Chapter 11

The flight to Dulles had gone smoothly. They had chatted companionably about Sydney, her graduation plans, and her friends. There had been slightly less agreement on her relationship with Vaughn - Irina thought he had more potential than Jack. There was an unspoken agreement that, for now, they would not rehash their past. It would need to be dealt with, but they were not yet ready.

They had been met by an agent at the airport, and Jack had excused himself to make a few phone calls. Irina was silent for most of the drive to Langley. Jack thought that she was not looking forward to being cooped again. He was surprised by the direction of her conversation as they approached CIA headquarters.

"Jack?"

"Yes?"

"Watch out for Sloane."

Jack looked at her quizzically, then understood. "You think he set me up, don't you?"

"Doesn't it seem odd to you that Geiger figured out that you were a double agent 24 hours after he stepped into the building? And Sloane hadn't for 10 years?"

"I think," said Jack neutrally, "that Sloane had better watch out for Sydney."

"You'll be careful?"

"Yes." Now he had two reasons to be careful.

As they arrived at Langley, Irina was shepherded off to processing as Jack went to inspect the security arrangements. At least here she would not be in a glass cell, he thought to himself. In addition to checking on camera angles and guard staffing levels, he ordered up some blankets and a pillow. All the comforts of home, he reflected with a sigh. He was coming to better understand her exuberance when she was able to get out for missions.

He looked up as they escorted her down the hall, back in prison garb and handcuffs. He saw she had her mask back on. He watched with pleasure as the mask dropped when she spied the flowers he had ordered for her cell. As she turned to him with joy, he smiled and replied, "It's the little things." Her eyes became suspiciously bright.

"Thank you again, for everything," said Jack.

***fin***