Disclaimer: JJ Abrams and Joss Whedon have created exceptional shows and characters and own all rights. I just play.
Notes: This is mainly set in the Alias U and is fairly canon specific. However, to enjoy, just think spies.
Sydney was careful not to flinch as the retinal scanner flashed into her eye. She knew it wouldn’t hurt – had in fact been through the procedure ever day she came to work, and yet found that it still wanted to shut her eyes and flinch every time that little red laser shone into her eyes.
As per usual, the security guard said Miss Bristow, the secretary pool said hi and Marshall nodded as he jittered past with a handheld device in his hand, apologising as he knocked papers off one the desks. Usual mayhem. Minor and ignorable.
Her dad caught her eye as she strolled towards the collection of desks that she was assigned to. She changed direction and headed over towards him. “Sydney.” Brusque and masculine, no cracks in the armour today. “We’ve had a communiqué from Langley. There’s a prisoner in an LA prison that they want us to talk to.” His frown communicated his distaste as being used as a messenger boy. “Dixon passed this to me to deal with. Langley specifically asked that you be tasked for this assignment.”
Oh joy. Sydney knew that when Langley tasked her for something directly, it had to be something meaningless and relatively pointless. And don’t forget non-threatening to national security. “How low a priority a mission is this? I should be out there taking the Covenant down, or trying to find out what Sloane has got up his sleeve.” Jack flinched at that one. “Not doing some milk run with no relevance…” She stopped and wiped her hand across her eyes till flickering from the afterimage of the retinal scan.
“I know you’re tired being left out of the loop-“ Jack held his hand up to forestall any further outbursts. “But you have to understand that with the additional threat from infiltration and the rather suspicious nature of the new order at Langley, my hands are tied.” Jack didn’t look like he believed the statement either.
“What are the parameters then?” Sydney rested her hands on the edge of the desk.
Sydney had decided that infiltrating as a prisoner was not an experience she wanted to repeat. Marshall was able to fake credentials for her as a therapist specialising in rehabilitation of dangerous criminals (“Normally you do it with a bullet, I know,” Marshall joked as he handed her the packet) and she was then inserted into the prison. She’d gone for the power suit and hair up look – professional, but without the spectacles that made her intimidating. Grey instead of black – she was something of a soft touch then – and huge elaborate costume earrings (“Doubling as transmitters – and evidence of your status as a hippy do-gooder.”). She rolled up at the door of LA’s only prison for women in a generic civil service black ford.
At the gate she presented Marshall’s forgery to the bored-looking guard. “Doctor Elsa Schroder to see Faith Lehane.”
Unbeknownst to Sydney, the mysterious Faith Lehane had another unexpected visitor. It was a women Sydney would have immediately recognised, and known to be suspicious of.
“Miss Lehane – I’m sorry – Faith, I don’t think you understand the transitory nature of the offer I am presenting to you.” Clipped British tones, immaculate nails strumming in frustration on the plastic worktop of the table.
Faith smirked her most indolent and anti-authoritarian expression – one she’d practiced time and again on Wesley with a great deal of success. “Lauren – oh, sorry – Miss Reed, if this is one of those offers I can’t refuse, let me tell you that I can counter whatever nasties you send my way. I’m out of the enforcement business for good, but I’m sure I could slip into my old killer routine just for you.”
“I presume it is pointless for me to even continue to restate the offer if that is your response.” Lauren snapped the clasps on her briefcase shut. “My employer will be so very disappointed in your response.”
“Tell him to shove it. This is one little Slayer who’s out of the business for good.” Faith leaned back in her chair in direct contrast to Lauren’s prissy, ramrod straight back. “Now. Unless you’re going to come over here and seduce me, I guess there’s not much else to say.”
Lauren stood and gestured at the guard standing by the door. “Good day, Miss Lehane.”
Faith watched as the classy blonde strode from the room, idly wondering if the luscious Lauren would stoop to that. Her gut reaction was a no, but ‘one could hope’ as Giles was fond of saying. The offer of freedom as payment for some little service was one she was familiar with. Wolfram and Hart sent her a care package every few months to remind her that they owned quite a few judges on the appeal circuit who’d be happy to see her. Sometimes they even sent Lilah with it, which was a treat, because Lilah was happy to keep her up to date on all the disasters afflicting the Angel crew.
She wished Lauren had thought to bring something exchangeable for more time in the gym. The guards were quite fond of the luxury chocolates that Lilah made sure were included in the W&H boxes. She stumbled gracelessly to her feet and prepared to head off to the dining hall. The guard’s yell brought her up short. “You’re a popular girl today – stay there, Lehane.”
Faith slowly spun on her heel. “Huh?”
“Another visitor for you.” The guard lifted the radio to her ear again. “Another therapist.”
Another therapist? Faith considered this new puzzle carefully as she sat back down at the table, tucking her hair behind her ears. The guard continued to listen to her radio as Faith carefully made sure her hands were visible at all times. Therapists tended to be either Lilah having a joke at her expense or the Watcher’s Council subjecting her to another barrage of tests just in case Faith was ever released from jail. She never knew who’d told them of her presence here: she didn’t believe Giles or Wesley could be so au fait with the Council again.
The door opened and yet another immaculately groomed woman strode through the door. To Faith’s careful eyes, it was obvious that this woman worked out regularly and knew how to use the slender yet muscled legs to squeeze every bit of information out of an assailant. Faith shifted her body slightly, reading to leap up to defend herself if needed. A perplexed look crossed the therapist’s face, then cleared as she realised what Faith was up to. She placed her briefcase on the floor and her hands flat on the table top. Scars spoke of broken fingers and knife wounds, a delicate lace like tracery of minute white flowers blooming everywhere on the visible skin, all but naked to the human eye – but not to a Slayer. Here was a woman who worked hard for her living, and if that didn’t include the rather frequent bit of fighting, Faith would eat her shoes. She remained in a state of high alert.
“Thank you, Ms Castellano. I can take it from here.” This was directed at the guard, who jerked in response to be spoken to.
“What…?” The guard stuttered out in confusion.
“You’ll find that your orders are to vacate this room and supervise the dining room for the next half hour.” The supposed therapist looked at her in a steely fashion, and the guard once more lifted the radio to her ear. Obviously the indistinct voice confirmed the order, and she stalked to the door. The lock clicked shut behind her.
“Now. Isn’t this more comfortable?” The therapist sat down, and kicked the briefcase closer. She reached to open it.
“Slow it down.” Faith moved to the edge of her seat. “No nasty surprises for me in there?”
“Apart from the message I’ve been sent to give you?” Faith’s estimation of the therapist went up at the wry and knowing tone.
“What? You don’t appreciate the palatial surroundings?” Faith’s wave took in the institutional green walls, the scarred flooring and uncomfortable seats.
“Bad memories.” The therapist stated flatly. “From your inspection of my scars, I believe you have guessed that I am not yet another therapist?”
“An assassin would be my guess?” Faith agreed, and enjoyed the nearly imperceptible flinch that ran through the woman in front of her. “At least you’re prettier than the last one.” Considering that one had been a Grembow demon, it wouldn’t be hard.
“The Department of Homeland Security has ordered your release due to exceptional circumstances. There is to be a few conditions of your release, the main one being that you remain within the US unless permission to leave has been granted or requested by your liaison officer.” Sydney pulled a sheet of paper from the briefcase and handed it over.
“Liaison officer?” Faith was dumbfounded by the sudden statement. She rather numbly drew the sheet of paper over and looked at it. It took a few tries before she could read it over.
“Apparently, I’ll be in touch.” Sydney dug in the briefcase and produced a card with a number on it. “Here you are. Now, the second part of message is for you to go see Wesley before you head to Sunnydale.”
“What…?” In an unconscious echo of the guard, Faith stammered her confusion.
“They’re calling it an unavoidable recall to duty, apparently.” Sydney hid her own confusion well. She stood and pushed her chair neatly to the desk. “I’m afraid I don’t have the clearance to know more. Good luck, Ms Lehane, and I sincerely hope that we never meet again.”