Five Years Later…
Sark took one last pull on his cigarette before dropping it and crushing it under his heel. He casually leaned back against the tree behind him as he exhaled slowly. He had picked up the habit when he had been with Allison, and although he had willed himself to break it later, occasionally there were times he would indulge. Today had been a perfect example: the sun was shining, the air was crisp, the breeze coming off the Adriatic was gentle, adding the tiniest hint of salt to the air. Italy had never been a country that frowned heavily on smokers, so he had said to hell with it and lit up. He wasn’t worried about dying of cancer, that was for sure.
He tilted his head back and watched the other people in the park around him. To his left was a group of old men playing bocce ball. They lazily tossed the heavy spheres and told each other dirty jokes in low voices, occasionally bursting into wheezy laughter. In the playground to his right a harried mother chased after a toddler who was enjoying his chance at freedom. A young couple was sitting beyond on the grass, eating lunch and talking quietly. Groups of men and women dressed in business suits walked by every so often, smoking cigarettes and discussing trivially important issues in hushed tones, as if there were corporate spies lurking everywhere.
Sark languidly pushed his hair off his forehead and stayed in his lounged position. People-watching was something he had rarely had time to do, so he took advantage whenever he could. He had just finished a simple job in Roma, and with no pressing business anytime in the near future, he had decided not to hurry back to his small flat in Bern and rented a car. He didn’t have any particular destination in mind; he had just felt like driving around and taking in the beautiful ancient country. Eventually he had found himself on the other coast, in the province of Le Marche, and chose to spend a few days on the beach. He avoided the larger Ancona and drove farther north to the small city of Pesaro. He booked a suite in a fairly new hotel just off the beach and spent the weekend relaxing for the first time in weeks. Being independently wealthy and no longer bound by loyalty to any one person, he didn’t commit himself to any steady job for very long, but he wasn’t one to travel and enjoy himself. He lived quietly now, preferring to be left alone. It had taken him a long time to achieve this sense of peace. And now, as he did every time he let his mind dwell on his life thus far, he thought of Sydney. The cause of everything that his life amounted to now.
Five years ago, he had woken up laying on Sydney’s bed with a throbbing headache. Before he was able to register anything else, his hand opened on his chest and the delicate ring fell onto his chest. His heart had nearly stopped when he picked up the note under his hand and read.
I’m sorry, but I just can’t do this anymore. I’m going away and I ask that you please don’t try to find me. I just need some time right now. Take care of yourself.
He had stared blankly at the note for a long time, his hands shaking slightly. When he could finally move again, he had tore around the apartment, looking for any sign that could lead him to her. She had left everything behind except for the countless stacks of papers they had left in the living room. When he had practically ripped the entire place to shreds, he wanted to collapse on the couch in exhaustion, but his survival instinct kicked in, and he knew that when the CIA couldn’t get a hold of either Sydney or Weiss, they would come by. He needed to leave. He had reluctantly pocketed the note and the ring and left L.A. an hour later.
He knew that the more time he wasted, the more time Sydney would have to run, but there had been more pressing matters that needed his attention. He immediately flew to Prague and settled Jack’s business there, finishing that project. For four months he had done Jack Bristow’s work, knowing all the time that most of it was just a ploy to keep him away from Sydney, but he had done it for her, so one day he could take her away and they’d never have to worry about this life anymore. It had pained him to be away from her, and when he’d had that chance, the long weekend he was supposed to be in Denmark, he’d said to hell with Jack and his manipulations. Fat lot of good it had done.
He’d driven like mad to Zurich and accessed the vault of things Irina had left in his care. Two days later, an anonymous tip led the CIA to a warehouse in Berlin. There they found the mutilated dead body of Mr. Sark, his hand wrapped around the gun that had killed Agents Michael Vaughn and Lauren Reed. Subsequent DNA tests proved that it was him, and the case file on their deaths was closed and Sark was removed from the CIA most wanted list. He had smirked in disdain the moment he heard they had proved he was dead. One of the most important pieces of information Irina left him was the information on the cloning procedures; specifically, how to extract a person’s DNA and plant it on another person. It had been Irina’s final plan, to plant her dead body for the CIA to find and retire in luxury. Just a shame she hadn’t lived long enough to use it, but Sark was thankful it was still important.
Three days later, there was a car crash in Northern Alberta, another victim of the large amounts of deer on the road. The remains were later identified as that of Julian Lazarey. The news barely made a notch anywhere; hitting deer late at night was a common thing. There was no one to mourn him except a cousin and her family. Sark had felt horrible about doing that to Anna, but it was the only way. Being there for her was too dangerous now, and even though he’d miss his family, he knew it was better that he was out of their life. He had left a will for her with enough money to keep them comfortable for a long time. His last little gift to the people he loved. As soon as those two matters were settled, he began his hunt.
He’d spent three straight years using every contact and method he knew to find her, to no avail. There was no trace of either of them. It was like they had literally disappeared. He’d flown to every continent, visited almost every major city in the world, used everything he had in his power to find her. He knew they would have to keep running, it was the best way to stay under the radar, so he tried to find a path to follow. He was confronted with tons of dead ends, but he still didn’t give up. He needed to find her, and he knew he would.
It took 1095 days of endless searching before he knew he wouldn’t find her. She was either dead or she didn’t want to see him at all. He remembered the night he finally gave up. He had just received a phone call telling him that his last lead was, again, a dead end. He’d hung up his phone and dropped into a chair beside the fire. Not for the first time, he pulled out the ring she had returned and held it between his fingers, staring blankly at it. He willed himself to toss it into the fire, to purge her from his soul, to finally get rid of her from his life, but he couldn’t. She had tossed him away and ran and he still loved her more than anything else. He had thrown every piece of information he had collected on them into the fire and proceeded to get raging drunk.
The next morning, he had restarted his life. The CIA may have been stupid enough to believe he was dead, but the majority of the spy world knew better. He didn’t need the money, but he still enjoyed the thrill of working and occasionally hired himself out for freelance operations, when the job struck him the right way. He was never loyal to one person anymore; after Irina, he was his own man and damned sure to make people aware of that fact. He bought a place in Bern and lived quietly and inconspicuously. Every night, whether he wanted to or not, he dreamt of Sydney. He would dream of finding her: bumping into her by accident on a street somewhere. His favourite fantasy was her finding him: knocking on his door one day and falling into his arms sobbing and apologizing. He dreamed about yelling at her and tossing her away the way she had done to him, but he knew that if he actually saw her, he would fall on his knees and accept her back. He couldn’t help it; he loved her too much not to.
Two more years passed and all hope died. At this point, he just wanted to know why. He knew that she would be confused and angry after what had happened in that warehouse, but if he could just explain to her, hold her in his arms and tell her that he still loved her…he just needed to make her remember the man that he is, because he couldn’t let her believe that he had changed simply from being in love. He was so sure that when she had had some time to think, some time apart, she would see that she needed to come back to him, and he was ready to accept her, but five years…he knew that she was gone. She wasn’t going to come to him. He had made one mistake too many and she couldn’t forgive him. He had sworn never to let anyone hurt him again this way, but he had let her in, given her his heart, and then he hurt her and ruined it.
The girl lying on the blanket with her lover laughed and broke his reverie. He watched the young man brush his girlfriend’s hair off her face and kiss her softly. His chest pulled tight and he looked away quickly. He’d be damned if he let thoughts of her destroy him. He pushed himself to a standing position and sauntered down the path. He decided to go back to the beach, sit in the sun and read something for a while. The weather was perfect for it. As he passed by the playground, a group of laughing children ran past him, darting around his legs as they ran for the swings. He smiled affectionately, remembering Abby and her enthusiasm for play. They chattered in furious Italian at each other and at the two women who accompanied them. One was an older lady, barking sharp commands at the children with a matriarchal air. The other was younger, wearing a long white flowing dress that swung with the breeze around her ankles. Her caramel-coloured hair was cropped close to her head and showed the curve of her flawless neck. He studied her openly, enjoying the way the dress clung to her body and showed off her lithe form. He knew no woman would ever affect him the way Sydney had, but he couldn’t ignore basic desires forever. He gave the woman one last once-over before starting to turn away.
The silvery laugh had him turning sharply back on his heel. No… he thought.
Five years hadn’t changed her a bit. Besides the hair, she was still as beautiful as she was the last time he had held her in his arms. He froze and watched her gather a small girl in her arms, stroking the child’s long black hair in a comforting manner. Her smile was completely pure and happy, no signs of the shadows that had once lurked there. He saw her eyes glow with joy and his chest constricted again, this time much more painfully. He gasped for breath and turned away quickly before she could spot him there.
He sat down on a bench and rubbed his hands over his face. He couldn’t believe it; after all his years of searching, he had finally found her. He wanted to run over and…he didn’t know whether he wanted to shake her silly or pull her into his embrace and never let her go. Either scenario would be perfect in his mind. He was just frozen by the shock of her actually being there.
He sat on that bench for an hour, watching her interact with the children. He just didn’t know what to do. He averted his face every time someone looked over his way, not ready to face her just yet. He wasn’t even sure if she would recognize him, if she even would be looking for him. She had given him up so long ago…how could he even hope that she would remember him. She had forgotten, he could see it now, moved on and made herself a better life. Was she married to Eric Weiss? Did she have a child of her own, a little family that she came home to every day? Was one of those playing children her own? Was she really happy without him?
Anger coursed through his bones. It was all he could do to put her out of his mind every second of his day and she didn’t feel the same. All those years wasted, trying to get her back when she didn’t want him anymore. His hands clenched into fists, then opened again. He wanted to throw his fist into the tree, scream his indignation, maybe throttle her to death, but he kept still. Eventually the group made to leave and he followed at a distance, his eye trained carefully on the flowing white dress. He would find her, and he would make her remember him, whether she wanted to or not.
Even though he rarely used them anymore, his surveillance skills were still top form. He followed them back to a school and loitered around until dismissal time. He waited impatiently until she emerged alone, a thin sweater over her bare arms. He trailed her to an aging apartment building near the beach. It looked like she lived alone, but he knew that Weiss would not be far from her, whether they were together or not. He doubted that the man would leave her at any point after following her around the world for five years.
He waited until she came outside, this time with a rolling basket. She headed off in the direction of the market, but instead of following her, he slipped into the building. The place was split into four apartments, two on the main floor and two on the upper level. The two doors on the lower floor boasted crucifixes and loud bangs behind them, so he made his way up the stairs. He paused at one door and after hearing quiet footsteps, he went over to the other and carefully picked the lock. Successful, he slid inside silently and closed the door behind him.
He stood in a tiny foyer with four doorways. The first one on his left revealed a small kitchen/dining room. To the right of that was a general living space with a couch, a small TV and shelves packed full of books. He couldn’t help but smile. Sydney had always been a voracious reader. He poked his head into the bathroom before pushing open the door to the last room. A double bed lay in the corner and a tall bureau was against the one wall. He opened drawers and cabinets and shifted through her stuff. She had few possessions, but there was enough to show him that she lived alone. He put everything back as best he could and went back into her living room.
He sat on the couch and flipped through a book that was lying open on the cushions. Looking more carefully around the room, he noticed that she had nothing personal in it. No pictures, no trinkets, nothing that most people would have around them. Save the clothes in the bedroom, the apartment could be a fully furnished empty shell. He strode over to the window and stared out as the setting sun cast shadows over the ancient buildings.
When he heard the sound of keys in the door, he hid himself in the shadows in the corner of the room. She was absently humming to herself as he heard her drag her bag into the kitchen. He stealthily crept up to the kitchen doorway and just watched her put her groceries away. She glided across the tile floor barefoot and pulled out a glass and a bottle of wine. He caught a glimpse of the label from over her shoulder and decided that now would be the best time to make himself known. He slid up behind her silently and bent his head down to her ear. “Sydney, you really must improve the quality of your wine selections.”
She didn’t drop the bottle, but she was suddenly shaking so badly he wasn’t sure if it would hold much longer. Her eyes were wide with shock, her mouth fully open. He resisted the urge to trace a finger along her jaw and push her mouth closed; he was still conflicted between being angry with her and wanting to hold her. He settled for pulling the bottle out of her frozen grip and setting it down on the table before giving her a smirk. “Miss me, love?”
“You’re…you’re alive,” she breathed, barely a sound coming from her throat. Her hands came up and clutched her dress over her heart. “You…you’re…you…”
“I’m glad I can still reduce you to one word sentences,” he said dryly, but his heart thumped painfully. The shock had withdrawn from her eyes now and all he could see was fear. She bit her lip to keep it from trembling and he could see a tiny line of blood appear. “What’s the matter, Sydney, aren’t you happy to see me?” he stepped closer to her, a colder bite to his voice now. “Yes, I am alive. I didn’t realize that information would distress you so much.”
He stepped up closer to her, but she darted underneath his arm and around him, running out of the kitchen. He followed her and found her at the apartment door, her fingers frantically twisting the lock. “No, no, Sydney, we’re not running away this time,” he wrapped his fingers around her wrists and yanked her away. She stumbled backwards, her face flushed and eyes shining. He stared at her with angry eyes. “Now why don’t we have a little talk? I’m sure there are many things you have to tell me. About five years worth, hmmm?” He leaned back against the door and crossed his arms over his chest.
“Y-You’re d-dead,” she managed to stammer out, not even noticing that tears had started streaming down her face. “I swear to god, you were dead.”
“But I’m not,” he said calmly, coldly. “You should have known better than that, love.”
“It’s true, I saw it! You. Were. Dead. I saw the CIA files, and the autopsy report…damn it, I saw your damned dead body, for god’s sake! And I didn’t want to trust it, but then I heard about…Julian Lazarey, and…god, I thought you were dead! You were DEAD! What the hell was I supposed to do?” Her entire body was shaking violently again, her arms wrapped around her waist.
“Well, it’s nice to know that while I spent three years searching the globe for you, you were content with me being dead,” Sark pushed himself off the wall and stepped forward. She skittered back, keeping herself a safe distance from him. A flash of pure anger went through him and he took another step forward. “Are you afraid of me, Sydney?” he sneered.
She ducked her head into her trembling hands. He clenched his jaw and took another step forward, not even sure himself what he was doing, when the door rattled again and opened wide. Sark froze in his spot when he saw Eric Weiss’s body framed in the door. He had his usual cheerful expression on at first, but when he took in the two people before him, his face dropped. “Whoa,” he said quietly.
They all stood there staring at each other, until Sydney choked out a harsh sob. Weiss immediately stepped over to her and drew her into his embrace. Sark’s chest constricted with jealousy and he swallowed hard. “Fine,” he snapped. “We’re done here.” He strode over to the door and walked out of the apartment. He heard Sydney call out to him, but he ignored her, swiftly running down the stairs and onto the street. He never looked back.
Sark had walked around, eventually finding himself down near the beach. He paced the streets, not even bothering to notice where he was until the sun had set. The teeming masses on the streets did not disperse with the light; crowds of people still sauntered around, gaily enjoying the warm night. He just kept walking until his anger had settled a bit. He no longer felt like strangling her, but he was still angry and needed to blow off steam some way.
He stopped in front of a basement ristorante. He browsed the menu before descending the steps and going inside. He found a table near the bar and ordered a bottle of wine and pasta. The place was half empty and quiet, but the longer he stayed the faster the room filled up. Many of the patrons were loud and drunk; from their raucous cries he determined that they were soccer fans whose team had just scored another victory. He cracked a wry smile; he could remember a time when he would have been one of those people. He no longer cared about such trivial things, but occasionally he’d give a yell of support when the crowd did. He ordered a second bottle of wine and sat back, watching the young people drink and sing joyfully. He decided that their level of inebriation would be pretty good at that point.
When someone settled into the chair next to him, he didn’t acknowledge the person right away, tell them he wanted to be alone. He had been expecting this. He sat back and sipped his wine, his eyes never leaving the entertaining scene before them. Finally, without turning, he spoke to the person that had invaded his space. “I’d offer to buy you a drink, but I’d much rather you leave me alone.”
“Never took you for an Inter fan, Julian.”
“After Milan’s terrible record this season? Absolutely.” He turned his head to regard Eric Weiss sitting casually, his hands playing with the cloth napkin on the table. Sark’s eyes darted down and caught the glare off the thin band of gold around Weiss’s finger. He bit his tongue to keep from verbally attacking the man. “What do you want, Eric? Because frankly I’d rather be by myself right now. No offense.”
“None taken,” Weiss replied, his tone slightly amused. Sark watched him fiddle for a little longer before sighing impatiently. “Don’t worry, man, this ring and I belong to someone else. So you can go back to just hating me for bashing your brains out.”
“Hilarious,” Sark snapped. “I’m so glad to see that five years hasn’t affected your sense of humour any. Now get lost.”
Weiss just leaned back and snagged a slice of bread from the bar. Sark turned his concentration back to the soccer fans and took a long drink of wine. If this kept up any longer, he was going to have to switch to something stronger. Weiss finished off the bread and sat forward, leaning his forearms on the table. His voice was very quiet, “She’s still in love with you, man. She wants you back.”
“I don’t give a damn what she wants anymore, Weiss. She chose to leave me and she made it clear she didn’t want to be found. I don’t know where you’re getting your ideas from, but back at that apartment, it was obvious she’s still not able to forgive me. So why don’t you give up on this foolish notion that I’m going to run back there and take her into my arms because it’s over. I know when to cut my losses; why don’t you do the same?”
Weiss shook his head, his expression disgusted. “Both of you, you’re so goddamned stubborn it makes me laugh. I know you two are lying when you start with this ‘giving up’ crap. Okay, fine, you hurt her, she hurt you, and you’re even now. Jesus, you two are still so in love, but neither person wants to give it another try because you’re scared as hell something’s going to happen to fuck it up. You’re always the one that’s saying that love is a struggle, aren’t you? Well, here’s the biggest test of all and you’re failing badly. Here’s the advice I gave Sydney: put aside that damned stubborn pride of yours and go to her. ‘Cause if you don’t, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.”
“Please don’t make an attempt to analyze me, Agent Weiss. You know nothing about me save some small interaction five years ago, so keep your foolish theories and advice to yourself. Now since you don’t seem to be getting the obvious hint that I’d like you to leave, I’m getting the hell out of here.” Sark threw down some money and stood up. “I’m leaving this town first thing tomorrow morning and I don’t ever plan on coming back. Be assured that I won’t inform anyone that I happened to spot two missing CIA agents here.” He maneuvered himself around the tables, but turned back when Weiss grabbed his arm.
Weiss’s face was deadly serious. “I don’t give a damn about you or what you’re feeling, but I love Sydney Bristow to death and for five years I’ve watched the life drain out of her because of she made one stupid mistake. Do us and yourself a favour and don’t screw this up anymore than you already have.”
Sark wrenched his arm away. “I’m not the one to blame here, Agent Weiss,” he said quietly. He didn’t bother looking back as he strode out of the restaurant.
He knew she was in his room the moment he opened the door. He hadn’t been lying all those nights ago when he had told her they had a connection. Somehow his senses were tuned to Sydney radar, and even after five years, they were as sharp as ever. He walked into his suite, not bothering to turn on any lights or acknowledge her in anyway. He knew what she was there to say and he’d rather get it over quickly and have her leave. He didn’t want to see her.
“You’re still angry,” she stated flatly. He couldn’t see her, but the voice came from a dark corner. He smiled bitterly.
“Do you blame me,” he spat. “I highly doubt you feel much like kissing and making up. Now please explain why you felt the need to break into my hotel room and then you’re free to leave.”
“Please don’t be angry with me, Julian,” she pleaded. “Please. I’m so sorry about before. You just shocked me. I-I honestly didn’t expect to see you again. I thought you were dead.”
“Yes, we’ve covered that, I believe,” he said, going to the mini-bar and opening it up. He bent down and poked through the contents. He finally decided on vodka. It worked before. He bypassed the glass and just ripped into the tiny bottle, downing it all in one shot. “Is that all?”
“Don’t do this!” she yelled suddenly, and he saw her figure step out into the moonlight. She was still wearing the white dress. He hated himself for it, but he missed her long hair, even though her short style was attractive. He turned away again and picked up a tiny bottle of rum. He tore the cap off, but before he could drink it, she crossed over and laid a hand on his arm. “Please just listen to me, Julian. I know you’re angry and you just want me to leave, but I won’t unless you make me. Please, let’s talk about everything and work this out.”
He shrugged her off and turned away, bringing the bottle to his lips. “We have nothing to talk about. I can understand if you don’t want to forgive me; what we’ve both done doesn’t deserve any type of forgiveness. Like I told Eric Weiss, I’ll be leaving here tomorrow morning and I promise you that I won’t be back. And that’s one promise you can be sure I’ll keep.” He drank deeply, throwing his head back. He tossed the bottle aside and dug around for another one, but she laid her hands on his shoulders.
“Why are you giving up so easy?” she asked, and he heard the first sound of tears in her voice.
He stood up and turned, stepping so they were mere inches away. “Excuse me, Sydney, but I wasn’t the one who gave up.”
Tears were streaming down her cheeks now, her hazel eyes shining brightly. “Julian, I thought you were dead! It killed me! Do you think that I just accepted it and did nothing? I’ve been mourning you for five years!” Her chest started to heave as her crying turned into sobs. He rolled his eyes.
“You didn’t even try, Sydney. It would have taken you maybe a day of asking a few questions and you would have found me. Christ, I spent three entire years looking for you! All you had to do was put a little effort into searching…but you didn’t and maybe that shows how much you really care.”
“I care…I care! I was angry with you; I just needed some time. But I forgive you! Jesus, I made one mistake and you’re ready to hold it against me for the rest of your life!”
He turned away and wiped his face with his hands. “Sydney…don’t…just don’t do this anymore. I saw…you were happy there, in the park. You don’t need me to be happy anymore. And I…I’ve learned to do without you as well. So please, just leave, okay? Everything will just be easier this way.”
“No it won’t,” she sobbed. “No. Please. Losing you was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through…damn it, I never even got to mourn my father properly and then I lost you too! Don’t you think I regret leaving you that day? I hate myself for doing it. Just please don’t make me go. I can’t leave you again.”
Sark gritted his teeth, his back still to the crying woman. He had no idea why he was angry anymore and why he was pushing her away. All he wanted to do was take her into his arms and hold her tight, wipe away the tears and kiss the pain away. But every time he thought about it, all he could picture was waking up with that ring in his hand. He couldn’t handle that pain again and he wouldn’t give her the chance. Walking away now was just easier.
“Sydney.” He half-turned, then stopped. “ I can’t…I can’t lose you again. I’m tired of you running when everything gets too hard. It’s better just to leave right now. I’m sorry I even intruded on your life here. I…it would be best if you just left right now.”
He just stood there in profile and listened to her sob. She was trying to speak, but her words were muffled around her cries. He stared out the window and desperately wished she would get out so he could drink himself into oblivion. Finally her crying quieted and he saw her wrap her arms around herself. “So that’s it? It ends here. We’re not going to even try.” Her voice was dull. He just stayed silent and stared. “God, Julian, I swear, I will never leave you again. Please.”
“I can’t trust you on that, Sydney,” he said sadly, even though his mind was screaming ‘Liar!’ at him. “I-I can’t…” He passed his hand through his hair.
“Please,” she stepped forward and touched his arm softly. He didn’t push her away and she stepped closer, pressing herself against his side. “Please,” she said, her voice a little more insistent. He turned away and she wrapped her arms around his waist, laying her head on his back. “I love you,” she whispered.
He closed his eyes, his reserve firmly broken. He felt her tears seep through his clothes to his skin and he bit his lip. Slowly he turned, then crushed her to him. “Damn it, woman,” he groaned.
Then he kissed her.
Five years and she still tasted the same: sweet and passionate. He wanted it to be slow and loving, but one taste of her and he was kissing her hungrily, forcefully, as if she was about to be ripped from his arms at any moment. He pressed her body tightly to his and reveled in the way that she fit there perfectly. He tasted salt on her lips from her crying, but then she opened her mouth to his, her arms coming up to wrap around his neck and hold him close. He broke from her lips and kissed all the way down her neck, savouring his favourite spots once again. When he let his teeth nibble in the tiny corner of her shoulder, she moaned and his knees buckled.
He brought his head up and found her mouth again, this time kissing her slower. He cupped her head and passed his hand through her hair. It was still soft under his fingers, but he really missed the long strands that he used to play with. He twirled the short pieces under his fingers and then kissed a trail up her face, over her nose and forehead, before burying his face into her silky hair. “Oh, Sydney, Sydney,” he whispered. Her lips were gently skimming over his neck, and he could feel her damp cheeks brush his skin. “I do love you, I do. Please stop crying.”
“I can’t, I can’t,” she sobbed, her face pressed into his chest. “Please don’t let me go, please. I swear to God, I’ll fall apart if you do.”
He smiled. “Five years and you’re still weepy. That’s my girl.” His hands stroked her back gently, trying to soothe her crying. “That’s my baby.”
“You called me baby,” she sniffed. “I missed that. I missed you. I’m…” Her words were cut off by another round of tears. He laughed and pulled her to his bedroom. He sat back against the pillows and positioned her on his lap, her head tucked into his neck. Her hands gripped the front of his shirt as she sniffled and hiccoughed. He just rocked her and took the opportunity to enjoy having her in his arms again. She was thinner and felt more delicate under his hands. Her skin was no longer the creamy white it had been, but all the time under the Mediterranean sun had tanned it to a beautiful brown. She had freckles on her bare shoulders and neck, and he was sure if he explored, he’d find them on other parts of her body as well. He picked up her left hand and brought it up to his lips, kissing the fingers, the tips and the sensitive palm. He felt her shudder underneath him and he hugged her closer.
Finally her body went still, but she kept her head down. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I haven’t cried this much in so long. I just…”
“I know,” he murmured. “I’m sorry I was so angry with you; it really wasn’t fair of me. I would expect that we’re both going to be slightly emotional right now.”
“You never get emotional,” and he felt her smile against his neck. He chuckled and kissed her forehead. “You shouldn’t have to forgive me. You shouldn’t…I should have to live without you, just as my punishment. I-”
“Stop it,” he said harshly, shaking her a bit. “We shouldn’t have to punish ourselves for this anymore. Five years did that enough. Can’t we just forget it all? Do you still want me, to be with you? I want you, Sydney, I will never not want you. If you want to be with me, then we can get through this without having to blame each other. If we make it through this, we can get through anything.”
She sat up and looked into his eyes. “I’m glad you’re the mature one, because I’m a mess.” He traced out her lips with his thumb and she smiled again. He’d missed that smile. “I really do love you,” she said softly. “Falling for you was the biggest mistake of my life, but I’ll never regret it. All these years, I hated myself every day and I never thought I’d ever get over you. I didn’t want to get over you. There were some times, where I could get busy and think about other things, but every night I came home to that empty apartment and my mind was on you, on us. I never, ever moved on, even though Eric said I should. I just can’t believe I gave up hope that you were alive.”
“It’s okay,” he whispered. “It’s all okay now. No more worries.” He slid a hand behind her head and pulled her down for a kiss. She shifted in his lap and straddled his waist. He fell back and pulled her down on top of him. Her fingers danced around his collarbone, then started to undo the buttons of his shirt. With every one that came loose, she palmed the skin underneath. She pushed the shirt and his coat off his shoulders slowly, and he sat them up to slide them off completely. She nibbled on his lips as he rolled them over, laying her down on the mattress. He pulled up the skirt of her dress to her waist then, breaking away from her lips, he carefully rid her of the dress.
She was completely naked under him. His eyes drank her in, traveling up and down her body, reacquainting himself with the sight. She gave him a mischievous smile when he finally came back to her face and her hands curled around his belt and tugged him back down. As she kissed him, his hands came up and around to cup her breasts. She gasped at his touch and writhed when his thumbs brushed over her nipples. He kissed a trail down her neck until he found one hard nipple with his mouth. He teased it with his tongue, his eyes watching her face contort with pleasure. He moved over to the other one and gave it the same treatment, listening to her cry out breathlessly.
As his mouth lavished attention on her breasts, his hands crept down over her hips. He brushed his fingers over the skin there, then slid one hand between her legs, stroking her inner thighs. She parted her legs so he could have better access and he laughed into her skin. He stroked her with his fingers, his mouth hot and wet on her stomach. As his tongue darted into her bellybutton, he twirled a finger around her opening then slipped it inside of her. Her hips bucked up and she whimpered softly. He stroked his finger in and out of her as his mouth descended down her body and hovered over her clit. “Please…please,” she breathed, and he added another finger. He let his tongue come out and he flicked it over her clit once, twice. He listened to her mewling cries before letting his lips wrap around her swollen nub. He sucked in a gentle rhythm, moving his fingers faster as her body went crazy under him. Suddenly she was there, her inner muscles spasming around his fingers and her body rocking out of control. He kept up his ministrations until her screams settled down and her body went limp. He pressed one last kiss on her stomach before crawling back up to lie alongside her.
He nuzzled his face in her hair as her breathing came back to normal. “Five fucking years,” he murmured and heard her giggle childishly. “I will never tire of the taste of you on my lips.”
She cupped his face in her hands and pulled him down for a long kiss. One hand brushed down his chest and settled over the bulge in his pants. She gave him a gentle squeeze and felt him groan against her lips. “I need you,” she mumbled. “I need you inside of me.”
He removed her hand and quickly undid his belt and pants, then yanked all impeding clothing away. He settled his body over hers again and nudged her knees away from each other again. She wrapped them around his hips, but before he could move, she caught his chin between her fingers and looked hard into his eyes. “Just…please be gentle,” she whispered. “It’s been five years since anyone’s…”
“I know,” he traced her cheek. “I know, love. Me too.” Her eyes widened, but fluttered closed as his lips captured her again. While his tongue stroked her mouth, he positioned his hips and carefully slid inside of her.
She was warm and tight and perfect around her. Five years of abstinence for both of them had taken its toll and they both cried out at the moment of joining. He held still once he had pushed his cock deep inside of her, as far as he could go and just held her, treasuring the feeling of being one with her once more. He couldn’t hold out forever though, and finally he moved, sliding out as slow as he had in. He kept his sweet slow rhythm, stroking her body with his. She matched his movements, fitting herself against him flawlessly. He laid his forehead on hers and let his lips travel everywhere they could. She reciprocated, as if desperate to taste as much of him as she could.
She had already gone over once and he could barely hold on, trying to draw it out forever. When she came again, her body stiffening and gasping under his, he gritted his teeth, thrust one last time and let himself come, spilling deep inside of her. His head tucked into her neck and he laid one last kiss along the throbbing column before collapsing onto her. Her hands curled into his hair and he heard her sigh with complete contentedness. “Love you,” she murmured, and he sighed.
“I love you too, baby,” he kissed her shoulder and rolled off, gathering her to him. She curled up in his embrace and cupped a hand around his cheek. He traced a hand down the curve of her hip. “Pretty. So very pretty.” He held her for a few minutes, just enjoying listening to her breathe, before a thought came into his head. He rolled away and smiled when she made a whining noise and reached for him. He dug around his briefcase until his hand closed around a battered box. Drawing it out, he slipped back into bed with her. She cuddled around him again and he sat them up. Opening the box, he withdrew her ring and fiddled it around his fingers. He held it out to her, the diamond glittering in the moonlight.
Her breath caught in her throat. “I can’t believe you kept that,” she murmured, bringing her hand up to cover his. He sat back and looked at her.
“Why wouldn’t I?” he asked. She tilted her head and looked at him. He gave her a wry smile. “I wanted to destroy it, thousands of times. I thought it would be easier on me. But every time I tried, I couldn’t. I just…it was the one thing I had left, the one thing that gave me hope, even thin hope.” He laughed quietly. “Rather stupid of me, I know.”
“No it’s not,” she said. She ran her hand up and down his arm and kissed the hollow of his neck. He picked up her left hand and slid the ring onto her third finger, smiling as it fit back into place.
“Back where it belongs.” He lay down and pulled her over onto him. “Back where we belong.”
“So,” she snuggled down, laying her head on his chest. “What do we do now?”
“Whatever we want, baby. First, you are going to let your hair grow back long again,” her body quaked with laughter, “then…I honestly don’t know. Why don’t we take it a day at a time?”
“That sounds nice,” she yawned. “We’re going to have to start planning a wedding though.”
“Plan, nothing. I’m happy with going down to City Hall and getting it done one afternoon.”
She propped herself up and glared down at him. “Julian! I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time! We’re going to at least have something, even if it’s really small. And no arguing,” she said when he opened his mouth.
“Okay, fine, a small little ceremony somewhere nice, I won’t deny you that. Happy now?”
“Very.” She kissed the tip of his nose. He studied her features in the moonlight, content with just watching her for the rest of his life. She gave him a sad little smile. “I’ve missed that look.”
He gave her the same smile in return, cupping her cheek. Eventually she lay back down and tucked her head under his chin. He wrapped his arms around her and listened to her breathing even out, felt her fall asleep in his arms. He was exhausted himself, but all he wanted to do was hold her and thank the gods that this wasn’t a dream anymore; that his five year longing had become reality. His eyes drooped eventually and he pulled her tighter and let his body rest.
And in the morning they would wake up, smiling happily that they were tangled with each other again. Once they managed to get out of bed, they would get their lives back together. He would move his stuff down from the flat in Bern and she would introduce him to Weiss’s wife, Ariana. She would work part-time at the school with the children, while he would retire, enjoying the time to do the things he never could before. Moments became routine and routine became life, and neither one cared.
Julian Sark had never believed in happily ever after; Sydney Bristow thought she would ever experience it. But sometimes fairytales do come true. Just not always in the way one would imagine.
The summer breeze off the sea was light, but enough to soothe the heat of the dark bedroom. The chimes in the window tinkled softly and the delicate noise woke one of the inhabitants. The tiny baby in the corner bassinette shifted then started to cry, waving his arms in frustration.
The wails were successful in getting the attention of his sleeping parents, sprawled out in the large bed. The woman groaned and rolled over to get up, but her husband gently drew her back to the pillow and kissed her forehead. Her thankful murmur was lost into the feathers.
He walked over to the cradle and rocked it softly. The baby stopped crying and looked up at his father with sparkling blue eyes. The man reached down and picked his son up, embracing him close to his chest. At the touch of the bare chest against the newborn’s cheek, he turned his head and began to nuzzle, the rooting reflex kicking in. The man chuckled and whispered, “Let’s go try Mummy.”
He walked back to the bed and nudged his wife. “Sydney, darling, Nicky needs you.”
She groaned again and propped herself up on her elbows. “Why didn’t anyone warn me about this?” she grumbled, pulling off her nightshirt and tossing it to the ground. She accepted the baby into her arms and adjusted the little body before drawing him to her breast. Julian crawled behind her and sat against the headboard, so she could lean against his body. Her head dropped back on his shoulder and eyes closed and he watched her feed their son.
As he stroked the fluffy dark hair on the baby’s head, he dropped a kiss on her skin and reveled in the moment. They had decided to stay in Pesaro instead of moving anywhere because Sydney had grown to love it so much. Besides, they both felt that they were out of immediate danger. After five years of searching, he hadn’t been able to find her, and they were assured that no one else would either. After their small wedding, they moved to a larger place nearer the beach and just lived. She kept working at the school, and he effectively retired. At first he was bored with it, but he found multiple ways to pass the time. He enjoyed taking long walks and just watching the world around him unfold. They kept in close contact with Eric and his wife Ariana. Sydney loved to visit with their daughter Rebecca, holding the little girl on her lap and playing with the long brown hair. Julian couldn’t wait until they had a child of their own.
He became fiercely overprotective when she became pregnant. The minute they found out, he wanted her to take it easy, quit her job and rest more often. Being the stubborn woman he loved, she fought with him every step of the way. She kept working until school was out for summer term, she did the shopping, took walks with him at night, drove their car and did the majority of the work on the baby’s room. They had some wicked arguments, but she knew he was just worried. Neither of them had been in the situation before. The one interesting thing was her voracious sexual appetite while pregnant. He had thought it wasn’t going to be possible, but she proved him wrong. Many, many time over. Her enlarged stomach actually became a turn-on for him.
The first stages of labour had scared him to death, but she hadn’t been worried until they got to the hospital and the doctor had frowned. When she went unconscious during delivery, Julian had panicked and was led out of the room. Apparently the pain of delivery had caused extra stress on her heart and it had been working overtime to deliver the baby. Both were whisked away without him being able to see them. He had sat in a waiting room and prayed to a god that he didn’t believe in for both of their lives.
Two days later, sitting at Sydney’s bedside and holding her limp hand, the nurse had handed him a blue wrapped bundle and smiled. He looked down at the tiny figure sleeping in his arms and wept for the first time in 20 years. Hours later, he had wept again when he squeezed his wife’s hand and she squeezed back. A week later he was able to bring both of them home, and he counted it as the happiest day of his life. The baby had been fine, with no lasting effects, but Sydney’s heart had been greatly affected, and the doctor warned against strenuous movement. He also advised against no more children any time in the near future.
Sydney finished feeding and he transferred the baby back into his arms. She kissed his cheek lovingly and lay back down in bed. He pulled the sheet over her body and stroked her hair before standing and walking to the window. He sat on the large sill and looked out at the water and the stars. Nicky was still wriggling in his arms, wide awake now, so Julian bounced the little body gently, trying to rock him back to sleep.
They had decided that if the baby was a boy, they would name him Jonathan after her father, but one look at the child and she changed her mind. He had inherited both his parents’ Slavic heritage; his skin was olive and his hair was dark, almost black. The eyes were pure Sark though, startlingly sapphire blue that stood out from the tan face. She asked that his name be Nikolai, and he had allowed. He quickly became Nicky to them, their tiny miracle. Julian couldn’t believe how easily he embraced being a father. It was still difficult; the rules changed day to day and every experience was totally new, but he wouldn’t give it up for anything in the world.
The little chest was breathing steadily now, and he smiled at the sleeping child. He bent over and pressed a soft kiss to the fragile head, then settled Nicky back into his bassinette. He watched his son sleep for a few seconds before he made his way back to his bed and his wife. He lay down carefully, not wanting to disturb her, but as soon as he was prone, she rolled over and snuggled up to him, resting her head on his shoulder. He wrapped his arms around her and closed his eyes.