The Politics of Love and Betrayal
by Melanie-Anne

Tempt not a desperate man. (Romeo and Juliet)

He wants to believe that she loves him almost as much as he wants to believe she never did. If she never loved him, if she was just an agent doing her job, serving her country; well, that he can understand. He's often wondered if he could have done the same thing for his country.

If she loved him - loves him - then her betrayal is even worse. To walk away from her husband and child, to abandon them the way she did - he doesn't know if he can forgive that.

He doesn't want to forgive that.

And he tries so hard to forget how easy it was to be with her, to talk to her, to laugh. He tries to forget the taste of her kiss, the heat of her skin against his, how soft she is beneath him. His body remembers. His body craves.

Just this once, he thinks, and he surrenders.

And then everything changes.

A 911 call, a fire, a funeral. They accuse one another, the CIA, Sloane, Sark, K-Directorate, anyone they can think of and both stubbornly refuse to admit what the evidence says: their perfect child, the one thing that has always been true between them, is dead.

He tells himself he's doing this for Sydney. He tells himself he'd bargain with the devil if it will get revenge for her death.

He tells himself his wife is the devil, and still, he weeps in her arms - "Oh, Sydney, my baby, I'm sorry" - and holds her when she cries in his.

He shares her bed for a year, and convinces himself it means nothing. Without Sydney, everything is meaningless. If his wife - strange, he thinks, that they're still married - if his wife helps him feel alive for just a little while, it's not so bad. Is it? After all, they're in mourning. People do strange things when they're grieving.

He almost believes it.

In the darkness of his prison cell, he dreams of her. Sometimes he wakes up in the middle of the night and reaches for her, then realizes he's forgotten what it is like to live without her.

He wonders if he's going mad.

And then his world upends again, and Sydney's alive and Irina's somewhere out there, and he's not quite sure what he's supposed to do now.

Miss you, she says.

And he replies, miss you too.

And then - ohgodhowcanitbetrue? - he hears whispers of a contract and he knows suddenly how badly he'd wanted to believe in her. But Sydney has always been the most important person in his life, so he collects the broken pieces of his heart and vows never to be that weak again.

And they dance, and kiss, and everything feels so wrong but what else can he do? There's a bullet in her head and his heart is empty, emptier than it's ever been and he's numb. She welcomes death with a smile and he stares at the water and feels nothing.

He remembers. Whispered conversations in the middle of the night. Apologies and promises. The last thing she'd said to him before he was arrested: You and Sydney were my whole world. For ten years I was happier than I've ever been, before or since. I've always wanted to thank you for that.

And he regrets.

He dreams of her. Sometimes she forgives him. Sometimes she kills him. Sometimes he wakes up sticky and sweaty and he can almost taste her. Almost.

Her sister tells him he wanted to be manipulated. He can't lie. For over twenty years, a part of him has wanted to kill her. And that part was easier to follow than the part that loved her.

(And he knows she wouldn't kill him, he knows, and the knowledge burns.)

So now he waits, staring at the jungle, wondering what to say when he sees her again. He rehearses his apology over and over in his mind, and when she finally walks out - andohshesalivealivealive - all he can say is her name.

And after, when the world is safe again, he sits at the piano and waits for her to come home.

She doesn't.


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