monanotlisa and vaznetti organized spy_santa. I volunteered to write a back-up story for simonvsvaughn, who requested Sydney/Sark, Christmas time, a winter wonderland, and maybe a little magic.
Title: One Last Sting
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: They are dervishes because they are dying.
Notes: No spoilers
i. Now is the time of year when bees are wild and eccentric.
Sydney is in Moscow, in the second-most expensive restaurant of the third-fanciest hotel. There are ribbons laced from her ankles to her knees, and a jackknife strapped to her left thigh. Her hair is braided, a dark and streaky red. She's drinking a pomegranate martini and ignoring three artfully-arranged pieces of sushi.
It is December 24, and nobody in the room knows who she is.
She doesn't care.
ii. dive-bomb clusters of conversants in the bright, late-September
The heater in the restaurant must be dialed all the way up, because the air in the room is almost humid, but comfortably so. In the back, a young woman sheds her fur coat to reveal a halter top and gauzy skirt. Sydney finishes her martini and stares at the entrance to the restaurant. It's almost time.
Two tables away from her, an old woman and a young man are chatting in Cantonese. It's amiable conversation, about cousins and movies and trade agreements. Finally, the man bids the woman goodbye. Sydney listens as his chair scoots back, even as she writes her room number on her bar tab.
Sydney wends her way to the doorway even as the man bows to his companion. She walks out in the corridor, turns the corner, and waits.
When he strolls around, his gaze directed out the wall-wide windows, Sydney catches his arm. She feels his muscles tighten beneath her fingers, and braces herself for a retaliation that doesn't come.
His eyes widen, and she smiles.
"Sark. It's been a while."
iii. one last sting, a warm place to squeeze a drop of venom or of honey
There is a bustle in the hallway behind them--the hotel is open to families as well as business travelers. Sydney adjusts her grip on Sark's arm, and he smiles as he leans toward her.
"Might I suggest some fresh air?" he murmurs.
"Absolutely." Sydney pulls her coat on, tilts her head back. "There's a balcony on the other side of this floor."
He nods, and she keeps hold of him as they walk, close as kin, down and through and around the crisscrossing hallways. Finally, they reach the glass doors of the balcony, and the metal is frost-cool under Sydney's hands.
The courtyard is empty, even though the pool is open for swimming. The steam of the water glows as it rises, lit aqua from below. From above, snow falls, a light dusting that kisses against Sydney's skin like tears.
"To what do I owe the pleasure?" Sark asks, and his question is punctuated by a car alarm, some distance away.
The alarm cuts off with a chirp. There's wind funneling past them, and Sydney can hear a child crying in one of the hotel rooms. A car backfires, or maybe somebody is getting shot.
"Sydney," Sark says, and Sydney snaps back to the present. "What do you want?" His enunciation is precise, as if he doesn't expect her to understand.
She releases his wrist, an abrupt gesture as she draws away. Her toes are cold inside her shoes. And she tells him, "I don't know."
iv. she stood up, walked outside, and lay down in the snow
She expects him to walk away. After a moment, however, Sark only ambles past her, leans against the railing. She watches him, his form blurry through the steam and the snow. She takes a step, and another step, and then she is standing beside him.
Snow is dampening the elbows of his suit jacket, and she's surprised he isn't remarking on it. Instead, he breathes out, and if it wasn't Sark, she'd say it was a sigh.
"I spent much of my childhood in Moscow," he tells her, looking over the roofs and smoke. "I remember your mother," and then he breaks off.
Sydney waits for him to continue, but he doesn't. She props her elbows against the railing. "I like the snow here," she says. "When I was a kid, winter just meant a lot of rain. Maybe some thunder." She extends a hand, catches snow in her palm and watches it melt.
When she looks up, he's looking at her, the corner of his mouth turned up.
He stands straight, tucks his hands into his pockets. "You weren't looking for me, were you?"
Sydney shakes her head. "Should I have been?"
"That, Agent Bristow, would be telling."
v. and she is breathing
She should call in, she knows, if not to the agency, then the local police. Even if Sark isn't active now, he must be wanted for some outstanding crime.
He's waiting for her to do it. She can see it in his face, in the way he won't turn his back on her, not completely.
The air is tinged with cold, with gasoline and cement. Sydney puts her hand against his sleeve, feels the warmth of him through the fabric.
"Stay," she tells him. "We can watch the snow fall."
Sark shrugs, then tips his head back, and she does the same. She breathes in deep, and the cold rushes through her, welcome.
A/N: Title, summary, and headings adapted from Elizabeth Alexander's Equinox. Link courtesy of breathe_poetry.
Linked on spy_santa and here.