She had cried the entire flight, causing all the flight attendants to come up and ask her what was wrong. She had smiled through her tears and told them a story about a bad breakup and having to leave everything behind. They all sympathized and gave her extra cookies. It was a nice gesture, but of course it didn’t help. After she had left her father’s, she had cried herself to sleep and nearly made herself sick. She left early, bringing only a small suitcase of clothes with her. Weiss had promised to look after her apartment if she ever came back or if she didn’t. She didn’t want to think about all that; she just needed to get through tonight.
She was now in the room, pacing back and forth. She was dressed casually, well, casually for what she usually wore in Simon’s presence. She was also nervous as hell. Why are you worrying so much? her mind screamed. It’ll be fine. Just breathe, woman. It wouldn’t be very attractive for him to find you passed out on the floor. Well, not in this situation.
She sat on the bed and took a deep breath, but it caught in her throat when the doorknob rattled and he walked in.
They faced each other for a long minute. He was also dressed casually, a black button-up over black slacks. His hair was chaotic, as if he’d been running his hands through it anxiously. His eyes were wide, face apprehensive, as if he didn’t expect her to be there. In his hand he held a single white rose.
“Julia,” he said with a tentative smile.
“Hi,” she whispered, and stood.
It was almost funny to see him so nervous. Except that her heart had stopped from the tension.
He held out the rose. “I, ah, got this for you.”
She reached out and took the hand holding it. “It’s beautiful. Thank you.”
Again, they stood and just looked at each other, holding hands, thumbs grazing over each other. If he doesn’t hold me soon, I’m going to cry, her heart thought.
“Yes, well…lovely room,” he let go of her hand and moved over to the window. “I’ve always loved Paris-.”
He turned back to her. “Stop what?”
“Just…stop being so…nothing has changed with us.”
He rubbed his head. “No, that’s not true. Everything is changed,” he looked at her with pleading eyes. “I’ve never loved anyone before. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to mess this up.”
The tears prickling in the corner of her eyes spilled onto her cheeks. “There’s no way you could. Just do what your heart tells you to do.”
He took a steadying breath, then crossed the room in two swift steps and pressed her into his arms. “I’ve been dying waiting for you to come back,” he breathed.
Then he kissed her.
His lips caressed hers, tongue tracing their fullness. She opened her mouth to receive him and the world fell apart around her. He plunged his tongue deep into her mouth and moaned somewhere deep in his throat. She clutched his neck with her hands and ran then through his hair, bringing him closer to her. Her body rocked against his, his hands desperately holding her hips to him, as if she’d disappear if he didn’t. He moved his mouth and kissed the tears off her cheeks, nuzzling them with his nose. She sobbed into his neck and he brought his hands to her back to rub it softly. “Shhh, love, don’t cry, okay? I’m not going to leave, ever.”
She brought her head up and kissed him softly. “I know. These are happy tears. Because I’m finally happy.”
He lifted her and placed her gently on the bed, stretching out alongside her. He traced the contours of her face, as if he was trying to memorize her features. When his fingers touched her eyelids, she closed them softly and when he ran them over her lips, she placed small kisses on the tips. They moved down and stroked her neck, her collarbone, over the tops of her breasts, her stomach and came to rest on her abdomen. She reached up and brought his face down to kiss him again, this time slow and sensual. Her tongue stroked his mouth with a fierce hunger. Her leg hooked around his hip and pulled his entire body onto hers, loving the way he felt on top, pressing into her.
He moved his lips to her chin, nipping with his teeth after every kiss. She sighed heatedly and said, “I love you so much, Simon.”
He pressed his forehead to hers and looked in her eyes. “I love you too, babe.”
“Make love to me,” she whispered.
He kissed her again and slid his hand under her shirt to cup her breast. She moaned and arched to his touch. His finger flicked over the nipple. When she cried out, he murmured, “Sexy. No bra.”
“I knew you’d like that,” she giggled. Her breath hitched when he stroked her nipple again, this time slowly, dragging out the motion until she let her breath out with a long sigh. His other hand lifted her back so he could rid her of the blouse and lay exposed for him. He stared at her for a long time, drinking in her beauty. He lowered his head, capturing her other nipple in his lips. Her breath became ragged as he tortured her with his mouth and hand. “Please Simon, please don’t stop,” she panted. He switched over, his fingers massaging the wet erect nipple as his mouth took the waiting one to give it the same care. Her hands entwined in his hair to keep him to her, wanting more.
His kisses rained down to her stomach, his tongue pausing to plunge into her bellybutton and cause her to gasp. His hands ran down her thighs and back up and his fingers tucked under the waistband as he rested his head on her flat abdomen. For a moment they laid like that, but his hands undid her pants and pulled them down her hips, her legs and threw them to the floor. “No panties, either…well, I’m doubly pleased,” he murmured into her skin and she giggled at the ticklish feeling his breath caused. The giggles became short cries when his hot breath passed down her body and matched the heat radiating from between her legs. He placed his hands on her hips gently, and just when she felt like she’d burst from the breath she was holding, he leaned in and laid the lightest of kisses to her inner lips. Her breath all came out in one single aching cry and she arched up to him, waiting for him to go further.
His tongue flicked out and licked her clit lightly back and forth. The gentle teasing killed her senses, her eyes closing and teeth clenching tightly. He continued with the tongue movements until she choked out a passionate whimper. He kissed a little lower, his tongue sliding into her opening and his hand moving down to rub on her neglected clit. She began to moan louder as he plunged his tongue into her deeper and deeper every time. He raised his head for a second and whispered, “Just fall into it, babe. Let yourself go,” then went back to letting his tongue bring her over the edge. Her hips were rocking softly against his mouth and hand and when his other hand traced down to the inside of her thigh, the gentle fury that had been building in her shot out of control and she screamed as she came, throwing her head back as her body seemed to rocket into space. She gulped for air, the lights exploding around her head and she blinked at the tears forming again. She loved him, and it was amazing.
When her mind stopped spinning, he had realigned himself next to her and was nuzzling her neck with his nose. She brought him down for a soft kiss; she could taste herself on his lips and she opened her mouth to receive him more. When he came up for air, she mouthed, ‘I love you’ onto his lips and he repeated it. Her hands moved to his shirtfront, unbuttoning it for the first time and sliding it sensually off his shoulders. It was his turn to lay back and let her touch him.
Her hands slid delicately over the muscles of his chest. Her fingers splayed out over his stomach as she kissed the hollow of his neck. More kisses followed, beating a path similar to his heated one had been. She took the time to play with his nipples and was rewarded with a happy groan. Her tongue darted into his bellybutton mischievously as her hands ran over the sides of his legs and up to cup his ass and give it a playful squeeze. He yelped and she laughed and they smiled at each other. Her hands slid in front to undo his pants and sweep them off his body in an unhurried motion. He lay perfectly naked before her now; there were no more barriers for either of them to get rid of.
She lost no time taking him into her mouth. A contented sigh escaped from his mouth as she sucked softly and he placed a hand in her hair. She pushed him deeper in and let her tongue swirl around. Her hands were massaging the junction of his legs and he began to gasp for breath. She released him and let her tongue flick the head of his erection before pulling him in again. She kept her slow pace, enjoying listening to him fight to keep air from escaping his lungs. His hand clutched slightly at her hair, but not forcefully, and she was still able to keep her lazy pace. He came with a drawn out groan, arching his hips up and gripping the bedspread as he shot himself into her mouth. The world around him crashed and he closed his eyes to the power of it. He loved her, and it was incredible.
She pulled her body back up to snuggle into his, kissing him passionately. He rolled her over onto her back and shifted himself on top of her, keeping his weight from crushing her. He cradled her whole body to his, touching her everywhere he could, letting his hands get used to her. Her hands were buried in his hair, stroking it down as she kissed him with all the love that was in her. His knees gently nudged her legs apart and she wrapped them around his hips, linking her ankles together for leverage. He broke the kiss and forced her to look at him. With incredible gentleness, he entered her, their eyes locked as their bodies joined together fully. When he had pushed himself deep into her, he paused and reveled in the feeling of her surrounding him. She bit her lip and touched his face, loving the feeling of him on top of her, pressing her into him.
When he began to move, she couldn’t contain the gasps of pleasure. His rhythm was achingly slow, almost languid. She didn’t try to force him to speed up, but began to rock along with him, in that slow perfect pace. They kept their eyes focused on each other, desire and passion and love reflected in both pairs. Her hands gripped his shoulders and she clung to him as if he was her anchor. His slid up to cradle her face and wipe away the tears that had once again begun to fall from her eyes. They came together, a rush of breathless sighs and murmured words of love. Their minds met in a place she had only been to once before and they drew it out for as long as they could, letting ecstasy sweep them away from the ugly world they existed in. When they returned to that dark room in Paris, they held each other, knowing it would be the first of forever.
“I love you so much, Julia.”
“I love you more, Simon.”
“I will never leave you again.”
“I won’t let you.”
They had drifted into a blissful slumber when the phone rang shrilly. He grumbled and rolled off to answer it; she distracted him by biting his ear and stroking his hips.
He swatted her as he lifted up the receiver. “’Allo?,” he said, grasping her hand before it could start stroking his cock. He listened, then said, “Oui, merci,” and hung up.
He rolled onto his side to face her, “That was the front desk, wondering if the ‘bride and groom’ would like some complementary champagne.”
She giggled and threaded her fingers in his. “I told them we had just gotten married when I booked the room. They offered the honeymoon suite, but I thought that might scare you a bit. It had a better view, though.”
“Babe, I’m really not in Paris for the view,” he growled and pulled her on top of him. They kissed slowly and lazily, sinking into each other.
She pulled back and tucked her head into the curve of his neck. “Simon, I love you. ‘I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave.’”
He stilled his roaming hands. “I didn’t ask you to say that,” he said quietly.
“I know. I said it because I wanted to. I mean it.”
He raised her chin up and planted a delicate kiss on her lips. “God, I love you, Julia. I don’t know how I lived without you for so long. No more.”
“No more,” she agreed and kissed him deeper. When she raised her head again, she looked deep into his eyes and said, “Simon, love, can I ask you something?”
She sat up, straddling him and linked her hands in his. “Disappear with me. Let’s just leave our old lives behind in this room and run somewhere, anywhere.”
He frowned. “Julia, are you sure you want that?”
“Yes,” she insisted. “No one cares about us. We could hide forever, become new people and never have to leave each other again. It would be perfect, Simon,” her eyes pleaded with him. “No more Covenant, no more teams and ‘jobs’ and guns and pain. Just you and me, together, forever.”
He was still frowning. “But…this is our life. Can we really just forget about all this, turn our backs to everything we know?”
She closed her eyes, “I’m not saying it will be easy, but look how much we’ve changed for each other. We can do it, babe. Please. Just come with me.”
She kept her eyes tightly shut, so afraid he’d say no. When she felt his fingers on her chin, she opened them to see him smiling at her.
“Yes. Let’s do it.”
She made a sound somewhere between a laugh and a cry. “Really?”
He chuckled at the look on her face. “Really. All I want is to be with you, wherever that happens to be. I don’t care about anything but you, my love.”
She leaned down and kissed him gently. His hands snaked around her neck and pulled her in for a more sensual kiss. She was so lost in him, she barely registered the bang of the door slamming open, but the rough hand on her shoulder pulling her up and off the bed shook her away. She saw guns and heard yelling, but her mind froze when she recognized one of the faces behind the gun. Agent Michael Vaughn stood in the center of the circle of men, his gun trained on the figure still on the bed.
She grabbed at the sheet on the bed, covering herself. Simon sat absolutely still, his eyes fixated on the gun being held in his face.
“Simon Walker?” Vaughn’s cool voice finally spoke.
“That’s me, mate.”
“Get up. You’re under arrest.”
Simon’s eyes narrowed as he rose and he stared at Vaughn. “Wait one minute…I know you. You’re that CIA agent we caught. What the bloody hell does CIA want with me?”
“Being related to an underground terrorist organization known as the Covenant.”
Simon snorted. “Right. I’m nothing to them. I’m freelance, can’t tell you anything.”
“The Covenant has been destroyed. We’re arresting everyone who had a part in their projects. You showed up extensively on their lists.”
She gave a small cry at that statement. Was it all over before it even began? Vaughn turned to her and demanded, “Get her out of here.” Two other agents gripped her upper arms and she hissed at the pressure.
Suddenly Simon was dangerous. “Let her go.”
She fought with the men, but one of them twisted her arm forcefully and she cried and fell in pain. She saw a flash of movement and suddenly the dream was over.
Simon punched the agent nearest him and grabbed for the gun, intent on rescuing her, but Vaughn was quicker. He fired three quick shots, hitting Simon squarely in the chest. He dropped to his knees, blood spilling out of his chest.
“NOOOO!!!!!” The scream ripped from her throat. She tore herself from her captors and fell down to embrace his falling body. She grabbed his hand and kissed his face as tears fell harshly from her eyes. “Simon, please, no, don’t die…you can’t…I love you…”
His dark eyes focused on her, hazy with pain. “Julia,” he gasped. “Love…you…babe.” The hand gripping hers fell limp and her heart shattered. Her second scream was raw and fierce, all the pain and heartache from the last weeks surfacing and pouring themselves into her throat. Hands tried to pull her away, but she numbly brushed them off, holding him as if all the life in her could spill back into him. Her head became heavy, the world was hazy and she found it hard to breathe. Just before she slipped into darkness, her mind focused on one thought.
She opened her eyes and focused on the bare walls, trying to clear her head. Her eyes stung and her body felt heavy as she struggled to pull herself up. Where am I? she thought. She took in the tiled walls and floor, the metal toilet in the corner, the small bed she lay on, the glass wall looking into a horrifyingly familiar hallway…
She blinked, and it all came back to her. Kissing Simon, making love to him, agents running into the room, Vaughn raising his gun, Simon falling, blood everywhere…
She threw herself forward and just barely made it to the small toilet before she threw up. Her stomach was churning and her throat burned. She rested her head against the cool floor, tears prickling in her eyes again.
It was all over.
Eventually she got up off the floor and went to sit on the cot again. They had dressed her in a pair of sweats two sizes too big and a thin T-shirt. She lay down and curled up in a ball, hugging her legs to her body. She felt drained. She had no idea how long she had been unconscious, but she was sure she would find out soon. Someone had to come tell her why she was being held here. So she lay still and waited.
She tried to shut her mind off, to just let herself fall asleep again, but her mind was spinning, grieving. Simon was gone. She couldn’t believe it. If only…no. She couldn’t think about the ‘ifs’ even though her heart cried out for them. Her eyes clenched shut, trying to stop more tears from escaping and her entire body seemed to clench up along with them. She felt like screaming, like throwing herself into the wall, or chucking a pillow at everything. She wanted to be alone, grieving and allowing herself to feel the pain cutting her apart, but she couldn’t. She knew they had cameras watching her and if she started to scream they would send the guards and perhaps a nice doctor in to give her something to quiet her down. So she clenched her body up and held the pain to her, waiting for her body to tire out and send her back to that dreamless black she had recently vacated.
She honestly didn’t care if she never left it anymore.
She became aware that she was being watched. Not from the cameras; but someone was standing outside her cell. She kept her eyes closed and rolled away, toward the wall. She honestly didn’t care who had come to gawk at her. In her mind, they could all go to hell.
At the sound of her father’s gentle voice, the tears finally slipped out and slid down her cheeks. No. Anyone but him, her mind screamed. She thought she could handle anything else, but she knew the look of disapproval and disappointment in her father’s eyes would destroy everything in her. Go away! she wanted to scream at him. Please…just leave me…I can’t handle this anymore.
She heard quiet shuffling and her door was unlocked and suddenly his hand was in her hair, stroking it softly. She choked out a sob. He wasn’t supposed to be tender; he was supposed to yell at her and shake his head and make her feel even worse.
“Sydney, please look at me, darling.” His voice held a sad begging in it. She slowly turned and sat up, but kept her eyes down. She couldn’t stand to look at him right now.
He was kneeling beside the cot. His hand was still smoothing her hair and the other one covered hers, still clenched together on her lap. He rubbed them with his thumb and brought it up to raise her chin to meet his eyes. She pulled back and closed them, but his fingers gripped her face softly and finally she looked at him, tears streaming down her cheeks.
His eyes were filled with sorrow and love. He stroked her wet cheek with one finger and leaned forward to press a gentle kiss to her forehead. Suddenly all the pain she’d been holding back burst through her and she began to sob harshly. In between deep gasps of air she cried out, “Daddy,” and his arms encircled her and pulled her tight against him. She clung to her father’s warm body, letting it all out with her tears. They held each other for the longest time, until her sobs subsided into tiny sniffles. She stayed curled to his chest, reveling in the strength of being there. He propped his chin on her head and rubbed her arms, waiting for her body to stop shaking. Finally she gave a shuddering sigh and pulled back to face him again.
“Are you okay, Sydney?” Jack moved to sit next to her on the cot.
“For now,” she replied. She was still scared of what he was going to say, but she knew he loved her. Everything he would say would be as a scared father who just wanted to take care of his little girl. She hoped.
He nodded, but didn’t speak. They sat for a while in silence, until she broke. “Did you follow me?”
“Oh. So…how did they know? Was it Weiss?”
“No. Apparently when we took down the Covenant, someone had mentioned seeing Simon Walker in Paris. He was followed there. I wasn’t aware that Agent Weiss knew anything per to your disappearing again.”
She nodded miserably. “He was the only one who knew. I made him promise not to tell.”
Jack nodded again.
“Dad, please tell me everything. Why am I here? Why was Vaughn in Paris? What’s going to happen with everything?” she begged.
Jack rubbed his forehead and sat up against the wall. “I received a phone call at 5 am two days ago. We had had a breakthrough in Covenant leadership and we needed to act immediately. Since you were not present, most of us figured you were the person who had infiltrated them and given us the key information needed. Teams were sent within the hour. Those who were not killed in action are now in our custody. All except Mr. Sark. He has disappeared, and so has his inheritance, so we have little chance of finding him.
“Except we became worried when we could not find you, and we had assumed you had been killed when you were compromised. Javier Perez led us to Walker. He was shot when we found him in Spain, but he managed to tell Agent Vaughn that Walker was in Paris. You were not expected to be there. I believe you know the rest.”
Sydney nodded at the memory. “Dad, let me explain…”
“Another time, Sydney,” his eyes darted around and she understood. When they could be in private, they would talk about it.
She nodded again. “So why am I here? What are they going to do with me?”
Jack sighed. “That I am less aware of. I’m not privy to any of the details of the investigation, but apparently it is a joint venture between the CIA and NSC. Lauren Reed will be in charge.”
Sydney’s eyes widened as she remembered. “Dad! They have the tapes!”
“Go talk with Eric; he knows everything. I…don’t get mad at him; he just didn’t know what to do. And he’s scared of you, okay? But he can help with whatever it is that’s going to happen to me. Please, I just want to get out of here.”
“All right, Sydney,” he stood up and made to leave. “Will you be fine until I can get this settled?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Sydney…” he turned and faced her, “I’m sorry. But I am happy that you’re home.” He gave her one last hug and left.
She spent three days in the cell, waiting for her answers. Her father visited her every day, telling her what he knew, which was little. He was the only one allowed in her cell. Weiss had come a few times, to express his sorrow. He acted nervous the entire time. Dixon had come by once to inform her that she was not under arrest; she was being held while under investigation. She had listened quietly and hadn’t asked anything. She was sure she wouldn’t find anything anyway. No one else bothered; she wasn’t sure she wanted to see anyone else anyway.
She cried herself to sleep every night; her body still felt like there was a huge wound in the side. She hated being there, when all she wanted to do was go home and mourn properly. She hated that they wouldn’t even allow her the reason to keep her here. There were times when she would be still and it was quiet and there was a sense of peace before she would see Simon’s face in her mind again, his eyes shining with love, then going dull as the life slipped out of him. She hadn’t felt pain like this since Danny. She hated to compare it like that; Danny had been good and innocent and he had loved that about her so much. Simon loved her too, but he loved a different part of her, her dark Julia side. Would someone ever love her for all that she was?
She heard footsteps and looked up at the glass wall. Dixon appeared first, her father and Weiss flanking him. The door was opened and he stepped in.
“Agent Bristow, you are being released. Tomorrow there will be a hearing, and your outcome will be decided then.” He turned and left and her father walked in to replace him.
“Dad, what’s going on?” she asked, confused.
“I’ve managed to convince them that because you are not under arrest and because your hearing will be tomorrow, you should be fine to return home. Agent Weiss will be there to watch you and so will I. We will both accompany you tomorrow. I have to go, but Agent Weiss will take you home. I’ll drop by tonight, okay?”
She nodded and he left. Weiss stepped over and took her arm. “Hey Bristow, you doin’ okay?” he smiled.
She returned it and pulled him into a huge hug. “I’ll be fine. I just want to go home.”
She stepped into her apartment and dropped her bag before she curled up on the couch. She didn’t want to be back here, in her familiar surroundings.
She heard a crash and she shot up to see Weiss sprawled over her entrance way. “Geez, Sydney, haven’t you learned to put stuff away in the right place?” he grumbled as he picked up her bag and headed to her room.
She flopped back down on the couch. “I thought I said I wanted to be alone for a while.”
“Well, you did,” he came around and sat next to her. “But, I’m supposed to keep an eye on you and I figured you’d wanna talk or something.”
“Well, I don’t. Go away,” she lay down and turned away from him. There was silence and she began to cry quietly as he watched her. Finally she sat up and curled into her friend, sobbing. He just held her to him, not saying anything, just rubbing her shoulder.
In time, she sat up a bit and wiped her face. “Boy, there’s a very strong sense of déjà vu here,” she smiled.
He laughed. “Yeah.”
They sat quietly for a while. “So what now?” she asked.
“Now, we wait.”
“Tell me what’s going on, Eric. Did you…show my father the tapes?”
He stretched uncomfortably. “Yeah. You know, you might want to warn me next time you send your father over to me when he’s hell-bent on protecting you. I’m still scared he might kill me for living this near to you.”
She rolled her eyes. “He acts mad, but he’ll be happy that you helped. He just might not like you for a while,” He laughed again. “Eric, please, tell me what’s going on tomorrow.”
He shifted again. “I shouldn’t tell you; your father has all the details. I really don’t know much myself…”
“As well you shouldn’t,” a voice came from the door. They turned to see Jack hanging his coat up.
“Whoops,” Weiss mumbled. He shifted away from Sydney as Jack sat himself in one of the chairs across the room.
Sydney was getting frustrated. “Please, could someone tell me what’s going ON?” she said.
Jack leaned forward slightly on his knees. “From what I’ve been able to gather, it’s a hearing to determine whether you are fit to return to your job. Some people feel that because you so willingly compromised yourself for this job, you should not be allowed to return to fieldwork. Perhaps to even work for the CIA at all. And there is talk that you might have even hindered CIA work on bringing down the Covenant.”
“But I didn’t!” Sydney protested. “I was doing my job. Nothing was ever compromised by what relationship I may have had with Simon Walker. You have my reports…”
“You deliberately left out information, you put yourself in danger by damaging CIA equipment there for your safety…Sydney, they are hesitant about believing you when you lied to them.”
“I know,” she said miserably. “But, it wasn’t because I was helping the Covenant. It was…I…”
Jack raised his hand. “No more. We will see what happens tomorrow. The fact that Lauren Reed has been allowing this to go on could help your case.” He looked around uncomfortably. “Mr. Weiss, would you please allow me a few minutes with my daughter?”
“Oh, yeah, sure Agent Bristow,” Weiss jumped off the couch. “Err…Syd, do you want supper or something? I can come back later.”
“Sure,” she smiled. He smiled back and left, leaving the Bristows alone, sitting in silence.
Sydney’s eyes were focused on the coffee table. She knew Jack was looking at her, waiting perhaps for her to say something, but now that the time had come, she was nervous. How was she supposed to explain what she had done to him now?
“Sydney,” Jack’s hand covered hers and she looked up at him. “You don’t have to tell me anything if you don’t want to.”
“I want to, Dad. I just don’t have any idea how to say it.” She swallowed at the lump building in her throat. Damn, not again. “I really loved him though. I can’t explain how it happened, and I know it’s wrong, but he loved me because I wasn’t Sydney and I needed that. I’m sorry…” her tears slipped out again. She wiped at them furiously.
Jack rubbed her hand. “Look Sydney, I know you probably don’t want to hear this, but he loved Julia. And you are not her.”
“But that’s the point, Dad! I am Julia! You can’t separate us; she’s just the part of me that everyone has been trying to stifle. He loved me for being her, not what everyone else tried to make me be.” She cried harder and buried her face in her hands.
“Sydney, I can’t deny the man’s feelings, but did he know Sydney? Or did he only know Julia? Would he still love you if he knew you as a whole?”
She sobbed into her hands. She knew he was right. Had anyone loved her entire being? No, they couldn’t, because no one has ever know every part of me…
The thought stayed on her mind through the rest of her night, as she ate supper with her father and Weiss, and it plagued her as she lay in bed, staring into the darkness. She was exhausted, but she could not sleep.
She rolled onto her side and her bedspread brushed her shoulder lightly, like fingers tracing the soft skin. Lying on a tiny cot, linking their fingers as he kissed her body…
She clenched her eyes shut. She didn’t want to think about Sark right now. She couldn’t love him, and he couldn’t love her and so he sent her back to someone she could love. And now that man was dead.
If he had only held on to her, told her to come with him, she would have. Stupid, really, she thought. We would have ran and ran and it would have ended the same way. It killed her to think about it; the ‘what ifs’. She rolled in frustration again and threw a pillow at the wall.
She needed to get out of there.
She sat nervously, fidgeting with her skirt, at a conference table. Her father and Weiss flanked her. Across the table sat Lauren, Vaughn and Robert Lindsey, a man she despised a hell of a lot considering they were supposed to be on the same side. Weiss was tapping his fingers against his knee; he was just as nervous about what would happen to him. Vaughn sat quietly, staring at the table. She had no idea why he was here. She didn’t want to see him. Every so often her would look at her, but she stared into the table, keeping her face blank. Lauren was pretending to read a file folder, but her eyes darted between her husband and Sydney so often, Sydney didn’t see why she just didn’t give it up. Her father and Lindsey were ignoring everyone else, shooting looks of disdain at each other. Jack was better at it than the other man was; you could feel the hatred he felt from a simple look.
Finally Dixon walked in and sat at the head of the table and the room seemed to breathe a collective sigh. “All right, let’s get started. Given Agent Bristow’s exemplary record, this will just be an informal hearing…”
“Yes, and I don’t see why it should be,” Lauren broke in. “This is a serious issue and it should be dealt with properly.”
“Ms. Reed, Agent Bristow is a valuable asset to the Agency. Unless you can prove that she needs to be disciplined for her actions, there is no need to tarnish her reputation around here. If you can, the proper CIA authorities will deal with it then. You have the floor.”
Sydney sat and listened as Lauren began to explain that NSC had become suspicious with Agent Bristow’s actions with one Simon Walker and being a part of his team, posing as ‘Julia Thorne’. She felt sick when the other woman spoke of collecting recordings of illicit dealings with a known thief and how this affected their mission of bringing the Covenant down. Finally she sat down and Sydney sucked in a quiet breath. Weiss slipped his hand under the table and gave hers a squeeze.
Dixon sat quietly for a few minutes, studying the information Lauren had given him. He looked up at Sydney. “Agent Bristow, do you have something to add to this?”
She opened her mouth to speak, but her father caught her eye and when she looked at him, he gave an imperceptible shake of her head. She blinked and said, “No.”
“Nothing? No trite excuses to explain yourself?” Lindsey remarked sarcastically and she felt a burning urge to stomp on the man’s toe.
“I’d like to speak in her defense, if I may,” Jack sat forward and shot Lindsey a withering look. The other man sat back and rolled his eyes, sighing impatiently.
“My daughter does not need to explain any aspect of her ‘relationship’ with Mr. Walker. It has no bearing on anything she has done. May I ask, if the NSC was so suspicious of her actions, why was nothing said until now? Ms. Reed, why did you feel the need to keep detailed recordings of Agent Bristow’s missions when it was obvious that she was doing nothing more than following CIA orders? Not only that, but you constantly encouraged this mission to continue, even hinting that it would be best for Agent Bristow to do whatever was necessary to succeed.”
Lauren raised her chin, her cheeks burning a furious red. “If Agent Bristow tried so hard to hide a sexual relationship with this man, what other measures was she taking to hide other criminal activities?”
“But she has not committed any criminal activities, has she? Other than what she did on her ongoing missions as a mole on Walker’s team, did she do anything illegal that she was not ordered to do?”
Lauren looked furious, but she mumbled, “No.”
Jack turned back to Dixon. “Agent Bristow may have made a few mistakes, but she did not disobey orders, nor did her…sexual relationship with Walker compromise any of her missions. These charges are ludicrous.”
Dixon nodded again. “I happen to agree. Agent Vaughn,” Vaughn looked up, “You are an impartial player in this situation. What are your thoughts?”
Vaughn looked carefully at Sydney, then back at Dixon. “I agree with Agent Jack Bristow. I don’t see any evidence that Agent Bristow violated any orders, or engaged in any criminal activities. But she does need to be disciplined in some way.”
Lauren’s cheeks flushed in anger, but before she could speak, Dixon stopped her. “That is true. Well, since there is no evidence that we should investigate Agent Bristow further, I think we’re done here.”
Dixon closed his folders and sat up. “Agent Bristow, I am giving you a two month suspension, effective immediately, after which you will be allowed to return to work. Agent Weiss, I see no reason to punish you for your part in this, but I would ask that the next time the NSC wants one of my agents to keep something from me, they would think twice before accepting. And Ms. Reed, Mr. Lindsey, I will speak to you in my office.” He got up and left the room. Lauren shot Sydney a contemptuous look and followed Dixon and her boss. Vaughn left quietly after them, not looking at anyone.
Sydney sat back and breathed. It was over. She wasn’t in trouble. She smiled at Weiss, who looked relieved that he had not been smacked too hard for helping Lauren. Jack reached over, squeezed his daughter’s hand, and said, “I have to go. We’ll have lunch, and discuss what you’re going to do for the next little while.” He got up and left.
Weiss jumped up, ecstatic. “Whew! I was so sure I would be in so much crap over that! Sorry about your suspension, Syd. But at least you’re not in more trouble, huh?”
She let a smirk cross her face. “Sure. But now everyone’s going to be talking about me around here. Guess I should be glad for two months away.”
“Away? Are you going to go somewhere? Where?”
“I…” They were stopped by a soft cough. Vaughn was standing in the doorway, looking nervous. Weiss cleared his throat and jumped up. “I better get back to work. I’ll see you tonight, Bristow?”
She nodded. He left the room and Vaughn came and sat in the chair he vacated. For a while, they sat and looked at each other until Sydney became annoyed and said, “Is there something you wanted, Agent Vaughn?”
He rubbed his face. “Look, I just came in here to apolo-.”
“Don’t,” the frostiness of her voice stunned him. “Don’t you even dare try to apologize for that. I will never, ever forgive you.”
He looked stunned and hurt. “Syd, be reasonable. I was…he had…it was self-defense…” His words were cut off when she brought her hand up to deliver a stinging slap across his cheek. His head snapped back, and she felt a perverse thrill when she saw the furious red mark on his cheek.
“You knew, didn’t you?” she accused. “That’s why you weren’t surprised to see me there. Your wife told you what was going on. You knew that I would be there.”
“So what if I did?” he shot back. “I was protecting you, Sydney. You were doing this to…I don’t know, self-destruct or something, and I was trying to save you. I thought you might appreciate what I did.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” she breathed. “It is not your job to protect me. You gave up that right when you married someone else. If you knew anything about me at all, you wouldn’t have killed Simon.”
He looked at her in disbelief. “You really believe this guy had some kind of feelings for you, don’t you? My god, Syd, I thought you were smarter than that.”
Her second punch was harder than the first. When he finally brought his head up, blood trickled down his lip from a tiny cut. He winced in pain as he touched his jaw, a bruise already raised. She stood and leaned over him, anger coursing through her.
“You will never call me ‘Syd’ or ‘Sydney’ again. And don’t you ever talk to me again.” She turned and walked out.
She quickly went to her car, where she sat and began to shake with anger. How dare he try to justify his actions to her? She no longer cared anything about Michael Vaughn. He had betrayed her too many times to count now and she couldn’t put up with it anymore.
As she drove back home, she felt her frustration grow. She was relieved that she wasn’t going to lose her job, but she was looking forward to this suspension time. She needed to get away for a while. Jack would bitch and worry, but he would understand. Two months would allow her to grieve and live and maybe she could reconcile Julia into the rest of her life.