Spoilers: Alias 2.22; MI-5/Spooks 2.01. This was begun before the current season of Alias and has been made AU by recent eps. Plus, the Alias timeline makes my head hurt, so just go with it.
Thanks: To shrift, my partner in spy crossover madness. To grit kitty, for her constant willingness to read fandoms she's not involved in. To Marasmus, for watching my phraseology, and for information about pubs that was both shocking and enlightening.
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine, and believe me, I'm not making any money off of my fanfic.
Sark pegged the man as a colleague as soon as he caught sight of him, perched on a stool and moving as little as possible. Something about the way he looked up as Sark walked in the door, coldly assessing and dismissing him in the space of about three seconds. Apparently he'd decided Sark wasn't a threat. Which meant he was either drunk, incompetent, or criminally distracted -- all of which would serve Sark's purpose.
Sark moved around tables crowded with surly patrons and sat down next to him. "Can I buy you another?"
"Why?" he asked, not looking up from the vodka he was already nursing.
"Because you look like you've had enough to drink, and that seems like an excellent reason to have another."
He didn't reply, and Sark was considering moving on to another pub when the man tossed back the rest of his vodka. "All right," he said.
Sark dropped some money on the bar, motioned to the barman and watched the other man while their drinks were poured. Short brown hair. Blue eyes. A talent for not attracting attention, when he chose. Attractive, but not flashy. The sort of man who could make an excellent spy, if he had the brains and the instincts to go with it. He didn't seem to mind being stared at, although it seemed possible that he was simply too deep in his own thoughts to even notice. Sark knew the feeling, having spent far too many months in CIA custody with only surveillance equipment and armed guards for company.
He looked up at the sound of the bartender removing his empty glass and depositing a new one. "Thanks," he said to Sark. "What's your name?"
"Alan," he said, choosing at random.
"Tom." Most likely an alias, but it suited him well enough.
"Cheers, Tom." He raised his drink; Tom echoed the movement half-heartedly. Sark savored the burn of the vodka, although it raised associations that he'd rather not think about. Two weeks, and he hadn't heard anything from Irina, hadn't been able to discover anything about her location or her fate. The CIA had been similarly frustrated in their search for Sydney Bristow; he'd read that in Agent Vaughn's face every time he'd come to Sark's cell to press him for more information he didn't have. They'd finally tired of him, kicked him out of the country, and now he was free, and apparently without obligation.
He looked down, found his glass empty. Signaled for another.
"So, Tom," he said, drawing out the name almost to the point of insult, "what do you do?"
"I work in IT." A convenient answer, and a common one. He probably used it to explain his sudden and frequent absences to his friends, his family, his girlfriend.
"And do you enjoy it?"
"Look," Tom said, "I don't mean to be rude...actually, I don't care if I'm rude. Did you want something?"
Sark smiled, felt the tightness in his lips and cheeks. "I did buy you a drink. You might want to rethink your rudeness."
Tom hesitated for a moment. "Sorry. It's just a bad night, and I'm not good company." He even sounded sorry, and maybe he was. Sark, on the other hand, made it a practice to never be sorry for anything.
"No, I really do think I've had enough." He placed his hands on the bar and began to push off his stool. Sark reached out to stop him, not missing the quick tensing of muscles under his hand. He left it on Tom's shoulder anyway.
"Don't go. I don't mind bad company. There are times when it's much more pleasant than good company."
Tom looked at him then, really looked at him, brows furrowing together, a suspicious tilt to his head that Sark recognized well. He tried to envision what a typical young, amiable, harmless man would do and patted Tom on the back jovially. "Is it a girl, then?"
"Whatever's got you alone in a pub on a Tuesday night."
Tom settled back down on his stool as if it were the only option left to him. "Two, actually."
"Two? Impressive." No response, and Sark wondered what recent hurt made the man so reticent. It likely depended on his exact line of work. Simple lies? The burden of a double life? A colleague in jeopardy? A dead lover?
Agent Vaughn had informed him of Allison's death, tossed out the fact like a grenade, apparently hoping to stun him into revealing some information he'd imagined Sark was holding back. He'd refused to mourn in a cell, and he wasn't sure if he wanted to do so now, or if he was content to remember her speaking to him, touching him with someone else's body. He settled for a third drink. The hum of background noise started to diminish as the other people in the bar grudgingly remembered the realities of everyday life and drifted out the door in sullen groups.
Tom showed no signs of wanting to leave; however, he didn't show any signs of doing anything other than sitting in silence. Sark had little patience for silence. "Tell me about these girls of yours."
Tom turned toward him with that same tilt to his head. "Are you chatting me up?"
"Yes," Sark said, startled into amusement. "If it matters."
"If it matters?"
Sark shrugged. "It's true that I came in here looking for this. There's no point in my denying it, playing at being a blushing virgin. But it doesn't have to affect our conversation, if you don't want it to."
"We're not having a conversation."
"You're certainly not holding up your end."
Tom offered up a reluctant smile as penance, looking somewhat as if it was a skill he hadn't been called on to use in some time, and Sark felt a flicker of arousal teasing at him. He hadn't been entirely truthful about his aims, not that he ever was, but the prospect of an interlude with this man certainly wasn't unpleasant.
"She had a problem with my job," Tom said, apparently making an effort, although he sounded like he'd rather discuss global economic trends or the exact scientific composition of the dirt on the floor.
"One of your girls?"
He stared into his empty glass. "She and her daughter had a problem with my job."
"Ah," Sark said, not without sympathy. The man should have known better, of course; nothing good ever came of involving a child in these tangled lives of theirs.
"I'm on call a lot, in case of emergencies. I'm responsible for a lot of...sensitive data. I had to go into work at a very inconvenient time, and she didn't understand."
"Would she have understood if you doctored people instead of machines?"
"No," said Tom. "I don't think so. It was only the last in a series of problems."
Sark knew that tune too, knew how your last mistake was always the one that haunted you, even when you saw it coming. "Let me guess. Your friends are trying to convince you that it's for the best."
"I think they're afraid to talk to me about it, actually." Sark found that he liked it when humor crept into Tom's voice, giving it depth. Spies with senses of humor were rare enough to be a novelty; every time he'd heard Irina laugh, the result had been bloody.
"You don't look like such a fearsome creature."
"Appearances are deceiving. I eat my underlings for breakfast." Another smile. He seemed to be relaxing, and restlessness crept into Sark's blood. He laid a hand on Tom's knee, cupping it with his palm. Tom didn't immediately try to break his fingers; on the contrary, he didn't move at all, except to draw in a careful breath. Sark was suddenly tired of talking about Tom's problems and not thinking about his own. He was preparing to force the issue when Tom spoke.
"Are you still interested?" Tom stared straight ahead at the bottles behind the bar. Sark studied his profile and imagined his fingers tracing it in the privacy of a dim room.
Tom slipped his hand on top of Sark's with an economy of movement that conjured up a number of other very pleasant possibilities. "Let's go."
"I know a place." Of course you do, thought Sark. But it would work -- Tom wouldn't want to be observed having anonymous sex, let alone with a man, so wherever they went wouldn't be under surveillance. Sark had recently developed a violent aversion to surveillance. He hadn't expected Tom to agree, at least not with more persuasion, but he wasn't one to waste time pondering behavioral quirks. They headed out into the quiet night. Several cars were parked nearby, and Sark looked to Tom for guidance.
"This way," he said, and set off walking. Wherever they were going, it couldn't be far. Sark supposed he should ask a question or two, like any normal person would, or say something flirtatious, but he simply kept his head down and walked faster.
Their destination turned out to be a nondescript building that verged on shabby. Tom took out a set of keys and unlocked the front door, but turned back to Sark before opening it.
Sark climbed two steps to stand next to him and brushed his lips lightly across Tom's. "Open the door."
The building looked like office space that had been recently converted to flats. Tom led him to one on the ground floor, and Sark wondered if all of the flats were as uniformly ugly. Behind him, Tom flipped on the light and shut the door. The place didn't look any better than it had in the dark, so Sark reached past him and turned the light off. Tom stayed where he was, forcing Sark to lean into him. He was solid, a few inches taller than Sark, and he wrapped his arms around Sark's waist, pulling him even closer and bending his head.
His kiss was certain, plucking and pulling at Sark's mouth. Sark opened and pushed his tongue against Tom's, already drowning in a fog of sensation. The stubble on Tom's face scratched at his; his fingers stroked the fine hair at the nape of Tom's neck. Tom moaned, low in his throat, and it was as if Sark could feel it vibrate in his bones.
Tom swung them around and pressed him against the door. Sark spread his legs and pulled him into the cradle of his hips, breathing his gasps against Tom's neck, rocking against the pressure of another warm body. Tom's hands moved from his waist, stroked down his chest. Sark wanted to feel them on his skin. He kissed Tom again, already planning the best way to get them both stripped and into the bedroom as soon as possible, until Tom shoved him away and took three steps backward, pointing Sark's own gun at him.
Distraction leads to miscalculation. An amateur mistake. Irina would have his head if she ever found out about this, assuming she was still alive.
"Now," said Tom, "you tell me who you are and who you work for." Sark took some satisfaction in the fact that Tom's voice was unsteady, and his chest still rose and fell as if his breathing was beyond his control.
"I don't understand." Playing dumb, always the first line of defense.
"Like hell you don't. You sit down next to me and start asking questions about what I do, about my coworkers, about my life? I've done enough recruiting to know the pattern."
Apparently Tom had been much more aware than Sark had given him credit for. The thought that he might be out of practice disturbed him. "Despite what you may think, I wasn't trying to recruit you."
Tom simply shook his head.
"I was...trying to develop a contact. I've been out of touch for several months, and my former employer has disappeared. I need information. I thought you might have access to it."
"Luck," Sark said. "Fickle fate amusing herself at our expense."
"You just happened to choose the pub that I was in?"
"It was my fourth of the night, but I didn't find any likely-looking people in any of the others."
"I don't believe you." Tom pursed his lips like a maiden aunt who'd discovered Sark pilfering the silverware.
"It's really irrelevant whether you believe me," Sark said. "You have several options, Tom. You can shoot me. You can call whoever your people are and take me into custody -- at least, you can try. We can spend all night in this ridiculous standoff." He took a cautious step forward. "Or you can put the gun down, somewhere out of my reach, and come into the bedroom with me. You can admit that there's a reason you left the pub in my company, a reason beyond patriotic duty and suspicion." Another step brought him close enough to touch the gun, if he'd been that stupid. Tom hadn't moved, but his eyes scanned Sark's face, apparently trying to read his body language. Sark made sure to keep his arms at his sides, palms up, non-threatening.
"Like recognizes like, Tom." He took the final step and slid his hand between Tom's legs. He was still hard, and Sark watched with pleasure as Tom's eyes fluttered closed and he let out another of those bone-rattling moans.
"This is a terrible idea," Tom murmured.
"The best kind." Fabric grew warm under his fingers. Tom wrapped his free hand around Sark's wrist, urging him to apply more pressure. "Put the gun down."
Tom's eyes opened, their blue turned to gray in the darkness, and Sark knew he had him. The gun went on a nearby table; the clip went into Tom's pocket. He walked to a door on the right-hand wall and didn't look back.
The bedroom was as sparse as the rest of the flat, containing a single bed against one wall, a nightstand, a folding chair, and a faint musty scent. A window above the bed provided barely enough illumination to prevent them from walking into the furniture. It was only a step up from a hotel room that rented by the hour, but Sark had served his time in those, for purposes both legal and illicit. At least the bed looked sturdy enough.
Tom still hadn't faced him; he stood by the side of the bed, looking out the window, the expanse of his back speaking eloquently of his internal conflict. Sark laid his cheek between Tom's shoulders, wrapped his arms around his waist, and stood there for an unguarded moment, feeling the rhythm of his breath, hearing his echoing heartbeat. Tom was right. It was a bad idea. But Sark had never been very good at postponing pleasure or speculating on future difficulties. In the future, you might be dead, and unable to experience either pleasure or difficulties.
He felt for the buttons of Tom's shirt and opened them one by one, pulled his shirttails free. "Sit down."
Tom turned and sat on the bed, which creaked under his weight. Sark pushed his shirt off and bent down for another kiss. Tom's shoulders tensed under his hands, but he fumbled at Sark's jacket and tie in between awkward collisions of lips and teeth. Sark finally pulled back, quickly divested himself of jacket, tie and shirt, and knelt over Tom, straddling him. More kisses, deep and wet, Tom's tongue stroking against his, skidding past his teeth like a demand.
Tom had to be leaving bruises on his hips. Sark hoped he was. He liked bruises. He settled his weight more firmly, centered himself and thrust, stifling Tom's cry with a brutal kiss. Tom submitted for a few seconds, then moved his mouth to the hollow of Sark's neck and licked. It made Sark want to hold him down and hear him plead, deep-voiced curses and prayers mumbled in his ear. He let go of Tom and tugged at his own belt, tossed it aside. Opened his trousers and ran his fingers up and down his cock until Tom noticed the movement.
Tom's hot, humid breaths teased at his chest, beating uneven time as Sark stroked himself. He shifted his legs farther apart, just to hear the desperate noise that Tom made.
"Feel free to participate."
"What?" Tom tilted his head up and met Sark's eyes, looking rather like a student who'd been called on and didn't know the answer. He trailed his fingers up Tom's chest and pushed them into his mouth, rubbed into hidden corners and wet them. Tom watched, his breaths growing shallower and more frequent as Sark slid his damp fingers back around his cock. It felt good, so good to have someone underneath him, someone else's hand following his, tracing patterns along his skin. He moved his hand and let Tom take over, whispering, "Yes, like that," as Tom's grip grew tighter and more confident.
"I haven't actually..." He trailed off, seemingly unable to explain any more, despite the camouflage of darkness and relative anonymity.
Sark's response caught in his throat for a moment when Tom flicked his thumb right under the head of his cock. "Doesn't matter."
All too soon, though, it wasn't enough. He wouldn't have the luxury of enjoying a second time, and he wanted more than a quick fumble, both of them still partially clothed. He wanted something that Tom would remember, and perhaps something he himself could remember during long nights to come. He stood and toed his shoes off, pulled off his trousers, and knelt before Tom to finish undressing him. Tom lifted his hips to make the task easier, but cried out in surprise when Sark took his cock in his mouth. The same grasp that had clutched at his hips now grabbed at Sark's hair, fingers rigid and locked.
Sark pulled him in as deep as he could, relentless. Tom curved over him, reducing his world to the taste of Tom in his mouth, the feel of his thighs shifting restlessly, the sound of his harsh breathing like distant thunder. Tom was at his mercy; he could break him simply with a twist of his tongue. Nothing felt so good as wielding power over another person.
Tom sat up and shuddered. "Oh, Christ, you're good at that. Stop."
Sark let him slip out of his mouth. "Stop? Are you sure?"
Tom yanked him up onto the bed instead of answering, tumbled him under and blanketed him with what seemed like endless warm skin. He kissed Sark like a lover, as if he'd never known anything but considerate love-making under cotton sheets in a tastefully decorated room. His hands bracketed Sark's face, thumbs skirting across his cheekbones, holding him still for another kiss, then pulled back to look at him. He seemed to be on the verge of saying something sentimental. Sark could see the gentle words forming on his lips.
He grabbed his elbows, wrapped a leg around Tom's, and flipped them over, landing precariously close to the edge of the bed. "I want to fuck you," he said.
Tom's eyes opened wide enough for him to see the white around the iris. He didn't fight Sark's hold on him, but he didn't relax either, leading Sark to believe that he was startled by the idea, but not necessarily opposed to it. He had faith in his ability to persuade Tom, but he'd be taking advantage of him -- of his inexperience with men, of his pain over his failed relationship, of whatever alcohol was still in his system.
Sark never had been one for fair play.
He rested his weight on Tom, rubbing their cocks together, and bent to whisper in his ear. "I want to fuck you," he said again. "Say yes." He nuzzled at Tom's neck, tasting a bitter hint of cologne. Tom's movements stuttered and fell into a helpless rhythm, grinding against him, pushing up as far as Sark would allow. He gasped something that Sark didn't hear.
"In the drawer."
The drawer proved to contain condoms and lubricant, and Sark wondered for a moment what the room's usual purpose was. Tom, eyes closed again, head turned to the side, shivered under Sark's hands as he delicately slipped a finger into him. The sight mesmerized him -- Tom biting his lower lip, lying passive except for an instinctive flinch as Sark added a second finger. He was hot to the touch inside and out, flushed and beginning to sweat in the close confines of the small room. He began to move in time with Sark's fingers, rocking his hips against the pressure, and it made Sark ache.
"Turn over." No sense in finding out the hard way that Tom wasn't flexible enough. Pain had its place, but it was better when it was consensual. Tom gracelessly flopped over without a word and pulled his knees up under him, pillowing his head on his arms. His spine drew an uneven line down his back, and Sark traced the bumps and valleys with his tongue. Pulling away, he watched the play of lean muscles as he slipped on a condom.
Tom didn't make a sound as Sark entered him, but his silence didn't last long. The first full stroke wrung a surprised cry from him and sent tendrils of pleasure skittering through Sark. Months of deprivation made all the sensations sweeter -- the constant clutch of Tom's body around his cock, the catch of skin as his thighs met the back of Tom's, the rough drag of cheap cloth under his knees. He tightened his hands on Tom's hips and yanked him closer, held still for a moment just to see how long it would take Tom to respond.
A few seconds passed; he focused on the sound of cars passing outside and the weak moonlight filtering into the room through the window. After a few more, Tom bumped back against him, a wordless plea for him to continue. He obliged with a slow stroke, gliding out and in, feeling the burn start to gather. He wanted to move faster, had to move harder, until he was slamming ruthlessly into Tom. Sark fucked him with short, violent thrusts, and underneath him, Tom stifled his cries like a man determined not to break under torture. He pushed up on his arms to brace himself, to meet Sark's movements with an unyielding resistance that spoke volumes about who he was, this random man that had let Sark chat him up in a pub and let him into his body with barely a question or complaint.
Sark felt the end, the inevitable end that always came too soon, and he couldn't slow its approach. He couldn't do anything but ride it out, burying himself as deep inside Tom as he could get. His climax hit like a blow that he felt through his whole body, centered in his cock and spreading through all the points of contact with Tom -- fingers, stomach, legs. For one blessed moment, as his body emptied itself, so did his mind, leaving him nothing but tactile pleasure. And then it was over.
He could easily tell by the tension in Tom's body that he hadn't come yet, so he pulled out and urged Tom over on his back, sliding down to swallow his cock again. A few tugs of his mouth, two fingers pressed back inside Tom, and Tom cried out and came, back arching off the bed, hands scrabbling for purchase on the sheets. He sucked at Tom until Tom weakly pushed him away, then occupied himself with tying off the condom and tossing it toward what he hoped was a trash bin. He crawled up the bed and collapsed next to Tom, trying to concentrate only on the feel of sweat drying on his skin and the heaviness in his arms and legs. Neither of them could afford to fall asleep, but they could pretend for a few minutes.
"I have to go," he finally said. He had to either find a place to stay the night in London or move on to Paris and try his luck there. Irina had a safehouse outside the city limits he hadn't checked yet. Yes, he decided. Paris. He'd drive to Dover and catch a late ferry. Probably best to get out of London in any case. Rather than climb over Tom, he moved down to the end of the bed and stood up, then walked over to the pile of clothes. He dressed in silence.
Tom, still flat on his back, reached out and grabbed his wrist, the motion more like a caress than he probably intended. "I know Alan's not your real name. But I know your face, and if I see you again, I'll find out who you are, who you work for, and what you really want." He turned his head, and his face came into the light, shadows glancing off the planes of his face. "Don't let me see you again."
Sark bent down for a last kiss, Tom's lips moving softly against his.
"Don't worry," Sark said. "You won't see me."
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