"But you do know what happened?"

"Of course I do. I was there." Sark tossed his gun into his bag and looked up at her again. Irina nodded to him, then motioned to the bed. "Sit down… we have a lot to talk about."

Chapter 5

Some say I'm crazy for my love, oh my love
But no bonds can hold me from your side, oh my love
They don't know you can't leave me
They don't hear you singing to me

Sark slowly sat down, and looked up at Irina expectantly.

"Well? What's your story?" he inquired as he noticed her hesitation.

"I need to ask you some questions first," Irina said. Sark stood up defiantly, taking a step towards her. She moved forward and put a hand on his shoulder, gently pushing him back to the bed. "I'm not trying to be evasive, Adam, I simply need to find out what you know, or at least what you think you know, before I can adequately answer your questions."

"Fine. What do you want to know?" Irina took a moment, gathering her thoughts.

"Before I tell you everything, I want to know what series of events you perceive as being reality." Sark raised his eyebrow at her phrasing, but complied.

"Very well. I don't know everything that happened, I'm quite aware of this fact. But here's what I think: you set it all up." Irina tilted her head warningly, but didn't interrupt. "You and Sydney both wanted to get her out of LA, out of the CIA, and that's something that could never happen so long as she's alive. So, you faked it. All of it, the accident, the phone call- perhaps Agent Weiss was even in on it, he cared about Sydney as well. I'm not sure how you handled providing a body; rather, I have a few thoughts, but I'd rather not get too deep into those. But Sydney's body was positively identified after her apartment fire, yet she turned up quite alive- who's to say it couldn't happen again?

"From there, the two of you split up, though I'm not sure why just yet. I'm also not sure where you went during this time, nor what you did. Sydney, however, came to me. She left a note in my car, knowing I would understand, and then she waited for me in my hotel room. She refused to tell me anything, I can only assume that was on your order, and that's been it." Irina nodded thoughtfully.

"I see. Do you still have the note she left in your car?"

"Yes."

"May I see it?" Sark looked at her suspiciously, but reached for his bag and found the note at the bottom, which he then handed over to her. Irina studied it intently for a few moments before setting it down on the desk. With a sigh, she lowered herself into the chair and looked at Sark carefully. "And you took this note at face value?" Sark thought back to when he'd discovered it.

"I seem to recall finding it odd, but I was more focused on Sydney at the time."

"I see. Now, you said Sydney was in your room when you returned to the hotel?"

"Yes."

"How did she get in?"

"I'm not sure," Sark admitted. "But it's hardly the most difficult place she's ever had to get into."

"Did she have any belongings with her?" Sark gave her a wary glance.

"You're asking a lot of questions, Irina," he said evenly.

"I know," she replied. "But I have to. I can't make sense of anything for you until it all makes sense to me." Sark frowned.

"No, she had nothing."

"And has she changed clothes at all?" Sark blinked, his face contorting as something occurred to him.

"Yes," he said softly. "It seems she has." He locked eyes with Irina, but she said nothing in response.

"And yet she has no luggage with her. Adam, do you see what I'm getting at?"

"No, Irina, I truly don't. Why don't you just tell me straight out? It would make matters much simpler."

"Do you remember when you wouldn't tell Sydney about the time the two of you spent together?" At his nod, she continued. "And do you remember why you wouldn't?"

"Of course; I said if she didn't know it for herself, she'd never believe it."

"Exactly." Sark rubbed his forehead tiredly.

"Fine, I see your point. What else do you wish to know?"

"Has there been anything odd about her since she reconnected with you?"

"A few things, yes, but as I told her, she's not the same person she was when we were together. This could be completely normal for her."

"It's not," Irina said under her breath, earning another glare from Sark. "What about anyone else who may have spoken to her?"

"No one else has, that I've seen," he said thoughtfully. "We haven't encountered many people, but most seem to have ignored her thus far."

"And this doesn't strike you as odd?"

"Yes, it does to some extent."

"Have you and she had any physical contact since she reappeared?" Sark raised an eyebrow.

"Getting a bit personal, aren't we?" Irina glared at him.

"You know that's not what I meant. I'm referring to a hug, a kiss, anything like that."

"No," he replied. "She's still not terribly comfortable, and I'm not about to push things."

"Adam, I know you understand what I'm saying; I can see it. I also understand why you don't want to accept it, but you have to; this isn't something that can be ignored like that."

"No, Irina, I truly don't believe I understand any of what you're trying to communicate. As has been so aptly demonstrated, I'm not the one asking the questions here, you are."

"I'm asking these questions to make you see!" Irina hissed. "Think of what I've asked, and think of your own answers, and tell me honestly that you don't see the truth in them." Sark shook his head defiantly.

"No. No, I refuse to believe that. It's ludicrous, Irina, absolutely absurd."

"But it's true Adam. Yes, it's insane, but it is still-" Sark cut her off sharply.

"No!" he yelled, standing up and crossing the room. He remained with his back towards her, not saying anything else for a long moment. "No, it's not true; I don't know why you're telling me this kind of brutal lie, but she is with me, Irina. Sydney Bristow is alive, and she is with me," he insisted.

"I was there, Adam. I saw my daughter die. I held her hand through the pain, and I held her in my arms as she breathed her last. Don't you dare tell me my daughter didn't die that day. I would never make something like this up, you know me well enough to know that." By this point, she was standing by his side, looking at him intently. He'd long since shut his eyes, as if trying to block out her words.

"Adam…" she said softly, reaching for his arm.

"Stop it, just stop it!" Sark batted her hand away and stepped back, and she could finally see the tears as he opened his eyes.

"I know you can't accept this; I never expected you would." She moved over to the desk and picked up a small envelope, which she handed to him.

"What is this?" he whispered. She looked down momentarily, and his anxiety increased.

"Pictures. Proof." Sark stared down at the packet, not opening it. Finally, he looked back up at Irina and shook his head angrily.

"No," he breathed, before turning and launching it across the room, watching impassively as it shattered the lamp on the desk.

As the sound reverberated in his mind, Sark sat straight up in bed, looking around wildly. He glanced over and saw Sydney on the other bed, now sitting up and watching him.

"Dream…" he whispered as his breathing finally slowed to normal.

"Adam?" Sydney questioned.

"I just… I had a very bad dream," he said haltingly.

"A nightmare? About what?" Sark shook his head quickly.

"I don't want to talk about it," he replied sharply, not looking at her.

"Why not?"

"I just don't."

"It's real," Sydney whispered, and he finally faced her.

"I'm sorry?"

"It's real," she repeated.

"I don't understand…"

"Yes you do." She nodded towards the desk, and Sark got out of bed and walked over slowly. His hand shook as he reached for the familiar packet amidst the shattered remains of the broken lamp. He opened the envelope hesitantly and pulled out the pictures. As he looked through them, he rested his free hand on the desk, ignoring the pain as various shards cut into him. Eventually, he could take no more, and shoved the remaining photos back into the envelope.

"How… I thought it was a dream," he said softly, not facing her.

"You hoped it was," she gently corrected. He finally turned to her, rapidly blinking back tears as he realized he was seeing right through her.

"You're in my head," he whispered. She nodded sadly.

"I died, Adam. Look at the note again." He turned back to the desk and reached for the piece of paper. "Really look at it," she stressed. He studied it intently, and felt a jolt as he realized it was his own handwriting, not Sydney's.

"It's one of the notes I left for you."

"Yes."

"No one else sees you… I haven't seen you eat anything. You're in and out of rooms and cars, as if by magic. It wasn't a dream…" With each point Sark made, Sydney seemed to fade more. "Everything was in my head." A solitary tear rolled down her cheek before Sydney shut her eyes and was gone. Sark continued staring at the spot she'd seemingly been standing in before something drew his attention to the corner of the room. There, he saw Irina seated in a chair, watching him in concern.

"I'm sorry," he said softly.

"So am I," she replied.

"I've lost my mind," he murmured.

"You need to deal with your grief. As much as you don't want to, you have to let her go; that's the only way to recover."

"I'll never recover, Irina. I loved her, so much that I wouldn't let her stay dead. But I know now, I understand that she's truly gone, and that I'll not be getting her back this time. I never knew it was possible to love someone this much, and I know I never will again. Thank you." She frowned in confusion.

"For what?"

"For saving me… from myself." With a light nod, he left the room and went out to sit by the pool.

"Sydney, I don't know if you can hear me right now; if you've been able to see me at all recently, I'm sure you've seen just how pathetic I've become. I can't live without you. I don't know how. Obviously, I now have to figure that out. The only person I have left in my life is Irina, and she's no replacement for you, love. I can't believe I allowed myself to slip like this, Sydney." He shook his head, sighing lightly. "I'm done; I have to let you go now, or I may end up losing my mind all over again. I love you, and I always will. Goodbye, Sydney."

With one brief glance to the sky, Sark drew a calming breath and headed back to his room, prepared to begin another empty life at Irina's side.

And I can't love you, anymore than I do
I will die, but real love is forever.