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Touchstone, and are the creation of JJ Abrams and Bad Robot.
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Is lovingly cherished. And I mean it.
Beginning of season 3
Rez, beta-reader with more patience than I could
even pray for
Murron, for constant support
Auburn, for bloody amazing stories and comments which
made me smile
Emptiness and counter-measures. Syd/Sark
It didn’t make a difference.
It didn’t hurt like it should. It didn’t make
her feel what she wanted to feel.
Sydney Bristow looked down
at her hands: Bloody, raw. She had been training for hours
on the punching bag, imagining faces. Kick, punch, shove.
Her own harsh breath echoed in the empty gym. Her gloved fists
hit the bag with a sound like the crack of a whip.
The bag was still moving when
she finally pulled off her gloves.
A single drop of blood fell,
staining the mat in the cool, clean, halogen lit training
room. Before, she would have worried that someone might see
her hurting herself, take it for a sign of weakness. She used
to hate showing weakness.
There was no one left to worry
about, or to care.
Francie was gone, not even
granted a decent grave. She knew she should grieve for her
best friend, but she couldn’t quite access the pain.
Will. He had survived the
encounter with Francie’s double, but it had changed
him beyond recognition. His eyes were filled with an almost
fanatical gleam that would have frightened her if she had
enough energy to care.
Her father. Imprisoned and
unwilling to speak. That was something that hadn’t changed.
Talking with her had never been his strongest suit. It should
bother her, and somewhere, far, far down, she could feel a
slight stirring of sorrow, but it was hardly more than a ripple
in an endless ocean.
Vaughn. Married. That should
have hurt, too, more than anything. Because that was expected
of her, wasn’t it? Wasn’t everyone waiting for
poor Sydney to break down, crying, mourning her lost love?
It didn’t hurt. Nothing
hurt these days and that sure as hell gave her some advantages
when it came to staying ahead of the game.
Meetings to sit through, everyone
They were handling her like
glass, expecting her to break, and she wanted to laugh at
them, explain to them that she wasn’t the same Sydney
Bristow as before. Which Sydney she was, she couldn’t
say. It changed daily.
They asked so many unanswerable
Where had she been, what had
she done? How had she ended up in Hong Kong? That scar - where
had it come from? Had she known about what her father was
doing? What had happened to the double, Allison Doren? What
was the last thing she remembered?
Over and over again. By now,
she could tell from the looks on their faces which question
would come next. It was tempting to make something up just
to satisfy them, get them off her back.
The gym only had a small window,
high up in the tall room, not giving enough light to brighten
the bare, grey walls, not big enough to let fresh air in.
It couldn’t even be opened. A travesty, built in only
because it was required. A prison cell could hardly be worse.
More drops of blood fell to
the mat, a subtle drip-drip, making for an interesting pattern.
And that was how things were
for her these days: interesting. She viewed her surroundings
with a clinical interest, like watching something on a surveillance
monitor. She knew she should feel more - they were right,
the detachment wasn’t normal. But she couldn’t
bring herself to care.
She looked at her hands again. The muted coppery scent of
her own blood reached her nostrils, intermingled with the
smell of new plastic and sweat. A familiar smell. Apparently,
no matter how good and expensive the interior of a gym was,
you could never get rid of the smell.
She smiled humourlessly and
let her thoughts drift.
There was someone from her
past they hadn’t told her about. A name they seemed
to be afraid to mention to her.
It was one of the few things
that made her angry, maybe because they weren’t accommodating.
One of the few times she let emotions bubble up.
It had been an impressive
show she had put on for them, she had to admit in hindsight.
The raised voice, the slamming of her fist on the table, the
raging anger that radiated from her. They had granted her
permission to see him afterwards.
She hadn’t. Had been
close a few times but shied back. That carefully sedated animal
within, something she guessed might be her soul, stirred whenever
she thought about the prisoner in the glass cell. It was the
same cell they had kept her mother in.
Two years. She had read the
file. Two fucking years. The pictures were remarkable, the
change evident as day and night. There had been the cocky
smirk, the boyish curls, the handsome features, in that first
prison photo. His eyes, showing amusement and serenity. Now
the smile was gone, the curls shaved to stubble. Even the
eyes had changed, something she hadn’t thought possible.
He looked weary, hollow, defeated.
Just another casualty on the
way to get the information they wanted. Something they accepted
when using the techniques they had utilized.
Just what they had expected.
She went into the washroom,
measured steps. Took a shower and felt the water and the fragrant
shower-gel sting the raw skin of her hands.
Pain was irrelevant these
days. Curiosity had taken its place, and a hunger for something
other than distrust and sympathy and righteousness; something
she couldn’t get from anyone at the agency.
She stepped out of the shower,
enjoyed the feeling of the rough towel on her skin. The mirror
was steamed up, hiding her face. Single droplets rolled down
the silvery surface, making visible only the seam between
the tiles right behind her
She wiped at the mirror lazily,
and saw her face contorted by the watery streaks. Tried for
a smile whose reflection looked like some modern painting
of a madwoman.
The knowing looks told her
everything. They were waiting for her to break down. It was
only natural for her to have to vent all of those pent-up
emotions. She couldn’t possibly take all of this in
and not go insane, could she?
Her hands went to the mirror
again, deliberately, slowly. She saw her own eyes staring
at her, perfectly calm. Her fingers caressed the moist surface.
Not a single muscle in her face moved when she punched the
glass hard. She didn’t have any answers. And looking
at the splintered mirror on the off-white tiles, she didn’t
She dressed immaculately,
bandaged her hands carefully, made an effort with make-up.
You couldn’t disappoint the watchers, could you?
If he was surprised to see her; he didn’t let show.
Apparently not even two years in a CIA prison could change
He was standing in the middle
of the cell, arms hanging loosely at his sides.
His trademark arctic gaze
was missing; it was the first thing she noticed.
She was sure he was playing
to the cameras. The tired look, the defeated posture - he
knew what was expected of him. She’d learned the same
thing; acting the part didn’t take much.
His voice washed over her, the accent velvet over stone. It
was pleasant, interesting. She used to hate that voice with
all her heart and soul. She didn’t now.
Her gaze didn’t meet
his when she stepped closer to him, started to circle him.
He was barefoot, his ankles and wrists shackled. The pale
skin under the manacles looked red and raw, as though the
restraints were constant companions. She felt the bandages
around her own hands.
He was thinner, almost to
a point where his frame seemed too wide for his weight. His
eyes were sunken, fine lines fanning out from them, his lower
lip showing a set of white scars as if he’d bitten it
But it was the eyes which
were the worst. Those dead eyes, having lost all of their
dancing spark of endless temptation and dark knowledge.
He looked like a broken man.
It chilled her.
"You look terrible."
She finally allowed her eyes to meet his. Every single breath
was being recorded. She knew that he knew.
He looked too tired to argue
or even reply, shrugged instead.
Their gazes locked. The seconds
trickled by, she could almost hear the crackling of the microphones
in the cell. The air-conditioning whirred quietly. She could
hear him breathe, and herself. Even and calm.
It was a fine stage set. They
were acting just as everyone outside the cell was expecting
them to, like good puppets, strings pulled without their will.
And she still stared at him,
unblinking. Hoping for something, anything. It couldn’t
possibly be true. This wasn’t someone you could break.
She uncrossed her arms and
took a few steps around the table separating them, near enough
to study him more precisely. He didn’t even flinch,
too tired to care. Those eyes preoccupied her again. A darker
ring circled a lighter blue iris. The white perfectly parted
from the blue. No secrets left, no mockery, no playfulness.
There were no emotions there, only fatigue. He was
The air in the room suddenly
felt fetid, making it hard to breathe. She had hoped to find
something to oppose the emptiness in her here, but she had
Disappointment welled up,
making her want to scream, the strongest feeling she had experienced
in weeks. She averted her eyes, felt her shoulders wanting
to slump before she caught herself.
How could they have possibly
Turning away, she looked back
once, maybe in hope. And there it was, like a reward for her
patience: the laughing, sub-zero blue gaze.
There was no air left to breathe,
no matter what the sounds of the air-conditioning tried to
A broken man. Like hell. She
should have known, trusted her instinct that it would take
more than two years in CIA custody to break a man like Sark.
Their conversation was silent,
not visible for the camera, not audible for the tapes. Something
flashed through his eyes.
She knew the agents behind
the monitors were inching closer now, trying to anticipate
her next move. A smirk flitted over her face.
She reached and drew him forward,
capturing his lips with hers, open-mouthed abandon. No tenderness,
no meaning but power play and an end to compliance. No surprise
on his part, no hesitation. He kept his eyes open, as she
Analyze this, you bastards.