Title: Memories and Promises

Author: icyfire

Summary: What happened the night the toaster caught on fire. (Spoilers up to Passage II--ep 9 of season 2)

Disclaimer: Not mine. Never have been, probably never will be unless I win a really big lottery so I can buy them from Bad Robot and ABC, but I doubt JJ would let me take them no matter how much I offered.

Ship: Jack/Laura

Rating: R. It was supposed to be a NC-17 fic but the characters refused to co-operate.

A/N: Thanks to Trixie for all her help. Thank you to Karen T. for the fabulous beta work. All mistakes are mine though. :)

And another thank you to Jenai, Celli, Thorne, and Lara for the encouragement and support.

***

"Oh, this stuff is terrible," she said after finishing off the drink.

Jack laughed and reached for the next bottle. "Yes, it is. Potent."

Laura giggled as she took the bottle from his hand and took another sip. "Potent? Jack, it's burnt a hole in my stomach."

He leaned forward and kissed her. Her lips were soft and warm and she returned his kiss with a passion he adored. She was smiling when he pulled away. "I think you were played," she whispered.

Looking down at the two bottles of rot-gut liquor, Jack agreed. "They said it was the only liquor they could get where they're stationed," he said before gulping down another mouthful of the liquid. "And they wanted me to celebrate the completion of the mission by drinking what they were drinking tonight."

With the aid of telephones and telegraphs, he'd been working with a team stationed in India for almost two months. He felt like a part of it, although he was just an advisor technically. Their leader--who was too young for the job but somehow still managed to do exactly what he needed to do--had called last night and asked Jack to join them in celebrating their success. They would be removed in less than a week--they would be missing Thanksgiving, but at least they would be home for Christmas.

So, on the way home from headquarters, Jack had bought two bottles of the liquor they'd told him to get and brought them home to be with Laura. After playing with Sydney to the point she was exhausted, they'd put her to bed and opened the first bottle.

"Oh, there has to be something better than this available to them," Laura said as she reached over and picked up the bottle again. "Although, after it kills every one of your taste buds, it isn't bad."

"I'm hungry," Jack announced. He was actually starving. He'd gotten home late and had missed supper. The quick sandwich he'd made himself from the left over beef was long gone.

"Wanting to fill that hole that's now burned in your stomach?" Laura laughed as she lay back onto the carpet.

He shook his head. "There is no way to fill that hole."

"True," she said with a smile.

"I'm going to fix some toast," he said as he stood up with the help of the chair behind him. "You want some?"

Laura started to shake her head and then stopped, obviously thinking better of it. "No," she answered, "thank you."

With the exaggerated care of someone who was not yet drunk but was well on his way, Jack made his way into the kitchen. The little twist tie around the bread broke in his hand, and he sighed as he threw it away. He stuck two pieces of white bread--Laura had long since given up trying to get him to eat wheat--into the toaster and then twisted the bread bag shut. Putting it back into the bread box, he was careful to tuck the end under the body of the bread to keep it from drying out.

He turned to walk back into the living room when he remembered the bread. Shaking his head, he turned back to the toaster and pushed down the lever, making sure to jiggle it to the left so it would stay down. They needed a new one, but so far neither he nor Laura had found the time to buy one.

Deciding that he should stay in the kitchen and keep an eye on his toast, Jack walked over to the archway that separated the kitchen and living room. He leaned onto it as he watched Laura stretch in front of the fireplace. She'd insisted on finding a home that had one when they'd first started looking for a house to buy. He'd thought it crazy with the warm temperatures that LA experienced all year long, but she'd wanted one. So they'd found a house with a fireplace. Which had actually been easy-- apparently a lot of people in California liked fireplaces.

There had been many times in the last two years that he'd been glad they had the fireplace. Tonight, looking at her smile as she watched the fire, was one of those times. "You're beautiful."

Her eyes moved from watching it to watching him. He could still see the flames in her gaze, and he felt his body warm. She grinned as she got up on her hands and knees and crawled towards him like a lioness hunting her prey. She stopped and smiled up at him.

He fell to his knees in front of her. He opened his arms, and she sat up and leaned into them. Their lips met.

Her kiss always did so many things for him. When he was exhausted after working seventy-two hours straight, her kiss could revive him. She would slide into his lap and kiss him back to happiness when he was depressed about the evil he saw in the world. Her kiss could even soothe away his anger when he was frustrated at the lack of progress on a case.

Then there was the power to arouse. Her kiss never failed to make him want her.

He opened his mouth and she responded in kind. Their tongues dueled for a moment before finding a soothing rhythm. He wasn't sure how long they kissed before she pulled away and settled her head on his shoulder. He ran his hand through her hair and tucked it behind her ear. "The luckiest day of my life was the day I met you," he whispered.

It wasn't often he could find the words to say what he wanted to express. He usually found it easier writing his feelings for her in the covers of her books, but tonight he was finding the words. Because the liquor had loosened his tongue or because she was just so damn beautiful right now, he couldn't say.

She pulled away. Tears sparkled in her eyes. "The luckiest day of mine was when I got you."

"Got me?" He laughed at her strange choice of words, hugged her close, and then gently lifted her some so he could lie them down on the carpet. He studied her as he watched her hair settle around her face. It was like a dark halo. "Well, you got me."

She smiled but it was sad. She ran a hand across his cheek. "I sure did," she whispered.

He leaned down to kiss her again, and he ran his hand under her white sweater. It was light weight; it had to be in the LA sun, but she loved her sweaters. She said they reminded her of home and cold South Dakota winters. Her belly jumped at the feel of his hand.

The skin beneath her right ear was especially sensitive, and he licked his tongue across it, causing her to arch her back and moan. "I love you so much," he said as he kissed across her jaw.

"I love you, too," she gasped as her fingers unbuttoned his shirt.

She started sliding down, running her hands through his chest hair and leaving a trail of kisses. She pressed her hands against him, and he followed her silent command. He twisted so that he was lying on the floor, and she was on top.

Grinning down at him, she reached for the edges of her sweater and lifted it over her head. She tossed it across the coffee table and onto their couch. Her bearing was one of pride when she looked down at him.

Her breasts, wrapped in silky white, jutted out in front of her. No slumping of the shoulders to hide her partial nudity for her. Jack knew when his fingers finished opening her bra, she wouldn't show any embarrassment then either. It was one of the many quirks of her nature that he loved.

"I'm proud of my body, and I love how you look at me. Why should I pretend otherwise?" she'd once told him long ago.

Her beautiful breasts tumbled out into his hands. He squeezed them for a moment before gently sliding the straps down her arms. The bra joined the sweater on the couch. "You are so beautiful," he said as his hands trailed across her skin.

"I feel beautiful when you look at me," she told him, her hands making their own path on his skin.

Jack stared into her eyes. He could get lost in those eyes. "I can't believe a woman like you could love a man like me."

Her laughter was choked. "How could I help but love you?"

Her lips came down on his, and he wrapped his arms around her. He pulled her down beside him, and they gently rocked together as they kissed. "I love you," she started whispering over and over again as his lips started worshiping her body.

His lips wrapped around her nipple and she shivered. When he kissed her belly, she trembled. The sound of the zipper of her blue jeans being undone coincided with her moan of excitement.

The silky white underwear quickly joined the other clothes items on the couch. His fingers started exploring. When he slid one inside her, he found her already wet and ready for him. "Please, Jack," she gasped. "I don't want any foreplay tonight. I just want you."

She helped him get out of his blue jeans. They were left in a pile with his button-up shirt lying on top. He laid her down in front of the fire, and just looked at her for a moment in the firelight. He wanted to tell her that she was beautiful again, but the word seemed so inadequate.

Kissing her, he used his knee to ask her to open her legs. She complied with an eagerness that almost made him moan. When he entered her, he did moan. Then he started whispering in her ear. He told her how he loved her. He thanked her for loving him.

Their pace was slow and steady, but he knew that's what they both wanted. He could stay in this moment forever. Laura's arms wrapped around him. Her voice in his ear. His heart pounding from more than physical exertion.

When she came, it was a gentle orgasm. Her fingers didn't claw at his back. She didn't scream. He preferred her soft gasp and the gentle feel of her arms clutching him tighter. He joined her a minute later, holding her tight as he emptied himself inside her.

He lay on her breast, and her fingers worked their way through his damp hair. "I've been thinking--"

"About what?" he mumbled. He thought where he was would be a perfect place to fall asleep.

"What would make a perfect Christmas present for Sydney?"

"Oh," Jack sighed. He yawned. "What?"

"A little brother or sister."

Jack tensed in her arms, suddenly wide awake. He grinned as he lifted his head and looked into the bright eyes of his wife. "You want to try for another child?"

"I want to talk about it," she said. "I'm not getting any younger, and Sydney's old enough to enjoy a baby now."

Laughing, Jack laid his head back down and hugged his wife. "I think we should--" He lifted his back up and inhaled a deep breath. "Do you smell smoke?"

Laura started to say, "It's probably just the fire--" when her eyes widened.

Jack twisted his head and saw the pillows of black smock above their head. "My toast!"

He raced into the kitchen to find another fire blazing. Coughing, he sprinted towards the heat. "Be careful," Laura called from behind him. He yanked out the fire extinguisher from beneath the sink. It took a several squirts of the cold liquid to put out all the flames.

He turned to glance at Laura, who looked at him and tried to hide her amusement. She snorted. Then she bent over and let loose peels of laughter. "Oh," she said after partially regaining her breath. Then she laughed again and waved at him. Looking down, he saw the fire extinguisher in his hands and his own nude body. Imagining the smoke stains on his face, he joined her in laughter.

A few minutes later, after they'd stopped laughing, and after he'd banked the fire in the living room, she rejoined him. Her hair was pulled back into a pony tail and her sweater and jeans were back in place. She smiled at him as he stood in front of the open sliding glass doors. "Sydney's still asleep."

"Good. I'm glad the noise didn't wake her."

She stepped in front of him and leaned back on his bare chest--he'd left his shirt open. He wrapped his arms around her as she said, "She had Strawberry Shortcake under one arm, and Blueberry Muffin under the other one." She waited a few minutes before curling her arm up and laying her hand on his forearm. "We can't stay here tonight, Jack."

"I know." He shook his head. "This place is a mess."

Irina wiggled in his arm. "The smell."

"Yeah," he said, laying his head down on hers. "We won't be back in here until after Thanksgiving."

"No."

"I'm sorry," he whispered.

"Don't be," she told him. "You gave me a great memory tonight."

He tensed. "You're always talking about memories."

"That's what life is. Moments that you want to remember. You don't know how long you have to enjoy them." She sounded sad, yet determined, too.

Jack hugged her closer. "I promise you that I'm going to do everything I can to grow old with you."

Irina turned around in his arms and hugged him close. "I know you are always careful, Jack, but none of us know how long we have in the life we're in. I could be the one dead tomorrow."

Jack felt ill at the idea of Irina's spirit being absent from her body. He'd never imagined being without her, always thinking that he'd be first. "I don't even want to think about it."

"Then don't," she said with a strained grin. "You need to get packed anyway."

"Packed?" Jack was confused.

"I made reservations at the Summit."

"The Summit?" He smiled as he thought about that hotel.

"I remembered you talking about it after you had that stake out there. How nice it was. I called, and they just had a cancellation for their nicest suite. You and I and Sydney are going there tonight. I've already called a taxi, so you need to hurry."

He thought about the kitchen and winced. "Thanksgiving in a hotel."

"No," she said, putting her hand on his cheek. "We're having it with Emily and Arvin. I called Emily, and she was thrilled. You and Arvin are going to play with Sydney until it's her nap time and then you can watch football or something while we finish dinner."

He put one arm around her and dragged her close enough to kiss her again. "You thought of everything."

She nodded. "I'm even taking our food over there to prepare."

Looking back over his shoulder, in the general direction of the kitchen, he said, "I like fixing dinner with you."

"Well this year we'll just have to change it a little bit. You can't leave Arvin alone, and we all know he can't cook," Laura said with a straight face.

He knew exactly what she was thinking about, and he struggled not to laugh at the memory. "That is true."

"Oh, yeah," Laura said, raising an eyebrow . . .

"I know what you're thinking." Laura's voice over the drone of the plane engines brought him out of his memories and back to the present.

Jack blinked as he left the past behind. He looked around the plane to where Sydney and Vaughn were sleeping. It wouldn't be long before they were back in the US and Laura was back in her cell. Laura--Irina, he had to remember to think of her as Irina--was sitting across from him, chained to the chair she was sitting in.

"You do?" Jack asked in his coldest voice. He wouldn't allow himself to be dragged back into the fantasy. He was angry at himself for revealing so much during that train ride.

"The toaster," she said.

He gritted his teeth because it was true. Then he briefly remembered sitting in an 8 X 8 cell and thinking over every moment of their marriage, every time he may have unknowingly been a traitor to his country. He thought of a laughing young man, and he gritted his teeth harder.

She sighed and looked away. As she watched their daughter sleeping, she said, "I was too busy trying to get the house back in order and helping Emily to meet my handler that week. You didn't give away the team's location to me that night. I doubt even the KGB could've tracked them down on that small of a clue."

He shook his head, unsure if he should be amazed or resigned on how well she knew his thoughts. He needed to be more careful around her, but he was too tired to worry about it at this moment. As soon as she was back in her cell, he could regain his control.

Then he considered what she said and relaxed, not because he trusted her to tell the truth, but because he was thinking it was probably the truth. Laura--Irina had only been aware of the name of the liquor the team was drinking. He'd never brought home any paper dealing with their location, nor had he told her. Their deaths were probably not his fault.

He remembered every member of the team, but not as he'd thought about them for the last twenty years. He didn't see them with their faces locked into death masks in photographs he wished he'd never seen. Instead he saw them as they were before leaving on their mission. Laughing and making plans. "Do you remember Roger Morris?"

She looked almost as surprised as he was by his question. She nodded. Her face showed sadness, but he didn't believe it. "He was so young."

"Twenty-four."

"His wife had just had their baby when he was sent on that mission," she whispered.

"Yes," Jack said. "They were both so young."

"We were young, Jack." She shook her head. "I never believed I would live to be this age."

"I have a hard time believing I made it this long either."

She stared at him for a minute. "I never doubted you would."

"Why?"

"Because you promised me you would try to grow old. And you always keep your promises."

Jack swallowed and looked away. Then he stood and walked towards the back of the plane. He couldn't talk to her anymore. At least not while he was thinking about another promise he'd made to her a long time ago--to love, honor, and cherish her for the rest of his life.

***

The End

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