Once in Copenhagen, the trail had dried up, until she'd heard two off-duty patrolmen talking about the rebel that'd been brought in earlier that afternoon, who'd been interrogated and had managed, somehow, to escape, when everyone had thought he'd be unconscious for hours.
It wasn't too hard, after that, to find the hotel where Jack had fled.
Sasha: She didn’t knock, didn’t even use a key. She tried the door handle, once, and then picked the lock.
Jack: No answer.
The bathroom door was slightly ajar, and the sound of dripping water drifted through the room.
Sasha: She shut the door behind her, and locked it again. Slipping her lockpick into her jacket pocket, she walked forward cautiously. She pushed forward the door, and couldn’t help but gasp.
He was dead.
No, no he wasn’t, but he looked it. Head back against the little shelf, and his body was covered in bruises and cuts. Also scars, but it was the recent injuries that had her attention. She rushed forward and knelt next to the bath, picking up his hand to feel his pulse.
Jack: At her touch he woke, gasping and pulling back forcefully enough to splash water onto the floor. His normally dusky skin was pale, making the bruises stand out more vividly.
They hadn't touched his face. Ease of identification, and the Echelon forbade anyone to damage a rebel's face in case they needed a clear image to assure the rebel's followers that it was really him being put to death. As he moved, it was with even more of a sense of pain than was normal for him.
Sasha: “Hey, hey, Jack, it’s me.”
Jack: He didn't seem to recognise her for a moment, and then he slumped back against the lip of the bath, closing his eyes.
Whether he was relieved or not was unclear; there wasn't enough emotion in his voice to be sure.
Sasha: She was frowning, and that expression had always seemed odd on her face. But she was frowning and her mouth worked nervously. “Yeah, can’t shake me, huh.”
Jack: "Looks like it." He sounded... empty, more than anything, more than even tired. "Do you know they cut your hair if you're detained? I heard them talking."
Sasha: “I know,” and her voice was soft. Her own hair was longer than ever, left free and loose except for her fringe. “Don’t know why.”
Jack: "A bit too long for military anyway." He absently tugged at a bit of his own shaggy hair, hissing at the movement. "How's the scar? Still ache in cold weather?"
Sasha: She reached up and took his hand. “Don’t…don’t move. You hurt.” And if her brain was normal, if all her systems worked as they should, her mind would be awash with worry and concern right now. But her brain wasn’t normal, her systems didn’t work, and as much as the emotional triggers deep in her skull might try, she couldn’t feel those emotions.
But they could try, and make her feel anxious.
“Always will. Look, are you….you need to get out.”
Jack: He smiled a little, sardonically.
"Always will, love."
He apparently agreed with the need to get out of the bath, though, and stood up carefully, wrapping a towel around his waist as slightly pink-tinted water puddled on the floor.
Sasha: She also got to her feet, but she couldn’t stand still. Her hands moved restlessly, fingers open and closing.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” And her voice was sharp.
Jack: "You said I hurt. I always do."
Sasha: Sasha looked at him, anger beginning to crakle underneath the remains of her normal poise. “That’s not precisely what I meant.”
Jack: He eyed her, still looking oddly empty.
"Then what did you mean?"
Sasha: “I don’t know!”
It’s a shout, not quite a scream, but it’s enough.
Jack: "I what, Sasha? Slipped up? I know that. In case you'd forgotten, I've been running for nine years, I'm bound to make mistakes every now and then. I'd've thought you'd be happy to have me off your hands."
Sasha: "Well, you're mistaken, aren't you?" She was almost crackling with anger. "How stupid could you be, letting yourself be beaten up and nearly killed by a bunch of...incompetent, uneducated thugs?"
Jack: "You don't know me!" His voice cracked, and he spun away from her, one hand against the wall to support himself. "You don't know my life, you - you're a good little Echelon assassin, you've got no idea what it's like, so don't come here and fucking judge me! Just - just don't, Sasha."
Sasha: "What it is like to what, fuck up? Actually, I do!"
Jack: And Jack laughed.
Long, and slightly too high and too hysterical, and he wasn't stopping.
Sasha: "What did you mean. Jack."
Jack: “I'm tired, Sasha."
He still wasn't facing her.
"I'm just... tired. Of running, of being angry and afraid, of knowing what everyone is feeling except you. It's been nine years since the Empath Riot. The things I've seen..."
Sasha: "And yet, you keep running."
Jack: "What other choice do I have?"
He was shaking, just slightly.
"Do you know how they recondition empaths, Sasha?"
Sasha: She ducked her head forward and slightly to the side, still keeping her eyes on him.
Jack: "Their reasoning, for a lot of Alphas and Bravos, is that we empathise too much with other people. Charlies have a disconnect in their brains; they don't see other people as the same sort of people as empaths. We're meant to think that we're completely different."
Jack's voice was low and calm, almost emotionless.
"So when they get one of us back, they do their best to dehumanise us. They won't physically injure us, that'd be damaging stock, it's just stupid. But sleep deprivation, solitary confinement with bright lights that never turn off, bargaining little chips of humanity for basic rights like water and clothing?" He gave a harsh, shaky bark of laughter. "Oh, those are perfectly all right, according to the Echelon. It's not torture, it's showing us our place."
Sasha: "It's making you better. Forging you into a weapon." Sasha's own voice sounded flat, like she was quoting.
Jack: And Jack spun around and hit her.
"Do not," he growled, shoving her back against the wall, "ever quote their dogma to me again, Sasha."
Sasha: He hit her, and the shock of that was all that let him shove her against the wall. She didn't reach up to touch her now stinging mouth, she just glared up at him.
"I had to live with it too."
Jack: "You're empty," he snarled. "We feel everything. Everything, even when it's not ours."
Sasha: "That's not my fault!"
And her voice was a scream. Of course, if she meant the fact that he couldn't feel her, or the fact that he could feel everything, it rather was hard to say.
Jack: “I know! But you don't get to come and tell me that - that I don't have the right to be terrified enough to slip up sometimes." A hint of hysteria had slipped into his tone. "You don't - half the time I don't even know if you're going to try to kill me or take me back or if we're just going to - to verbally spar again, and I don't even know why I let you find me and it's just, it's too much, Sasha, I can't live like this anymore."
Sasha: There was, somewhere, a perfectly logical reaction to what he just said. And, maybe, this was it.
She pulled him close, and kissed him.
And it wasn't gentle, not with her hand on the back of his neck, and not with the desperationangerfearlust that she kissed him with.
Jack: He was still for a moment, and then he fisted a hand in her hair and kissed her back, hard and almost angry.
Sasha: That...wasn't entirely what she was expecting, but then again, expecting something means thinking about it, and she wasn't doing that, oh no. Just kissing him, and then breaking away to stare at him with eyes that were just a little too wide.
Jack: Jack's eyes were dark and unreadable.
"Just go with it," he whispered, breath warm against her lips, before kissing her again.
That was good advice, for there were insults and snarls and mocking scornful words, all pressing to be heard, and she should say them and stop this, but, well.
Sociopaths never had been good at resisting impulse, and if the Echelon cared, well.
They made her.