Title: Reluctance
Author: Amethyst Blizzard
Rating: PG-13 (T) – for mature themes and sexual situations, nothing too explicit.
Summary: Tom Grace has a secret, and it's a secret he'll carry all the way to his grave…if he eventually finds his way back to it. Slight A/U continuation of the final season, small one-shot.
Spoilers: If people haven't seen the final season, or haven't finished it yet (shame on you!), please do not read. Go away, watch, then read.
Disclaimer: Alias belongs to J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot, I do not have any claims to the series.



Tom Grace wakens with cold reluctance. What the world owes him, he can write a list. It would be pointless, however, as the world no longer knows him. The white sheets drape over him, blanketing his middle, lower body – those secret parts of him – carefully hidden from the morning.

The hotel room seems cold; it always seems cold, had he been expecting any different? Nothing personal, nothing known to him; just a bed and a woman.

Stabbing one foot to the ground, he turns. Facing the veranda, the outside world of some foreign country he can't even remember the name of, he groans as the sun strangles him. The countries are all the same, just different names, different memories. He had thought over the years that memory is what makes a person, a place. But, he thinks now, memory is just another name for suffocation. It's better to leave things be, leave them as they are. Carrying around needless baggage was just weight no one should bear.

Especially not him. Why should he?

The other foot comes gently, the heel twisting into the patterned carpet quietly. He finds his pants – jeans from the night just past, the belt still choking the hem – and drags them on with a heavy sigh. He forgets his shirt, which lies only inches from where he stands, and pads gingerly from one end of the room to the other. He forces the switch on the coffee pot and plucks a mug out of the cupboard.

He never cared much for routine; usually he would just fill the mug with stale whiskey; perhaps watching dully as it trickled out of the flask, slowly.

But something had come out of his recent life; something he did not count on.

Flicking his head to the messy bed, he tries to contain a small smile. It stubbornly forces its way through and he conforms, feeling the stretch between his lips. It has been a long time since he felt such a smile.

Forgetting for a moment his soft movements, he trudges across the room, forces the sliding door open and steps out onto the balcony, the early morning sun grinning down on him. He leans down against the railing and allows the cold metal to dig into his bare arms. He burrows further in, feeling the sharp bite of deep cold on his skin.

For a moment, he forgets.

Two warm arms find his waist and he flinches, not used to the display of emotion from her. He feels her lips press into the tender skin of his neck and he closes his eyes.

Just this, this is what he wants. This is where he would spend the rest of his life. If he could.

That is, if his life wasn't already over.

Spending eternity here seemed not so bad. He moans slightly as her fingertips graze lightly against the soft skin coating his bottom ribs. "Amanda."

Her fingers lace around his solid figure, and she croons gently as her thumbs dig into his sides. "Sorry to disappoint," her sharp voice seems unfazed, though doped with mild annoyance, "but Amanda's been dead for five years, Tommy."

His eyes snap open, the harsh light of day dawning on him as he realises with intense pain that reality still exists, and he lives in it, whether consciously or not.

She purposely lets her dark curls dip over the edge of his shoulders, as if taunting him, punishing him for feigning his dead wife's existence. Still draping over him, she curls her slender body just enough so that she is flush with him, her face deadened against his gulping neck. She looks up at him through her lashes, flicking her hair causally and playing with his chin with her fingertips.

Trailing his thin beard with the edges of her nails, she bites her bottom lip and focuses her eyes on the dead stains of ginger in his stubble. "Come back to bed. It's too early for this."

"I'm a morning person," he bites back, needlessly.

He feels disturbed by her overt emotion and forced sensitivity to his words, and shrugs away from her.

Sensing his bother, she smirks and raises a brow laughingly. "Since when? Come on, Tom, admit it. You're feeling testy because it's her anniversary."

The cold deadness in her voice aggravates him, and he opens his mouth carefully, trying to say something, anything that would hurt her, but he can think of nothing. Instead, he lets her lips capture his, the perfect opportunity for her to further take control of their situation. She traps his top lip with both of hers and pulls back slowly, loving his reaction.

His eyes soften, focus and dilate. The universal sign of giving in.

She lowers her eyes; her dark lashes following as she lets her glowering look invade his mind. "What would they think? If they knew all the bad things you've done?"

Her hand reaches out and favours his right cheek, stroking it lightly until her fingertips find his lips. She traces the small, reddened swells and leans forward to kiss them. It's a small kiss, fervent and light, not like those she had planted on him just hours ago, during the night.

"How you sold them out," she continues cruelly, her hand searching his chest, "let the building blow to hell, made them believe you sacrificed yourself."

He grasps her hand before it trails any further and drops it carelessly, swallowing hard and forcing himself off the balcony and back into the room. She follows, dark curls flouncing about her shoulders and his old shirt crumpling around her slight form.

Her eyes darken as she wraps her arms around his shoulders and whispers into his unruly hair, "What would Rachel think?"

She thinks she hears him growl as he forces her onto the bed. The shirt is ripped off her and Kelly Peyton smiles winningly at the look in his eyes.

Another victory, check.


A/N: Fin. I wanted to keep the reveal of Peyton late in the piece, just because it's a surprise 'ship. Reviews are always appreciated :)