Author's Note: In honor of Will's imminent return.


Capacity

It amazes him, his capacity to forget, to pretend to the point that it is no longer pretending. He is Jonah now, and his previous life—the life of Will—is a distant memory.

Except when the postcards come, bringing memories with them. Then he dreams of knives and how they feel sliding into flesh—his, Alison's. He dreams of fire and blood and Asian men with pliers.

But eventually the dreams fade. Will fades, and Jonah takes over once more. They are not so different, really. Jonah is merely a more subdued version of Will, what Will would be now anyway. The transition is not hard. The only difference is that the tragedy of Jonah's past is fabricated, safe. He can talk about the events of Jonah's life without feeling the abyss open inside him.

The postcards come sporadically. Sometimes only weeks pass between them, sometimes months. The first one comes a few months after he learns Sydney is alive. He has only recently been able to put away the memory of killing Alison, the adrenaline and horror no longer waking him up at night. Only recently resettled into Jonah, realigned all the edges, smoothed the corners. He is ready to live this life, and then it comes.

The photo is of the Taj Mahal, the sun gleaming on the dome. He squints at the picture for a second before flipping the postcard. It is addressed to Jonah Harris in block letters. The message is written in a scrawl he doesn't recognize, the words packed onto half the card. It is signed by someone named Steph.

It is the S of "Steph"—slightly different from the letters surrounding it—that catches his attention, stops his breathing. It is her S, Sydney's.

He shoves the postcard between two envelopes and forces himself not to run up the steps to his apartment. He closes the door and stands a moment, breathing hard, scanning the familiar rooms, the worn furniture, the comfortable mess that is now his home. His heart pounding, he sets the rest of the mail on the kitchen table and picks up the postcard. He holds it reverently for a moment before beginning to read.

Hi, Jonah! Just wanted to drop you a note to let you know how I'm doing. The exciting travel continues. Remember that woman I told you about? Turned out she was a corporate mole from our rival company—the one you hate so much. She got fired. Things are still rough, though; you can imagine the mess she left. Also—I have a sister! Half-sister. Weird, huh?

Love you. –Steph

The words are conversational, gossipy, but the meaning behind them takes the strength from his legs, and he falls into a chair. He reads the brief note several times, then just stares at the words scribbled by Sydney for long minutes. Vaughn's wife, Covenant. Dead, he guesses. Did Sydney kill her? A mess, indeed. She has a sister?

He memorizes the message, then burns the postcard.

That is the first.

His dreams that night—and for eight nights after—are not pleasant. But he eagerly checks his mail, waiting for the next postcard. His next sign that she is okay, that she remembers him.

The second comes a few weeks later from a city in Germany, the picture of a beer hall, men lifting steins of ale with large smiles on their face. It is a happy scene, making the words on the back all the more jarring.

My mother is dead.

That is all. Four words, the emotion somehow transferred to the ink, to the strokes used to create the letters. He wonders how she found out, how it happened. He wonders if he will ever know.

The third, fourth, and fifth are lighter, filled with random, pointless information about her life. He likes these the best.

I bought a new car.

I totally walked into a door today. Oops.

I've decided I don't like almonds.

They make him smile and laugh and wish he could write her back—to tell her he has kicked his caffeine habit, that he almost cut his hand off on a job and now has his first manly construction scar—but there is never a return address. Just her S at the beginning of Steph. He decides this is enough, because it has to be.

The seventh brings a mixture of emotions.

My sister is in a coma, but my mother is alive. M and I are engaged!

Concern for her sister; Sydney has so few loved ones to begin with. He is sure her mother's apparent resurrection makes for an interesting story, but can only feel apprehension about any future of Syndey's that includes Irina Derevko. He can't shake the certainty that her sister's condition and her mother's reappearance are connected somehow.

The last sentence hits him hardest, because he still loves her.

Not as much as he used to, not nearly as much, but enough. He knows he still loves her, because not all of the dreams brought by the postcards involve blood and pain. Some involve skin and sheets and the feel of her. He will always love her a little, he knows. She remains romanticized in his head, all his memories of her still colored by the love he felt at the time.

But this last sentence puts an end to the small hope renewed in Warsaw and fueled by the postcards. Because if after all she has been through since she came back to life—in his mind it will always be that she came back to life, invincible, immortal Sydney—if after the betrayal of Vaughn, she is still so in love with him that she underlines the sentence four times and draws her exclamation point like a teenage girl, large and ecstatic, then he knows he truly has no chance.

The flames that devour the postcard devour a tiny part of him as well, but he finds the pain less than he expected. He has never had a chance with her, really, but he's always loved her anyway. This sentence changes nothing.

So he continues to love her, the dreams of pleasure and pain meld for a few nights, and he waits for another postcard.

The eighth—finally, finally after many months—is three sentences long. He reads it over and over, his hand shaking.

I am pregnant. M is dead.

I will find them.

His relief at getting a postcard—she is still alive—twists into grief on her behalf. He understands losing a lover, understands the drive for revenge, but the addition of a child throws Sydney's situation beyond his comprehension, and he can only stare at her words, stunned and horrified.

The sound of a car horn from the street below makes him jump. He blinks several times, unsure if his eyes are burning because they are dry from his stare or because he wants to cry.

He burns the postcard, dropping it into the sink and watching the flames take over Sydney's grief. He lets the match burn down almost to his fingers before shaking it out and dropping it on the small funeral pyre that used to be a photo of the Eiffel Tower.

Her S disappears last, and he catches his breath, suddenly afraid this is the last one, that he will never see another postcard from Steph. He wonders how long it will take him to resign himself to the fact that he is never getting another postcard and decides he does not want to find out.

Because the postcards bring another hope: that someday, maybe a long time from now but still possible, he will see her again. That someday they will smile and hug and congratulate each other on surviving.

This is a hope he cannot lose.

He washes the curled, blackened ashes of the postcard down the drain, then stares at his hands. They are calloused now and hard, the hands of a laborer rather than a writer. They are stronger than they used to be. He is stronger. He has survived torture and the knife of an assassin. He has created a new life from the ashes of the old. He has killed.

Standing in his kitchen, he makes his decision.

He hasn't spoken to his agency contact in months, and Johnson squawks when Will tells him what he wants.

"I'm going to L.A.," Will says, "with or without your help."

He cannot let Sydney do this alone. It is time to put Jonah away.


End


Disclaimer: The characters and plot points herein are the property of Bad Robot Productions and ABC. I am gaining nothing from this endeavor except entertainment.