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Fic: "Guns Up" (1/2)

Title: Guns Up (1/2)
Ship: Sarkney
Rating: R
Summary: There's this saying: the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
A/N: This is supposed to be a standalone one-shot, but I took a break and a second part was writen anyway, which is almost done. Anyway, this "one-shot" is broken up into 2 parts because...I'm not done yet but it came to a natural break and also I have to go out and get medicine so I thought I'd just post it first.



The noisy jangle of keys doesn’t stir her. She is so tired that it is only something discordant that is disturbing her from sleeping. She keeps her eyes closed. They do this a lot at random intervals to jar her, keep her uptight and on the edge so that she’s unable to unwind. Knocking her unbalanced, keeping her senses off-kilter. They have been doing this more frequently because the sessions are not going well.

The voice is from another life. She has heard many accents in her life, German, different Chinese dialects from different regions, Mexican-Spanish and Argentinean-Spanish, Russian. British English, of course, Cockney, Londoners, Sheffield. However, his boarding school-bred accent is strangely unusual and creepy in that it didn’t originate from any one country, like it was built instead on snobbery and elitism. The enunciation, the careful precision, the meticulous diligence attended to his words, is a memory just beneath the shiver-rippple-surface of her mind. It’s a voice you want to listen to. Remote, confident, neutral, smooth, but not in a slick way, his speaking was metered, even, and emotion was in subtle degrees. The equivocalness of his speech, the way everything he says can be interpreted two different ways is an enviable, albeit at times annoying, talent.

His voice is out of place here, and it wasn’t just the English she hasn’t heard in a long time. At the same time, she supposed it make a sort of sick sense. With effort, she opens her eyes and her lips move. She wants to tell him to stop that, stop it, she’s so tired, she’s just so tired…

“Wouldn’t you like to come out to play?”

She raises her head. She mouths his name soundlessly.

Sark only smiles in response, and shakes the keys in her face again.


***


Sark is swearing at her.

She is underwater.

Move, dammit, move!

She is underwater, sluggish and floating at the same time. Drifting past the dim rooms and dark cells peacefully, following Sark docilely. She doesn’t follow him because of blind faith; she trails slowly after him because he told her to. Sark is familiar, he isn’t faceless. She is glad that she does not have to think. She is glad that Sark is thinking, moving ahead, strafing with his gun, although the sound is too loud in her ears, drumming too deeply into her head. Sark is capable. He has a handle on this situation.

Her bare feet step in something sticky, and she chances a slow look down. Blood. They continue on. Sark running ahead, Sydney sailing along in the tow.

Sark’s fingers are clamped tightly around her wrist, his thumb on a pressure point but not exerting any force on it. He drags her along and then pushes her ahead of him, yanking at her arm hard when she stumbles. She sucks at the inside of her cheek in reaction.

She sees the gun before Sark does, but she cannot react. Sark’s attention is diverted by fire from behind them, almost too late he notices the guard ahead. He shoves her against the wall out of his way with one hand; he squeezes the trigger hard, twice, and the threat is eliminated.

“We’re ready for extraction. ETA 2 minutes,” Sark is saying raggedly into his cell phone, pressed hard by the gunfire in pursuit.

She sinks down against the wall, feeling the bullet-ridden plaster behind her head. By the indentions, the unevenness of the wall, she counts at least three bullet holes.

Sark looks down at her in disgust and opens his palm, and drops a stream of shell casings in a steady sound of plinkplinkplinkplink as they hit the floor.


***


Sark’s hotel room view is magnificent, worth whatever exorbitant price he’s paying. She stares at the city lights and the lit walkways connecting each high-rise building. She knows she’s been here before, but she’s not sure where it is…the cities start looking alike, after a while, Rome and Hong Kong and Chicago. The cities all have an undercurrent. She stares at the pinprick electric lights and starts slipping under. The night is inky, the light planetary and cool, blue-purple like the bruise on the underside of her arm, flowering out from her elbow.

Sark hangs up the phone and watches her reflection in the black window for a moment.

“I suggest you get in the shower,” he commands. “You’ve acquired a distinctly unpleasant odor.”

She moves too slowly for his liking, so he helps her by yanking her shirt over her head and dropping it unceremoniously to the floor. When his hands fall to the waistband of her pants, something in her stirs and she jerks back and slaps his hands away. She has never resorted to slapping someone before to make them stop. It’s a civilian instinct that everyone has. She’s been trained better than that.

“I can do it,” she snarls irritably instead of don’t touch me, and Sark smiles like he’s won something. She doesn’t cover herself, and he doesn’t look as he leaves.

There’s dirt and other things beneath her fingernails. The water turns tepid and then just wet and cold before all the dark gray and brown washes off her skin, muddying the water into the same color the water would run when she washed her paintbrush and palate after painting—just inky black and thick, smokestack gray. When she was a child. When her mother was there.

She smells like one bottle of hotel shampoo and two flat cakes of complimentary soap when she steps out of the tub wrapped in the soft terrycloth robe that feels like the best silk kimono. Sark is kneeling by the mini-fridge, and he pauses briefly to eye her with consideration before continuing to go through the contents of the mini-fridge.

“Here,” he announces, dropping a can of Heineken on the mattress. “Temporary cold compress.” He motions at her face. “To keep the swelling down. Someone will bring up an icepack.”

She rolls the aluminum can down the side of her face slowly. The iciness and condensation soothes, water dripping down onto her terrycloth robe. Her hands hurt, and upon examination, she realizes that her knuckles are raw pink-red.

“You’re not hungry?” Sark asks.

She suddenly realizes that she smells food. Her eyes flick to the silver tray and white tablecloth covered cart, with the bone china bowl and bottle of red standing beside it.

“Yes,” she says. “I’m hungry.”


***


The soup is for her. The wine is for him.

“Where are we?”

“Hong Kong.”

“How did you find me?”

“I make it a point to know useful information.” Sark plays idly with the dessert knife. It flashes in her eyes when the blade catches the light of the lamp behind her. Her hand in her lap clenches like an uncontrollable muscle jerk. He makes her nervous, the knifeplay in his skilled hand sets her on edge. The spoon in her hand shakes subtly, and the soup shivers in the silver.

She controls her reaction. Concentrates on the soup. It is light and clear. Retunes herself to him, asks, “Why?”

He pours a shallow amount in his wineglass and wets his lips in lieu of an answer. He appears to concentrate only on his drink, appreciative and clearly enjoying it, but not worshipful. His blue eyes do not cloud over with alcohol. He is in control.

“You have many people looking for you,” he states matter-of-factly.

“What do you want?”

“Do you feel sympathy to your captors?” Sark inquires.

She might have rolled her eyes at his obvious stalling tactic in the past and shot back a caustic remark, but right now she can only function on the most basic level and doesn’t bother answering.

“I didn’t think so. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think I’m mistaken when I say you wouldn’t turn down the chance for retribution?”

Right now, she just wants to sleep. Sark hadn’t let her sleep in the van. In fact, he had twisted her arm sharply, forcing out gasp of pain and demanded that she stay awake. She glares at him.

“Sydney,” Sark reminds gently.

Sydney flinches. She babbles, “Your motive. It’s this. You want me to kill them. This is why.”

Sark shrugs, a lift and drop of the shoulder that says he does things that serve his purpose. She gets nothing else from him.


***


She wakes up during the night, her body shuddering abruptly awake. It isn’t a myoclonic jerk or anything natural like that; she has become used to half-sleeping with the fear of something falling loudly near her head, or a sudden burst of pain somewhere else on her body. It’s a conditioning that has become instinctive reflex.

It is a brief waking. The glow of the flat-screen television illuminates little, BBC is muted, and the lamplight on the desk is barely there, too. Sark is watching her with dark eyes, his body still, lax in the leather seat, and she is aware then that she had fallen asleep to the sound of his fingers tapping smoothly on his laptop. He has paused briefly, apparently having noticed her movement.

She looks back at him, the side of her face pillowed on the mattress; the soft pillow had been too soft. Her hair is in her eyes, and he says nothing, so she closes her eyes again.


***


The second time she wakes up, it is to roll over and retch over the side of the bed. The taste of the soup is in her nose and mouth. Her throat feels splintered and sandpapery.

Sark presses a wet towel to her forehead; he smoothes back her hair as she shakes and shakes, every shudder a violent recoil he absorbs with his body. He sits on the bed beside her, the weight dipping the mattress slightly so she leans against his leg, panting over the bed edge.

“Is this fair, Sydney?” he murmurs, wiping her mouth. “Don’t you want to balance the equation? I’m only proposing an alliance. We share mutual interests, you and I.”

She knows what he’s trying to do. He’s so good. He tells her what she wants to hear, and he does it so well, his voice so mild and understanding, his touch so gentle and lingering. He’s a master at talking to people.


***


Sark insists that she take another shower in the morning.

The sun bakes her legs by the time she wakes up again, sweat cooled on her skin from the air-conditioning, her mouth cottony and dry. Her muscles are sore without even being used, and she feels stiff and heavy. The clock on the nightstand says it is near three in the afternoon. Sark is still working at the desk, although this time he appears to be examining some satellite pictures. She can’t be sure. She can’t be bothered to know.

“Good morning,” Sark greets, closing his laptop screen. Apparently, he can be bothered to maintain the old habits. “You need a shower, Sydney dear.”

“Don’t tell me what to do,” she answers without much feeling. She won’t pass up a shower just to spite him.

“I’ll send for lunch once you’re in. The lunch special is mushroom risotto.” He adds politely although they both know it’s only a formality, “if you have no objections.”

She ignores him and concentrates on making her way to the bathroom without falling. He doesn’t approach her; he returns to what he was doing.

“Sydney.”

She stops at the door to the bathroom.

“After your lunch, I promise to be forthcoming.”

The shower feels good, even better than the tub. She rolls her shoulders back beneath the pulsing jets of water and breathes in the heavy steam. She takes the time to make an impersonal examination of her body. There’s tendon damage in her leg, and the muscle of her left arm has been pulled. She remembers an unyielding pressure on the arm, bending it back. There are bruises in indiscriminate places, a few of them are superficial, some of them are old and fading, others are newer, more colorful.

She wonders where everyone is. As the water massages her back, she wonders who has been looking for her, and where. And how could they have missed her, and how could Sark find her. She hasn’t seen anyone in the real world for a long time, and she feels like she is the last person on earth; it’s just her and Sark.

The shower makes the underwater-fever goes away, and when she finally steps out, she feels balanced. Sharp. Game on.

Sark has ordered a side dish of vegetarian spring rolls to go with the risotto. The savory food is almost too rich, the taste too heavy and seasoned, too pronounced on her tongue. She sits on the edge of the bed and concentrates on eating.

“I took the liberty of ordering some clothes for you. As fetching as that robe is, it’s best we keep your presence discreet.”

She barely glances at them. “Talk, Sark.”

“Very well.” He asks brusquely, “Do you know what happened to you?”

A mission gone wrong in the wrong country.

“A silo.”

He nods approvingly. “A routine assignment, information retrieval. You were apprehended by a rogue militarist group that calls themselves the Nexus. They specialize in munitions trade, but recently they’ve made the transition to biochemical weapons. They move their base of operations every few months. They don’t do contractual work. Per employer, they do one job every two years. Potential customers put out word; the Nexus finds them and offer their services, if they find the job to their liking.”

“So they’re mercenaries.” She pronounces this with relief. She knows mercenaries. They’re the same. Selfish, expendable, concerned only with self-survival. They rarely think for themselves, rarely take on projects that haven’t been assigned to them.

Sark looks like he knows what she’s thinking. He corrects, “A very selective and organized group of mercenaries.”

Maybe the question isn’t how could Sark find her. Sark has always found her. He has run interference with all the affiliations she has tied herself to in the past; she is never quite sure when he will make an appearance or not. He has passed in and out of her life so many times. Anyway, it is something to consider.


***


Sark has a good eye.

It makes sense—so does she. She can look at a man and know how tall he is within a inch, she can estimate how far down it is from any point. She has that kind of eye, trained to make naked-eye measurements that are accurate and precise.

But Sark is really good. The clothes laid out for her on the bed complement her body as though it had been tailored to fit, and so do the undergarments. This, she thinks dispassionately, says a lot about Sark.

She starts to cry, the still, soundless kind of weeping when she fastens her bra. Reaching back awkwardly strains her shoulders, her arm, feels like the wound is breaking open again, and the simple act brings memories not quite fully compartmentalized. She washes her face, schools the muscles into control. It takes time.

“I’ve already checked us out of the hotel,” Sark says when she finishes changing. Is it just her, or did his eyes gleam from seeing that his selection was a perfect choice?

“Why?”

“Because,” he says impatiently as though she were a child, “It’s not in our best interests to remain in the same place for too long.”

“I don’t owe you,” she tells him coldly.

Her body is tense, ready, prepared. She can take him on. She knows she can beat him. The opportunity to best each other in a physical fight, body against body, never really came up. He always managed to make a getaway, or else something would interfere. But she is relishing a fight. She wants the sweat, the blood flowing in her head, mouth, veins. She can taste the grunts and thud of impact, the whoosh of breath. She’s tense, ready, prepared. She doesn’t show any visible signs of it. Her hands remain lax at her sides, her body still uncoiled, but the tension is there in her breath. She feels her muscles knot just a bit, and the response is a twinge of pain she welcomes in anticipation. He won’t like the rejection. He’ll fight her. They’re in a small room. There’s no escape.

Sark only looks at her. It’s a look that says everything. I uncaged you, it says. I have opened doors for you. I have killed for you. You owe me.

“Do you have ties to someone else?” he inquires reasonably. “Do you feel some sort of obligation to someone else?”

She thinks, Francie Will Vaughn Dad Mom me me me. She doesn’t owe him.

“I have a plane waiting. My pilot has filed a flight plan to Geneva, but a change could be arranged, should you want it.”

“What’s in Geneva?” She can’t help herself.

Sark smiles at her. It says, I will unleash you. “I have a private hospital in Geneva.”

She remembers: the hospital, the infected patient, Vaughn, Japan. Her lip curls. “A business front,” she quotes.

He shrugs delicately. “I believe you could use the facility to recover.”

This is a reasonable suggestion. He has the money, the means. She needs time. She can use him without guilt. She can compartmentalize her aversion to him and what he is because what he says is rational. She won’t let anger get in the way of doing what makes sense.

“Fine,” she says brusquely. “I’ll go to Geneva with you.”


part 2/2 will kept posted soonish! Just need to finish the end.



So highlights of the past week or so: had a great time, which naturally leads to getting sick because of late hours outside. Also, the weather kept changing from hot to cold. Anyway, I got sick as anything and it sucks! I have so much CRAP to do that's just not worthwhile at all, and I feel really despondant about it but it may just be the fever talking.

If anyone has Without You Here by the Goo Goo Dolls can you upload it for me? I've never heard it before today. Thank you!

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Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
streetscribbles
Mar. 24th, 2007 08:43 pm (UTC)
Without You Here :) Also emailed it to you!

Catch-up chat this weekend? TTYS! ♥
applecede
Mar. 24th, 2007 10:07 pm (UTC)
YEAHH! I KNEW it'd be you :D

Thank you, thank you!

Heyyy, definitely. Tonight, okay! <3
quiet_rebel
Mar. 25th, 2007 12:30 am (UTC)
This is great! I miss Sarkney!

You definitely captured Sark's voice esp. in the "you owe me" silent conversation between him and Sydney. Great imagery, descriptions, and dialogue.

I miss my spies. I'm looking forward to the next part.
applecede
Mar. 25th, 2007 04:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much!

I miss Sarkney very much too :( I was rewatching earlier episodes and am still caught up with how GOOD it was <3
bluebear_74
Mar. 25th, 2007 01:16 am (UTC)
Like quiet_rebel I miss Sarkney too, I'm glad people are still writing it because when it comes down to it it'll always be my favourite ship no matter how much I like Dramione.

Interesting storyline, and great interaction with both Sydney and Sark. Look forward to the next bit.
applecede
Mar. 25th, 2007 04:10 pm (UTC)
Same! It trumps my Harry Potter OTP too. But I wish there were more fics being produced and stuff. I don't know about the other ships, like I don't know, Vaughn/Syd, are there still fics being churned out every day for that? Ahh, Sarkney was just too good to put away :P

Thank you for reading!
bluebear_74
Mar. 26th, 2007 09:22 am (UTC)
Oh I accidentally clicked a S/V fic once, I couldn't run out of there any faster. I read a lot of Dramione these day, just because there's more to be read, I have no idea if there are much S/V fics out there, I know nothing about that fandom.
alittlebriton
Mar. 25th, 2007 05:16 pm (UTC)
Damn, girl, you continue like this you'll spark off my Sarkney muse again! So looking forward to part two - beautiful dialogue as always.
applecede
Mar. 26th, 2007 01:12 am (UTC)
Damn, girl, you continue like this you'll spark off my Sarkney muse again!
:D And that is definitely a GOOD thing, isn't it? :P Thank you very much for reading!
moonwalker47
Mar. 26th, 2007 03:00 am (UTC)
Wonderful.
applecede
Mar. 26th, 2007 03:01 am (UTC)
Thank you!
absterpuff
Mar. 26th, 2007 04:44 am (UTC)
I'm glad I'm not the only one missing Sarkney too! This is awesome. It's so good to find stories still being written, such as this fantastic one you are writing. Looking forward to the next part :)
applecede
Mar. 26th, 2007 09:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! :D I only wish there were more Sarkney fics around. I discovered this ship WAY too late :\
psychicpilgrim
Mar. 27th, 2007 05:21 pm (UTC)
You've painted a beautifully vivid picture of a broken Sydney and a skillfully manipulative Sark. So in character, so believable, and the excellent pacing added to the tension. I'm looking forward to the conclusion.

Sarkney was my first ship and will always be my favourite. I'm happy to see there is still interest. :)
applecede
Mar. 27th, 2007 08:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :D I really enjoy writing Sarkney, probably more so than any other ship I write. Something about their world and their characters just really fascinates me. Conclusion should be up within the week! I'm also really glad to know there are still avid Sarkney fans around :D
forthebubbly
Mar. 28th, 2007 08:15 pm (UTC)
Oh so excellent. I haven't read Sarkney for a while, but now I think I'll get back in to it.
applecede
Mar. 28th, 2007 10:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Yeah, there were plenty of great Sarkney fics written, which is actually how I got into the ship first :P
moonwalker47
Apr. 5th, 2007 07:04 pm (UTC)
Just peeking in to see if part two was up yet. Did I mention how much this rocked?
idyllic_bliss
Apr. 17th, 2007 11:12 pm (UTC)
Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee *jumps up and down* A new Sarkney Fic! I am so glad you have posted this - it made my day. Very good read - :) Hope to see part 2 soon! IB
uranus_ge
Nov. 5th, 2008 07:40 am (UTC)
Hey applecede =)

I was hoping you could tell me if this is a WIP or will it remain incomplete? Hell yeah you should finish it, what a cliffhanger! =D

I'd to hear more from you, take care of yourself!

~Eva
worldwasasong
Oct. 2nd, 2010 10:12 pm (UTC)
so i know i'm several years late to the party, but this fic is fabulous, and i was wondering if you're planning on finishing it. obviously people move on from fandoms and i totally understand if you have, but if not, i would love to read part two of this story. sorry the lack of capslock - some important keys of my keyboard are refusing to work.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )