Scars

Author: Pharo

Disclaimer: 'Alias' belongs to ABC, Bad Robot, and JJ Abrams.

Summary: He will wait patiently, not knowing what he is waiting for.

Spoilers: "The Telling."

Feedback: pharo@newyork.com

'porcelain, are you wasting away in your skin, are you missing the love of your kin, drifting and floating and fading away…' – Red Hot Chili Peppers, 'Porcelain'

He will wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of his phone ringing – a steady buzzing sound that he will try to ignore. He will attempt to go back to the wonderful dreams of Pulitzers and a corner office with a few of downtown LA. Dreams of things that were at such a close proximity at one time that he can still feel them a little beyond the reach of his fingertips.

The answering machine will beep as it records the message.

"Will, it's Vaughn. I got a call—"

He will abandon all attempts to go back to sleep for the mad scramble to pick up the phone. He will stumble over a pair of tennis shoes on his way and the throbbing in his knee after hitting the table will be excruciatingly painful. Nevertheless, he will hobble over to the phone in time.

"Vaughn."

Lights on, the messy room will fill with light. T-shirts, pens, yellow pads, and pen caps litter the floor. He will make a promise to clean things up tomorrow morning.

"Will, I—"

"Sorry. I was sleeping," he will mumble, rubbing his palm against his knee.

"I didn't realize it was so – I didn't mean to wake you."

He will take a deep breath and brace himself for the bad news. He hasn't received a call from this man in years. It has to be bad news.

"What's up?"

He will grab the edge of table to balance himself.

"Kendall called me."

He will nod without realizing that the man on the other line can't see him.

"It's Sydney. She's back."

The side of his palm will dig into the table, but the pain won't register. He will hear the words over and over again, her image flashing in front of his eyes like Morse code. He will manage to thank Vaughn for letting him know before sinking down to the floor.

He will not be able to go back to sleep tonight.

————

He will pace his little apartment back and forth the whole day, stopping only to cast a glance at the phone and grab a bottle of water. He will pull out a faded picture of his two best friends from his wallet and feel the tears well up in his eyes. A muffled sob will escape from his throat before he shakes his head and reminds himself that this is a good thing. He will carefully tuck the precious picture back in its rightful place – it's the only one he has of all three of them together.

He will gather up enough nerve to make the call. Punch in the number they made him memorize, wait for a connection, and he will have to remind himself to breathe.

"I want to pick her up."

"Agent Vaughn is escorting her to CIA headquarters, Mr. Tippin."

He will think that some guys always have the luck. For a split second, he will feel the pang clearly and know that he is still in love with her. He will spend a minute in silence, trying to talk himself out of changing his mind.

"I'm coming to headquarters," he will finally say.

"Mr. Tippin, I strongly advise you to—"

He will hang up before the man can finish his sentence. Jacket, clearance card, keys. He will take one more look around him as if trying to memorize what his world looked like before she came back.

He will be out the door before he can fully realize what he's about to do.

————

He will walk into the office building, through the double doors, as if he owns the place. He will hold his head up high and pretend that he belongs among the suits and paper coffee cups. He will spot the director talking to Weiss and greet him with a nod.

"I thought I expressly told you not to—"

"I'm afraid I didn't catch the end of your sentence, sir."

Kendall will glare at him.

"No, I suppose you didn't."

His façade will break when he remembers that she could be in the very building right now. The nervousness will creep into his voice and his palms will start to sweat.

"Is she here yet?" he will ask, his voice coming out as a mere whisper.

"Have a seat Tippin, will you?"

He will decline. He's afraid that it'll be too much to stand up in her presence once he sits down.

Kendall will sigh in exasperation and mutter as he walks away.

He will look helplessly in the senior agent's direction before looking around, understanding fully that he shouldn't be here. He's not ready for this.

"She's not here yet, man," Weiss will say from the desk. "Her plane won't land for another hour."

He will smile gratefully at Weiss and take the seat offered to him. He will wait patiently for her like he has all these years.

————

He will be making his routine glance around the room when he'll see her walking in with Vaughn. He will force himself to stand to get a better look and realize that she looks exactly like he remembers her. He expected some sort of drastic change, but the only thing he can make out that is different in her is that her hair is a little longer and her eyes a little more weary.

She will spot him within moments and her expression will change in a millisecond. She will whisper something to herself before screaming his name across the room. Agents will look up from their work to see her running towards him, something straight out of a movie ending. The sound of her shoes against the linoleum floor will seem to vibrate off the walls.

She will reach him before he gets a chance to blink. She'll hug him fiercely and he won't be able to remember if he's ever been this happy to see someone in his life. She'll place kisses on his face as the tears stream down her face. She will keep repeating, "you're alive, Will. You're alive."

"Of course, I'm alive, Syd," he'll say with a grin. "You saved my life, remember?"

She'll step back from him with tears in her eyes. She will shake her head sadly and he will suddenly believe what Weiss has been telling him for the last fifteen minutes – she really can't remember. Vaughn will motion for them to follow him down a hallway. He will recognize the place very quickly – the little cot and glass window that are still present in his nightmares.

"Oh Syd—"

She will hold up her hand for him to stop speaking.

"Right now, it doesn't matter, Will. All that matters is that you're alive."

She will reach out to touch his abdomen and her tears will come down even stronger when she feels the scar underneath the T-shirt. He will continue to carry it as a memory – a reminder of what they did to his best friend. She will slowly lift up the edge of her own shirt to reveal a long scar on her stomach.

He won't know what to say to her.

————

She will call him every night from the safe house to talk about everything and nothing. He will not care as long as he gets to hear her voice.

"I hate it that I can't remember anything," she will tell him one night.

"You can remember some stuff," he will offer. "You know what your name is and what your favorite color is. That's always a plus."

"I can't remember the last two years, Will. It feels like the world is moving and I can't seem to catch on."

He will try to force the idea that he is her substitute for Vaughn out of his mind. If she had never forgotten – if she had never disappeared – who is to say that she wouldn't be wearing Vaughn's ring. He will shake his head and try to think of something else.

"Maybe it's better that way," he will finally say. "There's some stuff I wish I forgot."

He will not tell her that he killed a man. He will try not to think about the past. He will focus on the red digits on his black alarm clock until they become blurs and his eyes start to sting.

"How'd we get here, Will?" she will ask. "We used to be so normal."

He will stop himself from telling her that she was never normal. Instead, he will offer to tell her a bedtime story to help her feel better.

————

Vaughn will rejoin the CIA. His wife will leave him after months of broken dates and cancelled dinners. She will throw the ring at him, throw her stuff in a duffel bag, and walk out of his life forever.

The divorce papers will arrive three days later. Sydney will take it as a sign that they belong together. They will meet in a warehouse and it'll be as if nothing ever changed.

She will call him on their way to Santa Barbara to tell him the good news. He'll fake a smile to accompany his fake laugh. He knows that if he doesn't smile, he'll cry. He'll watch them drive off with the top down and wave until the car becomes a blue blur, until the blur becomes a speck, until the speck disappears altogether, and he is left with nothing once more.

His dreams will seem a little farther from his reach tonight.