The Rover burst into the sunlight, sheltered from view by trees on all sides. US Marines had formed a perimeter around two choppers. They closed in on the Rover.

Jack banged on the door to the cargo hold. "Irina, are you ready?" Irina opened the door, and Jack smiled appreciatively. There must have been a mirror in there somewhere. Her hair and makeup were perfect. He looked behind her and saw with relief that the cargo area was tidied up as well. She arched an eyebrow at him. He grinned.

Sydney watched this interplay with interest. Her father had smiled more in the past 15 minutes than he had in 20 years.

They opened the hatch and headed out, Jack in the lead, Sydney and her mother behind. Sydney saw her mother's smile falter for a second as she spotted something, only to be replaced immediately with what Sydney privately coined her mother's 'game face'.

The Marine lieutenant approached them. "Mr. Bristow, Miss Bristow, welcome back. I have orders to transport you to Stuttgart for medical attention and debriefing." As he turned to face Irina, Sydney saw what Irina must have seen earlier - 2 US Marshals standing behind him. "Ms. Derevko, you will be escorted back separately straight to the US."

Jack stepped forward. "Mrs. Bristow," he emphasized slowly, "will be accompanying us."

The lieutenant turned back to face him. "Sir, my orders are clear. Director Kendall feels it is a security risk for, uh, Mrs. Bristow to remain in Europe. I'm afraid I must insist."

Jack began to look dangerous. Sydney and Irina simultaneously put their hands on his arms.

"Dad," Sydney began, "don't."

"Jack," said Irina softly. "We need to do it this way. Visit me when you get back."

One of the marshals approached Irina with hand and leg irons. Jack gave Irina a long look, swallowed, then reached out and snatched them from the marshal. "Give me those," he growled. "I'll do it." Gently he put the irons on, first her ankles, then her wrists, leaving enough space so they wouldn't chafe.

He stood with her hands in his, gazing deep into her eyes. Then, indifferent to the audience of Marines, US Marshals, and his own daughter, he slowly bent down and kissed her - a long, lingering, bittersweet kiss - and stepped away, at a loss for words.

With a Marshal on either side, Irina slowly made her way to her helicopter. She did not look back. She did not think she had the strength to.

Jack watched her go, following her with his eyes until the helicopter flew out of sight. He felt Sydney's arm on his again, and turned to look at her. Understanding and love filled her eyes. "Don't worry Dad, you'll figure it out."

Putting his arm around her, they headed to their helicopter.