CHAPTER 21

6 YEARS LATER

"Mum?"

Lauren looks at her seven year old son who was quietly sitting at the kitchen table doing his homework. "Yes Ian?"

"Why do you wear a ring if you and Dad aren't married?"

Lauren tilts her head, "What brought this on?"

Ian shrugs "Just wondering."

Lauren looks at the platinum band on her ring finger with a large diamond and smiles slightly, "I guess neither of us really thought of legalizing our relationship. As for the ring your Dad has a tendency to get angry when other men assume I'm single thus the ring." Lauren shrugs knowing her son's high intelligence would quickly absorb and analyze the information. 'Just like his Daddy.' She smiles fondly. "Besides your Daddy and I love each other no matter what and marriage wouldn't change things."

Ian nods "Why do Sophia and I have different names?"

"Because I was married before and her father refuses to sign the papers legally changing her name. As for why you have my name... just made things easier I guess." She regards her son, "Does that bother you?"

Ian shrugs, "Not really. I was just curious."

Lauren nods

"Where's Sophia?" Ian asks

"She called Daddy and asked him to pick her up from school."

"Oh" Ian nods "Why do we go to different schools?" He asks

"Wow you are full of questions today." Lauren laughs

Ian shrugs

"Well Daddy and I decided we'd send you two to schools that fit your personalities."

"Oh"

"Anymore questions?"

"No" Ian turns to his homework.

SAME TIME: SCHOOL

Sark walks up the steps where eleven year old Sophia is sitting and joins her, "Why didn't you want your Mother to pick you up?"

Sophia shrugs

Sark notices her expression, "What's wrong? You've been quiet these last few days."

"Thinking" Sophia says

"About?" Sark prompts

"Where's Dad?"

Sark sighs, "Sophia this is something you need to talk to your Mum about."

"She always changes the subject." Sophia argues. "I'm not five."

Sark smiles "I know."

"So where is he? And why can't I see him?"

"Well he's in lockup in LA."

"For what?"

"Remember that vacation you took with him?"

Sophia nods "He wouldn't let me call Mama."

"When he left his job he took some items he wasn't supposed to take."

"What?"

"Files"

"On what?"

"You know how your Mum used to work for the CIA?"

Sophia nods "Dad did too."

Sark nods "He took some files from work that weren't supposed to leave."

"So that's why he got into trouble?"

"Yes"

"Then why isn't he out?"

"Because they don't trust him to keep the secrets he's supposed to keep."

"Why can't I see him?"

"Your Mum doesn't think that it is a good idea."

"Do you think that it is a bad idea?"

"This is your Mum's choice Baby girl. I have no say."

"What is he like? I don't remember much about him."

"I'm not the one you should ask these questions too." Sark says hesitantly. 'I bloody hate the bastard.'

"Why not? You knew him right?"

Sark nods

"So why ask Mom when I can ask you." Sophia rationalizes

"Vaughn and I hated each other."

"Why?"

"Difference of opinion and beliefs." Sark shrugs "I know you miss him."

"Not really. I mean I did when I was little but now... I don't as much as I did." Sophia sighs. "I just wonder about him sometimes."

"Understandable." Sark nods "Is this what has been on your mind?"

Sophia shrugs "Mostly."

"Anything else?"

"No."

"Good. Now let's go home." Sark kisses her head standing he picks up Sophia's backpack, "How was school?" He listens intently as the girl talks.

EVENING

"She asked about Vaughn"

Lauren stiffens "What about him?"

"She's curious." Sark shrugs "It's not like we talk about him. And she hasn't seen him since she was four."

"I think we should just tell her"

"Tell who what?" Sophia asks walking in on the end of the conversation.

"Nothing" Sark says quickly "Homework?"

"Done." Sophia looks between her parents "What's going on?"

"Nothing honey." Lauren lies

"OK" Sophia shrugs walking out of the kitchen.

"I don't want to discuss this."

"We need to discuss it." Sark argues. "She's eleven Lauren."

"This could be dealt with if you would stop being so stubborn about keeping your promise!" Lauren says angrily as she throws a glass at him.

"You were the one who wanted to stay!" Sark argues after ducking to avoid the glass. "I asked you to come with me but you chose to stay." He says angrily, "You chose him over us."

"You think I liked making that choice!" Lauren exclaims. "I hated that choice!"

"Well you made it." He says snidely only to get slapped

"You have no idea how hard that decision was! You have no idea the nights I spent crying because you weren't there when I needed you!"

"You could have left him Lauren, but you thought staying he'd love you as much as he loved Bristow."

"Go to hell" Lauren storms out of the kitchen

Sark winces realizing what he said, "Bloody hell." He mutters rubbing his forehead. 'Way to go Julian. Reminded the woman you love that her ex-husband loved someone more than her.'

WHILE LATER

"Mum would yell at you for smoking."

Sark glances at his son as he lights another cigarette, "Homework done?"

"Uh huh. Sophia's watching TV and won't share." Ian sits beside his father on the steps. "Smoking is bad for you."

"I know."

"Dad"

"Hmm"

"I hate when you and Mum fight."

Sark sighs grinding out the cigarette on the step "Sorry." He ruffles Ian's hair, "We just had a small argument. We'll patch it up."

"Promise?"

"Promise." He kisses the top of his son's head.

"Ian"

Ian looks over his shoulder, "Hi Mum"

"Go inside please." Lauren says

Ian looks at his Dad then stands walking into the house.

Lauren takes her son's place as the door closes, "Sorry"

"So am I."

"I never chose Michael over us."

"A large part of me knows that... I just..." He takes a drag of his cigarette "The day you said that it would be best if we have no contact I wanted... I wanted to rip his head off. I knew you were unhappy... and he was the cause of it. I knew that you staying with him would cause you more unhappiness." He takes her hand bringing it to his lips, "I knew you were happier with me. I knew I could make you happy... if I had the chance to give you the life you and Sophia deserved back then."

"God I wish we had met before Michael." Lauren sighs heavily as she rests her head on his shoulder.

"Only good thing that prick ever did was bring you into my life." Sark drops a kiss to her head. "If it wasn't for meeting you and falling in love with you... I don't think I'd be alive."

"Hard to believe we fell in love in the course of seeking revenge on Michael and Sydney." Lauren sighs

"Mmm"

"I can't Julian"

"Can't what?"

"Keep it from her. She deserves to know the truth."

"How is telling her going to change things?" Sark asks grinding out his cigarette.

"We agreed... and she needs to know." Lauren squeezes his hand "She's old enough."

Sark takes a deep breath, "All right." He relents

"Ian has his study group after school tomorrow."

Sark nods

"Why are you so scared to tell her?"

Sark looks at their laced fingers, "One of the few things that scares me is her hating me for keeping this a secret from her."

"She'd get over it. She adores you... always has. Since the first time you watched cartoons with her I knew she adored you. She may be upset but she'd get over it."

"The first time I saw her in your arms... was in a picture one of my sources had taken. It was the day you left the hospital."

"Really?"

Sark nods "When I saw that picture I needed to see her... touch her."

"I'm glad you came to see her. I knew you would see her but I didn't know when or how. I didn't know if you'd come see her when we were asleep. I'm glad you came that night."

"So am I."

"She'll understand. Besides she already calls you Dad. She'll just learn you really are"

"I'm not legally... and I never will be." Sark says sadly.

"Since when does legality matter to you?" Lauren asks softly. "You aren't listed as Ian's father. He doesn't have your name."

"You think I like that?" Sark demands

"No." Lauren sighs. "I know you don't. But I also know that when people refer to me as your wife you never correct them." She points out looking at her finger as he absently twists the ring. "Ian asked why we aren't married"

"What did you say?"

"That legality doesn't matter to us."

"It doesn't bother you?" Sark asks hesitantly.

"It's just a piece of paper" Lauren shrugs "does it bother you?"

"No." Sark brings her hand to his lips "You are mine with or without the piece of paper." He says possessively.

Lauren smiles "I know" she leans in kissing him lightly "Can you understand why I can't keep this from her anymore?"

Sark closes his eyes, 'I can't have my little girl hate me.' He nods

"She'll understand... once we explain."

"I hope so." He murmurs

4AM

Lauren awakens startled by the sound of a ringing phone.

Sark blindly grabs the offending phone, "What?" He growls

Lauren rolls over looking at Sark who is looking annoyed.

"Fine" He hangs up muttering under his breath.

"What's going on?"

"I have to go."

"Where?"

"They want me to track down an old source for some information."

"Can't you do that from here?"

"No."

"Where are you going?"

"Prague. I should be back in a few days."

"Julian" Lauren protests "what about"

Sark rubs his forehead, "Bloody hell"

"Call back and tell them no"

"I can't. Besides they will just remind me that I have no say on when and where I go." Sark points out.

"Damn it Julian I can't keep this from her another day!"

Sark sighs, "Then tell her."

"What? We should tell her together"

"Unless you can wait a few days... there's no choice. Its four in the bloody morning and I don't want to wake her."

"Fine I will tell her... alone." Lauren turns her back to him.

Sark stares at her then gets out of bed walking to the bathroom.

7AM

"Where is Dad?" Sophia asks surprised to find her father absent from the kitchen.

"He had to go take care of something." Lauren answers

"Can I go to Katie's after school?" Sophia asks as she pours herself some orange juice.

"Not today honey. I need to talk to you about something."

"Sophia is grounded" Ian says amused.

"Shut up brat." Sophia glares at her brother. "Am I in trouble?"

"No." Lauren assures "I thought we could spend some time together."

Sophia nods

"When is Dad going to be home Mum?" Ian asks

"He thought tomorrow. He's not sure how long though." Lauren sets the plates before the kids, "Eat up."

4PM: HOUSE

"So what did you want to talk about?" Sophia asks as she settles at the kitchen table watching her Mom work nervously around the kitchen.

Lauren looks at her daughter "Why don't we talk in the living room." She heads into the living room knowing her daughter will follow.

"What's going on Mama?" Sophia asks settling on the couch.

Laure takes a deep breath as she sits beside her daughter, "I had hoped to talk to you about this with Julian but" she shrugs

"What is it?"

"I think its time for us to discuss some things." Lauren says nervously, "We wanted to wait until you were older but I can't keep it anymore. I need to tell you the full truth."

"About what?"

"The past." Lauren takes a deep breath, "I met Michael thirteen years ago when I was living in Los Angeles. He had just returned from a self-imposed exile after his girlfriend, Sydney, had disappeared. I liked him immediately. I knew he was still in love with Sydney but I waited it out. A year after we met he asked me to marry him. We were happy and in love." She smiles sadly, "But six months into our marriage Sydney returned. Everyone was stunned... Michael as well." She pauses "It was hard on everyone... mostly Sydney I believe. She didn't know how long she had been gone... and she returned to find Michael married. All of us were trying to work through things."

"But you and Dad stayed together."

Lauren nods "But he was feeling guilty over what happened to Sydney so he was spending time helping her out."

"Did he still love her?"

Lauren nods "He couldn't admit it for a long time but he did."

"What happened?"

"He was spending so much time with Sydney and helping her that I felt like he was pulling away from me... cheating on me."

"Was he?"

"To this day he says no but I didn't care. I knew something was going on. One night I received a picture from someone of Michael and Sydney kissing. I was furious but I had no idea what to do. My life spun out of control... I met someone who was as angry as I was over everything."

"Who?"

"Julian"

Sophia frowns "You met Julian when you were married to Dad?"

Lauren nods "He knew Michael from... work."

"Dad and Julian worked together?"

"Somewhat." Lauren replies

"What happened?"

"We fell in love."

"You were already married." Sophia protests

"I know but Michael wasn't in love with me... not in the way I wanted or deserved. He was in love with Sydney. I did love Michael and I thought..." she takes a deep breath, "I thought staying with him and raising you would make him pull away from Sydney... even if I had to lie and push away a man who loved me as much as I loved him."

"What do you mean lie?"

"Sophia... Michael's not your biological father." Lauren says softly. "Julian is."

"What? You mean... Ian's not my half brother?"

Lauren shakes her head, "No."

"Why? How?" Sophia stares at her Mom, "Why did you lie to me?"

"I didn't want too... I was protecting you."

"How is lying about who my father is protecting me!" Sophia says angrily jumping up.

"This is really complicated Sophia."

"You lied to me!"

"We didn't want too."

"Does Dad know?"

Lauren nods "He found out when you were kidnapped. He was angry... hurt"

"You lied to him for four years!"

"I know"

"If you loved Julian why didn't you just divorce Dad and leave?" Sophia demands

"I couldn't. I knew if Michael found out I was pregnant he'd take you"

"But I wasn't his"

"We didn't know for sure until you were born. By then I had already forced Julian out of my life."

"He's known since the beginning?"

Lauren nods "He wanted me to leave Michael... almost begged me to." She swallows "But I couldn't do it. I couldn't risk people finding out Julian was your father. I couldn't risk loosing you AND Julian. I knew if I left Michael he would find us... he would find out the truth and I would be in a lot of trouble. But the terrifying part was the fact I could lose you... I couldn't risk it."

"So you stayed with a man you didn't love and lied to him!"

Lauren nods

"Do Grandma and Grandpa know?"

"Grandma thinks you were the result of a one time affair. Grandpa knows the truth."

"Nana?"

Lauren swallows heavily and nods, "Michael told her a few years ago... she confronted me but I begged her to keep quiet. She loves you despite the truth. You're still a Vaughn."

"Why am I still a Vaughn if I'm not one?"

"Michael refused to sign the papers terminating his rights, and allowing me to legally change your name to Reed, unless I signed papers saying that you will never refer to Julian as your father... and that I never tell you the truth." She looks at her ring, "I couldn't do it. I swore the day Julian left that I'd tell you the truth one day."

"Why now?"

"Because I hate keeping it from you. I always have." Lauren stands and moves towards Sophia who immediately backs away, "Sophia"

"I hate you!" Sophia says coldly before bolting out of the living room.

Lauren drops on the couch tears falling. 'My baby hates me.'

Slamming the door behind her Sophia grabs the nearest object a book and throws it on the floor.

Downstairs Lauren winces hearing the sounds of her daughter's temper... her father's temper the few times she has seen him loose it completely. "Oh God." She sobs curling up on the couch letting the tears fall.

Sophia grabs the remote for her stereo and turns to the rock station turning it on as loud as she can handle it before dropping on the bed letting the tears out. 'My whole life has been a lie. I'm not who I thought I was.'

COUPLE HOURS LATER

"Mum" Ian walks into the kitchen

"Hey sweetie. How was your day?" Lauren looks at her son.

"Did you and Dad have another fight?" Ian asks seeing the sadness and the results of her tears.

"No" Lauren assures "put your things away. Dinner will be ready soon. Can you get your sister?"

"Sure." Ian grabs his bag and walks out of the kitchen.

Sophia stares up at the ceiling ignoring the music pounding in her room. When she notices the door open she glares at her brother, "Get out!" She screams

"Dinners ready"

"GET OUT!" She grabs the nearest item a dictionary throwing it at her brother.

Ian quickly closes the door heading to his own room "Bad mood I guess." He mutters

Hearing footsteps Lauren smiles at her son "Washed up?"

Ian nods "She threw a book at me."

"She's upset."

"Why?"

"I had to tell her something."

"What could get her that angry?"

Lauren sighs 'I might as well tell him before Sophia does.' "Sit down" once Ian sits at the table Lauren sits in the chair next to him, "You know how I told you I was married before?"

"To Sophia's Dad." Ian nods

"Michael isn't Sophia's biological father."

"I don't understand"

"Sophia's not your half sister Ian."

"You mean Dad's really her Dad?"

Lauren nods

"Is that why she was so angry?"

Lauren nods watching her son close as he absorbs the information. "I know this is a surprise." She says hesitantly not wanting another of her children to become angry with her.

"Its fine with me Mum." Ian smiles

"Thanks honey" Lauren smiles standing she walks back to the stove. 'At least one of my children won't hate me.' She thinks sadly.

COUPLE HOURS LATER

Hearing that the stereo is off, Lauren knocks on the door then opens the door to find her daughter lying on the bed staring up at the ceiling. "Sophia" she looks around the room wincing at the disaster of her daughter's temper.

"Get out"

"Sophia" she winces when Sophia looks at her.

"Get out" Sophia says coldly

"Sophia"

Sophia sits up, "I don't want to talk to you! I don't want to see you! Get the hell out of my room!"

Lauren walks out of the room closing the door she leans against it.

"She'll get over it Mom." Ian says from the doorway of his bedroom.

"I know." Lauren says sadly "Go to bed all right?"

Ian nods "Night Mum."

"Sleep well Ian." Lauren smiles at her son before heading to the master bedroom and dropping on the bed tears falling. 'She hates me.'

NEXT MORNING

"She said she's not going and to leave her alone." Ian informs his Mom.

Lauren looks at the stairs sadly. "Lets go you'll be late."

HOUR LATER

"Ready to talk?" Lauren asks as she finds her daughter in the kitchen eating.

Sophia remains silent obviously ignoring her Mother.

"Don't be a bloody brat!" Lauren says angrily.

"What did you expect Mother! That I'd automatically forgive you for lying to me my whole life!"

"No"

"Well I won't. If I was older I'd be out the door! You lied to me!"

"I'm sorry Sophia. I never wanted to hurt you"

"No you just thought it was more convenient not to tell me." Sophia says coldly dropping the bowl in the sink before walking out of the kitchen.

Lauren winces hearing the bedroom door slam shut and the stereo turn on.

EVENING

"She's so angry." Lauren sighs as she talks to Sark on the phone.

"Lauren you couldn't have expected her to be jumping for joy to find out her whole life was a lie." Sark says gently.

"She's locked herself in her room for most of the day. Only came out when I took Ian to school and picked him up." Lauren closes her eyes, "I had to tell her... even if this was the reaction. Even if she ends up hating me for it."

"She doesn't hate you Lauren. She's trying to process everything."

"I know. At least Ian took it well." Lauren whispers. "When will you be back?"

"Early tomorrow morning."

"Good." Lauren sniffles

4AM

Lauren stirs as she hears the bedroom door open and close. She opens her eyes and smiles sleepily seeing Sark, "Hi"

"Hello darling." Sark sits on the edge of the bed, "It's early."

Lauren shrugs "I missed you." She whispers

Sark leans down kissing her forehead, "I missed you too." He smoothes her hair back. "Why don't you go back to sleep... I'm going to take a quick shower."

Lauren nods "I love you"

"I love you too."

7:30

"Why don't you take Ian to school and go shopping... see your friends." Sark suggests as he watches Lauren clean up the breakfast mess.

"What about Sophia? She obviously isn't going to go to school today." Lauren says softly.

Sark sets his mug aside and pulls Lauren close, "I will talk to her."

"Maybe she will talk to you." Lauren says sadly. "She obviously doesn't want me anywhere near her."

Sark kisses her forehead

"What are you going to say to her?" Lauren asks

"I'm not entirely sure."

"She always did take things better from you." Lauren smiles sadly.

HOUR LATER

Sark knocks on the closed door only to have Sophia turn the stereo on louder. "Fine, want to go that way." He smirks "Two can play at that."

Sophia stares at the ceiling ignoring the mess around her room and the blaring stereo until a moment later the stereo and the lights turn off. "Whatever." She continues staring at the ceiling.

Sark knocks at the door and when she doesn't answer he sighs, 'She still has other things to use to ignore me.'

Sophia scowls hearing her door open and looks over to see Sark, "I don't want to talk about it."

"You have been a bloody brat to your Mother." Sark states

"Leave me alone" Sophia rolls to her side her back facing the door.

Sark looks around the room noticing the destruction and sighs, "We need to talk."

"There's nothing to talk about. You lied to me... end of story."

Sark sits on the edge of the bed, "We didn't want to lie Sophia. Things were complicated at the time."

"That really explains things." Sophia says coldly. "What you didn't want a kid?"

Sark sighs "Fine I will tell you the truth... but I don't want you to mention this to your brother... he's still too young for the whole story."

Sophia turns to look at her father, "What?"

"When I met Lauren I had just escaped from CIA custody." At Sophia's surprised expression he shrugs. "At one time I was a spy... and not for the CIA or British Intelligence. I worked for someone named The Man... long story. I had made it high up on the Most Wanted list... until the CIA caught me around the time one of their prized agents disappeared. An agent who dated Vaughn... Sydney Bristow. They believed she was dead well everyone but Vaughn and her father… but soon Vaughn began to believe it as well and married your Mum. Two years later she returned with missing time and memories."

"Where were you?"

"Lock-up the whole time, bloody boring time." He laughs. "While I was in lock up Vaughn met and married Lauren. I was going to be traded for some CIA agents as well as some important information. The CIA had hoped that they would able to keep me and get their agents... but instead I was grabbed by the same men who had the agents because the CIA bloody fucked up." He shakes his head, "The people who took me wanted my inheritance... and became my employers for a time."

"When did you meet Mum?"

"A few days later... when I gave her ammunition that could destroy Vaughn's beloved Agent Bristow. I had discovered that Agent Bristow had been an agent for the people I had worked for, but that is an even longer and more complicated story." Sark takes a deep breath, "The second time I met Lauren we both had had a few drinks..." Sark shakes his head, "It was supposed to be a one time thing but it wasn't." He looks at Sophia and reaches out gently brushing her hair back, "I stayed away for a few weeks but I couldn't."

"So you had an affair."

Sark nods "We told ourselves there were no emotions... it was revenge for both of us. We believed it for a few months but it became more." He shrugs, "I did the unthinkable for someone like myself... I fell in love" He smiles wryly, "and she loved me as well. We couldn't admit it but we both knew how we felt."

"When did you tell her?"

"Around your first birthday. I hadn't seen you in person... well that she knew about... since you were a week old." He smiles sadly, "I snuck into the house a few times... mostly when Vaughn was either just back from a mission or not even around. Easiest way to keep from being caught." He smiles sadly, "I would disable the alarm system... feed his dumb dog a short sedative... and turn off the monitor in your room. I'd watch you sleep for a while then go out the same way I came in."

"How long did you do that?"

"At least once a month until you were two... I knew that the older you became the easier you'd wake."

"Did Mum know?"

Sark shakes his head, "She admitted she suspected my nightly visits... but she never stopped me or did anything to prevent it." He notices Sophia's blanket draped over the headboard and smiles pulling it down. "I sent this to your Mum before you were born. To this day I still don't know what drove me to buy it but I saw it when I was passing this small children's store in Italy." He shrugs handing it to Sophia. "We didn't want to lie Sophia... there wasn't any choice in the matter... at least not one that wouldn't destroy Lauren's life... and career... which in turn would have destroyed your life." He gently brushes Sophia's hair back, "I didn't want that to happen so... I stayed away." He smiles sadly. "After your birthday I decided that it was time to leave the spy world and go legitimate. So I took over my dead father's enterprises and made a deal with the CIA."

"Why lie to me these last eight years?" Sophia asks. "As you said he's not getting out anytime soon."

"I'm a man of my word... when he found out the truth I told him I wasn't going to tell you any time soon." Sark answers

"Why not?"

Sark sighs, "Truth is the man Vaughn was before Sydney's disappearance I had no problem with him raising you. It was just the man he became the last few years of their marriage I had a problem with."

"Meaning you didn't want to be a Dad."

Sark winces "It was never about not wanting to be your Dad... it was about everyone else around... the ones who would have used you to get to me. I admit some of it had to with the fact I was 24 and not ready abandon my search for answers." He brushes her hair back, "We never wanted to hurt you Sophia... we just wanted to protect you." He smiles sadly, "All we ever wanted was to give you a life that was safe. At the time acknowledging you were mine... would have caused a lot of trouble for everyone."

Sophia rolls to her side her back to Sark

"Sophia"

"Go 'way." Sophia whispers

"Not until we finish talking about this"

"I don't want to talk about it anymore." She says stiffly trying to keep the tears from falling.

Sark stares at her still form sadly, "If you want to discuss this more you know where to find me." He stands heading towards the door, "Oh and Baby girl... I want you to pick up your room before you go to school tomorrow." He closes the door behind him.

Sophia closes her eyes tears falling once the door is closed.

EVENING

"She said she's not hungry." Ian informs his parents as he joins them in the kitchen.

Lauren winces

"She'll be fine my love." Sark kisses her temple, "She just needs time."

"I know."

THE END

Well this one is done. Now I can concentrate on finishing my other Alias fics as well as my Firefly fics. Hope you liked it. Let me know.