Epilogue:

Jack watched them as they drove off, sad smile upon his face. His car was parked in the shadows about twenty meters behind him and his hand was at his side, mobile phone clasped there as he hit the end button. He turned and got into his car, waiting a few minutes to be sure that they'd left and wouldn't see him pulling out behind them. Once he was satisfied, he started the car and began to drive. Initially, he'd planned to go home and spend the night going over paper work, but the pair of hands on the steering wheel had other ideas. Twenty minutes after he'd turned out of the quadrangle, he pulled up a street away from where he knew his wife was being held.

He got out of the car, too proud to just go home, he had to tell her, it was only fair and he wanted to make sure he'd been right. Only once before had he gone to her, admitting he was there to pick her brain and here he was again, walking down the street, quite briskly, despite the fact he'd promised himself he wouldn't make it a habit. Jack ran through he motions as they came to him like second nature, dropping the coin, the security camera, all until he was inside, a large CIA security man waiting for him, his hand out in welcome.

Jack nodded and grasped it firmly, giving a small, obviously forced smile. "Jack Bristow," he told him.

The guard nodded, "Simon Allens, I'm new here. Do you have clearance?" Jack looked at him, slightly incredulous to the idea that he couldn't know who e was but not showing it.

"Yes, check it through with Devlin if you want," the man looked him up and down, taking in the suit and shook his head, waving a hand to let him through; pushing the button on the side of the wall that would open the two doors to get him in. For a moment, Jack contemplated whether or not he should explain to this new Allens guy how stupid it was to just let a man through like that, for all he knew, Jack could have been Sark and that would have been the end of everything.

But he didn't, knowing if he did, he'd lessen his chance of getting anywhere near Irina. He just walked through, first one door, hearing it slide shut behind him and then on to the next, he hit the red button and entered as the door slide open. On the other side he was in the room, divided only by perfectly clean glass with Irina. She was sitting on her bed, legs crossed and looking, as usual, immaculate and content, neither of which she should have been. It was off putting, but he ignored it, waiting for her to acknowledge him. After a few minutes she did, turning and looking at him, unfolding her legs and letting them hang over the side of the bed and her brow creased low in puzzlement.

He was ready to speak but she got in first, "To what do I owe the pleasure," he glared at her before trying to adopt a look of impartiality.

"I wanted to talk to you," an eyebrow rose, "I saw no one else fit to speak to so I came here." Suddenly it sounded very stupid and for a second he thought about leaving.

"What about," her voice was serious but cautious for some unknown reason. He looked at her across the room and through the glass, trying to see how seriously she would take this.

"The CIA has decided to allow Sydney and Agent Vaughn to have a relationship." It was the most simple and impartial way he could put it but that didn't stop her eyes from lighting up.

"Like the Robert-Ergo case?" He scowled at her.

"How did you know about that?" he asked, already knowing the answer.

She smiled a little, "You told me."

"Humph," he stared at her, still holding back on emotion. He waited for her to say something but she refused to, remaining silent until he chose to speak. "They've unofficially been given clearance, Devlin told me himself this morning." Seemed like decades ago, but it had in truth only been early that day.

Irina grinned at him, slyly, "You organised this then?"

For a moment his glare returned but then he realised that if he wanted her opinion he would have to tell her the truth or leave empty handed. Once again he used the lame excuse that there was little she could do no matter what he told her as she was stuck in here. "Yes, I did," she raised an eyebrow and signalled for him to go on, "Agent Vaughn."

She interrupted, "You know you should probably start calling him Michael, I'm sure Sydney has," she ran her teeth over her bottom lip as she smiled at him. She shrugged and waited for him to go on.

"Agent," she shook her head, "Michael," he growled out, "Organised a emotional back up operation." Irina raised an eyebrow," Which I wasn't aware of. He stuffed it up, tried to kiss her as far as I can tell." He shrugged, the ideas of love not something he came here to discuss, especially with her.

"So what? She rejected him?" Irina sounded puzzled, obviously there was something she knew that she'd neglected to tell him.

He held back the flood of questions building up and answered hers, "Yes, basically, that's exactly what she did. Left and then got him reassigned." Jack just looked at her, the look on his face plainly saying he had no idea why she'd done it so Irina just nodded. "Anyways, she almost got herself killed and Devlin and I decided it would be best to let them have a go. So now it's allowed," she still made no move to speak and the slight pause was uncomfortable, "So..."

Irina looked at him, "What?"

He glared at her, seeing she was enjoying herself, he bit his lip, "What would you have done?" What he really wanted to ask was 'Do you think I did the right thing?' but that was too personal somehow. He waited patiently ass he watched him from her bed, mulling over what he'd told her, wondering what all of this meant. She looked up and shrugged as if to say she was indecisive over the issue. Jack just cocked his head to the side in frustration, "Nothing?" no answer. "You don't have anything to add?"

She looked at him, hesitating before speaking, a move he hadn't seen her ever do, "I'm not sure. I suppose it probably is for the better," his brow creased, this was not the reaction he'd expected or hoped for. "Well, I can't say I know either of them very well, so I don't know why you expected me to help." And that's when he saw it, the tiny glint in her eye that told him she was playing with him, god knew why, but she was and he hated it.

He stood up, "Irina, this is serious, stop screwing around." He stared at her, going for a genuine plea for honesty and looking lie he was simply mad, "Did I or did I not make the right decision?" Damn, he'd asked her exactly what he hadn't wanted to ask. She was good at manipulating people but not usually him and here had had fallen under her trap. Still he waited for an answer.

She sat on her bed, hands in her lap and her eyes narrowed, watching him, wondering just how to answer his question, "I think you did." His glare turned to a scowl and then confusion as he registered that her answer was sincere. She went on, voice level but still apprehensive as though she knew her words were a danger to herself, that they were too personal, she had to tread carefully. "This Agent Vaughn, Michael," she smiled lightly, "He's a good man, loyal, honest, works hard, everything she deserves and he loves her." She took a sharp breath, her voice suddenly becoming mangled, "Despite the fact that he thinks her mother killed his father."

Jack watched her, eyes still narrowed as she appeared to show emotion, he took in every word, rolling it around his mind, looking to see what and why she was doing this. He found no answer but continued to listen, her insight worth more than he'd ever let her know. "Sydney loves him too, despite what you think, she does." Irina stood up; she could see the inner turmoil Jack was having to hide from her. His mind warring against his heart as he tried to work out not only if he had been right about Sydney and Vaughn but also as he tried to make sense of the woman behind the glass.

Irina stopped about a meter back, eyes level with his as her brow creased low. "Jack," no teasing in her voice as there usually was, but then, that only made it harder for him, "I think that you did the right thing." And then she turned and was looking the other way. Jack couldn't\fathom why, but she had turned her back to him and he could see that she had a hand up to her face, all he didn't know was why?

Her answer had been from the heart, she knew it and she doubted Jack would ever realise that she meant it but there was no way of forcing him to see that she was finally being serious. Inside she chastised herself for being so stupid, for following in the footsteps of the boy who cried wolf and now look at her, she was crying. Nothing tremendous, she was too well trained to sob or weep but she could never stop those few tears and she had to face away from him.

"Irina," his voice was too soft and she was turning around to find out why before she had time to run a hand over her face again. She had rid herself of the two that had fallen, but had there been a third. By the look on his face there had been. He looked utterly shocked but kept himself composed, his voice the only thing indicating change, "Thank you." It was a formality, at least, he told himself it was a formality, but they both knew it wasn't.

Irina smiled, only a little at him before bringing a hand up over her face and through her hair, she sighed and shook her head slightly, "No, Jack, thank you."

Well, that's absolutely it. All done, wallah, have fun with it. Make of it what you will, um thank you all.