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Title: Foul-Weather Friend
Author: waking_epiphany (Jamie)
Rating: HARD R (NOTE THE RATING CHANGE), for language and sexy situations
Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me; they belong to J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot.
Pairings: Sark/Sydney, implied past Sydney/Vaughn, implied past Sark/Lauren, implied past Sark/Alison.
Timeline: Estimating that the end of season 4 ended in the month of May, consider this to start in July of that same summer.
Summary: After suffering series of debilitating headaches and blackouts, Julian Sark takes a doctor-recommended leave from the second oldest profession in the world, espionage, only to be pulled right back into the thick of things at the arrival of a strange, scarlet envelope at his home. It contains intel concerning his longtime mentor, Irina Derevko, and there is only one other person who can help him find her. Sydney Bristow has left her life as a CIA operative to start a new life in anonymity after her sister, Nadia, is left in a coma and her fiancé, Michael Vaughn, is killed by Prophet 5, a mysterious terrorist group. She is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered existence when a familiar enemy and sometimes associate crashes back into her life. Reluctantly, they must work together to save something invaluably important to the both of them and in the in the process, maybe even save each other.
Author’s Note: I feel like I am always apologizing for taking so long to post! I'm not even sure anyone is still following FWF, but for those you still with me, I am eternally grateful. It's not quite the end yet...the last chapter (how many parts it will contain, I don't know) will be chapter 13. Had to split the rest of chapter 12 into two parts, so make sure to read part 2 and then part 3, with the soundtrack as always at the end. As for the chapters' content, this chapter has been in the making since the very beginning. In fact, I built the rest of the story around the concepts introduced and explained in these two parts, some of which I'm not sure everyone will like. These chapters are very dialogue heavy and a lot of exposition is explained, so please excuse me for being so long-winded. That being said, please enjoy the rest of chapter 12, which contains a cure for the blackouts, the identity of The Messenger, and a cliff hanger ending that I will apologize for right now :-) Enjoy!

Sydney walked most of the way to the safe house of her own volition. She weaved drunkenly and dry faced down the shoreline, oblivious to everything except one foot plodding in front of the other. Only once did she succumb to the fusion of grief and wrath coursing through her. Like an ice pick, the pain shot clean and cold through her chest and she pitched forward into the sand. She held her hands up to her mouth but they felt foreign to her, like someone else's hands trying to choke the sobs from escaping her throat. She was making a hysterical sort of sound, and Sark was glad when it was drowned by the roaring crash of waves beating against the beach.

He called her name in an unsympathetic voice. Sark didn't bother to disguise the disappointment he felt for her. She wouldn't recognize it anyway and he'd just be lying to them both by masking it. He had initially lauded her impulsive decision to set the church on fire. He felt almost sympathetic for her need to burn her past alongside Agent Vaughn's failing body. He thought it was a cathartic holocaust, smoldering away the pathetic part of her that still thought herself a normal, simple girl. Now he saw it was a stupid, kneejerk reaction based on some insipid feeling she thought was love but Sark recognized as weakness.

"Sydney, you need to get up."

When she did not answer he searched himself for some shred of patience or sympathy and came up short. He grabbed her elbow and tugged her to her feet. She felt like a sack of bones, yielding to his touch. She let him pull her up but she wrenched her arm from his grip after she stood.

"Don't," she said softly, but with venom seeping into the small word. Sark felt slightly heartened. At least he still hated him and that was something.

The safe house was a small bungalow made of what looked like sea-worn wood. Overgrown foliage crowded the small deck and crept up the sides of the one story building. The dingy shutters were once white and the ramshackle clapboards blue. Set back from the beach, the house looked tumbledown but in fact boasted a bevy of surveillance equipment, high tech security, and enough firearms to aid a small militant army. But the most dangerous thing in the safe house was inside, waiting for them.

No doubt he had seen them coming, spying their slowly advancing forms in the security monitors in the cabin. He'd have watched out for them, for once in his self-serving life. He would know if they were being followed or not, though Sark knew no one was coming for them now.

Sark waited for Sydney to climb the few stairs to the doorway and watched her check her weapon. At least she was playing it smart. For even when he was saving your life, there was no trusting Arvin Sloane.

The light from the security monitors bathed Sark and Sydney's common enemy in an unearthly glow, illuminating the all flaws in his aging face. His hands were folded neatly in his lap and with no gun in sight, it would have been so easy to kill him. Sydney's hands felt slick with sweat and the one coherent thought that kept running through her mind was to shoot him. There would be an end there. A final, quantifiable conclusion, a small measure of closure in her miserable life. But without this possible cure for the fugue states, then there would be no Nadia. No Sydney. No Sark. Sydney surprised herself by still caring about these things.

Sydney lowered her gun. The muscles in Sloane's face twitched into a concerned smile.

"Sydney, you look unwell. Have you been hurt?"

When Sydney neglected to answer him, Sark reached into his pack and brought out the case containing the samples they had obtained from the hospital room in the church.

"She'll be fine," Sark answered for her. "How long will the formula take to make?"

Sloane stood and took the case from Sark. The bespectacled man stared down at the vials of clear, syrupy liquid and lightly traced his fingers over the cylindrical tubes.

"A few days," Sloane answered, still staring at the vials. "Perhaps a week. It is a delicate process...I need it perfect. You'd want no less than that, I'd imagine."

"You'll contact us when it is ready?"

"Of course," Sloane replied to his former employee. "And you're aware of the rendezvous point?"

"Don't waste my time asking pointless questions. I think it time for you to go on your way," Sark said in a low voice. "Please leave and contact us when it's finished."

"Very well," Sloane replied, moving to the door. He was already halfway out of the shack when he turned, gazing at Sydney's silent form.

"Sydney," Sloane called softly. "I need to know you're well. I couldn't leave in good conscience if you were sick or injured. Please."

"You've never done anything in good conscience," Sark replied, standing behind Sydney and looking over her shoulder to Sloane. "The sooner you leave the sooner you can begin making up for everything you've done to her. We need what you can provide for us, Sloane. But we don't need you."

A creepy smile formed on Sloane's lips.

"We, is it?" His tone was knowing. "I see. Goodbye, Mr. Sark. I'll be seeing you."

He swept out of the house before Sark could reply.

He hadn't even realized he had referred to themselves as "we". It was a small mistake, but a telling one. He sighed. He didn't know who he was more angry with: Sydney or himself. He glanced at her. She hadn't heard or perhaps didn't even care. She looked lost and tired.

"Get some sleep, Sydney."

She did bestow him a glance with those chocolate brown eyes of hers.

"I don't think sleep will help," she answered softly.

"No," Sark agreed. "But there's nothing else for you."

She turned from him then to a bedroom.

"Leave me alone."

She did not say it accusingly. It was a simple request, though something he wasn't sure he could abide.

* * *

He didn't ask her where she was going when she left. He waited for her return by reading a book, or at least, trying to. Sark found himself staring out the window, thinking he should have gone after her, knowing it would've been the last thing she would have wanted.

She returned after nightfall, her hands bloodied and raw. Sydney held her hands out to him and he rose from his seat and followed her to the bathroom.

He washed the bits of stone and colored glass from her wounds. It would hard to miss the mineral and stained glass that had made up Agent Vaughn's burning tomb. He bandaged her hands, taking great care not to put pressure on the abrasions there. She didn't go back to her room, however. She waited while he made dinner and accepted some when he gave it to her. He read his book while she stared out the window into the darkness and after awhile, she retired to her bedroom once more.

She left early the next morning. She took pains to be quiet but he heard the door creak and she was gone. This time, Sark didn't look out the window for her. She returned at dusk, smelling of copper pennies and salt. The wounds that had healed over bled fresh again and the bandages he had wrapped around her hand fell in tatters. He took her by the wrist and repeated the ritual; picking out the bits of rock, disinfecting the wounds, and bandaging them with clean linen.

Sark hadn't slept well that night. He felt a increasing pressure building behind his eyes. It was niggling at first and he let himself fall back asleep without a thought. Sometime around dawn, the pressure became pain. Sark let himself into Sydney's room. She was still asleep, her hands curled up into little first under her chin.


She was awake in an instant, the gun she had hidden under her pillow already in her hand and pointed at his head.

"You can't go back today."

She didn't lower her gun at first. For a moment it could have been like old times: Sark staring down the barrel of Sydney Bristow's gun, marveling at her beauty and hoping to feel the sweet pain she inflicted when they fought. She slowly lowered the firearm but did not relinquish it from her grip.

"I would have thought you'd understand," Sydney said softly. Her long legs crept out from under the sheets, tan against white. Sark saw something in her eyes and he wanted it for himself. "You had made Michael show you Lauren's body. You needed to know it was over. You needed to know she was truly gone. I need to know, Sark. And I won't let you get in my way."

"I do understand," Sark said. Sydney stared at him in the doorway. Like a ghost he haunted her threshold, pale and beautiful in the early morning light. "But you realize nothing has changed. Agent Vaughn was dead for these past seven months and he's still dead."

"Except that he wasn't dead," Sydney said stubbornly.

"To you, he was," he said. "And he still is. You can't scrape your hands to the bone trying to bring him back. Especially..." He paused. He seemed to be leaning heavily against the doorframe, steadying himself. Maybe she was deluding herself, but his voice seemed to waver. "I need you." It hurt him to say it more than he had realized. He thought he had no pride left when it came to Sydney. He was wrong.

She let out a harsh laugh. It came unbidden and against her will. It was a vestige of their former relationship, she couldn't help herself.

"You don't need me. You want me. There's a difference."

"I always want you," he conceded. "But, right now, I need you. I think you can fight it now that you know it's coming, You're better than it. I...am not."

"What are you talking about?"

"The headache. I can feel it. It's happening again. And soon."

She put the gun on the end table and stood up. Even in her torn tee-shirt and boxer shorts, Sark felt his heat for her flare up.

"I feel fine," she told him. She met him in the doorway. She put her hands to his face and he felt clammy and cold. He closed his eyes to her touch.

"I don't," he murmured.

"Come on." Sydney leads him to her bed, which she quickly makes. "Lie down."

Despite the growing pain behind his eyes, Sark grinned. "I'd never considered sex as a cure but I'd certainly be willing to try."

She didn't smile as he hoped she would but pushed him gently to the bed. She left, returning a few minutes later with handcuffs.

"You are the best nurse ever," Sark said, his vision starting to blur a bit. Sydney encircled one of Sark's wrists with the cuff and hooked the other to the headboard of the bed.

"What makes you think that I won't pass out too?" Sydney asked. "What if in my unconsciousness I find you here, defenseless, and I kill you?"

"I've got one hand free," Sark said shakily. He pressed his free hand to his head, willing the pain to fade. "I could slap you around a little bit."


"Seriously? I think you can beat it. You've always been..."

The sentence cut off into a scream. It shattered the quiet dawn and Sydney hoped they were far enough away from civilization that no one would hear him. Sark gritted his teeth and caught his lower lip in the bite. Blood oozed from the cut on his mouth, dribbling down his chin.

"Look at me!" Sydney yelled, her hand on his chin. She stared into his eyes, trying to make him see. She brought him back from the darkness before and she damn well could do it again. His scream died down to a whimper and he did see her, his gem blue eyes holding her in its wide-eyed stare. "Stay with me! Come on, Sark, please! Don't go! Don't go! Don't..."

As if someone had flicked off a switch, the life left Sark's eyes and she was staring into the husk of the man she once knew.

His eyes followed her as she moved from the bed and across the room but he did not speak. He had a vacant, empty smile on his face.

"Who are you?" Sydney asked, not really expecting an answer.

"I am the ghost in the machine," he answered, not in his usual, cocky drawl but in a robotic, flat intonation.

"Who are you working for?"

"I'll never tell."

"What do you want?"

"I want you to let me go."

He stared at her, unblinking, for what seemed like an eternity.

"Not a chance," she said hollowly. Sydney stood and left the room, unable to watch him in this condition.

The day went by slowly. She called Sloane and her enemy assured her the cure was well on its way to becoming a reality but he still needed a few days. She checked in on Sark occasionally and when she did she would find him there, staring at the door as if waiting for her. He wouldn't speak unless spoken to and when she would engage him in conversation he was polite, if not downright agreeable but there was something missing. It was the spark, the devil in him, that was noticeably and Sydney found herself thinking, regrettably, absent. After she found the conversation going nowhere, she drew him a glass of water and left him a plate of food on the end table. She pulled the rocking chair from the front porch to his bedside and pointedly ignored his wide-eyed staring as she alternatively read a book and cleaned all the guns in the safe house.

She heard the crash before she saw him move. He held a shard of the glass cup in his free hand and in the dying light of the evening it flashed against the pale flesh of his captive wrist.

"Put it down," Sydney commanded, all while in her mind calculating the odds that she could knock the glass from his hands before he did something stupid. The gun was close, but not close enough to stop him. She stood slowly.

"Release me." Sark's voice was not his own. It sounded hard and mechanic, like pure steel had slid down his throat and was choking him. "I will take his life or you will let me go. There is no choice."

Sydney knew that he spoke the truth. She took one step closer and Sark pressed the glass harder against his wrist. She could see ruby red beads of blood welling up against the pressure. She wouldn't get to him in time. She held her hands up in surrender.

"Good," said Sark. "Get the key."

"I will not," Sydney said.

"Are you so cruel as to let this person die?" Sark's tone of voice was clinical, yet perplexed. He looked down at himself. "Do you not care for this body?"

"You wouldn't understand," Sydney said, disconsolate but resigned. "But he would."

She thought he would make a sound as he slashed his wrist. A whimper, a moan...but he was silent and staring at her when he slashed Sark's wrist. He dropped the shard of glass and Sydney jumped on Sark's prostrate body. She ripped off a pillowcase and wrapped it tightly around the trickle of blood seeping from the wound. She gripped his wrist tight, trying to staunch the flow. She shut her eyes tightly, feeling hot and unwanted tears spilling from beneath her eyelids and down her cheeks. She pressed her forehead against his, feeling her sticky, sweat-laden brow against his.

The red blood against the white linen was not flowing as quickly as it had been. She needed to get the first aid kit, she needed to stitch him up quickly but Sydney was afraid to leave him, lest the thing inhabiting Sark kill him.

"If I knew you playing Doctor meant you straddling me and handcuffing me to the bed," Sark said weakly. "I might have considered more drastic measures earlier than this."

Sydney let out a sound somewhere in between a sigh and a laugh.

"It's you!"

"Who else would it be?" Sark asked faintly.

"Not you." Sydney trailed off, reaching into her pocket to get the handcuff key. She quickly released him and he brought his injured wrist close to this chest. She chanced a glance at him and blanched at how ashen his face looked, at how strained his breathing sounded.

"Don't die before I get back," Sydney said only half joking, turning away from him quickly and wiping the tears from her face as she dismounted him. Where had the tears come from? She tried not to think so much about it as she sprinted from the room. The first aid kit was where he had left it, next to the sink in the bathroom. She could see a faint pink residue around the basin, the watered down blood from her ruined hands. Her clean bandages were stained with blood again.

She wondered if she'd ever be able to wash away all the blood on her hands.

Sydney returned to her partner and he held his arm out to her. She took his hand as gently as he had taken hers when it had been filled with broken pieces of the church. He did wince now as she was closing up the cut; more than a small part of Sydney was grateful for that. She stitched up the wound as delicately as possible but he would have a scar there.

"Wouldn't be the first scar you gave me," Sark said thickly, his tongue feeling too big for his mouth. His eyelids drooped as he struggled to stay awake.

"Won't be the last," Sydney replied.

"Do you think we will still be killing each other? After this is all over?" Sark asked, his mouth working very hard to form the words exactly right. He heard his words slurring at the end and his vision swam.

"You could try, but you could never kill me," Sydney replied, sounding stronger than she felt. Truth was, Sark looked terrible; his grey pallor against the blood of the sheets was terrifying. "I don't think people in our field expect anything to last very long, but...I think we'll be killing each other for a long time." She had finished stitching up the torn flesh of Sark's wrist and was finishing the bandage.

"I'll let you catch me one day," Sark murmured. His head lolled to one side and he fell into a deep slumber. Sydney let her head sink into her hands. If he had died, if he had gone cold on her bed, surrounded by his own blood...she felt...she felt...

Sydney's cell rang shrilly in the still afternoon. She fumbled in her pocket, not believing when she saw it but realizing how badly her hands were shaking.

"Hello Sydney."

"Sloane." Sydney's voice was ice.

"You sound upset," Sloane said. Maybe she was imagining it, but it seemed his concern was mixed with mirth.

"Me? Upset? Couldn't be," Sydney replied as airily as she could. "What's the progress?"

Sloane chuckled. "Impatient, are we, Sydney? You'll be relieved to know the formula is almost complete. Meet me at the rendezvous point in three days at noon."

"I need your assurance that this will work." Sydney glanced back at the bedroom, where Sark had fell back into his sickly slumber. Somehow she knew that he would not survive another blackout. There was no medical reasoning that guided her opinion. Pure emotion drove her. She wasn't sure what it would drive her to do but she knew she couldn't have Sark die like this. She wouldn't let him.

"I have a demonstration that I feel will be most convincing."

"We'll be there."

* * *

Sark slept for the next day and a half and was taking food and water the night before they were to meet Sloane.

"If you think I was going to stay behind while you meet with Sloane then you are delusional," Sark said, nursing some tepid broth. He picked up his spoon and let the liquid drip back into the bowl, all with a disgusted look on his face. "By the way, you really are the worst cook imaginable."

"I'm sorry, would I be more or less delusional than a person who slashed his own wrist while he was brainwashed?" Sydney asked dryly, crossing her arms in front of her chest. She was standing over his bed like a sentinel, assessing his progress and obsessively monitoring his symptoms.

"A person can hardly be responsible for his actions while under brainwashing," Sark replied unconcernedly. "Besides, it's not as if I did a very good job of it."

"A good enough job," Sydney muttered, wondering how much of Sark's talk was strength or how much was bravado.

"This is a non-issue," Sark said, pushing himself up from the bed. He winced at the pressure put on his wrist. "I am going to get a shower. You will not listen at the door to make sure I don't drown myself. We will go see Sloane tomorrow and we will either listen to what he has to say or, if we don't like it, we could kill him. But before this you will go to sleep, because frankly, you look terrible."

"Gee, thanks," Sydney muttered, stifling a yawn. Truth was, she didn't get much sleep. She would wake herself out of her light slumber to make sure Sark was still breathing.

"Sydney, you know I am always the first person to tell you how good you look," Sark said rationally. He slowly made his way across the room and stood next to her in the doorway. "So take it as truth when I say you could use some beauty rest."

Sydney secretly hoped that on the way to the bathroom he would trip and fall on an errant knife lying around. It would save her from worrying about him tomorrow.

"Remind me to let you kill yourself next time you black out," Sydney dryly replied.

"As if you'd need reminding," Sark answered, turned to leave, then stopped. He moved slowly and grabbed her hands. He gave it a squeeze and held on to it, his fingertips caressing her palm. She had always liked his hands and she savored the touch, as brief as it was.

"Thanks," she said softly.

That made him smile.


"I know," she answered before he could speak. She knew he was thankful for saving him. She just didn't think she could bare to hear him say it.

* * *

The wind blew warm around Sydney's face, blowing her hair into a halo around her crown. Sark put his arms around himself and shivered, finding himself cold despite the balmy weather. The waves pounded the beach, spraying them in a fine mist. Sark turned his back on it, choosing to watch Sydney as she watched the dunes, waiting for Sloane.

Sark felt weak. From the blood loss, undoubtedly, but he felt it was more than that. He scratched at his bandages, wondering how much time he had left. He felt like the life was slowly being leeched from his body. With each attack of the sickness he felt as if he was being forced out of his own body...and something foreign and wrong was taking up residence. Suppose Sloane had no cure? Sark thought he might find some latent satisfaction in killing the man, but he'd be digging his own grave. He had led a wicked life, and led it well, but Sark wasn't about to let it go without a fight.

"I think we should prepare ourselves for disappointment," Sark said. She didn't reply. He stepped closer, placing his hand lightly on the small of her back. "Sydney..."

"I'm always prepared for disappointment," she quickly replied. "But sometimes...sometimes I just can't help letting some hope come through."

"I know," Sark sighed. "It is really your only detriment as a spy. You are almost perfect."

"I like to think it is the only thing that kept me human," she said softly.

He was staring at her back, wondering how long he was going to be able to drink her in before he lost her again, when movement on the dune caught his eye.

"There," he said pointing. A pair of delicate hands separated the reeds and grass dotting the sand. The sun caught her face, a mane of luxurious dark hair surrounding a heart shaped face. Sark knew the face well. She had Irina Derevko's haughty beauty and Arvin Sloane's mysterious grin. The dark circles under Nadia's eyes did not deter from her loveliness.

"Nadia," Sydney whispered softly, not quite believing her eyes. She took a step closer to her sister, and then another, and then she was running. "Nadia!" The two sisters embraced tightly, and then Sydney pulled back to get a good look at her half sibling.

"You look great," Sydney said, her voice somewhere between a laugh and a sob.

"Wish I could say the same about you," Nadia replied. "You look terrible."

"Told you," Sark muttered. Nadia turned her head and Sark noticed that while he could see each of her parents in Nadia's features, the woman's eyes were purely her own. Her gaze slid to his wan face, his bloody lip, and the bandage on his wrist, appraising them, before pinning him with her eyes.

"Hello, Mr. Sark."

"Miss Santos." Her tone was surprisingly neutral. Sark could still vividly recall looking down at Sydney's sister's face, her eyes moving wildly under closed lids while her hand held onto a stylus, penning the words of Rambaldi. He recalled Lauren's feverish excitement mounting while watching the almost alchemic process of Nadia's undoing. His own feelings of the incident were more of the detached sort. He lacked any real feelings for the woman. Drugging her and forcing her to be the conduit to Rambaldi was business. The only real problem he had about the whole incident was that he couldn't look directly at her for long while she was under the drugs...she looked so damn much like Sydney.

"I would've thought she would have killed you by now," Nadia said conversationally. Sark's eyebrows lifted in amusement. Nadia toyed with her necklace, a gaudy number with a large, dark stone.

"I think you overestimate her," Sark said, knowing he was wrong.

"I think I underestimated you," she said. She graced him with a smile, a genuine and surprising gesture that left Sark momentarily speechless.

"Oh, I don't know, dear," a voice came from over the dunes. Arvin Sloane's speech carried over the salty sea breeze. "I found that Mr. Sark will always carry out a mission, once he's given the proper motivation."

He sauntered over the dunes and joined the group, reaching over to squeeze Nadia's hand briefly before addressing them again. "I believe you will find proof that the cure is viable through our dear Nadia here."

Sydney crossed her arms over her chest, her expression shifting from happiness to hostility. "So, you're telling me the same serum that brought Nadia back is the same that will stop us from blacking out?" Sydney's voice was unsympathetic.

"No," Sloane replied, his voice no unlike when a schoolteacher tries explaining a difficult math problem to a small child. "The formula from the painting cured Nadia. That serum mixed with the one from Bill Vaughn's church is what will cure you. It appears as if Mr. Sark is more in need of it than you at this point, but nevertheless."

Sydney glanced at Sark, but he wasn't looking at her. He was looking at her sister, a serious look on his face. He moved quickly, too quick for her to see what he was doing until the gun was pointing at Sloane's chest.

"Whoa, whoa!" Sydney said, holding her hands up. Nadia looked confused but not frightened. It was only then that she noticed that Sloane was smiling.

"I'm surprised it took you this long to see," Sloane said, smirking. Sydney's heart was beating out of her chest but Sark looked cool and calm.

"Someone is going to tell me what is going on right now," Sydney threatened.

"Dad?" Nadia looked to her father, but Sloane's attention was all on Sark.

"I believe Mr. Sark is admiring the necklace you have on, dear," Sloane said airily, as if he didn't have a Walther PPK aimed at his throat. Nadia's hands quickly went to the black stone encircling her neck.

"I don't understand, my Dad just gave this to me," Nadia said quickly, looking to her sister to talk some sense into Sark. "Sydney, please, tell him he needs to put the gun down."

But by now, Sydney had looked at the necklace and she knew. The Heart of Darkness hung around Nadia's neck. The necklace Sark had sent to The Messenger.

"It's you?" Her voice cracked in disbelief...and in anger. "It's been YOU this whole time?" She rushed at him, oblivious to Sark and the gun. She knocked Sloane into the sand and began hitting him, over and over. She felt the crunch of bone as her fist connected with his nose. Blood spurted from his nose and into his mouth. Every feeling of hatred she had felt for Arvin Sloane pumped out of her as she pummeled him. Her face was coated in salty tears and her hands were covered in blood.

"How could you?! After everything you've done to me?! Why? Why?! WHY?!"

"Sydney! Stop it!" Nadia was pulling on her sister's arm, pleading with her, but she couldn't pull her away.

"Sydney, please!" Sydney could hear her sister's voice, but it sounded faraway. She felt hands on her but they were as light as butterfly wings compared to her fury. She saw nothing but Sloane.

"Sydney, stop." Suddenly she was being lifted against her will by strong arms. Sark held her arms in front of her, his gun lying in the sand, forgotten. Nadia swooped in over her father, bringing him up to a sitting position so he wouldn't choke on his own blood. Sark shook her slightly but she couldn't look at him; she couldn't stop the tears streaming down her face. She looked down and could see he was bleeding through the bandages on his wrist again. He removed his hands from her wrists and put his gently on either side of her face, forcing her to look at him.

"Sydney, please. Control yourself. You'll kill him before we get answers." She gripped at the front of his shirt tightly, unable to control her breathing. She felt herself hyperventilating, torn between wanting to rip Sloane's throat out or Sark's. How could he not see? He should understand that this is what she wanted, what she needed. She was beginning to see spots in front of her eyes and she struggled against his hands, but he held on to her.

"Sydney. You are going to pass out if you don't stop hyperventilating," Sark said, more calmly than she thought possible. Her head was spinning and her knees began to buckle. "I know you want to hurt him, and you have, but you can't do this in front of his daughter. In front of your sister. She would never forgive you. Breathe. Here," He disengaged her hand from his shirt and placed the palm of her hand against his chest. She felt the ridges of his muscles underneath his shirt, felt the steady beat of his heart in her hand. His chest rose up and down with the weight of his breath.

"Feel me. Feel my breath. Make yours like mine." She nodded mutely and forced air into her chest, mimicking the feel of his breathing. He placed his hand on top of hers, feeling it go up and down with each inhalation. After a few moments she felt her heartbeat returning to normal and her breathing take on a regular pattern.

With her hand still on his chest and his hand on hers, Sark leaned in close to her ear. "You need to take care of this. And if you don't do it in a civilized manner, I will do it for you. We need him alive if you want to see your parents again."

She leaned in, resting her head on his. "I know," she sighed. "But I can't promise you that once this is over that I won't..."

"At that point, do what you need to do. I certainly wouldn't stop you."

Sydney lifted her head from his and turned to see her sister gaping at her.

"Are you going to take a break from beating the shit out of my father to tell me what the hell is going on here?" Nadia's question came out ragged and accusatory.

"Nadia, for months, we, I mean, Sark and myself, have been receiving threats and missions from someone named, 'The Messenger,'" Sydney started, approaching her sister. Sloane was spitting out globs of blood into the sand. "The Messenger has been holding my father and our mother captive for months now. We've been...procuring things for him, in hopes he would release them. One of the last things we sent him was that necklace, the Heart of Darkness."

Nadia's hands again went to the necklace and her eyes went to her father.

"Dad?" Her voice was questioning, tinged with doubt. "Tell me this isn't true."

"Well dear, then I'd be lying," Sloane said through gritted teeth. Sark noticed that his daughter did not help the middle aged man to his feet. Sloane pinched the bridge of his nose and dusted some of the sand off his pants. "And we both know that not lying was going to be my New Year's resolution."

"Dad, this is not the time for jokes," Nadia said seriously. "If you don't start talking right now, your nose is going to look a lot worse than it does right now."

"I think," Sloane said deliberately. "The answer you seek is nearby. If you'd indulge me for approximately 20 minutes, I think all will be explained."

"I've waited six months," Sydney said through gritted teeth. "I don't think I have enough patience left in me to wait any longer."

"You don't have any choice," Nadia told her sister. "I won't let you pummel him until he has a chance to clear things up."

"And what if things don't get cleared up?" Sydney said, the anger creeping back into her voice. "She's your mother too, you know. Don't you want to know she's safe? Wouldn't you want to know if it was your own father holding her against her will?"

"I can assure you that is absolutely not the case," Sloane told them. "But I'll let you decide that when I show you the evidence to the contrary. Please, it's not far. We'll walk." He held out his hand for Nadia, which she ignored.

"Sloane and I will go ahead," Sark said, picking up the gun he had dropped. He pointed it at Sloane, motioning the man to start walking. "I think you ladies need some time to catch up." Sark nudged Sloane with the tip of the gun barrel and the older man trudged forward, casting one last beseeching glance at the two women.

Sydney and Nadia walked behind them, neither set of eyes leaving the duo as they led the way.

"Sooo...," Nadia started in a pretty good imitation of an airy tone of voice. "What's new with you? Did you get highlights? I love what you're doing with your hair."

Sydney laughed, wiping the last of her tears away. "Nah, it's still the same," Sydney answered, savoring the easy banter. "Haven't had time to hit the salon. I am letting my bangs grow in, though. I'm surprised you noticed, what with all the bloodshed and mythical prophecies and what not."

"Well, Sydney, let me tell you. Being in a coma has made me really observant," Nadia said matter-of-factly. "I'm your sister. I notice the important stuff. Like...like what the hell is going on between you and that homicidal maniac."

Sydney's sister's voice lost its playful tone. She didn't turn to face Sydney; they both were too busy making sure an accidental (or maybe not so accidental) shooting didn't occur.

"He's..." Sydney trailed off. She didn't know what he was. A friend? No, not really. Nothing between them was ever friendly. A lover? Well, yes, definitely, but that was complicated. An enemy? He was, once. But now? She didn't have a simple answer for her sister. "He's my partner. He's been helping me for months now. He saved my life, Nadia. And I've saved his. More than once and that's something you just can't ignore."

"What I can't ignore is that fact that this man tortured me," Nadia said icily. Sydney felt the barely contained anger in her sister's words. "He injected me with poison. I could have died. And you take up with him like you guys are best buds?"

"You forget it was your father that paid him to do it," Sydney replied softly. She couldn't be angry with Nadia. Sydney knew better than anyone how easy it was to overlook the faults of your family. "And you forget everything your father has done to me."

"How could I forget that?" Nadia's voice was strained. "I'm reminded of it every time I look at you. But this is different, Syd. This is Sark. He's a killer and a liar."

"He's never lied to me," Sydney said quietly but with conviction. "And that's more than I can say about...well, everyone."

"The way he looks at you," Nadia continued. "it's like he's starving."

Sydney tried to shake off the imagery of Sark Nadia had presented her, but it was hard. She did notice the way he fixed on her. It was no longer common leering as it once had been; his cobalt eyes, filled with lust, used to sweep across her body eagerly. Now, it seemed like he was savoring her. The subtle difference might be lost on some, but not on her sister apparently...and not on herself.

"I need him," Sydney said simply, shrugging her shoulders.

"You've never needed anyone," Nadia fired back.

"Maybe," Sydney answered. She sighed ruefully, her eyes on Sark's back and not her sister. "I might have been able to do this on my own. I might not have. But I think I just didn't want to be alone anymore."

Nadia didn't reply and the two sisters walked along the beach, their faces turned away from the spray of the ocean.

"We're here." Sloane's voice carried over the salty wind.

Sydney and Nadia crossed over a large dune to face a cove, where a small dwelling lay nestled in the inlet. It was a house, small but beautiful in its simplicity. Off the painted white porch a dock jutted out into the water. Sydney was surprisingly reminded of the imaginary home she would had shared with Vaughn when she had imagined their life together.

"Your answer lies within," Sloane said ominously, pointing to the hut. Sydney pulled out her gun and Sloane shook his head. "You won't need that." Sydney narrowed her eyes at him and nodded to her sister. Her sister pulled out a firearm Sydney didn't know she had. Either Nadia trusted Sark enough to keep the weapon on her father or she just didn't trust her father enough. Sydney thought it was the latter.

Sark watched the two women approach the door with a feeling that something was about to break. There was a stretching of time, and perhaps of his sanity, when he felt he was on the precipice of something great and terrible. The sisters separated; Nadia going around the back and Sydney approaching the front.

"You will remember this moment forever," Sloane said softly to Sark.

"Shut your mouth," Sark retorted, his eyes on Sydney's retreated figure instead of his hostage.

"This is the moment where everything you know turns out to be wrong," Sloane continued, his voice taking on an eerie, omniscient tone. "You will gain back your free will, but, in the end, you'll lose the only thing that's important."

"Oh, and what's that?" Sark wasn't really listening to Sloane. He was watching Sydney reach for the door handle of the cottage, seeing it open from the other side before she could stop it.


The door pushed open from the other side slowly and Sydney scrambled back, her gun pointed at the shadowy figure.

"Put your hands up and step out slowly!" Sydney saw the hands emerge first, then a slender wrist and lean arm. Nadia ran from the rear of the building to stand beside her, her gun also pointed at the emerging person.

"Please, put down your guns, lower your weapons," came the voice from the house, low and commanding. But the voice didn't match the figure now stepping through the doorway, a shapely woman with chestnut hair and devilish eyes. Eyes that everyone assembled knew all too well.



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 2nd, 2009 07:23 pm (UTC)
ok, confession time: I haven't been able to read the last few chapters that you've posted, and quite honestly, it fell off my radar (BAD fangirl!), but when I saw your post on my FList today, I got all warm and fuzzy inside.

*tackles you*

And I will give you the review you deserve, I promise.

Dec. 2nd, 2009 07:38 pm (UTC)
I am officially the worst fanfiction writer...it takes me so long to post and I am so bad at commenting at other people's comments! I'm so glad you found FWF again, I always look forward to what you have to say, constructive and otherwise. Can't wait to see what you think, Lex! Thanks again for commenting!
Feb. 5th, 2010 05:37 am (UTC)
knife in the wound
"He called her name in an unsympathetic voice. Sark didn't bother to disguise the disappointment he felt for her."

I'm confused as to why he is so disappointed. I would think that watching Sydney set a church on fire (with Vaughn in it) would be his idea of Valhalla. Goddess knows I enjoyed reading about it. :) Is he disappointed that she is letting herself be controlled by emotion? ...or is it simpler ...Is he just upset that Michael Vaughn still has the ability to invoke strong emotion in her? How would he have preferred her to act post-bonfire?

"Are you so cruel as to let this person die?" Sark's tone of voice was clinical, yet perplexed. He looked down at himself. "Do you not care for this body?"

"You wouldn't understand," Sydney said, disconsolate but resigned. "But he would."

FRICKIN' PERFECT! This exchange perfectly demonstrates why Syd & Sark are so good for each other. Whether or not Sydney would ever consciously admit it to herself, she truly understands and respects Sark.

"Are you going to take a break from beating the shit out of my father to tell me what the hell is going on here?" Nadia's question came out ragged and accusatory."

I really wanted to smack the crap out of Nadia for that little slice of pissiness. I'm more protective of my sister than any other human on the planet ...which explains why I
oh-so-irrationally felt that Nadia should've sided with Sydney ...no questions asked. Does Sydney really need any additional justification to pulverize Sloane? Nadia has a right to care about her own father ...but I don't have to like it. :D

"Dad, this is not the time for jokes," Nadia said seriously. "If you don't start talking right now, your nose is going to look a lot worse than it does right now."

Nadia is redeemed!...momentarily :D

"I'm your sister. I notice the important stuff. Like...like what the hell is going on between you and that homicidal maniac."

...so says the woman who spent the majority of the last few paragraphs acting all "leavemydaddyalonemeanSydney"

I LOVED that Sydney stood up for Sark and herself. She pointed out *rightly so* that Nadia seems to be quite willing to overlook the pain that Sloane has caused Sydney. To be honest, when compared to what Sloane has done to Sydney ...a little injection of serum just doesn't seem so bad.

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


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