One month later
Jack Bristow stared sadly at the wall in front of him. Covered with the stars and names of all the agents who had never returned from their missions, the wall held a special significance to him. After all, right there carved into the black marble was his daughter's name – amongst the ranks of brave agents who had made the ultimate sacrifice. Jack thought it fitting; Sydney had given more than just her life to stop a madman from destroying the world.
"I still can't believe everything that's happened over the last two months." A quiet voice said from beside him.
Jack looked over and spotted Michael Vaughn. His eyes reflected the same sadness Jack felt, but the younger man was taking it more in his stride than Jack could. "Or that you're leaving the CIA." Vaughn added.
"There's nothing left for me here anymore." Jack replied.
Vaughn nodded, as if he knew what Jack meant – Jack doubted he really did. "Not even the chance to finally catch Irina?" Vaughn asked.
Jack had to smile softly at that thought. "Irina Derevko is a woman who will only be caught if she wants to be." He said. "I'd rather not spend the rest of my life chasing a ghost."
Vaughn quirked his eyebrow at that, but didn't say anything. He, like most of the other agents in the LA offices, had noticed that Jack Bristow was not the man he used to be. His daughter's first death had been hard on him, but this one…this one looked as if it had broken him. It was one of the reasons Vaughn knew that Sydney was really gone this time. Jack had a sickly look to him now and it was obvious he had lost weight. Everyone knew that once Jack Bristow retired, no one would ever see or hear from him again.
Shifting his eyes back to the wall, he gazed one last time at the name of the woman who had been so much to him. Already a legend, the tales of her exploits would only grow over the years, Vaughn knew. Whole generations of agents would grow up listening to tales of the great Sydney Bristow. Somehow, Vaughn thought that was the best memorial for Syd anyone could ever think of. "Goodbye, Syd." He whispered as he turned to watch Jack walk away. "Watch over your father. I think he needs it."
Vaughn never noticed the knowing smile that Jack quickly hid when he overheard the soft words – nor did he see the life that suddenly danced in his eyes. No one did. It was probably just as well…if they had, people might start to wonder why a man who was supposed to have just lost his daughter was fighting the urge to grin like a loon.
I smiled softly as I walked barefoot down the beautiful beach as the sun set in a blaze of fire. The slight breeze toyed with my hair, which tumbled loose down my back, and I breathed in the scent of salt and frangipanis as the tropical blue water of the sea lapped gently over my feet. I ignored the few curiously stares some of the tourists gave me as I wandered along the magnificent Flammands beach on the small island of Saint-Barthelemy. I knew what I looked like amongst the palm trees; my short blood-red dress and the strappy stilettos I held negligently in my hand would be more comfortable on a French catwalk than a Caribbean beach.
Not that I really cared what they thought. I was headed to Henri's, a little beachside club where the music was vibrant and the laughter was loud. I began to hear the sounds of salsa as I neared the small club and I let the beat was over me as I wove my way off the sand, pausing only to put on my shoes. Grinning madly, I sauntered my way over to the bar, hips swinging as I went, before winking at Henri, who stood behind the bar.
"Hello, gorgeous." Henri greeted with a grin and a wink of his own. "Here all by your lonesome tonight?"
Henri was a former US Marine who gave up military life to own a bar by an exotic beach. He had a French mother and an African-American father (also a former Marine) and as a result, he was big and broad-shouldered, had exotic cocoa skin that suited island life and could speak impeccable French. He wore his long hair in dreadlocks and rarely ever wore shoes. Tonight, he was dressed in torn and faded jeans and a black T-shirt.
I grinned wickedly back at him in response to his teasing question. "For now. But the night is still young."
Henri threw back and laughed loudly as he poured me my favourite cocktail. He called it a "Henri", but all I knew was it was bright red and had an awful lot of rum in it. "Oh, Annie!" he grinned at me, setting the cocktail in front of me with his usual flourish. "You just have to say the word and we'll run away together…"
"Are you trying to seduce my wife again, Henri?" an amused sounding British voice asked from behind me.
"Monsieur Archer!" Henri greeted happily, as I felt a warm hand slide across my bare back. "Would I ever do such a thing?"
"Every chance you get." Sark said with a grin. "And how many times do I have to tell you, it's Julian."
Henri shook his head. "You know, it would be so much easier to seduce your wife if I didn't like you so much." He reflected, before winking at both of us.
"You could always try seducing your own wife, Henri Barrett!" Henri's wife, Martine, called out.
I grinned and took another sip of my cocktail. Henri wandered down the bar to talk to his wife. Martine was a stunning brunette who was born and raised on the island. Her tanned skin was as exotic as her husbands and her vibrant blue eyes were always twinkling with mischief. I would've paid more attention to their conversation, but Sark took that moment to lean down and place a long and leisurely kiss on my lips.
"Mmmm." I said when Sark drew away again. "Hello Julian."
Sark gave me an amused smirk. He looked gorgeous tonight, with his golden hair glinting in the light and his eyes a stormy blue. He still wore black, but these days it was only pants and a shirt. A shirt that wasn't even buttoned up all the way – just the way I liked it! "Hello, Syd." He whispered back.
It still seemed a little surreal, but Sark and I had been living on this island for a month now. Thanks to Liam and some well-placed C4, we had managed to escape from the building in Venice just before it blew up. And with a few handy tricks, we had managed to steal back Sark's 18 billion too. My name might have changed to Anne Archer and everyone I had known might think I was dead…but I was with the man I loved and that was all that mattered.
"Can I have his dance, Madame Archer?" Sark asked me.
I smiled. "You may, Monsieur Archer." I replied, placing my hand in his and I felt a jolt of happiness when I saw the two small golden wedding bands glinting on our fingers.
Sark led me to the dance floor and we began to dance to the music. Thanks to Henri, I was getting quite good at the salsa – he'd been giving me lessons. A few songs later, the band began to play a slow song and I saw Henri give me a wink, just before he whirled Martine into his arms for a dance. I shook my head slightly in amusement, as Sark gathered me close and we swayed to the music.
After a while, I began to get the feeling Sark wanted to ask me something. "What?" I asked, looking up at his face.
Sark gazed back, his expression curious and the faintest hint of vulnerability in his eyes. "Do you ever miss it, Syd?" he asked softly.
"Miss what?" I arched an eyebrow in confusion and question.
"Our former lives." He replied. "Your friends. Your job."
I looked up at him and could feel a slightly amused and slightly inquiring smile curved my lips. Answering his seriously, I shrugged gently. "I miss Marshall. I miss my Dad." I said. "But, no, I don't miss my old life. I have everything I want right here."
Sark leaned down and gave me another kiss. "I still don't what I did to deserve you, Syd." He whispered. "But it must have been good."
With a groaning expression, I shook my head and laughed. "Julian…" I began, but I caught sight of something I never expected to see again.
I sent Julian a sharp look. "This is what you've been up to, isn't it?" I growled, before I spoiled everything completely by breaking into a large grin.
Sark smiled back. "Go." He said.
I didn't need to be told twice. I turned and watched the figure of my father weave through the crowd towards me as I walked over to me him. "Dad." I whispered as I gave him a hug.
"Sweetheart." My Dad whispered back.
We clung to each other for a moment, before stepping back. "I read the diary." My dad said as we waited for Sark and Liam to catch up; I'd caught sight of Liam trailing behind dad, as he allowed us our privacy. "I never knew…"
I held my hand up to stop his words. "I understand, Dad." I told him. "I might not like it, but I understand why you did all those things."
Dad nodded, his expression one of guilt and relief. "I quit the CIA." Dad changed the subject to less painful matters. "Jack Bristow has disappeared for good."
He reached out and handed me a small card. "If you ever need to reach me, Syd, just call that number." He added.
I nodded. "Thanks, Dad." I replied. "But why don't you just stay here?"
Dad shook his head. "There's things I want to do." He said, smiling a little, which was strange for my dad; he looked more relaxed and at ease finally.
Sark walked up at that moment and came to stand close behind me. My father gave him a cautious nod and Sark returned the gesture. "I'll be back to visit." Dad said.
"But you have to go now." I finished for him, not needing him to say the words to understand.
"The CIA or even the remnants of the Covenant could be tracking me." Dad said. "I can't afford to stay long this time. But I promise my next visit will be longer."
I nodded as Dad turned to walk away. Then he turned back. "Be happy, sweetheart." He said softly.
"You too, Dad." I replied.
Sark's arms came up to wrap around me as I watched my Dad walk away. "He will be back." Sark whispered in my ear.
"I know." I said.
We stood there for a long moment, watching the spot where Dad had disappeared, before Sark tugged me back towards the dance floor. "Come on, Syd." He said. "The night is still young."
I let my lips curve into a smile, banishing my sadness at watching Dad leave. "Well, then…" I said. "Let's dance!"
To the world, Julian Sark and Sydney Bristow were dead; tragically killed in the explosion in Venice that also destroyed Rambaldi's endgame. I had it on good authority that Sydney Anne Bristow got her star on the wall of heroes at the CIA – the one they had never really managed to take down after Hong Kong. On the other side of the world, Julian Archer, millionaire and businessman, arrived on the small Caribbean island of Saint-Barthelemy to marry his lover, Anne. It was a small ceremony, with only three guests – a silver-haired man and a stunning brunette who seemed to always argue, yet never took their eyes off each other and a man with laughing green eyes and an Irish lilt.
The mysterious couple bought a house on a remote bluff near the isolate Colombier beach. No one really knew where they where they came from, but after a while they stopped caring. The couple was obviously very much in love and those that knew them delighted in imagining dramatic tales of love and vengeful fathers that had forced the lovers to flee to the island. No one knew just how close that had been to the truth of it. If Julian occasionally called his wife "Syd," and was often seen running or training martial arts on the beach near his home, most islanders just chalked it up to the eccentricities of the rich. And if Anne once knocked out a very large man with ease after he had been hassling her, while her husband looked on with a slight smirk, people just shrugged their shoulders and smiled.
Their pasts did not matter; it was their future that was important. It did not matter whether they were known as Isabella and Edward or Sydney and Julian – they were free.