They both wore black on the second anniversary of their daughter's disappearance. Irina could only hope that she had died quickly. It was the only way she allowed herself to believe. Her nightmares had given her enough possible scenarios to choose from over the last two years.

Jack was sitting in front of her, leaning back, with her legs and arms wrapped around him as she rested her chin on his shoulder. "I can't believe you managed to capture so much without me knowing it," Jack said, a hint of anger in his voice. She knew the videos would upset him, but she also knew he needed to see them.

"The KGB wanted to keep me happy after they decided that I would be useful to them," she said, hugging him tighter.

Sydney's laughter filled the room as she chased after a kickball; Francie laughed with her. And Irina mourned the loss of two wonderful women as she watched the little girls they had been.

The slight shifting in Jack's muscles warned her that he was about to ask a question that would be painful. "Do you regret not taking her?"

She was silent as Sydney danced at her first dance. When the scene changed to six months later, she sighed. "No."

He tensed in her arms. "Why?"

"I thought you didn't want to discuss the past."

"Not about us, but I want to know everything about her."

Irina sighed and shifted, pressing herself closer to him. "I love her, and I wanted what was best for her. And that was you."

She knew he didn't believe her, so she continued speaking. "From the moment she was born, she was a daddy's girl. She adored you. And I knew she would be safe with you."

"She wasn't safe."

"Oh, yes, Jack, she was. I know you couldn't be the father you wanted to be, and I know you couldn't be the father you would've been had 'Laura' kept 'living', but you protected her with everything you had. I'm not sure I would've been that strong. I wasn't that strong. I let an ancient prophecy, one that was wrong, guide me instead of letting love choose my path."

"I always loved her, Irina, even when I wasn't there for her," he whispered.

Irina rubbed her hand over his hair in acknowledgement. Before she could say anything, the cell phone by the bed rang. Irina tensed as Jack paused the video and answered it. Her husband carried two phones. One was used constantly by him. The other was just left on waiting for the one person with its number to call. And she thought she knew who that one person was: Will, Jack's contact into the CIA. If they had found a new lead . . .

Her stomach protested the idea, but she knew she would follow him as he chased this new lead down. Even if it destroyed them both.


"I need to see you," Will's voice said as soon as he answered. The man no longer attempted to make small talk or do the expected greetings.

Jack looked at the frozen Sydney on the TV screen. She had been so beautiful. He had made no attempt to contact Will and let him know that the search was now over. Jack had finally accepted the truth, no matter how bitter it had been. "It will be a few days--"

"I'm in Paris now."

Jack knew he showed his surprise. Irina stood up from the couch they'd been sitting in and walked towards him. "How did you know I was in Paris?"

The laugh on the other side was chilling. "You're not the only person with contacts now, Jack. I've learned a lot over the last couple of years."

Jack nodded, although the man on the other side of the phone couldn't see him. "Where?"

Will gave him instructions and hung up without saying good-bye.

Irina licked her lips. "A lead?"

Sighing, Jack put down the phone and nodded. "Probably."

"What are--"

"I'm going to tell him that it's time to grieve and to move on."

Jack watched Irina relax. Reaching forward, he grabbed her by the neck and kissed her. "I won't be long."

Grabbing up a leather coat Irina had bought for him, he left the room.


Jack walked into the bar. It took him a moment to spot Will who was sitting back in a booth in the corner. Making his way through the smoke, Jack studied his daughter's friend and saw all the pain that was forever etched on his face. His quest to find Sydney had harmed so many lives.

Will spoke first. "Officer 2300844 called tonight looking for connection confirmation from Hong Kong."

He recognized the number and froze. "Impossible."

The beginning of the smile on Will's face left. "Jack, all indications--"

"Say that my daughter is dead, Will. I've accepted that fact, and you should, too."

Opening up a file folder that Jack hadn't noticed until it was in front of him, Will pulled out some photographs and handed them to him. While looking down at his daughter's face, he waited for that old feeling to overtake him. He wanted to believe, if only for a moment, that Sydney was alive.

But he didn't. The woman in these pictures was a double, altered genetically or through surgery. He couldn't tell, and it didn't matter.

It wasn't her. And he wouldn't allow his love for his daughter to blind him this time to the dangers this double presented to him and his.

He handed the photographs back. "Whoever is in that safe house is not Sydney."


"It's not her. Just as the woman spotted in photographs of a K-

Directorate prison was not her."

Will held up the pictures. "That was from a distance. These are straight shots of her entering a safe house."

Standing, Jack shook his head. "It's not her."


Pulling in front of the house in his silver BMW M5, Jack waited for the houseboy to rush out. Jack stood and watched as the other man drove off in his car, taking it to the garage. Inhaling a deep breath of the cool Paris air, Jack turned and walked into the house.

He went to Arvin's study, needing to inform him of tonight's events. They needed to be prepared for whatever havoc the double would cause for them. Standing outside the door, he heard Irina's voice inside and paused. She had gone through enough with his crazy searches for Sydney, but he couldn't hide tonight's events from her. She needed to be told about the danger, too.

"He said he would be back soon," Irina was saying when he pushed open the door.

She smiled and strolled over to him. The smile left when her eyes met his. "What's wrong?"

He took her hand in his and squeezed before facing Arvin. "We have a problem."


What greater pain could mortals have than this:

To see their children dead before their eyes?