Stop stealing my LJ! (auchic) wrote,
Stop stealing my LJ!

Chapter 22

Chapter 22

Coming home should never be painful, Sydney mused as she unlocked her door and hauled her bags in. She looked around her apartment and sighed. Everything was exactly the way she had left it, but the space was no longer comforting for her. Right now she’d give up everything she owned to be back in that small cabin in the middle of nowhere, wrapped in Sark’s arms. It had only been 10 hours since she left and she missed him desperately. She’d vowed on the plane not to think about him, but that proved impossible.

To get her mind off of it, she began the task of unpacking and getting resettled into her home. When she got into the bedroom, she was surprised to find a large bouquet of colourful Gerber daisies sitting on her bureau. Dropping her stuff, she smoothed her fingers over the petals and picked up the card leaning on the vase.

To my favourite agent girl; something to put that beautiful smile on your face

She couldn’t help but break into a huge grin at that, tucking her hair behind her ears shyly. The message was so perfect.

“That’s what I’m talking about,”

“Eric!” She turned and hugged the man standing in her doorway. “These are so wonderful! How did you know that I was coming home early?”

“Your dad called me, asked me to get your place all ready for you to come back. Since this place has become like my second home lately, I had to do some major cleaning.”

Sydney scowled. “I gave you a key for emergencies only, not to take advantage and move in whenever I’m not around. Besides, your apartment is just as nice! Why come to mine? It’s not like I had food to tempt you.”

“I can’t help it. Your bed is so much softer and smells better than mine. Plus, I think I’ve grown addicted to those pretty bath oils in your bathroom. They make my skin petal soft.”

She burst out laughing at that. “You’re just playing with me, aren’t you?’

“Yeah,” he said sheepishly. “Don’t worry, your apartment’s virtue is safe. I did not violate it with my presence.” He picked up her biggest suitcase and hauled it up onto the bed. “Jesus, what do you have in here, Bristow, rocks?”

“It’s because of all the heavy winter clothes I had to pack to stay warm.” Weiss gave her an incredulous look. “What?” she asked.

“You packed all this stuff, then never wore them because of all the time you spent staying warm another way.”

She gave him a wicked smile. “Jealous?”

“Of you? Definitely. Julian’s such a dreamboat.”

Sydney fell back on her bed laughing. She had missed her friend’s odd sense of humour and playfulness. He shoved the suitcase aside and sat down next to her. “It’s good to hear you laugh again.”

She smiled up at him. “I laugh a lot. You just weren’t around to hear it.”

He chuckled. “Seriously, Syd, how are you doing? This is just one more stupid thing in your life that you don’t need to deal with right now. I mean, man, why does everything happen to you?”

“I ask that all the time, Eric. But I’ll be good, okay? I just need you and Dad to be with me during all of this, people who I can talk to and lean on.”

He smiled reassuredly at her, then helped her unpack. After she changed and settled in, Weiss went out and picked up some Thai food for them. They had sat around her kitchen, eating and joking around. Sydney appreciated his endeavor to distract her.

When he left, she systematically turned off all the lights and climbed into her bed. She knew that this would be the hardest part, to lay back in her bed without his arms around her or his body draped over her back. Tears came to her eyes, but she swiped them away. She’d cried enough for them now; there was no use in pining away over something she couldn’t have right now. She rolled over, wrapped the blankets around her and tried to forget how empty her bed felt without Sark.


She didn’t know if it was because she missed having Sark around all the time, but her daily life no longer had any appeal for her. At first she blamed it on missing him so much, but once she settled more into her routine and worked on making everything go back to normal, she realized it wasn’t life without him that she disliked; it was life in general. Everything had changed without informing her. Again.

Her return to the Ops Center was uneventful. She was welcomed back with guarded smiles and cautious hellos. Some people seemed happy to see her; Marshall had practically fallen over himself to hug her. There were a lot of handshakes, but she noticed more people bending heads together and whispering, their eyes fixated on her. When they caught her looking, they would move away quickly, but not fast enough. She knew they’d still be talking about her.

As part of her suspension, she wasn’t allowed back in the field, so they had her doing research and technical work. It bored the hell out of her. She had been looking forward to missions because they would help take her mind off of Sark, and what he was up to at that moment. When she was on a mission, her concentration was completely fixed on the tasks at hand. But sitting in front of a computer or with files spread in front of her, her mind would wander. Certain facts or names or places that she’d read about would bring to mind some memory of Sark. She missed him so damned much, it was a physical ache inside of her.

Her nights were lonely. She no longer had her circle of friends in her life. Sure, Weiss came over practically every night and she loved him for it, but she missed the girl-talk she used to have with Francie. There were few female agents around her that she could get close to, but everyone was still avoiding her. The only woman who wouldn’t was Lauren Reed. The petite blonde would always make sure she was in Sydney’s line of sight, as if she was trying to show herself off. The worst was her very public affection with Vaughn. Whenever they were near each other, Lauren made sure they were touching in some manner, and she would pull her husband down for a kiss at least ten times a day. It made Sydney ill to watch her prance around, but she ignored them. If Lauren thought flaunting the fact that she had married Vaughn would bother Sydney, she was dead wrong. Sydney no longer harboured any deep resentment for Vaughn, but she didn’t have any longing for what they once had. Vaughn had been her rebound from the pain of losing Danny too soon; she’d fallen in love with an image, not a man. It had taken her disappearance to show how strong their love really was. She didn’t know what he felt about her anymore, if he still thought they could have a chance. She honestly hoped he didn’t.

She knew one reason why people kept talking about her. Weiss was the only person to stick by her throughout this entire ‘scandal’ and so of course people assumed that they were now dating. “Working her way through all the agents in the office,” she’d heard one day passing by the coffee room. She had almost stormed in there and went ballistic on the speaker, but Weiss’s calm hand on her arm held her back. Later he had told her that he didn’t care what people said about them; they knew the truth. She loved him for being there for her through everything. She almost wished he’d been there her whole life, like a big brother. He was so wonderfully supportive, unlike anyone else.

She desperately wanted to talk to Sark, but there was no way for her to do that. She knew her father kept tabs on him and called him routinely, but he would never let her know what was said, or pass on any messages from him. She wanted to scream in frustration; her father got to spend more time with Sark than she did, when she needed him so badly. She understood that when the two men met, it was under clandestine circumstances and never long enough for small talk, but she wished at least that she could let Sark know how much she missed him, needed him, loved him. “That would be even more dangerous, Sydney,” her father had told her once, after a huge argument. “If Julian were to get constant updates about you, he might be tempted to try to see you, or contact you in some way. I don’t want to risk that for you.” She’d clenched her fists in anger, but she knew Jack was right. It just wasn’t fair.

She refused to cry about it at all. Weiss would ask her nightly how she was, and she’d paste on a smile and assure him that everything was fine. As part of her return policy, Dixon had insisted on weekly sessions with Dr. Barnett. Sydney has rolled her eyes with disgust, but she had acquiesced. She purposely kept the meetings vague and short, never really revealing much to the shrink. She often wondered how useful Barnett’s job was, surrounded by people who have been trained to lie and compartmentalize feelings. At first, it was physically painful to keep the tears from flowing, but she found release in working out, exercising until the knotty feeling in her gut disappeared. It was just easier that way.

Things kept up like that for about two months. She and Weiss were watching television, a large variety of snack laid out in front of them and Weiss was doing a running commentary on the hockey game. “No, no, pass you idiot…get it away from the net…c’mon, c’mon…NO! Oh, you guys, come on…”

Sydney’s eyes were fixated on the TV, but her mind was way off somewhere else. Watching hockey always brought back the memory of teaching Sark how to skate. She could feel her lower abdomen start to twitch inside, and she mentally planned to get some gym time on tomorrow. She needed another date with a punching bag.

“Syd? You there, Bristow?”

She shook her head briefly and blinked a couple times. Weiss had turned to her, touching her shoulder with one hand. “Gee, sorry Eric, I must have dozed off there a bit. It must be all the grueling work I do,” she joked.

Weiss frowned a bit. “What’s going on, Syd?”

She gave him a brilliant smile. “Nothing. Everything is cool.”

His mouth twisted a bit and the hand on her shoulder dropped to her upper arm. She cocked her head quizzically when his fingers probed the soft skin on the inside of her arm, then suddenly he had a small piece of the sensitive flesh pinched between his two fingers, twisting it sharply. She gasped and instinctively pulled back, but he held on, keeping his hand on her until she cried out and wrenched her arm back. She curled up in the corner of the couch and cradled her arm to her, wincing at the bruise that was already forming.

She couldn’t stop the tears from coming into her eyes. “You hurt me,” she whimpered, then burst into harsh sobs. Weeks of repressed longing uncovered themselves from deep inside of her and hit her all at once. She held her head and cried hard into her hands. When Weiss’s arms encircled her, she shifted away, but he held on, picking her up and setting her into his lap, drawing her deeper into his embrace. She tried to stay stiff, but his warm hands rubbing her back and comforting her were too much in her ragged state and so she threw herself more into him, pressing her head into his shoulder.

She cried until her sobs were dry and choking and her head felt heavy. She kept her face turned into her friend’s neck until her shoulders stopped shaking and her hiccoughs had subsided. He gently moved her back onto the cushions and wiped her face. “There we go,” he said softly.

“Why?” she whispered, still keeping her tender arm tucked away. He reached out and pushed her hair out of her eyes.

“I’m not sorry I had to do it. You were making yourself sick from refusing yourself a good cry. Don’t think you can fool me, Bristow; I know you too well for that. Even though you tell everyone else you’re just fine, I know you’re hurting, and you can’t keep pretending that you’re not. I hoped you could just be honest with me; I mean, it’s not like you’re keeping your relationship a secret from me. God, Syd, I can’t imagine how difficult this must be for you. I’d find it impossible. So I had to do something to let it all out for you, give you that release you needed.” He lifted her arm and traced out the large purple area. “Boy, and here I thought I’d practically have to wrestle some tears out of you.”

She sniffled out a laugh. “Maybe you just forgot that even though I can kick your ass, I’m still human.” She ran a hand over her face and rubbed at her eyes to clear them. “You’re right; I really needed that. I just thought it’d be easier not crying over something I have no control over. I just need it to be easy. It hurts so much…” she started to tremble again, but bit her lip and took a deep breath. “I’m really tired, Eric. Do you think we could do this tomorrow? I just feel like curling up in bed right now.”

“No prob, Syd.” He helped her straighten up, bringing the snacks back into the kitchen. He hugged her one last time before leaving and she locked up, turned out the lights and crawled into her bed. She wrapped herself in her comforter and let a few last tears escape before falling into the best sleep she had since she returned.


Another two months passed, but they weren’t as trying as the ones before had been. Sydney learned to lean on Weiss a lot more and it proved to be a more effective therapy for her. She continued in research and analysis, spent most of her evenings with Weiss, and fell asleep wondering where Sark was and if he was thinking of her at that moment.

She was in the kitchen washing the fruit she’d bought when she heard a quiet rattling at her door. “Eric, it’s unlocked,” she called out, turning off the tap and wiping her hands on a towel. There was no answer back and she frowned, then turned around.

Her front door was cracked open a bit. A strange chill ran up her spine. “Come on Eric, this isn’t funny.” Her words fell flat in the quiet apartment. She approached the door cautiously and poked her head out, checking out the hallway. It was completely empty. She closed the door and for good measure, slid the chain on after locking it. She shrieked when a hand came to rest on her shoulder and she spun quickly and lashed her foot out, catching the intruder squarely in the stomach. The person fell to the floor and before he or she could get up, she was sitting on their back, pinning the arms above their head. Her other fist came up to punch the person in the back of the head and knock them out, but a muffled voice made her freeze instantly.

“Christ, Sydney, this was not the welcome I imagined!”

“Julian?” she asked incredulously and quickly stood up. The person on the floor rolled over and slowly stood as well, one arm wrapping around his abdomen carefully. The light in her place was dim, but it was enough to recognize the unruly blond hair and the glinting blue eyes. “Oh my god, it is you,” she laughed and launched herself at him, throwing her arms around his neck. He groaned with pain when she pulled him hard into her, but she gave him no chance to draw away. She buried her face into his sweater, tears already soaking the material. “You’re here, you’re here, oh god you’re here,” she whispered, her hands clenching tightly any part of his shirt she could. His arms wrapped around her, stroking her back. She raised her head and pulled his down for a hungry kiss, forcing her tongue between his lips. The extra weight of her body pressing into him threw them off balance and they fell in a tangle on the floor, her landing on top of him. He grunted but she didn’t break away from his lips. Her hands came around between them and hurriedly started to undo his pants. “Want you so bad,” she panted around his lips.

He flipped them over and kissed her deeply again. His hands slid under her shirt, tracing her bare skin, then coming around in front to cup her breasts. She moaned with pleasure and yanked his jeans down past his hips so she could get through to his boxers. “Sydney,” he groaned when her hands wrapped around him. He ripped her shirt up over her head and laid wet kisses down her body until he reached her breasts. He teased her swollen nipples with his fingers and his mouth until she was writhing beneath him. “It’s been too damned long,” he spoke into her skin, nibbling along her stomach. “Too long. I almost forgot how perfect you are, how good you taste, how…”

She cut him off by pulling his head up to hers again so their mouths could meet. The kiss was so passionate she nearly passed out from the headiness. His hands were undoing her pants now, slipping in to stroke her through her wet panties. She arched herself up to him, grinding her lower regions hard against his hand. “More…more,” she whimpered. He pulled aside her underwear and plunged his fingers inside of her. She thrust up to him, crying out with pleasure. Her hands dipped into his boxers again and yanked his erection, causing his hips to jerk hard into hers. She was so ready to have him inside of her…

“Hey! Oh…god…that’s not…cool! Oh god, I’ll be traumatized from this!”

“Eric!” she shrieked, opening her eyes in shock. Weiss was standing in her doorway, one hand holding a gun and the other clamped over his eyes. Sydney frantically pushed Sark off of her and pulled her shirt down to cover her naked chest, then rebuttoned her pants as she rolled onto her knees. “What the hell are you doing here?” she blushed furiously. Weiss’s hand dropped from his face and he regarded her with a strange mix of amusement and horror. She turned over to see Sark slowly pulling up his own trousers and her face went even hotter. “Oh my god, you jerk!”

“Hey, hey, whoa,” Weiss held his hands up palms out. “Come on Syd, I’m just about to knock when I hear sounds of a struggle and the chain is on the door. What else was I supposed to think,” his eyes swept over to Sark, who was now standing and straightening his hair, “especially when I never suspected to catch you in the throes of passion because somebody shouldn’t be here.” He set his gun down on her table.

Sark extended his hand out to Sydney, pulling her up. She buried her flaming red face into his chest to hide it. He was dressed in all black, a long jacket covering his clothes. Her hands clutched at him, desperate to feel him and keep him close. His arms enfolded her and kept her to him. “Don’t make this into an enormous issue, Agent Weiss,” he spoke quietly.

Weiss just shook his head. “Why are you here, man? You’re supposed to be in Denmark right now.”

“Plans change,” Sark replied, twisting Sydney’s hair around his fingers and tilting her face up to his. He kissed her forehead, but didn’t break his stare with Weiss.

Weiss didn’t blink. “Did you tell Jack?”

“I will,” Sark said quickly. His tone made it clear that the conversation was over. But Weiss wouldn’t give up with that. His hand covered the gun on the table, but didn’t pick it up.

Sydney had been listening carefully to the two men talking and she decided to step in before there was violence. “Okay, I don’t understand. Eric, how do you know where Julian was supposed to be…?” Her voice trailed off. She turned rapidly on her friend. “You knew? You knew everything this whole time and you didn’t say anything? You just let me suffer all those nights?” she cried.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, Bristow,” Weiss caught her wrists before she could punch his chest. Sark’s hands gripped her waist and pulled her back. She curled herself back into him but kept glaring at Weiss. He just looked back at her. “Look, Syd, I’m not going to apologize for it. What the hell did you expect me to do? Your dad gave me strict instructions not to tell you anything and to keep an eye on you, and I am not about to cross that man. Jesus, it was hard for me to do, but it kept you safe and alive. It was necessary to keep you in the dark, but now this,” he gestured to them, “dude, you aren’t supposed to be here.”

“Christ, Eric, everything will be fine,” Sark hissed, his voice betraying his anger. “Technically I am in Denmark, sleeping peacefully in my suite. There are witnesses and photographic evidence that I am there. I’ve covered my trail to perfection.” He sighed suddenly, shoulders slumping. “I need this, damn it. Now please, just…don’t worry. I can take care of Sydney and I’ll take care of Jack as well.” Sydney hugged him tighter as she felt him sag slightly with weariness.

Weiss hesitated, then let out a heaving breath and wiped his face with his hand. He stared at Sark and Sydney for a long minute, then extended his arm out. Sark took his hand and shook it firmly. Weiss picked up his gun and turned. “I’ve been in bed all night, for the record.” He gave them a quick grin and closed the door behind him. Sydney relocked it and frowned at the broken chain hanging off the frame. When she turned back, Sark was laying back on her couch, an arm thrown over his eyes. He looked worn out, so Sydney simply crawled on top and snuggled her face into the curve of his neck. His arms came up to lay across her back and he kissed the top of her head.

“God how I’ve missed you,” he whispered, and she smiled, tracing his collarbone through his top. He shivered, but didn’t press her on further. She understood; he probably had to do some grueling traveling to make sure he wasn’t followed and to get to LA safe. It possibly didn’t help that she had practically mauled him a few minutes ago.

Her fingers danced up his neck and around it, flicking her fingers through the hair along the back. “I can’t believe you’re here,” she murmured, holding him tighter as if he’d disappear if she let go. “It’s like a dream. I’ve been wanting you to come so badly…and now you’re here.” She raised her head and looked him in the eye. “Why? Why did you come now?” Her tone was worried.

He brought a hand up and cupped her face, smiling wearily. “I needed to see you, baby. I know I’m not supposed to be here, but damn it, I hadn’t anticipated how difficult it would actually be for me. And besides,” he pulled her face closer and kissed along her jaw line, “it’s been six months since I’ve made you mine. I figured this would make a nice little present for the occasion.”

“You sentimental fool,” she giggled. “Honestly, I wonder about you. It’s like multiple personality disorder sometimes, being Mr. Badass, then turning into this sappy, lovesick Vaughn clone. I don’t know what I see in you,” she said primly.

Sark smiled evilly. “I guess I’ll have to show you how bad I can be then.” He rolled her underneath him and pinned her down, capturing her lips forcefully. She buried her hands in his hair and parted her lips when his tongue darted out. She rocked her hips up to him, trying to entice him further, but he kept slowly kissing her, his hands gently skimming up and down her sides.

“Julian,” she whined, her whole body on fire from his touch. He just kissed her again, effectively cutting her off from saying anything else. As much as she wanted him, she was happy just laying there kissing him, having him there at that moment. Four months of loneliness and pain all fell away in that moment and Sydney couldn’t imagine another time when she was happier. Without breaking away from her lips, he shifted the heavy jacket off his shoulders and let it fall to the floor. Her hands danced down his back and hooked underneath the waistband of his pants, stroking his soft skin.

A brisk knock sounded at the front door. Sydney groaned. “Stupid Eric,” she muttered.

“We’ll just ignore him,” Sark smirked. “If he wants to walk in unannounced again, he’d better be prepared.” He kissed under her chin and she shivered. The knock sounded again, followed by her father’s voice calling her name. She froze and sighed with disappointment. Sark raised his head and rested it against hers.

“You’d better go hide or something,” she whispered.

Sark shook his head. “I was going to have to contact your father anyway, and there’s no time like the present.” He smiled when her eyes widened in alarm. “Don’t worry baby, I’m quite possibly the one person who’s not afraid of Jack Bristow as much as I should be. I can handle his wrath.”

She frowned but followed him when his arms wrapped around her waist and stood them up. In the middle of her father’s third and more insistent knock, Sark undid the lock and opened the door. Jack did a double take when his eyes fell on Sark and his eyes narrowed until they were just thin slits. “Mr. Sark. I had no idea that your hotel suite in Denmark looked so much like my daughter’s apartment.”

“That’s quite amusing, Agent Bristow,” Sark replied dryly.

Jack just pushed him aside and walked into the apartment. “I don’t have time to deal with you right now,” he snapped and turned to Sydney. “Go pack a bag with enough clothes for a weekend. Quickly now, we don’t have a lot of time.”

“Why? What’s going on?” she asked.

“Just go,” he snapped again and grabbed her arm, but she wrenched from his grasp.

“No. I’m not going to do anything until you tell me what’s going on. And before you start, Dad,” she plowed on when Jack opened his mouth, “I don’t care about how much danger I’m in, or what a security risk it is, or any of the bullsh*t you’ve been giving me these past months. You all seem intent on running my life for me without letting me in on what you’re doing, and I’m pretty damned sick and tired of it. You tell me why I have to leave right now.”

“Fine,” Jack groused. “I received a call, telling me the police were in your neighbourhood, checking out a report of a prowler in the area, specifically on the roof of a building across the street. The police were unable to find anyone, but I refuse to take any chances. I’m moving you to a secure location, just until I know that you are safe.”

Sydney looked over at Sark. “Could that have been you?”

He rolled his eyes. “Why in God’s name would I be crawling around on rooftops?”

She glared at him. “It was an obvious question, you don’t have to be an ass about it,” she snapped.

Sark opened his mouth to retort, but Jack broke in. “Enough. Sydney, go pack now.” He pointed at Sydney and she switched her glare over to him, but his expression didn’t look like one she felt like messing with and she stalked off to her bedroom.

She was muttering curses under her breath at just about everything she could name and throwing stuff into the bag on her bed when angry voices stopped her cold. She couldn’t quite hear what they were talking about but it was obvious that Jack was not at all pleased with finding Sark in her apartment. Another voice was trying to be the mediator, but it sounded like it wasn’t working at all. Weiss, she thought wryly, her anger fading away a bit. She heard her name being yelled and zipped up her bag, deciding that now would be a good time to reappear so there was no bloodshed.

She found the three men facing off in her living room. Jack was standing perfectly still, his back unnaturally straight and his eyes flashing fire. Sark was about ten feet away. His face was completely void of expression but Sydney could tell he was livid. Weiss stood next to Sark, his hand on the other man’s shoulder, a gesture of restraint more than comfort. Looking back and forth between her father and her lover, Sydney was amazed at how similar they looked at that moment.

“Okay, I’m ready to go,” she broke the heavy silence quietly. She came to stand next to Jack, placing her hand on his arm. He didn’t look at her, but continued to glare at Sark. She could see his fingers flexing as if wanting to reach for his gun, and her fingers curled, digging into his arm just slightly. “So what now?”

Finally Jack looked down at her. “You’re coming with me.”

“Where are we going?”

Jack hesitated. “I’d rather not say, just in case.”

“Fine,” she pouted, crossing her arms over her chest. Jack picked up her bag and steered her to the door, but Sark stepped in front of them before they could leave.

“Either you tell me where you’re taking her or I’m coming with you.”

Before Sydney knew what was happening, Jack had dropped her bag and grabbed the front of Sark’s shirt, slamming him up against the wall. “Listen, you little presumptuous prick. Right at this moment I am so close to forgetting how important you are, how much my daughter may love you, how much you have done for me lately, and just blowing your balls off. I really don’t care how much use you are as a double agent; coming here tonight was the second most foolish thing you could have ever done. You do not give me orders like that. You can’t even imagine how much danger you’ve put all of us in just because you can’t keep it in your pants for a few months. Now I suggest you get your ass back across the Atlantic Ocean, as far away as possible before I rip your dick off and stuff it down your throat.”

“Dad!” she shouted, grabbing onto his arm. She could see Sark struggling under her father’s grip, moving his arm under his jacket. “Stop it, both of you. Eric, help me get them apart!” Weiss stepped forward and tried to help Sydney pull Jack’s hands off Sark, but he elbowed them away. “Stop it,” she cried, tears popping into her eyes.

Weiss firmly clamped down on Jack’s shoulders. ‘Come on, Mr. Bristow, let’s just get Sydney out of here. You can do this later.” Jack let his grip loosen a bit, but not before giving Sark one last push against the plaster. Sydney stepped forward and wrapped her arms around Sark, both for her own sake and to stop him from doing anything to her father. He gave Jack an ice cold glare and leaned down to kiss her possessively. She kissed him back at first, but broke away before it got too demanding for her.

“Stop it,” she whispered in his ear. She felt him tense under her hands and she pressed a soft kiss into his neck. “Please don’t fight with my dad, please. I don’t want you guys to do this.” She heard him sigh, felt him sag a bit, just enough for her to notice. She turned and looked at her father. “Dad…please,” she begged, holding Sark tighter to her. “Just…could we not fight it for this weekend? Please?”

Jack’s lips went extremely thin, his eyes still very narrowed as they swept over Sydney and Sark standing together. Weiss’s hands were still on his shoulders, ready to hold him back from any more violence. “Fine,” he spat. “This is how it will work. Sydney will come with me right now. Agent Weiss knows where the safehouse is, and he will give you”he pointed at Sark and snarled “the directions when I give him permission too. Do not try to follow us, or I will kill you myself. If there is any hint of danger, I will put you back on a plane to Europe so fast you won’t even have time to pull out that gun of yours. Do you understand?”

Sark nodded slowly. Jack yanked his shoulders away from Weiss and picked up Sydney’s bag again, stalking out of the apartment. Weiss followed after giving Sydney an amused look. She wrapped her hands around the back of Sark’s neck and pulled him down for a heart-stopping kiss. He responded hungrily, pressing his body hard into hers so she could feel how much he wanted her at that moment. She was so ready to push him into the wall, yank his pants down and take him right there when her father’s sharp voice called to her. She pulled back slowly and smiled. Sark grinned back at her and drew a hand down her cheek. “You’d better get going before Daddy comes in and kicks my ass,” he whispered.

She gave him a gentle punch to the chest. “I’ll kick yours if you screw this up,” she said seductively. To emphasize her point she slid a hand down and gave him a squeeze between the legs, then stroking his erection through his pants. He groaned and grabbed at her when she moved away, then leaned back against the wall and watched her leave. She blew him a kiss and he caught it.

She stepped into the foyer and bumped into Weiss guarding her door. “Sure you can handle the babysitting job?” she teased him.

He just arched an eyebrow and smirked at her. “Him I can handle. I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes right now. Your dad’s primed to hurt something.” He kissed the top of her head and slipped into her apartment, closing the door and sliding the lock into place. She stared at the door longingly then left the building.

Jack was standing next to his car, hands in his pocket and still looking supremely pissed. She tossed him an annoyed look and went to open the passenger side door. She paused when his hand came down and covered hers. “I would hope you don’t hold this against me,” he said coolly.

“You could have been a bit more evil, don’t you think, Dad? I mean, threatening Mr. Sark with bodily harm is so overdone. Why didn’t you just take a knife and cut his eye out or something, that would really get your message across to keep his filthy hands off your precious little girl.”

Jack gripped her wrist tighter. “You can be so naïve sometimes, Sydney, which is such a shock for an agent as smart and experienced as yourself. You still don’t understand the danger of this situation, do you. Your life is on the line here, as are mine, Agent Weiss’s, and your friends in Canada. If Sark wants to play devil’s advocate and break all the rules, he better be damned sure what he’s getting into, and I’d rather you be aware of the consequences of siding with him simply because of hormones.”

She yanked her hand away from him and took a step back. “You really think that little of me, don’t you? How the hell am I supposed to understand what fucking danger I’m in when no one seems to think I’m capable of taking care of myself? You are all treating me like I don’t know what I’m doing, like I’ll break down if you tell me anything. And I know you’re trying to protect me, but all you’re doing is making me think this is a big setup, that all you wanted is to keep Julian away from me.” Jack dropped his eyes at that and her eyes widened. “I’m right, aren’t I? I can’t believe you! God, Dad, I’m old enough to understand what I’m doing here! You have no right to do this, to manipulate my life just because you don’t like the decisions I happen to make! God, sometimes I just wish that you’d leave me alone, because I hate what you do to me. I can’t believe you don’t even trust your daughter.” She wrapped her arms around her chest, willing herself not to cry.

Jack reached out for her. “Sydney, just…let me explain…”

She stepped back further. “No Jack, I don’t think want you near me for a while. Just…just get out of my life and leave me alone.”

She saw his shoulders slump forward, but she didn’t realize he’d been shot until warm blood spattered on her face. “Sydney?” he frowned, his voice confused. She saw him jerk again, his hands clutching his stomach in pain and she stepped forward to catch him with her body. He opened his mouth and she could see something like fear in his eyes before his forehead exploded over her, covering her with blood. She screamed as his body fell heavily on hers, causing her to fall back onto the pavement and he on top of her. She couldn’t stop screaming, her hands clawing at his limp body, trying to lift it off of her and check him out. She heard yelling, then the body was lifted off of her and arms picked her up, dragging her back into the bushes near her building. She was still screaming and struggling against the person holding her back, trying to get back to help her father but firm hands wrapped around her waist.

“Let me go, let me go,” she shrieked, her eyes blurry from hot tears.

“No, Sydney,” Sark’s calm voice came into her ear. “There’s nothing you can do now.”

“No, no, no,” she moaned, falling back against his chest. “No, please…please…” She turned and grabbed at his shirt. “Please don’t tell me he’s dead, please Julian, please.”

He just cupped his hand around the back of her head and drew it into his shoulder. She sobbed hard against him, holding his shirt tightly and he stroked her back, cradling her body. She barely noticed when Weiss ran up to them, out of breath. “Man, there’ll be a team here in less than ten minutes. You gotta get out of here.”

She felt Sark nod and try to disentangle her from him, but she held on tight. “Sydney you have to let go.”

“No,” she cried. “No. Don’t you leave me too.”

“Sydney,” he cupped her chin and brought her head up to face his. His eyes were tender, sorrowful, but his mouth was firm. “Sydney. The CIA is coming. That means I have to leave, okay? I don’t want to, but I need to hide out somewhere, just for a while. I’ll be back for you as soon as I can.” He gently grabbed her wrists and pulled them off his shirt. He pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Eric, you take her.” She felt Weiss’s arms come around her and she leaned into him. Sark looked at them for a long moment before disappearing into the black night.

She sat in Weiss’s arms and cried, not noticing the agents who appeared minutes later, speaking into cell phones and running around, nor the ambulance that pulled up and drew a white sheet over Jack Bristow’s prone body. She cried and cried until she felt the sharp prick of a needle poke into her bicep and the sedative carry her away into unconsciousness.

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