Chapter Twenty Seven He smiled at his daughter, not entirely sure what she was going through, but too happy to really mind that much, she didn't seem too upset, just a little grossed out. He took her second question and rubbed his hands together, like a man with a secret, "I don't want to tell you until I make sure it's possible. "

"Then why did you bring it up?" Irina asked, beating Sydney to the question.

"I have to make some calls." Jack responded, quite ignoring his wife and standing, motioning for them not to move and inch as he grabbed the cordless phone and left the room.

Irina just looked over to where Sydney sat and shrugged, leaning back as she got comfortable and letting her arm rest on the back of the chair. She, in all honesty wasn't prepared to think about what it was Jack was trying to make happen and wasn't going to discuss it with her daughter at that very point in time despite the curious and suspicious look she was getting from across the coffee table. To her daughter's un-voiced question, she said, "I have no idea." Which was a slight lie but better than rambling.

Sydney watched for a moment. Then she settled back, mirroring her mother's movements. Irina waited for the question, "I know asking this is basically like having a death-wish but..." Sydney began watching her mother for a reaction, "What exactly is going on with you two?"

Irina's eyes turned to slits as she thought a moment before answering the best she could, "We've come to an understanding, an agreement."

Sydney nodded, knowing perfectly well that her mother was not intentionally being evasive but knew not the words needed to express her thoughts. "And is it going to last long?"

Irina's brow creased again, "What do you mean?"

Sydney sat up a little straighter, "Is it, whatever it is, going to last?"

Irina nodded, understanding Sydney's suspicion and worry for her father who, for al Sydney knew, could have been walking into Irina's trap unthinkingly again. It was natural for her to replace her father's tentativeness now that his own was gone. "Forever," she promised, simply.

Jack returned, rubbing his hands together, "I don't believe I just did that." He stated this with an air of both shock and amazement. Obviously he was up to something and instead of wasting their time with useless questions, Sydney and Irina just waited for an answer to the unspoken question. Jack obliged them a moment later by beginning the tale: "You remember my old friend Derek?" he directed the question at Irina who nodded, to which he elaborated for Sydney, "My best friend when I was a junior agent.

"Well, he's excelled further than me it turns out and gone with the desk job rather than missions. He's right now about three levels from the top of the CIA." Irina's eyes narrowed as the pieces of the puzzles slid closer to a solution. "He owes me a favor...a big one. Back on a reconnaissance op I found him on the plane home a little overly cozy with another agent. At that time he was engaged to a wonderful woman who is now his wife. I can be quite confident in saying that she would be quick to leave with most of his money and their kids should she ever find out about the several one night stands he had up until their marriage."

"Dad..." Sydney started, showing her obvious discontent with his actions but not voicing them sufficiently enough to wipe the smile from his face.

"Anyway, he owes me a large favor and he's just repaid it."

"How?" Irina asked, barely able to contain her excitement.

Jack smiled, happily and honestly for the first time in many years, "As of tomorrow, you will be released into a program similar to witness protection but slightly better, I think." Irina's eyes lit up along with their daughter's and Jack gave them a second to enjoy the feeling, "If you would only be so kind to help out our analysts with their access to your assets that we froze when we first caught you, the CIA has agreed to give you 10% back."

Irina's eyebrows rose at the generous deal Jack had somehow struck but she couldn't speak.

"That 10% you will use to buy yourself a house, away from the inner city and large enough that guards on the perimeter wouldn't have to be seen by you. Possibly a nice house with extensive gardens and a fence. You will be kept there under strict surveillance and disallowed to leave for the first six months. After that you will be injected with a tracking device and permitted to go into town. A further year and a half later you will be given complete freedom except for the tracking device. This all depends on your continued cooperation with the CIA." His stern look made it clear that he past definition of cooperation was not going to suffice.

"And what?" Sydney butted in, splitting the locked eyes of her parents, "That's it?"

"Pretty much," Jack said.

She nodded, still not convinced and her mind set on harassing the crap out of Kendall the next day in trying to work out the exact details of a plan she had to say was precarious to say the least. "And what about tonight?" Irina questioned.

"Up to you. You can stay here go to my house of back to the cell."

"Oh the cell for sure," she told him, voice dripping with her usual mixture of sarcasm and accent.

He grinned, looking over at the clock, the minute hand was just inching its way over the twelve, telling them that it was both past one in the morning and past their bed times. He stood, stretching a little, "Come on," he motioned to Irina, making her mind up for her as he kissed Sydney's cheek and dragged Irina out the front door before sweeping her into his arms and kissing her on the lips soundly, clearly in bliss at the idea of her free and available to him.

"We need to get home," he told her, knowing his car was still parked near her cell and many miles away. "Cab?" he asked.

"Yeah, but we're going to have to find one." She grasped his hand as they walked out onto the quiet night and turned left, heading back into the still bustling and alive centre of the city.

He encouraged her to lean on him until her head was on his shoulder, her fingers still entwined with his, "I'll enjoy the walk." Keep the reviews coming if you want to see more.