Topic 26: How far would you go to get something you really wanted?
Lauren would stop at nothing.
Why should she? If a person was going to make up her mind to become a cold blooded killer in the service of a quasi-apocalyptic cult bent on world domination, how could she let anything else get in her way?
Lauren would lie, steal, seduce. She would kill with guns, knives, bombs. She would, with a nod to Hamlet, not only smile and smile be a villain, but when God gave her one face, she made herself another. Sometimes she made it out of veiled eyes and sideways glances, sometimes with eyeliner (perhaps overstating the point) and then at last in form-fitting latex of Sydney Bristow's skin.
Once she took off the mask for that last time, Lauren didn't need any more masks. She would stop at nothing, destroy anything that got in her way. She didn't care who knew it.
That was why she didn't understand a man like Arvin Sloane. Take the Passenger, the woman called Nadia Santos. Nadia carried a message from Rambaldi; she was Arvin Sloane's daughter by Irina Derevko; Sloane was determined to retrieve the message; the retrieval process could cause Nadia's death. Lauren knew all these facts, and she thought she knew Sloane. He was a ruthless man, a smiling villain if one ever lived. It didn't occur to Lauren for some time that Nadia's parentage could possibly matter to Sloane. She doubted he had been in love with Derevko; Jack Bristow might succumb to such a weakness. Sloane would not. For most of his life, he had never known Nadia existed. His obsessive pursuit of the Passenger, Lauren was certain, sprung only from his fanaticism about Rambaldi. The blood relation could only be a technicality. Lauren knew how it worked in the House of Atreus. Those consumed with power would gladly eat their own young.
It was only in that room, as she and Julian faced Sloane over Nadia's inert body, that Lauren realized Nadia meant something more to her father. Even then, she took the revelation with glee. She draped herself over Julian -- he and she, too perfectly matched for a prisoners' dilemma; neither would suspect for a second that the other acted out of anything but pure self-interest. Poor Arvin, she thought -- drawled the name out; "Arrrvin"; knew it would rankle him, wanted him to know she wouldn't care. Poor Arvin, she thought, had a weakness, a love, things and people he would put ahead of his own personal endgame. She could afford him a moment of pity, because she thought that affection would turn out to be the death of him.
Little did she know. Sometimes, when you would stop at nothing, that was all you ended up with.
Muse: Lauren Reed
*visible to those who know her story; if it should ever be questioned in a court of law, of course, Lauren will raise the obvious defense that this could be nothing but absurd fiction*
No pain, no gain.
An inelegant phrase, perhaps, but one my husband always favored. The extent to which men absorb a lifetime's philosophy from childhood sport coaches is far too depressing to dwell on, yet undeniable it is.
No pain, no gain.
From the time I joined the Covenant, I was aware that the possibility of pain came with the territory. I was trained to withstand it and, when I could, to talk my way out of it, but I had no illusions about avoiding it altogehter. One might set out to live without pain, but the only way to assure that is to live without risk; to be the woman I pretended to be, instead of the woman that I was.
No pain, no gain.
The man who thought he could love the false Lauren -- cautious Lauren, deskbound Lauren -- turned out to be the man who chained the true Lauren up by her wrists and doused her with gasoline. I tried, even then, to seduce him back to me, to confuse his image of who I truly was. I lied to my husband, then, and yet, I submit to you -- I didn't plead. I didn't beg or cry or give in to torture (that so rarely works, except on those whose loyalties were flexible to begin with.) I didn't fear torture or give in to pain. I simply didn't want to die then, because my work wasn't finished.
Given the chance, I doubt my husband would have killed me then and there -- at night, in the dark, with precious Sydney's voice echoing in his brain. He would wait and find a way to do it while she looked on and could tell him he was right. Alone in the dark, with no one to share the victory? That might have been the Bristow way. It was never his.
It was, I admit, fortuitous that my colleague appeared at that moment to put a knife in my husband's back. I remember well the startled look in his eyes, the momentary confusion before he slumped down blood, welling from his mouth. Yet if I enjoyed that moment -- as I must admit, I did -- it would come to haunt me. It would give Sydney the strength to pursue me -- give my husband the chance he needed to pull the trigger and let the world think he was just.
No pain, no gain, Michael. Aren't you glad to know you were right all along?
What is one thing you have learned from your past?
My mother loved the house of Atreus. That is to say, she loved their stories, as they were told in the plays of the ancient Greek masters: vengeful sons and murdering wives, children carved to bits by their own parents, flesh served up to appease or mock the gods. Pure tragedies, she called them --catharsis untainted by sentiment.
When my father first saw her, Mum was on Broadway, playing Klytemnestra to an admiring crowd. He used to tell this at parties, as though it were a joke. "I looked at the stage and there she was, with her husband's blood on her hands, and I knew -- that's the woman I have to marry."
Then Mum would kiss his cheek or straighten his tie and say, "We've been one happy family, ever since." The room would laugh, because everyone knew Olivia Reed was the perfect wife.
I wanted her to hate him. She could have been a great actress, but, after meeting my father -- then a powerful lawyer, soon a governor, soon after a Senator -- she left the stage for good and devoted herself to providing a model of domestic bliss. I was eleven when I first asked whether she had ever wanted more. "Being a Senator's wife is a full-time job, dear. I've known since I was even younger than you, that one day I would be married to a powerful man." As though this were an acceptable goal; as if she couldn't have been his superior in every way.
She never asked me to hate him. I learned to do that on my own. I discovered a mission, a purpose, a way to blend into my father's world only so that I could help destroy it.
Much later, when Julian devised a plan that would require the man's death, it seemed worthy of the Greeks -- pure tragedy, untainted by sentiment. Yet when the moment came, I turned out to be less Klytemnestra than Hamlet, the anxious prince whose fatal hesitation I had always mocked. I lost my nerve. When I raised my eyes to see my mother with the gun, I knew how she must have looked on stage, all those years ago.
She never asked me to hate him. She only mapped the course and laid the path to make me a weapon against her own enemies. My mother thought she was rescuing me, but even as the smoke cleared that day -- some time still before the man I had married locked on me and pulled the trigger -- I began to understand that I had not been saved but condemned, like the children of Atreus, to die at the altar of a parent's warlike faith.