Title: No gifts, No Santa Clause, No mistletoe.

Rating: I'm going to go with PG-13, just to be safe, but it isn't that bad, not yet anyways.

Summary: Irina finds out it is Christmas day and is payed a visit by her daughter as she recalls her life as Laura.

Disclaimer: I'm not even going to write anything here because if there really is a lawyer who is going to go through Fanfiction.net and pull anyone up for not writing the blatantly obvious, well, I have no money anyways.

Author: Again, dumb question, me!!! Aeria, Doona, Aeryn depending who you want to know me as.

Notes: Okay, Read and Review and I will give you more, this is now my fourth work in progress so it is really just which stories get the most reviews, but hey if they all get reviews, I will write all of them. Okay, hint hint here, I like, no, love reviews. Also I understand Jack seems very out of character in the memory, but hey, he was probably like that.

Chapter One

Irina sat in her cell, soft music and noise drifting through from outside where the guards had the door open as they swapped over. She heard them wish each other a Merry Christmas and her suspicions were confirmed. It had been Christmas Day for over fifteen hours and she had completely forgotten Christmas Eve. It wasn't because she didn't care, it was more that she had forgotten what month it was. There was no reason to keep track of the date down here, she had, of course, but the fact that she had woken up and known that it was the twenty fifth of December had meant nothing to her.

She sighed heavily. She hated this cell, it was keeping her from the world and that pained her more than she was letting on. Freedom was one of the few things she needed and right now she didn't have it.

No one had bothered to tell her either, typical, she was just another prisoner with neither name nor reason, just something that wasn't allowed out. Sydney had come a few days ago and she hadn't mentioned it and since then she had only had contact with the guard that brought her meals to her. He hadn't said anything though he had been wearing red that morning.

Irina remembered last Christmas, she had been in Paris, not shacked up in some nice hotel, but down in the back streets and alleyways trading with the underworld. On Christmas Day. She laughed to herself; this wasn't really that bad. She stood up, the hard ground finally getting to her back and forcing her to find somewhere else to rest. She went and sat on her bed, pulling her legs up to her chest in a surprisingly defensive gesture.

She remembered the Christmas before that and the one before that, no gifts, no Santa Clause, no mistletoe, no nothing. But back when she was pretending to be normal, she remembered Christmas as though it were only yesterday. The smells and tastes, sights and sounds, the entire sensation of it.

Sydney's fifth Christmas was the one that stuck out as her favourite, her most memorable and Irina found herself looking around her to make sure there were no guards watching too closely. Closing her eyes, she leaned back against the wall. Immediately she smelt the pine tree that sat beside the picture window in the front room, the turkey, sitting on the table, the plum pudding that sat cooling in the kitchen.

It was Christmas night, wrapping paper was strew all over the floor, pine needles mixed in. Presents; a few dolls that Jack had insisted on, some beginners' books, pencils and pads of paper, as Sydney loved to draw, sat beneath the Christmas tree where they had been ripped open earlier that day. To the side, a purple bike with a yellow bow sat, glinting brand new in the light the hundreds of tree globes gave off.

The three sat at the wood table where they ate all their meals, the table covered in cooking that had been in the oven for most of the day. Irina's own skills weren't great, while Jack's little known secret would always come out as he stalked around the kitchen commanding as though it were a very serious matter. Earlier, Sydney had giggled hysterically as Irina had saluted Jack when he told her to 'throw the turkey in or we wouldn't eat until new years' and soon after the three had been laughing quite madly as their toaster malfunctioned and ate the bread they had been cooking for lunch.

It was a strange tradition that had begun for no reason, but they never had a real Christmas lunch, it was always dinner, they would sit down at seven, Sydney tired, but becoming more and more alert each year, and they would talk and eat until Sydney ran off for some reason or another.

Turkey, ham, roast vegetables, sauces and gravy covered the table, in between, bits of holly and candy canes added colour. Jack sat across from his wife, Laura, and Sydney sat, for the first time at Christmas, on a chair just like her parents, between them. Sydney had rambled on for hours about how great Santa Clause was; Jack and Laura just exchanging smiles and nodding to her when she commented on his grandness.

Laura had noticed that Sydney hadn't touched anything on her plate and proceeded to try to get her to eat, playfully temping her, spooning peas towards her mouth and when they were rejected, redirecting the spoon over to her husband's own awaiting lips, giggling as more than half ended up on the floor. After several different approaches and many more mishaps, Sydney eventually revealed what she wanted; a bowl of apple sauce.

Laughing, Laura filled a bowl to overflowing and proceeded to place it in front of her daughter. For the remainder of the meal they ate, happily remembering the past, Jack exchanging happy looks with his wife, silent pauses of silent conversation which were cut off short by the outburst of their only daughter.

Eventually Sydney got sick of eating and, even after two plentiful serves of pudding and ice cream she wouldn't sleep, instead getting up and running off to ride her knew bike, up and down the halls, her hair billowing out behind her as she raced harder and harder. Jack and Laura just remained at the table, watching each other, smiling contently and silently waiting for their daughter to decide that she had had enough and disappear, leaving them alone.

Laura's brow finally creased, her spoon still in hand she asked, "Where's she gone?" It was considered normal for Sydney to come and kiss them both goodnight before going to sleep and Laura found it hard to imagine where she could possibly be, considering it was suddenly quiet. Jack shrugged before standing, offering his wife a hand and making off through the house in search of Sydney.

They found her, still astride her bike, in the hallway, head resting peacefully on her hands as she leaned over the handlebars. Jack grinned before lifting her gently up off the bike and turning towards her bedroom. Laying her in bed, he kissed her forehead gently, whispering goodnight, to which she squirmed and smiled blissfully.

Laura just watched Jack from behind, a deep feeling of sadness and regret eating away at her, deep in her stomach. When it came to her turn, she walked over and did the same, moving a strand of her brown hair from her eyes and letting the back of her hand trail down her innocent face and neck, silently making her Christmas wish: May you not grow up to be your mother. She turned and crept out of the room, closing the door behind her.

Smiling at his wife, Jack reclaimed her hand and led her back towards the lounge room. Once there he sighed before bending over to begin the clean up, Laura just grinning at his behind and turned to the dining area, beginning to move all of the plates and left over food into the kitchen.

Twenty minutes later, she heard the front door shut and surmised that Jack had just gone out to dump the rubbish. She leaned over the sink and let her head drop, the fa├žade allowed to leave her, if only for a fleeting second. She swallowed hard, shutting her eyes and reminding herself that what she was doing was all for the good of her country. That it was all for good. She heard the door shut again and stood back up, continuing to scrub at the dishes where bits of turkey remained.

She felt hands encircle her slim waist from behind and felt his breath around her ears. She smiled, her eyes dropping back to the sink. "I have to get all of this done. Now," she whispered, her neck bending as she felt his lips nearing her skin, then he was gone, her body cold where his heat had been seconds before. For the briefest second she felt like calling him back, but she knew she had to clean it all up first.

He returned to her side sporting a wet cloth, nudging her out of the way he said, "You dry, I'll wash." It was another order that he was making in jest. She took her hands out of the water thankfully and pulled off the gloves she'd been wearing. Finding a towel she began to dry, letting her head fall to rest on his shoulder.

They remained like that until every dish was clean and dried, only separating when they realised that there was nothing left to do. Leaning over Laura put the plates away as Jack left the platers out on the table, deciding to put them away in the morning as they belonged in the cupboard and finding space might take hours.

She turned to him and grinned, "All done." He grinned back and nodded, wondering how he had been so lucky to find her and for him to even notice him. Wandering over, his arms wrapped firmly around her waist, this time from the front, and she leaned in, placing her head on his shoulder, his forehead finding it's way to the crook of her own neck, his eyes probably closed and his breathing soft and even.

Irina hated and loved that day all at once. It was one of the first times she had truly wondered whether she really was on the right team, whether doing this to such an innocent, sweet man was worth whatever it was they were getting from him. And from that day on, she had hardened herself, working more and acting less, avoiding him as much as often and loosing her edge. That Christmas had been the beginning of her end at KGB and thus the beginning of her life as the queen of organised crime.

Irina let a hand rub over her face, trying to rid her eyes of the sleep and grime that was slowly building up despite her access to water. A soft cough forced her back to go rigid. Someone was here and she hadn't heard them enter nor felt their presence. Opening her eyes she saw her daughter, now a woman but someone who still reminded her of the five year old, waiting with a look of disguised hope on her face.

Sydney smiled at her mother who was sitting on her bed, obviously not doing as well as she usually portrayed, her hair a little more unmanaged, her body curled up defensively and her eyes closed as she went over some memory, possibly of her. Irina got up quickly and ran a hand through her hair, the brown strands instantly regaining their composure somehow. She walked over to the window and nodded to her, a warm feeling growing inside both of them.

Sydney shrugged her shoulders, "I just wanted to come by and see how you were going. I know I probably shouldn't but I just wanted to come and wish you a merry Christmas." Irina smiled at her, her eyes sad.

"Thank you," the irony hit her and she couldn't help but voice it. "I don't think it's going to be merry but, not as bad as it was ten minutes ago." She let her eyes drop; either because she wanted Sydney to think her submissive or because she was submissive, even Irina wasn't sure.

Sydney grinned; her mother's comments warming her. "I can stay a while." She paused before adding quietly, "If you want." This was obviously some sort of reconciliation, some sort of beginning that either Jack had put her up to as a mission to find a whole in her mother's story or she was truly trying to forge an alliance. Irina nodded.

"What are your plans?" Irina wanted to know, god knew why, but she wanted to know what her daughter was going to do for Christmas Night.

Sydney smiled, her mother picking a topic that she could discuss easily, "Will, Francie and I, they're my friends, we're just going to hang out at home. Have Christmas dinner. The usual." She smiled as she imagined the night ahead, full of laughs and too much alcohol.

Irina smiled sadly, a question begging to be asked, "Your father?"

Sydney shook her head, stretching a hand out so that she no longer had to look her mother in the eye but instead could admire her nails. "I don't know, I called him, but he said he didn't want to intrude." Irina nodded, sadly. "I don't know what he does, probably sits at home and does paper work." A dull laugh escaped her lips, spiked with deceit and disgust. "I doubt he even realises what day it is."

"It's not his fault," her own brow creased as she realised she was defending Jack, "I mean, he doesn't have very much to be happy about." She shook her head as she noticed Sydney watching her intently. "He has nothing but you, you must realise that."

Sydney looked at her incredulously. "You know when we were on the train." Irina nodded, wondering where this was heading. "The whole toaster thing; that was the first time I've seen him smile properly since you left." Sydney was being blatantly honest; Irina could see the risk that she was taking.

Irina spoke, "it was a memory of you..." she trailed off, hoping that Sydney would drop it, the issue pinching at her insides with acute, sharp aches.

"No, it was a memory of you," Sydney's eyes widened a little as she stumbled onto a truth, "It was a memory of Laura, but, I think that you must have been very much like Laura, so essentially it was a memory of you. Of you and him together that made him smile."

Irina shook her head, not really wanting to admit that Sydney might have been right but Sydney continued to think out loud, her father's warning of thinking before talking long forgotten.

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