Set during the CIA stint at the beginning of Rogue Nation. Mild spoilers for that.
Light and Shadow
Skye is sitting in front of the Kryptos sculpture and smokes. Over the past weeks she has worked out when the place is usually deserted, although it seems interest has generally waned among the Central Intelligence Agency's employees since it has been put up at Langley more than twenty years ago. Skye has brought her notebook out of habit, but today she is content with staring at the manifestation of cryptography. Revelling in her private misery. The sun has come out and throws shadows. The cut-outs let negatives of letters fall around her shoes.
Maybe that's the trick. That the shadow has something to do with it. The agent thinks about it for a minute, then dismisses the theory as too Indiana Jones. She has always enjoyed codes, ever since she learned about the basics in field training, but it's never been her speciality.
She takes another drag, inhaling deeply. Skye gave up smoking years ago, but working a desk job at the CIA causes her to relapse from time to time.
"Is this where you disappear to every day?"
For a split second Skye feels like a teenager again, getting caught smoking. She must have conjured him up by thinking about Indy. "I like it here," she tells Benji.
He sits down next to her and picks up her notebook, taking in her meticulous notes. "Any progress?"
"Of course, I solved it." Despite herself, Skye has to smile when she sees Benji's face. He believed her for a second.
Benji chuckles. "I would not put it past you." He flips the pages to the beginning of the notebook. The three solved passages have been neatly noted down, then Skye reverse-engineered their solutions to get a feel for the previous encryptions. The fourth and last one to be solved takes up the majority of her notes.
"Codes have never been my strong suit," Skye says. "I tend to overthink things. But I figured, since we're here. Maybe you can only solve it with the sculpture in front of you."
"After twenty-three years of going unsolved some overthinking might be warranted," Benji considers.
Skye inhales deeply and expels smoke from her lungs. "Maybe." She can feel him scrutinising her. Her conscience comes knocking. "I'll brush my teeth at home."
He's not judging her. "Bad day?"
Skye shrugs. "The usual." She takes a last drag and crushes the butt under her shoe. "I miss the cafeteria."
They lock eyes, both knowing it's so much more than that, so much they can't discuss, especially not at Langley, but really not anywhere. Skye moves closer. Benji takes her hand.
"It's not forever," he says quietly.
They let their thoughts trail off, to Ethan, chasing after another phantom.
It made everything so much easier, Skye thinks, knowing what this is for, who this is for. Still she misses the field. Wonders where the others have gone, whether they're okay. Luther. Zhen. Jane. They haven't heard from anyone.
Benji's phone starts ringing. He rolls his eyes as he answers. It's a very brief conversation.
"Polygraph?" Skye asks.
Skye retrieves her notebook, makes sure her cigarettes are safely tucked away in her jacket pocket. She links her arm with his as they get up and walk back. "I think you should try a musician today. You know, for the control questions."
"I like it. How about Puccini?"
"I was thinking Brian Johnson or something."
"Of course you were." Benji smiles.
Author's Note: I'm not saying I've solved Kryptos during lockdown, but I am saying the Wikipedia page alone makes for a very interesting read.
I swear I'm working on proper stories, this past year just really took it out of me and writing has been so. Fricking. Slow.
If you're still here waiting for updates, first of all, thank you and I hope you're doing okay. I really hope more will follow soon, you'll just have to be very, very patient.
Take care x