Two Years
by Chris Anderson

Two years.

Where have I been? What have I done? And why can't I remember? How is it possible to have lost two years, and to not recall one day of them? How? I have too many questions, and no answers. So many questions I can't think of them all.

I've had bad dreams before, but nothing like this. Nothing like this terrible not knowing, this feeling I have as if I've been frozen in time and the world, my world, has gone on without me. Uncaring.

The last I remember of- not normalcy, but what was the closest to it in my life then was Will, who I thought was dead, and Francie, who was Allison, Alison Dorian, who killed my best friend. Allison who I killed and- and I felt nothing, not even anger.

Two years. Couldn't they have found me? Didn't they try? Vaughn's betrayal makes me doubt them all; I don't trust anyone now. Where were they when I needed them? I must have, to have ended up here without knowing how or why or even when, twenty four months of my life vanished, blank. Dead noise on a radio. And where were they?

I guess they were busy, moving on.

"Sydney," says Vaughn. "Sydney, I'm sorry."

Vaughn. Once he was almost Michael to me. Now he is less.


"No, you're not. How sorry can you be, with that ring on your finger?"

He sighs. "Try to understand, Sydney."

"I don't want to understand. I've lost two years of my life. I don't know where I've been or what happened to me. I don't know why it happened to me, or why I can't remember any of it. Right now you are the least of my concerns. No, you are no concern of mine."

As, apparently, I am no concern of his.

I shove him away. But it's hard. What I remember feels like yesterday. Yesterday he loved me. Today he is married to someone else.

I thought I knew why they sent him, but now I'm not so sure. I would rather have seen Kendall, or Devlin- would rather have seen even a total stranger- than him, wearing someone else's wedding ring.

"I want someone else. Will, my father, Dixon- I don't care. But not you."

"Your father's on his way. But Sydney-"

The door opens. But it's not my father. It's my mother.

Staring at her, the expression she wears- concern mixed with contempt, and I find it strange- I don't notice anything else.

She shakes her head. "Fools," she says. "I can't believe they sent you." She lifts her hand; it holds a taser. The lack of alarm from the guards makes me realize she has used it already.

She approaches Vaughn. He steps back, towards me. Too close, too close, I don't want him near me, I can't stand it.

"The boy scout," my mother says, all that contempt dripping from her words like venom, "who betrayed my daughter."

I want- I need!- my space back. I shove him, again. She stuns him.

Part of me must have known that she would.

"Sydney." She reaches for me. I want to hate her, still, but all I can think is that she's my mother, and she came for me.


She hugs me, tight but quick. There is a sense of urgency in her eyes as she pulls back.

"I want you to come with me."

"Vau- He said Dad was coming."

Mom smiles her enigmatic smile. "You'll see him. There is a lot Mr. Vaughn doesn't know."

I am too shocked to even flinch at the name. My parents. My mother, my father. She is here and he is coming.

At least someone- two- didn't abandon me.

"How did you find me?" I ask.

It's the only question I can think to ask her that she might have time to answer.

"I appropriated bits of the old Echelon system for my own use. I knew as soon as you telephoned Kendall. I'm only sorry I didn't get here before- him." She nudges Vaughn's unconscious form with her shoe, none too gently.

I shrug; want to tell her it's okay, but I don't. It isn't, and she would not believe the lie, anyway. "Mom..."

I hear footsteps in the hall, voices, a small scuffle. Vaughn must have come with backup.

"-can't go in there," I hear an unfamiliar voice protest.

"Can't I?" Another voice; my father's.

I hear the sound of a blow, then Vaughn's backup falling against the doorframe.

My father steps into the room, runs to me. "Sydney." He, like my mother, enfolds me in a brief embrace, then steps back. He glances at my mother, nods. His gaze travels onward, never settling. He seems on guard, watching for some sign of trouble.

He looks down at Vaughn more than once, shaking his head. "Your work?" he asks my mother.

She nods. "Yes."

Another nod from my father. "Good."

My mother sighs; crosses her arms. "Jack... we don't have a great deal of time here."

"Yes, I know." He turns back to me. "Sydney, I can't begin to imagine how difficult this must be for you. And neither of us means to make it harder for you, but your mother is right. We're running out of time. You need to make a choice, and you need to make it right now."

I shake my head, not understanding. "Mom said- She said she wanted me to come with her. With you? Both of you?"

"That's one option, yes. A lot has happened in the past two years, more than we could possibly tell you in the time we have available to us. All you can base your choice on, then, is trust."

I can only shake my head again, and look to my mother. Trust in my father is familiar, and proven. He has earned my trust. With her, it's not quite so simple. "Why should I trust you?"

"Because I came for you, Sydney, when the others sent one who had betrayed you. Because your father is here, with me, despite everything that lies between us."

I begin to understand it then, but I still can't comprehend it. "You're working together. But she- Dad, she escaped- she went to help Sloane. You said it yourself. 'They planned this,' that's what you told me."

My father looks almost amused. "Yes. That's what I told you. What I had to tell you, then. When your mother and I went after Sloane, we reached a point where our plans began to fall apart. I had to make quick decisions, and all I had to base them on was trust. I took a gamble, Sydney, because it was all I could do. I made a decision to trust your mother. Sloane may have believed he and your mother had an understanding, and he chose to rely on things he thought he knew, never realizing that he didn't know everything."

"You planned it," I say, my voice shaking with disbelief.

"It was the only way," my father says.

They speak of our time as if it's limited; I don't know exactly how limited it may be, but there are things I have to know, things I have to understand. Among them is one question that can't wait.

"How did you know that you could trust her? After everything-"

"Sydney, we don't-"

"No," my mother says. "She has the right to ask, and it has to come from you. Answer her, Jack. I'll see to it you have the time."

"Alright," he says. Accepting her words at face value- just as he would have so many years ago, when I only knew her as Laura Bristow. My mother.

"The night before she was to meet with Sloane, Irina destroyed the Rambaldi manuscript. What she brought to Sloane was a fake."


I hear echoes, spoken in my father's voice, and the way he says her name tells me everything I need to know.

"Why?" I ask, thinking that while my mother had never been obsessed with Rambaldi's work to the degree that Sloane had been, she had still been obsessed enough that destroying the manuscript seemed somehow beyond her.

"Because I realized, Sloane wanted it too much. He thought it was the last piece of the puzzle, and I could not let him have it. And I couldn't keep it for myself; there was too great of a risk of it falling into his hands someday. I did what was necessary. I burned it."

My mother paces as she speaks, glancing out the window every time she passes it. She cannot seem to hold still, and she looks anywhere but at me; to my father, then to the window again.

I picture how it must have been, my mother on a hotel balcony, the manuscript and a cigarette lighter- or perhaps a match. No, it would have been a match.

She strikes it, holds it to the manuscript, watches it burn.

There was a time she would have killed for those pages, for what they contained. Now she destroys them, because they are wanted more by someone she hates so very much...

I think that there must be a special brand of hate, reserved for men like Sloane. It is the fine wine of hate, thick and rich.

And as my father has learned, it is poison.

But just then I don't give much more thought to Sloane or to hate. I look to my parents and realize that I have heard enough, that I understand enough now to make my choices.

And they come suddenly very easily, these choices. They aren't hard at all.

Things have happened to me, things I don't understand, can't remember. And while I was- wherever I was, the world has turned upside down. Everything I knew is changed. Or almost everything.

I need an anchor now more than ever, and that is the choice I am making, really. To who and what do I cling, now? Who do I look to, who do I lean on, while I am trying to find my way?

I loved Vaughn, but I don't even know him anymore. I had friends once, but I don't know if they survived, or who they may have become in the past two years.

But my parents, both of my parents, are here now. They came for me, and they didn't come with excuses or betrayals. They simply...came.

"Let's go," I whisper.


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