Posted on behalf of yankluver
Title: Memories Remain
Spoilers: General season 3. Spoilers from preview clips for next episode. Speculation on what happened to Syd during those two years.
Disclaimer: Alias and its characters do not belong to me. I do this out of
a love for the show and no infringement is intended.
Summary: Syd recalls a disturbing memory from her time as Julia Thorne...A memory that involves Vaughn.
Sydney knocked on the door and waited patiently. She then knocked again.
"I'm coming," a voice from inside answered.
He threw the door open, surprised at who stood before him.
Vaughn couldn't have been more surprised than Sydney though. Her eyes landed on his face and then quickly trailed down his body. He had only a towel wrapped around his waist, his chest glistening and making Sydney's heart race. He had another towel in his hand and was drying his hair.
She could feel herself staring and willed her eyes to go back to his face. She managed a smile. "Hi. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt."
He shrugged, trying not to feel self-conscious standing half-naked in front of her. Two years ago, this would have been anything but a problem. But things were different now. The more clothes that separated the two of them, the better.
"No, it's all right. I was just getting out of the shower when I heard you knock. Come in."
Sydney entered his apartment. Or, more precisely, the apartment he shared with Lauren. She'd never been there before and hadn't imagined herself ever dropping by for a visit. But she needed to talk to him and she didn't think it should wait. Thankfully, Lauren was away and wasn't expected back until the day after tomorrow. This was awkward enough without her being there.
He led her into the living room, smiling and gesturing to the couch. "Have a seat. I'm just gonna throw some clothes on."
She nodded and watched him leave.
Sydney looked around at the place. It was nice enough. Classically modern and minimalist. No color, all earth tones. It seemed to be lacking warmth, but who was she to judge?
There was something about it though...something familiar. She couldn't help feeling as if she'd been there before.
He returned a minute or so later, wearing a gray t-shirt and black running pants. His hair was still damp and mussed. She fought the overwhelming urge to run her hands through it. She'd always loved his hair...among other things.
"Can I get you something to drink?"
Sydney shook her head, "No, thanks. I just wanted to speak to you about something and then I have to get going."
He nodded and took a seat beside her. "Okay."
Sydney stared at him for a long moment, trying to find the right words. They never came. "I'm sorry about Lauren. I know that she is angry with you for keeping my secret about Lazarey and for preventing her from doing her job."
He dropped his head. "She's angry, but it has less to do with her job and more to do with us."
Sydney's brow furrowed. "I don't understand. She has to realize that you had no choice. You were just obeying orders."
He nodded, lifting his eyes to meet hers. "She does. She also realizes that I would have kept your secret without being ordered to."
Sydney's eyes widened. "You would have?"
He offered her a tight-lipped smile. "Yeah. You know I'd do anything to protect you, Syd. That much hasn't changed."
A grin threatened to spread across her face, but she fought it. "Thank you." She paused and then moved to leave, "Well, I hope everything works out between you two. I better get go-..."
She started to stand, but Vaughn's hand on her arm stopped her. She sat back down, meeting his eyes.
He removed his hand from her arm and ran it across his mouth before going on. "She asked me if I still love you."
Sydney swallowed hard, trying to hide her shock at the statement. "What did you say?"
He sighed and shook his head, "I told her it wasn't about that...That you're not my wife."
She nodded and then looked down at her hands. "You didn't answer her question."
"No, I guess I didn't," he replied softly.
She lifted her head and met his gaze. It held for a long moment, before they both looked away. They both knew the answer to the question. There was no point in saying it. Deep down, Lauren knew, too.
Sydney stood up quickly. "Well, I really have to get going."
He nodded and stood up too, walking to the door and opening it.
He offered her a smile as she passed by him. "Bye, Syd."
"Bye," she replied, returning the smile.
He watched her walk down the hall until she disappeared from view and then closed the door.
* * * *
Later that night, Sydney lay in bed, staring up at the ceiling. Two things about her visit to Vaughn's bothered her.
His admission, though not in so many words, that he still loved her.
And the fact that she couldn't rid herself of the feeling that she'd been to that apartment before.
Sydney flipped onto her side and looked out the window. The moon's light fell across her face, forcing her to close her eyes. Her mind was such a racing blur, that she felt sure sleep wouldn't find her that night. But exhaustion got the best of her and before long she was sound asleep.
The sleep was a restless one. She tossed and turned, never finding peace.
They said it would happen eventually. The people from the support group had warned her.
And, now, the nightmares had finally begun.
Images flashed through her mind. Sounds rang in her ears.
They were her missing two years. All pieces of a complex puzzle. One she couldn't hope to understand yet.
They were fast and they were frightening.
A baby crying.
A sink of dirty dishes.
A phone ringing.
Clothes upon the floor.
They were all random, seeming to have no connection except that they resided in her head.
Common images, normal sounds. Nothing unusual about them. Yet they tortured her.
They wouldn't stop.
A picture on a night table.
A picture of Vaughn.
Sydney bolted up in bed, her body drenched in sweat and her heart racing. She took sharp, halting breaths.
It took her a moment to realize what had caused her to waken. And then it came to her.
Her eyes widened and she had to swallow to keep from vomiting.
She had been there before.
In his apartment.
In his bedroom.
As Julia Thorne.
* * * *
Julia didn't have a problem getting by security. She never had a problem.
She slowly climbed the stairs. She never used the elevator. Julia was never in a hurry when it came to things like this.
It was done on her terms. She decided when. She decided how. They never knew she was coming.
They never had a chance.
A smile spread across her lips, as she continued to slowly climb the stairs. She felt like Mike Myers from "Halloween".
She didn't have to hurry. She didn't have to run. It didn't even matter if they ran. She wouldn't chase them.
That's what made her so frightening. The supreme confidence in her ability to catch them that she didn't even need to run.
They couldn't hide. She'd always find them.
Julia finally reached the ninth floor and pushed on the door handle. She poked her head out, checking for people, before continuing down the hall.
Her peripheral vision scanned each door for the correct one. She finally stopped and turned to stand in front of it.
Julia made quick work of the lock, smiling at the naivete of people who actually believed it would keep them safe.
She opened the door just enough to slip in and then quietly closed it behind her. She walked a few steps to the living room. It was dark, except for the light given off by the full moon.
She always had loved full moons.
Her eyes adjusted quickly to the darkness, allowing her to move freely and properly survey her surroundings.
She could immediately tell they didn't have children. The place was spotless and uncluttered. Not an item out of place. There was no color. No real signs life. If she didn't know any better, she'd think no one lived there.
Julia was rather disappointed. She always enjoyed invading her victim's spaces, violating their privacy. She always learned so much about them. The little things said a lot.
Sink full of dirty dishes left till morning? Not overly concerned with appearances.
Broken glass? Someone has a temper.
Clothes on the floor? Messy, possibly lazy.
But this place had nothing. Anyone could have lived there. It wasn't a home. It was as if its occupants didn't plan on staying long.
Julia moved silently down the hallway, opening the door to the master bedroom and slipping noiselessly in.
She nearly jumped when she caught sight of her reflection in a mirror, dressed in a black knit turtleneck and pants of the same color. She smiled at herself, before turning to face the bed.
There they slept peacefully, not knowing the fate that awaited them. He slept on one side of the bed and she on the other, their backs to each other.
Trouble in paradise or did they just need their space while they slept? She couldn't tell.
The woman was fairly attractive. Thin, too thin really. Blonde hair, her eyebrows clearly indicating that it was not natural. Her skin was very pale, made paler by the moon's light. She almost looked sickly.
The man was very attractive. His hair was brown and short, still styled in that boyishly messy way even in sleep. His complexion was golden, his body toned perfectly. Not too much. Not too little. Just enough. He even had a tattoo. How sexy, she thought.
His face was just about the most perfect thing she'd ever laid eyes on. Strong jaw, cut features. Nice lips. She bet he was a great kisser. She only wished she could see what his eyes looked like.
He was just the kind of guy she'd go for. Oh, the things she'd do to him.
It was a shame he had to die.
She pulled her gun out of the waistband of her pants and aimed at the woman first. She figured she'd let that fine specimen of a man live a few moments longer.
Just then, the woman stirred. She turned on her side. Julia stood frozen. She walked to the woman's side of the bed to see if she was still asleep. Her eyes landed on an object on the night table as she checked on the woman. It was a picture. She leaned down and picked it up.
She smiled at the man who looked back at her...The one who slept only a few feet away...The one whose fate she held in her hands.
He was in full hockey gear, standing on the ice and holding a stick. He was smiling. She was right, he did have a great smile. And those eyes. Green, penetrating eyes. She stared at them for a long moment, unable to look away, when something struck her. A feeling...One so strong she nearly dropped the picture.
He felt so familiar, like she had met him before. But it was more than a passing acquaintance. She felt as if she knew this man. Deep down in her soul.
She squeezed her eyes shut, hoping to will the feeling away, but the situation only worsened.
Now there were images. Sounds.
He was in her mind.
Standing on ice with a hockey stick, laughing.
Offering a spoonful of ice cream.
His bare body lying in bed.
Smiling and saying huskily, "You're so beautiful."
The picture fell from her grip, landing on the floor with a soft thud. Julia's eyes flew open and she shook her head violently to rid her mind of the images.
She'd known him.
She'd loved him.
Julia looked over at the man, this stranger who wasn't really one at all.
Then she placed her gun back in her waistband and left the way she came in.
* * * *
They had called them nightmares, but they weren't. Nightmares imply fiction, a break from reality. Yes, they may be rooted in the truth floating around in one's subconscious, but they aren't real. They aren't things that have happened.
These weren't nightmares. They were memories.
Being in his apartment and having that familiar feeling had started it all. And that one image, that picture of him, had triggered the memory of that night. She could remember it all now. Entering the apartment, watching them sleep, looking at the picture. That picture had triggered memories of her life with Vaughn, a life she didn't even know existed. And now the image of that picture had triggered the memory of that terrible night.
The night she nearly killed the man she loved.
Sydney couldn't remember driving to Vaughn's place. She couldn't remember knocking on his door. She had no idea what time it was as he answered it, his sleepiness subsiding the moment he saw her expression.
She stood in front of him, tears streaming down her face. They'd been here before. Her crying and seeking his comfort. He'd always known exactly what to do.
"Syd," he whispered, before taking a step forward and opening his arms. She fell into them, wrapping her arms tightly around his body. He cupped her head with his hand and spoke softly to her, "It's going to be okay."
He managed to move her inside, close the door and get her to the couch. He sat in front of her, pushing the hair out of her face.
"Sydney, what happened?"
She took a deep breath and wiped at her tearstained face, forcing herself to meet his eyes. She couldn't keep the shaking out of her voice as she spoke. "I remembered something."
Vaughn's eyes widened, realizing what a breakthrough this was for her, but scared by what it might mean. "What did you remember?"
She swallowed hard, unable to keep her eyes focused on his. "There's a picture next to your bed. On the left side, Lauren's side. It's on the night table. It's a picture of you. You're dressed in hockey gear, standing on ice and holding a stick. You're smiling."
Vaughn shook his head in wonder, "How could you possibly know that?"
"I've been here before," she said so softly he barely heard her.
His brow furrowed in confusion. "Here? My apartment. That's impossible. Lauren and I got this place after we married. What do you-...?"
She hesitantly met his eyes again, cutting him off. "I was here. Before I came back. I was here as Julia Thorne."
Vaughn couldn't help his mouth from dropping open. He ran a hand down his face and shook his head. Finally, he spoke. "Tell me exactly what you remembered."
Sydney took a deep breath before going on. "I thought it was a nightmare at first. I started seeing these images, hearing these sounds. A baby crying, broken glass. Stuff like that. Then I saw...I saw your picture."
"Sydney, that doesn't mean anythi-..."
"No, there's more," she said, interrupting him again. "That triggered it, the memory. It all came back to me after that. I remembered breaking into your apartment. It looked exactly like it does now. When I was here earlier, it felt familiar. I...I just never imagined it would be because of something like this." Sydney had to pause for a moment, a tear falling down her cheek and hitting the couch without her even realizing it. "I remembered going into your bedroom. I saw you...and Lauren sleeping. Then I saw this picture of you. You were playing hockey and smiling. And I looked at your eyes. There was something so familiar in them. I realized I had known you, loved you. Then I dropped the picture and left."
Vaughn inhaled deeply, absorbing it all. "Did you remember why you came here?"
Sydney nodded, her chin shaking and her eyes filling with tears. "I was going to kill you." She paused and then added, "Lauren, too."
Vaughn didn't know what to say. She'd shocked him to his very core. All he could do was pull her into his arms.
They stayed like that for a few long moments, before he spoke again. "Don't worry, we're going to figure this all out."
She pulled back from him. "I was going to kill you. You'd be dead right now if it weren't for that picture. How could I do something like that?"
He shook his head firmly and placed his hands on the sides of her face, "No, Sydney, don't. It wasn't your fault. That wasn't you. It was Julia."
Sydney brought her hand up and touched his cheek, "I'd never forgive myself if-..."
"Everything's going to be fine. We're a lot closer to the truth now. This is a good thing."
Sydney nodded, her voice growing stronger and determination taking up root in her eyes. "I'm going to find Sark. He knows more about what happened to me, I'm certain of it."
* * * *
The next day, Sydney tracked Sark down in LA, of all places. He didn't seem to be hiding, even though he always had a number of organizations looking for him. 'Hiding in plain sight', he liked to call it.
She found him in a warehouse. He spun around and smiled, not at all surprised to see her.
"Ah, Sydney, so good to see you."
Sydney didn't waste any time. She grabbed the collar of his shirt and slammed him up against the chain link fence. She moved her face in close to his, her hot breath assaulting his skin.
"What do you know about those missing two years of my life!"
Sark remained calm. If he was scared or intimidated, you couldn't tell. "I told you everything I know, which isn't much."
Sydney pushed him harder into the fence, causing him to wince. "I'm not inclined to believe you!"
"It's the truth."
Sydney gritted her teeth together as she spoke. "Look, I know you believe I won't hurt you and two years ago you may have been right. But that was before I lost two years of my life! That was before I lost everything! My friends, my home, the man I love! I have nothing to lose now and that makes me very dangerous."
Sark smirked. "Nothing? You still have people you care very deeply about, Sydney. Your father, your friends and colleagues, Mr. Vaughn, even though he no longer shares your bed. By the way, I've seen his wife. I find you far more attractive. What a fool." He paused, smiled and then continued. "If anything happened to me, something would happen to them. You still have a lot to lose, Sydney, and you won't risk that."
Sydney shook her head, "I guess you're willing to stake your life on that belief?"
Sark sighed. "I don't believe you'd hurt me, Sydney, but I do like you, so I will cooperate. I only ask that you unhand me and take a step back."
Sydney reluctantly loosened her grip and stepped back from him. Sark straightened his clothes and looked her directly in the eye. "The Covenant programmed you to be an assassin, Sydney."
Sydney took a deep breath. She couldn't say she was surprised. She figured as much from the information she had come across and the memories she had. Still, it was unsettling to hear.
"They would tell you, or should I say Julia, who to kill, give you the information you needed. You would determine when it would take place and how. You and Julia are control-freaks. It's a trait you share."
"I remembered trying to kill Vaughn and his wife. Why?"
Sark smiled thinly. "Ah, yes. That occurred shortly before your return. You could say it was the beginning of the end, I suppose. It was a test. The Covenant had reason to doubt your loyalty. Your programming was done in such a way that you would remember none of your previous life. They suspected, however, that you had regained your memory and that you were now working against them. So, they decided to test you. They sent you on a mission to kill the man you love and his wife, for good measure. If you successfully completed the mission, then you would have proven yourself loyal. As I'm sure you remember, you did not."
Sydney sighed. "From what I remember, I don't believe I had any of my memory back until that night. Something there triggered it. I would have completed the mission if not for that."
"Yes, I've always believed that. The Covenant, however, did not. Your failure confirmed their suspicions. They would have just killed you, but you still held, hold, actually, valuable information for them. Instead, they placed you in one of their asylums under close watch. I'm speculating now, but I suppose your memory gradually returned, you escaped and then you somehow ended up in that alley in Hong Kong. Your programming short-circuited, Sydney."
"What do I have that they still want?"
"I don't know. That is the truth."
Sydney crossed her arms over her chest. "Is there anything else you're not telling me?"
"I assure you there is not."
"How do you know all of this?"
Sark's eyes twinkled. "Wouldn't you like to know? I think I've said enough for one day. I can only hope I was of some help."
Sydney offered him a smile and then punched him in the stomach. He fell to the ground, groaning in pain.
She leaned over him. "Thanks a lot."
"Anytime," he managed to say to her retreating figure.
* * * *
The next night, Sydney heard the doorbell ring and went to answer the door. Vaughn's smiling face greeted her.
"Hi", he said.
"Hi," she replied, returning the smile. "Come on in."
She moved to allow him entrance and then closed the door behind him. Sydney had visited him right after seeing Sark. She'd told him everything.
She led the way to the living room and they both sat down on the couch.
"I just came by to see how you're doing. Jack's got everyone working on finding more out about this, Syd. We know you have something The Covenant wants, so it's only a matter of time till they try to collect on it. We have to find out what that is first."
Sydney bobbed her head, "I know. I just keep thinking about all of the horrible things I did...the lives I ruined. I never would have thought I was capable of that."
Vaughn shook his head, "You're not, Syd. It wasn't really you. You have to keep telling yourself that."
Sydney nodded and they lapsed into silence. He almost didn't hear her when she spoke. "I didn't think I'd ever be able to forget you. Not really. Not forever."
A gentle smile pulled at his lips. "There are some things worth remembering. What we had is one of them."
Sydney shook her head, a bitter smile overtaking her lips. "It's still so weird hearing our relationship spoken about in the past tense. People say 'ex-boyfriend' and it doesn't even register that they're talking about you. There was never any break-up. I never imagined that I'd have to put you into that category of ex-boyfriends. It just doesn't seem right. One day, I woke up and everything was different. There was no resolution. I think that makes this even harder."
Vaughn nodded, his voice emerging softly, "I know. I spent so long wanting to be with you that when it finally happened, I couldn't imagine it ever being any other way. I never would have thought we'd end up like this."
They were silent again, until Vaughn cleared his throat and made a motion to leave, "Well, I better get going. Lauren should be getting home from her trip any minute."
Sydney put her hand on his arm to stop his movement, "Don't go," she whispered.
Vaughn looked down at her, their eyes meeting and holding for a long moment. He didn't say a word, but sat back down on the couch. Sydney moved closer to him, placing her head on his shoulder.
"Stay," she said softly, "Just for a little while."
His reply was a nod, as he swallowed hard, and slowly, reluctantly, put his arm around her shoulders.