Author: Lila
Title: "Contradiction"
Spoiler: None

Authors Note:
Yeah, another story!!! This one should be a multi-parter, probably two or three chapters. Thank you to all already reviewed this story, but there were a lot of problems with it and instead of simply reloading the first chapter, it was easier for me to start over altogether; I hope you'll keep reading. Thank you to all my wonderful readers and their fantastic support for my stories. I've received so much feedback and I appreciate it so much. I hope you enjoy this one!

~ * ~
"I hear a voice say, 'don't be so blind'
It's telling me all these things
That you would probably hide
Am I your one and only desire?
Am I the reason you breathe?
Or am I the reason you cry?"

- "Always," Saliva

~ * ~
Silk, black and smooth, clings to my curves like a second skin. Stilettos, also black, make already long legs look nearly endless. Brown curls, soft and shiny, fall around my neck in glossy tendrils. I smooth my dress down my hips, marveling at the pull of silken fabric against my skin. Strong hands reach out and wrap a cord of diamonds around my throat, securing the clasp with a gentle touch. The precious stones glitter in the dim light, prisms of sparkles reflecting off metal décor. I lay a hand on the necklace, enjoying the feel of the cool stones and harsh contours under my fingers. Smooth and sharp all at the same time, just like--"Stop it, Syd," I remind myself. "Now's not the time."

And it wasn't the time. The mission was screwed up, my cover nearly blown, and I had to concentrate on every minute detail to fix things. "It's beautiful," I say and see a faint hint of appreciation in his green eyes. "Too bad I can't keep it."

He smiles a little, just a slight quirk of the corners of his mouth and reaches out to straighten the necklace. "I thought you might like it."

His fingers brush my throat and electricity stings everywhere our skin touches. Our eyes meet, brown on green, and I suck in a breath because this isn't supposed to happen--can't happen--yet it seems to happen every time we're in the same room together. I take a step back, because that's what I'm supposed to do, and he clears his throat. "What's my countermission?" I ask in my most professional voice, hoping he doesn't catch the hint of desire lurking in the back of my throat, where it always is when I'm alone with him.

If he notices anything different he chooses to ignore it, because there's not even a hint of reaction in his calm voice. "You're SD-6 mission is locate information about Pierre Lacroix, an arms dealer with unknown allegiances. We don't know what he has stored on his computer, but it's something very important to SD-6. The clasp of your necklace is really a camera. You're to open the files on Lacroix's computer and photograph the contents." He hands me a computer disk so small it's barely the length of my pinkie. "This is a dummy disk for you to give Sloane. Once you take the pictures they'll automatically be transmitted back to CIA headquarters. Remember, under no circumstances can Sloane get his hands on this information."

"No problem. This sounds easy compared to some of the other missions I've had to do."

Vaughn nods. "Good luck."

I smile one last time and turn to leave, sliding the tiny disk into the cleavage of my dress. "See you when I get back."

"Hey, Syd," he calls out when I'm nearly out the door, my heels clicking loudly on the concrete floor.

"Yeah?"

"Be careful, okay?"

I turn to face him, my tummy fluttering when I see the worry etched in his face, the concern in his eyes. God, am I lucky to have a man like him on my side. "Aren't I always okay? Don't worry. I'll be fine."

He smiles, albeit a bit reluctantly, and nervously shuffles the files in his hands. "Okay. I'll see you soon."

I smile, my eyes drifting over angle of his jaw, the curve of his cheeks. I want to reach out and throw myself against his chest, feel his arms around me one last time, because no matter what I say there's always a chance I won't be back, that this mission will be my last. But then I remember that he's my handler and I'm his agent and I reach out and squeeze his hand instead. Again, a tingle of electricity when our skin touches. He reaches up and brushes a curl behind my ear, straightens the necklace one last time. "Bye, Syd."

"Bye," I whisper, not even trying to keep the emotion out of my voice this time. My eyes burn and I realize I'm on the verge of crying, but when I look up I see the same look reflected in his green eyes. I step away before I do something I'll regret, and wave a goodbye, hurriedly brushing away the tears that threaten to fall.

~ * ~
I rest my forehead against the cool window plane of Sloane's private jet and stare out into the inky blackness. Tonight is a weird night, an off-mission. Things were messed up, the CIA running behind, and I had to stall Sloane for hours until they came up with a countermission; for the first time in forever, I left LA wearing my mission clothes. I finger the necklace around my throat, my fingers laying over the same stones Vaughn touched just an hour before. If I try hard enough I can still feel the heat of him clinging to the cool diamonds. I'm no longer crying, but I can't forget the look in Vaughn's eyes when I left him in the warehouse little more then an hour ago. It's time like these when more then anything else in the world, I hate when I do for a living, moments when I want to forget that it's my job to save the world, because all I want to do is disappear into obscurity with Vaughn. I want to end the games we play, the lies and half-truths; I want to be free to live the way I want, with who I want. Of course that will never happen, not as long as Vaughn is my handler, I'm a double agent, and SD-6 still exists.

I push aside thoughts of what I can't change, and bring Vaughn's face to mind instead, his spiky hair and warm green eyes and hard, lean body, and in my mind he's so real I can almost feel him beside me. I imagine running my fingers through his soft hair, mussing the carefully arranged strands; watching his eyes darken with desire as I slide my tongue between his lips and let it play with his. I smile secretively, and close my eyes, letting my imagination fuel my dreams, play out in my mind what I can't have in reality.

*******
"So, what's my countermission?" I ask, a hint of teasing in my voice. Vaughn, having just come to this emergency meeting from a pickup basketball game, is wearing a pair of miniature gym shorts and t-shirt, his sweaty hair plastered to his forehead. Normally, the sight of a sweaty Vaughn would make my heart beat a bit faster, but today it just makes me laugh.

He smiles and laughs a little himself. "I know I look ridiculous, but we have to concentrate, Syd. This mission is important."

"Of course. I'll concentrate," I start, but burst out laughing in mid-sentence. He frowns at me, but can't keep the smile off his face. "One question, just one, and then we'll get back to business."

"What?" he asks, his voice laced with exasperation.

"Is there a reason you're wearing a Hooter's t-shirt?" I start laughing again and he sighs.

"Syd. . ."

"Just answer the question."

"It was a dare, okay? Now can you pay attention?"

"And the pink booty shorts? Another dare?"

"I screwed up my wash, okay? Syd, please. We don't have a lot of time and there's a lot you need to learn."

"Okay, okay," I sigh and try to focus on the mission. It's hard, considering Vaughn looks like such an ass, but I as long as I don't have to look at him, I can focus. We go over my mission, breaking into a safe to determine the location a stealth radar detector, and he gives me a fake location to deliver to Sloane. We say our goodbyes, he tells me to be careful, and I leave for Vienna.

As usual, the plane ride is uneventful, and the party I crash if filled with beautiful people sipping expensive champagne and snorting coke and having kinky sex or whatever it is they do to entertain themselves. I'm wearing mission clothes, a slinky white cocktail dress and a flaming red wig and a pair of heels so high it's a wonder I can walk at all. I slip into the party and nod at the appreciative stares heading my way. "Suckers," I think to myself. "If only the knew why I'm really here. I doubt they'd think I'm so hot anymore."

It takes nearly and hour and two glasses of champagne before I can subtly slip upstairs and into my mark's office. The place is a disaster and it takes me a few minutes to locate the safe, slyly hidden behind priceless Picasso. This mission was hastily planned and Marshall used all his resources to simply get me into the party so I have to go old school on this one. I press my ear to the safe, listening carefully to the click of the lock as I pry the combination into place. I hear the first to numbers click into place, but the third sounds a little off, sounds a little too much like a gun cocking.

I slowly raise my head, plotting ways to escape whatever guards have caught me. But there are no guards, only a pair of twinkling blue eyes and an automatic pistol pointed at my head.

"Agent Bristow," Sark says. "How nice to see you again."

"Sark," I hiss under my breath. What is it with him and spoiling my plans? It's like every mission I attempt he gets there first and annoys the hell out of me. "What are you doing here?"

Still keeping the gun trained on me, he ambles over to the safe and runs a finger down its cool surface. "Same as you. Our friend Brewer has some information I want."

"Why?"

The gun inches closer, presses intimately against my side. He slides up next to me, angling his body between the wall on one side and my hip on the other. He's wearing his usual well-tailored suit, and his clothes must do an excellent job of camouflaging his size, because pressed up against me, I can feel every muscled length of him. He's a lot bigger then I thought. He could really give Vaughn a run for his money.

"I'm afraid that's need-to-know, Agent Bristow."

"What are you planning, Sark?" I demand. My voice is tight with anger, but I'm past caring. I'm tired of Sark always interrupting my plans and ruining my night. Besides, I'm annoyed that he has me cornered yet again, that every inch of him is pressed up against me as he fiddles with the safe with one hand and holds a gun against me with the other. I contemplate fighting back, but know it's useless and will only attract unwanted attention, like Brewer's heavily equipped guards.

"Now that would be telling." I hear a loud click and the safe opens. I make a grab for the file inside, but he's too quick. He laughs at my futile attempt, easily slipping the information inside his jacket. His bare hand brushes against my arm and electricity shoots up my arm. And not just a tingle, but a full-fledged spark, white hot and scorching across my skin. Startled, I jump a little, accidentally pressing myself harder against his body. I can feel the contours of his chest against my breasts, hard, flat abs against my stomach. Desire curls in my belly, hot and sizzling, and completely unwanted.

Needless of the gun I pull away quickly, my breathing sharp and uneven, and to my shock, he's just as unsettled as me. For once there's a hint surprise in his nonchalant blue eyes, and his chest rises and falls with the same irregularity as mine. It takes both of us a moment to regain our composure.

"Well, Agent Bristow," he murmurs, his voice gliding like silk over me. "It's been nice working with you, but afraid I really must be going." He pats his suit pocket, his trademark smirk once again plastered across his face.

"You're not going to get away with this, Sark," I say, although its obvious he will because he's the one with the gun, the information, and the way out.

He looks like he's about to say something, but voices pierce the quiet of the office and footsteps thud harshly in the hallway. Sark wraps his free arm around my waist and hauls me up against a wall, pulling a thick drapery over us. It's like something out of a silly spy movie, but it works and I stand with my back pressed against Sark's chest and one well-muscled forearm draped securely over my stomach. I can feel the heat of him through the thin layers of silk and wool, and again, that peculiar burn of desire curls in my belly. I chalk it up to adrenaline, because there's no other explanation for this weird sexual tension between us. I hate Sark and he hates me. It has to be the thrill of the moment, the excitement at hovering between life and death; there's simply no other explanation.

I don't have time to mull over it though, because I hear guards arguing in the background, their voices getting louder as they approach Brewer's office. We must have tripped a wire or something because they sound angry. Sark nudges me, and with a barely perceptible nod, he leans his head towards the window. It's open, a cool, misty breeze ruffling the edges of the drapery. Not my ideal escape plan, considering we're three stories up and it's a long drop to the ground, but there aren't any other options. Reluctantly, I nod in return. Slowly, as to make as little noise as possible, we inch towards the window. Predictably, he goes first and I expect him to be long gone when I jump, with my file.

Yet, for the hundredth time, he surprises me. There's a slight ledge outside the office and he's hovering gracefully, attaching a line as I climb out the window. It's not an easy task, considering I'm wearing a skintight dress and heels, but I somehow manage. Grabbing the rope with one hand he holds out the other to me, and I hesitate, wondering what to do. Common sense says take his help and the hell out of dodge, but experience warns me otherwise. Can I really trust Sark?

"I don't bite," he drawls, his eyes glinting with amusement. "And let's face it, Sydney. You don't have a lot of other options right now."

I glare at him, but reluctantly slip my hand into his. It's larger then I expected, and surprisingly gentle. Long fingers, a firm grip--it's like holding Vaughn's hand, only he's a cold-blooded killer not my guardian angel. Thinking of Vaughn and his ridiculous outfit today puts a smile on my face, and I remind myself when I get through this thing with Sark, I have so much waiting for me back home.

We slide down the side of the house and I push away the instant we're on solid ground, still hating Sark for ruining the mission. "What, no thank you?" he asks as he unhooks the rope. He looks at me expectantly, but all he gets is a frosty glare. A dog barks in the distance, and more German voices ring out around us. He grabs me, yet again, and pushes me against the wall of the house, covering my body with his own. I struggle against him, uncomfortable with the closeness between us. Only I could be at a gorgeous house in the Austrian countryside, wearing a beautiful dress, with my worst enemy feeling me up. On cue, as if someone above knew the exact way to ruin my night, the sky opens up and huge raindrops fall from above. I yelp in surprise and the guards' shouts get louder as they change directions and head for us.

The water pelts us mercilessly and within minutes my dress is thoroughly soaked. My white dress. I can imagine how I look, with every inch of my body revealed by the now see-through dress. Sark curses under his breath, something about ruining a good suit, and looks at me through a torrent of water. Surprisingly, he doesn't look like a drowned rat, and I can't help admire the way his wet suit clings to his body, or the way beads of water cling to his jaw.

It's dark out, but his eyes still seem to darken as they take in my wet dress and all it reveals. The guards voices get louder and I can hear the clip-clop of their boots on the wet grass. "Sydney, play along," Sark whispers in my ear.

"What?" I start, but he takes advantage of the opportunity to stick his tongue down my throat.

Okay, that's a lie, but he does kiss me. I mean really kiss me. It starts out innocent, just a gentle touch of his mouth against mine to fool the guards, but it turns into something else. Before I know it I'm pressed against his chest like a second skin and his hands tangle in my hair, the wig falling to the ground at our feet. And his lips…warm and soft, hard and fast all at the same time. They slant over mine again and again, his tongue slipping inside my mouth to tangle with mine. And the worst part is, I'm just as ravenous. My own hands roam, over his back, under his shirt, massaging warm skin and taunt muscle. I feel strong hands grip my bottom, pull until my hips until they press against his and my legs wrap around his waist. My moans mingle with his groans until I'm not sure who is more aroused.

I can hear the guards laughing in the background, making jokes in German about Brewer's oversexed guests, but their words barely penetrate my hazy mind. I'm so wrapped up kissing Sark to notice anything else going on. Gradually, the voices dissipate and Sark slowly lowers me to the ground. I take one look at him and my cheeks flame. His shirt is unbuttoned, nearly to his waist, and his jacket has a rip from where I'd been tearing at it, trying to get to his skin. And I'm not all that much better. My wig is gone, my dress twisted at an odd angle, and my lips bruised, my tongue tingling.

To think Sark, Sark of all people had caused such a reaction in me. I don't know what's wrong with me. Sark is my enemy and I kissed him. Yes, it began as ploy to fool the guards, but there was no need for it to get so heated, for me to enjoy it so much. I should feel dirty, having just kissed a heartless assassin like Sark, but all I want is more. Real or not, no kiss has ever affected me the way this one did. "Adrenaline," I remind myself. "Remember, it's just adrenaline. You didn't enjoy it; you were just happy to be alive." Yet, no matter how many times I tell myself that, I can't quite make myself believe it.

I turn to straighten my dress and retrieve my trampled wig. Not that it makes much of a difference; it's so wet and tangled it's beyond repair. My dress, while now at least covering my body, is still transparent and my shoes are so stained with mud and dirt that I leave them behind. It's kind of fun, feeling my bare feet sink into the earth, like when I was a little kid and would run barefoot in the grass. It's still raining, although it's trickled off to a cold drizzle. I shiver and rub my arms to gather warmth, water dripping from my wet hair and into my eyes. When I turn around Sark's gone, a pair of footprints in the grass the only indication that he was ever there--and a suit jacket, one thousand dollar Armani wool, hanging from a tree branch three feet away.

I tiptoe over, my feet oozing in the mud, and grab he jacket. I don't even have to read the designer label to know it's Sark's. I can smell him in the suit's fine folds, a blend of cologne and cigar smoke and something I can't define but know without a doubt is uniquely him. I slip the jacket on without a beat, and even though it's wet, it keeps me covered. Dixon finds me soaked, muddy, and wearing someone else's clothes, but he's more concerned about the missing file then my appearance. I make up a story, something about Brewer's guards and an ambush and let him take care of Sloane, while I sulk in the corner. To say I'm pissed is an understatement. I'm furious. Just one time I want to best Sark, have him at my mercy instead of vice versa. Unfortunately though, that time is not tonight; I'll have to wait for my revenge.

I listen to Dixon's voice soothe Sloane and sink deeper into the seat, not caring about my wet clothes ruining the leather. I wrap the jacket tightly around me, as if it's soft confines can restrain the anger I have towards its owner. I don't want to think about Sark but I can't help myself. As if kissing me wasn't bad enough, why did he leave me his jacket? Am I supposed to believe he's some sort of gentlemen because he left me his jacket even though he kills people for a living? Does he think he's redeemed because he did one noble thing out of hundreds of evil ones? In the end, I don't know what to think. No matter how many times I analyze it, Sark is always an enigma; I'm not sure I'll ever figure him out.

All the thinking is making me sleepy and I rest my head against the window, banishing memories of that kiss from my life, my mind, my conscious…

*******
My eyes shoot open and I sit up so quickly I bang my head against the jet window. I curse under my breath and run my temple, hoping the bump doesn't bruise; the last thing I'm in the mood for is to spend an hour in front of the mirror applying cover-up. I look out the window and blink a few times to orient myself. Instead of an estate in the Viennese countryside I'm on Sloane's private plane, bound for another swanky Paris party. I haven't seen Sark in weeks, even though we're now "working together," but I see him every night in my dreams, when images of Sark and that kiss flood my mind--and I hate it. I want dreams like normal people, fantasies about the man I love and me living in some blissful paradise far away from the CIA and SD-6 and the Alliance. But hard as I try, every time I close my eyes, all I want to do is dream about the one man I want more then anything, but all I can dream about the one man I hate.

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