"I love you," Sark said, firm in his decision to tell her the truth. "That's what I told you when you stopped breathing. I told you that despite everything I am and everything I've tried to be, I love you, Sydney Bristow."

Finished with what needed to be said, he nodded at her and walked out the door, closing it shut lightly behind him.

Sydney was awestruck. It was almost as if time had stopped or the earth had come to an end. She kept waiting for the hospital to be swallowed up into the earth or struck by lightning. She had never expected him to say those three words to her.


~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Things changed after that moment. For the remaining two weeks Sydney stayed in the Paris hospital, Sark didn't sit by her bedside, holding her hand. Her father took up that position and reported that Sark had taken up a permanent position on one of the lobby couches.

The doctors kept coming in and out asking if they could do tests on the Covenant implants inside of her. She respectfully declined every offer. Eventually, they realized she was probably never going to let them take a closer look at the mechanism. That was the day she was released from the hospital and cleared to go home.

She was packing up all the flowers and cards she had gotten from her friends back home. Her favorite had to be either the teddy bear that Marshall sent with another poem about her disappearance or the homemade cards that Dixon's children made addressed to their Aunt Sydney.

Her little reminiscence of her favorite tech guy and "niece and nephew" was interrupted by her father entering the room. She turned and smiled at him. "Thank you for the clothes.

When she had woken up that morning, there was a pile of clothes sitting at the bottom of the bed, a pair of jeans, medium-sized t-shirt, and a gray button up sweater. Since these happened to be quite similar to her favorite pair, she figured they were from her father, who knew her the best.

"Those weren't from me. Sark left them for you."

Sydney nodded. That fact wasn't all the surprising. She continued to pack up all the belongings she had accumulated.

"I was talking to Dixon on the phone earlier this morning. He was happy to hear that you had been released and were going to be okay."

"That's nice. I know Dixon thinks I'm mad at him for his attempt at giving me what he thought I wanted. At one time, I really did want to leave the spy life and be a normal person. But that was years ago. It's embedded in everything I am now. I can't change that. And I can't leave it behind."

"I know that. Dixon seems to have realized that, too. It seems they have a situation at the CIA that he was wondering if you might want to handle. He said that it was an extremely important and sensitive area, and when push comes to shove, you might be the only one he trusts to get the job done."

"What job is there that fits me so well?" she asked as she shoved the pair of novels Vaughn sent her into her bag.

"There's a situation right now with Eric Weiss."

Sydney stopped what she was doing in midair and stared at her father. "What happened?"

"It seems he's become a rather important member in the Covenant. He's escaped."

"The CIA just let Weiss walk out of their facility?"

"No, the Covenant discovered the outpost facility Weiss was being held in. They made a raid and extracted him. Dixon seems to think you're just the woman to head up the investigation into Weiss and to track him down for recapture."

"Did they get any explanations out of him before the Covenant swooped in?"

"He explained that it all had something to do with his uncle. But the CIA never clarified that statement, and it isn't on the official record. Ex-Agent Weiss wasn't very forthcoming with the information."

"And they wouldn't let you go in and get your hands dirty, right, Dad?"

"I don't tolerate traitors to the country or to the CIA."

Sydney smiled at her father's very characteristic statement. As the packing was finished and she had nothing else to do, she looked at her father carefully. She knew this moment had to occur before she left this hospital, but that didn't mean she still wasn't dreading it. "We've been putting off talking about this."

"To what are you referring?" Jack said, taking a seat on her bed.

"How are you handling the fact that Sark is here, Dad?"

"I've never cared for the man. That's common knowledge." Jack let out a deep breath. "But he cares for you, Sydney. Almost as much as I do."

"I know," she said. She knew what she had to tell him, and it wasn't going to be easy.

"What's with the worry face?"

She tried to give him a brave smile. "I love him, Daddy."

"That fact is painfully obvious, sweetheart. You don't have to be afraid to tell me."

"But you hate him. And I know how much it hurts you knowing that I trust him just as much as I trust you. And that's completely."

"I can't fault the fact that you have faith in him. Especially since he made some extremely hard decisions to keep you safe."

"Like calling the one man who wouldn't hesitate to shoot him with provocation?" she asked with a wink.

"That's only the tip of the iceberg. The man stabbed his own sister because she hurt you. He flew in a heart specialist from Switzerland to operate on you. Without thought, he risked imprisonment by coming into the hospital to stay by your side."

"Why would he be imprisoned?"

"The French police have at least a dozen warrants out for his arrest. I smoothed the situation over for him. He has asylum for now."

"Thank you for that."

Jack stood up. "Listen, Sydney. I'm on a flight back to the States in an hour and a half. I'm going to be leaving in a few minutes. If you want to take Dixon up on his offer, there'll be a plane seat next to me reserved for you." Jack paused and looked at his daughter carefully. "I want you to do something for me."

"Anything, Dad," she said reaching out for his hand.

"I want you to put yourself first. You've had a lifetime of decisions that were for the good of others, either those you know or just the world in general. I want you to make this decision based on what's best for you."

"What decision do I have to make?"

"Whether you want to get on that flight back to the US with me and rejoin the CIA, where you're needed desperately, I might add. Or whether you want to stay with that man who's been dutifully sleeping on the world's worst smelling couch."

Sydney chuckled and pulled her father into a hug. "I love you, Daddy."

"I love you."

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Sark was sitting on the couch when he saw Jack leave Sydney's hospital room. He received a quick acknowledging nod of the head, and then Jack was gone.

"Well, that's progress," Sark muttered. "At least he didn't try to shoot me on sight."

Wringing his hands together, he wondered if he should go talk to Sydney now. This was probably the last time he was going to have with her alone. There were some things they needed to iron out, especially seeing that they hadn't talked since he told her he loved her.

"Who says I'm brave?" he thought as he sat back on the couch. He needed a little more time before talking with her, he decided.

He broke out of his daydream when he felt a shadow fall over him. Looking up, he saw Sydney standing there in the clothes he had picked out for her the day before. He smiled weakly as she sat down on the coach next to him.

"My dad said this was the worst smelling coach ever, but I never imagined it could be this bad."

They sat in silence since neither one knew really were to begin. Sydney reached over and grasped his hand in hers without saying a word. Sark leaned his head back and stared at the ceiling.

"Dixon offered me a job with the CIA again. Heading up the team to recapture Weiss."

"He escaped?" he asked, pulling his head up to look at Sydney. "When did that happen?"

"You really have been cut off from the world while you've been at my bedside, haven't you?" She had meant the statement in jest, but it took them away from a safe topic and stopped them in a screeching halt in front of the one thing weighing on both their minds.

"So, when do you leave?" he finally asked.

"I'm not sure yet." Sydney took a deep breath. "So, what you said before? Was that the truth?"

Sark looked at her from the corner of his eye. She was staring intently at him, trying to read if what he was about to saw was a lie. Sighing, he shifted so that he faced her. "No, it wasn't a lie. I don't know when things changed, but they did."

Sydney smiled at him and looked down at their joined hands. "Didn't anyone ever tell you that what a Bristow woman wants a Bristow woman gets?"

"I should have realized that. You're an awful lot like your mother."

"People tell me that all the time. I try to take it as a compliment."

"Oh, it's definitely a compliment."

Sydney looked up at him with a completely serious face. "Tell me it again. I have to hear it from you again."

He smiled at her softly. "I love you, Sydney. It's hard for me to admit that, but I do. You single-handedly turned my life upside down like no one else ever has. God, you frustrate me so much. And the fact that I love it just makes me even more mad at you."

"Oh, don't get me wrong. You frustrate the hell out of me too."

"I still can't grasp why this feels so good."

"We seemed to fit each other so well. It's almost freakish."

Sark looked at her with all seriousness and, softly and slowly, said with much emphasis, "All I know is that whatever this is, it's right."

Sydney's eyes glistened with tears, and she bowed her head to keep Sark from noticing. She had never in her life expected to hear him actually admit how much she meant to him and how good they were together. She also had never expected there would come a day where she would be comfortable with the fact that she was showing her emotions and crying in front of Sark. She knew he had always considered crying a sign of weakness.

Noticing her soft crying, Sark tipped her chin up to look at him and wiped the tears off her cheeks with his free hand. "You have to go, don't you?"

She looked up at him. "My father said that I needed to go home."

"I think he's right. There's a job for you there. A job at a place I know you want to be. You need to get back to the life you want, Sydney."

She hadn't made a decision about what to do up until that moment, whether to meet her father at the airport and stay here by the side of her one-time adversary. His comment tipped the scales completely in the direction it seemed she had always been leaning. She wiped the last bit of tears from her eyes, stood up, and smiled bravely at him as she let go of his hand. "My father's right. It is time to go home."

Sark watched her walk down the hallway. Her shoes clicked on the worn hospital floor tiles in a slow rhythm. Each step that took her farther away from him was like a nail being pounded straight into his heart. It was too painful to keep watching her walk away.

"So this is what heartbreak feels like," he murmured. Leaning forward, he placed his head in his hands.

Halfway down the hall, he heard the sound of Sydney's shoes abruptly stop. He looked up to see her standing in the middle of the hallway gazing at him.

"Are you coming?" she asked with a smirk.

Her statement took a minute to sink in.

After it did, he chuckled as he stood up and began to walk down the corridor. She met him halfway with a kiss that told him he never really stood a chance at resisting her. And it told him that they were doing the right thing in staying together. That whatever they had, it was worth all the pain and suffering they had gone through to get to this point.

When they finally broke apart, he took a long look at her, almost as if he was making sure she was really there. "I thought you said you wanted to go home."

"My home is wherever you are," she whispered in his ear as she lightly nibbled it. "My life is next to you."

He pulled her back to look him in the eye. "I love you."

"You've done enough to prove that point. I've given you my trust, and I think you might be the only man who's never let me down." Sydney smiled at him. "I even told my father that I loved you."

"And he didn't immediately try to tie you up and drag you on the next flight out of here?"

"I think he actually likes you, only he'd never admit that."

"Impossible," Sark said with a smirk.

"I'm tired. Take me home."

Sark bent down to pick up the bag she had thrown all her belongings in. He threw the bag over his shoulder and scooped her up. With her safely in his arms, he began to walk out of the hospital.

They didn't know what the next step entailed for them. He was still a wanted criminal in most countries and was the very person most people tried to protect you against. She was an ex-CIA spy who had a nasty habit of getting shot, someone who was thought of as inherently good and noble. They were the most unlikely match, and yet at the same time it was almost natural. There were surefire obstacles they would have to face. But they were ready to confront anything that was thrown at them.

They were together. And in the end, that is all the really matters.