Disclaimer: I own none of this. Star Wars belongs to George Lucas- oops! Wrong story there. Here try this one. I don't own Alias or any of its ideas or characters. That all belongs to JJ Abrams.

Sorry, sorry, sorry for the long wait between updates. Fanfiction.net wouldn't let me upload this for a while for some reason.

Jack was dead.

Jack. Was. Dead.

JackwasdeadJackwasdeadJackwasdeadJackwasdead

The words turned into a senseless litany in Laura's mind as she stared blankly at the agents in front of her.

"No."

Jack couldn't be dead. He was far too good of an agent. He was the best that the CIA had to offer and as much as she had her doubts about Arvin Sloane, he hadn't failed to protect Jack yet. No, Irina decided this wasn't possible.

"Ma'am?" The second agent's voice was gentle and the look that he directed at Irina was full of pity.

She wanted to scream at him in contempt and tell him to stop. Her husband, her Jack was not dead. She could feel the scream rising up in her throat, and she choked it back. She couldn't do this here, in front of these men- these agents. There was too much to consider. It could be a test to determine her loyalty. The CIA could be testing her cover, to see if she was really the loving wife that she seemed. The KGB could be trying to determine if she had developed an emotional attachment to her target. Those were the best case scenarios. Irina didn't let herself consider the worse case scenarios or what would happen if Jack really was dead. What would happen to her? Or to Sydney?

The last thought froze her cold and she paled. It wasn't a condition that she had to fake. "What happened?" She seemed to be detached from the whole situation, as if she were outside of herself. Irina wondered if this was a result of her KGB training or if this was how all supposedly widowed women reacted.

She listened to the men talk, giving her formal explanations and expounding with phrases that meant nothing. That was what they were telling her: nothing. Either they knew nothing, or they were concealing the truth from her: classified information. For whatever reason they weren't telling her what she wanted to know. Even as Irina ushered the men out of her home, with fake pleas to be left alone with her grief, her mind was working in high gear, contemplating if she could go to her handler for information or not.

Of course, he would give her information on the situation. Alexander would be the one to tell her whether Jack was truly dead or not- if he wasn't playing her, that is. But she would need confirmation, or help in getting out of the country if her cover had been blown. And if Jack was truly dead, then she would need help of another kind. This help she could only get from one person. Hunting down the man who had murdered her husband, and murdering him brutally would not be an activity that Alexander would approve of. In fact, it would probably get her brought up on charges of treason. If this was true, if any of this were true, or even if it weren't, she needed help. She needed her sister. She had resisted using the contact number that Katya had given her for almost a decade. Now she needed all of the help that her sister could give her.

Irina let out a deep breath and sagged back against the door as she closed it behind the two agents.

"Mama?"

Her head shot up. "Yes, Sydney?" Her voice was calm and controlled. This was hell, she realized abruptly. She would have to tell her daughter that Jack was dead because that was what she had been told and that was what she was supposed to believe. If she didn't respond accordingly, there was every chance that the CIA would notice and that simply couldn't be allowed to happen. The thought of having to tell Sydney that her father was dead made her breath catch in her lungs. This was not something she had ever expected to deal with.

"Mama why are you crying?" Sydney's soft, worried and slightly scared voice tore at Irina's heart. She wished there was something, anything else that she could say, instead of what she had to say. Irina wished that Sydney hadn't been inadvertently caught up in the world in which she and Jack both risked their lives. She wished there was a way to shield her daughter, and protect her cheerful innocence.

"Sweetheart, come here. I have to tell you something."

============================================================================ ===

Arvin Sloane sat in the spartan office of his supervisor, Ben Devlin, with one of his fellow agents, William Vaughn. Sandwiches and freshly poured day old coffee, surrounded by piles of paperwork, sat forgotten in front of each of the men. The room was filled with tense grim silence. Bright LA sunshine filtered through the room, serving not to lighten the atmosphere in the room, but seeming to make it all the more tragic.

"Jack's death has to be the work of the mole," Bill spoke angrily. He hadn't been close to Jack Bristow, but the death of any fellow agent was a cause for anger and swift retribution, especially when it looked as if the traitor where one of their own. The attack on them would not go unpunished.

"That's what I want you to find out." Devlin's voice was marginally calmer, but no less filled with terrible anger. He had been doing this job for longer than either of the agents in front of him, and he understood their reactions to the death of their colleague, but he also understood the big picture better than their immediate concern for vengeance. For all that he was saddened by the death of one of one of his best agents- a truly good man- he had to consider the other agents under his command, those that were still alive. "We don't have much in the way of leads on this mole or pertaining to Jack's murder, but that's what I want you to find. Use any of your contacts that you need to do this, don't leave any stone unturned. I want this person found and I want him dealt with. Have a report on your progress on my desk by the end of the week, Bill," he said sharply, "I want to be kept up to date on this one."

"I want to be part of this investigation." It was the first time that Arvin had spoken since the meeting had begun.

"Arvin," Devlin began carefully. He knew that Arvin had been close friends with his partner, but this was against Agency regulations. Too often, when this was the case, the investigation only ended badly- for everyone.

"No!" Arvin shoved his chair roughly away from the desk, slamming his hand down on the table as he rose. The motion jarred his cup of coffee and sent it spilling onto the desk, emptying its dark contents on the pile of papers next to it. None of the men noticed. This was the first time that they had ever seen the self- contained Arvin Sloane respond emotionally to anything. He seemed to be good friends with Jack and he was polite, but he wasn't terribly outgoing or emotional. Both men were shocked. "No," he said again, softer this time, but he didn't lose any of his edge of intense anger. "You have to let me be apart of this investigation. I was the one who was supposed to be watching Jack's back on that mission. I was his partner and he died." There was a strangled note of finality in his voice that seemed to take the wind out of his sails. His voice was small when he spoke again. "I have to do this. I have to find Jack's killer. He should pay for what he's done."

Devlin considered the situation for a moment. He didn't usually let an Agent's personal feelings determine how he would respond to a situation, but this wasn't a normal situation. This was a special circumstance. Bill Vaughn was capable of handling the investigation himself, but there was more to consider here. Arvin apparently felt responsible for Jack's death- a charge of which the limited evidence had immediately cleared him from- and if this was what Arvin needed to do to deal with the death of his partner, Devlin was willing to allow him to participate in the mission. The Agency needed more good men like Arvin Sloane and if this was what Sloane needed to do, then he would allow his Agent that much leeway at least.

Ten minutes later, standing alone in the parking garage as he stepped into his car, Arvin Sloane allowed himself to smile. His next plan was already in motion. In fact, things were working better than he had expected. Bill Vaughn was a competent Agent and a man that he had previously had little contact with. Bill also shared the same level of clearance as he and Jack, with access to the same information- the same information that had recently been leaked. It would be simple enough for Arvin to frame Bill Vaughn for the activities of the mole and for the death of Jack Bristow. He would have the perfect position to expose the deception from inside the investigation and he would come out looking like the CIA's newest hero. It also wouldn't be too hard to arrange for Vaughn to have an unfortunate accident before the CIA found a way to question him too closely or to discover that Vaughn was the real mole or killer. Sloane smiled.

================================================================

Moscow, USSR

"Katya, darling," the Ambassador drawled languidly into her ear, as his hands rested possessively on her hips, "There is a call waiting for you- on the secure line," he added a moment later.

She turned slowly in his arms, careful not to let the surprise, and the sudden rush of fear that had accompanied it, show on her face. There was only one person who would call her using that emergency contact number. Irina. That could only mean one thing. Something had happened to her, something that Irina couldn't handle herself. Katya had known that the day would come. She had seen the signs that Alexander, her sister's handler, had missed. Even the few surveillance photos that she had managed secure over the years painted a picture that both pleased and frightened her.

She had seen immediately what the KGB was missing. Irina was in love with her target. If it had been up to Katya, she would have extracted her sister the moment that she saw that first photo, three years after her sister went undercover, and she never would have allowed Irina to have a child. The instant loyalty between mother and daughter would not be broken by mere patriotic duty, especially when Irina loved the child's father.

It was a dangerous game that Irina had played, and now the price of the game that Irina had played had come back to haunt her. That was irrelevant, however. Irina was her sister and she would do whatever was necessary to help her sister, even if it meant sleeping with a brutish pig, like her Ambassador for a decade so that she could maintain a way to contact her sister. Of course the information that she managed to steal from her Ambassador and sell to the highest bidder for a great deal of money was also a good incentive.

The phone was cold and hard in her hand. For the first time, Katya felt strangely reticent as she picked up the phone. Would her sister be a complete stranger after ten years of living as an American?

"Irina?" Her voice betrayed nothing of her momentary hesitation. She was by nature bold and impulsive. Hesitation and insecurity had never held sway over her for long. Caution was another story, however.

"Katya?" The voice was cautious, but even through the distortion of the phone lines, Katya could hear the relief in her sister's voice. "Katya, I need your help." Irina's voice was low, as if she didn't want to be overheard and Katya tensed, this time with worry.

"What's the matter 'Rina?" She asked quickly.

"They say that he's dead, Katya."

Katya's voice was careful as she replied. "Who's dead, little sister?"

"My hus-target, Jack Bristow. The CIA claims that he died on a mission. I don't believe them, and I want to know what happened. I need the information from someone that I can trust."

Katya considered Irina's request for a moment and then thought about what her sister wasn't saying. "You don't trust Alexander?" The question was rhetorical and Katya knew it. She didn't pause to wait for her sister's response. Instead she asked another question. "Shouldn't you simply be happy that your mission is over now? You can come home 'Rina, free of that capitalist Bastard! You can come home and see Mama and 'Lena again."

Silence greeted Katya. It was only for an instant, but it was all of the confirmation that Katya hadn't wanted to receive. There was no question now that Irina was in love with her target. Katya couldn't help but wonder for an instant what was so wonderful about this Jack Bristow that her sister would betray her country, the ideals that she had once believed in and endanger the lives of their family that was still living in Russia.

"Katya," Irina's voice was sharp almost brittle, "Can you get the information or not?"

Katya matched her sister's tone easily. She wasn't feeling particularly happy with her sister at the moment, either. Irina had always been stubborn, but she had rarely been this foolish. "Of course, I can, Irina." She started to add something else, but stopped. She would help Irina. Loyalty and family demanded it, but she didn't have to like what Irina was doing. It was dangerous, a risk without reward.

"Thank you, Katya," the relief in Irina's voice was almost painful to hear.

"I do this for you, sister, not him. I'll contact you again in two days. Try not to get yourself killed between now and then, 'Rina."

The phone disconnected with a soft click. Despite the fact that Katya now had much work to do in the next forty-eight hours, she remained still, leaning up against the desk behind her. She would do what Irina had asked, but she would also begin to set other things in motion. Preventative measures and things to insure Irina's safety could easily be set in motion now, in case they were needed later. Irina might not be thinking at her best at the moment. Perhaps ten years spent in the soft, easy life of an American woman had dulled the immediacy of some of Irina's more painful memory of Mother Russia, but Katya had not forgotten. She would do as much to protect Irina as she could.

===================================================================

Los Angeles

Two Days Later

Irina Derevko was dressed in black. Not in the stiff formal dress that she had worn several hours ago to her husband's funeral, but in the clothing of an assassin. The cold wood of the gun stock pressed against her cheek as she stared into the scope of her gun and looked down at her target reminded her of the hard pew where she had sat motionless listening to the priest perform her husband's funeral. Sydney had sat silently in her lap. Her arms had wrapped tightly around her daughter's small body. Her daughter who would have usually protested such a protracted embrace had made no move to get away. If anything she had moved closer to her mother. Irina wasn't sure how much Sydney had understood of the funeral, but her daughter did know one thing. Her Daddy was not coming home.

As she held Sydney then, seeing the tears the streamed down her daughter's face and the way that Sydney had clung to her, Irina had allowed herself to cry. She had felt like crying, sobbing and screaming with rage many times since the early hours of that morning when Katya had finally called her. Irina almost wished that Katya hadn't called. The funeral was the first time that she had let herself cry.

Crying in public was not in her nature, nor was letting anyone see a weakness in her, but crying in the privacy of her home was not justifiable as a part of her cover. It was a fine line that she was forced to walk. It was the life that she had chosen for herself at the age of eighteen. She couldn't change her past choices now, or even make some bold statement of love for her husband, not if she wanted to Sydney to remain alive.

Irina had retained no illusions about what would happen to Sydney if she flexed the muscles of her freedom by defying the KGB. Alexander had subtly but plainly made it clear that her daughter would be the one to pay the price if she disobeyed her orders.

What she was doing now, this action that she was about to take, was not sanctioned by the KBG. It was perhaps, her last act of careful defiance and the only statement of her love for Jack. She had to admit, selfishly, that this was for her as well. The moment she had learned of the identity of her husband's killer, she had been filled with a desire for vengeance. This was the blood of one person that she would not mind having on her hands.

She watched patiently as the figure drifted into the crosshairs of her scope. This was the face of the man that had destroyed her life with Jack. Her hand was steady as she squeezed the trigger of the rifle.

Bill Vaughn fell to the ground- instantly dead- outside of the large doors to the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency as she walked calmly away from her roof top perch. She and her daughter would be extracted and returned to Russia the following day. Strangely, returning home wasn't a thought that pleased her.

========================================================================

Arvin Sloane was not smiling as he carefully replaced the phone in its cradle. Things had not gone according to his plan. He had been expecting the KBG to only extract Irina, unwilling to risk taking Sydney back with her mother, as well. That Sydney was going with her mother was due only to the interference of Derevko's sister Ekaterina. It was actually quite a clever move on the woman's part. It gave the KGB the appearance that they could actually control Irina's actions.

Katya, as she was called, could actually have become a thorn in his plans. She was a much more skilled and resourceful player than her sister. That made it even more fortunate that he controlled her lover, the Ambassador, and the information that she received through him. Sloane didn't like his plans to be thwarted especially when those plans included Sydney, but at least now this game might provide an interesting challenge. It would make it all the sweeter when he won. He would become an invidious presence slipping unstoppably and unseen into Irina's life. He would have Sydney and he would have Rambaldi.

(2/2)

Okay this is the last part of this. But there will be a sequel coming soon, if anyone is interested. At the moment, the sequel is tentatively titled Force of Fate, but that's likely to change.

The Challenge requirements for this story are:

A meal with three people present at the table. The meal can be either at a restaurant or a house, but you must describe the ambiance (atmosphere) Paint a picture in our minds so we can see their meal and surroundings

Girl scouts

Poison prevention

Use the word, invidious

a spilled drink

Must be an original fic and not previously written with the elements added.

No more than two chapters, and as stated previously, must be completed by the challenge deadline.