- Having -
Rating: NC-17 lite
Disclaimer: I don’t own them. Imitation is the highest form of compliment.
Spoilers: None…I think I’ve gone totally AU now. But who knows, eh? We’ll say halfway through S2 just to be safe. This follows "Somewhere Along The Way" and "Then Again".
Feedback: Pope? Shit? Woods? firstname.lastname@example.org
Archive: Cover Me, Alias Slash Archive. Anyone else, please ask – I always say yes, but I like to know where it goes.
Author’s Notes: This is for Rez, whose fic “Forfeit” made me realize that the summer was OVER and I needed to WRITE. For Sydney Real, who I miss. For Madame D, always, forever, my wonderful, amazing, accommodating beta. *Hands over Jayce*
“It came back to haunt me, and I realized
That you were an island and I passed you by
And you were an island to discover”
Every day for four months, Weiss went to work with a serial killer, and then he didn’t anymore.
This was not the kind of realization he had in the middle of something important – not something earth shattering that would make him spill his coffee on his lap in the middle of traffic and set him to swearing. Like when Vaughn told him that some of the guys around the office had been asking after him, and it took him until the next morning on the way to work when he realized what his friend had meant. His SUV still smelled like Columbian Roast.
No, this was the kind of thing that he had always known, since the very first time he’d read the man’s file. Too many of the blanks were filled with the phrase ‘UNKNOWN,’ the block letters bleeding the CIA’s frustration at not knowing something, anything more. Which was specifically why, Weiss thought, he still had a job. To fill in as many of those blank lines as possible.
Not that Weiss had gotten any farther on that path.
“Date of birth?”
“Younger than you.”
“Place of birth?”
Actually, Weiss mused as he waited for the light to turn green, for all he knew, that last one might have been true. The sun was rising at just the wrong angle, squeezing its rays through the space between the visor and the roof of the car. Slouching, Weiss felt his temper start to boil. Smog all year round, and then the one sunny day he has to be blinding himself, waiting for traffic to clear.
Not to mention it was only October, and they were already playing Christmas carols on the radio. Weiss flicked down the volume just as his cell phone chirruped. He glanced down at the caller ID, didn’t recognize the number, and ignored the ringing. He needed to change his number again. He was starting to get too many solicitors.
In the long run, the obstinate refusal to answer questions hadn’t mattered. For either of them. Sark had been given field status – too expensive a commodity to let rot in Los Angeles for too long, not to mention an extended absence would create suspicion too large for even Sark’s glossy words to paint over within his own organizations. So they’d sent the man to Berlin, with a tether and something implanted in his head to keep track of the body, should it mysteriously change faces.
The traffic inched forward, and Weiss had to suppress the urge not to make a few calls and get Billy, the intern in electronics, to change all the lights on his route to green. He would prefer a lecture on not being late than one on abusing his power from Jack Bristow. The man could get extra touchy in the mornings, for reasons Weiss had never been quite able to figure out, but marked down to an inability to press his slacks sharply enough to draw blood.
Yes, Weiss thought. Jack would lecture, and Sark would have been standing quietly, arms folded, head down to hide his smirk, legs crossed at the ankles as he leaned against some lucky inanimate object, like a door or a wall or a filing cabinet.
Except Sark was missing.
It was no great surprise. Not to anyone in the bureau, at least, who had worked with him before. Sark was like water when it came to holding on to him. He can be cupped, but not squeezed, Weiss thought with amusement, and shook his head.
Weiss sat up abruptly as the traffic pulled forward again, and crowed in victory. Only a few blocks now, and his angrily cramping legs would be stretched. He knew there was a case briefing this morning that he would probably still be in time for, and he could feel himself thrum with anticipation.
His cell phone perked up again, flashing the black of his seats with a mild, blue light. He glanced at it as he slid behind a red sedan into the left-turn lane. It was the same number as before. He flicked the phone open with a small frown. “Weiss.”
“So you’ve taken to not answering your phone?”
“Vaughn.” Weiss kept the wash of disappointment of out his voice. Cell phones, ever since Russia, had been…different. “Syd let you up for air?”
A slight harshening of the tone, which meant Jack was already pissed off and taking it out on the right people. “Would you hurry up already?”
Weiss didn’t say anything as he maneuvered his car; turned into the CIA parking garage with the phone tucked into his shoulder. “Is there a reason this can’t wait another thirty seconds?”
“Of course not. Do you know how long you’ve kept me waiting already?”
Weiss furrowed his brow at the comment as he locked his car by remote and strolled in through the garage doors. Vaughn was peeling up to him with two folders in hand, snapping his phone shut fast enough to break the dialing window. Weiss quickened his pace.
“Assignments this morning,” Vaughn said in a clipped voice. “Did you catch the game last night?”
“Taped it,” Weiss answered, taking the file. “Thank you.” They sped around a corner, Weiss gauging his partner’s mood, and he tried to remember whether or not Sydney was even home this week. Probably not.
“No problem. You taped it?”
“I had reports to fill out. How’s Donovan?”
“That’s sin. In the last twenty seconds – ”
“Don’t tell me!” Weiss put his hands up to his ears, the file flapping, as they shouldered into the conference room.
* * *
“You must think I am in some way…incompetent…to, to think that you can come to me…” Jack was stuttering in his mild rage. Weiss let his hands fall back to his sides as he came in, and he and Vaughn exchanged a small glance; a blushing, boyish exchange of shame as they slid into their seats. Jack’s lips were white, he was pressing them together so tightly. The senior agent was staring at their live feed television screen, waiting for a response.
Before the speaker could respond, Jack turned on his heels and glared down the newcomers. “So pleased you could join us, Agent Weiss.” The man emphasized his title as if he was in danger of losing it. Weiss swallowed hard. “You’re just in time to assist in these…negotiations.”
Vaughn leaned over to quietly whisper, “We found Sark.”
Jack’s lip curled up in open disgust as he stared back at the man on the screen. “I would say that Mr. Sark found us. We’re still having a bit of trouble putting a location on him, though.”
And before Weiss could say anything at all, Sark’s smirking face filled up the large projection board at the front of the room. He was wearing a red shirt, unbuttoned just one button too low to be at all respectable, and his hair was standing on all ends like someone had grabbed two fistfuls of the glossy, light brown strands, and just pulled. He was leaning slightly to one side, and Weiss could tell that he had his legs crossed below the camera line.
“You’re smarter than that, Agent Bristow,” Sark said quietly, as if he were in any position to take a tone of warning with the man who could kill him in ways that were no longer sanctioned even by the CIA. “I’m not offering you an alliance. I’m very openly your enemy. I’m simply suggesting that we could access a business venture. One that would be…mutually beneficial.” His gaze flickered slightly to his off-screen knees, and then back again, as if he found some thought particularly amusing.
Jack hunched his shoulders and looked at Sark through thousands of miles of digital feed. “You have nothing to offer me. Never mind that I would be a fool to accept a proposition of a man such as yourself,” he paused, and Weiss could see his disgust and mockery boil forth, “based solely on your word.”
Weiss and Vaughn exchanged an ironic glance, their expressions reading “Irina.” But Weiss kept silent because he valued his face and knew that Jack did not.
Sark’s eyebrows raised, and Weiss watched Vaughn’s forehead wrinkle exponentially at his next words: “Really? Nothing? Have you seen your daughter lately?” Sark touched his fingertips together in front of his mouth, as if trying very hard to hide his smile but not thinking too badly of himself for failing.
Vaughn whipped his head around hard enough to strain some muscles. “What?” he asked, already half standing, but Weiss was tugging him back down automatically, eyes still locked on the screen. The interior of the room was nondescript, and there was no background noise. He hoped Jack had had the foresight to record the transmission, so he could study the audio feed… Vaughn sat back down and indignantly straightened the jacket of his suit.
Jack had taken ten deep breaths and had unclenched his hands from the back of the chair he’d had in a death grip. “My daughter,” he said, “is perfectly safe. She is at home, taking the day off. Not that it’s any of your business.” He shifted his gaze to Vaughn for confirmation. The other man nodded.
Jack looked back at the television, mild triumph easing the lines in his face. It was not a pretty sight, Weiss thought, but not much of Jack was.
Sark nodded twice to himself, as if this were all a part of a glorious song that he had just finished composing. Uncrossing his legs, he leaned forward, his face eating up the screen. “Really,” he said again, his hand came up and turned the camera so that it pointed at a closed door. Sark rose off screen and crossed the shot, opening the door.
All Weiss could think about was how good he looked in those tailored slacks.
And then the door was open, and Sark was saying, “Say hello, Sydney,” and stepping back from the scene to allow Jack full view of his daughter. She was tied to a chair, one leg splayed out in front of her, her head lolling off to one side. A grin split her face as she saw the camera. “‘Hello, Sydney!’” she called obediently, and then broke into giggles.
Weiss could see Marshall’s mouth fall open out of the corner of his eye.
Jack did not take his eyes off the screen. “Vaughn, go – ”
But Vaughn was already gone, the door slamming behind him.
* * *
Twelve hours later, Weiss, Marshall, and enough equipment to power Cape Canaveral had been crammed into the back of a van and positioned on the outskirts of Grenville, New Mexico. The town looked like something from a spaghetti western, with the buildings on the set propped up from behind by two-by-fours instead of actual structures. They were surrounded by desert. The ride had been particularly uncomfortable, Weiss finding himself lurching into various computers that were far stronger than he was.
Marshall, of course, had strapped himself to the floor, and was in the process of untangling his legs from a pair of steel boots.
“They’re just like ski boots,” he was explaining, head between his knees as he fumbled in the dark. “Only I welded them to the floor of the van. I got tired of getting shoved around back here.” He looked up at Weiss in the dark. “Mr. Bristow isn’t the, um, best driver.”
“I noticed.” Weiss was tapping absentmindedly on a keyboard. “Wasn’t this thing working when we left?”
“Oh, you’ve got to – ” Marshall leaned forward to help him, but his feet were still stuck, and he lurched backward awkwardly, to regain his balance. “Sorry. Hold on. Don’t touch that.”
“You got it,” Weiss agreed, taking his hands off the stack of plastic coated technology in front of him.
As soon as they had arrived, after driving for three hours without working headlights, Jack slammed on the breaks, turned off the car, and he and Vaughn ran off without so much as a by-your-leave. Weiss was tracking them on a monitor overlay with Sark’s beeping tether, which had reactivated itself as soon as they had gotten to the border of California. He had yet to explain the technology’s moody malfunctioning.
Sydney, Vaughn had discovered, had been taken from her house some time early that morning after he had left to return to his own apartment. This he told lurchingly to Jack, who kept his gaze steady on the road the entire time.
But the most disturbing part, in Weiss’ opinion, was the fact that Sark had made no demands. The terms of the exchange were to be discussed in person, so that Jack would be able to watch the immediate consequences of a refusal. Something about the entire ordeal wasn’t sitting right with Weiss. Sark was usually so much more complex than a simple ransom call and kidnapping.
“Say goodbye to your father, Sydney.”
“Midnight, Agent Bristow. Don’t be late.”
There was a sudden, sharp impact as Marshall freed himself from the boots, and Weiss flicked on a flashlight and looked over at him. “What if you have to walk around?”
Marshall’s significant brow furrowed. “I hadn’t – um. I’ll have to take a look at – let me turn that on for you.”
Weiss grinned. “Of course.” As much as the agent could be twitchy, Weiss had grown to enjoy Marshall’s company over the past few months. He was, to put it shortly, a genius. Together, they set up the monitoring equipment, and Weiss thumped some over-large headphones onto his ears to search the desert landscape for signs of life that did not belong.
“Careful you don’t pick up any SETI broadcasts,” Marshall warned jubilantly.
“They don’t exist,” Weiss muttered to himself, handing over the tracking monitor to the other man.
“Really?” Marshall looked alarmed. “Because, I mean, I send them stuff all the time…or, you know, I used to. Intel, that – ”
Weiss looked up. “I know. We got it.”
“Oh,” he replied, and Weiss stuck the flashlight on the table between them, beam cast on the roof of the van. Suddenly, the radio crackled. Marshall turned it up.
“Anything yet?” It was Vaughn’s voice. Weiss frowned and expanded the range on the area. He shook his head just as there was a crackle in his ears. He winced, turned down the volume, and adjusted the coordinates to change the position of the satellite.
“We’ve got something,” he told Vaughn. “But it might be you guys.”
“ – we there yet, Sark?”
“Or maybe not,” Weiss amended, and read out the coordinates. “You should be able to hear them coming soon. They’re mobile.”
“Got it,” Vaughn replied, and the signal went dead with a crack.
Marshall, in a moment of clarity, gave a pained look. “Does this seem a little too easy to you?”
Weiss didn’t hesitate. “Absolutely.” He pulled off the headphones and turned off the machine. “What’s the catch? What’s the set up?”
They both mused for a moment, feeling rather abandoned, and Weiss let his fingers trail over his holster to remind himself that he was armed.
“Oh, hey!” Marshall said, suddenly excited, and scrambled for a drawer in one of the black plastic compartments Weiss sat in front of. “Want to see something neat?”
Weiss didn’t bother to stifle his grin. “Sure.” Marshall fished out a pair of sunglasses and picked up the flashlight from where it sat between them. The light wavered and flicked all over the van for a moment while he juggled the objects.
“Okay,” Marshall said, holding up the sunglasses so that Weiss could see all sides. “Normal sunglasses, yes?” Weiss agreed that they did, indeed, look normal, if rather high quality. They were glossed in a black finish, and the lenses were delicately opaque. He had the distinct feeling that he was about to see a magic trick, the way Marshall was setting this up. “Right, normal,” Marshall agreed, and then held up one finger. “Except,” he said, “when you put them on…” he handed them over to Weiss, and put his hand over the flashlight so that only a bit of red-pink light filtered around his fingers.
“Whoa,” Weiss said. The entire interior of the van lit up in thousands of particles of green. “They’re night vision goggles. But…little.”
“No, no,” Marshall said, the flashlight jiggling in his excitement to explain. “They’re sunglasses. Get it? Sun? Because they make their own…?” He looked at Weiss expectantly, and Weiss smiled. “They take what light is there, and make the eye sensitive to it. Magnifies every photon of light.”
Weiss took the glasses off and handed them back, carefully. Very, very carefully. Marshall slipped them on his own face.
“Only, you know, don’t, um, turn on the lights while you’re wearing them. Cause, you know – OW!”
Comically on-cue, the van had flooded with light as the back doors were flung open. Marshall was torn between ripping off the glasses, covering his face, and reaching for the gun that rested with unfamiliar weight at his hip.
Weiss had his gun out and pointed before he realized he was moving. He rested on one knee on the floor of the van, behind the chair, but at this range it wouldn’t much matter if he got plugged through the plastic. The figure was pure black, lit from behind by two high beams from a truck that matched their own. In the figure’s arms was another body, which was unceremoniously dumped on the floor of the van.
Weiss’ glance flicked downward for a split second. Sydney.
“Marshall,” was all he said, and the tech-op agent edged forward to check the woman’s pulse.
“She’s alive,” he said.
“Eric,” said the figure, and held out one shadowy hand.
Weiss’ gun slipped an inch.
“Agent Weiss?” Marshall said uncertainly. “Maybe you shouldn’t – ”
Weiss holstered his weapon, and stepped out of the van.
* * *
“Would you hand me that?” Weiss pointed to a fire extinguisher, and Sark raised his eyebrows. “Yes, that’s it, come on,” he went on impatiently. Sark handed it over.
The man was running at them. Weiss watched his progress, holding the extinguisher near the neck end with both hands. His bad eye was swelling shut, and he was glancing at Sark out of the corner of it. “Just for the record, I am tired of being everyone’s punching bag.”
The man was yelling now, and almost upon them. Weiss shifted his gaze back to the attacker, swung back, and the sound of skull hitting metal echoed through the narrow corridor. The jolt of the impact traveled up Weiss’ arm, but he remembered enough to follow through. The man’s feet kept going another few steps before they realized the torso was no longer following, and there was another skull-crack as it hit the floor.
Weiss threw the fire extinguisher on the man’s chest, and his attacker’s arms wrapped up around it in a moan of anguish.
Sark was looking at him in that…way. “Duly noted.”
“Additionally,” Weiss said, poking the man in the chest. “I am sick and tired of saving your ass from the people you work for.”
“I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself, Eric,” Sark said passively as he held open the door to the Smoking Room in the airport, and ushered the other man out. “Despite what you, and the people in your department, think.”
Sark’s mission had been simple, he explained to Weiss as they drove to the closest airport during the night. He had been instructed by the senior partners of his many organizations that he was to obtain Sydney Bristow by a given time and date.
Knowing, of course, that his skin would be turned inside out and made into a nice lamp shade on Jack Bristow’s desk should he attempt to do so, Sark arranged for Sydney to be dropped back with her protectors and exchanged for a different agent. Which would have to be Weiss, he said apologetically. There was no way Sydney would have believed the story. Weiss, on the other hand, was accommodating like that.
“There’s no way he came alone,” Weiss said as he stepped out into the main corridor, and they made their way in the general direction of their gate. “They’ll see me coming out.”
Sark gave him an amused expression. “Of course they will.” He held up the airline tickets. “You think we’re really on our way to New York?”
A shout from down the way made Weiss turn his head. More men running at them. Sark had his gun, of course. He bit down on the inside of his cheek. I can’t believe you fell for this, Weiss. He was being demoted or fired at this very second, he was sure.
“This way,” Sark demanded, yanking on his arm, and they both ran toward the double doors they’d come through in the first place. A car sat idling, trunk open, people piling out matching luggage. Sark slammed the trunk shut, and Weiss jumped in the passenger seat. There was angry shouting behind him as Sark slammed the car into drive. Weiss turned to watch three men run out of the airport and jump into another car, speeding after them.
“You work for everyone,” Weiss said, his voice a mix of awe and annoyance.
Sark spared him a glance while they plowed along the sidewalks, passersby scattering in front of the van. He looked back and swung into an alley, fishtailing momentarily before they shot like an arrow down the one way street it led to.
“I work for no one,” Sark corrected.
“We’re heading back toward the building,” Weiss told him, hoping the driver simply hadn’t realized it, and that it wasn’t part of the plan. “Turn around.”
“It’s the last place they’ll look for us,” Sark explained. He was squinting hard and leaning forward, his eyes visible through the sides of his sunglasses. “At the top of every organization, there is one person, Eric. If you can kill that one person, the organization is yours.”
Weiss snorted. “So these people want your power?”
“I’ll simply have to never give them the opportunity to kill me.”
There was some heavy implication in that phrasing. Weiss considered this. “You think I would?”
Sark turned and looked at him, flashing a smile. “I know it.” Just as they both looked back at the road, they barreled over a hill, and the front of the building came into view.
Armed guards were crouched and waiting in battle stances, holding submachine guns. Weiss could feel his eyes go the size of dinner plates.
Sark grit his teeth and his plowed his jaws together, like some planetary alignment of slick, bone perfection. Weiss could only manage to find it attractive – in lieu of the pants-wetting intended reaction – because he had never been on the business end of it. To his knowledge, it was the farthest he had ever seen Sark let his emotions out of control.
“Hold on,” was the only warning before Sark spun the wheel as far as it would go, wrenching the van around. Weiss felt himself thrown forward and tried to curl up as small as possible when the guns began riddling the van. He felt something punch through the door and watched, in comedic stop-time animation, as it passed between his legs.
And then they were going in the opposite direction at 90 miles per hour.
Sark was glancing at him out of the corner of his eye again. “Are you alright?”
Eric was laughing, still seeing those barrels facing him in his mind’s eye. “They missed.” He could see Sark frown, and he buried his eyes in the heels of his hands to block it out. “They missed,” he said again, liking the way it sounded.
* * *
When Weiss woke up, he was alone, in a strange bed, and could hear Lorikeets. That meant it was close to sunset, he thought.
That meant he wasn’t in the United States, he added.
Pulling his body out of bed – which felt like it was approximately 300 pounds heavier from the weight of sleep and the fact that Sark had drugged him on their way to the plane– Weiss managed to make it to a window to look out. The view was obstructed by palm fronds, flowering plants that he thought would probably kill you if you touched them, and very, very rich dirt. He stared at the plants for a good long minute before he realized there was no glass in the window, and reached out to touch the closest leaf like a child afraid of getting caught.
A splash interrupted his thoughts, and he pulled his hand back with a jerk. Focus, you idiot. Where’s your gun? He glanced around the room, but didn’t see anything but a doorway into the bathroom. Which he searched. No gun. It was foolishly hopeful to think that Sark would have returned it. Padding on bare feet back into the bedroom, he searched out the exit and realized why he’d missed it the first time – it was made out of bamboo.
He pushed it open slowly, feeling exposed and dirty in his slept-in clothes. The splashing sound came again, from the back of the house. Curiosity overrode fear, if not common sense, and he made his way as stealthily as possible through the open, Spartan living room, checking open doors for signs of life. It seemed the house was abandoned.
Stepping cautiously out onto the patio, Weiss realized what had caused the splash, and was glad that it wasn’t dead bodies.
Sark’s arms were leading the sluice into the water, and the rest of his body slipped seamlessly behind as he dove. The pool was a calm blue, and the blonde’s body barely moved the water as he broke the surface. “You’re awake!” he called.
You’re incredible, Weiss called back, but only in his mind. The rest of him was still asleep, he was sure of it. Sark was climbing out of the pool, hefting himself over the edge, scorning the use of the ladder for the strength in his arms. Water shook from his head, causing a halo of droplets to spatter to the tiled area around him, and the sun made him look wet.
The scene was completely gratuitous.
Sark snagged a towel and rubbed his head into a fuzz of flax. “Sleep well?” He plowed on without giving Weiss an opportunity to reply. “I imagine you’d like a change of clothes. I think you’ll find your room well stocked in anything you might need in your size. Lunch will be served shortly.” He supplied a small grin. “Whether or not you trust enough to eat will be, I suppose, up to you.”
Weiss blinked, his eyes feeling full of chlorine or jalapenos. “Where are we?”
“Elsewhere,” Sark said, mysteriously. He tossed the towel back onto the tile and went to stand by the side of the pool. “I’m afraid I’ll have to be leaving before long, so if you would like me to explain what’s going on, you’d best take that shower soon. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait two days.”
Weiss took a shower. When he came back, Sark was gone.
* * *
During the first day of the forty-eight hours Weiss spent trapped on Sark’s mysteriously located property, he searched every square inch of the rather spacious area for any clue to where he might be, or how to get out. The only thing he managed to discover was that the property was suspiciously well kept and completely free of any kind of illicit spy device. It was all too perfectly orchestrated.
The second day, he picked fruit off the trees – still a risk, considering that Sark could’ve planted the tropical pits in cyanide. Weiss remembered reading something about how even organics could be trained to sustain certain levels of the poison that would still be deadly to humans unsuspecting enough to eat it. But it had been longer than he could remember since his last meager meal, and he gorged himself on something with the vague texture of cotton but the exploding flavor of lime and orange. The only negative thing that came out of it was that his hands and lips stuck together until he discovered the pit held the solvent.
Stocked up on fruit, Weiss walked for twelve hours and climbed the highest ridge in view of Sark’s properties. There were no fences, no wires, no sign of how any of the electricity reached the house – in fact, Sark’s house was the only property he could see for miles, once he reached the apex of the cliff. It was a long, dizzy way down and back to the house.
When he got there, he cleaned out the bottom shelf of the fridge, and out of everything he ate, was only sure that there may have been roast beef included. He fell asleep face down in the jersey cotton sheets and lost twenty pounds in sweat that night.
* * *
“Ready for your answer now?”
Sark spoke without turning away from the stove, skittering a French wisk along the sizzling surface of a cast-iron skillet. There were four eggs sitting complacently next to the stove, waiting to be cracked and deposited. Weiss’ stomach gurgled in appreciation, while his mind rebelled at the concept of Sark and domesticity in the same eyeful.
“Yes.” Weiss was proud of how he kept his voice level and stern.
Sark turned and gestured at him with the wisk. “You’re angry.”
Weiss leaned against the island counter that separated them. “I’ve been kidnapped.”
Sark smiled before turning back to the skillet, and cracking the eggs in rapid succession. “You’re so innocent, Eric. Surely you’ve been able to figure things out a bit farther than that. I did owe you a vacation. I knew you’d have to be coerced into it.”
“I want you to tell me where I am.”
“It won’t matter. Even if I do, you won’t be able to figure out where you are.”
“I’ll tell you where you are when you no longer wish to leave.” And that was the end of that conversation, no matter how much Weiss threatened and begged and made assassination attempts – he found himself on the intimidating end of a gun at one point, Sark finally fed up with his resistance, the safety thumbed off.
They spent an anxious moment glaring at each other.
“The eggs are burning,” Weiss had said, and the moment had broken and the gun disappeared. After that, he hadn’t said anything else about where they were. But that didn’t stop him from other questions.
* * *
He was lying shirtless on the beach again, the cloth piled over his eyes. His arms were sprawled out to either side of him like some perverted image of Christ. Weiss was tempted to ask him if he was going to make sand angels, but he’d been on the receiving end of enough dirty looks in the past week to keep his sarcasm to a minimum when he wanted an honest answer.
Sark didn’t answer for a few minutes, and Weiss shifted his gaze to the sea, smelled the salt coming in and sticking to his skin. He’d been taking three showers a day just to get the gritty feel off. Sark’s right arm twitched, and he plucked the shirt off his eyes. Weiss looked back down at him.
Sark turned his face back skyward and rearranged the shirt so that it just draped his eyes. “Why not you?”
“I’m not worth anything.”
Leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, he could see the younger man’s lips moving, and couldn’t seem to watch anything else. “I didn’t think that self esteem was one of your problems,” Sark said. Weiss’ mouth quirked. So you think you know the problems I do have?
“To you,” Weiss clarified. “I’m disposable. Your boss shot me in the throat, remember?” He fingered the scar for emphasis.
“Irina and I have always had very different…” He paused, and smiled. “Values.” As if finally giving up on the prospect of sleep, or meditation, or whatever it was he had been doing before he was interrupted, he pulled the shirt off his face and twisted upwards, leaning on one elbow to watch Weiss. “And what makes you think you’re participating in a business transaction here?”
“Maybe it’s the fact that you won’t let me leave.”
The smile grew. “You’re perfectly welcome to leave. If you can figure out how.”
Weiss threw a pointed glare at him, but it was an old conversation and the expression didn’t last. “Why not…” he cast around for a name. “Vaughn? Will?”
Sark looked amused. “I’m sorry, I thought we had an understanding here that I valued my life. Why on earth would I take Michael Vaughn on vacation when Sydney would surely come and interrupt the whole thing?” The inference that Weiss was not high on Sydney’s “To Rescue” list was clear. He studied Weiss as the agent tried to come up with a response before adding in disbelief, “Tippin?”
Weiss shrugged. Sark laughed his cutting laugh. “Have you seen the man’s hands? Honestly, Eric.”
They were both silent for a moment, Weiss trying to come up with something equally witty as a rebuttal and failing. Curiosity overcame him. “What’s wrong with his hands?”
Sark had closed his eyes again, but was still propped back on his elbows. “They’re not yours.” He smiled, and got that Look again, but this time he didn’t have his cobalt eyes boring through Weiss, so Weiss felt marginally safe.
* * *
The were eating dinner on the eighth night, Sark contemplating the next move in a chess game he was playing with himself, when Weiss, between violent, storm crashes of surf on sand, asked, “How long are you going to keep me here?”
Sark looked up, one finger resting on the black knight. “As long as it takes.”
Weiss didn’t ask what “it” was, because he didn’t want to know. He chewed slowly, and the food suddenly tasted gray. Sark shifted the knight and made a satisfied noise before decanting the wine he had brought to the table. He didn’t get farther than reaching for the bottle when Weiss watched his own arm reach out and gather itself in the crimson folds of the other man’s shirt, near the collar.
He pulled Sark forward, and enjoyed the fact that the detached feeling he’d had for the past week evaporated into sheer reality and the press of the other man’s lips.
Sark pulled his head back. “I hate to disabuse you of your assumptions. But doing this will not get you out of my clutches any faster.”
Weiss could feel the curve of the younger man’s neck under his hand. “Shut up.”
Sark grinned against his lips. “Finally.”
The next ten minutes were disjointed – Weiss remembered standing, bending, and the sound of food and plates and pawns hitting the floor as someone swept the table of its contents. And then Sark was bending over backwards, his spine pressed against a stray fork, as Weiss did things he wasn’t quite sure he had ever known he could do with his lips.
He wanted to see this man lose control.
Sark’s skin tasted of the salt air and something better, that sent a sharp kick into Weiss’ abdomen with every taste he took. The details of the rest went from hazy into sharp, fragmented focus: Sark’s knee pressing against his side, Sark’s hands pulling at the hair on the nape of his neck, sending urgent signals from the base of his spine to the apex, and back again. He filled his senses with the man, breathing deeply in the crook of his neck, and writing words of prayer on the skin he found there. And then things would blur again as Sark rose against him.
As with everything else in Sark’s life, he was a possessive lover.
But there was one thing that was different, and that thrilled Weiss to no end. He could feel, under his lips, the uncontrollable racing of the other man’s pulse, as he pulled the halved shirt apart. He could watch the flurry of fascination and excitement in the eyes go unrestrained and turn into insanity and lust. Most of all, Weiss could feel the exact same thing happening to himself.
He loved it.
Clothing was shed slowly at first, and then, like the passing of the highest point in a roller coaster, with unrelenting speed and a whole new breed of terror. And then the man was laid out under his hands, and he could map the scars on the golden body as quickly as he wanted, distracted only by the harmony of the sea and Sark’s punctuated breathing.
There was so much skin. But there was even more anticipation – the suspended moment of a white piece of paper with a quivering blot of black ink waiting to stain the page. The first mark would be could be both permanent and deadly. Weiss hesitated.
Sark’s breathing hitched in the most adorable way. “I will kill you,” Sark promised, his voice strained delicately, “if you stop.” Weiss shook himself mentally, and went to lower his mouth again, when Sark propped himself up on shaking limbs, somehow coming under a pocket of untapped control and derring-do. “On second thought,” he said with a smile, “you’re still wearing far too many clothes.”
And the gauntlet was tossed. Weiss swallowed harshly, carding his fingers through his own hair. “I’m not – ” Not like you. Not perfect.
“Naked?” Sark asked, lips twitching in amusement. “That’s precisely the problem.” And then Weiss’ pants were out the window. Literally.
They stared at each other.
“That,” Sark decided, “is so much better.”
And then they attacked.
Somehow they made it to Weiss’ bedroom before things got messy. It was around then that Weiss attempted to convince himself that it was all a dream - a lovely dream, but still surely a dream. He would wake in the office, drooling on a pile of abandoned paperwork, and have an abused muscle in his neck for the rest of the week. Then he and Vaughn would go out for beers and he would never, ever tell his friend about how Sark was sucking his fingers.
On second thought, he abridged as the man moved on to lavishing his oral skills on his lower arm, he probably needed to stop thinking about Vaughn now.
It wasn’t hard to distract himself in Sark. The blonde was rather vocal, as if he was proving to himself that he was allowed to be, after years of being forced to perform the same tasks in silence. Weiss couldn’t imagine asking him not to make the noises he was making. So he set out to map and record each sound to his actions.
It was a long and arduous task, but someone had to do it.
Halfway through, Sark emitted a noise of frustrated rage, hauled the other man up his body, flipped him over, and that was when things began to get very, very interesting.
* * *
He peeled his eyelids upwards by one centimeter and could feel the impression his body made in the soft mattress. And decided that if he never, ever had to move again, things would probably work themselves out just fine.
He lay there, cheek pressed to the crisp, cotton sheets, for twenty minutes, listening for the sounds of the house, too comfortable to move. He felt as if all his muscles had been unstrung, pounded with a meat mallet, and hastily rearranged sometime during the night. But as the Lorikeets slowly drove him mad, Weiss realized that there was no sound of deviant water escaping from the pool. There was only the sound of the ocean crashing on the shore, and his own breathing.
Weiss sat up and all of his muscles protested calamitously in unison.
On the pillow next to him was a map.
* * *
It wasn't until he had been home for three days that he went back to work. Back to a desk job. Back to typing up the files and reports of the agents he worked with. He began a series of experiments with Marshall and his sunglasses, knowing they would be useful later on.
A piece of his brain, however, he had left in that bed.
Vaughn had questioned him carefully, and Weiss had found himself reluctant to answer with the truth. What went from Weiss to Vaughn would go from Vaughn to Sydney, and Weiss wasn't too sure how he felt about that anymore. His answers were brief and incomplete. He was thoroughly examined, mentally and physically, before being allowed back inside what he liked to call the vault.
That was when he found out what had really happened - how Jack and Vaughn had been led astray by a partner of Sark's while the man himself had made his way, at his leisure, to the van where he had known Marshall and Weiss would be stationed all along. No harm had come to Sydney at any point, except for a bit of an ego bruising, and she was working herself harder than ever to discover exactly how Sark had made his way into her house without her knowing.
And that left Weiss in the relatively safe world of lab work and from-home-base surveillance work.
"Weiss," came the call in the corridor, and he looked up to see the mail boy toss him a small box, wrapped in light brown paper and tied with string. he was beginning to miss the sound of his first name.
Weiss looked at the California return address and nodded to himself, glad that the parts he had ordered for the new remote satellite had finally arrived. Kendall had been harping on him since before the mission to finish the thing, and Weiss had finally found his motivation in petulant boredom.
Pulling the string off the box, Weiss carelessly tore the brown paper and let it drop onto his desk. He leaned forward eagerly, ready to count circuits and put his hands to use again.
The white cardboard box inside wasn't even sealed. Weiss slid the tabs out and pulled the top up, sparing a glance out into the hall to see if anyone was watching him. A lot of people had been watching him, lately.
When he looked back down, he felt his heart seize. A shiny, black cell phone, turned on, lay nestled on a bed of spun-sugar Styrofoam. A card resting above it read only, "Try not to destroy this one."
Weiss reached for it, fingers shaking, mouth tugging upwards into what could, days later, evolve into a smile.
The phone rang.