Summary: Sarkney! AU Season 4. Takes place after the events in Season 3's "Resurrection". Sloane and Nadia have vanished and Sydney, along with the rest of the JTF are trying to track them down. Sydney isn't talking to her father since she learnt the mysterious contents of the deposit box she found in Wittenberg. Slowly, she's beginning to regain some of the memories she had of her missing two years... memories that weren't included in the explanation Kendall gave her. What if Nadia wasn't really her sister? And just who is the mysterious woman who keeps trying to contact her? And what does Sark have to do with all of this?
Author's Note: Okay it's been a while since I posted a fic, but I've finally got another one to post! I hope you guys enjoy!!
Sorry, but this chapter sort of starts off Syd/Vaughn, a few days after the end of Season 3. There will be Sarkney (and plenty of it!) coming in later chapters!! He's going to appear as soon as I can get him to (while still making sense in the story)!
Secrets and Lies
"It is always darkest before the dawn." Proverb
I watched the sleek building in front of me through my night vision binoculars and counted the many surveillance cameras, motion detectors and infra-red cameras placed at strategic points around the windows and doors. I sighed, my breath clouding in the cold air. I stood on the roof of the building across the street from my target, which just so happened to be a high security storage facility just outside Budapest, Hungary.
My sigh turned into an angry grimace as my cell phone vibrated in my pocket. I suppressed a curse as I dug it out and snapped it open. "Yes?" I growled.
"Ah, Agent Bristow." Came a sickeningly familiar voice. "I trust everything is going well?"
At the sound of Kendall's voice, I had to fight the impulse to say something nasty. I didn't think that would go down too well in my current situation... which, while not as bizarre as some of the others I had found myself in, was just as dangerous, if not even more so. Somehow, Kendall had discovered that it hadn't been the Covenant that was responsible for my escape from the federal holding facility after my capture in Rome by the NSC. I don't know exactly how and maybe I never will, but Kendall knew that my father had voluntarily helped Sloane bust me out and had proof. Hence our deal. I couldn't let everyone be imprisoned because of me, so that was how I found myself standing in the cold in Hungary, gazing at a very secure building. Sent to retrieve something Kendall wanted in exchange for his continued silence.
In the past two days my world had almost completely collapsed around my ears, again... and like I had to after waking up in Hong Kong, I was keeping secrets again. Lying. To everyone – no one could know that the great Sydney Bristow was close to yet another emotional breakdown. And to make matters worse, I wasn't talking to my father anymore. Not after what I had discovered in my recent trip to Wittenberg. I think the only decent thing in my life right now was Vaughn. Finally, we were back to the way we should be. After a year of wanting and aching... he was finally mine again.
Two days ago, Nadia and Sloane had completely disappeared off the face of the earth and I had discovered the truth in Wittenberg. Sometimes I really believed the only reason I got through each day was my ability to compartmentalise... and lie. That was my life now... full of secrets and lies. I lied to my friends every time I smiled and told them I was alright; I wasn't. What I had found in Wittenberg had seen to that. I kept that dark secret to myself, not even trusting the man I loved with it. After Hong Kong and the past year, I didn't want to burden our relationship with that... not yet. Maybe not ever. I just wanted one thing in my life to be pure and sweet, like the Vaughn I had fallen in love with.
"Agent Bristow?" Kendall's voice questioned sharply, jerking me from my thoughts.
That man and whoever he worked for could give the Devil a run for his money, I was sure of it. He'd known about the box in Wittenberg too, which just made me hate him all the more. It didn't help either, that for a while now I'd had a suspicious feeling that there was something missing from the story of my two missing years; something that just didn't ring entirely true. I hated that the only memories I had of my missing two years came in bursts and fragments. And with them seemed to come a feeling of being trapped; just like I was now. Doing Kendall's dirty work to retrieve a Rambaldi jewellery box for Project Blackhole, or the NSC might just find out about who was involved in my escape from federal custody... I might not care what happened to my father anymore, but I did care what happened to Vaughn. Lindsey and Lauren might have been gone, but the NSC was still gunning for my imprisonment.
"I'm still here." I growled to Kendall.
"I asked you how your mission was going?" he asked, the sharp tone still evident in his voice.
"It's not at the moment." I snapped in reply. "Because I keep getting interrupted by pointless phone calls."
There was a moment of silence on the other end of the phone. "Just remember why you're doing this, Agent Bristow." Kendall said coldly.
His comment broke through the last of my thoughts and I cursed myself under my breath by getting distracted by the car crash that is now my life. There would be enough time to worry about it after this was over. "How can I forget when you keep reminding me?" I said, my anger rising to the surface.
"Call me when you have the jewellery box." Kendall ordered. "And don't try anything funny, Bristow. One phone call and your precious Agent Vaughn will be on the wrong side of a cell."
I bit down on my angry response and fought to remain focused on the reason I was doing this. Vaughn. "I will." I agreed grudgingly, and Kendall hung up.
Replacing my phone in one of the many pockets of my black combat pants, I went over my optech a final time. There was no reason not to get this mission over with as soon as I could. I had a momentary longing for Marshall and his wizardry. There was no denying he always made my missions easier than they had to be, but he didn't know about this one, so I was on my own. Underneath my SWAT-style black-on-black, I wore a specially designed catsuit designed to block my body-heat signature from the infra-red cameras. As for the cameras and motion detectors, I had a small signal jammer, but for the most part, I was going to have to avoid them the old fashion way. A Glock, complete with silencer, was in its holster on my right leg and I wore black leather gloves to guard against leaving fingerprints. Finally, a black balaclava was to keep my face from being recognised, although it was still in my pocket at the moment.
After one last glance at the building through my binoculars, I tucked them into another of my pockets and slipped on my balaclava. Then I carefully hooked my harness up to the zip line that stretched through the dark, cold night to the roof of the storage facility and began to slide my way across. I made it across in a couple of minutes, having done this many times in the past, and before I really had time to think about it, I was slipping across the roof to one of the ventilation shafts. Using a small electric screwdriver, I quickly removed the vent covering and revealed a dark chute that dropped about thirty-feet before flattening out. It was narrow, probably too narrow for a man, but I could just fit through. There were advantages to being a woman.
My movements were efficient and precise and I hooked up another line to my harness and repelled down into the darkness. The whole process had taken maybe five minutes, and I knew I had about another ten minutes before one of the guards would check the roof – which meant I had ten minutes to find the box and make my way out of here before the alarm was raised. Not impossible, but not the easiest task I'd ever had. As I slithered my way through the vent shafts, I found that part of me was having a lot of fun on this mission. It was different to what I was used to, because there was no backup, no one to burst in if something went wrong. I was alone. And I found that I quite enjoyed the extra challenge of it.
Finding the south wing of the building with little trouble, I exited the vents and began to make my way on foot. Slipping past the cameras in the corridors was quite easy, but I knew that would change as soon as I got to the vault. The vault in the lower levels of the south wing of the facility was used to store those precious items that belonged to the collectors that had no compulsion preventing them from hunting you down and killing you if something happened to their particular object.
Just as I reached the vault, I cursed inwardly as I saw the flicker of a torch and knew a guard was standing just outside the vault. Immediately sinking back into the shadows of the corridor, I waited to see what the guard was going to do. The guard looked about a bit longer, before reaching for his walkie talkie. "There's nothing here." He said in Hungarian. "Just another damn faulty circuit."
I heard a vague reply from the guard on the other end and a burst of static. "Making my way back now." The guard in front of me said. "I'll see you in about five minutes."
Considering the information I had just learnt, I had to smile at my luck. If there was a faulty circuit in the vault door system, then there was a chance that they wouldn't discover the break in right away and maybe I'd have a few more minutes before the alarm was sounded. I could be halfway out of here in five minutes. But first I had to take care of the guard. Carefully judging my opportunity, I watched the guard walk closer and closer to my position as he headed back to his friend. Thankfully, like all underpaid guards around the world, he wasn't really paying attention to his surroundings and he completely missed my hiding place. As soon as he has passed me, I snuck out of the shadows and grabbed him from behind around the throat. Applying pressure to the right point, I felt the guard slacken into unconsciousness in seconds.
Leaving him where he fell, I ran to the vault door and activated the scrambler to disrupt the cameras. I only had twenty seconds, but hopefully, it should be enough. Slapping the decoder to the side of the vault lock, I felt the adrenaline rise as I watched the little red numbers crack the vault code. "Come on, come on." I muttered, feeling time ticking away from me.
Seven seconds later, the decoder beeped softly and the vault slid open. I raced into the room, the scrambler mucking up the cameras and motion sensors inside the vault as well. Spotting the box, I slid it into the bag I wore at my lip hip and was out of the vault with the door shut just as time ran out. Snapping the decoder off the lock, I pocketed it and raced back up the corridor, expecting to hear alarms sounding at any second.
I rounded the corner, heading for my escape route when I skidded to halt in surprise. Standing in front of me, seemingly just as surprised as I was, were a team of three men dressed in similar black outfits to mine. I noted the clothes were clearly government issue in the split second before the men brought guns up to point at me, and a heartbeat before I spun and bolted down the corridor the way that I had come. As I sprinted away from the agents, I prayed they'd be smart enough not to want to draw attention to themselves, so they wouldn't fire any of their weapons – which hadn't been equipped with silencers, I noticed. Thankfully, they seemed intelligent enough, as not gunshots followed me.
Ducking around another corner, I heard sounds of pursuit as a single thought flitted through my head: just what was another team of American agents doing in Hungry at the exact time I was stealing a Rambaldi artefact? Because if those men weren't CIA, then my name wasn't Sydney Bristow.
I burst out into what appeared to be a loading dock as I frantically searched my memories of the blueprints I'd studied last night. Growling in frustration that the mission had gone horribly wrong, I quickly scanned the dock for a hiding place and maybe a way out, as I gave up on trying to figure out where exactly I was. I'd always worked better with improvised plans anyway.
I'd just crept behind a pile of crates when the three men burst into the room in pursuit. Knowing I'd need a better hiding place, particularly as the three men began to spread out, weapons still drawn, I crept further into the shadows behind the crates and quickly scanned the room. I grinned slightly when I spotted not only a good hiding spot, but a way out. Hoping the men wouldn't realise there were several metal catwalks about twelve feet above their heads, I sank further into the shadows and began to climb.
Carefully keeping an eye on the men currently searching the room for me, I managed to climb up to the catwalks on the many and conveniently placed crates and containers littered about the room. I froze in a crouch a second later, when one of the men walked right under me. Judging by his movements and bearing, he was the leader of this little operation and from the comm. I could see in his ear, this definitely was a CIA mission. But just who by? I didn't know of any other task forces who dealt with Rambaldi and he couldn't work for Project Blackhole... otherwise, why would Kendall have sent me in?
I memorised the man's face, noting his very short black hair, calculating and observant slate-grey eyes and the strange scar that cut through his right eyebrow and twisted up his forehead into his hairline. His jaw was strong and square and his mouth was drawn into a stubborn line. It was a good-looking face; one sure to turn quite a few heads. He would be a knock-out if he ever smiled, I mused as I watched him disappear back into the shadows. Taking my opportunity, I silent stood and made my way along the catwalk to the other end. From there, I slipped across the window ledge to a half-open window. I knew that the second I slipped through it, I would trigger the motion sensor just outside and no doubt be caught on the surveillance camera, but I figured there was a good chance the alarm would go off any second anyway, and I wasn't hanging around to find a better way out.
The two story drop to the ground drove the air from my lungs and sent a painful shock up both my legs, even though I aimed for the nearby canvas roof of a truck and rolled forward the second my boots hit the floor of the truck, to lessen the impact. I shook it off, alarms now wailing in earnest, and staggered out of the back of the truck. Taking off at a run, I heard several annoyed shouts from the men who had been chasing me, but I ignored them. Reaching the relative safety of the rental car I had stashed away, I dragged the balaclava from my head and double checked that I still had the Rambaldi artefact. It was fine. With a relieved sigh, I headed for the airport. It was over.
I groaned, rubbed my eyes and returned my gaze to the computer screen in front of me. At this point, not even coffee was enough to keep me focused. After handing over the artefact to Kendall at Budapest Airport, I had jumped on a plane and headed back to LA. Unfortunately, due to an irritating vacuum cleaner salesman, I hadn't been able to get a wink of sleep and the early morning start this morning had almost killed me. Now, nine hours later, the surveillance reports I was going over were all starting to blur together.
"Wishing you were still on your relaxing weekend trip?" Wiess asked me.
I looked up to find Weiss standing just in front of my desk, I smiled. "Yeah. It was great to just getaway for a few days." I said. "I think that was my first real vacation in years."
Weiss looked wistful. "I think I've actually forgotten what those are like." He told me.
We shared a grin, before Vaughn wandered over to meet us. He'd gotten back this morning from a trip of his own, which had made things easier for my mission to Hungary. I still didn't like lying to him about it, though. And I couldn't shake off the feeling that he wasn't telling me something. Not that I could really point fingers, given my recent activities. "Hey, Syd." He greeted.
"Hey, Vaughn." I returned the soft greeting.
"Well, I think I've got some reports or something to go over... I'll catch you guys later." Weiss said, with a pretty obvious excuse.
Vaughn and I shared a grin at his behaviour, and I was struck again by just how wonderful a friend Weiss was as he left Vaughn and me alone. "So, you feel like going out to dinner tonight?" Vaughn asked, coming to sit on the edge of my desk.
I hid a smile by picking up my coffee cup and taking a sip. "Yeah, I think I can manage dinner tonight." I replied.
Vaughn smiled, his beloved green eyes twinkling. "Good. Pick you up at eight?"
I nodded, just as Dixon strode out of his office. "Vaughn, can I have a word?"
"Sure." Vaughn agreed, and with a final wistful smile in my direction turned and followed Dixon into his office.
I watched until the door closed behind the two men, before returning to the surveillance reports. It was an almost pointless exercise, but someone had to check through them in case someone somewhere had picked up a trace of Sloane or Nadia, and everyone had been taking their turns. So far we hadn't found anything that we didn't already know.
When my computer gave a soft beep, however, I was momentarily surprised. Switching screens, I opened up the search I had begun just after lunch. Early this morning, I had sketched a picture of the face of the man I had seen in Hungary, before feeding the image into a search program. The search had finally had a hit. I gazed between my uploaded sketch and the photo and had to fight the grin that threatened to spread over my face. I'd found him! I'm not quite sure what drove me to figure out who the man was, but something told me there was more to what Kendall wanted me to do that met the eye, and I hadn't survived this long as a spy by not trusting my instincts.
Gazing at the photo, I noted the same slate-grey eyes and determined expression as I had seen the night before. But now I had a name to go with the face. It turned out the man was actually Agent Thomas Scott, of the CIA. So I had been right! I frowned as I read the rest of the short file I'd managed to access. It seemed Thomas Scott was the head agent of a task force that had also been dealing with Rambaldi. They'd been based just outside of Washington DC for several years now and they were responsible for retrieving as many Rambaldi artefacts as I had. So why had Kendall wanted me to retrieve the jewellery box and not these guys?
I was still mulling it over when Vaughn came out of Dixon's office about an hour later. But I gave up when he suggested he should walk me to my car. I smiled at the man I loved and pushed all thought of Agent Thomas Scott out of my head. I'd think about it tomorrow.
To be continued...