L.A. (2 months later)

It had been a long time since Jack had seen Irina and it was affecting him more than he thought possible. He sat in his office splitting his focus between the ops report Dixon had submitted and missing his wife.

He was heading out on a mission that was scheduled to last one month but would lasts no more than a few days and give him the freedom to visit Irina. She had admitted to being lonely during their last conversation; an admission which shook him to his core. But Sydney had placed two calls to her mother since being back which managed to lift the hormonally charged woman's spirits at times.

All attempts at concentrating were aborted when the knock came at his office door.

"Come in." He called, knowing Caroline had stepped away from her desk for lunch.

"Dad, are you busy?" Sydney stepped through the door, closing it behind her.

"I have some time to spare." He turned his attention to her.

"I wanted to wait until your assistant left for lunch. When are you going to see Mom next?" She asked suddenly.

"In a few days; when I'm finished gathering the information we need in Albania." Jack closed the file on his desk and laid his hands over top of it.

"Is someone going to be with her when she has the baby?" Sydney looked down, not wanting her father to see her concern for the mother.

"I know your mother is lonely Sydney and in light of this conversation I would assume you have come to the same conclusion. I organized the operation to Albania for the purpose of being with your mother for the next few weeks."

"Good." Sydney nodded her head. She got up to leave but hesitated at the door. "I asked Mom already but would you make sure you call me and let me know when she goes into labour." Jack gave her a brisk nod and a tiny smile which she returned.

"Oh and Sydney." He stopped her at the door. "You don't have to wait until my assistant is at lunch to come see me. She has been apprised of the situation." Jack reopened the file folder.

"Does Mom know?" Both of her eyebrows were reaching for the sky.

"She does. Caroline is a good friend of your mothers." He smirked as Sydney grew further astonished.

"I know that some wives help pick their husband's assistances to ensure they stay loyal but you and Mom always manage to make it more than that. You're both so weird." Sydney shook her head when her father's smirk turned into a full grin. "Give her a hug from me."

Syros – Greece

"Irina?" The front door closed with a heavy bang, Jack dropping his briefcase in the hallway, scanning the house for activity. "Irina?" He hollered again, moving into the living room. Again he received no response.

Glancing at the empty backyard, he turned and headed up stairs. Their bedroom was vacant as well, piquing Jack's curiosity. At the end of the hall he could hear sounds of life in the laundry room. The smaller room was awash in noise as both the washer and dryer ran their cycles while the only occupant folded clean cloths.

"What are you doing?"

Irina jumped, startled by the intrusion then cursed her lack of control. She spun to face a smirking Jack.

"You startled me; couldn't you have given me warning that you were here?" She huffed.

"You didn't hear me calling you?" He raised an sardonic eyebrow at her perturbed demeanor.

"You aren't supposed to be here until tonight." Her large stomach drew his attention.

"I finished early. If I had known this was the reception I would receive, I wouldn't have rushed to get here." Jack pursed his lips and made a show of rolling his eyes.

Irina seemed to shake herself from her annoyed stupor and smile coyly at her husband. "Oh stop pouting; you know I'm happy you're home." She took a few steps until she was in his arms and kissed him passionately. "But I have things to do today and you're a distraction." Patting his chest, she returned to her folding.

"What is so important that you can't give your husband, who hasn't seen you in over a month, your attention?"

"I'm washing all the baby's cloths." She held up a freshly dried blanket.

"The baby hasn't been born yet; how could his cloths be dirty?" Jack eyed the four other stuffed bags on the floor beside the laundry room sink.

"You can't dress a baby in cloths right from the store Jack; you never know what's on them." Her exasperation at him bled through her words. "You act like you've never done this before." It was her turn to roll her eyes.

"If memory serves me, I avoided the shopping and dressing of Sydney as much as you would allow." Jack watched as Irina's shoulders tightened and her breathing changed. It lasted ten seconds before returning to normal. Had he not been paying close attention to the back of her head he would have missed the anomaly.

She didn't mention it, nor did he, as something else quickly caught his attention. "You spent €225 on a sleeper!" He pulled the tiny garment from the bag. "Is it even legal to charge that much for this little fabric?"

"It's a limited edition Dolce and Gabbana new arrival sleeper and it's adorable." She grinned at him.

"You do know that at the rate babies grow; he'll only be able to wear this once or twice right."

"I'm not going to argue with you about a sleeper Jack. I saw it; I liked it; I bought it. Now make yourself useful and take the tags off the rest of the new cloths."

He knew she was testing his resolve, to see how long he could withhold commenting on the price of the other new items. "No baby's crib needs sheets of 700 thread count Egyptian cotton, let alone three sets of them Irina."

"You do know that babies go through sheets quickly." She mocked his earlier comment with a quirk of her eyebrows.

"I've been working for three days straight. I'm going to get something to eat." He kissed her on the cheek and ran his hand over their son.

With his back turned to walk out of the room, Jack missed Irina tense again; however, she managed not to break the continuous folding movements.

Twenty minutes later Irina navigated the stairs with one hand on the railing but mysteriously managed to maintain her grace. She found Jack finishing the left-over pastitso she put in the fridge the night before and watching the news.

"I see you still have an affinity for Greek food." She smiled softly at him, coming around the backside of the couch to gently massage his shoulders.

"I was blessed with a wife who can cook." He smiled up at her. "Actually I was blessed with a wife who can do just about anything." He kissed a hand that was on his shoulder.

"Suck up." She whispered deeply against his ear before capturing his lips in a quick kiss.

"Was that an invitation?" Jack smiled and stood from the couch to approach her. Irina's smile wavered for only a second but Jack saw it. "You're having contractions aren't you." He stated simply.

"Yes." She took a deep breath as the contraction ran its course.

"Any particular reason you didn't mention it?" Jack crossed his arms.

"You had just walked in the door and speaking from experience you don't handle labour and delivery well." Irina crossed her arms as well, thankful that the baby had dropped in the last week to make room for them over her middle.

"That was also thirty years ago and we were both much younger. And this is hardly the same scenario." Jack argued. "And it still doesn't explain why you haven't left for the hospital."

"I've been having contractions since I woke up this morning; my water hasn't broken yet and I phoned the doctor to let her know I would be coming in sometime today. She's expecting me." Seeing Jack was still not satisfied she tried a different tactic. "I wanted to wait here for you as long as I could so we could go together. The last time I went to the hospital I wasn't sure if you were going to make it in time."

"I might not have made it this time either if I had arrived at night. You could have at least called me this morning. And what were you going to do if your water broke before I got here? Drive yourself to the hospital?" Jack's voice dipped in tone, illustrating his frustration with his wife.

"Of course not Jack." She shook her head at his idiocy. "I called a driver this morning and had them waiting by to come get me and the hospital's only fifteen minutes away, ten if you rush."

"For someone so absolutely brilliant you can be unbelievably negligent with your own health." Jack punctuated his point with his hands.

"Oh Jack, if I didn't know any better I would think that you just compliment-" her retort trailed off as the rush of warm liquid began to trail down her legs. Irina rolled her eyes at the absurd timing of her son. "Well, come on Action, you're the one who's so eager to go to the hospital." She gestured her body to Jack. "I'm just going to take a shower and then we can go." She turned to start up the stairs.

"Irina, you are not having a shower. I'll get your bag, a towel and a change of clothes but we're not waiting for you to have a shower." Irina almost smirked at Jack taking control.

"I'll meet you out in the car." He took the stairs two at a time to retrieve the items he promised her.

The car ride to the hospital was silent. Irina choosing to stew over the fact that Jack wouldn't give her time to shower and Jack reacting to her annoyance. Neither able to remember how their fight began. Jack pulled the Mercedes up to the hospital to drop Irina off before parking the car.

"I'll meet you in the-" Jack was cut off by the slamming of the passenger side door. He let out a breath before pulling away from the curb.

Irina was already gone by the time Jack entered the main lobby of the hospital. He went to the front desk and asked for his wife's room number.

"Jack? When did you get back?" Jack turned to find Peter standing behind him.

"Just now actually." He shook hands with the doctor. "Irina's been in labour all day and just now decided it was time to come to the hospital."

"Ah, the big day has arrived. I remember when Helen had Sophia, she dragged her feet all day before relenting and coming to the hospital. I found out later that she was terrified of coming in and having the doctors find something wrong with the baby." Peter walked with Jack down the hall in the direction of Irina's room.

"That's absurd. If there had been something wrong the hospital would have been better equipped to handle it." Jack scoured.

"When the contractions start all rational thought goes out the window Jack. You've been through this before, you must remember." Peter laughed at his serious friend.

"That was a long time ago and frankly I wasn't much help to Irina." Jack gave a defeated sigh.

"Ah, the nervous first time father." Peter smiled and clapped him on the back.

"More like the nervous, missing in action first time father." Jack shrugged sheepishly.

"Well, you better get in there before she thinks you've gone missing again." Peter gestured to the labour and delivery doors ahead. "I'll let Helen know that you're here, I'm sure she'll want to stop by and see the baby. Good luck and tell Irina we're thinking of her." Peter walked away still smiling.

Walking through the doors Jack was taken back almost thirty years to another hospital in a different country where a another baby was born. He could not have known that Irina was reliving the same memories.


"I'm going to kill Jack." Irina sat in their apartment in Maryland cursing Jack Bristow for all she was worth as another contraction hit her. A knock on the door provided some distraction to the pain gripping her lower abdomen. "It's open." She ground out.

"Laura? Are you okay?" Emily Sloane asked her friend.

"Just peachy." Irina said between clenched teeth. "But I'm going to kill Jack." She said matter-of-factly.

"I can imagine. Have you still not been able to get a hold of him?" Emily sympathized with her friend's plight.

"No. The bastard is completely incommunicado. But let me tell you this, if he doesn't manage to get his ass to the hospital before this baby is born, I'm not putting his name on the birth certificate."

Emily tried to hide the smile Irina's angry words were evoking. Her friend had always been a firecracker and with the added spark of labour she knew it was bound to be an interesting car ride. "Come on; let's get you to the hospital before I can add mid-wife to my resume." She helped Irina off the couch and to the front door.

"Thank you so much for coming to pick me up Emily. I don't know what I would have done without you." Irina squeezed her hand.

"I'm just sorry I can't stay with you at the hospital. I have to be in court in an hour." She watched as Irina closed and locked the front door and waited while another contraction took its turn at abuse.

"It's alright." Irina finally said breathlessly. "Jack will be get to the hospital soon and if he doesn't-"

Emily smiled brightly at her "-you'll kill him." The two women laughed as they walked awkwardly down the driveway and took off for the hospital.

Six hours later and Irina was alone in her hospital room waiting for Jack and the baby to make their appearance yet after six hours of labour she wasn't sure which one she was wishing to get ther first. The nurses came in and out regularly to check on her progress but other than that she was by herself with nothing to do in the short increments of time that her body wasn't riddled with contractions.

In a moment of desperation she began a long running dialogue with her unborn child.

"It's just you and I right now kiddo. I need you to help me out here, no more games, how about you just decide now's the time to see the world outside. It's really not such a bad place and that's high praise coming from someone like me." She paused to run a hand over her stomach. "Your dad has made it all tolerable I can't wait for you to meet him. That is if I don't put a bullet in his head for leaving me to give birth to you alone."

"I wish my mother was here right now. She would know what to do, how to change diapers, when to feed you, how much to feed you, how to give you a bath, when to know if you're sick or happy. I don't know any of that; it's really not my field of expertise. But when you're old enough I'll show you how to take a man down twice your size in twenty seconds or less." She smiled to herself, still rubbing her stomach. "You're grandmother would have loved to be here right now too little one." She stopped talking as a more intense contraction stole her breath.

"Well, at least I have some valuable information for my superiors resulting from this pregnancy. Forget training to withstand torture, nothing could be worse than this." She clutched the bed sheet. "Can I tell you a secrete sweetheart?" Irina whispered to her unborn child. "I'm absolutely terrified. They trained me how to be an agent, an American, even a wife but no one ever trained me to be a mother." She took a deep shuddering breath. "I'd like to apologize in advance for all the mistakes I'm liable to make."

Another hour passed after Irina's one sided conversation with the baby when finally Jack came literally sliding into the room.

"Did I miss it?" He was out of breath.

"Does it look like you missed it?" She gestured her stomach, well and truly pissed after the seven hours of labour. "Where the hell have you been Jack? You better have single handedly kept the world from Armageddon while saving a pregnant virgin name Mary because you're going to need a savior when I'm done with you." Irina's eyes burred with fury.

"I'm so sorry I wasn't here before. But I'm here now." Jack sat beside her bed and went to take her hand in his but winced.

"What the hell happened Jack?" Irina scanned his seated form. "And don't say you're fine. You're not fine." She looked more closely at his pale face, a fine layer of sweat was forming on its surface.

"I was shot. I'm fine though." He said quickly, showing her the wound on the side on his body.

"You're sure as hell right you're fine. What were you doing getting yourself shot when you were supposed to be here with me!" She exclaimed.

"Think of it this way, at least you won't be the only one in pain." Jack tried to ease her mood.

"You think you can compare my pain with yours? I don't think so Jonathan!" She glared. "Why don't you just sit there and look cute it's what you do best." Jack wasn't sure whether that was intended as an insult or not but he was smart enough to keep his mouth shut.

The door opened again and this time the doctor walked through with a smile, Irina thought it was too cocky for her liking.

"So Mrs. Bristow, are you ready to deliver this baby?" He asked her.

"I was good and ready to deliver this baby hours ago, what the hell kind of question is that?" She spit out.

"Laura, calm down. The doctor is only trying to help." Jack mistakenly tried to placate her.

"Mrs. Bristow, I understand it's been a long few hours." Before the doctor could continue Irina cut him off.

"How could you possible understand! And if the two of you don't shut up soon, the doctor that will be replacing you will be calling me the widow Bristow. I just want this to be over with one way or another." She fell back against the pillows on her bed and closed her eyes tight as another contraction pulled at her sanity.

"Let me just take a look and see how far along you are." The doctor took a look and breathed a sigh of relief. "Looks like you're about ready to go. I'll be back in a few minutes." He smiled sympathetically at Jack and whispered. "My wife was the same way with all four of ours." He laughed at the wide eyed expression on the younger man's face.

"You better not think that just because you got yourself shot that you're not going to have to help when we take the baby home." Another contraction hit and she groaned loudly.

"I'm sorry, really. I didn't mean to get here so late. I know you're in pain; I wish you could do this without the pain. You could always get the epidural." Jack took her hand gently.

"You think I'm going to let some moron get near my spinal column with a ten inch needle. Are you sure you didn't hit your head when you got shot?" She huffed. "I'm likely to end up paralyzed then who would take care of your sorry behind."

The room started filling with nurses coming in and out until the doctor arrived and the movement slowed to a less rapid pace. "Alright, Mom, Dad, let's introduce the newest member of the family." The doctor took his place at the end of the bed and began coaching Irina to push.

After the third push Irina gasped for air and hissed her annoyance. "Jack you're bleeding on me. Can you please get that under control." Had she been a little less focused on her own pain she would have seen Jack pale further.

"Dad, do you want to come down and see your baby's head?" The doctor smiled, now used to the idea of fathers wanting to be in the delivery room.

Jack moved to Irina's legs and saw the top of their baby's head before crashing to the floor unconscious.

"Jack! Jack, you better not be unconscious." Irina yelled at him.

"Don't worry Mrs. Bristow, I've had a lot of Dad's think they can handle seeing the birth and end up on the floor. Nurse Chambers will you get him into a chair please." The doctor didn't take his eyes from the baby, telling Irina to push.

"You don't understand. Jack's injured, he's bleeding." Irina managed to get out before breaths. "I can't believe him, he rushes back only to end up missing his child's birth anyway. I'll kill him."

Irina dosed while Jack held his new daughter, careful of his re-stitched wound. He was mesmerized by the small weight in his arms and missed his wife stirring in her hospital bed.

"Jack?" She said softly.

"Hi, how are you feeling?" He matched her tone.

"I should be asking you that." Her eyes held fatigue and regret. "I'm sorry for before, I've never felt so out of control. Are you okay?"

"I'm great. Never felt better in fact." He glanced down at their daughter.

Irina studied him closely. "They gave you something for the pain didn't they." She smirked.

"Oh yeah." He grinned back.

"Thank you." Irina whispered, stroking their daughter's soft head.

"Thank you." Jack returned; no doubt in his mind what their words meant.

End Flashback

"Are you coming in or are you planning on passing out again?"

"Are you coming in or are you planning on passing out again?" Irina had changed into her hospital gown and was getting comfortable on the bed.

"No chance of me passing out; I'm not bleeding this time." Jack smirked.

"In my defense for my behaviour when Sydney was born, giving birth is more painful than a gun shot wound." She adjusted the pillows behind her as Jack sat.

"And I'm just supposed to take your word for it?" Jack challenged.

"As I'm the only one who has or ever will experience both, yes you are." Irina grabbed his hand, entwining their fingers.

"Has Yana been in to see you yet?"

"No, she's on her way down for the ultrasound. She wants to make sure the baby isn't in distress." Irina allowed no hint of worry to seep into their conversation but Jack could feel it sheath them where they sat.

"Everything will be fine. If there's one thing we both know, it's how to trust our instincts and everything is telling me our son will be healthy." Jack reassured her, thankful for his earlier words with Peter.

"It doesn't change the fact that everything about this pregnancy and labour is high risk. We could lose the baby."

"It won't happen." Jack stressed.

"How can you be certain?"

"Because there are no two parents who would do more to protect their children and today is no different." Jack picked up her hand in both of his and kissed her knuckles.

"Irina, Jack!" Yana floated into the room per her usual style. "It's a beautiful day to have a baby." Irina glared at her flighty friend. "I want to check your blood pressure, draw some blood, ultrasound and hook you up to a fetal monitor and just like you, to wait until the last possible moment to get to the hospital. I swear you exist simply to torture me." She said in a rush of one breath.

"Oh Yana, stop being so dramatic. If I were torturing you, you'd know it." Irina's sinister smirk didn't seem to faze the doctor. "Jack, Sydney wanted us to call her when I went into labour." Irina brought him down for a kiss before he left to make the call. "Don't be long." He nodded and was off.

"Irina, you're fifty years old and about to deliver a baby, do you think you could have made an appearance in my labour room a few hours ago?"

"Where would the fun in that be?" Irina smirked.

"You're high risk Irina." Yana reminded her.

"Or so the CIA would like you to believe." Irina's quip was met with a sarcastic grin from her friend.

"You always did have a demented sense of humour." Yana wrapped the blood pressure cuff around Irina's arm.

"You're simply too slow to follow my grand comedic endeavors." As an afterthought she added cheekily. "Jack appreciates it."

"Yes I've no doubt he does." Yana gestured to the nurse who walked in to draw blood. "And it seems that's not the only thing about you he appreciates- if your presence in labour and delivery is any indication." The two friends eyed one another, neither wanting to be the first to end the game yet both knowing there were more pressing matters at hand.

"Your blood pressure looks good; I'm hoping for similar results from the blood test." Yana pulled an ultrasound toward the bed and a fetal heart monitor. "Most likely your last sonogram." Yana movement the wand rhythmatically across Irina's distended abdomen, never breaking contact with her skin. "Now don't get all nostalgic on me."

Neither woman would admit to the anxiousness that permeated the room. Irina's fear was palpable to those who knew her best and Yana was working to maintain the banter to lighten the atmosphere that otherwise threatened to suffocate them.

"Nice to see your bedside manner's making such vast improvements." Irina returned, willing herself to keep her breathing even while Yana worked to find a decent picture of her womb.

"It would be better if my patients couldn't talk." The doctor and friend in Yana both sighed in relief when the sound of the baby's heartbeat erupted through the monitor. "There he is." She pointed out. "Heart sounds strong; he's dropped to a prefect position." She shook her head and a smile played on her lips. "It looks like he's eager to get out of there. Not that I blame the little guy; I empathize with the abhorring accommodations."

Irina had the childish urge to stick her tongue out at her friend, a practice long since abandoned to the innocence of their youth.

"I'd like to keep the fetal monitor on you at all times and I'd feel better having done a fetal blood sampling."

"What are the risks with the latter procedure?" Irina took a deep claming breath, easing through a stronger contraction.

"I'll insert an endoscope through the cervix to the baby's scalp and make a tiny incision to collect the sample. It won't even be noticeable when he's born and while I'm sure you're more comfortable with sharp objects in your own hands, I can manage a scraping."

Irina rolled her eyes focusing her attention on the seriousness of what she had said over the quips. "What's the purpose of the blood sampling?"

"I'd like to be sure the baby's getting sufficient oxygen; in your case it's better to be proactive." Yana turned serious suddenly, leaving both women silent. Turning off the ultrasound, and wiping up the contact jelly, she turned back to her patient.

"Do what you think is necessary." Irina gave over control reluctantly.

Yana pulled the fetal monitor toward Irina, wrapping it securely around her stomach. "Let's see how you're dilating." She sat at the end of the bed and checked the dilation of the cervix. "When we were younger, I thought one day I might have to pull a bullet out of you, or set any number of broken bones, but I never figured I'd be checking the thinning of your cervix and for the elasticity of your vaginal canal." Yana continued the light nature of their conversation.

"Yet to most, it would be the former of those scenarios that would appear unusual." Irina told her.

"Where's the fun in that?" Yana quoted Irina's earlier words. "Irina, everything looks wonderful. You're progressing perfectly; if you continue like this, I'd say we'll have ourselves a baby in a few hours." Removing her latex gloves, she grasped Irina's arm. "I don't think I've ever seen a woman look so serene during labour."

"You weren't there the first time. Poor Jack barely made it out alive. Literally."

"He's in for another ride than?" Yana raised her eyebrows questioningly.

"A lot has happened between now and then." Irina paused, reflecting on the less enjoyable experiences she had had. "Child birth doesn't seem so bad after experiencing the alternatives….and the result speaks for itself." Her tender smile delighted Yana.

"I'm going to go check on the blood work." Yana released her and made for the door.

"Yana." Irina called out gently. "Thank you." Yana smiled slightly. "For taking care of the baby and me but more so for the last forty-five years."

Tears sprang to Yana's eyes at Irina's sincerity. "b." She whispered hoarsely from the doorway. "You're trying to make me cry. I'm on to you Irina Derevko." She pointed at Irina, who laughed out loud, seeing her dearest friend succumb to her emotions.

Los Angeles

"Syd!" Weiss yelled from his desk where Vaughn and he were seated. "Get over here a sec."

Sydney made her way to the two men. "What's up?"

"Have you read the newest report out of Korea?" Syd shook her head no. "That dumbass Jankins got the assignment and before he left he got piss drunk to celebrate and got a tattoo. He didn't remember getting it and because it was on his left ass cheek didn't see it." Weiss gestured wildly with his hands. "So he was being checked out while in Korea and they got pictures of his body art and very nearly executed him for being a spy."

"What I want to know is what the hell Jankins does in his spare time that a painfully sore ass cheek and a killer hang over wouldn't raise red flags." Vaughn spoke up, equally amused and annoyed by Jankins.

"How could a tattoo be enough to get him executed? If he had just gotten it, than there would have been no prior record of it." Sydney concluded logically.

"True but then his tattoo was proclaiming 'CIA's #1 Agent'." Weiss couldn't keep the grin from his face any longer.

"That guy was always such a tool." Vaughn added. "So what's this mission Jack's on?" He changed gears with lightening speed.

"Your dad was promoted so he wouldn't have to go on extended ops but I swear he's been on more now than ever." Weiss exclaimed.

"He's using old contacts to track Sloane; he feels they'll be more responsive to him." She lied.

"I'm gonna be just like Jack in twenty years." Weiss said suddenly, ignoring Sydney and Vaughn's incredulous looks. "I'm serious, at the rate I'm going, with no girlfriend and the time I spend here; I'm going to live only to work; I'm going to become Jack Bristow." His eyes widened at the thought. "Promise me that you'll save me from myself." His theatrics brought a smile to Sydney's face.

They were interrupted by Sydney's cell phone ringing. "Hello." She answered, throwing Vaughn and Weiss apologetic glances.

"Sydney?" A woman's voice asked on the other end. She wasn't able to place it. "It's Caroline, your father's assistant." Recognition dawned.

"Hi." Sydney responded. "Is my father okay?" She eyed Vaughn and Weiss, trying to find a tactful way to walk off.

"This line's secure Sydney. I'm assuming your parents informed you of my status." She said.

"I understand." Sydney answered cryptically.

"You're not alone are you?" Caroline caught on quickly.

"No." Sydney replied succinctly.

"Your father called from the hospital; your mother is there right now."

"Are we looking at a positive or negative situation right now?" She shook off Vaughn's look of concern.

"As far as your father informed me, everything looks good."

"Okay." She hedged again.

"Come by your father's office, I have an itinerary and identification for you. You should be with your parents in fifteen hours." Caroline's smile could be heard over the line.

"Thank you." Sydney hung up and prepared to face her audience.

"What was that about?" Vaughn questioned.

"My father's assistant. He wants me to meet him; he needs help tracking down an informant." Sydney replied quickly. "I've gotta go, my flight leaves soon. I don't know when I'll be back but I'll call you if I can." She leaned down to kiss Vaughn before stopping just short of running out of the office.

"What?" Weiss eyed Vaughn with suspicion.

"What, what?" Vaughn shrugged innocently.

"Don't give me that; I know that look. What's up?" Weiss nodded in the direction Sydney had rushed toward moments before.

"Since when does Jack need help doing anything, especially tracking down an informant? And wouldn't that be more Marshall's area of expertise or is he planning on sending Syd out in the field in which case you'd think he would want us there as well or at least call Dixon for backup." Weiss nodded along.

"Yeah but there's only one constant about Jack and that's that there isn't one." Weiss noted.

"This just feels weird. And why would he get his assistant to call Sydney. Since when does Jack trust anyone let alone a secretary? I think he may be in trouble." Vaughn sighed at the thought.

"Which means that Sydney is walking right into it." Weiss concluded. "Alright, so let's see if we can track her down." He volunteered.

"Then what?" Vaughn looked at him oddly.

"What do you mean then what? Then we go make sure she and Jack get out of trouble." He rolled his eyes at his friend, thinking the answer had been obvious.

"Let's go talk to Marshall then." Vaughn shot up from his seat to get to work on tracking Sydney and Jack down. He was determined to find them and aid in any way that was necessary.


"Let's go talk to Marshall then." Vaughn shot up from his seat to get to work on tracking Sydney and Jack down. He was determined to find them and aid in any way that was necessary.


The tech savant leaped from his seat but was pulled back down just as quickly by the headphones covering his ears.

"Huh-oh, ahh." He fought with the offending head gear, finally batting it down on his cluttered desk. Vaughn and Weiss looked on with mild amusement.

"I'm trying to establish frequency patterns of foreign satellites in the…" He caught the looks on both men's faces. "And you don't really care do you."

"No." Vaughn said honestly. "Listen, is there any way to track Sydney?" He got straight to the point.

"Why would you want to do that?"

"Jack needed her help with an intelligence op. We think they're both in trouble." Weiss answered, shooting Vaughn a 'calm down' look.

"Jack and Sydney are more than capable of taking care of themselves, don't you think." Marshall looked more nervous than usual.

"Listen, something weird has been going on for the last few months with Sydney and Jack and I for one don't want to sit on my hands waiting for the two of them to come home in matching body bags." Vaughn became more agitated as he thought of Jack's recent bizarre behavior and Sydney's new found devotion to developing a relationship with him.

"But come on, Jack's like well…Jack." Marshall raised both eyebrows.

"Marshall we need to find them and if you don't help us, so help me I'll-" Vaughn clenched his fists.

"Whoa there chief; calm down." Weiss patted him on the back while surrepticously restraining him.

"I think what my anger management challenged friend here wanted to say was 'would you please help us track Sydney and Jack down."

"No, I think I got it right the first time." Vaughn stared Marshall down.

"Okay, but if anyone finds out, I had nothing to do with this and by anyone I mean Mr. Bristow." He had begun sweating under Vaughn's scrutiny. "I'll only be able to give you likely locations because she wouldn't have used her real name. Well, at least I don't think so cause if she did then you wouldn't need me but then maybe that's what she wants you to think so she did use her name and you would never think to check for her on any travel manifests. But that would be really risky and-"

"Marshall!" Vaughn bellowed for the second time. "Just let us know when you have something. The sooner the better." Vaughn stalked out of the room, more worried than when he went in.

Weiss shrugged his shoulders glancing at the departing man in way of apology to Marshall before following him out.

Marshall watched them leave with mounting distress. "Thanks for all your help Marshall despite the fact that when Jack finds out he's going to kill you." He said to himself in a mocking voice. "Oh no problem guys because Irina's the one that is likely to take me out, Jack would just torture me." He continued his conversation with himself. "I hope you're ready for what you're going to find there guys." He whispered to himself, remembering the CD Jack had him analyze more than six months before.

"I'm a dead man." He wiped his sweat soaked brow.


Arvin Sloane's soulless eyes gazed out upon the grounds he had laboured much of his life for. He felt a certain satisfaction knowing that his hard work was all going to pay off in the months if not days to come. Sydney had likely already seen to a test confirming she was Jack's daughter but she and Jack would not be able to help but wonder at the affair he spoke of with her mother.

He would not act too hastily; he had waited this long for the proper time to arrive, a few more days would simply make the end more pleasurable. The CIA, Irina and everyone else who had ever thought to betray him would soon be regretting their emergency from their mother's womb.

"Darius." He called to one of his men. The man had proven himself efficient and worthy of a position within his operation.

"Yes Mr. Sloane." Darius emerged from the building.

"What is the status of the Bristows?" He didn't bother to look away from his fortress.

"Jack Bristow has once again lost his tail; however, Sydney Bristow has just departed for Dubis." He told Sloane. He was at a disadvantage ever since Irina had been forced to leave Russia. He wasn't sure where she had gone thus wasn't able to direct Sloane's teams away from her location.

"Keep an eye on her. She's slippery." Sloane picked up a picture of Emily he kept beside him where ever he was. "You're dismissed Darius."

The other man left Sloane to his own devices outside, irrationally hoping he would hit his head and fall into the pool and drown.

"Don't worry Emily. Your death will not be in vain. I will have everything I ever wanted. Everything I ever wanted to give to you. You would be so proud right now." He spoke to the picture, wanting nothing more than to hear it answer him. "Any day now and I will make them all pay the price you had too."

Hour 1

Irina's face glowed honey brown from the Aegean Sun; her cheeks flushed delicately from the strain on her body and her eyes danced as she read the leather bound book in her lap.

"What are you reading?" Jack cocked his head to catch the title.

"The Odyssey." Irina glanced from the book. "In its original Greek."

"Isn't that a little too clichéd, even for you?" Jack moved around to the far side of the bed to take his seat in the chair provided for him.

"Perhaps, but it's terribly romantic." She spread the aged literature with care across her chest. "A story of a love so great it lasted time, distance and the hopelessness of death." She raised a knowing eyebrow. "Fitting is it not?"

Jack snickered. "You have a deranged sense of humour."

"One of my many charms." Her suddenly tightened grip on the hide covered paper altered Jack to an oncoming contraction but he remained quiet. Irina was not one who cared to have her weaknesses called out.

"Did you reach Sydney?" She picked up her book as the contraction abated, thus missing Jack's subtle eye roll.

"I did." He paused to reposition himself. "She's likely on her way now." A quick nod was all the acknowledgement he received.

"I think I'm going to take a quick nap." She put the book down on the bedside table and shifted to a more comfortable position.

"Sweet dreams Penelope." Jack traced the Greek letters of the text.

"Actually you'd be more of the Penelope character; I bear a striking similarity to Odysseus." She smirked. "But thanks for the thought." Her voice trailed off as sleep claimed victory over consciousness.

Hour 2

"Someone is smiling down on me today! She's asleep!" Yana held her heart dramatically, grinning at Jack.

"Yes, this is a decidedly more peaceful experience than the last time." He closed The Odyssey politely.

"So I heard." Yana caught sight of the title, making an obvious displeased sound. "You and your wife have a deprived sense of irony."

"I've had her test results analyzed and it appears everything is progressing smoothly. I'll keep a close eye on her but currently the baby is well oxygenated and Irina's blood pressure is remaining consistently strong."

Irina stirred, jolting Yana's head toward the bed. "I must go. I have no time to once again win a battle of wits against Irina today." Yana spun on her heel, striding through the room door. "Be back in a bit Darlings. Oh and try to get her back to sleep before I get here; she's far more manageable that way." Jack rolled his eyes again at the company Irina seemed to keep.

"Are you awake?" Jack ran a gentle hand through her soft hair.

"Yes. As soon as I have this baby I'm going to kick Yana's ass. And for the record, she's never won a battle of wits unless I was severely incapacitated." A slight smile lit Jack's face at the resolve in her voice.

"You're a victim of circumstance." He agreed jokingly.

"Now that we know that everything looks good I think I could use a walk." Irina threw back the covers and eased off the bed.

Jack watched her closely. "I don't know if I've told you but you're very graceful, pregnant or not." He smiled warmly at her.

"Don't worry Action, labour's not going to be as great a shock this time; you don't have to lay it on so thick." She held his hand as she slipped into a pair of shoes. "You know," Irina drew out as the walked through the hospital garden. "we haven't discussed what we'll do once the baby arrives.

"And you choose now to discuss it?" Jack said incredulously.

"Irina simply looked at him impassively. With a resigned sign Jack spoke. "I assumed we would carry on the way we have. You living here and me visiting when I can."

"That's not going to work for a few reasons Jack. One, I'm not going to be alone with a baby on this island waiting for you to make time for a quick visit in your schedule. Two, I can't put my work on hold any longer; you don't have the monopoly on working hours and three and most importantly, you can't keep disappearing for a week here and there and expect that no one is going to suspect something or worse yet that someone may track your position."

The conversation ended with no clear decision made regarding their living situation once the baby was born, leaving both of them feeling uneasy. Neither liked to have unknowns trickling through their plans and this one was big.

Hour 3

"Okay, okay, I got it!" Marshall exclaimed. Vaughn and Weiss lifted their heads from their quiet discussion in a corner of the room.

"Where's Syd headed?" Weiss asked.

"Egypt. More specifically Dubis."

"Great, I hate Egypt. It's hot and I always end up finding sand on me for weeks after being there." Vaughn pulled a face at Weiss' commentary.

"You got us on the next available flight out." Vaughn stated.

"Yes – um no well not exactly. The flight's booked solid." He began to sweat.

"We do this all the time Marshall. Bump someone." Vaughn spoke with frustration.

"Can't. I tried but we couldn't because Jack's hasn't signed off on the mission. It's not an official operation as far as the-"

"When's the flight Marshall?" Vaughn was hanging onto his patience by a hair.

"7:00 this evening." Marshall answered quickly.

"That's ten hours from now." Vaughn cried.

"Sorry, I-I uh did everything I could." Marshall began to fidget as his brow glistened.

"It's great. Thanks man." Weiss patted him on the back following Vaughn from the secluded room. "And Vaughn says thank you also." He yelled.

Marshall tried to shake his fear away. "Mom was right; I should have just started a business from home."

Hour 4

Sydney ignored the glances she was receiving from the man seated next to her in first class. He had been trying to catch her eye for the better part of three hours and was fast wearing her nerves thin. This was only the first part of her journey as she still had to change aircrafts and countries more than once more.

For the first time since she could remember the jumpy feeling sitting in the pit of her stomach was not nerves tinged with dread but pure excited joy. She felt the eyes of the man next to her once again and kept her head down to avoid them.

"I'm Andrew." He finally introduced himself despite her obvious disinterest.

It took a split second to make her decision after feeling only a slightly guilty.

She ignored the introduction.

"I'm Andrew." The guy tried again, this time a little louder.

Sydney didn't look up.

"Fine, you can ignore me but I'm just going to keep on talking." The guy grinned, thinking he would win her over with his persistence. "So what are you doing on this flight Andrew?" He asked himself. "I've got a business meeting. I work for a multi-million dollar company and we have dealings in Germany."

Still Sydney gave him nothing, not even looking from her book.

"You know the polite thing to do would be to at least introduce yourself. It's rude to blatantly ignore someone when they're talking to you." He said in frustration. "Great I finally get to sit next to a hot girl on a plane and she's a total bitch." He muttered to himself just loud enough for Sydney to have been able to hear him.

She finally looked up from her book to the man seated next to her and saw his lips moving. He caught her eye with a frown at her look of confusion.

Sydney moved her hands from her ear to in front of her face indicating to the man that she wasn't able to hear.

"You're deaf." He finally stated, understanding her motions.

Sydney made a show of watching his lips then nodded her head.

"Sorry." The guy mumbled and turned back to his laptop.

Doing her best to hold back a smile of triumph, Sydney returned to her book.

For a moment the words on the page blurred as a nagging sense of caution filled her. She couldn't be sure whether it was paranoia born of her occupation or something more nefarious. Something like Arvin Sloane.

Hour 5

"Jack, make yourself useful and massage my back." Irina called him away from the window.

Her labour was progressing smoothly if rather slowly. Yana had been in once or twice every hour to check on the baby's progress and Irina was certain, to pester her. She closed her eyes as Jack's large warm hands worked over her lower back, relaxing the muscles.

"I know you'll tell me you've endured far worse than this but I'm still asking you if you're alright." Jack's deep voice rolled into her ear and floated down her spine to sooth the aches further.

"Other than quickly becoming bored I'm doing fine. Although if this is a preview of your son's ability to try my patience, I may never let him out." Irina's throaty laughter turned to a sigh when Jack pressed a little more firmly to the right of her spine.

"I've been weighing to the pros and cons to having a child so late in life." Jack continued his massage.

"Of course you have." Irina butted in sarcastically.

"How quickly you doubt me." He smiled. "One of the advantages to having a child now is that when we want some time alone or just away from the baby, we foist him off on his doting older sister." Irina smiled at that but Jack wasn't finished. "Who is intelligent enough to know it's in her best interest to take her brother when we ask."

There was silence in the room, then…. "Dammit." Irina cursed. "I'll have to be sure she sees me with a weapon of some sort while she's here." She slapped the bed sheets with her declaration.

"Do I want to know why?" Jack hedged carefully, pausing in his ministrations.

"Because dear husband of mine, last time she was here my hormones got the best of me and I shed a few tear. I wouldn't want her to think I had gone soft."

"You soft? Never going to happen." Jack kissed her temple. "You've cornered the market on homicidal bitch sweetheart."

"Jack, you're such a sweet talker." She turned her head to kiss him soundly. "Now if only you could sweet talk your obstinate son into making an appearance; at this rate Sydney will be here by the time he's out.

Hour 6

Jack walked into the gormet cafeteria housed in the east wing of the hospital; looking for something quick to eat and some coffee.

"Any news on the baby front?" A voice startled him from behind. Jack berated himself for letting his guard down. He reminded himself that the island did not afford he and Irian much protection.

"Nothing yet, but it shouldn't be much longer." He thought for a moment. "Allow me to rephrase that; Irina isn't going to allow it to be much longer." Peter smiled brightly at that.

"I'm surprised she let you leave the room. Isn't it a woman's prerogative to inflict pain on us while they're experiencing it?" Peter walked with Jack to a table in the lounge.

"She's sleeping for the moment, but as yet this labour hasn't phased her."

"I wish she had been Helen's labour coach for our last two. I thought for sure she was going to divorce me after them." Peter adjusted his hospital ID tag on the front of his lab coat.

"Speaking of children, how are yours doing?" Jack asked cordially. He smiled to himself thinking of Sydney may have fainted at his ability to sustain if not participate in small talk.

"Everyone is good; we're fast approaching winter break and are bound to have a full house with the kids coming back from university."

"I read in the paper that the school football team made it to regional finals." Jack supplied in regard to Peter's youngest son.

"They did!" He said with obvious enjoyment. "Matthew is so excited. Poor Helen was chastised by him when she called it soccer in front of his teammates." Peter laughed. "Heaven save me from hyper-sensitive social butterflies."

"I can't wait to experience adolescent angst again." Jack huffed. "If my daughter is any example the drama will be unbearable." Jack took a sip of his coffee.

"If not the moping and lack of communication will make up for it." Peter chuckled at the evil eye Jack was shooting him.

"Helen and I discovered something when we had Sophia." He tried to glaze over the negative. "When you just can't or don't want to deal with the baby-"

"Pass them off to their siblings." The men said together then laughed at one another.

"And here I was hoping to impart my wisdom upon you. Well, sorry to say but that was all the wisdom I had." He raised his hands in self defeat.

"You just want to see me muddle through with nothing but a hope and a prayer." Jack accused.

"And just because you've realized it doesn't make it any less entertaining." He paused. "But I pictured a gun and shovel more than a hope and prayer."

"Jack was suddenly very thankful he had run into Peter. He hadn't realized how tense he had been all day but somehow speaking of normalcy seemed to calm him. Or perhaps it was once again having a male friend he could speak to without the threat of the conversation being used to test his mental fortitude at a later date.

"Well Old Man, I should be getting back to the lab and you have a wife who will no doubt commandeer the paging system if you don't return."
Peter stoods with Jack and slapped him on the back.

"Who are you calling Old Man?" Jack glared. "I believe you have a few years on me grandpa." He taunted.

"Grandpa! You know something I don't?" Peter pretended tto turn a sharp look at him.

"I assure you, your daughter has maintained the utmost decorum at school this fall."

Peter laughed harder. "When I said check in on her I didn't mean to do it covertly." He shook his head. "Although it makes me feel better now; she says she's bringing some guy home for Christmas."

"So far he checks out. All As on his transcript; part of the university leadership program for a safer community. No record - adult or juvenile – not even a speeding ticket. Though he did get a mark on his high school record for pulling a grad prank."

Peter blinked. "I don't know why I'm surprised. Thanks for looking out for my kids. I feel out of my depth sometimes with them halfway around the world."

"I'm happy to do it. I know how it feels to be half a world away to those that matter to you." Jack had the image of both Sydney and Irina in his mind.

"So are you going to tell me?" Jack gave Peter a confused look. "What was the prank he pulled to get him into trouble?"

"Oh, he spray-painted handicapped signs on all the faculty parking spaces at school." Jack answered flippantly.

The silence last only seconds before they both laughed at the image.

"I suppose I can forgive the boy that incident; his stupidity is about evenly weighed by his creativity." Peter sighed before catching his breath and returned to his lab.

Hour 7

"This isn't funny anymore Yana, what the hell did you do?" Irina spoke with steel in her voice. "You appear and suddenly this baby doesn't want to go anywhere. Not that I blame him. I blame you. Even from the womb you've managed to scare him."

"I don't know what you mean. I'm heart broken." Her eyelashes fluttered as her hands came to cover her chest in mock horror.

"Come a little closer and I'll show you heart breaking you quack." The menacing look did nothing to dissuade Yana.

"Because I'm your friend and doctor I feel its my duty to tell you that you're highly deluded. I thought you were taking this labour like a champ." Yana sat on the stool at the end of the bed.

"I waws until I realized that you had somehow manipulated my child into hanging out in my bloody uterus for a while longer."

Yana knew enough to keep her eyes on Irina's feet which were currently precariously close to her head. "I suppose I should ass paranoid to deluded; labour does such wonderful things to a woman's body." Yana rolled her eyes before focusing on her patient. "You're about 8 contimeters dilated any time now." She smiled and stripped off the latex gloves.

"Don't you mean centimeters?" Jack, who had been careful to stay out of the two women's way as they sparred suddenly chose to speak.

"No, centimeters, in genecology and obstetrics we call centimeters contimeters."

"Why?" Jack looked perplexed.

"How the hell should I know! I'm just the hired help." Yana sprung from the stool, tossed the gloves in the garbage and floated out of the room as she had floated in. "Later darlings; don't deliver without me now."

"You have some of the strangest friends." Jack told his wife.

"I have a strange husband and you don't seem to mind." Irina raised both her eyebrows in a challenge that she was sure Jack would take.

Hour 8

"Okay, I'm ready to go home now." Irina announced calmly but before Jack cold respond Yana made another appearance.

"A little birdie told me you're fully dilated." She took a glance and grinned wider. "Are you ready to deliver?" She asked coyly.

"What I'm ready to do is leave. I've decided not to have the baby today." Irina remained perfectly calm.

"Ah….transition, what a lovely stage of labour." Yana stole a glance at the nurse and new neonatal specialist who walked through the door.

"I'm afraid you'll have to stick around for a little bit longer. But hey." She gestured wildly with her hands. "this is the fun part."

Irina roller her eyes, clearly not impresses. "What part of the next few minutes is going to be fun?"

"The part where I watch you do the pushing and all I have to do is remember to catch." She replied cheekily.

"One of these days I'm going to kill you and they'll never find your body." Irina thought for a moment. "Well, at least not all of it."

"I'm truly honored Irina." Yana gestured for the nurse to tilt the bed up. "I know you only save the truly gruesome threats for the ones you love. But next time you want to tell me you love me, just send me a card."

"I'm ready when you are Doctor." The neo-natal specialist told Yana.

"Alright Irina, when you feel the next contraction, push." Yana shifted on the stool. "Don't forget to breathe through it. Holding your breath makes it worse."

"Shut up you loon, what do I look like some pregnant teen!" Irina pursed her lips.

Jack brushed Irina's hair back from her face and rubber her back as she bore down for the first push. She breathed deeply through the sharp pain ripping through her lower body.

"You know we never did decide on a name." Irina said to Jack once the contraction passed.

"Names aren't really my area of expertise." Jack looked marginally uncomfortable.

"Find but you have to live with what ever name I pick." She smirked darkly.

"So I'll be stuck tell the boy why you gave he some outlandish name and I did nothing to stop it." Jack appeared defeated.

"You can sovle this problem by letting me name him." Yana announced sweetly.

"My son's not even born yet, I'm not going to stick him with that cruel and unusual punishment." Irina felt another contraction.

"Give me another push Rina." Yana pretended not to see the nurses and other doctor laughing at her expense.

"I'm a pretty luck man you know." Jack whispered into Irina's ear as she came down the contraction.

"Oh yeah, why's that?" A light sheen of perspiration was the only indication that Irina was experiencing labour.

"I'm married to the most amazing woman in the world and she's about to give me our second child." He kissed her temple.

"You're right. You are a luck man." Irina smiled at him before kissing him properly.

"A few more pushes and I can go back to my husband. You make a girl jealous you know." Yana watched them lovingly, pleased to no end that her friend had finally found her peace.

"another contraction's coming." Irina said.

Irina pushed with Jack watching on. "Oh Rina, your son has hair." She declared.

A push later and Yana was telling Jack to come down and be ready to catch his son because the head was out and it wouldn't be much longer.

"You don't want to do the honors?" Jack asked her.

"I figure if you've put up with Rina this long you deserve it." She sat him on the stool and showed him how he would catch him.

Yana motioned for the nurse to move up and support Irina as she pushed while Jack focused all his attention on not dropping the baby when he arrived.

"You better be ready Jack because this baby is coming." Irina bore down for one final push as the baby's shoulders slipped free and he slid effortlessly into his father's waiting hands.

The astonished look on Jack's would have shocked most of his adversaries, but was quickly transformed to joy when Yana suctioned out the nose and mouth and he heard his son cry for the first time.

"He's got your lungs Rina." Yana announced with a sense of pride.

"Jack?" Irina question softly.

"He's perfect Irina. Absolutely perfect." He laid their new son on Irina's chest to cut the embilical cord where the nurse had clamped it for him.

Irina's hands immediately went to secure the crying body on her chest and to protect his naked flesh from the cool hospital air. Tears sprang to her eyes as she finally got a look at her healthy baby.

"We'll clean him up and I want the specialist to look him over as a precaution." Yana took the squirming boy over to the other side of the room for the other doctor give him the once over and clean him up.

Jack had moved up to the head of the bed again to kiss Irina's forehead. "I've never seen a more beautiful baby boy in my life." Jack had wiped his hands on a towel the nurse provided before hugging his wife to him. "Thank you." He said with eyes full of meaning. "For everything."

"Thank you." Irina brought his head down to hers to kiss him tenderly. "I've been so worried that something would go wrong that I didn't give myself the right to fall in love with my baby yet. Now that it's over I don't think I've ever been happier in my life." The tears spilled over her lashes to caress her cheeks, a torrent of hormones and emotion running within her.

"Alright darling one more push and I'm out of here." Yana delivered the placenta and turned to the nurse beside her.

"Have the lab harvest the stem cells and put them into storage." The nurse left with her task assigned.

Jack quirked an eyebrow at Yana. "Why?" He asked simply.

"For the future. If your son has his parent's luck he's likely going to need the insurance." She laughed.

"I couldn't have done this without you Yana." Irina took her hand and kissed her knuckles.

"Don't you mean to implicate Jack in that scenario?" She teased.

"No." Irina said seriously. "We've protect one another for almost our entire lives but in the past few months you have done more for me than I could ever comprehend. You are the sister on my heart and I'll love you forever."

Tears ran down Yana's face as she gripped Irina in a hug. "I love you too Rina and it has been an honor to stand beside you in friendship all these years."

The neo-natal specialist walked toward the bed with a bundle swattaled in his arms. "His in perfect health. Heart and lungs sound good. I took blood to run all the necessary test but I doubt they'll be any problems. He's strong." He told Irina and Jack. "A very healthy 8lbs. 3 ounces and 22 inches long." He passed the baby over to his mother