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Magenta

(working title

 


Disclaimer: Alias and the characters of Alias are property of ABC and Touchstone, and are the creation of JJ Abrams and Bad Robot. These stories are purely for entertainment purposes, no copyright infringement is intended, I am not making money from this at all.

Rating: R

Category: S/S, a.k.a. Sarkney

Feedback: Is lovingly cherished. And I mean it.

Spoiler: Between Counteragent and Phase One

Dedication: For Rez, beta-reader extraordinaire and Murron, for Joanna and voleuse, for Auburn and Sez, and not to forget, for Kath. You know why. Thank you for it.

Summary:

Author's note: Explanations for the musical terms used in the chapters can be found here.

 

I.

Sotto voce

***

She wears black again, as she has so often during the last weeks. Black, even in her house. He wonders if it's a defence mechanism, wonders if she thinks colour would be giving her away. Or maybe she just has enough of all the colours during missions. Maybe monochrome saves her sanity.

***

It's a simple ritual. Every night. Removing the make-up with a cleansing foam and water. Drying her face with a small towel. He enjoys the way she looks into the mirror after that small ritual, her face clear of the many masks hiding her true self. He loves looking at the real Sydney Bristow. The one with the haunted eyes and the dark rings under them. The one with a few droplets of water still clinging to her lashes, crystalline, like tears. The one who questions her mirror: Am I still myself? He knows. He can see it, even if she does not voice the question. So many times.

When he talks to her she never responds.

***

There is something in the way she sips her wine, here, in front of her open fireplace, that intrigues him, excites him even. He doesn't have to feel it on his tongue to know what it tastes like. Smooth, dry, with a light hint of vanilla and raspberries. His throat goes dry at the thought, quickly he takes a sip from his own glass. It trickles down his throat, leaving warmth in its wake. Pleasant warmth, not the heat a single-malt would create. He prefers red wine. He knows she does, too.

Yet if only because they have different ways of perceiving their environment, her wine will never taste the same as his. He is saddened by the thought, but doesn't tell her. Not even that he would love to taste the wine on her tongue. He never does.

They both enjoy the silence and the crackling of the fire.

***

He has seen her sleep like a child. Curled in her bed, knees drawn to her chin, protecting herself from the world outside. The bed always seems too big for her.

That childlike sleep is gone tonight. She is dreaming. He can see her eyes moving rapidly under closed lids. Her arms are flailing under the duvet, her eyebrows knit together in pain. She is murmuring things he can't make out, no matter how much he wishes to. He can't. He never does. He never has the heart to wake her, not even from a nightmare. Because even though her sleep is troubled, at least she is sleeping at all. It is worth the price.

***

He wakes up only a short while after she leaves the bed. She gets ready for work early, he realises.

He hears her humming softly to herself in the bathroom.

She walks through her room in a bathrobe, brushing her teeth as she goes. It's an old fashioned toothbrush, not one of the electrical ones which have become so popular. She prefers it old-fashioned. A smile lifts the corners of his mouth as he watches her rummage through her chest of drawers for lingerie. Before, he had always imagined her wearing something dangerously sexy under those strict costumes she wears for work. Now he knows better, and prefers it that way. Her lingerie is plain, nowhere near stylish, just comfortable. Maybe this is the way she treats herself when she is not on a mission.

Back in the bathroom, he hears her shower, still humming a tune he vaguely remembers hearing on her stereo before.

Fifteen minutes later, she emerges, fumbling with her unresponsive hair. He enjoys the way she uses the bright wooden comb to brush her dark hair into shape.

She leaves after a quick breakfast of cereal and some of the strongest coffee he has ever seen. His insides squirm at the thought of what she is doing to her body, drinking that brew. Yet he keeps quiet, sips his tea. With a grimace, he realises that it must be almost as strong as her coffee.

He smiles again, watches her grab her bag and leave.

She doesn't say good-bye.

***

She doesn't have to. He sees her at the office, coming in only marginally later than she.

She is already on her second cup of coffee, trying to force her body into functioning after the exhausting dreams.

"Good morning." He shakes his head at the sight of her hand, clenched around the mug. "You look tired, Agent Bristow." Her eyebrows knit. Frustration, surprise and anger flicker in her eyes in quick succession. There is no greeting. She simply glowers at him as he sips from his mug of tea.

"What's it to you?" Her voice cool, her eyes blazing. She sets the mug down.

"I'm merely trying to engage in a conversation among colleagues." He smiles serenely, enjoying the way she bristles.

"Like hell you are." Her mouth is set, the full lips pressed together after that statement, as though trying to bite back more vile words.

"Sydney " He thinks about the night, and his smile falters. He attempts to tell her, for once tell her something honest. Something she won't see as a lie or a taunt.

"Save it," she says, running a tired hand over her forehead, not noticing his lapse. "Whatever it is, save it. I'm not in the mood today, Sark."

She's not strong today. Part of him wants to keep their banter going, wants to see how far he can push her. Wants to see just how unstrung she is after a night like this. But he doesn't.

If only because he respects her too much.

He touches her arm fleetingly as he steps next to her. "I'm serious: You should try to sleep more, Sydney. This concoction you're drinking ..." he traces the rim of her mug, "won't keep you awake forever."

She turns and shoots him a dirty look, misinterpreting his concern for mockery and crumples the piece of paper she holds in her hand. Maybe, he thinks, it's better this way. "Get your little British ass away from my desk."

Low blow. He chuckles. She glowers. But she also shudders when his breath whispers over her ear.

He straightens. Smirks. "I live but to serve. Think about that coffee."

She actually throws the paper after him when she thinks he isn't looking.

He looks over his shoulder. Winks. Leaves before her eyes can kill him.

Leaves and wonders when she will notice. His fingers trail the remnants of her lipstick on her mug, now in his hands.

 

 

***

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