A fluffy AU Sarkney story set in… eh, let's say the Second Season.


by Ossian

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Sydney Bristow looked through the eyehole in the hotel room door and muttered a very unladylike expletive. She blinked rapidly and checked the view again. He was still standing there - looking patient and amused, as if he knew it was only a matter of time before her curiosity got the better of her. She stepped back, folded her arms crossly, and glared at the door. Her imagination unhelpfully supplied a mental picture of the smirking bastard anyway.

"What the hell do you want?" she demanded as she flung open the door. Sark held both hands in the air, a gesture of his benign intentions that she didn't buy for a second. She crossed her arms again and scowled at him… only to realize her error an instant later as he took advantage of her position to sweep past her into the room. "What do you think you're doing?"

"I need someplace to stay," he said, collapsing onto the bed as gracelessly as she'd ever seen him. She could hear the amusement in his voice despite its being muffled by a pillow.

"What? No! Get up. Get out. What the hell are you thinking?" She stared at him as he rolled over and kicked off his shoes.

"I was burned this evening because of you," he said as if he thought he was going to try explaining himself to her. "I'm currently cashless, creditless, and roomless and my flight out isn't until nine a.m. tomorrow."

"Why don't you go hack into the hotel's network -preferably in some other hotel- and steal yourself a room?"

"Because it's late, I'm tired, and you already have a room."

"Why don't you go make nice with some gullible woman at the bar downstairs who'd no doubt be happy to put up with you for the night?"

"Happy to put up with me?" he repeated in mock puzzlement, then his expression cleared. "Ah, yes. Because I'm cute. Wasn't that it?" She flushed and her scowl deepened as she suddenly regretted having ever made that admission even in a sarcastic quip. "Being nice is more work than hacking the reservations computer," he continued with a grin.

"And how high does convincing me to let you stay here rank on the effort scale? Because I think you may have seriously overestimated your chances."

"I assure you, I'll be no trouble whatsoever."

"Damn right you won't - because you're leaving." She had a moment of triumph as he sat up abruptly, but it was quickly crushed as she realized that he was merely taking off his jacket and tie. He tossed both over the back of the nearby chair and lay back down again. "I mean it, Sark! Get out!"

"If you didn't want me here, you shouldn't have let me in."

"I didn't let you in!"

"You opened the door."

It took an enormous amount of effort to not literally growl her frustration. She watched in astonishment as he closed his eyes and looked to all appearances as if he was settling in for the night. It was then that she realized nothing short of drawing a gun was going to get him to leave. And quite possibly that wouldn't work either. As she began to study him she could see the dark rings under his eyes and the gray cast of his skin. He actually did look exhausted.

"You can't stay here," she said, trying to sound reasonable. "Dixon is just across the hall."

"Bloody good thing I got the right door then," he muttered sleepily and she was surprised to hear his ordinarily crisp accent start to slur.

She couldn't help snorting impatiently at him - for all the good it did. He looked half-asleep already. She stared at him a little longer before retreating to the bathroom to strategize how best to oust him without getting herself thrown out of the hotel as well. It wasn't until she shut the door and caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror that she remembered what she was wearing - a tank top and a pair of baggy shorts. Her hair was pulled up in an inelegant ponytail and every vestige of her day's disguising makeup had been scrubbed off as soon as she'd gotten here.

Lovely, she thought wryly. Great contrast to the poster boy for Suave Spies 'R Us that was presently sprawled on the bed that she had absolutely no intention of sharing with him. After she'd brushed her teeth and finished the rest of her ablutions she realized that she still had no new plan. She was annoyed to discover that Sark had taken advantage of her absence to further entrench himself in her room.

The rest of his suit was neatly folded over the chair now and he was nestled beneath the covers. She scowled at him again although he was utterly oblivious. Making a sudden decision, she crossed the room and bent over him until they were nose to nose.

"Two conditions," she said when he opened his eyes. "You can stay on two conditions."


"One, get out of my bed. You can sleep on the floor."

He frowned but didn't argue. "And two?"

"Your name."

He stared at her blankly.

"Your name," she said again. "Your first name. Your given name. Your real honest-to-god actual on-your-birth-certificate name."

"You want to know my name?"

"Damn it, Sark. It's not that difficult a question."

"That's one of your conditions?" He still sounded baffled. "My name?"

"Don't make me shoot you."

"Fine, fine," he said, sitting up. "It's just such an odd request."

"No. It's really not. It's something that normal people do all the time. They tell each other their names. Let's pretend -just for the moment- that you can be normal."

"Fine," he said again with a weary sigh. "Martin. My name is Martin."


"Martin James Sark, to be exact. Happy now?"

She tilted her head and studied him - white t-shirt, dark boxers and all. Were those black or dark blue?

"They're blue."

She flushed once again. "You don't look like a Martin," she said, dragging her gaze back up to his smirking face.

He rolled his eyes. "I'm terribly sorry it doesn't meet your expectations. Take it up with the nuns."


"I've met your two conditions," he said. "We are not playing Twenty Questions."

Her eyes were drawn inexorably to the pale scar on his left thigh as he picked up a pillow and twitched the top cover off the bed. I have officially lost my mind, she thought as she watched him lie down on the floor between the bed and the window. I should be kicking him out the door. Instead, I'm letting him camp out here as if he wasn't a homicidal sociopath who'd probably happily strangle me in my sleep. The part of her brain that hadn't packed up and left already pointed out that he didn't look particularly homicidal wrapped up in a fluffy lilac-colored hotel blanket.

"It's very dusty down here," he complained, wrinkling his nose as he squinted up at her. "I really would have expected better accommodations for the taxpayers' money. You ought to come work for me. The pay scale is considerably more generous."

She snorted as she climbed into her empty but still warm bed. "Impressive offer from a guy sleeping on a borrowed floor. If I was working for you, it looks like we'd have both been out of a room for the night."

"If you'd been working for me, we wouldn't have been competing this evening and I wouldn't have gotten burned when your little plan went awry."

"Amateur. You're not blaming me for your screw-ups."

"Of course not. I'm blaming you for yours." He propped himself up on one elbow to give her a reproachful frown. "Your alarm bypass protocol was faulty. I would have expected better from you. I'm very disappointed, Agent Bristow."

"Shut up, Marty, or you can take your disappointment on a road trip."

"You know I'm going to have to kill you before…" Whatever he'd intended to say was suddenly curtailed by a violent cough. Sydney stared at him in alarm, despite reminding herself that she didn't care if the irksome assassin hacked up a lung. She also reminded herself that she didn't feel the least bit of concern when he closed his eyes, appearing even more drained than before, and didn't finish his snappy comeback. "Dusty down here," he said again as he pulled the blanket tighter around himself.

Sydney frowned at him over the edge of the mattress. The cough had been far too deep to be dust-induced and shouldn't have exhausted him the way it seemed to. Almost without thinking, she reached down and pressed her fingertips against his forehead. He grimaced in annoyance but didn't move away.

"You have a fever," she informed him.

"I'm fine," he replied crossly.

"You really ought to know better than to attempt an op when you aren't at your best. I'm very disappointed, Mr. Sark."

"I'm not sick."

"Of course not," she grinned as she lay back down. Men. You could divide them into two categories: the ones who were convinced that they were dying at the slightest sniffle and the ones who pretended that they were perfectly fine until they keeled over. Somehow she wasn't shocked that Sark apparently fell into the latter group. "You don't snore, do you?"

"I've been assured that I don't."

"Not even when you have a cold?"

"Goodnight, Agent Bristow," he said firmly.

"Goodnight, Marty." She couldn't help snickering at the theatrical sigh from the floor.

"Seven a.m. - receive morning wake-up call," he muttered. "Seven-oh-three - murder Sydney Bristow."

"You're not being very gracious considering that I ought to be handcuffing you to something large and unmovable until morning."

"Delightful as that sounds, I'm really much too tired."

She briefly debated throwing her pillow at him but decided that she probably wouldn't get it back without a fight. Besides, he was coughing again. When the fit was over, Sark's inclination to swap insults and innuendoes with her seemed to have passed as well. Sydney listened to his uneven breathing until it eventually leveled out and deepened. It was an oddly reassuring sound despite its coming from a man who was her sworn enemy. No, that was a bit too dramatic. Adversary? Opponent? It wasn't as if their rivalry was anything personal. And it would be insane to let an enemy sleep on her floor. She had nearly drifted off -her head full of muddled musings on Sark's status- when his ragged hacking jolted her fully awake again.

"Sorry," he murmured, sounding almost as though he meant it.

It happened twice again and she ground her teeth in irritation. The fourth time his coughing roused her she sat up and swung her legs over the side of the bed.

"I've had enough," she told him. "This isn't working."

He looked up at her with an utterly pathetic expression. The dark circles had become even more pronounced and his eyes were fever-bright. She sighed as she rose and pulled a long-sleeved shirt on over her tank top.

"What are you doing?" he rasped as she tied her shoes.

"Do you trust me?"


"If I was going to throw you out or turn you in or shoot you, I would have done it by now. Trust me for ten minutes." He continued to stare at her suspiciously but made no further inquiries. "Ten minutes," she repeated as she left the room.

It took her twenty. When she got back, she wasn't particularly surprised to discover that he'd reclaimed his spot in her bed.

"Sit up." She raised an eyebrow as he pulled a handgun from beneath his pillow and set it on the nightstand. "Customized O'Dwyer? Pretty."

"It has its uses," he said with a shrug. "What's that?"

"I couldn't find any Nyquil here," she replied. "I don't know exactly what it is, but I've been guaranteed that it'll knock you out cold. I think it must be about half alcohol, half codeine."

"Sounds perfect."

She poured him a full dose and a half and he tossed it off like a shot. By the time she had taken her shoes off and undressed again, he appeared to be nearly asleep already. Somehow she couldn't find it in her heart to kick him out of the bed again.

"You'd better stay on your half," she warned as she lay down beside him. An incoherent half-hearted mumble was his only response.

The next time he woke her wasn't entirely unpleasant. It took her a moment to remember whose arm was wrapped possessively around her waist and whose cheek rested against her shoulder. It was the sweet scent of cough syrup on his breath that reminded her at last. She sighed in resignation and raised a hand to his face. His skin was warm but not hot beneath her fingers. She touched his forehead, his cheek, the back of his neck. At least his fever seemed to be gone. She was slightly discomfited as his body seemed to interpret her clinical examination as a caress - his arm tightening around her, his mouth brushing against her jaw.

She knew that she ought to give his ear a good yank and shove him away from her. That was a good plan. Kick his shins until he untangled his legs from hers. Dig her fingers into his dark blond locks and pull his head off her pillow. Definitely smart ideas. She got as far as raking her hand through his sleep-tousled hair before giving up. Too much effort, too early in the morning. Maybe later.

When the tiny travel alarm clock went off, Sydney woke alone. There was no O'Dwyer on the nightstand. No bottle of frightful generic cough medicine beside the lamp. There was no dark Italian suit folded over the chair and no pair of expensive leather loafers on the floor. Part of her was half-convinced that she'd dreamed the whole bizarre incident, but the sheets on his side of the bed were still warm. She rose reluctantly and stumbled into the bathroom. Something there struck her as peculiar, but she couldn't put her finger on it. Everything was still arranged exactly as she'd left it. One of the towels was damp, but that didn't bother her. She frowned at the toiletries on the cabinet, her mind slowly reviving as she tried to determine what seemed so off.

Then she saw it.

"Son of a bitch!"

Her toothbrush was wet. The sick bastard -and she meant that literally- had used her toothbrush. As she began to fondly plot the best way to torture him before throttling him, she felt a shudder begin to rise in her chest. Once the first coughing fit passed, she squeezed the toothpaste onto the brush. Any fear of catching his cold had been allayed. She'd already caught it. She really was going to have to kill him the next time their paths crossed.

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