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ALIAS: Brandish Petals (Sark/Sydney)

sarkastic organized the Sark Ficathon. I wrote a back-up story for desire_of_mind, who requested a holiday-themed story, set "after The Covenant's untimely demise and the wasteland of S3," with Sarkney and low-grade angst, but no fluffy comedy or Nadia.

Title: Brandish Petals
Author: voleuse
Fandom: Alias
Ship: Sark/Sydney
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: Love is a fool star.
Notes: No spoilers

i. then forget me

It could be any other mission.

Sydney's seated in a corner of a small cafe in Vienna. In front of her is a cup of coffee (hers), a half-full ashtray (not hers), and a wanted terrorist (definitely not hers).

The ironic thing is that she's on vacation, this time, and making contact with Sark had been the last thing on her mind.

She had been flipping through the latest edition of Vogue, contemplating where she would eat dinner that night, when the chair across the table scraped back, and Sark seated himself as if he had been stuck in traffic for the past half hour.

Her gun is, unfortunately, still in her hotel room.

ii. mention my name

"This may sound cliché, Sydney," he says, "but of all the cafés in the world, you had to walk into this one."

Sydney closes her magazine slowly. "I never took you as the movie-watching type."

"You obviously haven't been paying attention, then." He leans back in the chair, nonchalant.

It bugs her. "What do you want, Sark?" She keeps her voice low, sliding her words under the chatter of the tables surrounding them. "What are you after?"

"Nothing." He catches the attention of a waiter, gestures at her coffee, and signals for two. "I happen to patronize this establishment regularly."

She looks around, more carefully than she did previously, assessing the customers, the layout, the lighting. It's...ordinary. Open. She turns a skeptical eye on Sark. "You're kidding."

The waiter places two cups of coffee on the table, fifteen minutes faster than he had brought Sydney's original cup, and smiles at Sark.

Sark doesn't even bother to smirk.

iii. and be lonely

"Correct me if I'm wrong, Sydney," Sark begins. She makes a pointed, scoffing sound, but he ignores her. "You're on holiday in Europe just after Christmas, a continent and an ocean away from your family and home."

She could bluff, tell him she's meeting Vaughn for dinner. She doesn't.

He takes in her silence, then continues. "As I know, for a fact, that there isn't anything in Vienna that would interest your organization, or your admittedly twisted family tree, I'm left to conclude you're here alone by choice."

"Maybe." Sydney smiles tightly, lifts her cup to her mouth, and sips. Winces, because the brew is twice as good as the coffee she originally ordered. "So?"

She watches as Sark's eyes flicker, away and back to her.

"Perhaps," he says, carefully, "it might surprise you to know we share that much in common."

iv. speaking so soon

She makes a point of not looking at him when she speaks. She'd like to ignore him altogether, but she's not good at ignoring anyone who sits across a table from her, and besides, she's never received such good service in any cafe, ever. Sark knows this place, he knows the food, and she tries not to audibly moan as she eats, because she doesn't want to give him the satisfaction.

But, she makes a mental note, the waiter yesterday lied. They do serve food.

"I take it the parmesanschoeberlsuppe meets your approval?" He's smug, but she only catches it because she expected it.

"It's delicious," she admits. "I've never tried it before."

"It's a specialty of this cafe," he says. "For the holidays."

"Really?" She looks around the room again, smiles when a young girl, dining with her family, waves at her. Sydney waves back. "I'll have to mention this place to..." She freezes, looks warily at Sark.

He lifts one eyebrow, slightly. "I'm not trying to lull you into revealing anything, Sydney."

She narrows her eyes. "Of course not." She infuses her voice with as much irony as possible.

"Besides," he remarks, "I'm already familiar with your circle of acquaintances. Almost intimately, in fact."

v. I could hold you

After the soup, there's a pastry that flakes to shreds when she punctures it with her fork.

Sark ably steers the conversation from mutual acquaintances to safer topics. He mentions two recent military coups in eastern Africa, and she ties them to a book she read for an undergraduate seminar. She outlines the dissertation she decided not to start, and he relates the story of a government official in Hong Kong who thinks himself a scholar.

And on, and on. Honey and chocolate melt on her tongue, and she tries not to laugh.

Then, more coffee, this time almost unbearably sweet, and laced with brandy. She tells him about one of her first missions for SD-6, when she ended up having to do a jig on a bar in order to keep her cover. He recalls the first time he tasted alcohol, on the back of a truck in Argentina, while a guerilla fighter pointed a machine gun at him.

He mentions Irina, and Sydney doesn't even flinch.

By the time she's drained the dregs of her coffee, she feels almost relaxed, despite her company. Or maybe because of it. She's not sure anymore.

The waiter takes their empty plates away, and she realizes they're the only patrons left in the cafe. "God, how late is it?"

Sark glances at his watch. "Almost midnight."

She opens her purse. "How much do I--"

"Please." He holds up a hand to forestall her. "Think nothing of it."

She considers this, the ethics of letting Sark pay for her dinner. It's probably only fair, given how many times he's tried to kill her.

"Okay." She stands. "This has been...surreal, actually. But the food was delicious."

Sark slides a sheaf of euros onto the table before he stands. Looks her in the eye. "And the company?"

Sydney looks away. "Like I said. Surreal."

vi. as dry roots love rain

They exit the restaurant, and Sydney isn't able to turn her back on him, though she's certain he won't shoot her in the back. He seems the type to subscribe to the rules of hospitality.

They stare at each other for a long moment.

"This doesn't mean we're friends," she says, finally.

"Of course," he nods. "I should hope, when next we meet, you won't hesitate to defend yourself."

"Don't worry," she assures him, "I'll do my best to shoot you."

"I expect nothing less."

The absurdity overwhelms her, and she grins, the first real smile she's directed at him.

He blinks. "Sydney," and his voice is less polished, somehow. "Why are you here?"

"Why are you?" She gathers her defenses, and manages to turn away.

He catches her elbow, pulls her around. Looks at her until she's forced to look back.

When he speaks again, his voice is low, urgent. "You aren't the only one to suffer loss."

She averts her gaze from his eyes, looks at his ear, his cheek, his mouth. "I never thought so."

His lips descend on hers, cool and soft.

When they draw apart, she realizes it's snowing.


A/N: Title, summary, and headings adapted from Carl Sandburg's Offering and Rebuff.

Originally linked here.


( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 18th, 2005 02:40 am (UTC)
It's been a long time since I read a great Syd/Sark fic. Thank you for that. It was refreshing!
Apr. 20th, 2005 07:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Apr. 18th, 2005 02:41 am (UTC)
I loved this! I love Sark's voice and Sydney's mental narration. It's a sweet story, but hardly cloying.
Apr. 20th, 2005 07:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I wasn't sure if I it would be too sweet, so I'm glad it worked.
Apr. 18th, 2005 04:47 pm (UTC)
Wow, you should def write more than you now do :) Lovely work!
Apr. 20th, 2005 07:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you! And I wish I had time to write more than I do. If only my employers were more understanding. *g*
Apr. 20th, 2005 01:20 pm (UTC)
This is lovely... I don't know if this makes any sense, but it's sort of, I don't know... unexpectedly gentle... especially for Syd/Sark. But you make it work so well.
Apr. 20th, 2005 07:03 pm (UTC)
Yay, Rohini feedback! And thank you! It felt kind of weird to write them this way, but it think it works, once in a while.
Apr. 20th, 2005 07:56 pm (UTC)
I've seen some completely out of character, stupidly sweet Syd/Sark (or Sarkney... or... whatever), but this is definitely not one of those. Their characters remain intact throughout the story. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

If I ever get the internet at home working again, I'll be sure to bookmark it. If I ever get the internet at home working again, there will be more feedback on a few other stories that I don't feel comfortable reading at work.
Apr. 25th, 2005 07:09 pm (UTC)
WHATEVER. Don't pretend you care about my writing. I know you're too busy with your SOCIAL BUTTERFLIGHTINESS. ::pouts::
Apr. 25th, 2005 07:12 pm (UTC)
Apr. 26th, 2005 09:30 pm (UTC)
I really liked this and I especially liked the titles you used for each part.

It was a refreshing change from the usual Sarkney -- your usual Sarkney, in any case -- and quite enjoyable to read.

And of course the fact that Sark knew the cafe much better than Sydney did? Priceless.

don't mind me, i'm just whittling away on your ficathon and hope to have it done sometime this century. *hangs head*
Apr. 26th, 2005 09:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you! This was a change of pace, definitely, but I figured, hey, it's the holidays. *g*

don't mind me, i'm just whittling away on your ficathon and hope to have it done sometime this century.

No worries. I have a horrendous track record with ficathons, myself, so any time this century would be lovely. *g*
Apr. 29th, 2005 08:58 am (UTC)
Minamalist yet not too simplistic, everything was laid bare and it's beautiful! I especially love their dialogue!

I'm new to the fandom (taking a brief break away from the Harry Potter one), and I've just been eating up Sarkney fics *sheepish*

I'm going to be browsing the rest of your fics now :D
May. 5th, 2005 03:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it.
May. 7th, 2005 01:38 am (UTC)
Just when I'd decided I wanted nothing more to do with the show or this pairing. :shakes head: Good stuff. I like the final line in particular.
May. 12th, 2005 04:37 pm (UTC)
*g* Thank you!
May. 17th, 2005 04:24 am (UTC)
First off I love the Sark/Sydney pairing. Whenever they have a scene together I get all giggle and you wrote this really well. I can completely hear Sark saying his lines in this piece. Great piece.
May. 17th, 2005 07:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it!
May. 28th, 2005 06:13 am (UTC)
Impossible to choose a favorite line, but I can't resist quoting this one:

The absurdity overwhelms her, and she grins, the first real smile she's directed at him.

He blinks. "Sydney," and his voice is less polished, somehow. "Why are you here?"

That's so...I don't know, I read that line and I saw a letter opener s l o w l y sliding open an envelope. You really got under your characters' skins. Um, JJ's characters. But they felt like yours. With the "unexpectedly gentle" (said afterknowledge, aptly) way you handle them.

I look forward to delving into more of your fic. Everything was so spot-on: the dialogue, the atmosphere of the cafe and of the fic, the angsty prettiness of the Carl Sandburg lines.

And I'm a whore for pieces with Roman numerals.
May. 31st, 2005 04:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I don't know why I seem to have opted for a quieter, gentler Sark/Syd pairing, but for this piece, I think it worked.

And I'm a whore for pieces with Roman numerals.

Hee! I used to use Roman numerals ALL THE TIME. Not so much now, but if you read any of my earlier fic, you're bound to come across them.
Jun. 9th, 2006 11:30 am (UTC)
*Loved* this. The Sydney POV is brilliantly done. The tone throughout is delicious. Thank you for this. :)
Jun. 14th, 2006 01:25 am (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed it. And thanks for the comment!
Jul. 20th, 2007 03:44 am (UTC)
Wonderful! I loved this fic. I liked the mood and sweetness of it. And the notes of loneliness and companionship as well. You are a very talented writer.
Aug. 1st, 2007 09:47 pm (UTC)
*blush* Thank you so much!
Sep. 9th, 2007 08:46 pm (UTC)
GAAAAAAAAAAH, you are outstanding, as always, in how you capture emotion, setting and characterization. <33333
Jan. 16th, 2011 10:32 pm (UTC)
provides access
The stories are like reflections of what I am going through in my life…and these did make me realize my mistakes and what steps do I need to take….
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )

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