Author's Note: Sorry this took so long. My life went through a rough patch for a while there and I just didn't feel like writing. But I'm better now.
This is an AU story guys. I felt the urge to write another one set during season three, so here goes. Hope you like it!
Timeline: Set after episode "Reunion" in season three.
Story: Barely a month after Sydney wakes up in Hong Kong, a man visits her and tells her that Rambaldi's prophecy was just the beginning. And when Syd starts getting memories of another life in another century, things start to get interesting…
You know, sometimes I sit and wonder just why my life always turns out so bad. I mean, it seems like every time I find something that makes me even remotely happy it gets destroyed. I must have done something really bad in a past life. Or maybe I'm just cursed. Who knows with me, right?
Seriously, though, my life is weird. I may sound normal enough, but don't let that fool you. For starters, I'm a spy. I used to be a double agent, which, let me tell you, is so not the best choice for a low stress job. Then, after taking down SD-6, I went to work for the CIA – and started dating a co-worker. Also not such a good idea in retrospect. But then how was I to know I would disappear for two years and he would marry someone else?
And professional and private life aside, did I mention I was one of the central figures in a prophecy written by a 15th century Italian lunatic that everyone seems to believe? Because I am. I'm supposed to 'render the greatest power unto utter desolation'. I just wish someone would tell me what it is that I'm supposed to destroy. It might make it a little easier.
So here I am, two years older and none the wiser. I have no memories of the past two years, the man I thought was pretty much my soul mate of the I-will-love-you-forever variety has married another woman and everyone keeps looking at me like I'm about to grow a second head.
But I can at least take comfort in one simple but reassuring fact – I never broke.
And I don't intend to start now.
I sighed as I threw my keys down on the table by the door. I ran my hands through my hair, shoved my coat and bag on a chair and kicked off my shoes. It had been a long day. I sank down onto the couch with another sigh and hoped I would be able to sleep tonight.
I had just arrived back from a mission in Moscow that had been confronting to say the least. It wasn't the bad guys or the mission itself this time, but Vaughn. Our first mission together since he came back to the CIA. And, of course, his wife had to come along. Life never plays fair, does it?
I can't really help it. It seems to me like it was only yesterday we were planning a romantic getaway together. And now he has a wife. I have to remember that every time I look at him, because I just want to run to his arms and pretend this has all been some sort of bad dream. I can't help it – I still love him.
Doesn't that just suck?
Of course, Sark is just the same as I remember – which is comforting in a perverse, screwed up way. It figures that when my life falls apart, the only thing that stays the same is my evil nemesis. Well, my male evil nemesis anyway. I've often wondered where Anna Espinosa has been for the past couple of years. I always took great pleasure in beating her. But you can't have everything you want.
Wait a minute. Why can't I have everything I want?
It's not like I want much anyway. Just a nice boyfriend to come home to, everyone to forget about that nut Rambaldi and maybe some new shoes. Is that so much? I mean, come on! You can even forget the shoes if it makes it any easier.
Almost growling in frustration, I shove myself off the couch and walked into the kitchen. It felt so strange to be in my new apartment. It was nice and close to the beach and I had Weiss as a neighbour, true, but it just felt so empty. There was no Francie to talk to and no Will to drop by and raid the fridge. They were gone; one dead, one missing. I took a deep breath to stop the tears that were threatening to fall. It was all my fault.
Like I said before, life sucks.
I shoved the memories aside into a corner of my mind, using the same technique to compartmentalise that had helped me to survive throughout my years as SD-6. Without it, I think I would have gone crazy years ago – although I'm not sure I'm not crazy now.
But I'd worry about that tomorrow. Right now I needed dinner. I sighed. That meant cooking. Great. The perfect end to the perfect day. Where the hell are the saucepans again? I rummaged through the cupboards, hoping to find what I was looking for. I made a mental note (yet again) to rearrange the kitchens so I could actually find was I was looking for.
Then I heard a noise behind me. Images of fighting Allison Doren filled my head and I wondered, quite crazily, if she had somehow come back to finish the job. I waited to hear the sound again, hoping to gain some more information about the person in my apartment. There…it was off to the right.
I leapt up and spun, my hand going for my gun, which never seemed to be far from my grasp anymore. Only when I had it pointing at the intruder did I finally realise what I was seeing. A strange man stood in the middle of my kitchen, dressed from head to toe in black and looking at me curiously.
"Good evening." He said calmly as his grey eyes stared into mine.
I could see no weapon in his hands, but that didn't mean he didn't have one – and there was no way I was going to let my guard down. A girl never should get too friendly with strange men who suddenly appear in their kitchens late at night. Particularly in my line of work.
"What do you want?" I snapped, my frustration and tiredness making me grumpy.
The man raised a dark eyebrow and smiled slightly. Then he did the strangest thing. He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back against the counter behind him. I hadn't seen anyone do that since…Sark. But that's a whole other story.
"I wanted to see you for myself." The man said calmly.
Okay. That's strange. I tried another question, still keeping my gun pointed at the man. Not that he seemed to mind. He was strangely relaxed, as if the situation was completely normal. And that was a scary thought. Who had someone point a gun at their head so much that it became normal? I mean, aside from me…
"Who are you?" I asked.
"My name is Gianni Bennetti." The man answered.
Great, that was helpful. I didn't recognise the name, so I asked another question. "And you wanted to see me, why?"
The man gave a small smile, as if somehow amused. "To see if you really were who everyone thinks you are."
Oh, wonderful. Another specific answer. But then, I suppose it would be too easy for bad guys to just tell me their secret plans outright. "And am I?" I asked, trying to figure out just what I was going to do.
The man's smile widened. "You are definitely different that I expected." He said.
I narrowed my eyes at his avoidance of my question. I absolutely hated when people did that, probably because it happened so much in my life. And Sark always did it, too. "You didn't answer my question." I snapped.
"No, I didn't." Bennetti said, pushing away from the wall and walking over to the living room, before he sat down on the couch like he owned the place. "But, yes, you are."
Great. I have a strange man in my apartment who seems only capable of giving cryptic answers, walks around as if he owns the place and completely ignores the fact that I am pointing a gun into his face. And I though this day couldn't get any worse.
Sighing, I looked over at Bennetti. "Do you have anything else to say, or are you just going to sit on my couch all night?" I asked, a little frustrated.
Bennetti turned around so he was looking at me. I found it a little disconcerting to be on the receiving end of that intense grey gaze, but I never let it show. Years of practice of staring down smug people had given me that skill. "The real question is, are you willing to listen to anything I have to say?"
"Oh, don't go all philosophical on me." I snapped. "I've had a really bad day, and I might just shoot you."
"That would just make your day worse." Bennetti said, still sounding amused. "Bloodstains are so hard to get out of carpet."
I rolled my eyes, a little unsure of whether he was being serious or not. "I've dealt with bigger problems than that."
"I'm sure you have." Bennetti said.
There was a moment of silence as we stared each other down, although I had a sense of being measured somehow. I didn't like that. Everyone seemed to be measuring me these days, whether it was to see if I had finally gone crazy yet or if I really was as good as I was said to be. And frankly, I was sick of it. I put as much attitude and confidence into my expression and stance and lifted an eyebrow.
"So?" I snapped.
Bennetti turned grave. "I have come in part to offer you a warning. You are in grave danger, Sydney. Rambaldi's prophecy is merely the beginning of something far greater."
I smiled, but it was without humour. "So everyone keeps telling me." I said dryly.
"Do not ignore the signs, or you will die." Bennetti persisted.
Almost growling in anger and frustration, I just stared at him darkly. "Don't talk to me about people trying to kill me!" I snapped. "I have more strangers and even friends trying to kill me than you could ever imagine. So if you call the bullets, knives and other sharp objects routinely shot in my direction signs, then I get the point."
Smiling, Bennetti rose to his feet, keeping his hands where I could see them. "There is slightly more to it than that, but you seem capable of taking care of yourself." He said.
"I'm so glad you think so." I snarled.
"I have something to give you before I go. Are you going to shoot me if I reach into my jacket?"
I narrowed my eyes at him and tensed my body, ready for anything. "Not if you keep your movements slow and careful." I told him.
Nodding, he reached into his jacket and drew out a brown paper wrapped package. "It was time this was returned to its rightful owner." He said, putting the rectangular object down on my coffee table. "But, Sydney? Be careful. That book is important and can't fall into the wrong hands."
"Why not?" I asked, starting to get annoyed with all this mystery.
"If you read it, you'll understand." He said. "And you'll get some of the answers you seek."
I stared at him for a moment, not sure whether to believe him or not. The fact that he hadn't made a move to attack me yet was working in his favour, but only just. After the day I'd had, beating someone up might make me feel a little better. Suddenly, there was a sound to my right and I whipped around, wondering if Bennetti had been sent to distract me while others snuck into my apartment – but nothing was there.
And when I turned back to the living room, Bennetti had vanished. Wonderful.
Sighing again, I walked around and checked the house for intruders, but found none. It seemed I was alone again. Holstering my gun again in the waistband of my pants, I walked over to the coffee table and picked up the package. It didn't seem to be ticking, so I assumed it wasn't a bomb sent to blow me up. Which might not have been such a bad thing, because at least then I might get some peace.
Dinner forgotten, I ripped open the paper. I might as well see what the book was. I blinked in surprise and stared at the book curiously. It wasn't what I expected. The book was large and leather bound, smelling faintly musty. As I looked at the cracked cover and yellowed pages, I realised it was also very old. Another Rambaldi manuscript?
Before I could open the book and find out what exactly it was, the phone rang, jolting me out of my thoughts. The sound of the ringing phone sounded shrill in my empty apartment and I picked it up with a sense of dread. "Hello?"
"Sydney?" Dad's familiar voice asked.
"Hey." I said, genuinely smiling for what seemed like the first time in days.
"Hey." He replied. "I wanted to talk to you. Can you meet me?"
"Sure." I replied, wondering what my Dad needed to tell me. "I'll be right there."
I put the phone down and walked into my bedroom to quickly change my clothes. Luckily, Dad and I had arranged a meeting place already, just in case we were overheard on the phone. He had always been cautious about that sort of thing and I was glad. The NSC was still investigating the death of Adrian Lazarey, even though there did not seem to be any more leads.
I changed into jeans, a sweater and a pair of soft boots. Grabbing my leather jacket, my phone and my keys, I turned to leave my apartment, before pausing in the doorway. I looked back at the table where I had put the old book and bit my lip. Giving into the feeling in my gut, I grabbed it before I left the apartment. I should probably tell Dad about it, and I didn't want someone to steal it before I had had a chance to look at it.
Fifteen minutes later, I stood looking out over the inky black ocean from the edge of the pier. The scent of salt-laden air and the sound of the waves breaking softly on the shore soothed my mind and gave me a sense of peace that I hadn't felt since I had woken up in Hong Kong. It had always been one of my favourite places and I liked to come here when I needed to think.
I turned when I heard a car pull up behind me, my hand straying to the gun in the small of my back, but it was only Dad. He lent over and opened the door for me, and I got in. We drove in silence for a while, Dad checking to see if anyone was following us and me just staring out the window. I turned back to him when he stopped the car opposite an old park.
He looked grave, which I didn't take to be a good sign. "I've been analysing the video of Lazarey's murder." He said, getting straight to the point.
Oh, this definitely wasn't a good sign. I was already tortured enough by the shocking black and white footage of me committing cold-blooded murder of a seemingly innocent man. I didn't need to hear another analysis about the matter. But then, considering I didn't remember doing it, or the reasons behind it, I didn't really have a choice.
"And?" I asked, already knowing that he had found something.
"Lazarey says something just before he dies." Dad said, delivering the facts in a bland voice, even as he eyes gave me a concerned look. "From what I can tell, it seems to be a name. Either Julie or Julia. I can't be any more certain than that."
I nodded, trying to absorb the news. "So, you think that it's a clue to finding out what happened during my missing two years?"
Dad nodded. "I'm going to assume it was one of the alias' you were given by whoever took you. I haven't been able to dig up anything else yet, but don't give up hope. It may take a while to find out anything since we don't know the whole name."
I nodded. "Thanks, Dad." I said.
Dad smiled at me. "How are you feeling?" he asked.
"Truthfully?" I answered. "Angry, sad and frustrated. But I'm slowly getting used to it, I guess."
"It'll take time." Dad told me. "But I have no doubt that you'll get through this."
I smiled back at him. "I'm glad that someone still believes in me." I said softly.
Dad gave me an inscrutable look. "You're a lot stronger that even you think, Sydney."
Not sure what to say to that, I took a deep breath, before I remembered the book Bennetti had given me. "Dad, something strange happened tonight." I began. "A man broke into my apartment and gave me this."
I showed him the book. "I haven't had a chance to open it yet." I added.
Dad gave me a sharp look. "Did he say anything?" he asked.
I nodded. "He said his name was Gianni Bennetti and that Rambaldi's prophecy was only the beginning." I said. "He also seemed to think I was in some sort of danger."
"I don't know the name," Dad said. "But I'll make it a priority to find out everything about him. Are you okay?"
"Yeah." I answered. "He didn't touch me."
Dad reached for the book and opened it. As he did, I saw a piece of some sort of paper fall out of it. Bending over slightly, I picked it up and turned it over. The paper was quite heavy, more so than any paper I had ever touched. When I saw the painting on the other side of the paper, I stopped and stared in shock. The painting was of a beautiful woman, dressed in finery and staring at the painter with an almost sad look in her brown eyes.
The painting was of me.
"Sydney?" Dad said, still staring at the book and not having noticed my shock. "We may have a problem."
I swallowed a few times before I found my voice again. "You could say that." I said, my voice sounding hoarse.
Dad looked up then, and gave me a concerned look. "What is it, Sydney?" he asked.
I turned the painting around, so that he could see. His face paled and he looked as shocked as I had ever seen him. Without a word, Dad turned the book around, so I could see the words written on the old page. My old Italian was a little rusty, but I could still read the elegant, hand-written words. They made my blood run cold.
"No…" I breathed.
This could not be happening. Swallowing again, rather nervously this time, I stared at the words I was sure had been imprinted on my brain.
The Journal of Isabella Rambaldi.
The same journal that a painting of me had fallen out of. Oh, boy. Suddenly, I realised that not only was Bennetti right and Rambaldi's prophecy was only the beginning, but I was in way over my head.
"This is not good." I muttered, looking up at my Dad. "Not good at all."
To Be Continued…