Disclaimer: All characters involved are the property of Bad Robot, etc.

Archives: Please ask before archiving. The email's in the profile.

This room has robbed him of his self-possession. Before, he reminded me of a boy king; idle but powerful, every move languid and assured. But the way he moves now causes my gut to twist - he's no longer at leisure, and there's an opportunistic sheen to him. He's become more serpentine, his eyes glitter at me sharply, and I need to steel myself to continue.

Because this is the only option I have, or it's the only option I want.

It's hard to describe the feeling that someone is studying you so deeply, so adeptly, that you are completely laid bare before them. I can't complain without sounding like a child, because he's not made a move to threaten me - but his eyes flicker in a stone-still face, and I know that he knows everything.

Stop staring at me.

I watch him gracefully push away from the wall and pace towards the glass divider, a predatory movement, and I steel myself against stepping away. This little glass box has made him more deadly, more calculated, more of everything I know to fear. A distillation chamber of sorts, to craft the perfect sociopath.

Does this room make everyone into my mother?

"I'd offer you a chair, but..." He lets the sentence trail off, a throwaway phrase. He doesn't seem surprised to see me, but his cheeks flush a little and his pulse flutters at his throat. I'm not vain enough to think that I appeal to him in my current state, but I recognize the signs - he sees a game starting, and he can't wait to play it.

"Sark, I need to know where Irina is." He doesn't react to my question, doesn't even seem to take it in.

His mouth hitches slightly at the corner, too little to class as a smirk or grin. He's still studying, gaze raking over me. I resist the urge to pull my sweater closer, painfully conscious of the atrophied state of my muscles, the pallor of my skin. Maybe the fluorescents down in this cave will mask it a little.

"You're not well."

Maybe not.

But I realize I'm too tired to play this guarded game with him. If he wants something out of me, he'll most likely get it sooner or later. And I'm tired, so tired. The kind that seeps through my bones and makes my chest and throat ache - as though my body wants to cry until I'm too exhausted to stay conscious. And so I let my shoulder fall against the glass divider and my body to slide against it, down, down until I'm huddled on the cement floor, the cool window against my temple. It feels good to fall.

He's silent as he watches me crumple, and I don't bother to watch his face - there aren't likely to be any emotions there, either. He stays where he stands, hands idly clasped behind his back, and observes.

"Sark." My voice is weary. "I need to find my mother."

"You've been missing." He's speaking to himself a little, though still looking at me. "No one knew where you were. I know that."

"Sark, everyone knows that." I tip my head sideways, but it puts a crick in my neck. "Stop being cryptic, I'll tell you whatever you want to know, just..." My voice is slightly petulant, but I honestly couldn't care less. "Sit down over here, where I can see you."

He's never had the abrupt movements of other men, and this is no exception. Fluidly, he comes to the divide about ten feet away from me and settles his back against it, so I can see him in profile through the glass. It's like pressing my nose against the windows at the aquarium, and I resist the urge to tap. He doesn't look at me.

"They don't like me this close, Agent Bristow."

"I blitzed the cameras, they'll never know." Oh, that's familiar - the tiny intake of breath, the mask of calculation that settles over his face. But it's all meaningless, and I'm numb. He'll find out soon enough that there's no need for plotting.

I say, "Now, since you're not going to answer anything I ask - what do you want to know?"

He does smile a bit at that, some of his old wry humor peeking through. "To be frank, I'm unaccustomed to asking the questions - I may be slightly rusty. Where were you?"

It's easier answering than asking, I find. It's the method that worked best with Kendall, with Will. Just let them ask and ask and ask. Besides, all of my questions are two years behind. "I don't know. Hong Kong, at least, but other than that, nothing."

He takes this in seamlessly, beginning to warm to the role of questioner. "When did you get back?"

"A week and a half ago."

"What has changed?"

The question is loaded, but so simple to answer. "Everything." Friends, family, body, home, world, mind... "Everything."

I'm suddenly aware that he's looking straight at me, and a glimmer of something unidentifiable in his expression. He simply says, "Then it seems we are in much the same situation."

I stare right back at him. "I know."

This might be the first moment that he actually realizes what I intend to do. His every tendon has tightened, he's tense and ready and expectant. I wonder what's worse: to wake up from a two-year sleep and find the world has gone on without you, or to be aware the entire time that the world's whipping past and being unable to catch hold of it in any way?

We both rise wordlessly, mirroring each other through the divide. He draws level with me by the time we reach the cell door, and he watches closely as I remove a keycard from my pocket. The wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly; they thought to change the password, but never suspected that I'd accessed every blueprint, every technical spec, while my mother was the cell's inhabitant. So I'm finally able to slide my makeshift key into the slot - a key I once daydreamed would release my mother, and today...

He has me up against the wall within seconds, his forearm thrust sharply against my windpipe, another positioned against my sternum. He could break my ribs and drive them through my heart, I'd never have the time or strength to fight him. I know this. So does he.

"You killed Allison Doren." He's not angry, though. He's detached and dry, and I think my absolute lack of fear disturbs him. My body is pliant under his grasp, accepting the bruising force with complete disregard. I'm not being brave - I just couldn't care less about losing a life that's not even mine.

"She was trying to kill me." I push my neck against his arm briefly, and he lets me take a breath. "You killed Francie Calfo. She was a chef."

"Yes." And at that, the moment abruptly ends. He drops his arms and steps back, leaving me to cough. He waits for me to recover from his attack, patient but unapologetic. I certainly can't trust him, but he's the only thing that makes sense right now, and I'll take what I can get.

I takes a matter of moments for him to skin out of his CIA issue and into the few items I was able to scrounge from the debris of my former life: Will's sweater, Vaughn's jeans, all mistakenly packed away in the haste following my death. I've washed everything five times, utterly destroying the last hint of their owners' scents. When I turn back from the camera I'm carefully looping, Sark is busying himself by arranging his old clothes into a body-shaped form on his bunk.

The clothes are good on him, hanging in completely different patterns than they did on Will and Vaughn. Unfamiliar. Good. He turns to me, and the same wordless communication flows between us. I hand him a baseball cap, he shoulders the bag I brought in with me as I clip a Visitor's Pass to his pocket.

A few whispered instructions are all that is needed before we hit the main offices, and he unerringly makes his way towards the access tunnel I used three years ago, now out of operation. The hallways are practically empty this early in the morning, and I see very few people. Some I know, some I don't - all smile hesitantly at me. I nod - no point in disguising my presence. Once Sark's drugged guards wake up, it will be perfectly clear as to who provided them with sedative-laced coffee.

I take the more conventional route and leave through the front door, nodding to the night staff on the desk. Walter, who I have known since I joined, winks at me cheerfully and I wave, my hand cutting him off in my field of vision.

I cannot think that I'm leaving anyone behind.

Our rendez-vous point is twenty minutes away. Once I would have jogged the distance, which would have given my mind the time to sort out the confusing crush of emotions that have suddenly risen up within me. But as I slide into the rental car, I can't help but to feel a little panicked.

This is not like me, I think as I drive. It is reckless, dangerous, puts others at risk, will cause others pain. I am kind, I am emotional, I am protective and good.

But, I remind myself, I am dead.

The uncertainty falls away, like water slicking off a stone. I feel light, unbound and undestined. There is every chance that I've loosed a killer back upon the world, every chance that he has taken his freedom and run with it.

But I'm banking on the fact that he, too, feels hollow and lost. I don't know why I've reached out to him like this, but I feel shipwrecked. I'd've liked to have been shipwrecked, rather than this.

I drive up to the phone booth, and I'm pleased when he swiftly opens the car door, settles himself next to me. The rain has drenched the shoulders of his sweater, and as we drive, the damp smell of him fills the car.

The world whips silently by, but it's not our world anymore, and we don't know it.