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[personal profile] skeddy_kat
Title: Mistaken Identity
Fandoms: Strike Back, Spooks (MI5)
Rating: PG
Length: about 2200
Summary: “Seriously, John, you don’t want to shoot me. We’re friends.” “Still not John. You’re going to have to come with me.”

Author's note: This is a scene that popped into my head during the Identity challenge. I wanted to put it into a story I was working on, but it didn't really fit. The basic setup is this: John Porter (Strike Back) is missing. Among the people looking for him is CIA agent Elizabeth Martin. While in London coordinating the search, she runs into Lucas North (MI5). Confusion ensues.

The shop had been busy. Elizabeth was going to have to eat her sandwich on the run if she wanted to meet Layla on time. Seriously, £9 for a sandwich? Still, it was a really good sandwich and she found herself back again every two or three days.

She turned to go when a large woman with a mass of shopping bags knocked into her and sent her flying. Strong arms caught her and steadied her. She even held on to her sandwich.

"There you go. I’ve got you," a man said in a low rumble as he made sure she was on her feet.

Damn, she had John Porter on the brain. People were starting to sound like him. She shook her head at her foolishness, but then she looked up into a familiar pair of blue eyes. John’s eyes. She stared for a second in shock.

“John? My God, how did you get here? We've been out of our minds!" She threw her arms around him. "We have people on five continents working on finding you. I can't believe you're here." She was afraid to let go, afraid that he’d disappear.

Unfortunately, holding him tightly didn’t work. "I'm sorry; I think you have me confused with someone else." The man detached her arms from his neck.

"You're telling me you aren't John Porter?" She looked at him skeptically.

"No, I’m sorry. My name is Matthew Carlson."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Carlson. You really look just like a friend of mine." She knew she sounded unconvinced.

"Quite all right. No harm done." He smiled briefly at her as she left, but he didn’t appear to recognize her at all. Was John Porter really that good of an actor?

She slipped around the corner and called Layla Thompson at Section 20. Layla wasn’t convinced that the man in the sandwich place had been John. “Layla, I’m telling you it’s him – unless he has a twin we don’t know about. The funny thing is I don’t think he recognized me at all. Something is going on and we need to figure it out. Just run the name Matthew Carlson and see what you can find.”

She heard a step and turned to find the man in question, eyebrow arched, facing her over the barrel of a pistol.

“Layla, I have to go; I’ll call you later,” she said quickly. She ended the connection and raised her hands. “Seriously, John, you don’t want to shoot me. We’re friends.”

He took the phone from her, along with her handbag and her sandwich. “Still not John. You’re going to have to come with me.”

“Right. Matthew Carlson. Just what is it you do, Mr. Carlson?”

“I’m an accountant.” She had to hand it to him. He said it with a perfectly straight face.

“Of course you are. Don’t worry; I’m not going to run. I want some answers.” Under her breath she added, “Just what have you gotten yourself into, old friend?”

He led her to a car, and she sat as he argued outside on the phone with someone. She saw him take out her passport and read off her information. He returned to the car and started driving without a word. She spent the entire drive studying his face. Was this man John Porter? On the one hand, he looked exactly like John Porter, sounded like John Porter, and did that same little thing with his eyebrow. On the other hand, he didn’t move like John and she could see no recognition in his eyes. The more she watched him, the less certain she was. Had John lost his memory? Was this some impostor, training to take John’s place in Section 20? Did John actually have a twin he hadn’t known about? Every theory she thought of felt more outlandish than the last. She absolutely refused to consider clones. Or aliens.

He looked over at her with a smirk, and she realized the car had stopped moving. She looked at the building in front of her.

“Thames House? MI5? You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Afraid not,” he answered.

“This is not going to end well,” she muttered.

He brought her to a brightly lit conference room with several people standing around a huge table. A man who was definitely in charge motioned her to a seat. The others sat, almost as if they were forming a protective barrier between John and her.

“Why don’t you have your new friend introduce herself, Lucas?” the man, whom she knew she should recognize, asked.

“My name is Elizabeth Martin. But you probably already know that. And I’m guessing that you’re…Sir Harry Pearce?”

Sir Harry inclined his head in agreement. “Yes on both counts. Would you like to tell me why the CIA is looking into my officer?”

At the words “CIA” John, or Matthew, or Lucas, whoever he was, dropped his head into his hands saying, “Christ, not again.”

“The CIA isn’t 'looking into' your officer. I am. And what do you mean ‘not again’? Has Arlington been bothering you? Have you seen him?”

“Let’s take this one thing at a time,” Sir Harry said. “Why are you looking into my agent, then?”

“Because he’s not yours,” Elizabeth answered heatedly. “John Porter has been missing for more than three weeks. The last anyone heard, he was captured and in a really bad spot. His daughter is going crazy, his colleagues are using every unofficial channel they can to find scraps of information, and his friends are worried sick. That includes me.”

Everyone at the table looked at her uncomprehendingly. “But what does that have to do with Lucas North?” Sir Harry asked.

“I don’t know who Lucas North is. If you’re talking about him,” she said pointing at John, “it’s because he is John Porter.”

“No,” Sir Harry said. “I can guarantee you that he is not.”

A young man entered the conference room at that point and passed a note to Sir Harry. “Well, apparently you were telling the truth about one thing. Our contact with the CIA assures us that you do work for them and, as far as anyone knows, you are on vacation and requests if we find out differently that we notify them immediately.”

“Wonderful.” Elizabeth knew that her vacation ploy would not hold up indefinitely with her superiors, but she had been hoping for more time.

“I’m afraid I need an explanation, Miss Martin. And I need it now.”

Elizabeth thought about the easiest way to do this. “Do you have a screen I can use for a teleconference?” she asked.

They brought her out into the main office area and to the young man she had seen earlier. She handed him the phone number. He looked up at her. “But this is—“

“Yes,” she said. “Just connect it please.”

It only took a moment to get Layla on the line. She was a bit confused as to why MI5 was calling, until she saw Elizabeth.

“Elizabeth, what have you gotten yourself into?” she asked.

In response, Elizabeth pulled Lucas North in front of the monitor.

“Porter! Bloody hell! What are you doing at Five? Do you have any idea how hard we’ve been looking for you?”

“Apparently, he isn’t John Porter,” Elizabeth told her.

“What are you talking about? Of course he is! What the hell is going on?”

Elizabeth held up her hand. “Everyone, this is Captain Layla Thompson, Deputy Chief of Section 20, MI6. Layla, this is Sir Harry Pearce, head of Section D.”

Sir Harry spoke up. “I assure you, Captain Thompson, that I have known this man for many years and he is not John Porter.”

“Layla,” Elizabeth asked, “can you put up the picture from John’s file?”

Layla did her one better: she put up four. Everyone in the room at MI5 looked from the pictures, to Lucas North, and back again.

The ice-cold blonde broke the silence, “Twin brother you weren’t telling us about, Lucas?”

North was looking at the monitor as if he had seen a ghost. “Not that I’m aware of,” he said faintly. He glanced over John’s personal data. “We were even born the same year, just four months apart.”

“Elizabeth?” Captain Thompson’s voice drew Elizabeth’s attention back to the screen. “Are you sure?”

“I could be.” Elizabeth turned back to Lucas. “This might be way out of line, but may I look at your right shoulder?”

Lucas looked at Harry. “It’s your call,” Harry told him. “As far as I’m concerned, they can take our word on who you are.”

Lucas looked oddly vulnerable as he unbuttoned his shirt. She saw a tattoo at his wrist, another peeking out from beneath his wife beater undershirt, and another on his right shoulder. He slid the undershirt off his right shoulder so that she could see the skin underneath. The clear, unblemished skin, with no scar from Afghanistan. Almost without volition, her hand reached toward his shoulder to touch it, to feel for herself.

The sound of Sir Harry clearing his throat brought her back to herself, and she snatched her hand back, mortified, and turned back to the monitor. “He’s not John, Layla. He doesn’t have the scar.”

“Understood. Call me when you get free. We have some planning to do. Thompson out.” The screen went dark.

Elizabeth turned and looked at Lucas. “I’m sorry. I just-” She broke off, unable to continue.

“Come over here,” he took her hand and led her away from the others. He pulled her hand toward his shoulder. “Go ahead,” he said when she hesitated. “It’s okay.”

The kindness in his eyes nearly undid her. She ran her fingertips lightly over his perfect shoulder. Lucas North had never taken a bullet in this shoulder. Her heart had to accept what her head was already telling her. John Porter and Lucas North were two different men, despite their virtually identical appearance.

Sir Harry, the icy blonde, Lucas, and Elizabeth returned to the conference room. Sir Harry returned her things. Everything seemed to have survived but her sandwich. With a sigh, Elizabeth tossed it in the trash.

Her phone buzzed with a text from Layla that gave her the go-ahead to give MI5 the basic details on the Porter situation since they already had some idea of what was going on. It was even possible they might catch wind of some information that would help.

Quickly she outlined John’s history with Frank Arlington and the fact that Arlington, though listed as dead, was very much alive.

“And although there are no official steps being taken to find and free John Porter, several of us are looking unofficially. We’re also looking for Arlington, and hopefully somebody will plant that rat bastard in the ground for good this time,” she finished.

“Who do you have looking?” the blonde asked.

Elizabeth smiled a bit wryly. “Outside of me, Layla, and the folks at Section 20, my contacts include a well-connected reporter, a major weapons contractor, a pirate, a warrior, and a nun.”

“I’m sorry I asked.”

“Are you certain he’s still alive?” Sir Harry asked.

“We’re not positive,” Elizabeth admitted. “But we’re not giving up until we get him, or whatever is left of him, back.”

“Well, I wish you luck, Miss Martin,” Sir Harry said. “If we happen to hear anything that might be related, we’ll contact Captain Thompson. Lucas, why don’t you return our guest to where you found her?”

At this obvious dismissal, everyone rose. Elizabeth started for the door; then turned back to Sir Harry. “If there’s any way you can avoid telling my employers what I’m really doing, I’d appreciate it. I’ll resign if I have to, but I’d rather keep my access to information open.”

Sir Harry regarded her closely for a moment and smiled thinly. “I don’t see any official reason to involve the CIA. We will inform them that it was merely a case of mistaken identity. We’re not on the best of terms right now, anyway.”


They returned to the car. Lucas put the keys in the ignition, but didn’t start it.

Elizabeth looked over and found him staring at the steering wheel, deep in thought. Obviously, something was bothering him.

She reached over and set her hand on top of his. “What’s the matter, Lucas?”

He turned toward her. She couldn’t even begin to decipher the look in his eyes. “You’re really going after him? No matter what? No matter who has him, or where?”

“I am. Is that so strange?”

“Let’s just say that my experience doesn’t bear it out.” His voice was bitter. She couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to him.

He started the car. “Let’s get you back so that you can find him. Don't give up on him, Elizabeth. Bring him home.”

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