The plane would be cramped if it weren't for the lack of passengers. As it is, Sydney only feels slightly claustrophobic, more due to the proximity to her companion than the small cabin and the closed windows that the CIA had insisted on.

It's been 20 minutes and Sark hasn't briefed her yet, hasn't said anything beyond a cordial greeting, and she's not about to ask. He's settled himself across from her, by the mini-bar, with a glass of something white and he's rebelliously cracked open a window. He takes a sip and grimaces. The CIA is cheap.

He's different and she can't put her finger on it, though it hasn't been that long. There is everything she recognizes-every inch of him assured, refined enough to be called confident and not cocky, the misleading languor of repose, arm on the armrest but not truly leaning back, eyes scanning the cabin every few minutes, scanning the view outside, no doubt assuring himself that they are following the agreed upon flight path. Still easy on the eyes. She'd admitted it before, no reason to hesitate now. He wore a signature tailored suit, but had draped the jacket over the back of the seat and rolled up his sleeves. The cabin is a bit hot, he has very nice forearms, and long fingers that make her flicker to the thought that he should have been an artist, wonder if he'd claim that he is.

Perhaps he's missing a bit of his old energy, that spark that had given both of them the audacity to chit chat on ops when they'd run into each other like doctors from different wards meeting on the elevator. She can rose-tint it now, pretend the chiropractor and the oncologist would kick each other's asses and scurry away.

Vaughn never liked it when she ran into Sark; eventually he said his name with more contempt than Syd could muster. There was a look he'd get in his eyes reserved for when he talked about Sark. As if he knew of something awful that was bound to happen and that he could not prevent it.

Sark's looking at her from an angle and through boyish lashes.

"I heard about your former handler. That was unfortunate." Looking for a response.

"That was a while ago." Meeting his eyes.

"Yes, I see that."

"I don't need your pity, Sark."

"Did I offer it?" she looks away and knows he scored a point, "Although I can't tell you I'm glad to see you still working for those buffoons. You could achieve so much more-"

"Shove it, Andrew."

He smiles genuinely, more than a little disarming.

"Gladly," the wine is put down, "Would you like to know what we're flying towards?"

'Like to' is not a label she uses lightly.

"What have you got?" Nearly a statement.

He sighs a little, as if she's the burden he's dragging along, and she almost puts him in his place. He starts talking before she can decide between words and violence.

"Just a bit more than you do, I'm sure. You've received the dossiers of the people involved. The big names are only four in dealing-Headon, Matsushita, Ramos, and Edge-and three in manufacturing-Nuejahr, Babiarza, and Gakovitch. The rest are small fish, not worth our time."

"And who decided that?"

"I did." Obviously. He catches the roll of her eyes, "I know these people, Ms. Bristow, I've worked with them."

Isn't that reassuring.

"So what makes you think you can waltz in there now and leave them none the wiser?"

"They still believe me to be working with them."

"Well, doesn't that put me in a comfortable state of mind?" She hadn't expected him to get her angry, it comes on uncensored, "I'm sure you found it easy enough to swagger your way through the Agency, but you are not going to find me as easy to play. I come to this with the expectation that you'll do exactly whatever it was that you agreed to do, then walk away with four new arms deals and three new manufacturers in your pocket."

"Ms. Bristow, Sydney," her mouth is half open when he corrects himself and she's half wondering why, "That would be a very hard thing for even me to accomplish. Seeing as our main objective is to terminate any attendee who does not agree to leave willingly."

She wishes she could be surprised at that.

"Let me see the objectives."

He reaches around and pulls a single, folded sheet of paper out of his back pocket, something she'd never have pegged him to do, and hands is to her wordlessly. His thumb is on her palm for a moment and his skin is softer than hers. She reads quickly, memorizing, speculating from the patterns that Kendall has written it. When she looks up Sark is studying her intently.


Shaking his head, thoughtful, "I'd heard about your more recent operations of this same nature, but I never truly expected you to take to them quite so. . . naturally."

"You get used to it. Of all people, you know that." Meant to sting.

"Yes, but I don't think you do," he considers her, "You are not your mother. At your worst moments, you never were." He's leaning forward, arms on knees, hands dangling, less space between them than she's felt in years. She thinks she might miss fighting him, it would make sense that she would.

"You didn't see my worst moments."

He gives her that, she watches the collar of his shirt, and he looks out the window every few minutes to check their flight path.