This story is based on 9x03, 'Life Imitates Art' (or is it 'Art Imitates Life'?), as well as my own writer's block over rewriting 20,000 words of 'Juarez' flashback scenes, though I'm almost done with rewriting said scenes. Anyways, it should become apparent that this scene is not supposed to be the one that Hodges sees. Anyways, enjoy! |
This is self-betaed, so all mistakes are 100 percent mine.
Playing Poker with Freud
"Have you always been this quiet?"
Her British accent amused him. He felt like she was playing pretend -- a svelte James Bond character, for example -- like he had as a child, which, in turn, reminded him of the MGMT music video. The song started to play in the back of his head, and, for the millionth time in the last three years, he pushed the urge to sing and be merry to the back of his mind.
He looked up. Deep blue eyes betrayed frustration -- but the frustration was still laced with sympathy.
He shook his head. "No." A chuckle fell out, in defiance of his own wishes. "No. I wasn't."
His brows came together in amusement at the question -- it seemed obvious enough. "I didn't know any better. Then -- I mean."
"I mean why are you quiet now?"
"How else am I supposed to be?"
He met her eyes this time.
She cleared her throat, before leaning back in her chair and staring hard at the wall to his left. It looked like she was lost in thought, or trying to find the best way to phrase the next question.
"What were you like as a kid?"
"And that's relevant how?"
She leaned in to meet the eyes of her patient -- who was growing more defensive by the word. "Psychology doesn't start when you're a grown-up. It doesn't start when you take on this job -- though I wonder if your mask started around then. You've always had an underlying psychological profile, Greg. Just like you've always had a personality."
He leaned back in his chair, smiling as if he'd just solved a puzzle -- or won a game. "You're a Freudian."
"No I'm not," she replied, revealing a smile of her own. "But I just got the first smile -- and the first trace of personality -- out of you that I've seen all week."
His victorious grin quickly gave way to his usual, stoic half-stare-half-glare. "That's not true."
"When's the last time you smiled Mr. Sanders?"
"Warrick just died. It's been a weird week for smiling."
She looked unimpressed with his answer, and that, for some reason, irritated him greatly.
"How much do you smile, in general, Greg?"
He glared. "Am I actually expected to remember these things?" He paused, his eyes clearly searching. "And am I Greg or Mr. Sanders? Make up your mind." It was an uncharacteristic show of imprudence, but the psychiatrist made him edgy.
She, however, just chuckled.
Of course she'd find rudeness funny. She probably got something else completely out of psychoanalyzing what I just said, he thought.
"Nice attempt at diversion, Mr. Sanders."
"So I guess I'm back to Mr. Sanders, huh?"
"And I guess you're not so good at fake flirting?"
He truly lost his facade on that one, and that was exactly the opening Dr. Alwick had been looking for.
He remained silent, before stumbling over his words. "I'm... uh... sorry if I offended you, Dr. Alwick." He was facing the desk beneath him more than the psychiatrist before him. He couldn't see her hand, or if it had a ring on it, so he couldn't tell to what degree he'd offended her anyways.
"I'm not offended at all, Mr. Sanders. You see," she said, leaning in to speak in a conspiratorial tone. "I know your secret. I know, at least a little, why you're acting this way."
He chuckled nervously. "Do you now?"
She didn't respond, waiting for him to make the next move.
But Greg was an expert chess player, and he didn't plan to lose the match without a fight. Nonetheless, he quickly saw that Dr. Patricia Alwick was a more than formidable opponent.
It was all give and take, and he gave the next statement, sacrificing just another small piece of himself to be spread out on the table before them; to be filed into the eager analytical mind of his temporary opponent.
"Well... um..." He looked down nervously. "You're an... attractive... woman."
She laughed again, this time more loudly, and he responded by faking -- albeit well, he thought -- his hurt.
"That's the problem. Isn't it?"
He looked up, questioningly.
"Attractive? That doesn't mean that you're attracted to me. More importantly, the last word."
His stare remained searching. "Last word..."
He looked down, blushing. By the time -- a millisecond later -- that he had realized his mistake, he knew it was too late.
"Yes. I know you know what I'm talking about."
He glared, but remained silent.
"Play dumb if you want. It's not a pretty color on you though."
She paused, before grinning like a Cheshire cat. "I sure hope Nick finds it otherwise."
Greg looked up -- shocked -- with a start.
Seeing her patient was speechless -- just as she had intended -- Dr Alwick continued. Reaching into her drawer, she drew out a picture, one which Greg quickly recognized.
"Now," she began. "If I were a Freudian --" She turned the photo around to face herself, before turning it around again, to face Greg. "I would show you this picture... briefly" -- she turned the picture over in her hands a few times, clearly toying with the idea -- some idea -- "and ask you what you see in it. How it makes you feel." She whispered the last line with an almost-seductive, conspiratorial smile.
"But I think we both know --" She looked up at him, making clear, irrefutable eye contact, from which the man in front of her couldn't turn away. "how Mr. Nicholas Stokes makes you feel."
Greg gulped again, breaking eye contact. He had lost the chess match. He decided that, given the loss and the battles of eyes and bluffs, it must have really been a poker match.
Because Greg Sanders never lost at chess. This game, however, was too complicated for even the Stanford genius to win. A chess game couldn't be rigged, but a poker game could.
She had won this round, with a full house up her sleeve, after careful observations. But it wouldn't be the last round. Greg Sanders made it his mission to win.
He fingered the alarm button on his pager. "I've... uh... got to go."
"I'm sure you do, Mr. Sanders."
He glared back at her before opening the door and sneaking out, more resolved to keep the remainder of his secrets under the radar and out of her sneaky hands and mind.
But he knew there would be another round. That was the beauty of poker -- the one thing that made it better than -- or rather preferable to -- chess. He always had another chance to win back his money, or, in this case, his pride.
There could always be another round. And he would win it. Really. He would.
He willed the tune out of his mind, yet again.
The sessions weren't quite about Warrick -- at least not as Greg had originally intended. But they would do.
After all, there was always the next round.
I値l miss the playgrounds and the animals and digging up worms.
I値l miss the comfort of my mother and the weight of the world.
I値l miss my sister, miss my father, miss my dog and my home.
Yeah I値l miss the boredom and the freedom and the time spent alone.
But there is really nothing, nothing we can do.
Love must be forgotten. Life can always start up anew.
The models will have children, we値l get a divorce,
we値l find some more models, Everything must run its course.
We値l choke on our vomit and that will be the end.
We were fated to pretend.
Author's Note: Thanks for reading! I'm still contemplating whether to keep this a one-shot, or whether to show multiple "rounds" between Alwick and Greggo. What do you guys think?
Remember -- reviews are love!