A/N: So as a teenager I used to think it was ridiculous when authors took 10 years to finish a story, I am now 32 and understand completely. Life happens... I started this story in 2013 and finally managed to write the ending I always wanted it to have. So thank you all for staying with it for so long. I can now finally say this story is completed!
It took quite some time for her to recover, mostly because Sark and she were none too eager to get back to the real world. But eventually all things most come to an end, in this case their little holiday. Which was spend sparring and training although most of the time those sessions ended with them making out and shagging under steaming hot showers.
But some weeks in Sydney felt sick, not really sick, but she had some sort of woozy feeling in her stomach. The smell of coffee alone made her want to vomit, and her constant tiredness made her yawn excessively. When she declined her morning cappuccino, Julia made a comment on how in any other situation she would have thought Sydney to be pregnant, after which she explained that in her sort of work all field agents were obligated to have an implant to prevent pregnancy during dangerous situations. But she was unable to shake the nagging feeling that Julia may be right and while Sark was out getting them groceries, she snuck out to get a pregnancy test. Thirty minutes later her worst fears were confirmed as she looked at the two stripes before her. She heard Sark call out to her and in her panic she stuffed the box with the test somewhere in a cabinet hoping she would be able to retrieve it soon.
Still shaken she answered Sark who told her to come down because her mother was on the phone and had something to discuss. Taking a deep breath, calming herself she went down the stairs her mind racing with questions, mainly as to how this was possible. But she had no time to process the news as her mother dropped a bombshell, informing them they had found a compound where Sloane most likely was hiding out with Yelena. "We have about 12 hours to react, otherwise they will know their location is compromised and we'll be at another dead end." Sarks expression darkened. "Who was the source you tortured and killed for this information?" Irina seemed to hesitate on the other side of the phone, but seemed to have taken Sydney's words about honesty seriously and spoke after a small sigh "It was Vaughn's father." Sydney paled somewhat. "He has been alive all this time?!" "Yes, he'd been in the Rambaldi order that was supposed to protect you, but went rogue and joined Yelena in her pursuit. I believe he may have done so because they were threatening his family. He managed to convince Vaughn that the prophecy was true and while he would have to protect you were never going to be his. He knew about your marriage to Sark, which would explain why he pulled away from you. Sark, I'll be sending you the information, you need to leave immediately, we've arranged for separate transport. You leave in fifteen minutes." With that she ended the call and left an into nothing staring Sydney with Sark. Sark eyed her with concern. "Sweetheart, I realize this might be another emotional blow, but we need to act now. We can talk about it afterwards, but for now we need to focus on making sure no one will ever rob us of our future together." He lifted her chin up to make her face him "Will you be okay?" She nodded and hugged him tightly enjoying the moment of peace before the storm, there was going to be a lot to discuss when they would return.
The compound was heavily armed, but with the help of Toni Cummings the security systems designer, they managed to come up with a decent plan. There were three points of entry, after eliminating the guards in the garden, Nadia and Weiss, Irina and Jack and Sydney and Sark all went in from different sides. It was eerily quiet in the house, and Sydney didn't like it one bit, she hadn't had a moment to talk to Sark about the test and she felt determined to protect the child growing inside of her. She quietly made her way through with Sark and signaled for him to go upstairs. While she opened a door she heard a shot, the thumping sound of a body falling to the floor next to her followed after which she found herself staring at the body of Arvin Sloane with a bullet straight through his head. She however was not prepared for the outcry that followed as she looked up the open stairs and saw Yelena pushing Sark over the edge. Two shots from Sydney's gun ended her life as Sarks body came into contact with the marble floor at the bottom of the stairs.
Sark came to with a splicing headache and the sound of someone calling his name. "Julian, are you okay?" He tried to move but his body felt like a lorry ran him over, he clenched his teeth and sat upright still adjusting his sight. In front of him was Ms. Bristow kneeling in gear, his instincts kicked in immediately and he pushed her aside trying to asses the situation he found himself in. She looked not angry as he would have expected, but fearful and took a step back from him. "Julian, what is wrong?" He knitted his eyebrows in confusing "Come, come Ms. Bristow, there is no need for manipulative tactics." Now it was her turn to frown. "Julian, you hit your head really hard and your bleeding, please let me take a look it."
He grabbed a gun laying next to him and pointed it at her. "No need to fake concern for me, Sydney, although I must say it is rather endearing. Perhaps one day you will finally see how well we would work together." She covered her belly with her arms. "Julian, please! We have been working together."
Her attention diverted as Jack and Irina came in, guns raised. "We heard shots".
Sydney exhaled "Sloane and Yelena are dead, but Julian is…" she turned her head back to where he'd been. "Gone…" she said as she watched the empty space near the stairs.
He ran away expecting bullets to follow him, but none came, and he couldn't help but feel that her reaction seemed off. Clearly he was missing something.
He found himself in Luxembourg, stole a car and drove towards a safe house in Germany were he checked himself for trackers and found a CIA phone stashed in a pocket of his gear. To his surprise he'd missed several calls from his sisters number. Fearing she'd been compromised and perhaps taken hostage he frantically hit the redial button.
"Hey big brother, I've been trying to call you, was the mission a success?"
He inhaled deeply. "Julia can you explain to me how your number got into a phone most likely from the CIA." He paced around the room anxious for answers.
"Julian are you all right?" Her concern did nothing for his patience.
"No, so please explain to me how the CIA knows about you!"
"Julian, please tell me you didn't forget that you were working with the CIA, because you have been for some time now."
"Me? Working for the CIA, don't be absurd."
"Julian, you brought Sydney to our house and have been working with her."
"Sydney?!" He abruptly stood still from his menacing walking pace.
"Yes, she's been staying with us and Julian I just found a positive pregnancy test stuffed in the back of your bathroom closet. Please talk to Sydney before you do something stupid."
He ended the call and stood there for a second reassembling his thoughts. He was apparently missing quite some memories.
After checking the date and realizing he was missing about half a year of memories he felt unsure of his next course of action. But he was longing to go home, but ended up not feeling like going in, and drove to the beach instead.
( Soundtrack: The head and the heart – Rivers and roads)
The beach of Zandvoort
Sark was sitting on a dune, overlooking the sea. He'd sat there for hours, trying to wrap his head around the situation. He could not understand his own actions, why would he try to tear open that wound by going to work for the CIA, why had he brought Sydney to Julia, he still didn't remember a single thing and it scared him. While he had managed to take care of his headache, the damage was far from healed.
He became aware of her presence only when she sat down next to him.
"How long have you been here?" He questioned.
"For about an hour."
Sark began to draw circles in the sand. "Why did I end up here?" He looked at her, knowing she would have the answer.
"Because about half a year ago, I ended up losing some of my memories after being on a mission with you. Not far from here, in Elswout, you told me what had happened, but you provoked me and I knocked you out. I ran and ended up here. Hours later you found me on this particular spot. You reassured me and even promised me that if you would go underground. You would take me with you." She saw him frown. "Are you sure that it wasn't all just a trick?"
She chuckled. "That's what I thought at first, but fortunately for me you already had a weakness for me."
"Humor me Bristow, why would that be?"
"Because, besides swearing to my mother that you would never harm me, or let any harm come to me, you made a vow to protect me when you married me."
His fingers stopped drawing circles. He didn't dare to look at her. "You know about that?" "Being here with you triggered some of my memories. Eventually I remembered everything." He rubbed his temples. "The last thing I remember is being captured after Lauren and I raided the Rotunda. Perhaps you can inform me as to what happened to me after that?"
She fought the urge to stroke her fingers through his messy curls. For her it felt like it was a lifetime ago. For him it had only been yesterday.
"You were taken into custody. Vaughn beat you up pretty bad to get Lauren's location. Eventually Lauren was killed by Vaughn." She waited for his reaction to the news. None followed, his stare was still empty and focused on the ocean. "You were interrogated and eventually moved to prison. Until one day we needed you on a mission. The contact knew you and was aware of your relationship with Lauren. I went with you disguised as Lauren, we kissed and I bit you." She mentioned casually with a grin on her face.
He let out a small chuckle. "How very typical of you. Tell me, was your Agent Vaughn present as well?" His stormy blue eyes bore into her own. While he was trying to provoke a reaction, her expression remained calm and soft.
"Not mine, we'll get to that part later, but yes he heard everything, needless to say he was livid. Unfortunately for him there was no time to rip your head off like he'd wanted to because the contact was killed in front of us and you were extracted by Anna Espinoza."
"Miss Espinoza extracted me? On whose behalf?" He questioned, frowning.
"Her own, she was very eager to work with you. She'd heard of your reputation and wanted to partner up with you. You had other plans though, you betrayed her and surrendered to the CIA."
"I guess she wasn't aware of the flexibility of my loyalties."
She smiled, remembering her own words when he'd surrendered. "No, but you made a deal with Sloane and started working with APO. I, of course, was in no way willing to trust you. Somehow the same day I broke things off between Vaughn and me, you and I ended up dancing tango and later that evening getting drunk off our asses on tequila, only to be shipped off on a mission together the next morning."
Sark turned his head towards the small woman next to him. "Excuse me, but am I to believe that you were willingly dancing and drinking with me?" His expression was one of surprise and unbelieve.
Sydney laughed. "Yes, we tangoed, and it turns out that you're a pretty great dancer for a seemingly cold-hearted stiff Englishmen."
"Only with the right partner."
"Our relationship was always a form of tango, wasn't it?"
"I suppose, yes. But you and I come from very different places Sydney. While it may seem intriguing from a distance, any form of relationship with me will not end in a happily ever after." His eyes, now cold and stale betrayed none of the million feelings that were running through his mind, she however knew him better than that.
"You're going to want to hear me out first." She said, smiling softly.
He sighed. "My apologies, do continue with your narrative of our… adventures."
He listened as she told him about the botched mission, waking up at his house, meeting Julia and the four weeks she'd spend in recovery there. How he'd taken her to Elswout and explained how everything had went wrong and a new prophecy was now not only affecting her but him as well. About his willingness to work with her on this together and finish it for once and for all. She explained how she'd started having these dreams while staying with him, about having her ass kicked by him, while still recovering from her shot wound. How she'd walked in on him reading in the secret garden and startling him. How Julia had tried to steer them towards each other.
"You had intel someone owned a Rambaldi document pertaining information about the prophecy that affected both of us. We met Nadia and Weiss and went to Ukraine to get it. The document was a fake, it was a trap. As we were making sure there were no survivors I was almost shot, someone jumped in front of me. It was Vaughn. He'd joined the Rambaldi nutjobs after being convinced by his long lost father that you and I belonged together. He died in my arms, but you were the one to get me out. I sort of lost it and you dragged me out. I passed out and woke up weeks later, apparently my father had you banned from my room because he found you asleep while holding my hand. When I returned downstairs to the office I hugged you and made you promise to never betray me."
Sark looked at her with astonishment. "I suppose all of these events must be true considering no one but you manages to get into these absurd situations."
"At first we thought my mother had died, but eventually we found out she was alive, that Sloane wasn't Nadia's father and that he'd betrayed us, again."
"Needless to say everyone should have seen that coming by a mile." Sark added dryly.
"Yes, I just wanted to believe it for Nadia's sake. But I never got over that nagging feeling he would somehow stab us in the back the moment Rambaldi would be back into the picture."
"Which it seems was a fair assumption."
She nodded "but you see Sloane didn't know we knew, so my mom came up with an idea to trick him. She send us to a costumed party in Paris to steal a Rambaldi manuscript while you would make contact with Sloane afterwards."
"Was this costumed party by any chance hosted by Jean Le Duff?"
"Yes, unfortunately it was." She smirked. "You had a lot of trouble keeping your eyes off me. "
He smirked "That has been the case far more often than you might realize."
She gave him a slight smile while biting her lip. "That night you met with Mckenas Cole and talked to Sloane, something he said spooked you so much so that when you returned you instantly wanted me to leave with you, and come back home. When we returned I found a wedding picture of us. I thought you had betrayed me, but you explained everything to me. And for the first time in my life, I didn't feel so alone anymore, I felt like I belonged, I felt loved and protected. You suffered so much and had to put your feelings on hold for such a long time, but that night you opened up to me and we finally acted on the feelings that had been growing between us. When we woke up, I remembered, all of it, my Russian prince."
Her last statement hit him like a ton of bricks. The cracks in his icy exterior became evident to her, still she was painfully aware that his hesitancy meant he had yet to remember any of these things on his own.
He took in her teary eyes, while suppressing his own tears. The world he woke up in offered him more than he would have ever dreamt off, it was hard to comprehend and make sense off it all. In all these years he had only seen her look at him with hatred and disgust, but this Sydney looked at him with longing and devotion. Something he never thought himself worthy of or ever hoped to be a possibility. He then remembered something.
"Julia called and told me she found a positive pregnancy test in my bathroom." He studied her face as she swallowed clearly taken aback. "Are you…?" he let his question trail off.
She looked apologetic as well as somewhat ashamed as she answered "Yes."
He had trouble getting the next question out and struggled speaking it into existing "Am I…?" He was unable to finish his words, but she didn't need any more.
"It could never have been anybody else."
Something twisted his guts into steel, his wife, pregnant with his child. He thought back to the day he married her, both of them longing to have a family someday.
"I thought active field agents were obligated to have an implant." He spoke it as a statement, not an accusation.
"Yeah, it seems Sloane had given the order to have it taken out after our mission in Ukraine, while I was in the medical ward." She looked small and hurt, again somebody had taken away her bodily autonomy and forced her into a situation. It was clear she needed comforting and reassurance, which he felt unable to give. His airway felt like it was being constricted, panic rose inside of him another wave of emotions
"I'm sorry Sydney, I am not this person you want me to be. As I said before, a relationship with me would only end in misery and I would not be much of a father. " He abruptly stood up, his instincts screaming at him to run away, but she grabbed his hand and closed the gap between them caressing his cheek with her other hand. He leaned into her touch
"I know you like to pretend to be unfeeling and cold, but you are none of these things. I have seen how much you care for Julia, how much you love me… While you may not remember the last six months, you have always longed for this. To have the family you missed growing up, to have that sense of belonging we both have missed out on for so long."
Somehow tears were flowing from the corners of his eyes and he swallowed thickly. "All of this feels like a dream, like an air castle that could disappear on me any second. What if I lose you again, what if I don't remember and we won't have this connection we seem to have had?!"
"You will get your memories back, and the emotions that went with them. You taught me something about memory loss, how you can train yourself to have checking points. How Irina used to have one for you with a photo of me. I don't know where she has that photo, but you and I came up with another checking point." He looked at her expectantly. Her eyes still focused on him while leaning in and putting her lips to his. He shuddered as he closed his eyes and deepened the kiss. A whirlwind of emotions was released inside of him as he let go of all the anger and fear he had held onto for so long. His desperation grew as she clung to him, passionately exploring his mouth. Of one thing he was sure, if he ever lost her again there was no more living for him, he wouldn't want to be separated from her ever again. And with that thought his memories came flooding in, his concern when she was first shot, his exasperation with Julia for forcing them closer together, their moment in his study. Every single moment came back to him. He broke lose from their kiss and chuckled through his tears, his mind still a bit overwhelmed.
"Nonsensical as it had seemed, we need to thank your mother for I suppose you will have your fairytale after all, dear princess."
Her grin went from ear to ear as she was pulled into another kiss.
Two days later - APO headquarters
"So what you're saying is that Sark is now actually one of the good guys and he married Sydney when they were 17 and all this time he wanted her back and all of the bad guy stuff was Irina's fault and somewhat Rambaldi's, but now Irina is good again, because she did it all to protect Sydney and you're now all leaving APO?!"
Jack stared at Marshall for a second. "Yes, that's gist of it. Also Sydney is pregnant, so I'll be a grandfather sometime in the near future." He added with a smile on his face. Marshall still sat somewhat dumfound behind his desk, his fingers hovering over his keyboard. "Twice actually, because I'm almost certain Nadia is also pregnant, but still contemplating how to tell us without us threatening Weiss." He walked out of Marshalls office with the biggest smile he had in years. He was going home to his wife and no Sloane to worry about anymore.
3 years later – Sarks home
(Soundtrack: Krezip – Sweet goodbyes)
Sark opened the door to their home and called out a greeting. Sydney and an ecstatic Isabelle came to greet him with kisses. "Daddy!" He took their daughter into his arms while handing over the grocery bags. "Everything you requested, princess."
"Thanks, we're all set for dinner then." She smiled happily as she watched Isabelle starting to pull on Sarks hair.
"Nadia, Weiss and Beatrice will be here in an hour, their plane just landed." She added. "Good, at least we will have time before your parents will arrive, their affection is still somewhat sickening, no matter how many times I've been exposed to it." She made a face of disgust. "Ugh, please don't mention it, I'm going to be sick again." He kissed her forehead. "That's just the morning sickness talking." He teased as he softly rubbed her belly.
She grinned as she put another kiss on his cheek. "Could you keep our little monster busy while I go change, because cooking with a toddler is exhausting and I would really like to freshen up a bit, also Julia could be here any second."
"Sure thing love, take your time." He watched as Sydney went upstairs to freshen up and then made a conspiring face to Isabelle. "How about you and daddy go pet some bunnies in the garden?" His daughters enthusiastic nodding was all he needed as he raced them to the garden.
After dinner with the entire family, they went for a walk on the beach, the sun was almost setting and Sydney paused as she caressed her pregnant belly and watched as her family slowly moved on, playing and laughing. Her niece pretending to ride a horse on her father's neck, her mother walking arm in arm with her sister. Julia carrying Isabelle, both listening to Weiss' stories about magic tricks. Sark noticed she had stopped and walked back towards her. "Everything all right, princess?" She smiled at him. "Yeah, I just never would have imagined my life to be this full of joy and peace." He chuckled and hugged her from behind, burying his face in her neck, his hands encircling her belly. I would never use the word peace with two absurdly intelligent toddlers in the house at the moment, but yes it is very different from what our lives used to look like. Although you must have seen the suitcase Weiss has brought, and I suspect he will present us with a mission as soon as the kids are in bed, don't you think?"
She laughed. "Well, he can ask all he want, in this state I'm not willing to play dress up or run from explosions and I am not willing to part from you so he will have to find somebody else."
"Agreed, I am not willing to leave you either, or our daughter, no matter how eager your father is to babysit her. He is already spoiling her rotten." She smiled dipped her head towards his. "It's just that four years ago I didn't have any of this and now look at us, it never seizes to amaze me." He smiled watching as his parents in law shared a kiss and Weiss was throwing his daughter up unto the air. "Yes, we have a lot to be grateful for." The both went silent as they enjoyed the moment. He broke as pulled her along with him. "Come on, I propose we go get some ice cream and prolong this evening." As they joined the rest of the family Sydney couldn't help but feel that this was exactly what she had longed for all her life. A family of her own and a husband who knew her completely for who she was.
- The end -