I'm Not Ready

How do you dare to know me?
How do you dare to feel me?
How do you dare to see me?
Why do I leave myself open?
I'm not ready...
(Creeping Lovely, "I'm Not Ready")

"Well, aren't you in a good mood."

She rolled her eyes, shrugged a little, a tiny smirk playing over the defiant sulk. She was in Silent Mode today, which Sydney supposed was at least a little better than Angry Mode or Sad Mode. Better still would be Talking Mode, but that was maybe too much to hope for just yet. In spite of Addison Montgomery-Shepherd being one of her few charges who actually came voluntarily, the redheaded surgeon had yet to open up.

"I mean, you know people," she had complained, during the latter half of their first session.

"You know that anything you tell me here is confidential," Sydney assured her. "This is therapy, Addison."

"Peer counseling."

"Therapy. With peers, yes, but fully qualified and board-licensed peers, bound by the same doctor-patient privilege as..."

"Yeah, yeah, I get it. But…look, say I come in and talk about Derek."

"Is that what you want to talk about?"

"Say I did. And then you had to go and work with him. It wouldn't be weird?"

"It doesn't leave the room, hon. Whatever you tell me, it stays here."

Addison hadn't looked completely convinced, but she booked another session anyway. She was clearly in need, and in spite of her reservations, the on-site nature of the set-up finally sold her: if she got paged during a session, she could respond without anybody knowing where she had been or what she had been doing. Sydney had tackled that one in session three.

"It's not a dirty secret, you know," she told Addison.

That was met with red and streaky eyes. It had been a Sad Mode day. "What?"

"This. Counseling, therapy, whatever you want to call it. It's not a dirty secret. There's nothing at all to be ashamed of in taking charge of your mental health and exploring coping strategies which are constructive and cathar… "

Addison sniffled loudly and buried a sob in her Kleenex. Sydney did her best to keep her face impassive. "Addison?"

"Yeah. Just…not really in the mood for jargon right now. Can we skip the sales pitch? I came, didn't I?"

Yes, she had come. And she had spent the first fifteen minutes of the session describing, in great detail, a patient she had just performed surgery on, delicate surgery, on a badly injured patient who could end the session at any moment with a well-timed crisis. Sydney would understand, of course, if she had to leave, wouldn't she? Sydney had only nodded and sighed. It was so transparent, what she was doing—building that rapport with her, you understand how it is, fellow doctor, you're just like me. Trying to convince herself that they were equals, that needing Sydney's help was not a weakness.

At the fifth session, Angry Mode had made its first appearance. It was a Thursday, and she had called Sydney out of the blue.

"Can you squeeze me in?"

"Is everything all right, Dr. Montgomery-Shepherd?"

"Can you squeeze me in, yes or no?"

"I can always squeeze you in, Addison. Why? Did something happen?"

"Stop prying! Look, I'll come in. We'll see what we can do."

But she had been too full of steam to get much out. Something about Meredith Grey, and a supply closet, and how coming and venting to her was better than crying in one. Well, it was a step, at least. Not a very big step, but a step just the same.

And today? They were back to Silent Mode. But she kept her ear to the ground, one wasn't a contender for chief resident if they couldn't do that, and she had heard scuttle.

"Was it awful?" she began gently. "Signing the papers, I mean?"

A clear, sharp wince cracked the mask of impassiveness, but still, Addison said nothing.

"What? What, did he yell? Did he cry? Did you?"

Finally, she answered. "Nobody yelled."

"So, that's good. That's good, right?"

"He was nice. I was nice. We were disgustingly nice."

"And?"

"And…damn. You're going to push me. You have this look in your eyes like you're going to push me."

"And?"

"Look, can't we just stop? I just…I need…"

"What, Addison? What do you need?"

"I just need to think for a few minutes, without everybody…" She sighed. "Sorry. Look, I appreciate what you're trying to do, I just need to…"

"What? Let it out? Addison, we're never going to get anywhere with this if you don't let it out."

"No. Not now. Not yet."

"Can I just ask you one tiny little question?"

"What?"

"If you don't let it out now, if you don't let it out here, where will you?"

She broke down then, and spent the rest of her session in the throes of an impressive display of deep, wet sobs. She was out of Silent Mode, at least. But she still wasn't talking.

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