"
The doctor took in a deep breath through her nose as she tried to recall the poem itself. It was about a woman cursed in isolation from the beauty of Camelot. She could never look directly upon the land or the people, but only gaze out at the world through a mirror. She lived in the shadows, only seeing the world in reflection, weaving her tapestry from the images in that mirror. She was imprisoned on that island, locked away from everything and everyone, and her only freedom came from her death. If she gazed upon the world outside, made her presence known, she forfeited her life. And then one day she saw the reflection of Sir Lancelot and the reflection of his beauty compelled her to gaze upon him and thus sealing her fate. She left the "four grey walls," cast herself adrift in a boat that she wrote her name on in the hopes of not passing into the next world unknown.
"I know the poem… What does that passage mean to you?"
"It was my life… I lived on that island, keeping away from the world, not letting it in, living in the shadows, just like the Lady. Seeing only the reflections of the world."
The doctor found that interesting, but it had not answered her question about the father's connection to Lancelot. "How does your father factor into your relation to the poem?"
"He was the catalyst that made me want to see the real world. I loved him, and the reality… It broke me."
"When did you learn the reality?" It was obvious the patient was struggling with the knowledge of her father, but the doctor knew that this grey wall needed to come down.
"I think I always knew, but I hid it from myself… In the reflection, it was easy. It distorted the truth. My love for him was the mirror I looked through. But when I couldn't look through the reflection any longer, I saw all of the truth. He was just a thug. He wasn't there for my mother… He wasn't there for me… He was only interested in himself. And my dreams of Camelot were gone."
"Is that when you started to become angry?"
She chuffed at the doctor's question, "I wish! Anger is kind of genetic in my family, Doctor. Sort of like our taste in men, I guess."
"You mentioned that before… What makes you say that?"
"Long standing history. I'm not sure we can even be with a decent guy, anymore." She shook her head and then continued, "Even when they're right there in front of us."
"Can you tell me something about the events that led to your being here now?" The doctor watched as her patient's posture stiffened once again.
"The ah…abduction." The last word was whispered, as though its utterance alone had caused her pain.
"Yes… I understand it was quite frightening for you, but it's important that we discuss it, since it seems to be affecting you a great deal."
"I don't really remember anything from it… Just pieces, little flashes." She squinted as she tried to recall more of the event.
"Were you conscious during the incident?"
"No…yeah, a little, I guess…at the end. It's all really confusing." The pained look on her face told the doctor that she was struggling with the details.
"Take a deep breath, and try to see if you can remember anything else."
"The accident happened so fast… One second we were talking, and the next." Her voice trailed off, and a tear fell from her eye.
"Were you seriously hurt?"
"No… I don't think so. Maybe a bump on the head or something. But nothing big." The thousand yard stare was firmly back in place.
"And after the abduction… That's when the problems started?" The doctor worked to get her back to the present.
"That… And what followed." She closed her eyes and held them squeezed tight. "I'm sorry… I'm-I don't think I'm ready to talk about that."
She nodded her head as she set the notepad down again and looked up at her patient. "I understand. Can we talk about the rest? The aftermath?"
The patient looked away and sighed. "I'll try."
"Did you talk about what happened with your mother?"
"No… She-she didn't need me adding to her own pain. It was really hard on her."
"I think it was hard on you, as well. Or we wouldn't be here." The doctor tried to provide her with a safe place to discuss the pain she had kept hidden for too long.
"I guess… But we don't really talk like that." She bit her lip in a gesture that looked as though she had been doing it her entire life. "We aren't really close anymore."
"But you were once?"
She nodded and another tear made its way down her cheek.
"Okay… Part of what we need to do here is to set up a support system; a way for you to talk about these things, to give you a safety net." The doctor looked at her watch and saw that they had gone way over their time.
"Time's up?" The doctor smiled at the observation of her patient.
"I'm afraid so… But we have one last item of business to take care of." She sat up and handed the patient a sheet of paper.
"It's a contract… Part of your outpatient agreement." The doctor waited for her to look through the paper. "You have to agree that you will not harm yourself, or anyone else during the interim between our appointments. If you feel the desire to cause yourself or anyone else harm, you are required to contact my emergency number immediately."
The patient reached up and pushed a stray lock of hair behind her ear as she chuckled, "Is this standard?"
"Yes… Anytime someone attempts suicide, it is crucial to make these kinds of promises to help insure the rights of the patient and to develop a bond of trust between the patient and the therapist. As long as you keep up your end of the bargain, then I am not allowed to share any of the information you divulge to me in our sessions." The doctor carefully explained the procedures to her patient.
"So, if I keep my mouth shut and don't swallow any more pills… You keep your mouth shut, too?"
The doctor nodded and said, "That's the deal… Do you think you can do that, Lindsey?"
The fair haired teenager gave the doctor half a smile and said. "I'll do my best."
As she signed the paper and handed it back to the doctor, she could tell that the girl had something on her mind. "What is it?"
"I was ah, just thinking… Grandpa always said we were only as good as our word. So, I guess I better not let him down."
As the doctor escorted the troubled girl to her waiting mother, she recalled the closing line of the poem they had discussed. "She has a lovely face; God in his mercy lend her grace, The Lady of Shalott."
A/N2: "The Lady of Shalott" is a fantastic piece of poetry. If you do a Google search for it, you should be able to find the full text of the poem.