Author: gabby silang

Summary: Old adversaries defrost. Eventually Syd/Sark.

Disclaimer: The characters of 'Alias' are, sadly, not mine. What they do here is, and the original characters are, but all that is canon belongs to JJ & Co. Sue me if you wish, I have no money.

Feedback: Turns that frown upside down! gabby_silang

Archive: Cover Me, Hybris, take with impunity. All others if they ask nicely.

Comfortably Numb

It will never be enough for her. All the precaution, the assurances, her handler telling her to break a leg and meaning it. Nothing will make her forget that the safety nets are made of gossamer, that her past successes were two parts luck, one part expensive equipment, and her handler is reassuring himself so that he can say he tried his best.

He is not like Vaughn. He is kind, and cracks quiet jokes, and speaks in a soothing monotone in her earpiece, but he is not like Vaughn. Vaughn didn't wear beige, and his eyes were stormy, Atkins is always in khaki and his eyes are just like hers. Only in color-Vaughn's matched hers in fear, in something else. She'll never know.

Atkins means well, but he knows that she sees him and every minute wishes they'd never met. But he's kind. And he cracks quiet jokes to distract her from the khaki and to focus on his hands as they hold out a picture to her.

"I'm told you know him."

A man, attractive, healthy, blonde, sharp features, sharp expression, caught looking straight at the photographer, fully aware.

"Sark." She considers his eyes, the line of his shoulders, "He's gotten older."

"A bit," sidelong glance, a flash of teeth, "You're not in your twenties anymore either, Agent Bristow."

Her thirties she doesn't mind. The title makes her feel old.

"Call me Sydney," for the hundredth time, "And what's the intrepid Mr. Sark up to these days? No good?"

"One would think so, but it seems he's getting soft in his old age," she allows is to fall flat and he continues, "He received some intel that we, well, we wouldn't have otherwise," what a surprise, "A summit of underground arms manufacturers and dealers will go down in Mexico five days from now," another file, dossiers of old men with young ideas, "Any decisions or deals they make would no doubt be of consequence to the world as a whole. Even assassins and rogue spies."

He always tries to measure her reaction, it never takes.

"He's contacted the Agency?"

"Yes, he wants to cooperate. The terms are being drawn up as we speak," he rushes on, "I know, you're thinking we're crazy to even discuss doing this with a known assassin and enemy of the state, but the more we cooperate, the more we get out of the deal. And we wouldn't have known about it at all if he hadn't told us. I'm not saying we can trust him-"

"It's not a problem."

"It's not.? This man was your main adversary not too long ago, Agent Bristow. I didn't expect you to be so compliant when asked to work with him." He's tilting his head, something Vaughn never really did. It's kind of cute.

"It's been done before. They're probably using a looser version of the terms worked out with Derevko," she remembers now, "And he told me once that he wouldn't betray me. He respects the work I do. In his sick little psychology that's worth something."

"So you're okay with this?" Almost like he wants her to disagree. He must have had a dramatic and moving defense scripted out.

"It's fine with me."

"Well, good," a shuffling of papers to reveal a flight itinerary, private planes "You leave tonight. Both of you."

A minor double-take, "Cancun?"

"A perk of the job for you, and some tourist-provided cover for them," Atkins shrugs a little, grins a little, reminds her of Will, but with government-issue everything, "Not that any of these guys could pass for college kids."

"What's the objective? What am I supposed to do with them?"

He almost blushes.

"Well, that's another thing being decided as we speak. You'll be briefed on the plane. And Jack is covering for you at SD-6 as soon as they start missing you. Sloane hasn't had any new ops planned for the next few days, and we'll hope it stays that way."

"Who's flying with us? Who's doing the briefing?"

"What? Oh, Sark is. Flying and briefing." And now he looks away.

"Oh. Well. Isn't that something."