Note- I changed my mind about Irina's whereabouts. Since I never mentioned her before, this was possible, but I need to note that my story is now AU, with Irina never having turned herself in, never having become good, or whatever she is. Sydney has been aware that Sark works for her, but she's still at large, running her organization. I hope I'm not confusing anyone.

And I think only two chapters to go after this one.

Sydney stood in front of the closet, staring at her clothes, but completely removed from the task of choosing an outfit. Even though it was only the night before when their relationship technically changed, it was already unfathomable to Sydney how she could have ever thought there was any other man for her than Sark.

Some of the men from her past had been great catches. They were safe, honest, kind, loving men. They would make wonderful husbands someday. For somebody else.

They did not stir her blood like Sark. They did not set her body on fire from one look.

No other was her match in every way. She belonged with Sark.

And she knew he felt the same, she knew his heart as surely as she knew her own.

His voice came up behind her.

"This one," he suggested, pointing to the light blue green dress hanging in the closet, then placing his hands on her waist from behind.

Sark helped her dress, breaking up the task with intermittent kisses and caresses.

When Sydney was finished, she stopped to admire the way Sark looked wearing khaki's and nothing else, highlighting his well-defined upper body. She raised an eyebrow toward his bare chest and ran her hands down it, hooking one finger in the top of his pants and yanking him close.

"Sydney." Sark groaned with regret. "If you don't stop we'll never get downstairs to eat."

"Ah, that's right, we wouldn't want to keep the gentleman from his tea time." She taunted.

"That is what is being served at the moment, so we have no choice. I would much prefer something more substantial than tiny sandwiches and scones, but dinner isn't for several hours, and I think we ought to make an appearance."


They sat down to the afternoon tea the hotel was serving. Sydney wasn't big on tea. LA didn't do tea. They drank coffee. Lots of it. But she had an irrepressible grin on her face throughout. That freeing, devilish feeling that began the night before was growing. When Sark got a smidgen of clotted cream on his finger, she reached across the table and, holding his eyes, took his hand to her lips and sucked the cream off his finger.

Sydney could read everything from the look Sark gave her. It was a "you're in trouble, just wait till we get back upstairs" look.

She up-ed the ante, slipping off her shoe and running her foot up his leg, thankful for the fresh white tablecloth that hung to the floor.

Sark ever-so-slightly shook his head and grinned.

Just then, Sydney heard a familiar irritating voice.

"Hi, you two!"

It was Roxy. Sydney flashed a brief smile, then returned her gaze to Sark.

Roxy looked at him as well, like a predator.

"We were just sitting down to tea." Roxy motioned to her husband who was lounging at a table near the window, not paying attention. "I so enjoyed our game of tennis- your husband is an excellent player, Mrs. Drake- would you be free for another game later this afternoon?"

The nerve of this woman to flirt with my husband in front of me! Sydney thought. Oh, she put up with it before, when she didn't care about Sark- ok, when she pretended she didn't care about Sark- but now, she wasn't going to let her get away with it, especially not right in front of her!

Sark spoke. "Actually, we were just headed upstairs to-"

"Fuck." Sydney finished, flashing a catty smile to Roxy.

There was a moment of stunned silence. Sydney caught the corners of Sark's mouth curl slightly up in a grin before he suppressed it. Roxy looked as if someone had just slapped her across the face.

She plastered on a false, uneven smile. "Well. You two lovebirds have fun. Wouldn't want to keep you from enjoying your time here together!" Roxy attempted to sound cheery and then quickly left.

Sydney smiled sweetly at Sark.

"You're such a bad girl." He admonished.

"Wanna make something of it?"

Sark gave her a look that made her shiver.

"Upstairs," was all he said.


For the next several glorious days, Sydney and Sark were wrapped up in their own world, nothing existed beyond the two of them, and their immediate space. They couldn't go far in case they were needed unexpectedly, but nothing required their immediate attention until the weekend, when they completed the mission they were sent there for in the first place, so they were mostly free to do as they pleased together.

They partook in all the activities the spa offered. Sark gave Sydney tennis lessons and she was not surprised to find out he was an expert rider, as well, when they took a short excursion on horseback together. They breakfasted on the veranda, drank wine in the gardens in the evening, had long bubble baths with champagne at night. Sydney was content just being silent next to Sark, just being near him.

He was much quieter than Vaughn.

Vaughn, who she would have to face when she returned.

**************************************************************************** *************

Mr. Vail set up his meeting with Victor Palladino on Friday afternoon.

It wasn't that the mission was so short that troubled Sydney. Most of her missions were rather quick, that was the nature of the spy business. Get in, knock a few guards unconscious, steal the crucial intel, get out. The faster the better.

And it was not that the mission was so easy that bothered her, either. She was good at what she did. Many of her missions went off without a hitch, that was why she was still alive.

But it was the fact that Sloane had invested such time, and two valuable agents, into something of this nature that unsettled her. It didn't make sense.

In a few hours on their first day, they had hacked into the entire hotel. She and Sark didn't even have to monitor Mr. Vail, as she thought, a team back in LA was doing that. It only took a few minutes for Sydney to bump into Mr. Vail get the tracker on his briefcase, confirm her success back with SD-6- and the CIA- and it was over.

Why the long stay?

**************************************************************************** ***

Sydney had these thoughts tugging at the back of her mind while they packed to leave. They were booked on the eleven o'clock flight from Phoenix back to LA.

Back to her father and Vaughn.

Back to those two people who, for a long time, were the only souls on earth with whom she could share all her secrets.

And now she was going to have to lie to them.

"Ready?" Sark asked.

She nodded. He slung the heavier of her bags over his shoulder and placed his hand on her back, escorting her out of the room.