Finally I woke up and finished some writing. Yay. But what a waste of a weekend. A weekend that I'd intended for PORN. Or at least the next best thing. Damn it.
"It's time for us to leave Prague," Jack said. "The CIA will come looking for their missing agent." He dipped a glance down at Vaughn. "I'm surprised they haven't already."
At this point a captured agent would be freaking out. Confused, wondering where his back-up went to, working desperately to hide just how demoralized he was. Vaughn tried to project all these things in the grim, lowered angle of his head.
"But then," Jack went on, "every good strategist knows when to sacrifice a pawn." He carelessly ran his hand over Vaughn's hair under Mislov's interested gaze.
"They'll come for me." Vaughn's voice was tight--had he gotten across a hint of a break? "And they'll take you down when they do."
"Poor thing," Sydney said. She was twirling a cherry around her tongue, cuddled in the circle of Weiss's brotherly arm.
"My plane is waiting." Mislov had his own toy today, a young girl, junkie-chic thin or maybe just a junkie. She lolled against him, eyes bored. "There are some properties in Greece I'd love for you to see."
"Greece!" Weiss's face lit up. "Excellent!"
It would have been nice if the next several hours had blurred together, but each one remained annoyingly distinct. At least Vaughn had on a shirt today. "Come on," he'd said plaintively to Jack. "I look like a plucked chicken. It's embarrassing."
"That's the point."
But Jack had given him a shirt, sort of, a nearly see-through wifebeater that made Vaughn look like the return of disco. He supposed he should be thankful it wasn't a crop-top with fringe and sequins and maybe a Hello Kitty appliqué.
He spent the plane trip mentally translating The Declaration of Independence from English into French, Italian, Spanish, and Russian, and tapping out rude messages in Morse code against Jack's leg when he got bored.
"Don't make me regret uncuffing your hands," Jack leaned down to say softly at twenty-thousand feet, after Vaughn had just tapped out *you are such a dick* with his fingertip on Jack's ankle.
Vaughn looked up, keeping his face open and amiable while he slid a hand up and down Jack's calf. "Am I doing anything you don't like, Mr. Boros?" He turned his head and kissed Jack's knee. Across the aisle Weiss was, by his dumbstruck face, trying to figure out whether Vaughn had gone insane and whether extraction might not be the best course after all.
Jack gave Vaughn a long-suffering look. Vaughn smiled.
He scored that one a victory and it convinced him that a little petty suffering was good for Jack's soul. Besides, maybe a new, more cooperative cover strategy was needed at this point. Bargaining would be expected. During field training, agents were told to take advantage of any angle. In one of his first classroom sessions, the male, ex-Marine Corps instructor had said, "If you can suck cock well, that's a skill you can use. If five minutes of sucking dick gives you five more minutes of life, take it. And for those of you wondering what your fellow agents will be thinking later, I'll tell you. They're going to be thinking, 'Here's someone who lived.' Agents who come home alive are very popular. Strangely enough, people want to work with them."
But if Vaughn had really been abducted, would he ever play along in the hope of gaining some ground? His first instinct was to say, hell, no. But if he was off the grid and it was a vital mission--maybe.
When they reached Mislov's private airfield, on his private island no less, Vaughn's legs were stiff from sitting so long. It felt as if he'd been sprung from a tin can and dumped into the middle of paradise.
"Nice weather," he commented as he squinted across the airstrip at the blue and sun-white vista surrounding them. "How much does a sky like that cost you?"
He swiveled and stepped right into a blow from Jack for the impudence.
"More than you will ever see in your shortening lifetime," Mislov said, while Vaughn's ears continued to ring. For a jackass movie-cliché answer like that, it hardly seemed worth the grief.
"Hardly worth the grief, is it," Jack said sotto voce as they walked toward the waiting Jeeps.
"I'm supposed to be surly," he hissed. "And you could pull your punches."
The look Jack gave him expressed mild amazement at the unprofessional nature of such as a suggestion. Amazing how rarely the guy needed to speak to get his points across.
"I thought we could stay here for the night," Mislov said over his shoulder as the Jeeps snaked down the island road, the wind they made whipping everyone's hair around. "And then take my yacht to the mainland. At a steady cruise, three days. A nice holiday, yes?"
The villa was a villa, as villas went.
"I love it when the bad guys have Jacuzzis," Vaughn said, when they'd been escorted to their suite and left to its comforts. He toed one of the marble taps and then looked over at Jack. "Thanks for ditching the cuffs."
"We're on an island." He didn't even look up from his scanner until a few moments later. The deliberate way he set it on a table and said nothing about the status of his scans made Vaughn's stomach sink. He'd been in shitty situations. Chained hand and foot, left beaten and hungry in stinking cells for days at a time. In the full chronicle of his worst memories, not one involved Jacuzzis. Until maybe now.
"Take off your clothes," Jack said in clipped command, sliding off his own jacket.
"Don't make me do this again." Vaughn pitched his voice for the benefit of whatever monitoring system was there. "Look, I get that you have this bet--if you want me to play along so you can win your big prize, I can do that."
"I'm afraid it's not so easy."
"Okay, look." He moved closer. "If you can just--" He slammed his fist at Jack's throat and hooked a leg to pull him off-balance. They scuffled; he wasn't sure how much Jack was letting him get away with, but Jack had him flattened over the table, one arm twisted up behind his back, before Vaughn even saw the move coming. A real enough defeat. His heart was hammering in his chest. His eyes were level with the AV monitor and he saw the red bar that indicated active surveillance.
"He doesn't have to know," he said, hoping Jack would get the message. No way had Jack come without jamming equipment--in fact, he knew exactly what package of op tech Marshall had issued.
"Shhh." Jack's free hand slid down his back as if he were soothing a horse's flank. "I think you know I can make this good for you."
He was certain that Jack was going to cross the line. He could feel the line blowing away in the sand, erased. Emotions roiling, it was easy to tell himself that it was a betrayal of trust, and to hate Jack for it, even if a small part of his mind knew that Jack only ever did what he thought he had to. The problem was, Jack's logic wasn't Earth logic.
I did trust him, Vaughn realized, anger turning his stomach as Jack let him up. They had taken dangerous risks for reach other--well, for Sydney. He thought they'd had a bond. He should have known better.
"Let's get you cleaned up," Jack said, when they were facing each other again. He tugged Vaughn toward the bath, and Vaughn went, his sudden relief increasing with every step. In the refuge of the shower, Jack slipped a device from his palm onto the tiles, and Vaughn sagged against the wall.
"I thought you were really going to go through with it."
"You don't think much of me, do you, Agent Vaughn."
They mimicked a few positions that might be captured through the blur of the glass, and Vaughn made some unhappy noises, and then they soaped off efficiently without looking each other in the eye. As they exited the shower, Jack said, "You're getting better."
After a long, drawn-out pause of pretense, Vaughn said quietly, "Thank you." The words of a broken man who'd no longer tell his captor to fuck off. He hoped it was convincing. He was tired.