As she shakes off the morning drowsiness, Sydney is aware of the arm curled around her waist, the body draped over her back, the lips mumbling sleepily against her neck. “How are you feeling?” he asks.
“Better,” she sighs and it’s true. Her stomach is settled, her head is quiet, her limbs still protest movement, but to a lesser degree than before. The worst of the hit on her system has passed and she’ll be able to adjust to the influence of the drugs on her brain.
“Good,” he murmurs, his breath tickling the fine hairs along her neck. His voice is so quiet she can barely hear him. “You always liked having your tummy rubbed when they gave you more drugs. It made you feel better.”
She doesn’t have time to really ponder these words because he’s rising and rolling over her, his hands settling the blankets back over her shoulders. “Where you going?” her voices slurs into the pillow.
He crouches down and brushes strands of hair off her face. “I’ll be back soon,” he says gently, smiling warmly at her. Then he’s gone from her sight and she closes her eyes and lets her mind wander over the events of last night. He knows how to soothe her when she’s sick because he’s seen it before, but how she doesn’t know. She wants to ask him what he knows about the time she’s forgotten but she doesn’t want to trust what he has to say about anything.
What she doesn’t know is if it bothers her that he knows her so well, is able to take care of her as if he’s done it before. She can’t understand why he’s here in this place. He doesn’t belong; his illness has never bothered him before and she can’t see why it would bother him now. Being without any sense of remorse or any other feeling is what makes him Sark and he uses that to instill fear, so he has power. She’s scared because she lost her control around him and let him be there at her weakest and what he could do with her now. Maybe that was his plan, to use her at her worst and destroy her.
But that was not the Sark of last night, the one who treated her gently, soothed her as if she were a child, held her during the night and made her feel protected for the first time in forever. Whenever she thinks about what he’s capable of, she feels his hand on her abdomen and hears that haunting song that lulled her to a dreamless sleep. The two pictures don’t match, two sides of one coin and it annoys her that she can’t reconcile the two.
Last night he treated her like a lover would. And it’s awoken something in her. Something she didn’t know still existed.
Doesn’t know how much time has past because she falls asleep again, only waking when the mattress depresses on one side and damp hair rests on her cheek. She opens her eyes to his gaze, striking blue and laughing in her face. “You’re getting my pillow all wet,” she grouses.
He just laughs and rolls onto his back, grasping her hips so she comes with him and is sprawled over his chest. “Good morning to you too, love.” She crosses her arms over his chest and rests her chin on them so she can look him in the face, studying his features. She’s never seen him look so young, his face free from the usual darkness that shadows it. “Guess what, guess what?” he asks, and his voice holds a boyish excitement she would have never guess would come from him.
She tucks a piece of her hair behind her ear. “What is it?”
He tugs slightly on her pajama bottoms through her robe. “While I was waiting, I heard Heidi telling some of the other twits that if we were found together after hours, we were to be left alone. Plus, our ‘excessive time together’ isn’t to be written up for the doctor anymore.” He smirks up at her. She frowns.
“Why? What’s changed now?”
“Don’t know. Orders from the head nurse, that’s all I heard before I was whisked away.”
“Huh.” She thinks about this revelation for a minute, pulling her lip with her fingers. He’s watching her digest his news and she raises her eyes to meet his steady gaze. They stare at each other for long seconds, eye contact never wavering. She can feel him breathing underneath her, his chest rising up and down in an even motion. She unfolds her arms and rests her elbows on each side of his head on the pillow. Her hands frame his face, palms on each cheek and fingers caressing the hair at his temples. Her right hand dances over the expanse of his forehead, picking up haphazard curls that rest and twirling them in her fingers. Her thumbs brush over his eyebrows, pushing them against the growth then smoothing them down again. When her fingers come down over his eyes, he closes them and she flicks her fingertips over his long eyelashes. The skin of his cheeks is soft. His nose is straight and smooth, one finger tracing down the slope and over the tip to the indent above his lip. She touches the dent in his upper lip, pulls lightly at the crooked line of the lower, settles in the dimple of his chin. His eyes are open now, but now they’re a sparkling sapphire as opposed to the clear sky blue they usually are.
Her hands cup his face again. She slowly wiggles her body up his chest until her face is hovering over his own. She lets her head drop down until her lips are barely caressing his forehead. She presses kisses all over his brow, languidly making her way down. Inside the hollow of his eyes, letting his lashes brush her chin. Down one side around the chin and up the other; nuzzling the left cheek, up over his nose then doing the same to the right. When she’s marked his entire face with her mouth she concentrates on his mouth. Starts with a chaste peck on the top lip before she takes it into her mouth. Nibbles gently, then sucks a little before letting it fall back to place. She repeats the treatment on his lower lip too, taking time to trace over the crooked line it runs. Her tongue slides out from her parted lips and outlines his mouth, giving special attention to the corners. During the entire process they never break eye contact, her brown connected with his blue. His hands don’t travel up her back to capture her head and press her on further, but stay still, holding her hips firmly.
She pulls back slightly, breathing a bit harder through her parted lips. While she watches him his tongue slips out and licks his own lips, drawing the saliva she left on them into his mouth. When he’s finished with that her mouth descends on his again, kissing him in a way that demands instant response. Her fingers are threaded in his hair, closing around the soft curls that poke out between them. Her kiss is open for the first time and he submits to her, parting his own lips to fully taste her. Her tongue darts out and probes at his to reciprocate hers. As she deepens the kiss one hand comes up from her hip to tangle in her hair, cradling her head to him. The warm feeling she woke up with this morning spreads from her chest to the rest of her body and she hums with contentedness. The vibrating sound seems to spur his kissing her more, as if it’s the signal he’s been waiting for to unleash himself. He replicates the exploration she had given his lips, nipping and sucking along the line, laving the corners softly. When he moved his mouth down to lay little kisses along her jaw line, she sucks in a deep breath and lets her head fall down next to his on the pillow. He’s fixed inside the little hollow between her neck and her shoulder when he murmurs “Sydney,” and she shivers.
A tinny beeping sound stops his actions. She’s still got her head buried in the pillow as he reaches over and turns off the little travel alarm on her desk. Now he’s hesitant bringing the hand back to her hip. “Sydney…”
“I’m okay,” she smiles softly, her head turned into the curve of his neck. “It’s okay. I have to go shower now.” She sits them both up, disentangles herself from his lap. Kisses his forehead to show him she’s okay with it.
She’s almost out the room when he calls to her, “Cheer up. Remember what the Monty Python boys say.” They have the same doctor; it’s obvious that he would know this.
“‘Always look on the bright side of life?’”
“No.” His cocky grin catches her eye. “‘Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.’”
Her surprised laugh catches them both off guard, but her smile lingers when she leaves the room. And she likes that.
He’s still there when she gets back, lounging in the corner of the bed reading one of her books. She uses his chest as a pillow and picks up her own novel, but she’s slightly light-headed from her medication and she closes her eyes for a bit. Without her saying anything his arm snakes around her waist and holds her, a comforting move she appreciates.
And it goes on like this, usurps the staid routine into something new. She never discourages him, but quietly accepts his presence now. She’s gone from hating him and herself to needing him and wanting herself. There is a change inside of her now, that hurtful demon she once fed willingly seems to be dormant. At first she blamed the drugs; after all, it was their job. But her attitude has changed as well. At one point she wanted those bad feelings to overtake her. She craved the self-destruction she had descended to because she felt she deserved the punishment. But being with Sark has brought something to the surface, an intangible memory that’s darting around the edges of her mind, letting her get glimpses of something she once felt but not enough for her to get the whole memory. She never asks him to explain it. It isn’t an issue of trust anymore, it’s like she doesn’t want him to explain it to her. For some reason they had been together for two years and she had forgotten that, whether the memories were erased by her will or not. All she knows is he’s happy with her and somehow she’s real with him.
It’s been days, maybe weeks from that first day awake now. He’s lying on his back and she’s got her head on his chest, ear pressed to his heart as she listens to the beats. It’s summer and with little airflow in the ward it’s stuffy and unbearably hot, so they shed their pajamas and lay tangled naked. Her hand is resting next to her head, fanning the light chest hair back and forth. His right arm is holding her to him around her back and his left is across his stomach to link his hands together. They lie there quietly, sleep evading them in the heat.
She doesn’t raise her head when she speaks. “Do you love me?”
“Do you love me?”
She frowns because he’s doing this deliberately. Refuses to share until she has. His left hand comes up and grips hers on his chest; he runs his fingertips over the inside of her forearms. She shivers when they probe gently at the twisted skin. She tries to pull away but his grip is firm. Sometimes he does this, doesn’t let her pull away. She sighs, relaxes.
“I don’t think I’ve ever loved anyone, or had anyone love me.”
“You can’t say that Sydney; there are many people who love you: your father, your friends…”
She waves a hand dismissively. “I’m not talking about that. Those loves…they were all conditional on something. As long as I acted a certain way or believed a certain thing they were willing to love me. Love by obligation. What I mean is I’ve never felt agape.”
He shifts around. “Agape is love, Sydney.”
“It’s unconditional love. It’s that honest special love that you have for one other person, that never dies even when it’s betrayed. No matter how many times you screw up, get angry, walk away…that love still stays. That’s what I’ve always thought of love as, but I’ve never experienced it.”
She frowns again. “Maybe it just doesn’t exist.”
He likes when she gets philosophical and thoughtful, because it means she’s dwelling on the mysteries of life rather than the finality of death. “Just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean you’ll never feel it.”
She twisted up in his arms so she can face him. “You never answered. And I asked first.” There’s a bit of a pout on her lip and he smiles.
“You never answered the question directly.”
“Oh. No, I don’t.”
He nods. “I’d have to answer no as well. Because of my…condition, I’ve never been able to know what love is beyond a technical definition.”
“Don’t you find that sad?”
“I don’t know.”
While she thinks about it, he lifts her arm up and exposes it, looks at the scars running down the inside for the first time. She protests, sitting up slightly, but he lays a finger on her mouth, shushes her. She watches closely as he brings her arm to his lips. Starting at her wrist, he lays tender tiny kisses over every mark. His tongue dips into the deeper ones. Many of them have healed, but the deepest and angriest left a permanent mark and those are the ones he gives so much caring attention to. His nose nuzzles the sensitive curve over her inner elbow and she giggles in spite of the serious moment.
His caresses are so gentle and she leans down to kiss him. He lets go of her arm and brings his hands up to tangle in her hair, cradling her head as he rolled them over and lay on top of her. She wraps her arms around his back and strokes down the muscles. As his tongue slides along hers he detaches a hand from her head and brushes it down her side, then comes up to cup her breast, massaging it in his hand. She whimpers and pulls away to breathe harshly, turning her head to the side. His drops into her neck. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I forgot; the drugs.”
“No, no,” she pants, pulling his head up and turning hers back. “I just…is this us? I’m not doing this to punish myself anymore.”
His eyes burn into her. “And I never did it to destroy you. Ever.”
She closes her eyes and brings him in for another kiss, this one more insistent. She doesn’t protest this time when he fondles her breast because it enflames her skin. She’s never let him touch her before but now she does and she feels it everywhere. His weight shifts over her, hips hovering above hers. She lets her legs part and hooks them over his thighs. Her hand drops from its place in his hair to press the curve of his lower back, push him down atop her.
Every other time she’s refused to let herself feel him inside but tonight is different. When he pushes deep into her, she gasps at how her inner body starts to awaken. It’s as if every nerve is alive as he slides over her, in her with long languid strokes. His forehead meets with hers, faces pressed together as they move in one single rhythm. She’s sensitive to the touch and so the tickling pressure builds faster than it usually would, without any certain aid. Each thrust of their hips is punctuated with her small cries, ones she couldn’t hold back if she tried. When she finds release she feels it everywhere and she has the sensation she’s falling from somewhere. Her body stiffens then convulses and she grips him to her, clinging as if she’d be swept away. His climax begins and ends with a sigh that’s filled with countless pent-up emotions. Even though she’s stopped shaking, she holds him tight, the heat of the room and their encounter enveloping her heavily. Their bodies are completely damp, but he doesn’t roll away and she doesn’t let him. They lay in their coupled position for a long time, breathing into each other.
Eventually he rolls around her, pulls her back into him and drapes the sheet over them to give them privacy. Her hands entangle with his and that’s how they fall asleep, the heat and all other distractions giving way to weariness.
She’s lying in bed, but sleep is slow in coming. Lets out a frustrated sigh because she’s gotten used to sleeping with him there and it’s impossible without.
She’s grown comfortable with having him around her all the time. She accepts him with her now. He still doesn’t like to be around other people and she prefers to be in her room more as well. Sometimes they play board games or cards, sitting on her floor. They talk a lot. She’s never brought up the topic of love again, but they enjoy discussing the deeper topics. They debate, not argue; challenge, but never fight. When she leaves her room to play with the paints or clay, he will follow just to be with her. She’s gotten him to try his hand at art, but he enjoys watching her more than participating. She knows that people are talking about them, about them getting special privileges, but she doesn’t care about anyone else. The nurses never speak up, nor do the doctors, and she’s grateful. She’s too content with herself right now to hear about how wrong it all is.
He prefers to be in her room, but occasionally he goes back to his own when he’s tired and sleeps during the day. The first time she had left him be, understanding the need for time alone. After an hour he had sought her out, asked her to sit with him. Now when he naps in his dark empty room she sits next to him, absently running her nails down his back in a soothing motion. He reciprocates; now she can’t sleep without him there holding her at night. Sometimes he sings to her. She likes it. His voice is strong and clear. He often sings haunting songs from stage musicals, or love songs from a time past. They’ve become her unconventional lullabies. She once told him he didn’t have to do it, but he replied that he knows she sleeps better that way. Again, as if it’s something from before, he knows her perfectly. Somehow in two years she can’t remember he appreciates her better than anyone else in her life.
When the door opens and closes she gets out of bed, leaves her room to find him. Doesn’t let her mind dwell on how weak it is for her to need his presence for sleep. The main room is quiet, the lights dimmed, and the nurses’ station lit up like a beacon. She doesn’t see him there so she pads down the hall, hand up and touching the plaster and makes her way through the labyrinth of the ward to his door. She hasn’t seen him since the afternoon, when he left for his appointment. When he didn’t come back to her, she let him alone, thinking he needed space to think. But now she’s a little worried. She can feel her heart pounding when she eases the door open into the blackness, hears harsh breathing. “Sark?”
There’s a nasty smell in the stale room, and it’s heavy and hot. As her eyes adjust to the dark she can make out his figure sprawled over the bed, not moving. He looks dead but she can hear him breathing hard and when she’s able to see him fully, she can see he’s shaking. She sits at his side and rolls him onto his back, cradling his head as she does so. His face is stark white, eyes closed tight, completely drenched in sweat. She pushes hair off his forehead gently. “Sark. What’s wrong?”
His eyes open and they’re glazed over, unfocused. He opens his mouth to speak, but no sound comes out. She recognizes his look and rolls him over, grabs the plastic container under the desk in time for him to retch. She strokes his back and head, tries to calm his violent shaking. When he’s done, he rolls back and lays his head in her stomach. His skin is on fire, burning under her touch. His chest jerks with dry sobs and she can feel hot tears seep through her clothing. “Shhh, shhh,” she hums, laying him down again. His arms grab at her but he’s weak and worn out and he whimpers when she stands. “I’ll be right back,” she promises, cool fingers pressing his brow. She’s seen this before and she knows what has to be done, how she must soothe him. It’s never easy the first few times; it is a treatment that takes getting used to.
She quickly hurries through the halls, to the main room, across to the nurses’ station. Katie’s sitting at a far table, typing quietly on a computer. “I need a basin of water and a cloth, now,” she demands.
“Sydney, it’s past midnight. Go to bed.”
“No! Sark’s sick and none of you are helping him! Give me the fucking things or I’ll come back there and get them.”
“Don’t tell me what to do,” Katie’s cheeks are red, but she still doesn’t look up. “You go to bed, I’ll get someone to look after this.”
Sydney picks up a ceramic covered box of Kleenex and hurls it atthe woman. Katie manages to look up and move her head before it hits her. The box cover smashes, pieces flying everywhere. “Jesus Christ, Sydney!”
“This isn’t a game! Get off your ass NOW before I…”
She turns, gasps. He’s half propped against the wall, reaching his arm out blindly. She can see his head sagging forward. She runs over to him, catches his weight before he falls to the floor. He’s mumbling words incoherently as she slides her arms under his and lifts him up. “You shouldn’t be out of bed, you can’t even stand.” She half-walks, half-drags him to her room because it’s closer and cooler and doesn’t have that stale smell from him being sick. She lays him down carefully on her bed. He wraps an arm around her waist to hold her to him, but he begins to thrash, moaning in pain. There’s another presence in the room and Sydney turns her head to see Katie staring at him, eyes wide.
“Go get that stuff!” Sydney yells, raising her arm in a furious gesture. The nurse runs off and Sydney concentrates on holding him down so he doesn’t injure himself. He’s crying again, but lies still, only trembling a little now and she wipes his face with her palm. An orderly comes back with a bowl and washcloth, plus a jug and glass filled with icy water. He sets them on her desk, then closes the door to put them back in the darkness. Sydney shifts, sits at the head of the bed with his head cradled in her lap. She wets the cloth, wrings it out, lays it across his forehead. The cool water soothes his tremors and a small sigh escapes him. His tongue darts out and licks the dry lips. “Do you want some water?”
“Yes.” His voice is harsh, raw. She sits him up against her torso, pours water in the glass. She props his head up and holds the cup to his mouth. He drinks greedily, spilling over his bare chest, but he doesn’t seem to mind. He whines when she pulls it away. “Let it settle,” she whispers, laying him back down and drawing the cloth down his face. She can feel him relax into her, his heartbeat going down to a steadier rate. Her hands brush through his hair as she watches him fall asleep. She hopes tomorrow he’ll be able to tell her why he had it done. When she’s sure he’s unconscious, she curls herself up and gives in to her own exhaustion.
He’s still sleeping when she wakes up in the morning. His temperature has gone way down and some tremors run through him, but not the violent ones of last night. She’s careful not to wake him when she climbs over and gets up, changing into her blue scrubs pants. She gathers the supplies from last night and brings them back to the nurses’ desk, hands them over. Val comes out to meet her. “I hear we had some problems last night.”
Sydney glowers at her. “If it’s a problem that I’m doing your job for you, then yeah. Other than that…”
“You’d been doing so fine, keeping your emotions and your actions respectable. Throwing that box could have seriously injured Katherine.”
“Like that would have been a big loss,” Sydney mumbles. “Look, I’m sorry for that, but she wasn’t helping at all. She’s pretty worthless.”
Val tucks a strand of hair behind Sydney’s ear. “Perhaps your concern clouded your judgment?”
“Is that so wrong? He was sweating, convulsing, completely in pain. I was the only one who actually cared that he was sick. Which is pretty funny, considering this is a hospital and we’re surrounded by nurses.”
Val smiles, touches Sydney’s arm gently. “You did well. I checked in on you when I came in. He seems fine.” She looks Sydney in the eye. “What about you?”
Sydney looks away, eyes swinging to her closed door. “I was so worried.”
She repeats the same words to the doctor later that day. He just nods, makes a notation on her file. “And I know that that would be funny, except it’s all changed so much, and I don’t know why. All I could think about last night was making sure that he was being taken care of and that I was the one who did it.” She looks straight at Dr. Ackland. “Does this mean I’m cured? Because I can feel something for someone else?”
He frowns slightly, rocking back and forth as he presses his fingers together. “It’s a good thing, yes. But you’ll never be truly ‘cured’ Sydney. There are deeper issues at work here, that we need to work at.” He watches her, her hands resting on the arms of the chair completely still. “You haven’t asked me if you could leave.”
She smirks. “Why bother? I know exactly what you’re going to say: no.”
“That’s never stopped you before.”
Looks down at the floor. “It’s all changed.”
“How? Tell me.”
“It’s…he acts so much like he needs me.”
“And do you need him? Sark was coping just fine before you came. Does the attention he gives you, the time he spends with you, is it something you could do without?”
“I don’t know! I just…I don’t know. It’s so impossible to try to explain. It’s like a surreal world; it’s all been like that since I came back, like I’ve stepped through the looking glass somehow. The people that needed me the most don’t, and I don’t need them anymore, and one who couldn’t care less…” She trails off.
“Do you want to stay here?”
“Why did you give him electroshock?”
“He asked for it to be done.”
“I can’t tell you; that’s privileged.”
“He hasn’t shown any reason for needing it.”
“How can you be so sure?”
She looks up at this, meets his inquiring gaze. “I’ve spent almost 24 hours a day with him for quite a few weeks. I think I would know if he needed it,” she replies quietly.
Dr. Ackland keeps the stare. “If you had the option of leaving, of going home and being taken care of there or staying here, what choice would you make?”
She blinks slowly, bites her lower lip, and sucks in a deep breath.
Sydney and Sark sit on the floor of her room, the checkerboard between them. She’s leaning on one arm watching him contemplate his next move. “Come on, Sark, there’s only one move you can make. You jump my guy and then I jump the rest of yours. You have no other options. Hurry up.”
He lifts his head, cocks an eyebrow. “I always have options, Sydney.” With those words he jumps her piece, makes an illegal corner move and ends up at her end of the board. “King me.”
“No! You cheated; you can’t make a corner jump.”
“Oh Sydney darling, stop whining because I’m winning.”
She growls and launches herself over to strike his chest with playful punches. He lands on his back and grasps her wrists, drags her over so she’s sprawled on top of him. She puts up a light struggle, but he’s not really holding her that tight and she’s not really trying to get away. He laughs, his eyes glowing, when she slips a hand from his grip and clutches a checker tile, balances it on the tip of his nose. She picks up another one, then another. She has a good tower going on before he shakes his head furiously and the tiles go flying. “Hey!” she shrieks.
She’s mussing up his long hair when someone clears their throat and they look up. Val’s smiling down at them amused. “You have a visitor, Sydney.”
She sits up, pushes her hair back. “I don’t want to see them, I said no visitors.”
“It’s your father.” Val turns and leaves.
Sydney looks down at the man she’s sitting on. He smiles, lifts his hand and gently chucks her chin in a familiar manner. Her fingers trace down his cheek. “I’ll be back.”
She walks down to the one part of the ward she’s never had reason to visit. It’s a large room with tables and chairs. Jack Bristow sits quietly at one in the corner, draped in his customary long coat. When she comes in he stands hesitantly, waits to see what she’ll do. She stands in front of him. “Dad,” she says quietly.
“Sydney. You’re…looking well.” He looks relieved. “Um, please, sit down.” They face each other, not talking for a minute.
“Why are you here? What’s wrong?” She knows he wouldn’t come visit unless there was trouble.
He crosses his hands on the table. “Dr. Ackland has been informing me of your progress. He tells me that you’re improving in many ways.”
She nods. “He’s also told you about Sark and I.”
“But you already would have known that.”
“Because you knew he was here. You knew where I was for those two years. You’ve known everything all this time and you didn’t bother telling me.”
He doesn’t answer and he at least has the good grace to look ashamed. She watches his face contort with conflicting emotions. He finally looks up at her and she sees how sad his eyes are. The wrinkles around them are deeper. His hair has more gray to it that usual and there’s a noticeable slump in the usually poker-straight shoulders. He’s old now, and tired and he’s letting her see it. She reaches over and covers his hands with one of hers, smiling softly.
“I am sorry Sydney.”
She cocks her head to the side. “Why keep it a secret? Why couldn’t you…maybe all of this could have been avoided.”
“There were reasons. Reasons that now seem so ridiculous, but at the time…I was just trying to protect you.”
She frowns a bit, not really that upset but curious. “Can you tell me now? Please. It’s important that I know something.” She takes a deep breath. “What happened to me two years ago?”
Jack sits up a little straighter. “First of all, it wasn’t two years, it was three.”
Her eyes widen, but she doesn’t interrupt.
“You never disappeared the night you fought the woman who doubled Francie. After you passed out, Vaughn had come by, apparently because you were going away with him. He found you and Will and called the ambulance, Kendall and I. Physically you were fine, only superficial damages, but…mentally something had changed. It was slow in coming, but you began to act erratically in certain situations. They sent you to Dr. Barnett, but you wouldn’t cooperate with her. That’s when I first took you to Dr. Ackland. He was able to help a bit. His thought was that having to kill someone with the face of a person you love made you despise yourself even more. There were other factors as well: your friend Will had started drinking in excess and I suspected that Agent Vaughn was having an affair. It was confirmed when he was married so soon after your ‘death’. Michael Vaughn was just a little boy who was never good enough for you anyway.
“It had been a year of troubles when you were gone again. The same night you disappeared, Sark was broken out of prison in an elaborate scheme. You had been working that night and were seen down there, so the idea was that Irina had kidnapped you and broken Sark out at the same time. I wanted to believe that so badly, but I had been keeping tabs on you. Somehow during those months Irina got a hold of you and convinced you to help her with the jailbreak. When it happened, you decided to leave with her. The CIA did a sub-standard job searching for you so I used my own methods to find you.
“After two trying weeks I managed to track you to a safehouse of Irina’s in Austria. When I entered, I knew something was wrong; there were no guards around and the place was completely dark. I almost left because the place was empty, but I found one room locked. When I kicked the door down, I found Irina lying dead on the floor, stabbed many times. You were curled up in the corner, mumbling inanities to yourself. You were covered in blood and filth and several open wounds that were festering. You had a small knife beside you, and I assumed you had inflicted them on yourself. Sark was sitting with you, your head on his lap. It was apparent that you all had been in there for many days. When I tried to touch you, you started screaming and thrashing around. Sark nearly tried to kill me with the knife. He was insane, yelling things about demons and he was shaking violently.”
Sydney nods in assent. “Paranoid schizophrenia, right?”
Jack looks impressed. “A very rare form, yes. He’s had it since childhood, but it could be controlled with the right type of medication, so much so that he’s almost normal. That’s why he was such a perfect asset for Irina: coupled with his sociopathy, he was the perfect agent, a dangerous killer without any sense of remorse or any feeling for people. But the CIA knew nothing and almost a year without his medication made him even more dangerous, something Irina hadn’t counted on. I still don’t know if you killed her in self-defense or he killed her defending you.
“I couldn’t take you back to the CIA. I had to sedate both of you and took you to a special facility in Switzerland that I could trust. Since you two refused to be separated, you were put in a special ward together. Your doctor there informed me that both of you would be unable to be released back without supervised care, so we figured the best decision was for you two to stay and you agreed. There was little at home for you anyway. I visited once a month, watched you improve. You were almost the same Sydney that I remembered. Sark was much the same; only in your presence, he was controlled. I didn’t like your relationship, but it was healthier for you. I never tried to stop it in anyway, I just asked to doctor to add birth control with your drugs.”
She blushes at that, embarrassed that her father would know such an intimate fact about her, that he would do something about it. “But if I was fine, how come I can’t remember?”
“An accident on the doctor’s part. You were taken in for electroshock therapy because of a filing mistake. When you awoke, you couldn’t remember anything, so you escaped. They contacted me immediately, but there was no trace of you. I had thought you would be dead until you turned up in Hong Kong. My guess is you ran until you passed out and when you woke up, the last thing you could remember was fighting Allison Doren, your last most traumatic memory.”
“So why didn’t you take me back? It was obvious that I needed to be here.”
“Sydney, if I had taken you to a mental facility and left you with Sark, you wouldn’t have understood. Even if I explained about your two years, there was no reason for you to believe me. All we could do was hope you’d recover your memories, or…”
“Or wait for me to start hurting myself again.” She sighs, hot tears prickling the corner of her eyes.
“Perhaps it wasn’t the best idea, but you can see now why I did it. When you came home I brought Sark over here and had him commit himself to this place, because I knew you would be coming here after a certain time. I paid a great deal to allow him lots of privileges, because I didn’t know how he would act without you around. I assumed that he cooperated because he knew you’d come back.”
“So you approve of him?”
“In a way, yes. For some reason, he is able to…keep you normal, for lack of a better term. I can see it even after you’ve been here for all this time; you seem to be happy. I can’t do that, no one else can do that, and that’s all I wish for you, Sydney.”
She places her hands in his. “It’s…it’s okay, Dad.”
“I wish I could take you home, but I can’t take care of you.”
“I know. And…I want to stay here.”
He nods, a small smile on his face. “I should go.”
She stands with him. “Thank you for coming. I wish you’d visit more.” She steps forward and wraps her arms around his neck. He returns her hug, holding her tightly to him. “I’ll be okay.”
He steps back, nods and touches the dampness in his eyes. “I love you, Sydney.”
“I love you too, Dad.”
He hugs her again briefly, then she watches him leave, wiping at her own tears. She stands there for a while thinking, before going back to her own room. Sark’s lounging on her bed reading a novel, but he smiles when she comes in and crawls in next to him. “Everything all right with Daddy?” he asks, but his tone is teasing, light. She doesn’t answer, but pulls him down to kiss her softly. He tosses the book on the desk and wraps his arms around her, holding her to him.
And that’s how it ends for Agent Sydney Bristow, one of the best agents of the CIA: wrapped in the arms of a man who was once her enemy, in a mental facility. She learns to never dwell on the ‘what ifs’, never to wonder what her life would have been like if she didn’t have this imbalance in her brain. She doesn’t think about the people she once tried so hard to please, the ones who she had loved the most and had ended up hurting her.
Sometimes she thinks about her future. She might get out one day, but it’s improbable right now, something she shouldn’t put hope in. Whatever happens she has to include Sark in her thoughts, because he will be there with her. Perhaps they can’t have a normal relationship, never get married in a big church or have children and a house and a ‘normal’ life, but they need each other in here as much as they would out there.
It might not be agape, but she makes him feel and he gives her reason to live and that’s good enough for her now.