She's developed a habit of lingering at the office, being particularly diligent about her paperwork. It's boring, sterile, overly bright, and yet it's familiar, comforting. Lately it's the only place she feels semi-secure, even with the constant stares, whispers about the terrorist in their midst. That should say something, that she still prefers it at the NYO despite the hostility of her former team. But her safe house is cold and bare, makes her feel transient, alone. And her time with Sandstorm is full of danger, fear.
Jane shudders as she remembers failing her loyalty test, wonders if Roman saved her from a bullet. Daughter or not, she understands that Shepherd would never accept that kind of failure, weakness.
As if on cue, her phone buzzes with the thought. It's Roman again, with a coded meeting spot and time.
Jane closes her eyes, sighs tiredly. It's as harder than she remembers, living a dual existence. Probably because this time she has no one to lean on, certainly not Kurt. It's only fair, her penance for lying to them all. And yet she has no choice, it's this or a black hole, full of hurt. Worse pain than this, living as a pariah amongst her former family.
She heads for the meeting spot, careful to take the proper precautions, make sure she isn't followed. She has to maintain pretenses at all times, can't slip up at all in front of Shepherd's sharp eyes.
It's on an industrial side street when Jane notices a man in her peripheral vision, something in his body language triggering a warning. She turns, on guard, but two other men appear from an alcove between two buildings, grab her from behind. They handcuff her easily, put a bag over her head, throw her into a van.
What a surprise, Jane thinks, resignedly. She's afraid, but not acutely. Instead she feels somewhat desensitized, accepting of even more peril. It's what she's chosen for herself, despite not having a choice. She wonders if it's the CIA, Sandstorm, FBI, or a new player that's taken her this time. No matter who it is, she's only got herself to rely on.
Eventually the van stops and she's lead out, into a cold building that smells of rust. When they finally take the bag off of her head she sees Shepherd and Roman, standing in front of an unknown man tied to a chair.
Jane breathes in sharply, bites down hard on her lip. It's dark, dank, just like her own hellhole of three months. She smells sweat, piss, blood, nearly gags at the memories that arise.
"I thought we were done with the bullshit," she growls at her adoptive mother, her brother.
Roman is stony, expressionless. But she senses tension from him, sees worry in his eyes.
Shepherd is all business as usual, hard and direct.
"We're done when I say we're done," Shepherd replies sharply. "When I'm sure I can trust you again."
"I passed your loyalty test, what more do you want from me?" Jane fires back, trying to stem back the nervousness she feels in her gut.
"I need to see it," Shepherd says with a glare. "I need more than Roman's word."
"So you don't trust him," Jane replies, gives Roman a glance. He must see the danger he's in after lying for her, will he give her up this time?
"It's you I don't trust," Shepherd answers pointedly. "So it's time to prove yourself."
Jane tells herself to breathe, wonders what she's going to do when ordered to kill the man in the chair. Is still trying to come up with a plan when Shepherd produces a pair of brass knuckles, holds them out to her.
Jane feels dread creep up her spine as she takes the metal rings, slowly puts them on her hands. Watches as Roman briefly unties the man in the chair only to retie him to a ceiling hook.
It's almost too cliché, the old torture trope. And yet so accurate, at least in her experience. The man hangs from his wrists, groaning already at the strain in his arms. Jane can feel her own shoulders burn, just seeing him struggle.
She clamps down hard on the bile that tries to come up, closes her eyes and steels her resolve. Feels Shepherd's glare on her, hears her tell the prisoner that he controls his own fate, that the pain will stop when he gives them the right answers.
Then Shepherd starts in on the questions and Jane feels her head swirl, her stomach roil. She knows what her role in this interrogation is going to be, how she's to prove her loyalty. Vividly hears Nas in her head, saying she has to do whatever it takes to maintain her cover.
This is what she made for herself, all she is now. So when Shepherd looks to her after the prisoner refuses to answer the question, Jane has no choice, hits the man in the abdomen with a fistful of metal.
The prisoner groans, retches. But he swears he doesn't know the answers, that they're beating him for nothing.
Still Shepherd continues, fires questions off one after another.
How many more chips were made?
Jane punches the man in the side, hears a rib crack, remembers exactly how it feels.
Where is the storage facility?
Another punch, another loud crunch. The prisoner cries out for mercy she's not allowed to give.
What are the security protocols?
The questions go on and on and on. Jane hits the man until she doesn't feel her arms anymore, feels like she's watching herself from afar. This she remembers too, dissociating, hiding from the screams in a corner of her mind.
It's somehow worse that it's not her own screams this time. She'd been trained for physical pain. This, though. This was soul-destroying. She watches herself beat an innocent man, crush his ribs with brass fists, over and over. Shepherd tells her to hit him in the head and she doesn't even resist, fractures the man's skull, knocks him out.
At least she can give him that, she thinks. The escape of unconsciousness, some freedom from pain. But then Shepherd throws a bucket of water on the prisoner, takes out a device with wires, alligator clips.
No, no, no, Jane thinks, whimpering in her own head. She can't do this, can't hurt him anymore. And yet she flips the switch when Shepherd tells her to, nearly vomits at the smell of current burning skin.
Whatever they ask of you, she hears Nas say over and over in her head. She feels so far away from reality, watches herself hit the switch on command, all the while hating herself furiously. It's all on her, no matter what's asked. It was her plan in the first place, now she's suffering the consequences of being a soulless terrorist.
By the time Shepherd has the answers to her questions the man is mercifully unconscious again, having dislocated both shoulders struggling when the electrodes were put on his balls, then finally passing out when Jane ran the current through his scrotum.
"Good work," Shepherd says. "Now put him out of his misery."
Jane takes the gun that's handed to her, feels see-through, non existent. From a far away place the instinct of survival tells her it's him or her, that Roman can't save her this time, that Shepherd will just kill the man anyways. That it doesn't matter who fires the bullet. Even though it does, is wrong, unconscionable.
It's for the greater good, she says to herself. It feels weak, pathetic in place of a man's life. But the fact remains, she's at the mercy of the FBI, of Nas's good will. Do everything that's asked of you. Or else? CIA, black hole, life on the run, life of terrorism. Great choices.
Jane swallows hard, squeezes the trigger.