2007-03-12: Nose Deep


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Summary: Jack tracks down Sydney at the Alley to ask her if she's seen Eliana. Their conversation turns sour, and threats are made on both sides.

Date It Happened: March 12, 2007

Nose Deep

The Back Alley

Though it's not without reluctance, Jack has finally found himself back at Sydney's place of business. The place where they'd shared a frosty first meeting. Having taken up the task of contacting everyone he's able to, he's saved Syd for as long as possible, owing to mutual dislike. Unfortunately, now she isn't answering her phone and the screamsheets all have stories about her place burning. Jack's been there, and it isn't pretty. So now, against all odds, he's worried. So he sits and sips sparingly from a glass of cheap bourbon, and he waits.

It isn't Sydney that Jack should be worried about; he doesn't have to wait long before the dancer — alive and well, with only a few bumps and bruises to show — appears in the doorway that separates the Alley's back room from the front. It takes even less time for her to spot him at the bar. She gives the crowd a cursory glance, dark eyes peeled for any other familiar faces that might be lurking in the shadows. Seeing none, she slowly makes her way over to where he's sitting, and claims the stool beside his for her own. "You shouldn't be here."

Jack hardly seems surprised by Sydney's sudden appearance. He's been waiting for her, after all. He cocks one eyebrow curiously. "I know. I should be hiding somewhere warm and cozy with one hand around a cold pint." He rolls his shoulders briefly. It's true, he shouldn't be here. Still, he has his motives. "Have you seen Eliana? She's been gone for days."

"The last time I saw her," Sydney says, "she was bawling her eyes out because of you and your stupid escapade." She pauses then, but only briefly, glancing over her shoulder to make sure nobody's snuck up on them. "Look. The Company has the paintings, and I'm pretty sure they have her, too. There's no other way they would have known to find them at my place. What the hell happened to you guys? Where's Hiro?"

And finally, Jack's suspicion is confirmed. It had seemed foolish to assume that Eliana could've just wandered off in the middle of a crisis, anyway. "I don't know where Hiro is," he replies morosely. The issue of the paintings doesn't bother him so much. Plenty of people took photos of them, and Jack still has one safely tucked away. "He's probably sharing a cell with Eli. They were waiting for us when we got there. My team seems to be the only one that made it out. Roughly translated, we're nose deep in the shit heap."

The expression on Sydney's face remains perfectly somber, save for a slight twitch at the corner of her mouth. The beginnings of a smirk, maybe? "We tried to warn you, Jack," she murmurs, "Eliana and I both did. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if Hiro isn't working for them. Seems pretty convenient, doesn't it? Some guy shows up, says he's special — just like us. One thing leads to another, and next you know he's trying to get us to break into a heavily armed prison facility. Eliana says no, and she mysteriously vanishes the next day. Coincidence? I don't think so. That Adam guy warned you about Hiro, didn't he? Said he stabbed him in the back."

"Either way, since we can't find him, it hardly matters." Jack isn't about to tackle that issue just now, and especially not with a stripper who doesn't like him and is probably smarter than he is. Still, his face clouds and his eyes narrow. "Anyway, save your 'I told you so's.' I don't like you, you don't like me. We could beat a dead horse, but it wouldn't get us anywhere." Adam. The man in the park. One more person that Jack can look up. "Anyway, if you're so wise, what do you suggest?"

"Never said I was wise. If I was, I wouldn't have gotten involved with you jerks in the first place." Sydney begins crab-walking her hand across the counter, toward Jack. "No," she murmurs thickly, "I've just got a heightened sense of self-preservation is all. Like a rat. A creepy, crawly little rat." If there was ever any question as to whether or not she'd been drinking before he got here, this answers it. "Make yourself scarce. Lay low for awhile. Find a nice, dirty gutter to curl up in and hope nobody comes poking around."

Disgusted, Jack shakes his head. "Cling to your heightened sense of self-preservation, then. I like it when my friends are still breathing." Business concluded, now it's time for the pleasantries. "You look like hell. So does your place. What happened?" As he speaks, Jack produces a pack of smokes and shakes one loose, then lights it and draws deeply.

Sydney straightens, letting her hand drop off the edge of the counter and into her lap. "I torched it," she says simply. "Didn't want to leave any evidence for the Company. You hate me Jack, I know. You probably think I'm a yellow-belly, or a chicken-liver, or whatever slang is hip these days. Coward. Milquetoast. Etcetera. The fact of the matter is I'm doing you and everybody else a huge favour. If they can't find me, they can't torture me, and if they can't torture me, they can't get any of your names."

"You misunderstand," Jack says. "I don't want your help. I've considered your inclusion to be a mistake from the beginning for exactly this reason." He takes another drag from his smoke, then blows a few idle rings. "My problem with you isn't that you're a coward. It's that you're a liability. You don't want any part in what we're doing, yet you're still holding all of our secrets. It's not sensible."

"A liability? Seriously?" Sydney lets out a sharp, barking laugh. "I don't want any part in what you're doing because you're doing it wrong! That's what isn't sensible." She lowers her voice to a throaty snarl. "You have a lot of guts, by the way. Calling me a liability when you don't even know what I'm capable of." Slowly, a smile begins to spread across her lips, and she leans forward, close enough that Jack can no doubt smell the whiskey on her breath and see the murder in her eyes. "We were given these gifts for a reason. You know it, I know it, Nakamura knows it. But maybe my purpose is different than yours."

Jack is, in a word, unimpressed. He stubs out his cigarette before responding. "Yes, yes. You're capable of holding your own secrets dear to heart. I imagine you're all too free with ours, though." Jack checks his imaginary watch. In truth, he's been on the move since before sunup. He needs a chance to catch his breath, if nothing else. "So tell me about this lofty purpose of yours. I have time before my next appointment."

"I'm not interested in your secrets." Once again, Sydney's hand is on the bar. She looks down at it, and the smile on her face broadens still. "Conman or not, they're probably pretty boring compared to some of the stuff that's already kicking around in my head." With the speed of a striking snake, that hand darts out and seizes Jack's wrist so tightly that her nails bite into his skin. "Still," she hisses, "it never hurts to have a few more."

"What the hell?" Jack shakes free from Sydney's grip and stands. After glaring down at her, he inspects the scratches on his arm. "And people call me weird." he mutters. Flicking he sleeve back down to cover his forearm, he peers over at Sydney curiously. "You're not on our side, are you?" he queries quietly.

Sydney curls her hand into a fist, but does not pursue Jack when he gets up. Instead, she reaches out and pulls his glass of bourbon across the bar and takes a long drink from it. Then, lowering the glass from her lips, she gives a soft, disdainful sort of snort. "This is real life. There aren't any sides."

"Fine. Don't come near me and mine again." Jack leaves the consequences of said action to the imagination as he drops a twenty on the bar and turns to leave.

"Good luck finding yours!" Sydney calls out at the man's retreating back, her voice bubbling over with spite and malice. "Don't forget that it's your fault they have her!"

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