None, really. But you might want to read this story's predecessor,
unless you want a serious case of "what the ... huh?"
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: Is deeply appreciated and longed-for.
You'll find the necessary address in the "about"
Thank you: To Rez, Auburn, MC, Amy and murron,
my personal cheering and beta-ing brigade. To Amy, a special
thanks. Know you why. Awkward or gramatically wrong sounding
sentences were added after Rez's wonderful beta and are thus
completely and utterly my fault.
Love to: Jo. This one's
for you, sweetheart.
The truth is often a terrible weapon of
aggression. It is possible to lie, and even murder with the
-- Alfred Adler
Last time they came, they
brought fresh water. This time, maybe a day since then or
longer, there is even a slice of dry toast. Exactly one.
He tries to savour it like
a royal meal, tries to control himself but ends up wolfing
it down anyway. It’s not enough, but he doesn’t
care at the moment. It appeases the gnawing, painful hunger
for a little while. He washes it down with a mouthful of water.
He’s more careful with that. He’s already endured
one seemingly endless period without water, his tongue sticking
to the top of his mouth, barely any saliva left, his lips
cracked and bleeding. He’s disciplined about water.
He still dreams of wine sometimes.
Of that pungent, dry, ruby liquid coating the inside of his
mouth, of the warmth trickling down his throat like a tentative
caress, of the fine aftertaste on his tongue and the burst
of flavour in his head.
He can smell it when he concentrates
enough, but the smell becomes weaker every time he tries to
conjure it. He has learned only to invoke it in times of need.
"Chateau Petrus, wasn’t
He goes utterly still on his
bunk. Only now does he realise that there was a strange taste
to that water. More drugs, probably new ones. But why the
need to hide them?
"Wasn’t that your
After Allison, he had spent
hours fighting the drugs, until finally, exhausted, he’d
fallen asleep. He had felt better when he woke up, elated
to see a sliver of light in the cell highlighting concrete
floor and shining pail and the cold metal of his bunk. It
had hurt his light sensitive eyes, though, so he had screwed
them shut again, giving them time to adjust.
When he opens them again,
warily, Irina is sitting on the dirty floor - that aura of
perfect beauty laced with lethal authority never failing to
impress him. She smiles at him, dazzlingly.
He closes his eyes, then opens
them again after a few moments.
She’s still there, waiting
for an answer. Cross-legged on bare, soiled concrete, the
light pooling around her, giving her a strange halo.
He wonders if he’s still
asleep after all.
But what if he isn’t?
What, then, is he waking up
He circles her, guardedly.
Hunter and prey.
He doesn’t know which
one he is.
"Are you afraid, Sark?"
Such a gentle question. Almost
maternal. But he isn’t fooled. He knows the cold steel
lying beneath those words, the precision. It’s a test.
Nothing Irina Derevko has done for him has ever been maternal.
He stops, crouches in front
of her. "Should I be?"
She laughs, touches her bottom
lip as though in thought. "What do you think?"
And that’s the way it’s
always been between them. No giving in. She never, never gives
in. She voices questions and makes him find the answers, but
never confirms if his answer was what she was looking for.
He’s been working for,
under and next to her for so long, but he still doesn’t
know even a quarter of her true self. He only knows that where
Irina Derevko is concerned, there’s always a plan involved.
He hates it that the plan concerning himself is the one he
isn’t privy to.
She waits him out, a familiar
competition between the two of them. He has yet to be the
last to give in. It’s a game she knows too well.
"Why am I still here?"
She inclines her head, and
something that looks oddly like fondness passes over her features,
"What’s the plan,
She laughs, and her radiant
beauty becomes more prominent. "You still believe in
plans too much, Sark."
"I think --"
"You think that there
was a plan behind burning you to the CIA. A plan covering
everything - the failure of your mission, the interrogations,
He nods, the barest movement.
It’s all he’s had to cling to for the past months
in this cell.
"You wouldn’t have
sent me in here without a plan."
Her smile fades, changes into
a contemplative expression.
"Sent ..." The way
she tries the word on her tongue, as though she has never
considered it before, makes something odd settle in his stomach,
hot and heavy, numbing his limbs and spreading out like poison,
Her eyes never leave him -
brown and deceptively gentle, like her daughter’s. But
there’s something lurking in those eyes, wistfulness,
maybe, or pain.
"I should be the last
person you trust." Her voice is tinged with sadness.
He stares at her, expressionless,
needing to digest her words. It can’t be.
She leans forward, cups her
hand - strong, cruel, tender, warm - along his cheek.
He allows himself the momentary
weakness, feels himself leaning into that hand, his eyes slipping
The truth is right there,
he knows it. Irina never is this gentle unless there’s
something that concerns him closely, something that’ll
cost him more than he thinks he’s willing to give. But
in the end, he always gives, no matter what she asks of him.
He trusts her with the foolishness of the child she had picked
up all those years ago. With the folly of a lover. With the
devotion of a son. No matter how many times she’s told
him not to. It’s the one lesson he’s never learned.
He knows that this trust will
be his downfall sooner or later. He assumes this is the moment,
but keeps his eyes closed and revels in the familiar touch,
not wanting to see her face when she delivers the final twist
of the knife. Hopes against hope that what he expects to hear
won’t be true.
She runs her thumb over his
cheek. "There never was a plan, Sark."
The bottom of his stomach
drops out. He sways, dangerously light-headed. For a moment,
he’s paralysed, his limbs cold and not part of his body
anymore. The information sinks in slowly, searing his mind
in the process.
Long minutes and there’s
nothing but the sound of his own, ragged breathing. It’s
an effort to remember how to.
The poison she delivered works
quickly, then. He feels himself being violently sick, reaches
for the pail with one last ounce of strength, scraping metal
Irina runs her hand quietly
over his shorn scalp as he retches into the bucket and he
feels tears - for the first time in years - burn in his eyes.
He’s too unaccustomed to the sensation to let them fall.
As the touch of Irina’s
hand slowly fades away, he thinks about the toast he just
"What a fucking waste."
His voice echoes in the cell, thin and coarse.
She doesn’t respond
- gone, just like Allison before her, leaving him to deal
with the devastation alone.
There never was a plan.
He’s a casualty. Collateral
damage at best.
All this time he’s held
out - he knows now has been for nothing but his own pride.
His thoughts should be quicksilver,
but they’re molten rock. He can’t control them
any longer, can’t see clearly enough.
Bites his lips until he tastes
blood, at least in control of this.
Stumbles back to the bunk,
curling into a tight ball. He knows they’re watching,
always watching. He doesn’t care. There’s no reason
to fight them any longer, is there?
Nothing could make this any
worse - the betrayal, the shock, the ... pain. It’s
physical, every fibre in his body screaming.
"Look at this. Has the
little prince fallen into disgrace?"
He’s been wrong. It
can get worse.
He wonders briefly, in a flicker
of cynicism, if this would be a good time to succumb to the
drugs, to go insane.
What stops the wild laughter
from bubbling up is the thought that, upon seeing the third
apparition, he might not need that last, cognisant step anymore.