by Melanie-Anne

Irina lay on her bed, though she was not asleep. The constant surveillance was beginning to wear on her, and she wondered if she could convince the CIA to let her out for another mission. Memories from her recent trip to Kashmir were still fresh in her mind. Unlike her previous memories of Kashmir, these were good ones. These were of Jack and Sydney, and of finally kicking that bastard Cuvee's ass.

She smiled. Sydney trusted her now. Jack - well, he was a still reluctant, though she knew he was wavering. Working with him, being so close to him, had been - electric, she thought. There was still something there. He still wanted her; she'd seen that when he looked at her on the train. And she still wanted him, which was no surprise to her, but probably would be to him.

She remembered the look of complete devastation on his face when Cuvee spoke, insinuating Irina could never have felt anything for him. One day, she would tell Jack Cuvee had been wrong. One day, Jack would know the truth.

She heard the familiar sound of the gates unlocking, but didn't move. Her visitor was probably Kendall, and he was the last person she felt like talking to right now. She kept her eyes closed. Kendall was not a patient man, and he wouldn't wait too long.


Jack. Well, that was interesting. She sat up slowly and smiled. "I was just thinking about you."

He didn't say anything. She stood and walked up to the glass. It was then she noticed how exhausted he looked. Her smile faded.

"What's wrong?"

"The Alliance has been taken down."

She tilted her head. "I'd offer my congratulations, but you don't seem too happy."

"I am. I'm just-" He met her gaze and offered a weak smile. "I'm just tired."

She studied him, her eyes critically raking him from head to toe before meeting his again. "You're sick." There was a trace of accusation in her tone. "You should take better care of yourself."

"I'm not sick, Irina."

She raised an eyebrow.

"I was interrogated." He looked away.

"You mean you were tortured." She bit her lip. "What are you doing down here? You should be in a hospital."

"I checked myself out. All I need is rest. I can get that at home."

"Home," she repeated. "So what are you doing here?"

"I-" He looked so lost.

Irina raised her hand and pressed it to the glass. "Jack."

He stared at her for a long moment, and she wondered what he saw when he looked at her. Laura? Irina? Both? He lifted his hand and held it to the glass. The corner of her mouth lifted in a half-smile.

Then he slumped forward, his head hitting the glass as he dropped to the ground. Irina banged both her hands against the glass. "Jack! Jack! Somebody help him!"

She was helpless to do anything but watch as two of the guards ran in to see what had happened. One of them glared at her as if she had caused Jack to collapse, the other radioed for a stretcher and a medic.

She didn't move as Jack was wheeled away moments later, and was still standing there an hour after when Kendall came to see her.

"How is he?" she asked.

"He had a heart attack."

"Is he--?" She couldn't finish, as if giving voice to the thought would make it real.

"He's alive."

Alive. Relief swept through her. "He said he was interrogated. By whom?"

"Anthony Geiger. You know him?"

Irina pressed her lips together. "I know of him. Where is he now?"

"Dead." Kendall paused. "Sydney shot him."

Irina looked at Kendall. "I'd like to see my husband."

"That's not possible."

"Make it possible."

"You are in no position to make any orders, Ms. Derevko."

"I want. To see. My husband." She spoke slowly, articulating each word as if Kendall hadn't understood the first time.

"Ms. Derevko-"

"There is man within the Department of Defense who has sold classified information to a number of organizations, mine included. Let me see Jack and I will give you his name."

"You're just full of surprises."

"Is that a yes?"

Kendall pressed his lips together, his chest rising as he inhaled. "I'll see what I can do."

When he left, Irina sat on the edge of her bed, trying to order her thoughts. Jack. Heart attack. Alive.

She wouldn't cry, refusing to give the idiots watching the pleasure of seeing her break down. Besides, she told herself, Jack was alive. There was no need to cry.

Forty minutes later, she was being escorted to the medical floor.


He arrived home later than he expected. The porch light was on; the rest of the house was dark. He dropped his bag at the foot of the stairs and slowly climbed them. Each time he lifted his leg he felt the stitches in his thigh pull at the skin. If Laura knew he'd been injured, she would be waiting up for him. He hadn't wanted her to worry, and told her his debrief was taking longer than expected. Only after he assured her he was fine, had he allowed himself to be taken to the hospital.

She was going to kill him when she found out the truth.

He finally reached the top of the stairs, sweating with the effort it had taken. Usually, when he returned from a mission, he would stop at Sydney's room and check on her first. Tonight, he went straight for the master bedroom.

Laura was on his side of the bed - he'd teased her about that once, she'd smiled and said it was unintentional. Jack crossed the room, landing on the mattress harder than he'd meant to. Laura woke with a start, then quickly turned on the bedside lamp.

"Jack-" Her smile faded as she took in his appearance. "What the hell happened to you?"

He lay down, whatever strength he'd had completely gone. "We were caught. Interrogated."

"Interrogated?" Her voice was sharp.

He couldn't lie to her face. "Tortured."

She gasped, then immediately moved closer to him. With infinite gentleness she removed his shoes, then unbuttoned his shirt. He closed his eyes, unable to see the look of horror on her face when she saw the burn marks on his chest and ribs.

"Oh, Jack."

"I'm fine."

She ran her hands over his abdomen, her touch cool, and then her mouth was on his skin, her breath warm, her tears hot. "You should be in a hospital."

"I'll be okay. I needed to come home."

"I love you."

"You're my home, Laura. I love you, too."

She sat up. "Promise me you'll be more careful. If you get caught again-"

"I promise."

"I don't need any more nightmares, Jack Bristow."

She lay on her side next to him, and he turned into her embrace.


Sydney practically ran down the hallway to her father's room. She slowed when she saw the guards standing at the door. Afraid that something worse had happened, she pushed the door open, then froze in surprise.

Her father was asleep on the bed. Her mother sat beside him, holding his hand.


Irina's smile had an edge that left Sydney feeling uncomfortable. "Hello, Sydney. Congratulations. I hear the Alliance is gone."

"Mom, what are you doing here?" Sydney hadn't moved. She couldn't.

Kendall spoke from his position at the window. In her shock, Sydney hadn't seen him there. "She traded information in order to see your father."

"But . . . why?"

Irina smiled again. "Director Kendall said you saved Jack's life."

"Could we have a minute? Alone?" Sydney looked at Kendall. He shrugged and left the room.

"Despite what you may think of me, Sydney, I was concerned. Jack collapsed in front of me. I wanted to see that he was alright."

"Couldn't someone just tell you?"

Irina blinked, and Sydney remembered seeing this look before: on the roof, before the marshals had ordered them to step away from each other. She realized Irina was still holding Jack's hand.

"Mom, do you still--?" She couldn't finish the sentence, afraid of either answer.

Irina stood, and Sydney noticed her hands were cuffed together. "Don't tell your father I was here."

Sydney nodded. Irina walked to the door, knocked once, then let herself be escorted back to her cell. Sydney took her mother's seat and reached for her father's hand.

When Jack woke, hours later, Sydney was still at his side. He looked at her, then glanced around the room.

"What's wrong?" Sydney asked. "Do you need something?"

He shook his head. "I thought - Your mother - Never mind."

Sydney's breath caught in her throat, but she smiled through her tears. "I'm so happy you're okay, Dad. I'm sorry I didn't get to Geiger sooner."

"It's not your fault." He smiled. "You should go home. I don't need a babysitter."

"You're sure you don't want company?"

"Go. I'm just going to sleep again anyway."

Sydney leaned over and kissed her father's cheek. "Okay."

As she stood up, she wondered why the words 'I love you' were so hard to say. When she saw her father's expression lighten for a moment, she realized the words themselves weren't important.

And she knew the answer to the question she'd been unable to ask her mother, as well the question she wouldn't ask her father - why had he gone to see Irina? She smiled. "I'll see you tomorrow, Dad."


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