The Instincts of a Good Man

by Vanzetti

Kick and turn and block and punch. Twist and strike again. The side of Sydney's hand smashes into her opponent's neck and he drops to the ground. She grabs the package and runs.

Her feet want to fly over the pavement but she forces herself to slow down as the streets become busier. One hand checks her wig, the other straightens her skirt, and the package is hidden in a shopping bag from Printemps; she blends into the Parisian crowd. "I'm coming up on Place de la Bastille now," she whispers. In the earpiece, a voice tells her that the van will be waiting at rue Saint-Antoine.

Bastille is full of people, couples and small groups and families, all pouring out of the bright glass front of the Opera and spreading through the streets or down to the metro. Sydney shifts the shopping bag so that it's tucked under her arm and her hand can reach the small knife in her jacket; you can never be too careful in a crowd. The van will never make it through all the traffic, she thinks, and, such a simple job, she should have persuaded Vaughn to come too. They could have brought Isabelle and Jack, made it a family vacation. And she's imagining herself carrying Jack around while Vaughn shows Isabelle the city when something catches her eye: gray hair, the shape of a head, later on she'll never know quite what drew her attentionY and made her push through the people and hurry her steps to catch up with him and rest her hand on his arm.

He turns around. "Dad?" she says.

"Je suis désolé, vous devez me prendre pour quelqu'un d'autre." He shakes her hand away and turns back to the woman at his side. "Allons-y?"

Sydney wants to follow but now her legs won't move, and in a moment he's lost in the crowd.

In the van, they ask her how it went, whether she got the package. "Get me Dixon on the phone," she says. "Now."

* * *

They've set up a teleconference in some anonymous office. Vaughn is already on a plane to DC. "He'll leave Isabelle and Jack with me," Dixon is saying. "Sydney, you do realize..."

"A clone. No, it was him, Dixon. I know it; I knew it before I even saw him." Dixon's silence speaks for him. Sydney blinks back the tears; she won't cry now. "We need to find him."

"In a city of over two million? And he might not even live in Paris. You need to be prepared for this to take a while."

"He was at the opera tonight," she says. "We can start there."

"We're already analyzing the video footage and hacking into their database," Dixon says. "I do believe you, Sydney. And if Jack can be found, we'll find him."

The tears do spill over at that. "Thank you."

She spends the hours before Vaughn arrives driving in widening circles away from Bastille: she knows it's a waste of effort but she can't sleep and he could be anywhere, behind that gate, in a flat above that row of shops, walking down this street. Maybe he couldn't sleep either. The streets empty of traffic in the early hours of the morning, but only briefly; soon enough pre-dawn deliveries begin, the street cleaners come out, bakeries and cafes open their doors. Sydney drives past them all.

* * *

"Is that her?" Vaughn pushes the photograph across the table to Sydney.

"I think so," she says. "I don't know. I wasn't really looking at her."

"I know," Vaughn says.

They've been lucky, luckier than they had any right to expect: an usher remembered her father and roughly where he was seated. The section was given over to season ticket holders, each of whom was traced and photographed. None of them looked like Jack Bristow, but one of them gave his tickets to a colleague at his public relations firm, and she was -- they hope -- the woman Sydney saw with her father. And Sydney knew that she was doubly lucky: she could never have done this without Vaughn, not just supporting her, but also smoothing the way through all the interviews when all she wanted was to charge ahead and demand answers. It takes them five days, despite their luck, and even Vaughn isn't enough to keep her perfectly sane. Her father is in this city, somewhere. Alive.

She refuses to think about the way he looked at her, as if he had no idea who she was.

Now they're standing outside a respectable apartment building, while Vaughn taps in the code to open the door. "Remember," he says as he holds it open for her. "Let me do the talking."

The woman's name is Marie-Magdalene Cronier. Sydney watches her as Vaughn charms their way into her flat: blonde hair pinned back, fine skin, pale green eyes. She's still wearing the sea-blue suit she wore to work that day, and Sydney, who knows enough about wigs and dyes to open her own salon, is sure that her hair is natural.

The story Vaughn tells is perilously close to the truth: a missing father, chance-met in the street. "But surely," Mme. Cronier says, "Madame's hair was slightly more red that evening?" Sydney's smile shows off her dimples. Vaughn raises the possibility of mistaken identity, of amnesia. "Of course," he says, the whole matter might be resolved easily. If, for example, you've known the gentleman for more than six years."

"Why not ask him directly?"

Sydney leans forward. "I would swear that he's my father. But he didn't recognize me and I--" she breaks off and lets her eyes fill with tears. It works. Mme. Cronier pats her hand and the story spills out: they met three years ago, a few months (he told her) after returning to Paris from Asia -- investments in Vietnam, she thought, but he never really mentioned his past.

"And you never asked?" Vaughn says.

Mme. Cronier raises her eyebrows. "We all have secrets."

In the stairwell, Vaughn touches Sydney's arm and says, "You know what the simplest explanation is -- that he's a double, planted here for you to find."

"I don't care if it is a trap," she says. "I need to know. We'll pick him up tonight."

* * *

"You don't recognize me," Vaughn states. It's uncanny, because he can't think of the man sitting across from him as anyone but Jack Bristow, and there's a clean blood test and an empty tomb in Mongolia to support him in that. He expects that the DNA test, when it's ready, will clinch the matter.

"We worked together." He leaves it at that. "You don't remember your family at all? Your daughter? And you've never wondered why you can't remember anything beyond the last six years?"

"Of course I've wondered." the snap in his voice is all Jack. "I've seen analysts, hypnotists, priests of all kinds... Nothing." He continues in a quieter voice. "What kind of man was Jack Bristow?"

"A good man," Vaughn says. "He is a good man."

"Let me tell you something, Mr. Vaughn. my first memory. Standing on a street in Hanoi, with nothing but the clothes on my back and a dead man at my feet. That was six years ago; three years later I was wealthy. My instincts are not the instincts of a good man."

Vaughn clears his throat. "You told me once that everything you'd done was for Sydney. Your daughter. To protect her."

"Were you threatening her?"


"I was wondering why I'd told you that."

"Oh. No, I had asked her to marry me."

"Ah." The man's face gives nothing away. Jack's face, Vaughn corrects himself.

"Sydney is... If you met her, you might have an easier time remembering."

"The woman who accosted me outside the Opera?" Vaughn nods. "You know, I'm still not sure that this isn't an elaborate hoax."

Vaughn is prepared for this; there are surprisingly few extant photographs of Jack Bristow, but Marshall has assembled and enhanced what they have. He watches Jack leaf through them, pausing now and again. Jack lingers longest at the final one, a photograph of him holding Isabelle.

"That's your granddaughter. We have a son now, as well. We named him Jack."

"I see." He may not have Jack's memories, Vaughn thinks, but he certainly has Jack's ability to hide what he's thinking. Still, there's something almost unsteady about his voice when he speaks again. "Perhaps if I met Sydney -- my daughter. Perhaps in more casual surroundings." He gestures to the bare interview room. It's the closest he's come to complaining about the way they've treated him.

"There's a bistro not too far away that should still be open," Vaughn suggests.

"Could she meet us there?"

"Of course. I'll arrange it."

* * *

It happens in the street as they pass a cafe, and Vaughn can't believe he wasn't ready for it. An elbow to the side knocks the breath out of him, then one hand steadies him while the other takes his gun from the holster at his back. Jack walks him to the door of the cafe and picks the lock one-handed, with familiar efficiency. He really should have known.

"How many are in the street?"

"Three. Jack, what's going on?"

"Sloane is alive as well. He's watching you, and I can't let him find me. You have to make Sydney understand that. I'll come back once I've dealt with him."

"Jack, we can help you."

"Tell her that I love her," Jack says. "I'll see her as soon as soon as I can. And I'm sorry about this." Then comes the blow, and Vaughn's world goes black.


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Written for the Alias: Dearly Departed Ficathon.   Thanks to MC for beta-reading and raffaela for help with the French.  
Alias is owned by JJ Abrams, Bad Robot Production, and ABC. No copyright infringement intended, and no profit made. Original story elements my own.