A/N1: I posted the first chapter to Part 2 yesterday, Sept. 18th. Please read it before you read this one. I may not be able to post next week due to the fact I'll be out of state. So, I'm posting this early.
Chapter 16: A Proustian Moment
London had a buzz. It filled his head and woke up the cloudiness with every step. The city was so unique that some could say it had its own aura, its own feel, its own personality. And with that, its own inherent dangers. Like any major city, it was crowded. It was noisy but not in the way New York or L.A. were noisy. It was different. Uniquely its own. It buzzed in his head.
That morning he stood in a line, a queue, and waited to enter The Connection at St. Martin's which helped the homeless in London. Or as they called them "rough sleepers". He was able to get a shower and food and even see a doctor about his ankle and the stab wound in his shoulder before leaving by one in the afternoon.
It had everything from history and culture and heritage to beautiful parks everywhere, theatres, clubs, art galleries, roller discos, ice skating, and varied and very interesting cuisines. It was a multicultural hub of the world. He could, if he wanted, go to Paris for lunch, it was only a 2 and a half to 3 hour trip. Or he could stay around Trafalgar Square and visit all the art galleries for free. Or spend a day in Kensington visiting all the museums for free. Since he didn't have a lot of money, that was what he did.
He walked. A lot. Everywhere. In his head, he mapped the streets and the buildings, the metro and train stations, the bus routes. He did anything and everything he could to try to wake up his brain. To spark a memory. To keep moving.
In his head, he kept telling himself that if he stopped moving, he would die. He didn't know the truth in that statement or not, but it was what kept repeating in his head. A bad thing about London, however, were the cameras. The place was littered with cameras. Cameras were everywhere. He kept his head down as much as possible. Kept his movements near the walls, watching the cameras and making his passes only when it was safe and away from the watchful lens.
He felt paranoid, out of touch with reality, yet focused on his task. Everything was about precision. Attention to the details. The truth was in the details and the lies were in the obscurity. In his head he thought of himself as a moving piece in a game of chess playing against an opponent on the other side of the board that he couldn't see. That he didn't know even existed, but knew existed with invisible pieces, players, moving against him.
Was this what it felt like to be a spy? He'd been told he was former CIA. He was a traitor. He was a killer. But he had also been a spy. Instincts, muscle memory, prevailed over his loss of memory. He may not have remembered his training, but he knew his training. His eyes moved over everything, cataloguing it all, imagining uses for everything. Not solely as a weapon, but to be used in the spy trade. His tradecraft. Newspapers, packages, even crewing him and packs of cigarettes, bridges, and post boxes to be used in signaling or to relay messages. The use of public phones to ensure no one was eavesdropping. The use of code words and phrases to pass along messages to be deciphered or validation of identity.
He bought a prepaid phone using some of the cash and an earpiece headset for it out of instinct. He also bought a notepad, pens, a lock-picking kit, and a handheld tape recorder and several 30 minute cassette tapes. There was no reason that he could remember for the purchases other than he wanted what he wanted. He had also stopped off at a thrift store and bought some really good new clothes for a relatively cheap price, another benefit of London, and a bag. In the bag were the clothes he'd purchased and items he'd bought that could only be described for "emergency preparedness" usage. Other terms for it that had popped into his head was a "go bag" or "bug out bag".
That bag was on him at the moment, but in the morning it would be stashed away at the train station in a locker. Unfortunately for the trusting average citizens around him, since he was currently without a wallet, credit card, cash, and a home, and not having the time or desire to beg on the street for money, he had to resort to another craft he was well-adapt at which was pickpocketing. Apparently CIA agents were highly-trained thieves.
However, he did ensure to give the unsuspecting owner of the hijacked wallet back their property, minus the cash. He would never use a credit or bank card for fear of being tracked once the owner realized their cards had been taken. Cash was untraceable, as were his movements through the city streets of London.
There was a saying that "nobody goes hungry in London" and that was true. There were plenty of places to get a free meal, or get a drink bought for you. The area of Soho he was in was considered the "gay village" as it was a neighborhood consisting most of people of the LGBT community.
As he sat in a bar in Soho, a man sat down next to him and offered to buy him a drink.
"My name's Tom," the man told him. He was an American.
Jack glanced over at him as he told him, "Jack. Thanks for the drink, but I'm in a relationship."
Tom gave a nod, saying, "That's good because I'm not gay."
He looked at him and then around and asked, "Are you lost?"
Tom shook his head. "Nope. I'm right where I need to be," he said as he started doodling on a napkin.
He regarded the man a moment before picking up his beer and taking a drink. That could have meant numerous different things and he didn't want to jump to conclusions. Though, he was reminded of the agent in the hospital whom he had shot. Going back to his thoughts, he chose to ignore the man as he finished drinking his beer.
Tom had reminded him of how people hardly ever changed from one country to the next. Every community was the same no matter where a person went. Say what you want about the rich, or the middle class, or the poor or the homeless, he had an innate belief that most people were good people. They were kind, and trusting, and helpful.
Some were the exact opposite and from the first glance at his naked body, he suspected he'd met his fair share of dangerous and evil people throughout the world. And like every city, there were the dark places. The shadows that the well-to-do citizens didn't frequent. He found that area back across the bridge. He headed over the Waterloo Bridge, back across the Thames, and then took a bus out past Southwark to near where he'd first woken up in a bare flat with Em and Kay days ago.
It wasn't hard to blend in. Hug the walls, keep his head down, make sure he didn't bother anyone, and say very little. Four simple rules to live by. Tonight, he stood around a barrel fire behind an old building and would be demolished soon. His body was aching so bad it was hard to stand. All he had to do was give into the ache and score a fix and all the pain would go away. But, he refused. Maybe he needed the suffering as a reminder of all the pain he had caused.
There were brief flashes of broken moments in his head. Moments, like puzzle pieces, that he couldn't fit together to form the bigger picture. When he had seen the scars over his body he had memories of being shot, stabbed, burned, and tortured. Memories of pain and suffering inflicted not only on himself but pain and suffering that he had inflicted onto others. He hadn't solely been a victim; he had also been a perpetrador.
Another thing about the homeless, they didn't ask questions. No one questioned the coat he wore or the blood on the left sleeve. Since he knew he would be hiding out, he didn't change into the expensive looking clothing he'd bought from the thrift store; he would only wear those clothes during the day when he had to look presentable. They would assume a lot but never question. He would assume nothing and question everything.
The warmth of the fire faded as he ventured inside the building through a broken door. Some of the walls were gone, having been torn down completely or partly from what appeared to have been an abandoned renovation. There were walls with drywall still remaining, some walls were bare, some with holes scattered throughout them, and some walls were just gone. Through the darkness he heard voices, soft whispers of those awake, huddled in sleeping bags or under thin blankets.
Around one half of a wall was the glow of a fire that'd been made inside of a coffee can. It went on like that for the entirety of the first floor and the second. There were still some fully enclosed rooms on the second floor but most were missing a wall here or a door there. It was a five story walkup and it was on the top floor that he found an empty room, minus a door, that he claimed as his for the night.
He tossed my bag down and peered out the window. It overlooked the street and as far as he could see it was quiet. All appeared okay; no cops cars. No shadowy figure in the streets staring up the window. It had snowed all day and well into the night. The streets were glowing from all the white.
Once he was relaxed against the wall and took a moment to breathe easier, he withheld a groan as he peeled off the coat and then the dress-shirt. He kept a lot of stuff in the bag; not just extra clothes, but first aid kit, other medical supplies, waterproof matches, and various sanitation wipes from moist towelettes, to disinfectant, even medical wipes specifically made for sterilization and infection prevention.
He used some of the moist towels as best he could to clean off the dried blood off his left shoulder. He cleaned around the stab wound after he removed the bandage the doctor at The Connection had applied. He was lucky in the fact that the blade had hit bone and didn't go all the way through. In a squirt bottle he made up some saline solution using salt and water and tried to flush out the wound the best he could. Reapplying clean gauze, he pressed it hard into the wound and tied it down with a bandage using his teeth to hold it in place.
Then he started on his ankle. It had swollen and was a horrible shade of red. In a few days it'd be blue and purple, and then after that a horrible green, yellow-ish brown but would no longer be painful. In about two weeks he would be fine. Yet still, that was weeks away. He couldn't exactly keep his leg propped up and rest in bed for that long. That sounded like a dream. A bed, comfortable sheets and a thick warm blanket.
With Will next to him. He remembered Will. He was in his head. And in his head, they were In their bed, in the kitchen, on a couch. His smile would wake him in the morning and his kiss would put him to sleep every night.
A shiver rushed through his body that brought him back to the here and now. Three and a half walls, no heat in the dead of winter, and bloody clothes scattered across the floor as he propped his foot up on top of the bag. A longing ached in his heart as he stared out the window. There were no stars. Dark gray clouds and lights from the city kept them from being seen. Not that it mattered; they didn't mean much to him anymore.
He looked down at his arms and saw the needle marks and shook his head. No, he wasn't a junkie. That was something he knew to be despite evidence to the contrary. There were many things he remembered being addicted to; he liked alcohol and sex. Particularly, sex with a man named Will. But shooting up felt new. It wasn't who he was.
He started to feel the chill in the air and pulled out a t-shirt from the bag and slipped it on. Next was the wool socks and then a sweater that was a little too big but comfortable and warm. He didn't have a typical blanket, that would take up too much room, instead he'd bought an emergency thermal blanket.
He heard a whine of a police siren and looked out the window. The police were scattering the rough sleepers off the main street. Sitting back down, he thought about everything since he'd woken up in London. Nothing made any sense anymore. There had to be a reason he had no memory.
He worked through his mind of all the possible things to do tomorrow in order to try to recover his memory. He knew all sorts of knowledge, like how memory could be recovered using the five senses. He was in need of a serious proustian moment.
He grabbed his coat and reached inside the pocket for the pen and notepad. Along with those two items he also pulled out a napkin from the bar from earlier. He looked at it and saw something written over it. It was morse code.
... .- ...- . / .- / -. .-. . .- - / -.. .- -.- / .-.. . .- ...- . / .- / .-. . ...- .. . .-
Jack stared at the code and shook his head. Why...Who? His thoughts went back to "Tom the American" who had been writing on a napkin. He wondered if he had been the one to slip the napkin into his pocket. Flipping open the notepad, he quickly deciphered the code and saw it was an address.
Tomorrow, he would go see who it was that lived there and what they wanted.
En-route to London
Michael Vaughn waited until the passenger next to him was fast asleep before opening his carry-on bag and pulled out the contents from the safety deposit box. His father hadn't been born Willam Vaughn and he hadn't been born Michael Vaughn. His father was mathematician François André Michaux, named after the French botanist.
His name was André Michaux. And when he was five years old, his family had to flee from France. As he looked over his family's old photographs, ones they weren't allowed to keep on public display, he remembered how frightened his father had been the night they left.
"S'il te plaît, réveille-toi. André, réveille-toi, réveille-toi."
With hearing his father's desperate pleas for him to wake up, he opened his eyes and saw him hovering over him. His face was red and he looked scared. Sitting up in bed, he asked, "Qu'est-ce qu'il y a? Papa?"
"Tout va bien," his father told him.
That confused him. How could nothing be wrong if his father was waking him up in the middle of the night? He was told to pack a bag, clothes, the essentials, and nothing more that they had to leave. Then his dad was out of the room.
As he did as he was told, he heard his mother's muffled voice through the walls. She sounded upset.
Then the phone rang and he heard his father yell, "Ne répondez pas à ça!"
He nearly dropped his bag from his father's sudden booming voice. It scared him because he had never heard his father yell like that before. That was when he started to get scared. He felt the tears in his eyes and he hurried to finish packing and grabbed his stuffed dog off the bed and held it right to his chest as he walked out his room, bag on his back, and stepped into his parents bedroom where they were also packing.
His mother took a look at him and said, "Vous allez devoir mettre vos chaussures."
He looked at his feet and felt the tears fall as he noticed he'd forgotten to put on his shoes and socks.
Vaughn looked up from the picture of himself at five with his parents as a flight attendant stopped and asked if he wanted anything from the food cart.
"Water, please," he asked. He thanked her and once she was gone he put the pictures away and opened his father's notebooks and journals.
The notebooks were full of equations, formulas, and symbols that he never understood. His father had his own shorthand and wrote a lot of his work from 1972 to late 1979 in code. It was impossible to decipher unless you knew his shorthand and what he used to code. For all he knew, his father created his own code and it had all been in his head.
What he did understand of the equations and formulas was that it all had something to do with enhanced genetics: proteins, amino acids, dna, and nucleotides. It was all very complex and also confidential and, apparently, deadly.
They had to run from their home that night because people were dying. People were after his father.
He laid his head on his mother's lap in the backseat as his father got into the driver's side of the car. He saw a light come through the window behind them as his father looked into the rearview mirror.
"Merde," his father cussed before they started moving.
His father told his mother to get down as the lights got brighter behind them. There was fear and yelling and his father's stern face as the car turned and jerked as he drove faster through the streets.
And then the light was gone and his father kept driving as he closed his eyes and felt his mother's hand run through his hair. "Mon fils, tout va bien se passer," he heard his mother say.
He wanted to believe her that it would all be okay. And with that sense of comfort, he fell asleep.
He realized now that the bright light in the memory were car headlights and that his father was being chased. Luckily, they had gotten away. They had gotten to America and they all changed their names and had to start over with a new life. His father had become William Vaughn, a CIA agent, and they were happy for three more years until October 17, 1979. One month and ten days before his eighth birthday his father was killed by Irina Derevkov.
From the dates in the notebooks and journals, his father kept working on the formulas and the equations all the way up to his death. The last entry was dated October 3rd, 1979. It wasn't in code. It wasn't even in French.
In plain English his father had written, "We have succeeded. It has been accomplished. Finally, Prophet Five has been renewed and together we have created a new future for all humanity. Horizon is the key. It must remain hidden and protected. Can only be paired with a Phoenix. Then the lineage will be set."
He had no idea what any of it meant, but one thing he did know was that it was dangerous. Whatever Jack and Will had stumbled onto thanks to Antonio Lafayette, it wasn't anything good.
The next morning he woke up to the sunlight coming through the window and his coat missing. Son-of-a-bitch. Jack quickly changed into his nice clothes and placed the dirty ones inside of a plastic bag within his bag. He quickly packed up and left.
The only way in and out of the building was through the broken door in the back of the building. Most of the occupants had already vacated the building while some still slept. On the bottom floor, he heard hard coughing coming behind a wall and as he peered around the wall he spotted an older man wrapped in a thin wool blanket.
His cough wasn't the most troubling symptom Jack noticed. Kneeling down next to the man, he reached his hand out and felt the man's forehead. The old man didn't even react to the intrusion. He was burning up and sweating as he shivered. Looking down, he spotted the coffee can that'd been burning a fire from the night before; it held the ashes of burned paper and what appeared to be rubber sole of a shoe. Pulling a bottle of fever reducer out of the bag, he handed it over to the old man.
"The flu can kill an old man like you," Jack told him as the old man took the bottle of pills.
He coughed out a harsh laugh. "Not much left of me anyway, but I appreciate it. After I die, maybe someone who can get more mileage out of 'em will nick 'em off me."
"Well, until that happens, take two." He could smell liquor on the man's breath. "With water, not whiskey."
"Whiskey tastes better."
He agreed with him there. Jack left the old man and headed out the door into the morning sunlight. As he rounded the corner into the alley, he heard a familiar voice. A kid was with a man and a couple of other teenagers having an argument over a coat. His coat.
Walking over, he stepped up beside the kid. The man looked at him as he stared back. He was tall and angry looking with tattoos on his face. Had to be some gang or jail thing, or both.
"You got a problem? Keep walkin', geezer, nothin' to see here."
"No, you see...You have my coat. And I want it back," Jack told him as he stepped up closer, right into the man's personal space.
The man didn't make a move with his hands and neither did anyone else. If they had illegal guns, or his gun, they would've pulled them by now.
The man smiled, gold teeth shining out from between white ones, and laughed a little as he pointed at his chest. "You a nutter? Alright, nutter," he said as he suddenly reached behind his back and pulled a knife.
With one quick jab to the gut, the man was doubled over and gasping for breath. Jack grabbed the knife out of his hand as he twisted the man up and around until he had him pinned with his back against the wall of the building. The man tried to fight back. He grabbed his wrist and twisted it down and in, causing the man to yelp in pain. Then he shoved his leg hard in-between the man's thighs to hold him still.
Jack felt the man stiffen in his arms as he told him, "Stop-stop struggling, and listen. If you don't, I'll kill you." He could feel the body beneath his start to tremble as he asked, "What's your name?"
"Greg. Ar-are you going to rape me?"
He stared hard at the man in confusion as he asked, "Why on earth would I rape you?"
Greg stared straight into his chest, never looking up at him, as he said, "I-I don't know, sadistic people do that, th-they, uh, rape and murder."
"I'm not sadistic. In fact, I abhor unnecessary violence. I don't like hurting people, and I only do it when I absolutely have no other choice. I'm not the one responsible for your life, you are." Greg whimpered as he started to tremble harder. He heard the other teenagers in the alley start moving toward him. "Tell them to back up."
He felt Greg go still as his eyes darted toward the group of teenagers. The fight or flight response was about to kick in and Jack couldn't have that. He lifted the knife up and under the jacket and shirt Greg wore. As he slid the blade against Greg's rib cage, he felt his body go rigid.
"Tell them to back up," he repeated.
"Back away!" Greg yelled at his gang.
Jack didn't look to make sure they followed his orders, but he knew they had obeyed from the way Greg reacted. Leaning down, he whispered into his ear, "Don't speak, just nod. You feel that?" he asked as he moved the blade from the right side below the ribs toward the belly button. He felt a nod into his shoulder and continued, "Pay attention and follow the blade." He slid it lower, letting the blade barely brush over the skin before dipping it below the waistline of the tight pants near his hip. "This is vital, Greg. If I cut here, that's called a vertical groin incision, not deadly. But if you cause me any more trouble all I have to do is insert the blade deeper, right into the femoral artery. That is deadly. The first minute you'll bleed out profusely until you lose consciousness. Once that happens, your circulation will slow but your body will continue to pump blood out of your body. It'll take less than five minutes for you to bleed out."
The body under him was shaking and he heard soft mumbling then a choked sobbing against his shoulder. "D-on't, please, don't-I-I didn't, I haven't done anything-" Greg continued to sob.
"Yes, you have, Greg. You put yourself in this position. You stole my coat and then pulled a knife on me. I didn't appreciate that."
"Please don't...please, please...I'm sorry, you're right, I shouldn't have done that."
"Look at me," he told him. He heard Greg swallow hard, felt his Adam's apple bob against his collarbone, as he turned to finally face him. "If you ever see my face again, you run." Greg gave a nod. He slid the blade up Greg's skin one last time, reminding him of it, before letting his hand drop. He grabbed his coat and shoved the man onto the wall. "Now go."
Greg stood there frozen as he stared at him in fear.
"Listen to him, bugger off," the kid said behind him.
Jack watched as Greg and the others took off running down the street.
"Bloody hell," the kid said as he kept his eyes on the corner. "You really have lost the plot, haven't you?"
Jack pocketed the knife as he stared at the kid who stared up at him.
Dropping the bag off his shoulder, he pulled on the coat. Checking the pocket he noticed his gun was missing. The kid started to walk away and he reached out and grabbed his collar. "Where's my gun?"
The kid shrugged as he looked back down the street and said "He must've pinched it."
"No," he said. "If he had it, he would have pulled it and not the knife. That means you took my coat first. They were trying to steal it from you."
The kid stared up at him before letting out a breath of air and reached behind his back. He handed the gun over as he asked, "You a copper?"
"Do I look like a cop?"
"No," he said as he looked back at him in all seriousness. Looking him over, the kid smiled slightly with humor and said, "You look like a nutter."
He nearly smiled. "Tell me something I don't know?"
"Minted bloke like you hanging 'round this neighborhood...certain connotations, you understand? Some might think you're a mark or a copper. Now they know you're neither. You're a hard man."
At the use of the word "connotation" his eyes rose to look at the kid and he couldn't help but smile. Through all the slang talk, the kid obviously had an education. Another word used that got his attention was "hard man". That brought images to mind of him doing many different things, including killing. The term "hard man" for him meant an experienced operative who could survive in a hostile environment and who has killed.
He had a feeling the kid was right. He was a hard man.
Turning to the kid, he pulled out the notepad and flipped it open to the address as he asked, "Do you know where this is?"
"It's not too far. I know a punter who lives over there. He's a real good gambler; won a Mercedes off one hand of poker. Never drives it, it sits in a car park all day. He doesn't even have a license. Says it's the point of the matter."
Taking out some money from his pocket, he handed it to the kid as he said, "Show me."
The kid stared at him as he took the money, saying, "I pinched your coat and gun, and now you're giving me a hundred pounds to be your tour guide? You bloody mad?"
He looked the kid over and asked, "Your parents were immigrants...Uganda?"
That surprised the kid as he pocketed the money. "Ghana. They arrived here in the early eighties. My mum was pregnant with me at the time. How'd you know that?"
He had no idea, but he did. "Educated guess. Your look, hint of an African dialect...And the fact that in the eighties there was a huge influx of African immigrants into the country, in particular from Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, and Kenya, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. I'm also going to take another guess that you're now alone. Homeless. You need the money, I need to find that address."
The kid gave a nod and they started walking. At the corner, the kid asked, "Can we stop off and get me a coat? It is winter."
Jack looked down at him, saw that the only warm piece of clothing on him was the hoodie he wore, and gave a nod.
U.S. Joint Intelligence Task Force
Sydney had Nadia Derevko brought in for questioning. It had been an agreement reached during her plea deal. Under directive 81A of the Patriot Act, they could hold Nadia without trial or charges for the rest of her life. Part of the deal was if she supplied them information, and once Sloane was apprehended, she could go free. Four times a year, every three months, Nadia would be transferred from Federal Prison to the task force facility and questioned. It'd been over a year, this would be the sixth meeting, and despite the agreement, Nadia still hadn't given them any information about Arvin Sloane's whereabouts or what he was doing.
"You must really like prison," Sydney said once she stopped in front of the holding cell and stared in at her "sister".
Nadia may have been half her blood, but she was not her family. She held no feelings for her, no sympathy or compassion attributed to a family member. Early on, she still held those emotions for Arvin Sloane. Of course she would have, he had raised her. They were family. He had been her dad. But, once she learned the truth, and learned the truth about Sloane's activities, and then about Irina and Nadia, the sense of betrayal had quickly diminished any love she still had for the man.
The truth was, even though in Arvin's twisted, delusional, egotistical head he thought of himself as her "dad" and that she should care about him, he wasn't and she didn't.
Nadia was sitting on the bunk with her eyes forward. She looked thinner than last time. Tired. She wondered if she'd been sleeping or eating. At first, she was going good, keeping up her strength and bravado, but now it seemed like she was realizing that this could be her life. This was forever unless she did something or said something to change her fate.
As she watched Nadia, Sydney thought back to their first meeting right after Nadia had been delivered to them by Jack via a dead drop.
She looked through the bulletproof plexiglass at the woman who she discovered to be her half-sister. The daughter of Arvin Sloane and Irina Derevko. Since her last name was Derevko, she imagined she'd been raised by Irina, possibly in Russia. She knew Nadia spoke English, but she wondered if she preferred Russian. "Меня зовутSydney Sloane. Вы предпочитаете говорить по-русски?"
Nadia had been standing with her back to the glass, but once she started speaking, and then when she said her name, she turned around to face her. "Очень приятно. We can speak English, save your interrupters time in translating our conversation. I assume we're being recorded." She looked her over and then finally said, "So...you're Sydney."
She wondered what Arvin or her mother had said to Nadia about her. It really didn't matter. She knew who she was and the things she'd done. She didn't need to hear praise nor indignation from either Arvin or Irina. Looking Nadia over, she said, "I wish I could say the same, but...I never knew my mother and Arvin never spoke of you."
She looked away at that and moved over to the bunk that was bolted to the wall and sat down. There was no chair in the room. Either stand or sit on the floor or bunk. Nadia sat on the bunk and kept her eyes forward. "I have nothing to tell you, Agent Sloane."
"I'm not going to lie to you and say that I don't have conflicting emotions and thoughts about all this, because I do. This isn't easy for me, Nadia. Your father was my dad for twenty years. We have the same mother. Yet...we're strangers. I don't know you. Make no mistake, we may have the same blood, but we are not family. Both your parents were criminals, terrorists, traitors, murderers-"
"And your father, what is he?"
Sydney gave a nod as she said, "I'm not defending Jack. He's done his fair share of questionable, and certainly, immoral acts but all for the greater good against the Alliance, and not in defense of it. He's fought against terrorism and criminal activity being perpetrated by both your parents. He was working to stop them. You, on the other hand, are working to aid your father. Aid Sloane in more deaths of innocent civilians? More acts of terror? You know where he is, Nadia. You know what he's doing. What's his endgame? What's he after?"
Nadia looked over at her as she said, "I hope my father does the same to your father what your father did to my mother. I will not help you."
"You do realize that you're an accomplice to a known terrorist according to the CIA and FBI, which means we can hold you. Indefinitely."
Nadia didn't say anything. She kept her eyes on the wall across the room. It took a while to think that over before finally looking back at her. "I don't talk unless I have a deal."
Sydney looked up from the floor she'd been staring at and saw Nadia watching her. Nadia had dark circles under her eyes and her face had paled from lack of sunlight, which made her appear ghostly and even frail.
Nadia frowned at her and said, "How come I haven't endured torture. You Americans are known for such things as waterboarding."
"Would you prefer to be tortured? If that's what you want in order for you to talk, I can arrange to drag you by the hair to the bathroom right now and shove your head under a faucet."
For whatever reason, that made her laugh. She smiled. Finally, a kink in the armour. "You would do that?"
She shrugged. "I've done it before. Got a German spy to give up the location of a biological weapon a few months ago that way. Although, with him, I shoved his head into a urinal."
"I thought I was doing good. My father told me that we were helping humanity with what we were doing."
"The Prophet Five," Nadia told her as she looked over at her. "He said that we were going to save lives. I believed him."
Sydney could see why and how. Sloane had a way of making people believe him, even when he was lying right to their face. He'd been married to Emily for nearly three decades and by seeing the two of them one would think that Arvin couldn't have possibly been unfaithful. His love for Emily was that genuine and strong. Yet, he was out there having an affair, and with her mother no less, since at least the late seventies. Nadia had been born in 1982, a year after her mother's "death". She didn't know if Irina had been pregnant at the time of the car crash or if the pregnancy happened afterwards.
What she did know was that Irina and Arvin had started the affair while she was married to Jack in the seventies. She knew that because of the necklace Irina had worn. Jack told her Irina received it one year on her birthday in the late seventies, though he couldn't remember the exact year. Then they continued after 1981. That meant Arvin had already been a traitor to the United States at that time. She would have been surprised to learn that Arvin aided in Irina's extraction and helped her after she returned to the USSR-if that had been where she'd gone.
"He fooled a lot of people into believing they were working for the good guys and the good of humanity, for decades. You weren't the first, and you're not the last. He's fooling people right now into believing that what he is doing will save lives. I doubt that's the objective."
Nadia let out a deep breath as she nodded. "I doubt it too. There was a freighter. That day your father captured me, we were waiting on a freighter coming from France. The cargo was something he said would change the world. It was being delivered to a company in London."
"If I knew that information I would have told you. My father and I had been estranged for years. I was sent off to school and he was here. We had only reconnected recently when he left the United States. He was bringing me into the business when your father separated us. That's all I know."
Sydney watched her for a moment longer; Nadia's shoulders had sagged and then she laid down on the bunk and curled up. She was tired, defeated, and lost. Nadia wasn't like her; she wasn't a trained operative. She was a daughter, and Arvin had used her, and was going to continue to use her for his own needs and objectives.
That was the kind-of man she learned Arvin Sloane actually was. He was a parasite. He used people until he had no more use for them and then discarded them and moved on to the next victim. If she was being honest with herself, she hated the man.
She really hoped Jack was safe and that he was getting as much damning intelligence he could about Sloane and his "company". Vaughn hadn't contacted them yet, but it was still early.
She turned away and left Nadia to the sleep she desperately needed.
The kid, who he learned was called T.K., showed him to a building at the border of Newington and Southwark. There sat a renovated white and grey painted brick building with red trim and doors that was attached to an old church that no longer looked like it acted as a church.
Jack stared at the red door a moment before looking around. The sidestreet they were on was narrow, with a brick wall running the length of the street directly across from the building. On the adjacent street were five-story apartment buildings, flats, that seemed to stretch on for two to three more blocks before he saw a parking garage, car park, and an office building at the end of the road. The opposite direction was a brick bridge and beyond that more buildings, taller, with even more flats. It really did appear that London was built out of brick. There was a lot of it everywhere he went.
Despite that, he didn't like the area. It felt confining. A perfect place to plan an ambush. Instead of going inside, he walked the perimeter first. Down the next side street on the other side of the building there were more brick buildings on the left and on the right was a new construction or remodeling. Further down on the left was a business with garage style doors on the front.
"That's a costume shop. They sell costumes," T.K. told him as he came up behind him.
Jack saw a thin entryway between the buildings and he walked behind the apartment building and looked around. The buildings had made the area into a court. The only way in and out, besides the entryway off the street, was through the backdoors of the buildings. There were pots for plants full of snow, and some lawn furniture covered or bare, also covered with snow, and a couple of closed and covered grills. Up on the roofs on top of the building he saw more of the same along with empty bird feeders, bicycles, and a child. A little boy and girl were on the roof, which was fenced all the way around, playing in the snow.
Going to the backdoor, he saw it entered into the kitchen. Taking out his lock-picking kit, he took out the tools needed and went to work on the lock.
T.K. stood by, watching and not saying anything. Smart kid. He got the door open and pushed it open as he looked around. Something about this felt odd, almost familiar, as he stepped inside and looked around the kitchen. It was big and airy. There was a swinging door that led out into the living room when he stepped through the door he stopped.
The walls were covered with photographs, newspaper clippings, with handwritten post-it notes stuck under some of the pictures. A tape recorder, notebooks, pens, pencils, highlighters, were scattered over a table by the window. On another table sat a CD Walkman and headphones. Attached to it was another post-it note that read "Jack, play me".
"This is bizarre," he heard T.K. say behind him. He'd forgotten he was even in the room.
He took out a hundred pounds from his pocket and held it out for the kid. As T.K. went to grab it, he pulled it away, telling him, "A hundred to leave and not come back. Or, a hundred now, and another hundred if you talk to your gambling friend about that Mercedes." He handed the money back out to him.
T.K took it and told him as he turned to head back through the kitchen. "I'll be back with the keys."
Jack stood for a moment after the kid was gone, looking around at the room and he realized something about some of the handwriting. It was his. Picking up the Walkman, he put on the headphones and pressed the play button as he sat down in the chair at the table.
As music played his mind thought back about his need of wanting to have a "proustian moment" or memory. There was a concept of music and memory association, brain-music connection, and how a person's brain was hard-wired to connect music with long-term memory. In his dream/memory he remembered thinking that Will listened to this CD every day. It must've gotten inside his head. A saying came to mind, "Neurons firing together get wired together". He must have wired, or encoded, his memories to the music. So that when he heard the songs, it would spark his memories. He would have a proustian moment.
He thought about the memory he had in the hospital room, and what the song had done to him in the flat, and how there was music playing in his dream and his head. He didn't remember everything, but he had moments of clarity. Moments of memory. The music was how he could remember.
While the music continued to play, and his mind went spinning backwards, Jack felt his body start to ease into the chair.