by Jennifer-Oksana

You knew he set you up even before they starting screaming at you about Madagascar. Of course he would. You might have played him for a fool once upon a time, but Jack Bristow has never been one to forgive and forget--and he's very good at what he does. You endangered his relationship with your daughter and he seems to consider her more important than twenty years of bad blood, intelligence games, and world history. If he keeps Sydney firmly on his side, he wins in some obscure way.

You're starting to think that he might be right. Your daughter is a compelling figure, all calm facades and jagged little edges begging for a mother's love, wisdom from someone who isn't a complete fool when it comes to interpersonal relationships. Jack was never very good with his emotions; he represses them, ignores them, pretends they don't matter. You think this is typical, boring thinking.

The reason you've always been better is because you've accepted your emotions, you've smoothed the edges and found yourself strengthened by what they give you. If you need to, you can shut off the emotion and be The Man (because of course, only a man could be the best at the work you and your daughter do with such natural grace), but it's been your experience that accepting emotion gives you power beyond what even the best faŤade can give.

If they'd let you teach Sydney--lovely little Sydney, strange to think that she's yours, that your body incubated her into ten fingers, ten toes and those accusing, heartbroken eyes--she could go further than even you. Perhaps that's maternal pride, but Sydney has all of her father's special training coursing through her veins, and two very talented parents, to say nothing of the flicker in her eye that is neither you nor Jack.

Sydney Bristow, you can say with detachment, is worth training, focusing on, and viewing as a possible successor. She doesn't understand yet, of course, that her beloved United States, the bright and good CIA, is as ugly and sordid as her despised SD-6. Perhaps the CIA is worse, with its pretense of nobility. The Alliance is pragmatic in its ruthlessness, though you have more contempt for them than your daughter does. If you hadn't decided to turn yourself in to the CIA, you might have destroyed them in six months.

But there seems to be no point, none at all, to any of the things you've planned. You've been Alexander and discovered there are no more worlds to conquer. Worse yet; you've discovered every world is the same world, and there's no thrill in the conquest.

So now you are in a cold, filthy cell in the desert, wearing the lovely orange jumpsuit the United States Government sees fit to allow its favored prisoners to wear. At least two guards have answered your simplest requests with, "you're lucky we don't just shoot you in the head, terrorist bitch" and stomped off. If they don't fix the toilet soon, you think you might have to do something to the guard who brings you what is laughingly called breakfast. Of course, that will lead to men with guns trying to pistol-whip you, but you are not your daughter's mother for nothing.

"Stand up!" another one of the machine-gun wearing guards shouts at you. You, who have been quietly meditating and ignoring the stink, smile briefly and stand up without protest. "You have a visitor."

Of course you do. You turn around and regard him in complete silence.

"You don't seem surprised to see me," Jack says, his eyes trying to hide the welter of emotion that bubbles over whenever he looks at you. "You realize that prisoners at this facility don't get visitors."

"No," you say, kneeling lightly. There's really no need to stand there, glaring at him from behind bars. "I suppose they don't. Then again, I'm not the average prisoner at this facility."

"I don't know about that," he says acidly. And you know, know as surely as if he'd told you himself, that Sydney knows about Project Christmas. "I see a murderer, a thief, and an enemy of the United States. That's what usually ends up here."

"I'm flattered to be a what," you say without breaking a smile. "Didn't the nice men provide you with a chair? It must be uncomfortable, standing there and glowering at me. Especially when you know that I might just have to corroborate whatever suspicions Sydney has about you."

He doesn't answer with words, just the look in his eye. If he could get his hands on you, he might have an inappropriate outburst of emotion. That does make you smile, as you slowly and sleekly stand up again, resisting the melodramatic urge to draw your hand across the bars.

"I knew you set me up," you tell him. "I would have done the same, in your position. I might have even let that beautiful boy walk into the trap, but that would have been risky, wouldn't it?"

"I didn't come here to trade insults," he says.

"Why did you come here?" you ask, leaning against the bars and watching his entire body for clues about the real reason your ex-husband has come all the way to Nevada to assuage his feelings. Because if you're worse, then what he did to Sydney wasn't unforgivable, even if it was. He can handle being bad as long as you're worse.

"The CIA is going to bring you back to Los Angeles," he says. "They've decided it's more advantageous to have you around, pending the outcome of your case with the United States."

You've always appreciated the ironic pragmatism of the CIA. They'd gladly pump you for every bit of information stored in your head and then throw you to the lions. If you didn't have your own agenda, you'd make it more difficult for them by refusing to share information under the new deal. But you have an agenda, and so.

"You sound pleased," you say dryly. "Did they send you here just to tell you that?"

"I came on my own," he says, and it's in his shoulders. He doesn't know why he came. The CIA doesn't realize yet that he's set you up, though that's inevitable. Unless Jack set the explosives himself, there are witnesses, evidence, a trail of red that lead back to him, and the CIA will find out. He wants you to help him, you think. "You'll get official word tomorrow morning."

"Then I should perhaps rest and enjoy the amenities of my cell," you say, turning toward the foam-rubber mattress pad on the floor that you can call your own. "Good night, Jack."

The funny thing, the thing you can't help but pity and loathe, is that he still loves Laura, the Laura he sees in you. The simple good night is the kind of thing that brings up a hundred paralyzing memories.

Good night, Laura.

Good night, darling.

And then the nights where there weren't even words, where good nights were said with lips and hands and skin. He wasn't your first or even your best lover, but there was something in him that touched you deeply. The emotions, maybe, the hidden emotions that he couldn't help but share with every gesture of your shared life.

He's still standing there, defeated, and you know that he's overplayed his hand and gotten no satisfaction from it. So instead of simply going to bed and meditating until dawn, you return to the bars, softening eyes and posture for him and just for him.

"It hurts, doesn't it?" you ask, a hint of a sympathetic smile glimmering across your lips. "When she won't trust you."

"Don't," he says angrily, getting close enough to touch. "Don't you speak to me about Sydney. Ever."

"Why not?" you ask, allowing the smile to become a smirk. "She's my daughter, Jack. She even looks like me--"

He grabs your wrist and in the millisecond before he realizes that it's the mistake that it is, you have him pulled against you, the first physical contact in decades and maybe, just maybe, there is a world left to conquer that isn't the same as all the others.

"The guards are already coming," he growls. "They'll take you down if you don't let me go."

"I'm not hurting you," you tell him, brushing your lips against his cheek, and yes, there's something about this, something cruel and dark and right, about playing it this close. "You touched me first. And you know better than that, Jack. You wouldn't have done something that stupid if you hadn't wanted to, on whatever conscious or unconscious level--"

"Let go of me, Derevko," he orders, trying to be ruthless, but you know. You are still an attractive woman, and so much like your daughter, so much like the young woman you were, that he can't process the distance between Laura and Irina. And you did care for him.

"If you could, you'd have me in the cell," you hiss into his ear. "Humiliating, isn't it? All that training and you can't compartmentalize like you train all your agents to. All your posturing, your work and I could undo you just like this--"

And you kiss him, a long, slow kiss that's as uncomfortable as it is delicious. He barely resists for fifteen seconds, kissing you back as hard as you're kissing him, tooth against tooth, and you let go, pulling away when it's clear he would, indeed, take you in the cell. But you've never been anything if not aware of what Jack would like to do, and there was such sweetness between you...

"Agent Bristow?" someone asks as you return to compliance, blank, innocent compliance. "Is everything all right?"

"Agent Bristow will be going now," you say. "Isn't that right, Agent Bristow?"

He stares at you, as you turn away and return to your meditation. You allow yourself a smile as he goes, shaken and alone.

He'll be back, either here or in Los Angeles. And this time, he'll have all those messy, unexamined emotions to work through, no longer dormant or repressible. You'll get under his skin again--you're already there-- and before it's all done. Before it's all done.

You don't think to the conclusion. Conclusions are never foregone, even when they are.

Instead, you begin your cycle, working through the emotion. Affection, desire, fascination, power. It is all to your good.


Silverlake: Authors / Mediums / Titles / Links / List / About / Plain Style / Fancy Style