Title: Gypsy

Author: Karen T

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: Two full seasons later and they're still not mine. Poop.

Classification: Angst, a whole bowl full.

Spoilers: Everything up through 3.02, especially "Truth Be Truth," "The Telling," "The Two," and "Succession."

Archive: CM, of course. All others, please ask first.

Feedback: Always appreciated. Please send to poohmusings@yahoo.com.

Notes: Thanks go to Celli for her beta (which was done on Beta Appreciation Day, no less!). *smooch*

She doesn't come to visit you on the first day of her 'resurrection', but you understand. She has other things on her mind. Or, rather, she's preoccupied by what she doesn't have on her mind.

She doesn't come to visit you on the second, third, or fourth days, either. And you eventually hear through the grapevine, which is also known as the revolving door of CIA agents who have been assigned to protect you, that she's gone rogue. You understand, again, and chalk it up to what must be a side effect of being resurrected. After all, you've wanted to flee more than your fair share in the past twenty months.

When she finally does come to visit you, you've already heard how she single-handily obtained a stolen chip, bartered her father out of Federal prison, and put a Senior NSC Director in his place. You can't help but marvel at her stamina. You tire just thinking of her exploits.

And as she stands before you, rays from the setting sun illuminating the highlights in her hair, you're amazed at how ... normal she looks. Death has treated her far better than it treated you.

You are envious. Very, very envious.

"Will!" She is across the room and clutching your inert body before you even have a chance to greet her. The smell of her hair -- it's different from what you remember -- fills your nostrils. "Oh, God, it's so good to see you."

You smile weakly and are relieved that she doesn't actually see it when you realize that your smile is lopsided and not exactly a replica of the toothy grin she's wearing. "Hey, Syd." You gingerly disentangle her arms from around you and spend a good long second studying her face -- everything appears to be the same. Death definitely treated her better than it did you.

She's still beaming, so you make the extra effort to stretch your lips a bit wider. You can't quite ignore how awkward this all feels to you.

But you try to shake it off as you gesture towards your couch with your head and make your way to the refrigerator to grab a couple of beers. "You look great, Syd. You really do." You're not lying or embellishing the truth.

"So do you," she says without missing a beat, and you can tell she is lying and embellishing the truth.

"I ..." A playful response is running through your mind -- something you know will make her laugh -- but you find you're having difficulty making your tongue form the words. "It ..." The words still refuse to come, so you settle on a shrug and another lopsided half-grin as you hand her a cool bottle and settle down on the other side of the couch from her.

She appears to have deciphered the meaning behind your unfinished sentences, though, for her eyes moisten and her smile fades away. "God, Will, everything is just so ... messed up, isn't it? I mean, one of the last things I remember is listening to the message you left on my cell telling me that Francie wasn't Francie. What happened?"

"Well ..." You raise your left arm and take a large swig from your beer bottle before proceeding. "We ... died. Some of us more than others." You're proud of how you were able to say the d-word without wincing or stuttering. That just took you fourteen months, three weeks, and six days of practice to accomplish. You're currently aiming for the same level of success with the F-word.

Sydney's eyes have grown large, and something you've said has sparked her suspicions. "Will, what's wrong with your right arm? Why aren't you using it?"

You glance down at the arm that has become the proverbial fifth wheel on your body. After your umpteenth surgery, your surgeon had hovered over you and told you with pride that he'd managed to save your arm. Sometimes you wish he'd tried a little bit less or had been a little bit less skilled. "Nerve damage," you say as you attempt to make it sound like you're informing her of nothing more than a pesky hangnail. "Allison Doren got in some pretty good shots before you showed up."

"Allison ... Was that her name? The woman who was pretending to be Fran--"

"Yeah," you cut in, tossing your head back to gulp down another mouthful of beer. Your therapist believes you're making wonderful strides in moving forward with your life. You credit your seventh grade drama teacher for teaching you everything you know about hiding the truth from others.

Syd, however, knows you too well -- despite the passage of two years -- and spends a good minute raking over your face with her eyes. You pretend you don't notice the scrutiny.

"How were you saved, Will?" she finally asks, breaking the awkward silence. "That's something I still don't understand. If my apartment burned to the ground, how did you survive?"

"Porcelain." Your lips curve around the top of the bottle as you recall a fond memory. "Didn't you and-- Didn't you two always say porcelain would be my savior?"

You aren't sure if Sydney will remember that particular joke -- it'd been made years ago in regards to your 'fondness' for toilets since you used to be such a lightweight when it came to alcohol -- but when you see her lips climb upwards, you're pleased that she does.

"The tub Allison dumped me in saved my life," you continue, struggling to keep your voice calm. You've worked on this; you know you can do this. "I lost a lot of blood and inhaled a lot of smoke, but the porcelain tub stopped me from burning to death." When you see horror fill Sydney's face, you quickly quip, "Apparently I'm rather difficult to kill. But I guess you know a thing or two about how that goes."

Your attempt at morbid humor appears to work as Sydney cracks a small smile before resuming her grave countenance.

"This was never supposed to happen," she moans, staring at her hands in order to avoid your gaze.

"What?" you ask in mock surprise. "You mean you never set out to help get all your friends killed?" You'd been shooting for morbid humor again, but realize you missed it completely the minute the last word leaves your mouth. "Oh. God," you say as you watch Sydney's face blanch. "I didn't-- That-- That came out totally ... wrong. I'm sorry."

You hear her choke back a soft sob -- you hear rather than see because you're currently examining the ceiling with such intensity that one might be led to believe it held the answers to all of life's questions -- and wish the floor would open up and swallow you whole. Or that Allison Doren had left you to die on the bathroom floor rather than the bathtub.

"I promise you, Will, I'm going to find out who killed Francie, and I'm going to make them pay."

The quiet intensity of her voice -- all unrepentant anger -- catches you off guard, and you level your gaze so your eyes can rest of her face. Whatever melancholy she'd been feeling has seemingly dissipated for her eyes have narrowed and her jaw is clenched. You immediately recognize the Sydney who is now seated on your couch; it is Sydney Bristow post-Daniel Hecht's murder, Sydney circa 2002.

You close your eyes and heave a silent sigh.

"Why?" you ask a moment later, when you've resigned yourself to just how untouched Sydney has been by death. "Because that worked so well with Danny?"

You'd meant to startle -- upset -- and are glad when her eyes flash with confusion and a tinge of rage. "Will, what are you--"

"Isn't that how we got here in the first place? You wanted to avenge Danny's murder." Honesty compels you to add, "I guess I did, too."

"The two situations have absolutely nothing to do wi--"

"It's over, Sydney! Why can't you just admit that?" You're yelling now, the loudness of your voice abusing your own eardrums and making you cringe, but you can't seem to stop, can't seem to quell the surge of fury and despair that is squeezing your chest tight. Truthfully, you're enjoying the hum of fury that is coursing through your body. "No matter what you do, nothing's going to change. Nothing! Francie will still be dead. I still won't be able to raise my right arm above my shoulder. You'll still have lost the last two years of your life. You need to stop and let it go."

She doesn't respond to your outburst, which is very unlike Sydney circa 2002, but somehow this doesn't please you as much as you would've thought it would. She just stares at you, stone-faced, and that's when you realize you've been speaking to yourself as much as to her.

You need to stop; you need to let it go.

The hum is gone now, but something else appears to have disappeared with it.

Warmth from the setting sun flits across the exposed skin of your right arm.

"Wanna know why I have the guys in dark suits and white shirts hanging around?" You've lightened your tone in an attempt to return to being Will circa 2002. You believe this is only fitting.

Sydney blinks in response. You take that as a 'yes'.

"On my fourth or fifth day in the hospital, someone snuck into my room and tried to kill me," you begin as you settle back into the couch cushions, your voice jovial and sounding as if you're merely telling a bedtime story. "He or she wasn't successful, obviously -- a doctor or nurse or somebody walked in and scared the person off -- but the CIA has had me under 24-hour guard since then. Right before Kendall moved to D.C. -- did you know he's head of the FBI's Counterterrorism Watch now? -- he tried to convince me to go into the Witness Protection Program. Said it was for the best. Said it was the only way I could ever really move on with my life. But I told him 'no'. I don't know why. Maybe I was waiting for a sign. Maybe I was waiting for you. I don't know."

You pause and examine your once-was-lost-but-now-is-found best friend. One side of her hair has come untucked from behind an ear and is obscuring half her face from view. That image is so Sydney -- of any year -- and you're now aware that you can walk away from it.

You can walk away from it all.

"I think I'm gonna go."

Her face melts as she seems to comprehend what you're saying without you having to say it outright.

"Will, I ..." She stops, purses her lips, and then opens her mouth to argue once more before eventually deciding to swallow the end of her thought.

You nod. You comprehend what she's saying without her having to say it outright.

She rushes over to your side of the couch and clutches your inert body once more. This time you ignore the pain that shoots up your side from the intensity of her hug.

"I'm going to miss you," she whispers into your shoulder.

"I'm going to miss you, too," you murmur into her hair. It still smells different, but you don't notice that as much now.

As she pulls away, swiping a quick hand across her left eye, you smile and say, "I'm not going to tell you to take care of yourself."

"Because you know I will?" She flashes a wobbly smile to mask the ache you know she's feeling inside. Again, that's very Sydney circa 2002.

Perhaps Sydney circa 2002 isn't such a bad Sydney to be after all.

"No," you dismiss with a mischievous grin. "Because I know how hard it is to kill you."

She appears taken aback at first, but then she laughs. Hard and loud. And you join her.

This is what you'll remember years from now, you tell yourself, when the name 'William Tippin' is mentioned for whatever reason. Not the deaths or the almost-deaths, but the laughter, the friendships, the love.

-the end-

"And please do not ever look for me
But with me you will stay
And you will hear yourself in song
Blowing by one day"
- Suzanne Vega, "Gypsy"