This story is completely AU, not set in any particular time, though it could possibly be sometime in the second or third seasons.
Dr. Lenore Rodgers was named after Dr. Lenore Terr, a child trauma psychiatrist, among other things, and Dr. Carl Rogers, who pioneered client-centered therapy, among other things.
The psychiatrist stood to welcome her two newest clients. From her first glance, she could tell that this was going to be an extremely intriguing case. Just in looking at them she could see many things about them and their relationship. There was unease between them but also the comfortableness of people who knew each other very well. An estranged father and son, she thought, trying to work out their conflicted relationship. She always admired people willing to do that.
They took their seats, the older man on the right, the younger man on the left. The tall, older man looked comfortable in a psychiatrist's office, a small smile on his lips as he glanced at the décor and the books on the shelf, and yet his eyes were resistant. This man with the kind face and silvered hair had much to hide, and he knew how to hide it.
The even taller, younger man hid things, too, but not the same kinds of things. All his emotions lay just beneath the surface of his dark eyes, many conflicting emotions. He was resistant, too, to the man he had come in with. Hope battled uneasily with uncertainty and mistrust in his eyes. He was open to her, though, almost disarmingly so as he sat down, leaned his elbows on his knees, and fixed his eyes on her.
"I'm glad to see you here," she told them. "I'm Dr. Lenore Rodgers. I understand you are…Sydney and Jarod. I was not told whether Sydney is the father and Jarod the son or vice versa."
The older man, who had been leaning back in his chair with his arms crossed, leaned forward suddenly. "I'm Sydney, but I'm not his father."
"Sydney raised me," Jarod said, directing a surprisingly dark look at the other man.
"And that doesn't make him your father," Dr. Rodgers observed.
"I am not his father. It would be fruitless to style myself as such."
Jarod shifted in his chair and said nothing to that, but his eyes said a great deal. Fruitless? Dr. Rodgers read in his dark eyes and saw bleakness slide across them.
"Then why have you come to family therapy, if you are not family?" she asked softly.
Both shifted. Neither answered. This was going to be a tough case, but an intriguing one and very satisfying, if it could be resolved.
"Why don't you tell me what goals you have for our time together?" she suggested.
Sydney spread out his hands. "I really have no goals here. I only want to assist Jarod."
Jarod leaned forward and stared at him, his face long and dark. "And I only want to know why."
"Why?" Dr. Rodgers queried. "Why what?"
"Sydney knows what. And he refuses to give me a straight answer."
"Jarod, I have given you many answers."
"No, Sydney! I have been the one giving the answers all my life, and you have only left me with questions. You have never given me a straight answer."
"I'm sorry that you feel that way, Jarod."
Dr. Rodgers suddenly understood Jarod's frustration. "Sydney, do you have experience in the field of psychology?"
He smiled at her, a broad, open-faced smile. "Why, yes, Doctor. I am a psychiatrist."
"I thought so. Sydney, you need to stop being the psychiatrist here. I am the psychiatrist, and I will be the one who is detached, impartial, and understanding. Jarod doesn't need you to be a psychiatrist with him. He needs your emotional honesty."
The man had closed back up, withdrawing from the camaraderie of their shared profession. "I can't be anything but a psychiatrist. That's what I am. It's who I am."
"Then use your training to put yourself in Jarod's shoes and listen to what he needs."
"That's my job, not Sydney's," Jarod said darkly.
"What do you mean, Jarod?"
"Sydney is the one who observes and directs. I'm the one who becomes everyone else and provides all the answers."
Sydney suddenly stretched out a hand to him. "Then why have you never become me, Jarod? Why have you never Pretended me? You could have had all your answers—without my interference."
Without your involvement, the doctor thought, but she let the conversation continue uninterrupted.
"Because I can't," Jarod said, forcing out the words around a rush of bitter emotion in his voice. "I know you too well. I know my child-impression of you too well. It's like a wall around your real self. I can't break it. You put it up, Sydney! The wall is of your making."
"Do you have anything to say to that, Sydney?" Dr. Rodgers asked when Sydney said nothing.
Sydney was quiet for some moments, his arms folded and his eyes lost in thought, as if he knew the words to say but didn't know how to say them. "I want to help Jarod," he said finally, and the doctor knew something had happened in him, some important decision.
"Then tell me why, Sydney! Why did you do it? All those years—how could you do that to me?"
"It wasn't about you, Jarod. It was about science. We were scientists. We were learning by leaps and bounds, putting together an incredible body of knowledge about the human mind. Some day we would be able to cure mental disorders, we would understand the role of genetics in human behavior, we would discover more about how the brain learns and develops… Our work was exciting, Jarod! We had never had such unlimited access to resources and subjects of study—"
"Subjects?" The quiet roar in Jarod's voice made both Sydney and Dr. Rodgers jump. "We were children! Didn't you care that you were experimenting on kidnapped children?"
"We didn't know, Jarod! We presumed you were orphans who would otherwise be set adrift in the sometimes-brutal child welfare system and that it was better for you with us. We presumed you were being taken care of! With your mind, Jarod, you couldn't have survived in that sort of world! You needed the training we gave you."
"Sydney," Jarod said, his voice suddenly low and weary, "if you really think that, still, after everything they did to me—everything they made me do—then this is over. I don't want to talk to you, and I don't want to hear your reasons. It's over. Everything."
The room was so still you could hear the circulation of air, the breathing of each of the three people in it, maybe even their heartbeats. Dr. Rodgers' eyes went from one man to the other, purposefully silent. Jarod had put his head down in his hands, his elbows on his knees. Sydney stared at him, and she saw something more than professionalism in his eyes for the first time, some small glimpse of the emotional honesty she had asked for, some hint of desperation and yearning. He forced words out of his mouth.
"Jacob…" he said, and Jarod looked up at him slowly. "Jacob tried to convince me otherwise."
"Jacob?" Dr. Rodgers asked quietly.
"My twin brother. We worked together…until…the accident. 1967, the accident that left him comatose for three decades. You know so much, Jarod, but you don't know of our conversation that night. We—we quarreled. Jacob was trying to tell me something important, and I couldn't hear him because what he was saying threatened our work—our precious work. We had devoted our entire lives to this work, and he wanted to tear it away! That was what I heard. I didn't hear what he was really saying, that he had found out devastating things about the people behind our work, that he was in danger from them—I heard none of that. And then it was too late to hear, because in my agitation I caused our car accident, and Jacob never had another chance to make me hear. He was—he was gone—the only person who had been a constant in my life—my other half—my better self. Not even dead. Simply trapped—forever—in his body." He crossed his arms, pressing them close to his chest as if he had to keep the emotions contained firmly within.
Dr. Rodgers saw with astonishment that Jarod had softened, the new hardness in his eyes melting in an expression that made him look very much like Sydney. For a moment it was as if he had become Sydney, feeling all the devastation of such a loss of a twin. She said, "How did you deal with it, Sydney? How did you survive? It must have been incredibly difficult."
He nodded slowly. "Work. That was the only thing I had left."
"So you buried yourself in your work. You buried all your emotions in it in order to survive."
"Yes. Jarod—Jarod had been with us for four years, and he was our most promising child. I devoted everything to working with him. Perhaps he saved my life. He—he gave my life meaning again."
Jarod jerked up out of his chair and went to the window, pressing his hands against the frame and his forehead against the cool glass, fighting sympathy and understanding. "Once again I was a tool for someone else to get some good out of. Your own personal play therapy, Sydney."
"I am not justifying myself, Jarod," Sydney said quietly. "You asked why. I am telling you why. You wanted the reasons to make sense and to somehow make it all better. Well, they don't."
Jarod's fingers clenched on the window frame. Dr. Rodgers let the room go silent. The only sound was heavy breathing, not quite sobbing, from Jarod.
He said suddenly, "I remember those days, Sydney. You had always been relatively stern with me, but suddenly you got sterner. You deflected my questions—you pressed for results in the simulations—you made me work harder. I thought I had done something wrong. But all along it was just…grief."
Sydney's voice could barely be heard. "Yes, Jarod."
Jarod took a few heaving breaths, then pushed himself away from the window. "I'll accept that. It wasn't right, but I'll accept it as a reason, at least. I did ask." He sat down again.
Sydney drew in a quick breath, his mouth drawn tight. His eyes said nothing, which said a great deal to Dr. Rodgers. She said, "Sydney, when did you begin to think about what your brother was trying to say to you? It is obvious that you did."
Sydney sighed. "For a long time I tried very hard not to. But in time, perhaps unconsciously, I found myself becoming more like Jacob. He was the one who questioned things—he was the one who treated the children as humans instead of little thinking machines. Sometimes I thought that out of his coma he was directing my eyes and my thoughts. A foolish fancy, but one I could not disabuse myself of. I began to recognize the effect our work was having on the children—on Jarod. He was growing up, becoming a young teen, and he had never had a childhood. He never stopped questioning me, pushing boundaries—so stubborn. So sad, so angry, but unable to give vent to his feelings. I also recognized a goodness and purity in him, and I tried to help him develop them. I was determined he should never become like the rest of us at the Centre. The tragic thing was that when I began to recognize the evil within the Centre, I became unable to do anything about it. I was trapped almost as surely as Jarod was. I had to protect Jacob—if they ever found out he was still alive, they would kill him to keep him from ever waking and talking. Perhaps I could have disappeared and taken him with me, but then who would protect Jarod?"
"Protect me? When did you ever protect me, Sydney? You pushed me. 'Do the simulations, Jarod.' 'Don't fight them, Jarod.' 'Your parents are dead, so stop thinking about them, Jarod.' 'Don't let your emotions get involved, Jarod.' You tried to cripple me! You tried to make me like you—unable to feel!" His dark eyes flashed with anger and pain.
But Sydney's grey eyes flashed back, unexpectedly. "Yes—yes, I did, Jarod! That was the only way I could protect you! Your emotions got so tangled up in everything you did—you were constantly being hurt. Your stubbornness would have got you into trouble, Jarod, terrible trouble. Do you know what they would have done to you if I hadn't pushed you to complete the simulations? You don't know how many times I confronted Raines and even Mr. Parker about some plan they had for you and forced them to let me do it my way. To keep you from getting hurt. Far from leaving the Centre, I had to become more and more involved—prostituting myself and my science to protect you."
He had raised his voice beyond what Dr. Rodgers had expected of him, and now he sank back into his chair and put one hand up to his face, his chest rising and falling uncontrollably. Jarod breathed with him, staring with a pale face, his eyes blazing with all the emotions Dr. Rodgers had seen beneath their surface.
"Why, Sydney? Why would you do that?"
"Because you were a child. You have asked me, 'Didn't you care that I was a child?' Well, at first I didn't, and by the time I did, it was too late to do anything real about it. The only way to deal with it was to pretend it did not touch me emotionally and to try to teach you to do the same."
"Well, that didn't work on me."
"No, it didn't. Thank God, it didn't."
"It did on you, though!" Jarod said bitterly. "Look at you. Calm, reasonable, detached, always the good psychiatrist. That's what you've been all my life. I've seen you be warm and caring with other people, like a friend—like family, even. But you were always a psychiatrist or a teacher with me. Kind, especially compared to the others, sometimes gentle, the only person who—occasionally—treated me like a human and who didn't frighten me. But detached. Always so detached! Do you remember the Father's Day card, Sydney?"
Dr. Rodgers saw something twitch in Sydney's face and then watched the calm psychiatrist mask come down over his features. "Yes, I remember it, Jarod."
"I wanted you to be my father. I needed you to be my father. I pursued you—I, the child, pursuing the adult for the love the adult should have been the one to offer freely. I offered you love, and you crushed it. No, you didn't even crush it. You dropped it in the garbage can like something that meant nothing. Did it mean nothing? Answer me, Sydney!"
And there was silence in the office, suffocating silence. Dr. Rodgers saw Sydney's frozen lips forming the word Nothing, but it did not come out.
Dr. Rodgers' office had seen a great deal of pain, but it is possible it had never heard a cry of pain like that from Jarod's lips. She folded her hands together tightly in her lap to try to retain her own professional detachment. Here she could not help. Jarod and Sydney had to make their own decisions about their relationship and reach their own balance. She could only pray it would not remain so unbalanced.
After a frozen moment, Sydney was the one to jerk up from his chair. "I can't do this!"
"What, Sydney?" she said. "Tell Jarod what you can't do."
He was standing with his back to them, rigid. "I can't deal with the emotions. I can't."
"But I can? I've been dealing with them for thirty years, Sydney!"
"That is the difference, Jarod," Dr. Rodgers said gently. "You have been. Sydney hasn't. Sydney has hidden them away and denied them. Now they hold great power over him. Isn't that so, Sydney?"
Sydney's voice was no longer the voice of the detached psychiatrist. "I'm afraid. I'm so afraid—to feel. I'm afraid of what will come out of me."
Now it was Jarod who took the role of counselor, getting up to stand just behind Sydney, venturing a hand to his shoulder. "What will come out, Sydney? What are you afraid to feel?"
It came out in a burst. "My guilt! Dieu, my guilt—all those years of doing nothing—of giving in—of stealing your life—everything I did to you—I destroyed you—my boy—I destroyed you—my boy—"
Jarod's whole body went stiff. "Sydney. Sydney, did you love me? Did you ever love me, Sydney?"
Sydney wheeled around, a completely different man than the man who had come in, his face streaming, his eyes wild. "Yes! God forgive me, I did. Always—and I destroyed you—"
Jarod darted forward at him, and Dr. Rodgers saw Sydney's arms go around him, bringing him in close, cradling his head against his shoulder, trembling, both sobbing.
"Jarod, my son—my son."
Much later, as she was writing up the case notes for one of her strangest—and most satisfying—family therapy cases ever, Dr. Rodgers wondered, What on earth was that all about?