Sydney In Paradise
by Jennifer-Oksana

There is a whole world enfolded in the confines of Hong Kong; you could spend your entire life there and never find the end of it. The density of life, the array of experience, the variation of sheer humanity per square foot is dizzy-making and should be awe-inspiring.

In a small warehouse with a Buddhist temple on one side and a McDonald's on the other, Sydney Bristow braids her hair and yawns at the very thought of Hong Kong.

Of course, by this point, Sydney Bristow would yawn at the very thought of anything. It has been two weeks, three days, and seven hours since she's gotten more than three hours of sleep at a time. The world is starting to blur into one noisy, neon-laced nightmare where nothing except sleep is very important.

But Irina has murdered sleep the way she has murdered Laura Bristow and Michael Vaughn, and Sydney is resigned (stuck, damned, stubbornly clinging) to being sleepless in the pursuit of keeping her own soul.

It is taking a very. very. long time. to braid her own hair.

Actual escape is well-nigh impossible; Sydney has been allowed to go out into the city, but there are always agents two feet behind. After the closest Sydney has come to ditching her guards and finding a form of contact, Irina (not her mother, this cannot be her mother) kept Sydney up for seventy-two hours straight until Sydney, sobbing like a twelve-year-old girl, promised never to do it again and was promptly given six hours of sleep. That had been three weeks ago, and Sydney daydreams of six hours of sleep during her weak moments.

Not that anyone had laid a finger on Sydney; that is not Irina's style, and especially not with her own flesh and blood. But there is no sleeping when white-hot lights are always focused at your eyes, when sirens wail for two hours straight, stop for thirty minutes, and are replaced by stereos screaming in Chinese, especially when you are expected at every meal on time and ready to speak.

The City of Life never sleeps, and neither does Sydney Bristow.

She could use a haircut; when she gets back to Los Angeles, she'll get one. There is still something stubborn, hopeful, and fully Syd inside of her, believing with all her heart that she will be able to go back to Los Angeles and get a haircut without worries about Irina, Security Section, or anything else. Maybe she'll get Francie to come with her.

"Good morning, Miss Bristow," someone says, echoing in the vastness of the warehouse. "How do we feel today?"

"My chi is off," Sydney says, marveling that she can still be so flippant. "I think that the feng shui in this place is bad."

"You're still very funny," the someone adds. Oh. Sark. Wonderful. Sydney finishes a braid and finds another bit of hair to twist. "Are you listening to me, Miss Bristow?"

"Not really," she says. "You don't listen to me, I don't listen to you. It's a vicious cycle."

"I completely agree," Sark replies. "We're going out tonight. You look like you could use some excitement, and your mother agrees with me."

She glares at him, pretending to be annoyed at his little games. Sydney knows that she looks like she could use a week asleep. But there is going out, and that means the possibility of losing the goons in the crowds for just long enough to get a message to somebody -- anybody -- she doesn't care who. At this point, K-Directorate could pick her up and as long as it wasn't Irina and her flunkies, Sydney would be delighted.

"That would be lovely, thanks," she spits out, sounding about as happy as she should.

"I'll see you in a few hours, then," Sark says, and Sydney wonders if her hairdresser will know how to get the miasma of creep out of her hair. She's going to need it.

Of course, he takes her to the club she went to with Vaughn. It is so very much like him, and if Sydney wasn't hoping this little charade was going to work, she'd try to hurt Sark. But there's not really time for that. She has to look beaten, and she has to want to look genuinely interested in actually being on the dance floor.

It would be easier if she wasn't off her game from all the sleep deprivation, but she'd been trained to handle situations like this and like Ashley said, no one ever suspects the skinny babe of being as capable as she actually is. Even if Sark is smarter than the average target.

"I want something to drink," Sydney says. "If I'm out, I might as well have fun."

Sark nods curtly. "I'll go get it for you. Don't go anywhere."

Sydney smiles. "Where would I go? This place is crawling with your people, Sark."

"Exactly, Miss Bristow."

He walks away and Sydney stands up, rolling her head back and forth while she looks around to see who's working tonight and who's unaware that this is not exactly a normal dance club. Most people here are on Irina's payroll, and she notices someone who's clearly a newbie with some agency or other; she's thinking K-Directorate. She can't go play with him, he's obvious. He's probably going to die tonight.

But that means he probably has someone else.

some. one. else.


Yay. Maybe. Definitely. Yay.

Sark is coming back with her drink. But oh, yay. She's got someone who's going to make it worth the seventy-two hours she's going to be awake this time.

"Thanks," she says. Her eyes are burning and her head is pounding. "What is it?"

"I don't know," Sark says. "I asked the bartender to make something nice and strong for a lady friend."

It would be drugged, then. Sydney considers the drink, takes a sip, and doesn't even make a face. It's some combination of schnapps, vodka, and rohypnol. How very considerate of Sark, realizing how little sleep she's gotten.

"Thanks, but I think I'll save it," Syd says. "Let's go out there, mix with all the nice people my mother has put on the dance floor to protect me."

Sark looks like he's going to protest, but then he sees the obvious K-Directorate agent and he think he knows the game. Sydney gives him a slick little smile, like she's getting away with it.

There are too many layers for a tired woman to deal with, but she's dealing with it anyway. Because she needs to get out of here. She needs to sleep or not sleep, just find oblivion at the bottom of a cocktail, whatever. She needs to be out of Hong Kong, dead or alive, it doesn't matter.

Dead, she can sleep.

Sark doesn't dance well. He hasn't had any training in it at all, and Sydney can move circles around him, pretending to be into him and pretending to focus her attention on the new boy. That way, Sark is all about the boy and not about the real rescue squad, even though he has to know new boy is too new not to have at least one backup, probably two.

Sydney is dancing. She isn't going to make a move toward her one shot out of this place; she's going to believe that Anna owes her for the shit she pulled in South America. Well, Anna doesn't owe her anything, but they have a sort of bond. And Anna wouldn't want to be in Syd's position for the world.

Sydney is dancing, and the beat is drilling holes in her brain. Sark is going to get suspicious soon, because she's so tired she could die from exhaustion right here right now. But she's got to go on like the beat goes on yeah yeah yeah yeah.

Sydney is dancing, and she feels someone brush against her. Girl someone, slides between her and Sark like that's her destiny. Strong girl, nice calves, svelte and muscular. Can't believe Sark doesn't recognize her, but that's all right, this has to be fast.

Sydney is dancing, and she's got her hand in another woman's skirt. Anna is amused. She thinks. Fuck if Syd knows anything anymore. She wants to sleep. She wants to go home. She wants Vaughn not to be dead.

Anna slides away and Sydney doesn't know if it's gonna work or not. Sark is standing there and he's not dancing anymore.

"We're going home," he says, or at least, that's what his lips say.

"I want to finish my drink first," Sydney replies. "Then we can go."

She turns away from him, walking up to the platform with her drink and the longest sleep she's going to get until she's out of this fucking town, the City of Life, Hong Kong chop suey. Sydney is going to paradise, the land of sleep, sandman central -- if just for this night.

The first two gulps are down her throat when Sark knocks the glass out of her hand. "We're leaving, Miss Bristow," is all he says.

Sydney yawns. "Whatever."

"We're going to have that woman killed."

"Whatever," Sydney replies.

"She's not going to let you sleep, you know," Sark says as they wobble out of the club, the lights turning into multicolored blurs as Sydney starts to lose her grip on consciousness.

"I'll get a little, though," Syd whispers. "That's all I want."

She slips into darkness, the world finally letting go and leaving her to the oblivion inside her head. If Sark is cursing, she doesn't know it. There is sleep now -- and it is sweet.


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