A/N: I don't think I'm alone in saying the ending of season 2 was a massive gut punch. From there, of course, there's no going back, but man did my heart hurt. Then, we get the follow up gut & heart punch of the series finale.
"I want to believe" is a suitable sentiment here. Maybe they did save David. Maybe...
I mostly had to do this for my own closure. If you are reading and if you fell in (and painfully out) of love with Syd & David, but your heart just hurts for "Before" them, then this is for you. x
It's Always Blue
There's a shard of knowing, like an itch beneath the skin, out of reach. She feels a heartbeat skip of a life lived, tugging at the desperately frayed edges of memory - an epilogue before rebirth.
She wishes, sometimes, to be different - whatever other people call normal, unimportant, even dull. Yet...
No. Her separation feels like home, that distance between 'everyone else' and who she is, an anomaly, an "anti-social" stranger. Mentally ill. It makes her her.
The walls were closing in, too many people, orange, orange... everywhere. Orange jackets, a smell of disinfectant, loneliness she would ignore, as she had always done. The pain was so much easier, and it gave her strength. She didn't want or need what she couldn't have, what she feared. But sometimes it called her anyway, gave her doubts.
Once, she dreamt of touch. How strange, to feel his hands on her skin when she could hardly have known how to recognize the feeling, when she'd only once ever felt-
Who could she have thought she'd meant, who had been the one strong enough to feel her skin underneath his fingers, without losing himself? She tried for days to dream it again, focusing on how it had felt as she swallowed her pills, went back to her room, closed her eyes.
The one time she'd felt that kind of touch - desire - had been that terrible time in her mother's shower, and she now tried actively to forget, burdening herself with shame to push it deeper and deeper into the past, the vault in her mind that could be shut and locked and unremembered. But, this dream-
Weeks later, it came to her again, soft and muffled. So very far away. A white room. All white and clean and empty. But she wasn't alone.
Rain ran down the windows, succeeded by darkness, day after day after unending day. The pain followed from there - betrayal, the agony of a breaking heart. And she awoke again, angry tears and a tight twist in the pit of her stomach. What had she lost? She clutched her bed sheets, unable to recall anything else at all but the feeling. And did she want it back? Would she want the white room at all if it would inevitably turn black?
Sometimes, she only wanted to go home, though she could no longer decide where that was - her mother was gone. Yet, sometimes, she never wanted to leave. These walls, halls and doors - this drab ward full of half-life and medication - gave her a strangely comforting chill after weeks, and maybe months, had passed to form familiarity. If she had ever been there before, she'd have sworn it had changed her life.
A fear, like the tickle of spider legs, rose higher. Maybe, maybe they didn't want her to go, and she was trapped…
The day began like any other day, avoiding contact with so many oblivious residents, passing her by - too close. But someone had come for her, waiting by the door in a wheelchair at the end of the hall. The fear came back, stronger and more unfaltering, but-
Was he inside her mind, this stranger?
"No," she insisted, and he kept his distance.
"My name is Charles Xavier, and I want to help you," he said softly, as if someone might overhear and try to stop him, and she wanted to believe him.
"How could you possibly help me?"
"Come with me, and I'll show you."
It took her an hour to make up her mind, shut up in her room, staring at her hands inside black leather. She could go, she could stay. What did it really matter, in the end? If all she wanted was to be left alone, she could die here. If she wanted something - anything - more…
She could go. She could go and find out. So, she did.
The mansion was vast, high ceilings and wooden banisters. She thought she could get lost there, and no one would find her, and maybe that was her escape, if she changed her mind.
A quiet woman showed her to her room, two floors up and with a tall window to look out on a garden and the people who walked through it. She thought how odd, that they had come for her, when they didn't need her. She wasn't yet ready to wonder if the only purpose, the only reason she was there, was because she might need them.
She wandered the house, alone, for a time, gently recognizing the soft remembrance of touch, a small smile for the dream that would likely fade with days and weeks, now that she was free, now that the hospital was past and this was present, one foot in front of the other, black gloves and yellow. She wore yellow today, instead of orange, and it somehow made her feel like she could breathe deeper.
It was the sound of his voice behind her that struck her first. She turned.
"What did you say?" she asked.
He was tall, somehow familiar, brown hair, blue eyes… sad blue eyes.
"I said… 'you're new.'"
She nodded, automatically stepped back, as she had done all her life.
"My dad told me," he assured her. "Don't worry, I won't get close to you."
She stopped, almost absurdly wanting to move closer again instead.
"Yeah, Charles, the one who brought you here. Sydney, isn't it?"
He looked at her, fascinated.
"I can't be that interesting," she said, adjusting her gloves.
"Oh," he laughed softly. "I'm sorry."
She shook her head, dismissive.
"You haven't told me your name."
"I should admit something, since it's not fair I know about you and you don't…" He paused, gently cleared his throat. "I can read your mind."
Her eyes widened, stunned and guarded.
"But I won't! I wouldn't, unless you wanted me to. Well-" he corrected, apologetic. "I try, at least. Sometimes it happens before I can control it. I'm working on it."
"That's what your dad can do, isn't it. I think he did it at Clockworks when he came to get me."
"Oh, no. I mean… yeah," he laughed, "he probably did but not the way you think. He scans for other people like us, people with abilities. He probably wanted to be sure it was you."
"Abilities?" she laughed. "That's what we're calling it now?"
"What do you call it?"
"Complicated," she said, and it wasn't meant to be so heavy, but he was intently looking at her again, different this time, like he cared too much, more than anyone - especially him - had any reason to. "Well, I'll let you get back to whatever you were doing…"
She walked away, before she could think about staying.
"Syd?" he called, and for a moment, her heart might have stopped. A white room.
I love you, Syd.
"Yes?" She turned back, and the echo was gone.
"Do you think people can change? Get better?" he asked, quietly.
"I have to think so."
"If we didn't believe it, we wouldn't try, would we?"
He meant himself, of course, an uncomfortable fear of being too much or too little or something terribly in between. She considered him, this person she'd only just met, the fact that he could read her mind but wouldn't. Or had he, and she just couldn't feel it?
"I don't give up that easy," she said. "You'll get better. We'll-" she corrected, but it was too late.
He smiled at her. She felt herself smiling back.
"D'you wanna go for a walk?" Hands in his pockets, a half smile that lingered.
"Why not? But, if you touch me, I'll kill you." Her own smile remained, to match his as he nodded.