Winter in Tunisia

by Vanzetti

a coda of sorts to Airs, Waters, Places

Tunisia in winter. The house is empty, the waves crashing against the bluff and the roses whispering to each other the only sound. It was beyond foolish to come here, and Jack Bristow knows it: memories alone cannot change "house" to "home." For three days, he catalogues the rooms. The library, where he would sit and read, not entirely alone. The kitchen, where a glass of wine once stood, discarded, on the counter. And the garden. She spoke to him there, and he has no idea what she said.

Three days of foolishness is all he can spare; he is looking for his daughter, and the clues here lead somewhere else entirely. He avoids the cliff edge, and the broken wood washed up on the sand. He has no use for metaphorical shipwreck.

The roses are overgrown and twisted and on the third day he finds a pair of gardening shears and starts to cut them back, lopping off withered flowers and swollen hips and dead, black wood. If she returns, she'll know that he was here. That is the night, as he packs the small bag he brought here, that he hears the crunch of wheels on gravel. He snuffs the candle, picks up a gun, goes barefoot and silent to investigate. It's too early for hope.

Moonlight contradicts itself, wiping the years from her face and changing her hair to silver. She stands still at the entrance of the house, just past the doorway, watching for movement, her hands loose and empty at her sides. He does not think, even for a moment, of remaining in the shadows; later he will wonder why that does not frighten him.

They do not speak: why should they? Words are for others, words are for hiding the truth of the pulse beating in his heart, at her throat, where he can put his lips, where her hands are already resting. They stumble, entwined, to the bed he's using, bones and flesh too worn to rest comfortably on the floor or against the wall. Only the new scars make him pause--burns still smooth and the mark of a bullet that wasn't there before--but she pulls his head away to her own mouth.

They do not sleep, either. The gray dawn finds his fingers still resting on the puckered skin of her latest wound. She twists to face him, one hand tracing the line of his jaw. "Come back," she says. Last night, he remembers now, she said his name aloud.

"You aren't worried that we'll kill each other."

"Are you alive now?"

Now? he thinks. Now the pulse is beating, slow and sure, at the base of his throat and down through his body. Now he can lift his hand and touch her hair, now he can taste her lips, now all the dark months between them fade to nothing. Now he is alive, here, in this room, in this bed, although he doesn't know if this is what he needs or what he does not need, although there is a place in his heart, in the back of his head, where his daughter's absence keeps him from joy. Now his world is bone and flesh, sinew and scar. Guilt and innocence are meaningless compared to this; he can say this with his mouth, if not with words.

She understands. That is not all he needs, but it is enough to start.


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Written for MC.   thanks to Rez for beta reading.
Alias is owned by JJ Abrams, Bad Robot Production, and ABC. No copyright infringement intended, and no profit made. Original story elements my own.