Lies Leaves Scars Worse Than Bullets Ever Can

In Badenweiler, Germany, Sydney cannot cry. She wants to, so desperately, the tears pushing against their ducts so hard it is physically painful. But her training shoves back, and the mission completes itself, the way SD-6 wanted.

She wants to cry for the men inside, for their families, their friends.

She wants to cry for Dixon. The man she calls her friend, her partner. He smiles at her, face lit up with pride at what he has just done, how he has done what his agency commanded of him. He thinks he has done what his country asks of him. He thinks he has saved the day.

And Sydney wants to cry for herself. She has lied to Francie and Will, just as long as she has lied to Dixon. She calls them her best friends, but somehow, lying to Dixon is worse.

Dixon risks his life for objects, information. He has been stabbed, slashed, shot. Stitched up and sent back out again. New SD-6 agents were still told the very true story of one of their earliest missions in Mozambique, how Dixon adapted a pair of tweezers and a roll of floss to pull out a bullet in his own shoulder and stitch himself up.

Dixon never talks about it, not then, not now, never brought it up, didn't embellish or even confirm when inevitability a starstruck newbie brought it up in awed conversation. Dixon just wore the scar under his shirtsleeves.

Dixon risks his life for objects, information, and then Sydney steals it, slips discs and files into potted plants and picnic baskets and CIA hands, speaks code words and bomb locations into CIA ears. She speaks lies into Dixon's ears, while he's risking his life, when he brings her coffee in her favorite mug, when he calls her at home after a rough mission to make sure she's really ok. Saying yes, she's fine, when she just spent the past hour throwing up, and she's still shaking, that should be the worst lie she ever tells him.

But it is not. She has chosen this, and even though she lies because she is ordered to, because if she doesn't everything would collapse except the agency that should, she still chooses every word. Free choice just makes it all worse.

Dixon adds another scar. This time all the tweezers and floss and stoic bravery for what must be done cannot dig a bullet out, cannot let Dixon leap up and keep going.

And her lies cannot keep going. Dixon's blood stirs the blinding dust into scarlet mud, and stirs her truth with it.

She has always assumed that someday she will stop telling lies to the person who watches her back. And it would be another lie to say the thought of Dixon's death has never crossed her mind, kept her awake in tangled sheets when another nightmare has hit. But, always, held above the fear, has been the rationalization that there will be time. There will be a day when she can speak, and there will be a day when there is forgiveness.

She needs safety, and when she calls, she calls for the place where Vaughn is. That is what she thinks of, Dixon's safety, her safety, who can get there fastest so someday she can buy her partner a deeply apologetic highly alcoholic beer and be truthful.

Nowhere in her conscious mind does she consider that Dixon will overhear. Somewhere in her subconscious mind she prays he will. Because then it is not her fault, she is not breaking protocol, she is not a disobedient agent, she is simply and understandably a panic stricken friend.

The opening is there, Dixon hears, he remembers, but his memory is hazy and Sydney's orders are clear. She must stare down at a weakened friend, hooked to an IV, with tender stretched skin over an almost fatal hole. She must stare down at him and tear up on cue, eyes fill at one minute, tear drops at one minute seventeen seconds, breath catches three seconds before voice wavers.

All her feelings, relief, love, are filed to the place where Danny dwells, an erased answering machine in an empty house she isn't allowed to visit anymore. And so when Dixon asks, she follows all the protocol to beat a lie detector test, come out of an interrogation leaving only falsities behind, and because he trusts her so completely, he doesn't utilize what he's been taught.

Dixon's house isn't empty. It's unlocked and lived-in, full of American flags and pride. His family in one wing, SD-6 in the other, his heart comfortably in both.

Sydney wants forgiveness, but she doesn't expect it, or know if she deserves it. But, even so, she knows she won't tell him. Not now at least, not while he still believes in her so strongly he stops questioning when she speaks. Not while she can still ensconce herself in the necessity of keeping her cover to save the world. Not while she can still wrap herself in her cover to save her friendship.