The Major Fall, The Minor Lift
by Jennifer-Oksana

She can't imagine loving anyone else the way she loves Jack Bristow. He put a bullet through her head, and she loves him. He put a bullet through her skull, and he loves her with every fiber of his being.

Irina Derevko has not lived the most upstanding of lives, but it is stained through with love. Somehow, that makes it all bearable.

When they meet, it's as though years are as brief as heartbeats. No time has passed, or none that matters. When they touch, they fit together like two halves of a whole.

When they kill together, Irina can feel Jack's pent-up hatred of the necessity that keeps them apart expel itself in a rain of bullets and long-scarred wounds.

He knows, now. That Sloane meant nothing, that Sloane was the mistake of a young woman who worshiped Rambaldi, enough to endure something sloppy and unpleasant. That she didn't feel anything for Sloane. It was not an unforgivable mistake, and she is sure he understands.

Bodies do things that can be forgiven. For people like Jack and Irina, it's all so much meat. But meaning is different. Even a drunken night of passion is a sin beyond reckoning. There was no meaning to Irina and Arvin; a pair of fools trying to produce their master's greatest work.

Irina belongs as fully to Jack as he to her. There is renewal in that.

"Our daughters?" he murmurs in her ear while the children are waiting for certain death and the life beyond it.

"Our beautiful daughters," she agrees, turning to him and putting an arm around him, the way the clone might have. "Oh, Jack."

"We never had our dance in Vienna," he says. "We can take a little time now."

"The world may end," she warns him sadly. "It's probably already too late."

He smiles again, and there's so much hope in him that Irina dares to let herself believe. After all, she has her daughters. After all the cruelty and taunts of Elena about how she was unworthy of the master, how she deserved the filth she was kept in, Elena has the bitter cup of the believer and the comfort of the apocalypse.

Irina has love, even if they all die before sunrise. That which was lost is now found. And dancing with her on a plane on a mission to save the world.

"I hope we never get there," she says, pressing her lips to his neck. He understands what she means, and how inadequate words are to express the thousand things she means.

"Time is occasionally kind, when you're no longer young and impatient," Jack says, glancing significantly at the whelp -- Bill Vaughn's son -- and then at Sydney.

"Oh, dear," Irina says with a smile.

"Worse yet, you shot Nadia's young man," Jack teases.

"I didn't know she had a young man," Irina says with a sigh. "I'll have to apologize for it later. But for now, Jack..."

"Yes," he agrees. They sway, half-dancing, half-embracing, in the hold of a plane bound for the end of the world, and it's as though time stops.

No, Irina decides, it's that they've recreated a better moment. They're in a city thousands of miles away. A diplomatic function, a party for the wealthy and powerful, and he hands her a glass of champagne. This time, there is music playing. Cole Porter, perhaps, a tasteful arrangement made acceptable by memories of better ones. Clever repartee whispered into each other's ear, cleverer repartee in the motion of their bodies.

This time, they know better. They have daughters, two amazing daughters who they adore. Who do not have to fear their parents, or fear destiny. They can save the world from Sloane, from Elena, from all the forces of dark and night the way only those who understand the need for dark and night can. He pulls her closer. She laughs suggestively.

This dream is short. This dream is happy.

But time can never quite stand still. Jack strokes her back, resting his other hand against the small of it.

"You're crying," he warns her, gently wiping away the two or three devious tears threatening to ruin the myth of Irina Derevko.

"You do something to me, Jack," she says, her face twisting into a smile as real as it is painful. "You give me impossible dreams."

"If we survive the night, anything's possible, I think," he answers, nudging her to look toward Sydney and Vaughn. "You're alive, after all."

They do not mention that tomorrow is impossible. Not even to each other, because they don't have to mention it. They both know, know in a way that is as natural to them as loving each other. It would not do to disillusion the children about their chances.

The children, after all, can make the impossible real.

So Irina smiles. She is alive, and she does love him. And there is room for a little hope in that.

"Yes, I am. At least for now," she says.


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