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Ghosts

Fandom: Alias
Spoilers: None, really.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Sad but true. No money is gained or intended to be gained.
Timeline: A good ways before the beginning of the current season, probably more towards half a year after Sydney's disappearance. Sark is still in custody.
Feedback: Yes, please. No, really. Please.
Thank you: To Rez, Auburn and murron
Love to: The LJ Alias crew & murron. Because you broaden my horizon and send my head spinning nicely with the specualtions and the wonderful stories / art you bring forth.
A/N: Written roughly 2 months ago, so no connection / brainchild whatsoever to / of episode 3.11

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Gaze long into the abyss, and the abyss gazes into you.

Friedrich Nietzsche

***

The more time passes, the more inventive they get. They’ve tried almost everything on him: Long interrogations, threats, torture. When that doesn’t bring the desired results they resort to sleep-deprivation, malnutrition, and drugs until he’s dizzy and weak; and now, to solitary confinement and darkness. There are no rules. Human rights don’t exist here, and even if they did, who would apply them to him? Terrorists and assassins aren’t human. Yet they try to break him like a human. In the beginning the irrationality of it had made him laugh. He’s too weak for laughing now.

He last saw light when they’d opened the door and put a beaker of water inside the cell. They’d blinded him with their torches; the rays pierced his eyes and burned into his skull. No food. He can’t remember the last time he ate properly. The hallucinations of food come to haunt him from time to time, images of a simple loaf of bread and cheese, some plain Italian wine. He would take anything, his taste has already been reduced to that. But the longer the hunger stays with him, the more futile the wish for nourishment seems, the less often the hallucinations come.

He knows their scheme. They’re trying to reduce him to something animal, only working on survival instinct. And maybe it’d all make sense somehow, if he hadn’t already given them all the intel of value to them. But they want more, always more. Doren, Derevko. Where are they? What are Derevko’s plans? What lies behind her obsession with Rambaldi? Who killed Sydney Bristow? Why?

He doesn’t have any answers. It had been a shock he had hidden well, hearing about Sydney’s death. The world is duller with her out of the game. And maybe his chances of ever leaving this prison alive have sunk closer to zero with her death.

Michael Vaughn had been present during one of his last drug sessions. The agent’s ashen face with the hollow eyes had swum in and out of proportion under the influence of the drug altering Sark’s state of awareness. He had stared at the man with a smile only in his eyes since his faced refused to cooperate. ‘Poor bastard,’ he had been thinking. Since he answered none of their questions, Vaughn had finally snapped, like a cello-chord stretched too tight, and had sent a crushing blow to Sark’s jaw. Pain had made the younger man’s eyes water. "Does this bring her back, Agent Vaughn?", he remembers asking with uncooperative lips. Another blow, and Vaughn’s face had vanished; Sark’s mind, overpowered by the drugs, drifting off when his eyes had rolled back into his head and his body had slumped like a rag-doll.

Vaughn hasn’t been back since. Was that days ago? Weeks? Months? He can’t fathom it and doesn’t want to.

The residue of the last drug session are still in his bloodstream; he can feel them eating their way into his mind.

In the darkness it’s hard to concentrate on anything but himself. The outside world has ceased to exist after what he supposes is the third day. There’s only the sounds he makes to subdue his own heartbeat: Tapping his fingers against the bare, rough walls, his feet. But his heartbeat is always there, the last reminder of his strength, but mocking him too often. He’s sworn to himself that they won’t break him, won’t have him admitting things he doesn’t know anything about and hasn’t done. But now there are the drugs and the sleep-deprivation and the darkness.

He knows the methods, had been taught to administer them himself. But having to endure them is something else entirely.

At first he had welcomed the quiet of the dark cell, had meditated and had tried to put order to his thoughts. Had tried to recite Greek and Chinese philosophers but grew tired of the sound of his own voice, even in his head. Soon, not even hate was enough to occupy his mind which wasn’t used to being this idle. He couldn’t stay ahead of their game and tried hard to ignore the feeling of defencelessness.

Time has gone by and he finds himself waiting for the time of his next injection, simply because it means light, however painful to his eyes, and seeing another human being, although they don’t speak anymore.

From scouts around the cell he has found out about a bucket for waste and a package of baby-wipes. No additional water for washing and drinking. The stubble on his face is no longer just a stubble, and he despises them for that maybe more than for anything else. The lack of decent hygiene makes him feel truly animal. The cell reeks.

He tries not to think about what he has lost, simply because he doesn’t consider it lost, not yet. But a part of him howls like a beaten beast whenever they close the door again, and the drug begins its malignant yet impassive work on his mind and body. Every time it happens again, he finds it harder to suppress this side of him, more exhausting to keep it from surfacing. Not many layers are left to cover it anymore. They’re being scraped away from session to session, with cold precision. What lies beneath isn’t who he is, he thinks. And yet it is a part of him, no matter how much his mind protests that he doesn’t want to be reduced to something Freud would have called Id. He has always considered himself Ego, completely in control of his inborn basic drives and wants, needs to stay aloof. But in the neverending night of the cell, the weak part of him is whispering for someone to talk to him, for gentle touches, for some kind of light in the abyss he’s staring into.

He doesn’t know how much longer he’ll be able to fight it. If he’ll be able to take the whisper that is louder than any scream.

He is cold. The drug is working well, leaving him shivering, breaking out in cold sweats, making him dizzy and tired, yet too overwrought to sleep.

So because there is nothing else to do, he lowers himself onto the cold metal bunk, draws his knees up and fights the urge to wrap his arms around himself in order to have at least some warmth, some kind of touch. He refuses to heave a sigh in frustration. It’s nothing he has done before, he won’t start now. Tells himself over and over again that he doesn’t need any of this. That he is stronger. That he won’t give them the satisfaction of showing weakness.

"Are you really that strong?" He’s heard the voice before and it always goes away. He chalks it up to drugs. He’s stronger than that.

But it comes back.

"Are you?" In the darkness, he hears the voice echoing dully in the cell, then the tearing of plastic and a papery click, the rustling of paper unfolded and torn. Hears the opening of a Zippo, metal clank, and the swish of the gas when the fire devours it. The flame is bright, carving a face out of the darkness before it is snuffed again.

So this is it, finally, he thinks, grimly saluting the drugs.

The cigarette gleams red and casts an eerie glow on the beautiful face of the woman holding it between her lips.

Allison.

He drops his head to his drawn-up knees and laughs, a raspy, hollow sound that is not his voice. "Fuck."

She exhales the smoke between her teeth, a hissing sound. Her smile is audible when the full lips reveal a line of what he knows are perfectly small, white teeth. "With pleasure, love."


***


It has happened before. It always goes away again. He is stronger than the drugs. It’s what he has kept telling himself for the last twenty minutes. But there is no use. The apparition doesn’t leave.

He can smell the smoke of her cheap cigarettes, her perfume, the familiar and yet unfamiliar scent of her body. Still Francine Calfo’s body. Why he’s seeing her as Sydney Bristow’s flat-mate, and not as the real Allison, he can’t fathom.

She is on her third cigarette by now. He has never told her how much he hates it when she smokes. Maybe now would be a good time to start.

"Stop it."

She comes closer, blows the smoke in his face. He endures it without moving, but thinks that he might as well have grimaced, the darkness would have hidden it. It’s on principle that he doesn’t. Some things shouldn’t change. Ever. "Don’t you like it?"

He doesn’t reply, considers his silence answer enough.

"You never complained before."

She settles down next to him on the bunk. "And you’re not actually in a position to complain now." Her hand reaches out and she flips on the Zippo. He closes his eyes reflexively against the brightness, feels the light sting his sensitive eyes.

"Look at you," she says, not quite hiding a mocking snort. "You look like shit." She laughs and touches the fingertips of her right hand to his shorn scalp and his facial hair. Her fingers are freezing cold. "Not quite the same Mr. Sark you once were, are you?"

Indignation flares and he opens his eyes to stare at her icily. Her words cut deep. "Nothing has changed, Allison. I could still --"

"Teach me a thing or two? Fight me and win?" She interrupts and gives him an impertinent, entirely Allison-like once-over. "Excuse me if I find that hard to believe."

The Zippo casts its flickering glow on her face. She is beautiful, even as Francie. Her eyes have always been Allison’s, though, no matter how good the genetic change of her body was, no matter how much she trained herself to act and walk and move like the other woman. He looks into those eyes now, tries to find something that might explain ...

"Why I’m here?" Her ability to finish his sentences has always been uncanny. It’s reassuring to see that at least this hasn’t changed.

He nods.

"You made a promise once, remember?"

He doesn’t. He’s made so many promises he never kept that he’s lost track of them. He’s never lied to her, though, so he decides to be blunt. "I don’t."

She laughs, a thoroughly amused sound that doesn’t fit the situation. "You son of a bitch. I should have known you wouldn’t."

"Look at me. We’ll get you back." Her imitation of his voice has always been good. She loved to mock his accent, back when she had her own face and this urge to move all the time, never once be still, not even in bed. But it’s different this time, something dark reverberates in her tone, and her body is perfectly still. Her eyes - Allison and Francie, yet more Allison - are colder than his cell. He fights the urge to shiver.

"Allison ..."

She closes the Zippo with a flick of her wrist. "You knew it, didn’t you? That changing me back wouldn’t be possible?" Her voice is soft, almost gentle.

He’ll be damned if he’ll sound apologetic. "Would it make any difference if I said I did?"

She laughs again, a low, intoxicating sound that used to arouse him, brings her mouth close to his ear; a chill exhalation. "No. It wouldn’t." She runs her cold tongue along his ear and sends the promise of pleasure shooting through his mind. He finds it hard to suppress a groan. God, it’s been so long. His hands reach out for her in the dark but don’t find her. Her voice is close, but the sultry tone has changed to something sub-zero: "It wouldn’t because you’d still rot here. As you should."

His hands hit the metal of his bunk. The smell of the cigarette has vanished with her.

 

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