A/N1: Extraordinary rendition, also called irregular rendition or forced rendition, is the government-sponsored abduction and extrajudicial transfer of a person from one country to another with the purpose of circumventing the former country's laws on interrogation, detention and torture.
Chapter 18: A Extraordinary Rendition
Thirteen Months Ago
Will was sitting next to him, leaning on the table as he talked with Renée, the daughter of their next target, Luc Goursaud. Luc was living under another name now. He was Marcus Bernard, a prominent biochemist in Paris. Marcus and his daughter Renée were on vacation for the holidays, traveling through the Mediterranean. He and Will had been following them all day, and it'd been a beautiful day, seasonably warm in the sixties and seventies. However, since it was winter they were caught in the wet westerly winds and it had started to downpour. They took shelter in a restaurant near the beach that had outdoor seating that was covered with umbrellas and canvases made from tree limbs with vines wrapped around them.
Renée had spotted them first and then Marcus who remembered them from their brief meeting on the island of Pico in the Azores. Once Jack saw the daughter, he remembered her being on the island as well. She had a brief exchange with Will about the hike up the Pico Mountain and how her father surprised her by being about to trek the whole way. Being two familiar faces in a land of strangers, Renée had invited them over to their table.
After eating and sharing a bottle of red wine and having a few too many beers, Jack relaxed enough to slip his arm around Will's waist and pulled him against him as he picked up his beer bottle and took another sip. Will looked back at him and smiled.
"How did you two meet?" Renée asked.
"Renée," Marcus said as he picked up his glass of wine. "Ce ne sont pas tes affaires."
"Tout va bien, Renée," Jack said as he looked at Marcus. "Jonah loves telling the story." Will was still going by his alias of Jonah Grayson while he had introduced himself as Jon Andrews.
Will looked at him a moment before turning back to Renée as he smiled. "He never wants me to tell the story, actually. It embarrasses him."
"One of the reasons why he loves to tell it," he said as he brought his hand up and placed it on the back of Will's neck and rubbed his thumb against it.
Will turned his head and shot him a look in disbelief at the obvious display of affection. He knew he never liked any public displays of affection but he couldn't help it. He didn't want to care anymore. Besides, he could say that he was just playing the part. He took another drink of the beer as he Will started to tell a story. It was partly true, enough to where it didn't sound like a lie.
"We met in a bar," he said as he leaned back on the table. "So cliche, right? I noticed him sitting all by himself and since my date never showed, I decided to buy the lonely man at the bar a beer."
"Aw, you weren't a lonely man, were you?" Renée asked.
Jack took a sip of the beer as he simply said, "No. I wasn't lonely."
Will started laughing as he said, "He was. You know how I know, I learned that he's incredibly apt at excusing himself from situations he doesn't want to be in, but that night he let me sit next to him and he didn't excuse himself, even when I started talking and didn't stop for fifteen minutes. I just let it all out. It was...Honestly, I was pathetic."
"Then why does it embarrass you?" she asked him. "Jonah was the one putting himself out there."
Will answered for him as he said, "He's embarrassed because it worked. It got him to open up. As you can tell, he's not forthcoming and is extremely hard to get to relax. But, for whatever reason, he sat and listened and then he bought another round and he told me about himself. It was...I knew it was a gift. Then we, uh…" He looked back at him, staring into his eyes, as he said, "We had a wonderful night together and a great day after. I didn't think it would last. I thought it was too perfect, felt too good that it had to be wrong somehow...I'm not that lucky to be so lucky."
Jack felt his heart clench at his words. He knew that those weren't an act, part of the story. That was real.
Will smiled at him as he turned back to Renée and said, "Nine months later and he's still proving to me just how lucky I am."
Renée smiled at the both of them and said, "That's sweet. It's true love. I can tell."
Jack didn't know if true love was real or not, but he knew that his love for Will was the one of the truest things he'd ever had in his life.
The sun started to set behind the buildings, darkening the room as he stared at the cup of coffee that sat in front of him; the tape recorder next to it along with a notepad and in his left hand a pen that he absently tapped against the table. Jack hadn't felt this troubled in a very long time. Even though some of his memories had returned and he felt more grounded than he did a few hours ago, he still couldn't remember everything. A huge chunk of time was missing from his life; four months to be exact. His last memory before waking up in London was being in Minsk. His only certainty was that it'd been in July.
His thoughts were still disjointed, vague memories came to mind as he focused hard on remembering what he couldn't but like the setting sun his thoughts were dimming more and more as light gave way to dark. He finished the coffee in the cup and glanced at the photos, papers, and news clippings taped and pinned to the wall. He knew who they all were, associates of Prophet Five, along with Arvin Sloane, and he assumed they were all the ones he had located in London.
The news clippings were of links to each person or a business they were associated with. Pharmaceutical companies being bought out, experimental treatments, businesses being merged, and partnerships forged with governments and militaries. Nine people in total and Arvin Sloane wasn't one of them. Though, he knew he was there and was connected. Sloane was smart and had to be using an alias to hide behind. There were three possible aliases he had narrowed down based on his research: Calvin Hansen, Anneal Visor, and Ronald Fowler.
He was pulled out of his thoughts as he heard a noise at the front door. Jack stared at the door as the pen stopped tapping on the top of the table. Using the pen, he moved the blinds away from the window to look out the window onto the street. He saw a Mercedes parked on the street. A single pair of footprints lead from the car to the front door. Glancing from one end of the street to the other, he didn't see anyone else and no new footprints were in the snow.
He got up and went to the door and peered through the peephole before turning the bolt to unlock the door. Stepping aside, he opened it to T.K. and then quickly shut it again and threw the bolt into place.
T.K. held the keys out to him and as he took them, asked, "How'd you get him to give it to you?"
"Told him that the man I was getting it for would owe him. Now you're in his debt."
"He likes people being indebted to him?" he asked as he tossed the keys on the table and picked up the empty cup and took it with him to the kitchen.
"All a gambler knows is debts." Jack entered the kitchen and as he poured himself another cup of coffee, he heard T.K. say, "There's a man-"
He looked over at him and then to where he was pointing and saw a man in a thick coat and wool cap walking up to the backdoor. Jack recognized him immediately as he stepped over and unlocked it as he went to raise a hand to knock.
The door opened and Tom stepped inside and shut the door behind him as he said, "You got my message. Are you back?"
Jack gave him a once over and said, "If I wasn't, you'd be dead on the floor right now." He took a sip of the coffee as Tom smiled slightly.
Looking at T.K. Tom said, "Who's the kid?"
"I'm T.K.," he said before addressing him, "Aren't I owed a couple hundred pounds?"
He dug into his pocket and removed the money and handed it over to the kid. Then he pulled a prepaid cell from his other pocket, one he'd already gotten ready for T.K. in case he did return, and handed it to him. "I programmed my number into it. It's for when I need you again, and for when your friend is ready to collect on that debt."
T.K. took the money and phone, pocketed them both, and then passed Tom to get to the door. "I'll try to hold onto it. See ya," he said before leaving.
Tom watched T.K. leave before looking back at him as he asked, "Did you just recruit the kid? He can't be older than seventeen."
Jack headed back into the living room as he told him, "The youngest person I ever recruited, as you put it, was six years old."
"Isn't that, I don't know, unethical?"
He stared at the wall with all the photos and papers and newspaper clippings over it and shrugged. Ethics wasn't something he dwelled on when he had a job to do. Pointing at the wall, and then looking over at Tom, he asked, "I did this?"
"Yeah," Tom said as he walked further into the room. "You don't remember?"
Jack shook his head as he told Tom the truth. "I don't remember the last four months."
Tom let out a sigh as he muttered, "Damn it," before saying, "You said those exact same words to me about two weeks ago. I was hoping after this relapse or what-the-hell-ever it was, that your memory would've returned. All this," he said as he gestured around, "is you. These people up here on the wall are everyone associated with Prophet Five that we believe to be here in London."
Going over to the three possible aliases of Sloane, he asked, "Did we figure out which alias Sloane is hiding behind?"
Tom shook his head. "Not that I'm aware of. The day you went missing, or relapsed, you were trying to do just that."
"The day I went missing? You keep saying I had a relapse. What does that mean?"
Tom went over to the table and sat down as he told him, "After we extracted you, me and Rachel, you didn't know who we were. You didn't know anything but you went with us anyway. A day later, you heard a song playing, Rachel was listening to the radio, and you remembered something. Then you went off on a tangent about memory and, I don't remember what all you said but you were out the door and came back with most of your memories intake. Then you said that it was possible to have a relapse. A short-circuit in your memory due to a stimulus. I thought it sounded very much like mind control."
Jack sat across from him, in the chair he'd been sitting in before he'd been interrupted, and thought that Tom was correct. It did sound very much like mind control. "Tell me about the extraction." As he listened to Tom recount what happened two weeks ago, he started to remember.
He had a black bag over his head and he felt the metal handcuffs tighten around his wrists and shackles around his ankles. A hand grabbed him from behind and steered him around to the right and then down a long corridor. He couldn't hear anything other than the clanking of the chains and his own breathing inside the bag. Forcing himself to slow his breathing, he tried to hear anything beyond the darkness.
A key entered a lock and a door was opened. After thirty more steps they stopped and he heard a "beep" and then a click of an automated lock releasing. Keycard access? They went through several more checkpoints before he heard city sounds. Car horns, traffic, and the hum of an engine. A vehicle was waiting.
He was helped up into the back of a vehicle and forced to sit down. It was a prisoner transport van, or at least that was what it seemed to be as the chain was secured to the floor. The bag never came off his head but he knew he wasn't alone in the back of the van. He could hear another breath besides his own and the clanking and clamoring of someone messing with a weapon. A rifle?
As the van started to move, he leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes. He might as well try to get some sleep. He was exhausted and his body hurt. His head also hurt, but for another reason. He had no idea what was happening to him or who he even was. Two days ago he'd awoken in this state in a dark cell-like room with needle marks in his arms and a head that ached and a body that wanted a poison that itched at his veins. He didn't understand why, but he'd been told that he was under arrest and to be transferred into the custody of the CIA. Then he was left alone for two days.
Time seemed to stand-still as they moved along the road. He knew they were driving over a bridge. It was the way the van felt under his feet. He didn't know how he knew that, but he did and it wasn't a guess. He knew it. He didn't like being a stranger to himself, in fact, he thought it was the worst thing that could have happened to him. This was a nightmare.
The moment they were over the bridge he felt a jolt under his feet, heard an explosion as his body was knocked back against the side of the van before he tumbled and twisted around as the van tumbled over-and-over, before it came to an abrupt stop. His body landed on top of the seat, knocking the wind out of him, as his head hit the side of the van.
He heard yelling and gunfire and the door to the back of the van opened. His head was spinning, chest aching for air, as gunfire erupted inside the van. Then it was silent. His chest felt like it was in vice-grip as he tried to breathe.
"Jack? Jack?!" someone said as the black bag was taken off. He stared up at a pair of light brown eyes that stared down him from behind a facemask. The mask was pulled off and he saw a man he didn't recognize. "Hang on; we'll get you out."
Another person appeared beside the man and handed him a bolt cutter. He sat up as he held out the chains that trapped his wrists and arms to his chest down to his legs. The chains were easily cut and removed and once he was free, he followed the two people out of the van. On the way, he grabbed the rifle out of the dead guards hands.
Jack nodded as he interrupted Tom, saying, "I assume they were transporting me to a CIA blacksite to be interrogated."
"More like tortured, but whatever."
Tom was right; he would have most likely been ultimately sent to a place reserved for traitors and terrorists, possibly GITMO, and undergone extensive interrogation techniques, in other words, torture. Jack looked around as he asked, "Where is Rachel?"
"On the way. She's picking up dinner."
He crossed his arms and leaned back in the chair as he stared at Tom and said, "You haven't asked me about Will."
Tom glanced away and then told him, "I don't need to ask you about Will."
Jack rubbed at his eyes as he held back his anger as he asked as calmly as he could, "Where is he?"
"That's not what I ask-"
"Jack," Tom said as he looked right at him. "I"m not going to hold anything against you because you don't remember. All I can tell you is that this has been decided on by not only you, but by Will."
"How do I know that I can trust you?" he snapped as he stood.
The door to the kitchen opened and Rachel walked in as she unwrapped her scarf and carried in her other hand a couple bags of takeout. "Whether you trust Tom or not," she said, "we can't tell you where Will is. He is safe and he's doing okay. He's on his own mission right now, Jack. A mission you put him on. So, trust yourself." She held up the bags as she walked over to the table, saying, "Will said you liked Thai."
Jack stared at the bags of food and then up at Rachel. It could have been a lucky guess with the Thai food, but he doubted it. It would have been too big of a gamble in case they were wrong. The only way for Rachel to have known his preference was if Will had in fact told her.
That meant they were in communication with one another. And had most likely even recently talked. "He's here, isn't he?"
Rachel glanced at Tom who nodded.
"Yeah," Tom said, "he's here."
Five Hours Earlier
Vaughn walked through the front door and searched the bar. The music was softly playing as there were very few patrons at that time of day. Sunlight was streaming in through the windows and he could see the dust particles in the air, making the bar appear smokey. He spotted her not sitting in front of the bar but standing behind it. She was cleaning out a beer glass as he walked over.
Sitting down on the stool, he ordered, "Can I get a pint? Any draft beer would be fine."
She turned around and stared at him for a long second before smiling wide. "André?"
"Renée," he said as he broke out into a smile of his own as she rounded the bar and pulled him into a hug.
It had been four years since they last saw one another in person. He'd been on a mission for SD-6 in Marseille, France and she had been working a job as an independent mercenary when their paths had crossed. He hadn't recognized her but she had recognized him, having been working for the past couple of years prior trying to uncover the truth of what had happened to not only her father, but his. Once he remembered his childhood friend from France, and they had gotten to know each other, their friendship had progressed into something resembling siblings. She felt like a sister to him now.
She let go as she said, "Thank you for coming."
"I was on my way here anyway," Vaughn told her. "Are you off soon?"
"Ten minutes," Renée said as she went back around the bar and filled him a glass with beer and sat it in front of him. Vaughn stared up at her as he picked it up and took a sip. "You have business in London?"
"A new mission," he said as he took another drink and then leaned over the counter and dropped his voice as he told her, "Prophet Five."
She quickly glanced around the bar in fear as she said, "C'est n'importe quoi!"
"We have reason to believe they're operating somewhere here in London."
"Who is "we"?" she asked.
Vaughn picked up the glass as he told her, "The CIA," before taking a drink. Her eyes widened as she stepped back and looked around again. "They're not here," he reassured her. "It's just me."
"And you're one of them now?"
He gave a nod and took another drink, finishing it.
"Flam?" she asked.
"I am hungry," he answered as he pulled out some money and paid. "Il y a un petit resto chinois pas loin…ça te dit?"
"Ouais," Renée said.
Vaughn smiled slightly as he stood up and told her, "À tout à l'heure," before he left the bar.
Fifteen minutes later they were seated at a table in the back of the Chinese restaurant. There were more people in the restaurant since it was early afternoon, but not a crowd. They still had their privacy. After they ordered, Vaughn regarded Renée as she fidgeted with the napkin. She'd been jumpy ever since he mentioned Prophet Five.
"How can this be true?" she suddenly asked. "All these years and now here you are, saying they're here in London." She shook her head as she grabbed her necklace and rubbed it. "I found him, you know."
Vaughn sat up straighter at that as he asked, "Found who?"
"My father. Two years ago in Paris. He's living under the name Marcus Bernard. We spent a year getting to know one another again. Then we were on a trip on the Mediterranean Sea last year for the holidays when he disappeared."
"What do you mean he disappeared?" he asked as he leaned on the table. "Did he tell you anything about his work? About what he and my father were doing?"
Renée looked around again as she dropped her voice and leaned closer to him over the table. "He was very secretive but I did acquire access to the facility where he was conducting his research. It's in Germany. After he vanished, I went to Hamburg but the facility was destroyed. I didn't get any information other than the possibility of backup files in Milan. They were archived at the University there under the name Dr. Aldo Desantis."
"Did you meet anyone on your trip you took to the Mediterranean? Or was it always only the two of you?"
She leaned back as their food was placed on the table and waited until they were alone again to tell him, "We met a couple a few days before he disappeared in Greece. They were nice. We had a good time one night together."
Vaughn nodded as he asked, "Do you remember who they were? Their names or what they looked like?"
Renée took a drink of the glass of water on the table before telling him, "They were a gay couple. Jon and Jonah. I didn't catch their last names."
Vaughn stared at her as the names registered in his head. John could have been Jack, and he knew that Will was going by the alias Jonah Greyson. He had to be certain. "Let me guess; Jon was older and Jonah was younger?"
"You know who they are?" she asked in surprise as she watched him.
He rubbed his face as he thought about how to answer her. He settled on the truth as he said, "Yeah, I know them. They're also after the truth of Prophet Five."
Renée nearly pleaded as she asked, "Would they have hurt my father? Do you think he's still alive?"
Vaughn thought about Jack, the man he was and how he worked, and didn't know how to answer that question. Looking up at Renée, he told her, "I honestly have no idea."
"Breathe in and out, letting the diaphragm easily do its job while relaxing the body. Listen to your breathing. Follow it, let it guide you. Once your body is completely relaxed, then you work on the mind. The beginning of any emotion is always felt physically before you realize it mentally. If you curb your anger in your physical being, you can master it in the mental. The key is controlling your breathing first and foremost."
His breathing eased as his mind continued to drift from the chaotic uncertainties of his life to the vast openness of a desert. The image of the desert was what calmed him. The heat of the sun, the uninhabited dunes of sand, and in the middle of the thousands of miles of desert he stood. He always appeared shirtless and barefoot, walking over cool sand despite the sun's hot rays, and searching the horizon with his eyes for something. He never knew what he was searching for, but he always did it.
Occasionally, when he would take a glance behind him, he would see a figure. An image of a shadow. A darkness in the form of a man. The dark figure never bothered him, never spoke a word, but he was always following with pent up rage, breathing heavily and angrily while clenching and unclenching his fists. He could hear his uninhibited rage in his head and feel the anger in his blood.
He used to be scared of the dark shadow that followed him and wanted to run as far away from it as he could. He tried trapping it a few times, tried caging it in the desert of his mind, only for it to be too powerful. It would break free every time and become angrier after each attempt to confine it. So he stopped trying to entrap it and decided to accept it. To let it be. And now when he looked back and saw the dark figure following, it reassured him to know it was there.
He knew as long as it was following then he would be safe. He could turn his attention to the desert horizon with the sun beating down on him and search without fear. It was just him, alone in the desert, and being followed by the darkness that was ready to protect him even if it was from himself. Taming the darkness wasn't the secret; accepting it was. The shadow was a part of him. In order to control it he had to control himself. It was his rage, his own anger and hate, and his own subconscious that drove the darkness. Control his body, control his mind, accept his darkness, and he could control the how it manifested. They could act as one instead of as separate.
Will Tippin opened his eyes, took a deep breath, and then looked over at his watch that was on his wrist. The timer was going off, indicating he'd been meditating for an hour. He silenced the alarm and rubbed a hand over his face and then through his hair. There was barely any sunlight coming through the closed blinds over the frosted window. The warmth from the desert faded from his body as he felt a shiver run up his spine from a cold draft in the flat.
Getting up, he headed to the bathroom to take a shower. As he looked at himself in the mirror, he felt the disconnect from the man staring back at him and closed his eyes.
Jack had warned him of this. He could push through; he could still function. He had a job to do.
He walked through the front doors and right up to the reception desk. Looking at the nurse behind the desk, he said, "I'm looking for someone who was brought in earlier today. He's a friend."
"It'd be under Jack Horn."
The woman typed into the computer, checked a chart, and said, "No one's come in by that name."
He frowned and said, "Has any John Doe's come in...An unidentified man within the last week?"
She checked everything again and said, "We had a male patient admitted three days ago, but he's gone."
"He was released? Why was he here?"
"Excuse me," a woman said as she approached him. She wore a business suit and showed him a badge and ID as she introduced herself. "Detective Inspector Stone. Let's talk over here," she said as she steered him over to the far wall, near the doors. "You know the identity of the John Doe who'd been admitted three days ago?"
He stared at her as he said, "Not specifically." He pulled out his own ID, one that held the alias Jonah Grayson. "I'm with the press. He's a source. We were supposed to meet but he never showed. I got word of a possible sighting of him here."
DCI Stone immediately put her guard up the moment he introduced himself as a member of the press. Police, along with politicians, never seemed to want to talk to the media and it made them combative and distant. That was exactly what he was going for.
She stopped asking him questions and instead went on the defensive. However, she did tell him why she was there. "There was a shooting. He may have been involved."
He showered and then left the bathroom. He'd acquired a studio flat that was in a Victorian townhouse. It was fully furnished with a pull-down bed, sofa, a desk, and a few cabinets. There were hardwood floors throughout and a view that overlooked the street. It was a quiet street and an even quieter building. He quickly dressed and threw on a coat as he grabbed the backpack off the floor and then shoved the laptop inside before leaving.
It was snowing by the time he got to the corner of the street and went into a cafe and sat down next to the window and faced the door. Directly across the street was the Russian Embassy. It was a cold day, with grey skies and Christmas decorations and lights strung up along the trees and light poles and on the buildings. In the day time it didn't look all that great, but once the sun was down the streets of London had looked magical.
He barely remembered a time when it would have also felt magical. Now, he didn't feel the joy of the holiday. There was no sense of wonder in his heart, no thinking about how nice it would be to have been there with Jack; how happy he would've felt despite knowing that it would've been for work and not as a holiday vacation.
In all honesty, he couldn't remember the last time he felt happy. Inside there was nothing. He felt nothing. Opening his bag, he pulled out his notebooks and a pen and pencil and Jack's laptop. After he ordered breakfast and a coffee, he got to work. He remembered telling Jack once that this was what he was good at: finding the gaps.
Jack had fallen into a gap. No trace of him anywhere. That was to be expected. Two days ago he'd sent out an alert and then waited. He knew someone was watching, listening, because they always were. With a single directive in his head, he used Jack's laptop to begin his search again. Hopefully someone was still out there, waiting.
Renée let him stay at her flat while he waited for Marshall's call. Marshall was monitoring Jack's laptop and the moment he was able to trace the IP address he would send him the location. Until then, he had to wait.
"Couldn't you have gone to the American embassy? They could have set you up with a place to stay. Or you could use a CIA safehouse."
Vaughn looked up at her as he sighed. He could have, but he didn't want to. "Tired of my company already?"
"You know I'm not," she said as she walked into the living room and sat across from him on the couch. "There's something you want."
He sat forward and leaned on his knees as he thought about that. "I was hoping you had more information. Did you go to the University of Milan?"
She frowned as she shook her head, "No, I didn't. It's a two person job and I am only me."
"You could've called. I would have gone with you."
Renée smiled as she said, "You're here now. Maybe we can go together?"
Vaughn checked his watch and sighed again. He'd landed nearly four hours ago and there was still nothing.
"We could be there in 2 hours," she told him.
"It'll have to wait," he told her as he stood and went over to the window.
He looked out at the brick building and windows, down below was a courtyard and brick wall. They were off a sidestreet that was only wide enough for a single car to fit through. He spotted a woman walking by with a bag of groceries. She was bundled up in a wool coat and scarf as it snowed. For some odd reason, she made him think of Sydney. Then his phone rang.
Pulling the phone out of his pocket, he flipped it open before putting it to his ear. "This is Vaughn."
"It's Marshall. I have a location. Cafe Diana. It's directly across from the Russian Embassy in Bayswater."
"Thanks, Marshall." He closed the phone and looked out the window, down the street. He was already in Bayswater, and only a few blocks away from the Russian Embassy. Looking over at Renée, he said, "This won't take me long. I'll call you once I'm done. Then we can go to Milan."
Renée got up as she said, "Then I should pack while you are gone."
He left the flat and headed up to the main road which was named Moscow Road and then turned to the left and then made another left, heading south toward Kensington Park. He got to the corner of Palace Court and Bayswater Road and stared at the Russian Embassy. He couldn't believe that whoever was using Jack's laptop was this close to where he'd been staying with Renée.
Rounding the corner, he looked both ways down the street and spotted the sign for the cafe. As he neared it, the door opened and he stopped as he spotted a very familiar figure step onto the sidewalk and start down the street going the opposite way. When he got to the corner, he watched as Will Tippin looked across the street at the embassy before turning the corner. Vaughn was right behind him as he kept a good distance behind.
Will slung the backpack off his shoulder as he walked through the front door. He took off his coat and hung it up before picking up the backpack and walking over to the desk. As he was taking the laptop out, he heard a knock at the door. He stilled as he looked across the room at the door, wondering if it had been his door when there was another knock.
He placed the laptop on the desk and then pulled out the drawer and grabbed his gun. Moving to the door, he placed the barrel of the gun against the door as he checked the peephole. It was Michael Vaughn.
Opening the door, he stared at Vaughn as he said, "You got the wrong address."
Vaughn was taken by surprise as he stared back at him and then said, "I'm...sorry."
Will raised a finger to his mouth, telling him to be quiet, before saying, "Yeah, it's the next building over."
He tucked the gun in his waistband then motioned for Vaughn to come inside as he went to shut the door. Then he stopped him once he was inside and pointed at his feet as he slipped his shoes off.
Vaughn was a smart man and did the same. He was also still staring at him as he walked across the floor and turned on the radio and turned up the volume. As he walked by him, Will took Vaughn by the arm and pulled him with him into the bathroom where he shut the door and turned on the water for the shower.
When Vaughn went to finally speak, he said instead, "Turn your phone off."
Taking his phone out of his pocket, Vaughn turned it off before putting it back in his pocket. "What the hell is going on?"
"I was about to ask you the same thing," he said as he looked Vaughn over. Spotting the watch on his right wrist, he asked, "You check that regularly?"
Vaughn glanced at his watch and told him, "If it makes you feel any better, yes, I do."
"It does make me feel better. And as you can probably already guess, I'm being monitored. There are three listening devices in this flat. The phone, the radio, and the light in the kitchen. I can't remove them or they'll know I found them. So, I'm leaving them for now."
"No cameras?" Vaughn asked.
Will shook his head. "Not that I know of."
"Who's listening in?"
Staring at Vaughn, he crossed his arms over his chest as he told him, "You noticed how close we are to the Russian Embassy? Take a guess."
"Why would the Russians-"
"Michael, if you haven't realized by now but we have re-entered a new sort-of cold war, but far worse. It's the whole world and the downfall of the Alliance was only the beginning. Now, will you answer my question?"
Vaughn leaned against the sink as he crossed his own arms and told him, "Marshall notified us about Jack's crusade into identifying the members of Prophet Five. And the fact that he's apparently gone dark and possibly missing. You're using his laptop to try to track him down. Marshall traced it. That's why I'm here. Is Jack missing? Is he in danger?"
He let out a breath as he sat on the edge of the tub and ran his hands through his hair. "I really thought Sydney would come. Is she here?"
"No," Vaughn said as he stared down at him. "She stayed behind. She's on another mission at the moment."
"Hayden Chase? I'm assuming since she's the reason Jack is a wanted fugitive, that Syd would be trying to out her as the real traitor."
Vaughn nodded as he dropped his hands and looked around the bathroom. "Why don't you leave this apartment if you know it's bugged?"
"I can't do that." He looked up at Vaughn and saw his look.
It didn't take him long to figure out what that meant. "They're after Jack. They're using you to get him. Are you helping them? Why else would you stay?"
Will shook his head and then rubbed his head again. "It's complicated, Michael."
"Then un-complicate it, Will." Vaughn stared down at him and sighed as he moved over to the toilet and put down the lid so he could sit down. "I'm not going anywhere until I know what this is about. Where is Jack?"
"Last I heard, he's fine."
"What does that mean?"
He wasn't trying to be difficult, but the truth was he didn't entirely trust Michael Vaughn. The only two people he trusted completely were Jack and Sydney Bristow. However, Vaughn was the one there and he and Syd were together. He had to trust him. He had to trust someone. "Okay, listen, four months ago we had to split up, Jack and I. He had a plan. I had to get to Russia and he had to figure out what Sloane was really after. His plan was for us to get ambushed and him taken. So...he got taken. Now, he's here in London and like I said, he's safe. I can't-"
"You can't go to him because then they'll have his location," Vaughn filled in for him as he leaned back and shook his head. "How long are you going to keep up the pretense that you have no idea where he is?"
"Until it's time to make our move. I know they're listening. When it's time, I can deliberately give them false intel. Lead them into a trap. That's why I haven't left. Listen, Michael, Jack's memory has been tampered with and he's...They did something to him," Will told him. "I can't explain it because I don't know how, all I know is that he is different. Even if he remembered everything, they changed him."
Vaughn leaned forward as he asked, "Changed? How? What does that mean?"
"He just is," he stressed as he stood and started to pace in the small space. Will really didn't know how to explain it or what to even say to Vaughn. This would have been so much easier if it was Syd. They were friends; she knew him. Michael Vaughn was more-or-less a stranger. He was nothing more than Syd's boyfriend and a CIA agent. Then he realized that Sydney was the answer to illustrate to Vaughn how Jack is different now. How disconnected he was now from his old life. "Okay, for instance...Jack isn't concerned about Sydney anymore. It's like he's somehow forgotten her."
Vaughn was silent a moment before he said, "Tell me about the Mediterranean."
He stopped and turned to face Vaughn as he started to sweat from the steam in the small bathroom. "What?"
Vaughn stared up at him as he said again, "The Mediterranean. Renée Rienne and her father, Luc Goursaud. He went by Marcus Bernard."
He and Jack hadn't disclosed that to anyone, not even Rachel or Tom. He glared at Vaughn as he asked, "How do you know about that?" When Vaughn didn't answer him right away, he pulled the gun and pointed it at him.
Vaughn immediately jumped up and back against the wall as he raised his hands at the sight of the gun. "Will, put the gun-"
"Michael, we never told anyone-"
"It was Renée, she told me. What'd you think I'm doing here, Will? We have all the intel about Prophet Five from you and Jack, including Luc Goursaud. He has a daughter named Renée. She's a bartender at a bar here in London. I went to her first. She told me about how her father vanished one night in the Mediterranean, near Greece, while they were on a trip for the holidays last year. She remembered your names. Jon and Jonah. That was you and Jack, correct?"
Will shook his head and narrowed his eyes as he said, "Wait...Renée is-You visited her first, before you came here?" He went to the door and opened it as he swept the open room and then went to the door and double checked it was still locked. It was.
Vaughn was standing in the open doorway to the bathroom. Will didn't like this at all. Not Vaughn, and definitely not Renée. He left the radio on as he went back over to the desk and put the laptop back into the backpack. He then pulled open a cabinet and grabbed the bag that had never been unpacked and carried it with him to the door. He put back on his shoes and grabbed his coat.
As Vaughn took a step toward him, Will raised the gun and shook his head. Pulling out a pencil from the backpack, he wrote on the door 'Follow me' before he checked the peephole, opened the door, and left.
Will stuffed the gun in his pocket as he headed down the stairs and then down the hallway toward the backdoor that led into the garden. There was a fence around the garden that was now a blanket of snow. He got to the door in the fence and looked back. Vaughn was coming through the backdoor behind him.
Michael Vaughn was probably a good guy, and a good agent, but right then he didn't know who to trust. He started down the narrow street and a couple doors down came upon a garage door that he had a key for. He unlocked the doors and went inside. Sitting in the garage was a 2000 BMW. He tossed his bags into the backseat as Vaughn rounded the corner and stepped inside.
"You see anyone following?" After Vaughn shook his head, he told him, "Then get in."
Once Vaughn was in the passenger seat and he drove the car out of the garage onto the narrow street, he asked, "Where's Renée?"
"Uh, she's only a couple streets over. Up near Moscow Road."
Vaughn pointed the way and it wasn't long, only a couple of minutes, before he was parked on the road outside her building. He grabbed his backpack out of the backseat before getting out.
"You're not going to need that gun," Vaughn told him as they entered the building.
Will had stuck his hand inside his coat pocket, gripping the gun handle, when Vaughn had told him that. He took the stairs up to the third, and top, floor and checked out the window as they passed by. The street was empty, no one walking down the street and no new footprints in the snow.
He then proceeded to the door marked 3D. "You knock."
Vaughn looked him over as he asked, "What's gotten into you? You're being-"
"I'm being what?" he asked as he looked over at him. "Precautious? Shouldn't you be as equally precautious?"
"We're not in enemy territory here," Vaughn told him.
Will stared at him as he said, "Yes, we are. This is where they are. This is where they brought Jack. Didn't you listen to anything I had said? The whole world is enemy territory."
Vaughn suddenly looked at him like he didn't recognize him, and he would be right. He wasn't the same Will Tippin Vaughn had met in Taiwan. "Are you sure you're a reporter?" he asked as he knocked.
"I haven't been a reporter in nearly two years, Michael."
The door opened and staring back at him in disbelief was Renée Rienne. She blinked at him and then realized that Vaughn was next to him. "What is he doing here?"
"He insisted," Vaughn said as he moved to enter the flat.
Renée moved aside and once inside she demanded,"Where is my father? What did you do to him?"
Will looked the flat over as he didn't say anything. He glanced at Vaughn before he started checking behind the paintings on the walls, and the lamps, anywhere there might be a listening device.
"What is he doing?" she asked Vaughn.
Vaughn let him check around as he explained to Renée, "Making sure no one else is listening in. Are they?"
Renée pushed Vaughn as she told him, "I have done nothing to not be trusted, especially by you. He's the one who took my father! Him and his-"
"He wasn't your father," Will finally said once he was satisfied there were no listening devices in the flat.
"Enculer," she spat at him.
"Enculer," he shot back to her in anger.
"That's enough," Vaughn yelled as he got between them. He looked at him as he asked, "What'd you mean he wasn't her father?"
Will glared at her as he answered Vaughn's question, "Luc Goursaud was killed sometime in the early eighties. We don't know when-"
"C'est des conneries," Renée said as she walked away in anger before telling Vaughn. "He's lying!"
"I'm not lying. I can prove it." He sat his bag down on the sofa and dug into the front pocket and pulled out a tape recorder and a couple of cassette tapes. "We had to go old school a few times," he explained as he held up the recorder. "But I have our conversation with the man posing as Luc Goursaud, aka Marcus Bernard, all on this tape." He switched out the tape already in the recorder with the one labeled "Desantis, '02".
Will sat it on the table and pressed play.
Thirteen Months Ago
Off the coast of Greece
Will watched from a distance through a pair of night vision goggles from inside the raft as Jack resurfaced from under the water directly at the stern of Marcus Bernard's yacht. For him it was easy to see into the boat as the outside light was on, but for the man sitting on the deck it was near impossible for him to see out into the dark water that surrounded him.
Jack was many things, and one of those things was an expert extractionist. In this case it was an unwanted extraction. Quite simply, it was an abduction. In Jack's mouth he knew he was holding a needle with a sedative between his teeth, and as he watched Jack slowly and silently pull himself up onto the back of the boat, he saw his hand go to his mouth.
Will watched the windows to make sure the daughter, Renée, didn't reappear unexpectedly. Jack was directly behind Mr. Bernard as he suddenly grabbed him from behind while at the same time injecting the needle into his neck.
And then they were over the side and under the water with not so much as a struggle and barely a splash.
Will cracked the glow sticks and dropped them into the water and waited. A long minute later Jack resurfaced with an unconscious Marcus Bernard in his arms. He helped him to pull the man onboard the raft.
As they headed back to their yacht, he glanced back and saw in the light from the Bernard yacht Renée's frantic search for her father before he heard her voice calling out across the water for him. Only she didn't say the name "Marcus Bernard". What sounded off the water in the distance was "Luc" and "Dad".
Peering over at Jack, who only briefly glanced back, he spotted him watching him. He didn't say anything. Nothing needed to be said. They both understand what had to be done.
They got back to their yacht and hauled Marcus up onto the deck. Jack didn't want him to be taken down below but to stay topside so they carried him to the bow. As he went back to secure the raft to the boat, he heard a call come in over the PA system. It was Renée's voice. She was sending out a frantic message to all the other boats in the area about her missing father.
He saw Jack walking toward him and asked, "What should we do?"
He listened a moment before saying, "We're not here. We don't do anything."
Will watched as Jack went back up to the bow of the boat and pulled up the anchor. Once the anchor was up, Will steered the yacht further and further away from Bernard's boat until they were well enough away with no one around for miles. Jack had prepared Marcus, aka Luc Goursaud for interrogation as he'd piloted the boat.
He wasn't surprised by Jack's tactics, but sometimes the man did startle him with how casual he was able to do the things he did. He had pulled out a nylon rope and bound the unconscious man and then he took another rope and had tied one end to Marcus and the other end to the anchor. The implication was clear. Talk or be pulled to the bottom of the sea by the anchor and drown.
Will let out a breath as he went down below to grab the tape recorder and tape cassette so they could record the interrogation. Jack wanted to be able to go back and listen to what was said in case something was missed or if something didn't have any context until more information was gathered later.
Once he was in position on the deck, Jack used another syringe to wake the man. Marcus moaned and then blinked his eyes open and since they didn't have any lights on topside, he couldn't see where he was or who had him. He and Jack could see just fine due to the night vision goggles they wore.
"Vous êtes qui? J'ai demandé qui êtes vous? Who are you? What do you want? Qu'est-ce que vous voulez?" He pulled on the rope that bound his arms and legs and started to panic. "J'ai pas - non! Libérez-moi! Release me!"
Jack had yet to say anything as he stood over Marcus and looked down at him. Will stood off to the side and behind him. The silence that followed the plea from Marcus to be released stretched until it built into a tension that seemed to be more threatening than any words anyone of them could have said. All Will heard for several long minutes was the sea water breaking against the hull of the boat as the wind picked up.
Jack stood over Marcus, staring down at him, as he said, "We know who you are. We know what you've been doing for the last fifteen years." His voice was distorted, having a voice modulator against his mouth.
"What-I've done a lot of things in fifteen years. None that would provoke such action-"
"You are Marcus Bernard. Biochemist at GeneMatics Pharmaceuticals in Paris and we know what you have done."
Marcus tried to look behind him to see him but couldn't as he then tried to focus up at Jack. "I'm not the one they want. This is a mistake."
"You think we would go through all this trouble if we were not certain that you are the one we want. Look around you. Listen. There is no one coming to save you. No one can hear you. I will only say this once. Cooperate and you live. Don't and I will drop the anchor you are bound to."
"Please," Marcus begged as he stared up at the dark figure looming over him, "I don't know anything-"
Jack stepped over him and kicked the anchor release, sending the anchor dropping down into the water, the chain yanking along with it the body of Marcus Bernard as he slid off the deck and into the water. Jack stopped it and looked over at him and said, "Strange. He's a father and was with his daughter when he was taken. If that was me I would demand to see Sydney and make sure she's okay. Notice how he never once asked about Renée?"
"I noticed. He also isn't curious about what it is we want. All he said was that he isn't the one we want. There's someone else."
"Someone that he knows made a mistake or did something that would provoke this kind of response."
"We can use that," he said to Jack.
Jack gave a nod as he brought the chain back up and with it Marcus Bernard. The biochemist was gasping for air, sputtering and spitting out water as he resurfaced. He didn't bring Marcus back onto the deck but instead kept him dangling upside down against the side of the boat; the anchor was still below the waterline. Being upside down, Marcus would be face-to-face with the water, a constant reminder of the death that awaited him if he didn't talk.
Jack spoke as he told Marcus, "That was a warning. Next time I will let you drown before resuscitating you. Then, we can start this all over. We will give you time to reconsider how cooperative you will be. It's up to you if it will take dying multiple times for you to deliver to us the information we know you possess, or, if you will die multiple times until your heart gives out. Is someone else's mistake worth dying for?"
They went to walk away when they heard Marcus say, "Stop! I'll tell you what you want to know!" Stopping, they turned back and walked back over to the edge of the boat. Neither of them said a word as they waited for Marcus to continue. "It was Michaux."
Will looked over at Jack who looked at him and shook his head. There was no one by that name in the list of Prophet Five names that they had gotten from Rachel.
"We would need to confirm the validity of that accusation," Jack told Marcus.
"I have proof. It's in Germany. Hamburg. I will show you that it was him."
Jack stepped over to the anchor release as he asked, "Tell me, why have you not asked about your daughter? Do you not care if she is alive or dead?"
"We both know she is not my daughter."
They looked at one another and Jack hit the release. Will heard the gasp of breath before he heard the splash. Jack stopped the chain and said, "He's not Luc Goursaud."
"How is that possible?"
"Facial reconstruction. We have confirmed that his daughter is Renée Goursaud. She believes he's her father."
Will looked into the distance where he last saw Renée and wondered if they'd actually done her a favor. He wondered if they saved her life. "Then who is he really?"
Jack shook his head as he said, "I guess we go to Germany and find that out."
Will was watching Renée but couldn't help noticed hers and Vaughn's reaction to the name "Michaux". He had come to learn that the name was that of a mathematician François André Michaux. He and Luc Goursaud had a partnership and had worked on the Prophet Five Project together in the '70's. Then François André Michaux had disappeared in 1976, much like the real Luc Goursaud.
He and Jack had confirmed that the real Luc Goursaud was in fact dead and that Marcus Bernard had been posing as him for reasons currently unknown. They learned about a hospital in Russia where testing was being conducted for Prophet Five and that the radioactive material they had discovered that powered the missile they had confiscated off of Kazari Bomani was called Substance 33.
What Marcus had told them about Michaux was that he had betrayed Prophet Five and had reached out to an outsider with his concerns about what they were doing. The man he contacted was James Lehman. James Lehman had also disappeared in 1976.
He knew not to say anything as he looked between the two of them. Both Renée and Vaughn had a look on their face that they knew the name and a whole lot more about this than they were letting on. He really wanted to trust both, but especially Vaughn, and so he looked at him as he waited.
Vaughn reached over and stopped the recorder and said, "What did you learn about Michaux?"
Will searched Vaughn's eyes and came to the conclusion that his concern ran deep. He decided not to lie to him. "That he's a mole for Prophet Five."
The sudden paling of Vaughn's face, his widening eyes, told Will everything. Vaughn knew the man and that information surprised him. "He's...Are you saying that-that Michaux is alive?"
"You thought he was dead?"
"What's the full name?" Vaughn suddenly asked. "What's Michaux's full name?"
Will watched him closely as he said, "François André Michaux. He's a mathematician."
Vaughn stood and walked away, hand running through his hair.
Renée looked over at him and said, "This is insane."
"Because," she said as she glared at him, "I find out my father is not my father, that he's possibly dead, and he finds out that his dead father could be alive."
Will blinked at her in disbelief. He looked over at Vaughn who stood at the window. "He's your father? That means you're not...You weren't born Michael Vaughn?"
Vaughn turned to him and stepped away from the window when the glass splintered next to him. He saw Vaughn's body jerked as he spun around and dropped to the floor. Will pulled his gun and dropped to the floor next to him. Another silenced bullet shot through the window and hit the wall behind them. Renée jumped up and ran across the room to a door. An array of bullets trailed behind her; every one of them missing.
Will moved closer to Vaughn and didn't see a wound on his front. Grabbing him, he rolled him over onto his stomach and saw the blood and bullet hole in the top right side of his back. He grabbed the tape recorder off the table and shoved it back into his backpack and pulled it on before crawling back over to Vaughn.
He wrapped his arm around his shoulders as he heard him groan. "Michael?!"
Vaughn seemed a little dazed but he nodded as he got up onto his knees. "That hurt."
"Just be glad you moved in time. It could have been much worse." Will helped him across the floor, out of the line of sight of the windows, and then they were up onto their feet and at the door in a couple of steps.
Renée came out of the room with a bag over her shoulder and a gun in each hand. She got down into crouch and made her way over to them by the door. "Follow me out. We're going to go down the backway. I have a car."
Will wasn't going to suggest his. For all he knew, the shooter had found them because of his car. It could have a tracker on it or they could have been followed from his flat. It wasn't like he made any attempts to shake a tail even though he didn't spot one. "He needs a doctor."
"I know one," she said before opening the door and aimed a gun out into the hallway and around the corner.
With Vaughn draped against his right side, Will followed her out and down the hallway to the stairwell on the opposite side of the building. He gripped his gun in his left hand as Vaughn moved his feet as fast as he could as he struggled to stay conscious. "Stay with me, Michael. I won't be able to carry you if you pass out."
Vaughn didn't say anything as they made their way down the steps with Renée leading the way. Leaning into him, he whispered, "Don't tell Sydney."
Will shook his head as he said, "Definitely not. Just don't die on us."
Vaughn smiled slightly as he said, "Promise," before he stumbled, causing them both to lose their footing and hit the wall.
As he caught him in his arms, Will saw the amount of blood that was coating Vaughn's back and had smeared against the wall. "He's losing a lot of blood." He got Vaughn back up and into his arms as Renée came up the steps and helped him carry Vaughn the rest of the way down the steps and out the door and into Renée's car.
Renée got into the driver's seat as Will got into the back with Vaughn and pulled off Vaughn's tie and yanked his coat off and his sport coat down and pressed the folded tie into the wound. Vaughn didn't make a sound as he closed his eyes.
Will checked his pulse and made sure he was still breathing as he asked, "How long?!"
"Five, ten minutes!"
"Hold on, Michael," he said as he pressed the tie harder into the wound.