Title: The Therapeutic Job
Author: Sapphire Smoke
Rating: M (for later)
Setting: During 'The 12 Step Job'
Summary: Parker wants to talk to her counselor... Dr. Tanner.
Posing as a councilor was having it's downsides for Sophie. For one, since she was 'hired' at Second Act, she was required as part of her job description to have one-on-one therapy sessions with each member in her group. Now that obviously was the last thing she wanted to do, but in order to keep her cover she had to suck it up and listen to everyone's problems and attempt to fix them. For two, playing therapist was starting to give her a migraine, especially after having to hear Marcy do nothing but bitch about how her mother is, well, a bitch for an entire hour in that dead monotonic voice that she uses.
She didn't know how some people can do this for a living.
So when it was Parker's turn to finally come in for her session, Sophie lets out a sigh of relief. "Thank god. Come on, let's get out of here for an hour," she says, standing up. She just needed to get out of this office – her office – right now. The plain white walls were starting to drive her insane herself.
"What? No, I thought it was my turn," Parker said, honestly confused. She looked at Sophie like she was almost disappointed, which made Sophie raise an eyebrow.
"Parker, you're not actually in rehab, you do know that, right?" Sophie asks, because it was starting to seem like Parker didn't actually get that. She was participating in groups, even asked for a pencil and paper to write down all the people she had to apologize to – and even to Sophie's dismay admitted to her that she had lifted her own wallet from her purse many times by 'accident', though made sure to tell her that she remembered to put it back each time.
She asked for forgiveness, which Sophie gave her just to make the whole awkward situation go away.
While acting the part was part of the con, the thing was… Parker didn't know how to act. This seemed entirely too real for her, and entirely too real for Sophie's level of comfort.
"But I need to talk about some things, and you're my councilor," Parker says, like Sophie should know that, and sits down in a chair. Sophie sighs. "You said talking about things is a way to work out our issues."
"Parker, we're in the middle of a con," Sophie stresses, looking at her incredulously. "I'm not really you're therapist."
"I know you're not, Sophie. But Dr. Tanner is," Parker replied, like that should mean something that didn't sound insanely absurd in it's own right. "And I want to talk, please?"
"Oh for the love of Christ," Sophie mumbles, and sits back down. She couldn't believe Parker was doing this. But if Parker was set on trying to fix something in her life, who was she to stop her?
They both look at each other in silence for awhile, both expecting the other to talk. Finally Parker asks, "So how do we do this? I've never been in therapy."
Sophie wanted to put her head in her hands and scream, but controlled herself. She took a deep breath. This was ridiculous.
"You tell me about the things in your life that are bothering you, and we try to work through them," Sophie explains. Yeah, this was absolutely bloody maddening.
"Doctor-Patient rules apply right? The thing it says on that board out there?" Parker asks, pointing at the door, indicating outside. Sophie's patience was getting tested in a big way.
"Yes, sure. Fine. Nothing leaves this room," she replies, just wanting to get this over with.
"Okay," Parker says, and smiles a bit. She starts picking at her shirt and squishes her face to side a bit as she thinks about what she wants to say. Finally she starts and says, "I don't like being me sometimes."
That makes Sophie stop thinking for a moment about how much she wants to get out of there just by such a simple admission from Parker. "Why do you say that?" Sophie asked her, curious enough to actually sound like an actual therapist for a moment.
Parker shrugs and picks more at her clothing. "I'm not normal. I'm weird. I say things that I think are just supposed to be in my head, and that makes people look at me funny. I don't think the right way, I guess. Like, my thoughts are very fast and sometimes they jumble up, confusing me, which makes them not come out of my mouth right. And people don't like me because my brain is broken."
Sophie blinked, taken aback by what Parker just said. "Parker, there are a lot of people that like you," she tells her. Parker looks up at her.
"That's not what Dr. Tanner would say, that's what Sophie would say."
Sophie felt frustrated by that, and narrowed her eyes a bit. "Alright…" she said, playing along. "And how does that make you feel?" she half mocked the common phrase.
"Alone," Parker tells her simply. "But I know I'm not, and I know the people I work with kinda like me. A little, anyway. They tolerate me I guess. Except for one of them, he really likes me."
Sophie knew she was talking about Hardison and her own curiosity made her ask, "And how do you feel about him?" Because hell, if she was going to play therapist, she could at least get the gossip while she was at it.
"He's nice," Parker says and smiles a bit. "I like him a lot, but that's the problem."
"Why do you feel that's a problem?" Sophie asks. Okay, she was getting a bit more into this as it was going on, it at least was entertaining a bit, and informative.
"Because I really like him, but I don't think I… I mean I think I might be…" Parker stops, then looks at Sophie. "Shouldn't you be writing this down?"
"Oh, Parker," Sophie sighs heavily and rolls her eyes. "That's not necessary."
"Yes it is," Parker insists, and points to the pad on her desk. "That's what therapists do. They make lots of notes, and nod a lot while they do it. I see it in TV all the time."
Sophie let out a breath and tested her patience as she reached for the pad of paper and a pen, and started writing down little notes like "Thinks her brain doesn't work right" and "A coworker has a crush on her," just in case she actually had to prove she did it later.
"Don't forget I'm Rose in here," Parker tells her, watching her write. Sophie refrained from rolling her eyes and put "Rose" in the top right corner. Finally she put down the pen and looked at her.
"Continue," she tells her, and hopes that didn't sound as sarcastic as she meant it to.
"Where was I?" Parker asks, and Sophie tries not to scream. Really, this was bad.
"I don't know."
"I thought you were writing this down!" Parker exclaims.
"For the love hell, Parker. For the last time, this is not a real therapy session!" Sophie bursts out suddenly, her patience level dropping rapidly.
"But…" Parker starts softly, and Sophie thinks she might cry for a minute. She looks upset. Sophie starts to feel bad and revises.
"I'm sorry, Parker. If you really need this, then yes we can do it, okay? I'd be happy to help you." Sophie tried to sound as encouraging as she could, because honestly, she didn't want to be the one to help her. But if no one else was going to…
The soft spot she had for the girl was starting to take over her good sense, apparently.
"I think the woman I work with doesn't like me," Parker says, and Sophie actually does a face palm. This was crazy.
"Parker I do—" she tries to start, but is interrupted.
"I'm talking to Dr. Tanner, not Sophie!" Parker insists, and Sophie lets out a big sigh. This was not how she thought her day would go.
"Right, sorry," she says and takes a deep breath. Patience, Sophie. "And why do you think that?"
Parker shrugs, "She always acts like she doesn't want to be around me." Parker's face actually fell at that, and Sophie starts to feel really guilty.
But she stays in character. "Have you asked her about it?" Talking about herself as another person was completely insane.
"Why not?" Sophie asks her, now needing to know. She did like Parker, she did. Maybe she was a bit too crazy for her taste, but that didn't mean she didn't like her.
Parker looks down and picks at invisible lint before shrugging again and mumbling something inaudible. Sophie creases her brow and asks, "What was that?"
"I'm afraid she'll tell me that I'm right," Parker says again, a bit louder this time. Still not looking at her.
"Well you'll never know unless you ask," Sophie tells her, and waits for Parker to ask… but she doesn't. Instead she changes the topic.
"I've never gone on a date," Parker tells her, and Sophie's eyebrows raise. She didn't know exactly how that was relevant, but then again, she was talking to Parker. Relevance seemed to take a back seat to impulsivity.
"Ever?" Sophie asks, stunned.
Parker shakes her head. "Nope. Never had a boyfriend, either. Or… anything else. Is that weird?"
Sophie chose her words carefully. "Well… it's quite unusual for someone your age." She looked at her curiously. "Have you ever been asked?"
"Oh, loads of times," Parker tells her with a nod, which makes Sophie even more confused.
"Then why have you never gone on one?"
"I'm scared to," Parker admits. "I wouldn't act right, they'd know I wasn't normal and then it'd hurt. I mean, it hurts to be rejected, right? I don't know. That's what I hear."
Sophie blinks a bit, still finding this entire situation and conversation a bit bizarre. "It does hurt to be rejected," she tells her honestly, a bit too honestly in relation to her 'will I, won't I' relationship with Nate. "But if you don't run the risk of getting hurt, then you'll never experience the good stuff either."
"But is the good stuff really so good that it's worth the bad?" Parker asks her.
Sophie smiles a bit at her. "Yeah…" she tells her softly. "It really is." Parker just nods, and stays silent for awhile, so Sophie tries something. "Why don't you try that with the guy that likes you?"
"Oh, I can't," Parker tells her, looking up at her seriously now.
"Because I think I might be gay," Parker says, which make's Sophie's eyes go wide. That was the last thing she was ever expecting. Sophie just stares at her for a little while, not speaking, so Parker asks, "Dr. Tanner?"
That snaps Sophie out of it. "Stop calling me that, please. And…" Sophie tries to think of an appropriate therapeutic response to that admittance and settles on, "Why do you think that?"
That probably wasn't the right one, but she wanted to know.
"I enjoy sex with women more than men," Parker tells her, like it should be obvious. But when Parker said she had never dated, Sophie had assumed…
"So you have had sex then?"
"Of course," Parker says, looking at Sophie like she was the one being ridiculous. "I love sex."
"But no dating?" Sophie asked. She couldn't quite wrap her mind around that concept. Sure, she understood sex with no attachments, but to never have any attachments? Ever?
"Nope, because like I said," Parker tells her. Then points to the piece of paper. "You should be writing."
Sophie blinks a bit and writes "Gay?" on her paper, just to show her she was doing something. She held it up for Parker to see to make her point, Parker smiled, glad she was playing along in this little game Sophie completely was suckered into.
"So… you're really gay then?" Sophie asks slowly, like she needed to make sure she didn't just make that up in her head for some reason.
Though if she did, then that would open up a whole bunch of other questions about her own sexuality that she's rather not get into.
"That's what I said, yes. That wasn't very therapist like," Parker chides at her lack of professional demeanor.
"Sorry," Sophie says, mostly sarcastically before revising. "So if you think you're gay, I'm wondering why it should even matter to you because you clearly don't seem interested in dating."
"No, I am!" Parker says, and sits up a bit straighter. "But I'm un-dateable."
"No one is un-dateable, Parker," Sophie tells her, looking at her pointedly. "Well, first things first anyway, are you interested in another woman?"
"Yeah, but she doesn't like me," Parker tells her, slouching back down in her chair again and crossing her arms over her chest.
"What makes you think that?"
"We just had this conversation," Parker tells her, like she was repeating something. But Sophie didn't know what exactly they were repeating, they never talked about this!
"No, we didn't."
"Yes we did. You asked me why I thought she didn't like me and I said because she acts like she doesn't want to be around me," Parker told her, looking annoyed now that she had to repeat herself. But Sophie didn't care about that; she only caught one thing out of what she just said. The main point:
Parker liked her.
She didn't know what to do about that. What even to say to that, and Parker just said it so nonchalantly like she really was talking about a different person, and not the person sitting in front of her pretending to be her therapist. "Uh… look, Parker, that's sweet and all but I—"
She couldn't get it all out though, because Parker stopped her. "Talking to Dr. Tanner," she stresses. Sophie wants to scream. Again. She's been wanting to do that a lot the last twenty minutes of this torture.
"Well, since it seems like you think she might not like you, maybe you should try someone else," Sophie tells her, finally.
"But I want her, I can't just switch it off," Parker said, like she was being absurd.
This whole thing was bloody absurd.
"Well aiming your heart in the wrong direction can backfire on you," Sophie tells her. She was trying to be nice here, let her down softly. She liked her, but she didn't like her like that.
"But you told me if I don't take a chance then I'll never know," Parker says, now confused. How Parker could be confused during this conversation, she didn't know. She was talking to her after all, wasn't she making it clear?
"Then ask her, right now," Sophie told her, just wanting to get this over with.
"I will when I see her," Parker says.
"I'm right here, Parker!" Sophie exclaims, exasperated. This was insane!
"No, Dr. Tanner is."
"Parker! I am Dr. Tanner! This is a bloody con, for shit's sake! And I don't like you like that, okay?!" Sophie bursts out, then regrets doing so the moment she sees Parker's face fall. Uh oh, maybe that wasn't the best way to tell her.
Parker looked down and nodded slowly as she was back to picking at her clothes. "Yeah, I know that. Why I didn't want to ask. I knew you'd be mean about it."
"Oh, Parker…" Sophie starts, feeling horrible now. She really should not have said it like that. "It's not that I don't care about you, I do. But I'm just… I'm not into women."
"Whatever," Parker mumbles. She looked really upset, and Sophie knew it was all her fault.
Sophie scooted her chair closer to her, putting her notebook and pen on the floor. Forget being a bloody therapist, she needed to be Sophie for a moment. She put her hand on the other girls leg and said softly, "Hey sweetie… look at me, okay?" Parker shook her head and Sophie prodded more, "Please?"
Parker looked up at her finally, and Sophie could swear her eyes were slightly misted over, though knew Parker would never admit to it. She rubbed her leg a bit in comfort and told her softly, "You are a very sweet girl, and any woman would be lucky to have you. Really. But I'm just… I'm not the one for you, okay?"
"How do you know that?" Parker asked her quietly, and Sophie felt a little tug at her heart.
"Because I'm not interested in women, and you're a woman, Parker."
"Have you ever been with one?" Parker asks her, still with the same soft voice that almost sounded sort of vulnerable.
"Well no, but I—"
"Then how do you know?" Parker asks her, her voice gaining more confidence now.
Sophie felt perplexed, bewildered, and all those other funny words. "I just… do," Sophie replied, but even heard how unsure she sounded when they came out. She didn't like women; she would have known that by now, right?
"Are you afraid to try it?" Parker asked her.
"What? No, of course not," Sophie said, almost defensively. She tried to take her hand away from Parker's leg but Parker covered it with her own, stilling her.
"Then try it." The way Parker said it almost sounded like a dare.
"Parker… you can't just manipulate me into bed with you, I'm the queen of manipulation, remember?" Sophie told her, though did have to give the girl props for trying.
"I wasn't trying to…" Parker starts, and takes her hand away from Sophie's. She looks actually offended. "Nevermind, forget it."
"What?" Sophie asks, wondering why she's acting that way.
"I didn't mean you have to sleep with me," Parker explained, still looking offended that Sophie would think that was what she was trying to do. "I didn't even mean you have to kiss me, just that I think you should at least try it with someone before you completely dismiss the idea."
"Oh," Sophie says, feeling a bit embarrassed at jumping to that conclusion. "Well… I will. I guess. One day." But she knew she was lying, and so did Parker.
"No you won't."
Sophie sighed, her shoulders dropping a bit in defeat. "No, probably not. I don't need to do that to know I'm not into women."
Parker doesn't say anything, she just leans back in her chair and lifts up her shirt a bit, exposing her stomach as she itches it lightly, right underneath her breasts. The movement was natural enough, and Sophie found nothing wrong in looking at her do it before Parker said, "But you just had your eyes roam the curves of my stomach."
"What?" Sophie says, snapping out of it. She did do that, but that didn't mean she was into women. She just thought Parker had a nice stomach. "So?"
Parker ran one of her hands through her hair, exposing her neck before saying, "And you just stared at the base of my neck."
"What? So?" Sophie asked again, defensive all of a sudden because Parker was actually making her question herself, though she didn't know why.
"They're erogenous zones." Sophie blinked; not believing Parker knew that, so Parker explains. "I do read, you know."
"I didn't say you didn't," Sophie says, avoiding the actual topic.
"So you obviously have some attraction to me, if not to women in general," Parker tells her, and Sophie's eyes go wide.
"I do not!"
Yes, she realized how much she sounded like a seven year old with the tone she used.
Parker just shrugged and leaned back in her chair again casually. Sophie didn't like how confident Parker was suddenly getting, because she realized how unconfident it was making her.
"This session is over," Sophie says finally before standing up.
"I still have twenty five minutes," Parker points out, looking at her.
"Not anymore," Sophie says and walks back to her desk, gathering up her pad of paper and pen. She didn't like how uncomfortable she was right now. Even in her own skin. She was questioning herself now, and she didn't like that. She had no control over questions; she had control over answers.
Parker sat there for a moment before getting up slowly. She pulled her shirt back down all the way and walked over to the door, but stopped before she put her hand on the door handle. She turned around, "I'm sorry I made you feel weird, Sophie. I didn't mean to."
"Yeah… I know," Sophie says quietly, not looking at her. She was too busy trying to look involved in her paperwork, when really she couldn't see the words in front of her. They could be bloody Japanese for all she knew.
Parker was silent for a moment before deciding not to go. She took a step towards Sophie, but stopped right there. "You're going to not like me even more now, huh?"
"What? No," Sophie said, turning around then to face her. "No, Parker. That's not… I mean, we'll be fine. I promise."
Parker licked her lips nervously and shuffled her feet a bit before saying, "I like you because you can be anyone you want to be," Parker tells her, and Sophie looks surprised. "You didn't have to be Dr. Tanner for me, but you did, to help me. And you did… help me, I mean. So… thanks."
Sophie's heart was beating a million miles an hour, and she wished she knew why. "You're welcome," she says softly.
"You're also the most beautiful woman I've ever seen," Parker tells her, then has a shy smile. She shrugs and finishes, "But you probably know that." She purses her lips together before turning to leave, and Sophie was surprised to find herself stopping her.
"Parker," she calls out, and Parker stops. "Don't go. I mean… not yet, we still have twenty minutes left." It was her own way of telling her that it was okay, that she appreciated what she said, because she did. It made Sophie feel really good, and it even made her smile a little bit.
Parker smiled, but turned away and tried to hide it. When Parker turned around again to face Sophie she wasn't smiling as bit, but it was still hinting a bit at the corners of her lips. She sat back down in her chair without a word, and so did Sophie.
Cue awkward silence. Or at least it was awkward for Sophie.
"Well… um," Sophie starts, trying to get back into therapist mode. "Anything else you'd like to talk about this session?" It was the best she could come up with.
Parker shook her head. "I don't want to talk to Dr. Tanner anymore. I wanna talk to Sophie," she says.
"Oh," Sophie says, and looks down, feeling nervous all of a sudden. "About what?"
"What's your real last name?" Parker asks her, which make's Sophie head shoot up to look at her in surprised.
"How did you…?"
Parker just smirked. Sophie had to smile a little bit at that, and replied, "I can't tell you."
"Why not?" Parker asks, sitting forward in her seat a bit, interested now.
"Because then I'd have to kill you," Sophie says, a smirk of her own playing at her lips now. Parker rolled her eyes.
Sophie let out a breath and shrugged a bit before averting her eyes to the wall. "I don't know it," she says honestly. Parker looks confused.
"How can you not know your own last name?"
"My parents abandoned me, I don't know who I am really. I was raised by a woman from the church they left me at. I have her last name. She was French, but lived in London," Sophie told her, then looked back at her. "I shouldn't even be using this last name now, but I do just because Sophie isn't my real first name."
"Really? What is it?" Parker asks, looking intrigued.
"I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours," Sophie deals, since all they all have ever known each other by is Sophie and Parker… and Parker wasn't her first name.
Parker made a face, but relented. "Margret."
Sophie thinks she choked trying to contain that laugh that still sneaked out. "Margret? Are you serious?"
"Yes! I don't like it, okay? Makes me sound old," Parker says, stressing the word.
"Why don't you go by Maggie or something?" Sophie asks, then has a flash of Nate's ex wife. Nevermind.
"Because I like Parker," Parker tells her. Then waves her hands at her. "You're turn."
Sophie sighed a bit, then admitted: "Jennifer."
Parker studied her for a minute, tilting her head a bit to the side as if analyzing something, then voiced, "You don't look like a Jennifer."
"Hence, Sophie. Much more sophisticated," Sophie told her.
"Yeah, it is," Parker agreed. "I like you better as a Sophie."
"Well I like you better as a Parker," Sophie told her, then smiled.
Parker looked down, biting her lower lip as if trying to contain her own smile that was threatening to peak out. Sophie doesn't think she had ever seen Parker even close to the word shy – but here it was in front of her. She had to admit, it was kind of cute.
Not that that would change her opinion on the matter of women. But she was kind of flattered that Parker liked her, she couldn't deny that. It was… sweet. A little weird, but sweet.
Parker looked like she was about to say something when there was a knock on the door and a hushed call to "Sophie!" from the other side. Both women looked at the door, and Sophie sighed. Getting up, she opened the door and Nate came inside, but not before looking at the two women strangely.
But he shook his head, it really didn't matter why Parker was trying to get therapy. He looked at Sophie and told her, "Eliot and Hardison just called, Hurley's pissed off a lot of people in very high dangerous places."
"What?" Sophie asked. "Like who?"
"Like Korean and Mexican gangs. Come on, they'll be here in a minute," Nate said, then wrapped his arms around himself and shivered.
"Are you okay?" Sophie asked him, but gave him a knowing look.
"I'm fine, I'm fine… let's just get this over with," Nate said before turning and walking out the door. Sophie sighed after looking at him walk away a little before turning back to Parker, only to realize she wasn't even in the room anymore.
Damn, how does she do that?