Sydney had no idea what it was that woke her from her deep sleep. When she finally opened her eyes and blinked a couple times to orient herself to her surroundings, her room was dark and she was sprawled out over her bed, resting on her stomach. Besides her, the bed was empty, and she frowned when her hand passed over the pillows and found them empty, but a sound caught her attention and she sat up. Her door was cracked open just a bit and a beam of light was shining through. She sat up and waited and sure enough the sound came again: uncontrollable male laughter, coming from her living room. She slowly slipped out of bed and pulled on a pair of her pajamas before leaving her room.
She paused at the end of the hallway and broke into a huge grin at the sight in front of her. Weiss was propped up against her couch, head lolling back into the cushions. Sark lay on the floor next to him, holding his stomach. He was wearing boxers and his dress shirt. Weiss was still wearing his suit from the funeral, but it looked a little more wrinkled, as if he had slept in it. On her coffee table looked to be the entire contents of both her and Weiss’s liquor cabinets. Most of the bottles were empty and lying on their sides, but there was one 26 of her good vodka and two of tequila left. As she watched, Weiss picked up one of the tequila bottles and tipped it back, taking a huge swig. He coughed and slammed it down. “That’s rough stuff,” he choked out.
Sark raised his arm and pointed at Weiss, but he couldn’t hold it straight and it waved around in odd circles. “You and Sydney need to improve your taste in alcohol,” he slurred. Sydney hid her giggles. They were beyond drunk. It was priceless.
“Yeah, yeah, Mr. Pretentious $3000 a bottle wine connoisseur, we don’t all have 800 million floating around to waste on booze. This is the best our little CIA salaries can afford. So shut up and drink.”
“Hush you,” Sark replied, propping himself up on his elbows. “Pass that vodka over here, I’m needing some of that.”
“Yeah, I bet you are,” Weiss made a couple of grabs at the vodka before wrapping his hand around it and carefully handing it over to Sark. “Why’d you give her the ring, man? And Jack Bristow called you stupid before…”
“Hey, there will be no name calling from the likes of you,” Sark said before lifting the bottle to his lips and drinking. He swiped the back of his hand across his mouth. “And, and, she found that ring, so, so I didn’t really give it to her, but she found it and she said ‘yes’ when I asked her so I gave it to her and why are we talking about this again? I thought you asked about Sloane?”
“Oh yeah, ‘cause the little monkey man was there? Why was he there? I thought Jackie didn’t like him. Isn’t he still a bad guy?”
“Naw, Sloane’s no more a bad guy anymore than Michael Yawn is or was or…what?”
“But what about Rambaldi?”
“Well, you see,” Sark sat himself up again and tried to appear serious. “This Rambaldi guy, he was pretty smart you know. And, he put all these things together, and made all these little artifacts that I nearly died trying to collect, because he had this big plan. Because he was a prophet, you know. Anyway, he prophesied that if someone built Il…Il…that machine-y thing, but didn’t have the woman that he drew the picture about with it, it would print out a message of peace for all the world. See, this was so that if people who were bad guys tried to put it all together and destroy the world, they couldn’t if they didn’t have the woman.” Sark paused and scratched his chin. “I think.”
Weiss cocked his head and stared for a long time. “So…Sloane’s now a good guy because a dead guy told him to be good, but actually tricked him.”
“Precisely,” Sark said, then fell back onto the floor, laughing. Weiss joined him and they giggled like children. Sark took another swig from the vodka. “What the hell’s so funny?”
Weiss shook his head. “I dunno, you’re the one who was doing all the laughing and all. Prolly ‘cause you’re drunk and all.” He pointed a shaky finger at Sark.
“I,” Sark sat up unsteadily, “do not get drunk. I can hold my alcohol better than anyone I know. You’re the one who’s drunk.”
“Says the guy who can’t remember what he’s laughing at.” Weiss took a long drink from the tequila bottle.
Sydney decided to step in. “So, why are you guys flirting with alcohol poisoning?” she asked as she walked over to stand by the couch.
“Sydney!” Sark yelled, sounding completely ecstatic. “Look Eric, it’s my Sydney. I love my Sydney.” He crawled over and hugged her legs, burying his face in her knees. He looked up at her with adoring eyes. “I love you,” he slurred.
She reached down and stroked the top of his head. “You’re drunk, brat.” She began to collect the bottles from the table, recapping the ones that still had a bit of alcohol in them. She tried to step away to take it all to the kitchen, but Sark’s arms around her legs stopped her. “Julian, you’re going to have to let go.”
“Nooo…” he moaned, but she shrugged him away and he flopped onto his stomach. Weiss was stretched out on the couch, his eyes blinking rapidly. When she came back to grab the rest of the bottles, she pulled an afghan over him. She wiped a rag over the surface of her table, knocking a file folder off. She moved to pick it up off the floor, but some of the contents had spilled out and caught her attention. She bent down and opened the rest of the folder, flipping quickly through the papers. She sucked in a deep breath, shot a quick look over at the two men, then replaced the file on the table and hooked her arms under Sark’s armpits, lifting him up.
“Come on, brat. Let’s get you off to bed.”
“Mmmm, bed. That sounds nice. Are we gonna be naked?” he leered, and she shook her head in amusement.
She sat him down and lifted his legs up so that he was sprawled across the bed. She tried to unbutton his shirt, but his hands were trying to pull up her pajama top. “This is not the time for sex, Julian. This is the time for sleep.”
“I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” he grunted. She swatted his hands away and gave up on his shirt, pulling the comforter over him. He caught her by surprise and grabbed her upper arms, yanking her down on top of him. “You smell so pretty. My pretty Sydney,” he murmured in her ear. The alcohol on his breath made her shake her head in defeat. Eventually he would just pass out, so she lay in his arms and let him press wet sticky kisses wherever he could. He was trying to get his hands under her clothing, but his reactions were slow and it was easy to deflect him away. Finally she heard his breathing even out and his hands went still; she curled up in his limp embrace and closed her eyes.
When she woke up the next morning, she lay in bed and listened to Sark snore quietly beside her. The rain from the previous day had not let up and the sky was still gray. She stared out the window for a while before rolling out of bed.
Swathed in her robe, she walked to the kitchen and measured out coffee and water, then started the coffee machine. She smiled when she heard a grunt from her living room, signs that Weiss was waking from his drunken stupor. She dug around her cabinets, pulling out bread and toppings, waiting for the coffee to perk. Weiss appeared in her vision, bleary-eyed and rumpled. “Good morning,” she said cheerfully.
“Yeah, right,” he mumbled, stumbling in and sitting down at the table. “Is that coffee? Oh god, you have no idea how much I love you right now.”
She laughed. “It’ll be a couple minutes.” He groaned. “Mind telling me why you guys decided to drink yourselves to the point of teenagers last night? You went through $100 worth of alcohol last night.”
“Don’t remind me,” he yawned, laying his head down on her table. “I haven’t drank that much since college.” She poured him a mug of straight black coffee and handed it to him. “Thanks Syd. You have no idea…”
“Yeah, yeah, how much you love me, now let’s get back to the binge drinking.”
He gulped down half his mug in one swallow. “Well, I vaguely remember talking about funerals and…something else, then Mr. I-can-hold-my-alcohol-better-than-anyone suggested we needed a drink, which turned into a few drinks, which turned into many, which turned into a great big headache. Speaking of which, where is he? Doing his morning workout all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed?”
Sydney refilled his cup and popped some bread in the toaster. “He’s still asleep. I was just going to go wake him.”
Weiss’s eyes lit up. “Ooo…can I do it? Please?”
“Figures. I never get to have any fun around here.”
She smiled and mussed the top of his head before sauntering back to her bedroom. Sark was still asleep, his head buried into her pillow, so she sat down beside him, running her hand up and down his bare back. He stirred and she knew he was awake. “Time to get up, brat.”
“Oh god,” he groaned, pressing his face deeper into the pillow. “Please don’t speak. I haven’t felt pain this intense in a very long time.”
“Up,” she said firmly, pulling the pillow and blanket away from him. “I’m not letting you sleep off your stupid mistake. I’ve got coffee on in the kitchen.” She stood and threw a shirt in his general direction.
“Sydney,” he groaned again, but she was already walking away. She came back to the kitchen to find Weiss munching on the toast she had put in. “Excuse me, but that was my breakfast. All drunks have to make their own.”
“Aww, Syd, since when did you turn into my mother?”
She just shook her head and stuck another two slices in the machine. While she was waiting for her toast, Sark carefully walked in. He immediately poured himself a cup of coffee, then wrapped his arm around her waist and tenderly kissed her neck. “I forgive you for the nasty wake-up call,” he murmured. She slid from his embrace and bent over the fridge. Out of the corner of her eye she could see him frowning slightly. When she stood back up, she kept her head bent to her task, ignoring him. He came up behind her and bent his mouth to her ear. “Since when did my presence disgust you so?”
She turned and stared straight at him. His blue eyes probed her coolly, the question evident in their depths. She lowered her gaze and turned back around, but he caught her wrist and spun her to face him. “Let go of me,” she said, but he dug his wrist in harder. “Let go.”
“I thought we got this all out yesterday,” he grabbed her other wrist and held her from hitting him. She struggled and tried to bring her hands up to scratch him, but he pushed her back into the counter. “Stop,” he snarled.
“Let go of me!” she cried.
“Syd, what the hell is wrong with you?” Weiss came up and tried to separate them. She managed to wriggle her left arm free and brought it up, slapping Sark across the cheek. The ring in her finger scratched his skin and drew blood; he snapped his head back sharply and shoved her hard into the counters. Weiss grabbed Sark by the shoulders and yanked him back. “All right, both of you, stop it right now.” He moved to stand in between them, hands raised to mediate the angry couple. “Anyone care to tell me what’s going on?”
Sark was breathing hard, as if he had just been working out. “I’ve no idea.”
“Don’t give me that,” Sydney shot back. “I want to hear it from both of you; what were you doing with my father’s autopsy report?” Both men shifted uncomfortably, looking down at the floor. “And please, spare me the lies and the sob story about how you have to protect weak little innocent Sydney. I just want you all to stop keeping secrets from me! You have no idea what this is like for me. Just…please…” Drained, she let herself slide down until she was curled up on her kitchen floor. “You two are all I have left now. Please just tell me what’s going on.”
Weiss sank heavily back into his chair. Sark leaned over the table, bracing himself on his hands. “I asked Eric to bring me the information,” he said slowly.
“You did?” Sydney looked up. “But why?”
“Because I had an idea about who killed Jack and I wanted to see if I was right.”
“And…?” she bit her lip tentatively. He just stared straight ahead, not blinking. “You know who killed him,” she stated.
Sark straightened up and took a long drink from his coffee mug. “Without any proof I can’t say for certain, but the style…there’s only one person in the world who uses that four shot pattern to kill and I don’t believe in coincidences.”
Sydney sat up. “So why aren’t we out there doing something about it? Let’s tell the CIA, or better yet, why don’t we get this guy ourselves? Why are we wasting time talking about this when you know?” As her voice rose, she stood up and faced Sark.
He reached out and ran a hand down her cheek. “It’s not that simple, baby.” When she stiffened under his touch, he sighed and dropped his hand. “Look, I’m sorry, Sydney. Yes, I should have told you right away, immediately when I suspected, but you had other things to deal with and I didn’t want you going off on some grief-driven revenge scheme. I wanted to wait, maybe collect some details before I said anything. I only let Eric in because I needed the photographs of your father for analysis. Believe me, I want to protect you, but I don’t want to shelter you. Please.”
She stepped forward and buried her head into his neck, inviting him to wrap his arms around her. He did, pulling her close and kissing the top of her head. “We’ve all been a little crazy the last few days,” she murmured. “I’m just…I’m so overwhelmed with everything, and I’m tired. I wish somehow it could all end.” She let out a tired laugh. “And then I go and treat you like sh*t, even though all you’ve been doing is loving me. I am a seriously horrible person.”
“No, you’re not,” Sark replied. “You’re just a person who has a hard time trusting people, even those who have proved themselves to you, simply because you’ve been betrayed so many times. I knew what I was in store for when I fell in love with you. What was that you once said: ‘Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight?’ This is just our fight.” He lifted her chin and touched his lips to hers. She kissed him back gently and heard a grunt and the sound of a chair scraping against the floor.
“Julian, I don’t think Eric appreciates the gratuitous kissing,” she teased, turning her head to look at her friend.
“Yeah, whatever, Bristow, I’m just taking a bathroom break,” Weiss grumbled, standing and leaving the kitchen. Sydney stepped out of Sark’s arms and finished preparing her breakfast. Instead of sitting down in her own chair, she plopped herself down on Sark’s lap, surprising him.
“So,” she curled a hand behind his neck, “you mind telling me why you two drank your way through my liquor supplies?”
He smirked at her. “Yesterday was a rough day for all of us and sometimes drowning your sorrows in cheap alcohol is a good cure.”
“Oh.” She took a bite of her toast, leaned back against his chest. “I heard you talking about Sloane.”
He furrowed his brow, trying to remember, then his face lit up. “Oh yes, the great philanthropist Arvin Sloane and his Rambaldi message of peace. Incredibly funny but true.”
“So he’s honestly done with all this Rambaldi stuff? He’s actually a good guy?”
“Well, I’m sure if he ever found out about Rambaldi’s failsafe he would be upset about being tricked, but the chances of him finding out are slim to none.”
“How can you be so sure about that? This is Sloane we’re talking about, remember?”
“Because my dear,” Sark wrapped his arms around her waist and rocked her back and forth. “That part of Rambaldi was something only your mother had access to. On her death all her documentation passed to your father, and now it passes to you. Whatever you plan to do with all those papers is up to you, but I highly doubt that you would pass it on to Arvin Sloane.”
Sydney’s eyes went wide. “You mean I now own all my parents’ information about Rambaldi? Everything that my mother knew…it’s all mine?”
“Nearly everything. She left some of it in my care, things she didn’t want you or Jack to know about. But other than that…at this moment, you are a very rich and powerful woman, Sydney Bristow.”
“Ah, so that’s why you want to marry me,” she teased. “You want to get your hands on my money.”
“No, I have quite enough of my own,” he smirked. “I prefer getting my hands on some of your other assets.” He reached around and cupped her breasts through her shirt and she squealed.
“Hey now, no sexual harassment in front of the Weiss-man, capice?” Weiss wandered back into the kitchen. “I’m assuming this means you two kissed and made up?”
“Gee, Eric, you’re so observant,” Sydney said dryly. He just glared at her and tossed a file folder on the table. She picked it up and opened it, but quickly pushed it away when she saw the glossy photographs inside. Sark shifted her around in his lap so he could lay the contents open on his knee, out of her line of sight. “So…”
Sark just quietly flipped through the pages, occasionally sipping his coffee. The tension in the room grew as the three people sat around not talking to each other. Weiss broke first. “Okay, weirdness threatening to overtake the room,” he mumbled.
“Sorry,” Sark said, closing the file and placing it back on the table. “I was just studying the pictures, making sure I didn’t make a mistake anywhere.”
“Are you going to tell me something?” Sydney asked. “You said you know who killed my dad. So why aren’t we doing anything about it?”
Sark lifted her and settled her into her own chair. “I don’t know if there’s anything we can do.”
“But you said you know the person,” Sydney said desperately. “We can do something! He can’t just get away with it!”
“Look,” Weiss broke in gently, “why don’t you just start at the beginning and tell her what you know, okay?”
Sark slid one photo out of the file and laid it on the table. Sydney turned her face away as Sark pointed to it. “I suspected something when you told me Jack had been shot four times. There was no need for the overkill; the assassin had a clear shot of his head and back. There was no reason to incapacitate Jack, the only reason I could think of someone doing that was because of signature style and there is one person who used this pattern.” Sark replaced the picture in the folder and folded his hands on the table. “Her name is Michaela Ghent; she was a freelancer that Irina used occasionally. Not the best assassin in the business, especially because of her obsession with using the four-shot pattern. She’s sometimes known as ‘The Antichrist’ because she shoots in the pattern of the Catholic sign of the cross, except backwards. Two to each shoulder first, then one in the stomach and the kill shot in the head. It has to be her.”
“Couldn’t someone else have used that style to pin it on her?” Sydney asked.
Sark shook his head. “Assassins pride themselves on originality; I highly doubt that someone would steal it, especially since it’s known to be Michaela’s. No, this has to be her work, but…it can’t be her.”
“Why not?” Weiss asked.
Sark looked at him. “Michaela Ghent is dead, killed by British SIS almost four years ago.”
Sydney groaned. “What? That can’t be true! You just said it has to be her!”
“I know, Sydney,” he snapped, then sighed. “Sorry. I’m just frustrated with this.” He lowered his head and leaned it on his hands. Sydney scooted her chair closer and wrapped an arm around his shoulders, laying her head against his arm. He sighed heavily again. “The only explanation I can think of is that she somehow faked her death, but that’s giving her a lot of credit. She wasn’t that good of a spy.”
Weiss grabbed the file. “I couldn’t find anything about her in CIA files, so she must do something right.”
“You couldn’t find anything because before her death, she had never been caught,” Sark replied. “That’s not to say that she was excellent at evading capture, she just didn’t do enough work to put herself in any dangerous position.”
“You sound like you knew her pretty good,” Sydney said slowly.
Sark turned to her, one eyebrow cocked. “Jealous?”
She scowled at him. “Are you giving me reason to be?’
He laughed and pulled her over, kissing her forehead. “Oh Sydney, you’d better not hold all my past infidelities against me or I might as well take that ring back right now. We met in Project Christmas training and we worked together a few times when I came under Irina’s employ, and yes, I slept with her. But she was woefully inadequate in all aspects, including her work, and she wasn’t worth employing other than the few times she was the only option. So to answer your question, I knew her, but just barely. It’s not worth getting uptight over such a little thing.”
“Whatever,” Sydney grumbled. “Do you remember what she looked like?” When Sark smiled again, she hastily added, “I’m just wondering, in case she managed to get herself into the CIA somehow, maybe you could recognize her.”
Sark sighed. “Again, you’re giving her a lot of credit. The woman I remember was a substandard intelligence agent; her greatest skill was marksmanship, which is why she was mainly used as a sniper assassin. I doubt she could have improved enough to infiltrate a government agency like that.”
“That’s not what I was thinking,” Sydney replied. “What if…what if she’s a sleeper agent? You said she went through Project Christmas; what if she was programmed only to be used in certain situations, that she could be totally mind-controlled and not know what she was doing? I mean,” she went on when the two men gave her perplexed looks, “they completely brainwash a normal person into becoming this assassin, but they’re able to turn her off and on at certain times. When she’s her ‘normal’ self, she’s really a liaison for the NSC, with access to CIA documentation, with a politically powerful father…”
“Syd,” Weiss stopped her. “I cannot believe you, you never struck me as the jealous type.”
“That’s not what this is about, Eric.” Sydney gave him an annoyed look.
He lifted an eyebrow. “Right. Look, I know you don’t like Lauren because she’s with Vaughn, but that’s not a good enough reason to accuse her of murder!”
“Okay, Eric, first of all, I don’t dislike Lauren because she’s married to Vaughn, I hate her because she’s a bitch, but that’s not why I’m saying this either! It makes a little sense, doesn’t it? The NSC is the one who are covering up Irina’s death, and all the other stuff that’s involved in this points to someone who has intimate knowledge about my habits, my relationship with my father, all sorts of CIA intel that no one else could know about. Eric,” she reached over and touched his hand. “Just…look at it as a possibility, not as a fact.”
Weiss stood up and began pacing the room. “This is completely insane, Syd. My best friend, married to an assassin? No. No way.”
Sark had been sitting quietly watching them, but he suddenly he spoke. “I take it you’re accusing Mrs. Vaughn of being Michaela Ghent?”
Sydney turned to him. “Did you ever meet her?”
“I don’t believe I ever had the pleasure.”
“Eric? Do you have any pictures of them?”
Weiss passed a hand over his face. “I have their wedding photo,” he said quietly.
“Could you please? I mean, just to rule her out,” Sydney pleaded. He turned away from the table and stared at her cabinets. Finally he nodded his head. “Thank you,” she whispered. He didn’t answer but walked out of the apartment, slamming the door. She winced and leaned against Sark. “Am I a bitch for asking him to do this?”
He slid his arms around her waist. “Your premise is so unbelievable, it’s somewhat…believable. I just…it does look slightly suspicious; accusing the wife of your ex-lover without any proof. I would just hope it is out of some rational thought and not jealousy.”
She frowned. “I’m not jealous anymore. Vaughn…Vaughn belongs in the past. He hurt me, not just by giving up on me, but he killed Simon, right in front of me. I don’t feel the same way about him that I once did.” She nuzzled Sark’s chin with her nose. “I just…have this feeling. It’s stupid, but…come on, there are so many coincidences, don’t you think? Or am I just losing my mind, and doing this because my mind is clouded with grief?”
“I don’t know, Sydney.” He pulled her close and rested his chin on the top of her head. She sat snuggled into him, enjoying his warmth and his strength. She looked down at her hands, fingers fiddling with the new ring on her finger. “Problem?” his chest rumbled under her head.
“It’s taking a little getting used to,” she smiled, rolling it around in a circle, then softly brushing the shiny diamond. “It’s really perfect, you know? The sapphires; they remind me of your eyes. And you don’t have to worry about being the jackass who asked me the day of my father’s funeral, because I wanted you to do it. I just never really expected you to actually ask me.”
“You would doubt that?” he laughed.
“It’s just a little weird, brat. It’s so normal, and we’re not normal; we’re angsty and sad.”
“I don’t want that anymore, Sydney. I want you to be happy. No more tears.” He kissed her softly, and she ran her hands up and down his chest.
Her door slammed again, and she drew away from Sark a bit. Weiss appeared back in the kitchen; he had changed from the suit he had slept in into a more comfortable outfit of jeans and a T-shirt. He held a framed picture in his hands, which he hesitated handing over. Sydney leaned over Sark’s shoulder to study it. Vaughn and Lauren stood together, he in the standard black tuxedo and her in a long lacey old-fashioned white dress. They were smiling at each other, looking happy and completely in love. Sydney couldn’t help but feel a little twinge in her stomach. She hadn’t known any details about the wedding until now. It was a little strange and she was sure a year ago she would have been wishing she was the one staring up at Vaughn so happily. “Well?” she asked quietly. “Do you…?”
Sark studied the picture a little longer before laying it down on the table. “Her hair had been much shorter and darker the last time we were together, but it’s her.”
Weiss clenched his jaw. “You’re sure.”
Sark met his gaze steadily. “I am.”
Sydney felt a cold hollow in her chest. Lauren had killed her father. Lauren. Vaughn’s wife. “Oh my god,” she whispered. She could feel her stomach churning. “Oh my god.”
Weiss went completely white. His hands were shaking as he lifted the picture up, staring at it but not really looking. “God. I mean, I knew she hated you, Syd, and she wanted to set you up for working with Walker, but…no way. I can’t believe that none of us would know this.” He stood up and began to pace again. “No. This is insane. It…you gotta be wrong, Sark.”
“I’m not,” Sark said quietly. “Mrs. Vaughn set up Sydney before? Why didn’t you tell me of this?”
Weiss quickly explained the tapes he had made for Lauren. “But that was just jealousy. This is murder. That’s a hell of a big difference.”
“Maybe the difference between Lauren Reed and Michaela Ghent,” Sydney said.
“So you want to work with the assumption that they are two different people?” Sark asked. “Like you and Julia were two different people?”
Sydney’s mouth fell open. “I don’t think Lauren would kill my father over a jealous rage! Someone must have set her up, programmed her to do it, or something like that. There’s no way she could be this assassin woman, and still work with us without someone finding out, suspecting something! Look, Lauren could be legitimate, and have no idea that she also has this life as this Michaela person, and somehow her father got her the job as NSC liaison with us, and someone is using her to do all the dirty work.”
“That could be true,” Sark admitted. “But even then, she’s still a danger until we were to find out who is controlling her actions. And it’s not like we can just go up to Director Dixon and tell him that his NSC liaison may be a sleeper agent who killed Jack Bristow.”
“So what do we do?” Sydney said miserably. “We know who killed my father but we have to sit on our hands because we don’t have any real proof, and we still don’t know who is behind this or why.”
Sark slid his hands up and down her arms in a soothing manner. “We know enough to keep you safe now, and we will find out more. Maybe we should go through your father’s papers; he might have found out something that could help us.” He kissed her neck softly and she fell back against his chest. He looked over at Weiss. “Eric? Are you…?”
“Yeah,” he said shakily, passing a hand over his head. “Yeah, just a little shaken. I mean, how am I supposed to go to work with her again, or how am I supposed to not say anything to Mike? This is nuts!” He shook his head. “We’re talking insane stuff here, and believe me, ever since I’ve met Syd and heard about this Rambaldi guy, I’ve seen some pretty weird stuff.”
Sydney leaned over and grabbed his hand. He gave her a funny smile and gripped it hard. “Come on, let’s get cracking on all the papers, and maybe we’ll turn something up,” she said.
The three of them sat around Sydney’s living room, searching and reading intently. Occasionally she would see Sark give a start, or Weiss would make a sound under his breath. She couldn’t blame them. Sark was right, she really was going to be quite powerful in the world of espionage now. Her father had documentation on everything: past mission debriefs, tons of notes that were probably taken during stakeouts, lists and lists of names of people that she had only heard of before. She probably had more information than the entire CIA. Suddenly she thought about all those storage lockers and units and her eyes bugged out. She wouldn’t just be powerful, she would be dangerous as hell, and in danger herself, in case anyone ever found out. She shivered. This was definitely an advantage to being the daughter of Jack Bristow and Irina Derevko.
They sat there for hours, the only sound being pages flipping and bodies shifting. Finally Sydney rolled her neck around, trying to get rid of the crick in it. “Well, I’ve gotten nowhere, and I’m stiff. What about you guys?”
Weiss looked up and blinked the glazed look in his eyes away. “I’ve got nothing.” Sark didn’t look up but his head nodded assent. She sighed.
“I think I’m going to take a break, go have a shower or something,” she said, standing and shaking out the numbness in her limbs.
“Yeah, me too,” Weiss stood as well. “I’ll be back in about an hour, okay?”
“Take your time,” Sydney smiled. When he had left, she knelt down beside Sark and ran her hands through his hair. “So…about that shower…”
Sark finally looked up at her, his eyes dark with lust. “God, Syd…as much as I’d love to, there are some loose ends I should tie up. As far as anyone knows, I’m supposed to be in Prague, and I’ll have to make some calls to sort everything out.”
“But then you’re done, right? Or are you leaving again?”
Sark turned to her and wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her into his lap. “I might have to for a short time, but nothing like the last four months. So don’t worry, all right?” He kissed her deeply, cradling her head in his hands. “I love you.”
“Mmm…I love you too, Julian.” She kissed him again, then squealed when he stood quickly, sweeping her around in his arms. “What are you doing?!”
“Carrying you over the threshold,” he said innocently, walking to her bedroom.
“We’re not married yet,” she objected. He just shrugged and tossed her on the bed, then jumped down next to her.
“Well, we can still consummate our relationship, hmm?” he murmured, undoing the belt of her robe and kissing a path down her neck. He sucked on her collarbone as he pushed the robe off of her shoulders and pulled her tank top off, exposing her breasts. He took one taut nipple into his mouth and sucked gently until she moaned. He swirled his tongue around in circles, driving her absolutely mad. She dug her fingers in his hair and pulled him up to kiss her. She ran her tongue across his lips until he parted them, then stroked the inside of his mouth slowly. His hands came up and cupped her breasts, running the pads of his thumbs over her nipples.
“Julian,” she panted when he moved his hands and yanked down her pajama pants. One hand slid between her legs and stroked her softly, finding her wet and ready. She bit her lip and threw her head back when his thumb found her clit and started flicking it back and forth. “You’re a nasty little tease, you know that,” she moaned, rocking her hips against his hand.
“Ah, ah, ah, no name calling…” he smirked around her shoulder. She could feel his fingers dancing around her opening but he wouldn’t go any further. She pressed down hard into him, but he moved his hand to trace circles on her inner thigh. “Now what were you saying about ‘tease’, my love?”
She grabbed his shoulders and flipped him over, straddling his hips. She leaned down and brushed her lips against his. “Two can play at that game, brat,” she whispered, then kissed him hard. She pulled back abruptly and turned around, reseating herself on his stomach. She pulled off his boxers and ran her hands down his legs slowly. His hard cock brushed against her breasts and she heard him groan behind her. His hands fell on her hips and tried to pull her back to his mouth, but she stayed firmly in place. She wrapped one hand around his dick, and ran her fingers up and down. He lifted his hips up to her hand and wriggled underneath her. “Payback’s a bitch, isn’t it?” she grinned, and heard him grunt in answer. She squeezed the head of his erection and slid her thumb over the small amount of secretion on it. His breath caught and was extremely uneven; her own was slightly hitched. Not wanting to wait any longer, she lifted her hips, scooted forward, and guided his cock deep inside of her.
Sydney immediately began to move, lifting herself up and down in a furious manner. She leaned forward and pressed her hands on his calves for leverage. His hands ran over her bare back, threading through her hair. “Sydney,” he panted. “Turn around. I want to watch you.”
She stopped, and turned around, resettling her body over his twitching cock. He rested his hands on her hips and pulled her down, thrusting himself back into her at the same time. This time they moved together, his hands helping lift her. She brought her own hands up to cup her neglected breasts, massaging them in a rapid manner. When she opened her eyes and met his gaze, she saw his desire grow intense, the light blue turning smoky and dark. She took over moving when he sat up and pulled her head down for a harsh kiss. One of his hands brushed between them and began to rub her clit quickly. She moaned and writhed furiously, gasping when one of his fingers slid inside of her along with his cock. He was sucking roughly on the skin between her breasts, nuzzling the perfect mounds and thrusting his hand into her bouncing hips, pressing down on her clit. She could feel her body rocket out of control with his touch and she threw her head back and screamed as she came. She shook violently with the force of her orgasm and felt the rippling pleasure burst between her legs. She ground herself hard into Sark’s hips and he cursed, then thrust hard as he came, his cock ejaculating deep inside of her. She fell heavily on top of him and he collapsed back into the mattress, wrapping his arms around her.
They lay together panting until he wiped her sweaty brow and kissed the top of her head. “Oh god, Julian,” she sighed. “That was…beyond orgasmic. I think I blew a few brain circuits.”
“I think I blew more than that,” he muttered and she laughed, licking the muscles on his chest. He pulled her up for a sweet kiss, then rolled her off and got up. “That proved to be a nice distraction.”
“Is that all I am to you, a distraction?” she cried, a mock-pout on her lips. He didn’t turn around and answer, so she jumped on his back and playfully bit his neck. He stumbled and fell back on the bed, crushing her underneath him. “I’ll give you distraction,” she said, and wriggled her body enticingly. He flipped himself over and pinned her arms down, his eyes sparking fiery blue. “Let me up,” she laughed. “I need a shower.”
“You’re a bad girl, Sydney Bristow,” he murmured, leaning down to kiss her heatedly before letting her go.
“Yeah, but you still love me,” she said. He winked and kissed her again. As he got dressed, she gathered her bathroom supplies. “So how long will you be gone?” she asked.
He pulled a shirt on and began to button it up. “Not more than an hour, I suppose. I’ll even go out and get us all something to eat, okay?” He grabbed his jacket, then slid his arms around her waist. “Have a good shower, but not too good, you understand?”
She giggled and twirled away from him. “Hurry back,” she said in a low voice, glancing at him over her shoulder. He smacked her ass with a growl, then chased her out of the room. She ran into the bathroom to hide and heard him leave, chuckling.
She washed off quickly under the warm spray, sighing with pleasure as her hands danced over her sensitive skin. She finished her shower and peeked into the living room. There was no sign of Weiss or Sark, so she took her time getting dressed, pulling her hair back into a ponytail. She smoothed out the wrinkled comforter and smiled wickedly, thinking about what kind of a ‘distraction’ she could hit him with later tonight. She heard the floor creak behind her. “Eric, is that you?”
A hand wrapped around her mouth and yanked her head back roughly. Before she could react, something slammed into the side of her head, sending her to the floor. Before she passed out, she heard a familiar accent. “Sorry to disappoint, Sydney dear.”
The sweet voice floated through her brain. “Sydney, love, wake up…” Her body felt heavy and smothered in blackness. Then something hard and cold snapped across her cheek and pulled her awake.
She opened her eyes slowly, blinking at the gray light around her. She was no longer in her bedroom, but what looked to be a large empty warehouse of some kind. She was tied tightly to a chair, her arms pulled painfully behind her and when she wriggled them, testing them out, she found they were bound by manacles. Something sharp bit into her wrist and she felt liquid running down her hands quickly. She shifted in her seat and hot pain ripped through her. She cried out and sat still, her breath coming out in short harsh gasps.
Cool fingers gripped her chin and suddenly cold eyes and blonde hair came into view. “Now, now, Sydney, you should try to keep still. You suffered many injuries that could be much more serious if you irritate them.” Lauren smiled, stroking the back of her hand down Sydney’s cheek in a gentle manner.
Sydney’s eyes flew wide open. “You…bitch,” she hissed, her chest heaving up and down. The hand stroking her cheek pulled back and slapped her, turning her head to the side. She cried out again and spat away the blood gathering in her mouth from the gash on her lip.
When she raised her head again, Lauren was standing before her, arms crossed over her chest. “Are you done with the childish name calling now?” she purred. Sydney didn’t answer, just glowered at her. “What’s the matter, cat got your tongue? Come now, Sydney, I’m really not such a bad person. We could have been great friends, you know.”
“You killed my father,” Sydney panted. “You’re not a bad person? You bitch! I swear to god, I will not let you get away with this.”
“But there’s really nothing you can do about that,” Lauren replied silkily. “You’re tied to that chair and eventually I’m going to kill you, so my secret will die with you.”
“And how,” Sydney laughed bitterly, “do you plan on killing me and getting away with that? Especially when they find my body tied to a chair? You’re not thinking as usual, Lauren.”
The blonde hit her across the face again. Sydney couldn’t help but cry out when the woman’s wedding ring ripped her lip open even more. “Like I said before, Sydney, you should mind your manners. You don’t think I would have covered all my bases, planned this out perfectly? Right about now, Michael will be checking his voice mail, and he’ll have a frantic message from his wife. He’ll trace my phone and come rushing in here to find you dead and me with a story about how Agent Bristow appeared at my door, ranting about how I killed her father and stole her life away, and then she drove me up here and was going to kill me, but I managed to wrestle the gun away and shoot her, of course, after sustaining a painful wound to my leg.” Lauren turned around and picked up a gun. “So you see, I do have everything covered. You’ll be dead and everything will go back to being normal, just like it was before you came back. Which truly, was the biggest mistake you ever made.”
“You’re insane,” Sydney seethed. “You’re fucking insane! Why the hell would you do this anyway?”
Lauren looked at her with narrowed eyes. “And they say you’re supposed to be the best of the best? Sometimes I wonder. You see, Sydney, sometimes the most complicated plans have the most basic of reasons.”
Sydney stared at her, then her eyes widened in realization. “You’re still jealous? You are insane! Read my lips, bitch: I don’t care about Michael Vaughn anymore. You won. Now let me go!”
“I won?” Lauren spat. “Oh yes, what a wonderful prize for me. I may get to go home every night with him, but I have to live the rest of my life with a man who spends his days staring at another woman, wishing he was with her, then makes love to his wife, wishing she was that other woman. I daresay I got the best end of this deal.” She sent a punch to Sydney’s stomach, doubling her over. “All you had to do was stay dead, and life would have been good. But no, you came home and he went right back to pining away for you. Even when you quite obviously moved on, spent your days fucking Simon Walker, he still mourned you, wondered what had happened to change you so much. My god, you stabbed him and left him for dead and he was willing to run back into your arms! I tried to get rid of you, tried to get you fired, but that didn’t work, and so it had to come to this.” Lauren wrapped her hand in Sydney’s hair and yanked her head back, pulling her face close. “When you’re dead, Michael will no longer be in love with the memory of his perfect agent Bristow, but will despise you for trying to kill me. Then, Sydney, will I have truly won. Of course, you won’t be around to see it, but that shouldn’t be a problem much. Everyone learned to get along just fine without you for two years, and they’ll be able to do it again. This time, Daddy won’t be around messing things up. I’m certainly glad I took care of that little issue”
“You’re insane. You’re so insane,” Sydney mumbled. “You won’t…you won’t get away with this.”
“Sydney, be a dear and do shut up. It’s getting a bit clichéd, you telling me I won’t get away with it. Now,” Lauren pointed her gun at Sydney, “it’s a shame I can’t use my signature style to mark you too, but that would be fairly stupid of me. I think one shot to the heart will do the trick, hmmm?”
Sydney kept her eyes open and unwavering, trying not to show the fear in her eyes. If this was how she was going to die, she wasn’t about to show Lauren that she was afraid. Lauren cocked the gun and Sydney swallowed hard. This was it.
A sharp sound came from behind her, the sound of hands clapping together. She saw Lauren’s eyes widen and a jolt went through her when the person spoke. “I have to say ‘Brava’, Michaela…or do you prefer Lauren now?”
“Sark,” Lauren said breathily. “Well, this is a surprise.”
“As much for you as it is for me.” Sark stepped into view, dressed in black with his long coat on, and a gun casually held in his hand. He gave Sydney a cool once-over before coming to stand close to Lauren. “It’s been a while, love.”
Lauren tilted her head up and brushed her lips across his, then pulled his head down for a long kiss. Sydney squirmed, wanting to tell Lauren to get her hands off of him, but kept her mouth shut. She desperately prayed that Sark was there for her. She saw him open his eyes and glance over to her and the look in his eyes made her drop from her stiff stance in relief. With one look he was able to reassure her that they needed to play dumb with each other.
Finally Lauren pulled back, breathing hard. “Oh my,” she panted.
Sark flashed his smirk at her. “I’ll take that as a compliment, seeing as you’ve had to put up with the pathetic fumbling of Michael Vaughn for the last three years now.”
“Mr. Sark,” Lauren simpered, “you shouldn’t speak of my husband that way. I love him very much. But a woman does have needs that some men just can’t fulfill.”
Sydney had had enough. “Oh, please, spare me any more of The Assassin Flirtation Hour. If you’re going to kill me, could you do it before you engage in any other disgusting behaviour?”
“Agent Bristow, I’d like to say I’ve missed that caustic tongue of yours, but I do hate lying.” Sark traced a finger down her cheek and she steeled herself against shivering under him, tried her best to look like his touch repulsed her.
“You’re really lowering your standards when you have to work with her, aren’t you Sark?” Sydney said sarcastically. “I thought you only worked with the best. But I guess two years in federal custody leaves you with few options, eh? Yeah, I just never expected you to work your way down the ladder so quickly.”
Lauren raised her arm back to slap Sydney again, but Sark caught it mid-air. “Now, now, Michaela, the more bruises you leave, the less credible your story will be. Let’s leave the lovely Miss Bristow alone now, shall we?”
Lauren glared at Sydney, but lowered her arm. “I don’t see why, I mean, I’m going to kill her anyway,” she whined. For some reason, Sydney had the childish urge to stick her tongue out at the other woman.
“True,” Sark smiled indulgently, “but you’ll be claiming that Bristow kidnapped and tried to kill you. The less marks on her and the more on you would make everything much more believable. ”
Lauren cocked her head to the side. “I hadn’t quite thought of that,” she murmured absently. Sydney snorted with derision.
“Well,” Sark explained, “here’s what we can do. You’ll kill her right now, then I will give you a few injuries so there will be proof that a struggle took place. And then,” he stepped forward and brushed Lauren’s hair off her shoulders, “we’ll be rid of Sydney Bristow for good.”
“Hmm,” Lauren smiled wickedly. “That works for me.” She leaned forward and pressed a small kiss to Sark’s lips, then turned to Sydney and raised her gun. “Goodbye Sydney, can’t say I’ll miss you.” Sydney saw her finger squeeze the trigger ever so lightly and she bit her lip.
Even though she had been expecting it, the shot startled her all the same. Lauren didn’t even have time to look stunned as she fell forward, blood already streaming down her shirtfront. Sark didn’t even glance down as he stepped over her body and moved behind Sydney. “Are you all right, love?” he asked, his hands trying to gently undo her cuffs.
“Just a little sore,” she groaned when his fingers brushed over the cuts in her skin. He picked away at the cuffs and they came free. He undid her bonds and caught her when she fell forward. He carefully wrapped his arms around her waist and stood her up, leaning her against him so she wouldn’t fall. “How did you know where I was?”
“I put a tracker on you,” he said. She gave him an incredulous look. “Don’t give me that look, Sydney, would you rather be dead now?”
“Sorry,” she said sheepishly. “I’m so glad you came when you did, though. I was getting a little worried.”
“You doubted?” he teased, then pulled her close. “I’m glad I got here in time too.” He lifted her head and kissed her gently. She slid her arms around his neck, but cried out when his hands probed a sensitive bruise on her abdomen. He pulled away. “Sorry, baby. Can you walk out of here?”
“Yeah, I think so,” she answered. He picked his gun up and grabbed her hand in his. They turned to walk slowly to the door, but a shout stopped them.
Sydney turned back and gasped to see Vaughn there, gun raised and pointed at them. “Drop your gun and get away from her, Sark,” he demanded, gesturing with his gun. Sark just stood still, his own gun raised at the other man. “Do it!” Vaughn yelled, a wild look in his eyes.
Weiss came running up behind him. “Hey, I…” he stopped short and looked around, eyes wide. “What’s going on here?” he asked.
Vaughn turned to him, his gun shaking in his hands. “I just caught…that bastard! He killed her! He killed Lauren, and he was going to do god know what with Sydney! Put your gun down, you fuck! Do it now, or I won’t bother bringing you in!” He swung back to Sark and took a few steps forward. “LAY YOUR FUCKING GUN DOWN RIGHT NOW!”
Weiss gently put his hand on Vaughn’s shoulder. “Mike, calm down, okay? Let’s put the gun down.”
“HE KILLED MY WIFE!”
“Mike, please, put the goddamned gun down!”
Sydney stepped forward. “Vaughn, there’s something you have to know. Julian was just protect-”
Vaughn turned to her. “Julian? Julian? Don’t tell me you’re fucking that one now! God, Syd, what is wrong with you?”
“Nothing is wrong with me, Vaughn,” she said gently. “Put the gun down. You have to understand something about Lauren; she’s-”
“No! NO! I don’t want to hear any lies coming from you or him!” Vaughn brought his gun up to Sydney’s face. “Maybe I should shoot you, huh Syd? That whole eye for an eye shit?” He stepped forward until his gun was pressed up to her head. “Think he’ll save you, Syd?”
“Mike, for God’s sake, stop this!” Weiss yelled and made to grab the gun, but Vaughn cocked it and pressed it harder into her forehead. “Jesus, what the hell are you doing?”
“Drop the gun, Agent Vaughn,” Sark’s cold voice broke in. He had stepped forward too, and his gun was pointed straight at Vaughn’s heart. “Do it now, because believe me, I will not hesitate to shoot you.”
Vaughn just stood there, his gun trained on Sydney, but staring hard at Sark, his chest heaving. Sydney was too afraid to move, and Weiss looked like he didn’t want to do anything, lest he set someone’s gun off. They stood at a standstill until Vaughn took a deep breath. He turned his head and his eyes met with Sydney’s. The green orbs were swirled with a myriad of emotions: anger, pain, disgust, sorrow. He blinked once and curled his lip. “Sorry, Syd,” he whispered.
Sydney closed her eyes and braced herself, but again, the shot came from somewhere else. She opened her eyes just in time to see Vaughn fall to the floor with an identical chest wound that his wife had. She covered her mouth in shock and turned to look at Sark. He still had that cold look in his eyes, but his gun had lowered to his side. She was frozen there, looking at him.
“Jesus! What the hell, Sark?” Weiss screamed, dropping down and turning Vaughn’s body over. He felt around for a pulse, but Sydney could see that it was useless; Sark had been aiming to kill and that’s what he did. “You fucking bastard,” Weiss spat, standing and pulling his own gun.
Sark didn’t look unnerved. “He would have killed Sydney, would you rather that, Agent Weiss? Put your gun away.”
“You didn’t have to kill him,” Weiss said. “You could have just shot his arm…you BASTARD!”
“I did what had to be done; put your gun down.” Sark raised his arm again and pointed it at Weiss.
Sydney stepped over to him, close but not touching. “Julian, come on. Put your gun away. Please.”
“Yeah, Julian, or are you going to shoot me too?” Weiss sneered.
“Eric, shut up and put your own damned gun away,” Sydney snapped. “Guys, come on, let’s get out of here.” Neither man moved. “Stop being so fucking stubborn! The CIA is going to be here soon! Julian, you have to get out of here!”
“No, no, I think we should let them come get him, Syd,” Weiss said. “I think he should rot in that cell for the rest of his goddamned life, or better yet, strap him to a table and pump him full of drugs, because that’s what he deserves.”
“Eric, he had to shoot Vaughn, or else I’d-”
“HE DIDN’T HAVE TO KILL HIM!!!” Weiss yelled, his shoulders shaking.
“Drop. Your. Gun, Agent.”
“You’ll have to shoot me,” Weiss taunted. Sark didn’t move. “Go on, do it. Do it just like you did to Mike and Lauren. DO IT!” His finger slid over the trigger, but before he could do anything, Sark fired. The bullet hit Weiss in the shoulder and he dropped his gun and fell to his knees. “Fuck!” he screamed.
“Julian, what is wrong with you?” Sydney cried, running over to Weiss. She fell down next to him and held him up, staring at Sark. He just watched them, his face cold and detached. “Answer me!” she said angrily. “Why did you shoot him?’
“He was holding a gun aimed at me, Sydney,” Sark replied condescendingly, his eyes snapping blue fire.
“He wouldn’t have shot you though!” she exclaimed.
“Do you know that for sure?” Sark asked quietly. Weiss grunted and shifted around in her arms, trying to get up. Before she knew what she was doing, she grabbed his gun and stood, aiming it at Sark. He sighed and shook his head. “Put the gun down, Sydney.”
“Or what, you’ll shoot me too?” she asked through clenched teeth.
“If I have to,” he answered quietly. “Sydney, put the damned gun down and let’s get out of here, so we can take care of his arm.”
She stood frozen, gun pointed at Sark’s head. “Sydney, this is not a game. Put the gun down NOW.”
She slowly readied the gun and slid her finger down to the trigger. In slow motion, she saw Sark quickly raise his arm and shoot. The bullet grazed her upper arm and she cried out in shock. She saw Sark’s face drop, but before he could step forward and reach for her, Weiss flew at him, throwing both of them down to the floor. She watched them struggle, Sark throwing punches, but Weiss bashed him hard in the head with the gun he had pulled from Vaughn’s grasp. Sark fell back and Weiss hit him over and over until the other man lay limp on the cement floor. “Eric, stop,” she whispered. He just kept blindly hitting Sark until she reached her arm over and touched his good shoulder. “STOP!” she shrieked, and he froze. She bent down and felt Sark’s neck for a pulse, sighing with relief when she found it, weak but still there. She slid her hands under his shoulders. “We have to get him out of here,” she said calmly.
Weiss stood and winced at his torn shoulder. The bullet had only grazed him as well, but she knew how much shoulder wounds could hurt. “Sydney…” he started.
“Just help,” she cut him off. He wrapped his arms under Sark’s knees and they carried the unconscious man to her car. They settled him carefully in the backseat, then Sydney slid into the driver’s seat. Weiss hesitated for a second before climbing in next to her. They never said a word the entire drive back. Weiss turned a few times to check on Sark, but other than that they sat completely still.
When they arrived at her apartment, they carried Sark and laid him out on her bed. She sat beside him and brushed his hair off his forehead while Weiss dug around her bathroom for medical supplies. He bandaged his arm first, then did hers, then bandaged the wound he had made hitting Sark on the head. The blond man never moved the entire time, and neither did Sydney. When Weiss was done, he sat down next to her and took one of her hands in his. “What do we do now, Syd?”
She stared blankly at the floor and he squeezed her fingers. “Sydney? Are you okay?”
“No I’m not, Eric,” she whispered. “I’m tired, and…I’m just tired of all of this.”
“I know,” he murmured, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “I know how you feel; I mean, today was just…”
“No, that’s not what I mean,” she broke in. She raised her eyes and looked him in the face. “Eric, I’m tired of being Sydney Bristow. All I ever wanted was a normal life, and now this,” she moved her arm in a sweeping motion, “puts me another step back from that. I can’t do this anymore.” Her voice dropped. “I’m leaving, right now. And…I’m not coming back.”
He looked down at the floor and nodded. She squeezed his hand one more time and stood up. She took a look around her room, at all her stuff, and wrapped her arms around her chest. She was going to have to leave all of it behind. She felt a tear fall down her cheek and she batted it away. Weiss’s hands came up on her shoulders from behind. “So…where’re we going?” he said, trying to give it a casual tone.
She turned to him. “What?” she murmured.
“Come on, Bristow, you think I’d leave you out there all alone?” he smiled. “Yeah, I know you can take care of yourself, but…another person looking out for you wouldn’t hurt, would it?” He gave her shoulders a gentle squeeze.
She choked out a laugh and hugged him. “No, I guess not,” she smiled, wiping the tears falling down her cheeks. He held her close for a few seconds, then stepped back and cupped her face.
“So, what do you want to do with him?” he gestured to Sark. She looked over at the figure on the bed and bit her lip.
“Just give me a minute, okay?” she whispered. Weiss nodded and left her alone. She sat back down and gently traced her fingers over Sark’s face. Her tears started to fall again and she couldn’t hold back the sobs in her throat. She slid the beautiful ring off her finger and gently placed it in the palm of his hand, wrapping his limp fingers around it. “I’m sorry,” she whimpered, clutching his hand tightly in hers. She picked up a notepad and pen and quickly jotted a short message, then ripped off the paper and laid it on his chest, pressing his arm down over it. She bent over and kissed him softly on the lips one last time before standing and running out of her apartment, not looking back. Weiss already had the car started and she slid into the passenger seat and leaned her head against the cool glass. “I’m so sorry,” she breathed one last time as they sped off into the darkness.