A/N: I'll dedicate this chapter to the two lovely reviewers I had in the hopes of bribing them to leave more comments. :-)
After some exploration, Sydney discovered she was still in Los Angeles, the warehouse district to be precise. She knew she had to get off the streets to rest so she ran until it seemed like her legs were working independently of the rest of her. Winding through alleys and empty streets she eventually got to a more populated neighborhood. Soon after she came upon a block that had hotels and motels every few yards, and knew she had to be careful with her choice. Having no money meant that she would be breaking into a vacant room. The trick was to find the place with the lowest chance of having a new patron for the night that might get assigned to the room where she resided. The Millennium Inn, seemed ideal. Its crooked and stained awning and broken neon sign looked as uninviting as possible.
Peeking into a room in the back of the ground floor of the complex she found it empty. Using her makeshift wrench she pulled a few bolts off the window and climbed inside. The room was musty and poorly lit with a faded old orange shag rug. The old brown and avocado green end table suggested the furniture predated it being name the "Millennium Inn". But Syd's attention fell immediately to the bed where she strode and collapsed onto it in complete exhaustion.
The following morning Vaughn knew there were only three people he could trust with his doubts and they weren't practical options at that moment. Jack was still under suspicion and thus still in custody. Weiss didn't want to hear the name Sydney Bristow ever again, and Will was currently in a safe house under twenty-four seven observation. That meant that Michael had to sort this out by himself.
He had requested copies of the security tapes on grounds of aiding the investigation and he asked for a few personal days to sort himself out. Kendall and Devlin would have his head on a pike if they knew what he was really up too.
It wasn't until the eighth time watching the video that he noticed it. In the beginning of the video Sydney was doing a crossword puzzle. What was unusual was that Sydney was writing with her left hand. He simply hadn't noticed before. No one had. It was such a little detail that he had disregarded it.
But now given the stakes and circumstance it seemed significant. During their time in the warehouse he and Sydney had to make small talk with what little they truly knew about one another. On a few occasions she had teased him about being left handed, saying that his short comings probably came from the trauma of trying to figure out scissors as a kid. It was an inside joke, and the video was enough to fill him with the hope that she was innocent, followed by the dread that she was in the worst kind of danger. He grabbed his coat and left at once for the Burbank mall.
He made it to the mall in record time. He found her table in the food court and had never in his life been so happy to see graffiti. It was something others would disregard as a vandals work, but the wonderfully clever woman was leaving him bread crumbs. Scrawled nearly illegibly across the edge of the table was:
In the morning Sydney waited until she heard the couple in the next room leave for breakfast.
She watched them retreat to the street and then slipped into their room. Her eyes fell directly upon the couple's luggage. The woman's clothes were a little big, but Sydney found and unassuming navy blue hoodie and a pair of black slacks that fit well enough. She made her way through the room and also took with her a small draw string gym bag, a pair of oversized sunglasses, a swiss army knife, a first aid kit, and about $47 in small bills. Before she left she zipped up the bags she'd opened to try and make her presence as undetectable as possible.
Slipping back into her room Sydney set to work. After a quick shower she opened up the first aid kit. Pulling out a bottle of peroxide and a pair of scissors she started on her hair. An hour later she found the short blonde cut looked terrible on her, but it passed as presentable. To her satisfaction it was also fairly inconspicuous. It was better than Bozo red in any case. She also managed to pop the dangling handcuffs off her wrists by picking the lock with the screw driver on the army knife.
Her "op-tech" now consisted of a draw string bag, a pocket knife, some medical tape, and two pairs of handcuffs, and a homemade wrench. Not the most promising set of supplies, but if there was one thing she was good at it was improvising. Checking to make no other patrons were in sight Sydney left her room and walked briskly away, leaving the motel behind her.
She had the sick feeling that Sloane was personally after her. His actions had given her the notion that he wasn't working for SD-6 anymore. Laying low wouldn't cut it, she needed to disappear.
At the moment she had two options. The first of which was to simply try to find a way out of the country, which would obviously be the safest choice. It wouldn't be overly difficult to get into Mexico and from there she could go anywhere she wanted. But leaving would also mean giving up. It would mean that Sloane would be left to play whatever game he wanted and that the Alliance would be left to thrive. It would mean that the last two years had been for nothing; that Danny had died in vain.
But the notion that she couldn't live with was never seeing Vaughn again. It was similar to the choice her father gave her when she became a double agent. Fight or Flight. And she'd make the same choice. She would stay and fight until either she was dead or she had Arvin Sloane's head to mount on her wall. She refused to live the rest of her life as Kate Jones or Victoria King or one of the hundreds of other people she'd been forced into being. She'd have to fight.
Sydney Bristow was no coward.
Vaughn tore into the mall's only used book store and practically pounced on the poor teenage clerk in order to find the Russian Literature section. Swallowing his anxiety, he stared at the numerous copies of the numerous Tolstoy novels and tried to figure where to start. He flipped through several and found nothing. He was beginning to think he had misinterpreted her clues when an idea struck.
"She needed it to still be here," he said to himself. "Which would no one want?" He looked to the bottom shelf and saw a badly battered copy of War and Peace, sitting upside down on the shelf.
He pulled it out and flipped open the torn up cover. There were two messages written in the margin of the first page.
The first read:
And the second said:
Because you know me better.
For the first time in three days Michael Vaughn smiled.