Rating:PG-13 (for angst n' stuff)
Disclaimer:Not mine, any of them.
Classification:Angst, Lauren POV.
Archive:CM, of course. Anyone else, please ask first.
Feedback:Always appreciated. Please send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes:For the Spy Wednesday (i.e., spies and betrayal) challenge. Oodles of thanks to Amy for her invaluable beta help.
Sometimes, when you're tired or annoyed or yearning for a different life, you close your eyes and believe her story is your own. It's not that difficult to do, really, seeing as how the two stories are so similar: two girls raised by complicated mothers and unsuspecting fathers; two girls who learned how to shoot a gun before they learned how to kiss a boy; two girls who eventually kissed lots of boys and then fell in love with the same one.
But despite the parallel paths of your lives, you know her story is not yours and will never be yours. After all, your mother reminds you of this all the time. You are the lucky one.
While other little girls were lulled to sleep with bedtime tales of princesses, fairy godmothers, and princes astride sleek, white horses, you were fed the details of Sydney Bristow's life. At first you found comfort in the similarities you shared with this girl on the other side of the Atlantic. When you felt lost and alone among the myriad of secrets your mother spun, all you had to do was think of Sydney. You knew, thanks to your mother, that she lived a life much like yours. This knowledge made you feel more secure, less lost, less alone.
And you often hoped, then, that you'd be able to meet this Sydney Bristow at some point in your future. You imagined she'd have some cool Barbies she wouldn't mind sharing as you two swapped stories with familiar themes and characters. You imagined she'd understand why you knew so much about her since she, too, was raised amongst lies. You imagined she'd want to be your friend.
But then things changed. Your mother found a note you'd been writing to Sydney, a note full of pointless frivolity, but she fumed when she found it. She clutched it in her hand and loomed over you as you cowered in a corner of your bedroom. "She is not your friend, Lauren! You do not need her friendship!" You nodded as her admonishments continued, and nodded some more as she returned to her mother tongue, speaking words you did not understand. And then, without missing a beat, your mother softened her tone and stroked your hair. "You are lucky, honey. Never forget how lucky you are. Sydney Bristow is not lucky. You do not need her."
You sat hunched in that corner for two hours, fearful of your mother's return. Your father was, of course, away that day. He was always away. You dared not say it, but you didn't feel the least bit lucky.
And then things changed again.
You awoke early one morning to learn Sydney's mother was dead. Or so Sydney was led to believe.
You, however, were told the truth. You knew Irina -- and yes, she was always Irina, never Laura, to you -- was still alive and back in the USSR. You knew Jack Bristow was in solitary confinement and suspected of being a traitor to the United States for having married a Soviet spy. You knew the exact day Sydney became involved with Project Christmas.
Most of all you knew how lucky you were. Your mother was not 'dead', nor was your father a closet alcoholic. Your family was still intact. You were lucky. Always lucky. You repeated that to yourself often.
Sydney grew older, as did you, and your lives continued to, more or less, run parallel to each other's. She joined a year round swim team; you joined a year round swim team. She started keeping a journal; you bought a purple suede journal and left notes on your bedroom mirror to write in it. She dated a boy who played trumpet in the school marching band; you, well, you made out with a drummer behind the band room and then went home. (You weren't so keen on musicians at the time.) You knew those similarities were more than coincidental, but you did not dwell on that. After all, you were lucky, and lucky girls do not copy the unlucky ones.
At some point -- maybe when you were at University, maybe before then -- you began examining the minute details of Sydney's life more closely than you ever had before. You looked at them with fresh eyes, your gaze unfiltered.
Sure Sydney had spent most of her childhood with a distant father and the memories of a dead mother, but that distant father loved her fiercely and would -- and did -- kill to protect her. Furthermore, her dead mother wasn't dead and was instead watching out for her daughter's interests from a distance.
Your father, on the other hand, was physically distant but not emotionally. He suffocated you with his expectations; he always wanted, demanded more. And while he never shied away from verbalizing his love for you, he kept that love well concealed behind nannies and boarding schools and summer camps in Ireland or Spain.
And your mother? She never died or pretended to die. She was the one constant in your life as you became an adult. She whispered coded messages about the Bristows in your ear as you kissed her cheek good-bye in the mornings on your way to school. She slipped you new copies of books Sydney had just checked out of her local library. She reminded you, always, of how lucky you were.
You saw all the lies, but it was too late. Your mother, and the life she'd created for you, was inescapable. You were nothing -- had nothing -- if you were not your mother's 'lucky girl'.
You were already in the United States when Francie Calfo was murdered by Allison Doren. You were actually in the room when her assassination was ordered. You waited until you were in the sanctuary of your own room before crying for Francie. She seemed like a really good best friend. Or so you assumed since you'd never had one of your own to compare her to.
You watched Vaughn from afar long before you were 'randomly' assigned to depose him regarding Irina's escape from custody. You observed as he went through all five stages of grief following Sydney's disappearance. You fell in love with him during the fourth -- depression -- stage. You hadn't meant to, but you could tell how much he loved her and he seemed like a really good boyfriend. Then again, you had to assume this as well since you'd never had a boyfriend before either.
You even secretly made sure Jack was well treated during his incarceration by the NSC. He seemed like a really good father, especially when compared to your own.
You lightened your hair because it was well known Vaughn preferred blondes -- Sydney being the one exception. Your mother called that a lucky coincidence since being a blonde better suited your skin tone. You befriended Weiss, laughing at his jokes and complimenting his clothes. Your mother called that a lucky association since a friendship with Weiss would only help you secure Vaughn. You slept with Sark to improve your standing within the Convenant. Your mother called that a lucky merger.
You wonder if it's possible to be destroyed by luck.
You open your eyes and tilt your head upwards as you feel your husband's lips lay a chaste kiss near your right temple. His worried eyes are focused on your face and you crack a small smile to alleviate his concern. You're honestly quite happy to see him. Too bad you know -- and he knows -- that he's only staying by your side because he feels sorry for you.
"You okay?" He takes a seat beside you at the kitchen table where you've been sitting for the past hour, condolence letters and cards fanned out before you. You've been trying to write thank you notes back but are finding it difficult. How, exactly, is one supposed to say, 'Thank you very much for keeping my family in your thoughts now that my mother has murdered my father because I was unable to do that myself'?
"Tired." Vaughn's arm is resting on the top of your chair and you lean back into it. You avoid his eyes because you know you can't trust what you'd see there.
"Weiss has an extra ticket to the Kings game tonight and asked if I wanted to go with him. I told him sure, but if you'd rather I--"
You interrupt him by shaking your head. "No. You should go with Eric and have some fun. I was just planning on seeing my mother, anyway. I promised I'd help her go through my father's belongings tonight."
"I could go with you. Help you sort--"
Again you silence him with a shake of your head. But this time you turn to look at him and the expression of worry and support on his face breaks your heart. You want to believe he really cares, that he really loves you for you and not because you were once a convenient replacement for the woman he'd lost. You want to be that lucky. You're supposed to be that lucky.
"It's okay." You reach out and cup the side of his face with your right hand, your thumb tracing the corner of his mouth as he smiles at your touch. It will be okay. "Go with Eric. Have some fun for me."
He covers your outstretched hand with one of his own before rising to his feet and pressing another chaste kiss to your temple. "I shouldn't be out too late. Call if something comes up."
"Of course, love."
You stare at all the condolences before you and listen for the front door to close behind your husband. At the click of the door lock, you push away from the table and walk towards your bedroom.
During her sophomore year of high school, Sydney was cast as 'Train Passenger #3' in her school's production of "Strangers on a Train." You and your mother made a special trip out to Los Angeles to watch the Saturday matinee performance -- in the guise of visiting Disneyland for your birthday, of course -- and you found yourself entranced by the character of Bruno. You were old enough then to recognize that Bruno was the 'bad' character, that you were not supposed to root for him. But you couldn't help empathizing with the tortured man. How were you supposed to condemn him for wanting his father dead when all his father did was make his life hell?
Your mother nudged you throughout the performance and told you to take note of how Sydney would tug at the cuffs of her sleeves or blow her bangs off her forehead when she thought no one was watching. But you could not keep your eyes off the boy playing Bruno. You dreamt of Bruno during the return flight home.
Once in your room, you open your closet door and kneel in front of the stacks of shoeboxes that clutter the closet floor. Inside the second to last shoebox on the furthest right pile, you know you will find a revolver along with a silencer.
Is it lucky that your role as an international terrorist grants you access to an unlimited supply of weapons?
As you test the weight of the gun in the palm of your left hand, you use your right one to dial your mother's number on your cordless phone.
"Hello, Mother? Yes, I'm on my way."
You don't say good-bye, but merely terminate the call by hitting the 'End' button and then tossing the phone onto your bed.
You've always enjoyed the feel of a gun in your hand. You grew up with that feeling.
"You are lucky, honey. Never forget how lucky you are."Your mother's words, reiterated in so many different formations throughout your life.
You drop the gun into your purse and snatch your car keys off the top of your dresser.
You were never lucky. Not really. But you will be now.