Well here it is, the final chapter. I hope you've all enjoyed the ride, and thank you all for reviewing and giving your input. After this one another Alias fic is going up called "Different," an AU, quite a different pace from this one.


Epilogue


PARIS, FRANCE

The CIA had ordered Jack home; he refused to leave. They told Sydney to persuade him to return; she told them she would stand by whatever decision her father made. They insisted the Bristow's should come back to LA with the body of Irina Derevko, as proof that her death was real. Jack and Sydney told them to stick it -- only slightly more polite. They were going to remain in Paris whilst arrangements were made; a trap was being set up to reel Sloane in. He was going to pay. The two agents felt no remorse; this is what they had been waiting for. Irina's death just made it happen sooner.

Only one day had passed since it happened and the grief was still raw, the father and daughter team had been taught to compartmentalise, so that's what they did around everyone. As uncaring as that made them seem. Sark was even more cocky than usual when he was not making himself scarce, Sydney was cool and business like and Jack was stoic and silent. Emily could not understand their attitudes, wondered why they bottled up their emotions; though Vaughn had explained it to. She was not a part of their secret life and would not accept their way of dealing with things. Tempers were frayed with so many people with an assortment of differences residing under one roof. Each had their own corner and they took to staying in private.

Nobody talk about what happened. Their sadness came out, as anger and impatience and that did not help communication in the slightest.

Sark was fighting his desire to get out of dodge. There had been no talk about what would happen to him after the funeral as he had been pushed to the wayside due to more important matter that needed to be dealt with. He had a feeling Jack would prefer to shoot him, Vaughn watched him with disdain; and Sydney held snatches of conversation with him, much to his surprise and the chagrin of the other two agents.

Now her mother was gone she was hungry to find out little things about her, bits and pieces of information that she should know but didn't due to Irina's absence for most of her life. Sark was the link to the woman she could never get to know. Sark supposed they had something of an understanding for the time being; though he had no illusions that she was starting to trust him.

Sydney was sitting on a chair blankly looking out of the window in 'the room'. It was strangely comforting to be here; where she and her mother had been so close during her last few hours. The ache was still there, that dull thud, like it had been after Danny was murdered. This room was the only place she could come to. With Danny she visited his grave; but Irina was being cremated, her ashes scattered to the wind where she would vanish without a trace for the last time.

The door to the room opened but she kept her eyes trained outside, though she wasn't really seeing anything, and waited for the visitor to come to her. A glass was held in front of her and she recognised the hand as Vaughn's, "I thought you might want a drink."

The glass fell to the floor and shattered, water splashed, and Sydney's stomach felt as if it had just dropped. Their reactions seemed slow and as they looked to the glass and then to each other, both suddenly afraid to move; to verify what they knew was true. Jack shook his wife gently, whispering her name but knowing that this time there would be no response. He rested his chin on the crown of her head and kissed the top of her forehead, the skin beneath his lips was still warm and clammy. He cradled her in his strong arms.

Sydney was not quite so accepting; she jumped from her place at the corner of the bed and clasped her mother's limp hand and searched frantically for a pulse.

"Sydney..." Jack muttered gently. "She's gone," he sounded pained, choked up.

She shook her head with adamant refusal. "No."

Sydney," he spoke again but sterner this time.

Her face crumpled as she gazed upon Irina, she was so serene. "No..." she said again, though far quieter this time. Her strength felt sapped and she slid down to the floor with a thump, dazed.

"Sydney?" his voice drew her out of her reverie.

She took notice of him again, her eyes looked glazed over, like her mother's had, though with Sydney it was for a different reason altogether. Vaughn understood how she was feeling; he had gone through this when he was a boy and he had learnt of his dad's death. "No thanks," Sydney replied in a monotone voice. "It should have worked."

Vaughn sighed, knowing immediately to what she was referring. "We can't be sure...maybe she was too far gone --."

"It worked for Alison Doren," Sydney answered bitterly.

Vaughn seemed unsure; it had been a long shot. For all they knew the Rambaldi 'juice' had an expiration date. "Alison was poisoned," he reminded her gently.

"It should have worked," she repeated. Sydney wondered for a second, did she sound as empty as she felt? From Vaughn's look of sympathy she thought so.

He leant against the windowsill to observe her better, and took a deep breath. "I know you want her back, she was your mother. But she was also a criminal, an enemy of the United States. And one less bad guy to deal with," he tried to break it to her as easily as possible, she knew it already but seemed to have blocked out that aspect of her mother. Sydney blatantly ignored him and when it became obvious that she was not going to speak to him he left her alone; he paused at the door to add, "Perhaps you'd rather speak to Sark." He regretted saying that immediately, knowing how it sounded, but on the upside at least it got her attention.

She shifted on her chair, not enough to actually see him fully but just in her peripheral vision. Sydney looked mad. "Sark is the only connection I have to mom; I'm not going to stop talking to him to make you feel better," she answered venomously.

"That isn't what I meant," he defended.

Sydney looked back to the window. "You can leave anytime you want," she stated dismissively. "I know how much you hate my mother, you won't want to be here for the funeral."

He debated whether or not to stay and try to make amends but knew it would be a waste of time to attempt that as yet; she wouldn't listen.

Sydney ventured from her room some time later, she didn't feel that much better, probably wouldn't for a long time to come. Doubts flooded her mind more than anything; when Sark had proposed to her that the only other way to potentially save her mother was to try the Rambaldi formula that had evidently brought Alison back from the dead, it had sounded like such a good idea. It was all in the interests of the Agency, of course. Keeping Irina Derevko alive was in their best interests, especially as she knew the whereabouts of the deadly poison that had inflicted her. All her hopes had rested on that, but of course it hadn't worked. Since when had anything of Rambaldi provided anything good? She was glad she had not told her father or mother what she had planned; it would be worse for Jack now had she done so, though he would probably have been against the idea anyway. It had been a long shot, and it had failed. Heck her mother had died mere minutes after she had drunk the water containing the formula. Maybe that had contributed to her death!

Of course there was going to be hell to pay when she got back home; the CIA would undoubtedly trace the missing formula back to her. Dixon had been in on it, he had put his trust in her; and she had failed to deliver. She dreaded to think what her father was going to say.

As she left the room she almost bumped into the very person whose reaction she was thinking about. Her dad looked at her, immediately getting the feeling she was holding something back. The guilty expression said it all. And he was nothing if not perceptive. Luckily for her he had come looking for her for a specific reason. "Sloane has been told. My contact informed me that he would try and see for himself whether it's true."

Sloane was walking into a carefully prepared trap. Jack knew his old friend would not be able to just gone on hearsay. Irina had supposedly died before; he was not going to take anyone's word for it that this time it was the truth. And once he came to the funeral to see her body, they would take him down. Simple. It would take place that night, under the cover of darkness, they did not have long to prepare.


It was quite cool standing outside whilst they waited to be let inside the chapel. The breeze blew their hair, their faces, their clothes, and into the eyes of the group that did not have any more tears to spill for the person they were mourning. At least, they did not cry in public. Jack, Sydney, Sark and Emily stood apart from each other as they waited in silence for the arched wooden double doors to open. They didn't have anything else to say, except for small talk, and they weren't very good at that. The only sound was the whistling of the leaves, the swaying of the branches. It all seemed so calm and strangely serene for such an occasion.

Thankfully the doors opened, cracking as they were pulled back. Unconsciously they stepped forward as one, the minister led the way into the room beyond; passed the chairs and the books on the floor in front of them. He directed them into the front seat; everything was done without talk, it was a quiet affair. Ahead of them, towards the back of the room, was a curtain, in front of that was the coffin, a garland of flowers set on top. A candelabra was to the left of the room, just beside one of the windows. The room was large, tastefully decorated, but mostly empty. Even more so with the lack of people in attendance.

Footsteps coming towards them prompted Sydney to turn around. Vaughn came to a stop beside her; she was grateful he had come. He sat down next to her wordlessly, an apology of sorts. She took his hand and squeezed it, he took it as a sign of forgiveness. This wasn't exactly the time or place to start talking.

A soft and simple melody had accompanied them as they took their seats and now it was turned off as the minister took his place at the front of the chairs, and started to speak. It was a similar speech to all of them, made personal by the usage of their names and the deceased. But he hadn't known her, he couldn't tell them what kind of person she had been, what she had done with her life. It wasn't his fault of course. But the mourners didn't need to be told about Irina, they had all known her in their own way, had been close to her at some point in her mysterious life.

The ceremony was short, but it did not have to be long to mean something. The minister drew to a close; his book was shut and held in his arms. The doors leading out where opened. And it was over. It was so final; it didn't seem right.

The minister shook their hands as they left, wishing them well. It was a formality. He watched them as they left and spoke up again, before the door was closed. "It is alright to cry," he said gently before turning back to go into the building. The door was shut and as he made to walk back into the main room he was startled to see a man, around his age, standing before him. He wore a somber look, almost regretful. "Can I help you, monsieur?"

"I'm sorry I missed the service," Sloane said, apparently full of emotion. "I...I would appreciate it if I could see her one last time. Irina was my sister...We had so many disagreements over the years it saddens me that we never had the chance to resolve our differences..."

The minister took pity on the supposed broken man in front of him. "Of course you may," he answered warmly. "Take as much time as you need."

The minister left the room, to give Sloane some privacy. Once he was gone his composure changed and he strode purposefully in the direction of the coffin. He was mere centimetres from it when the sound of a gunshot shocked him into halting. The bullet had smashed a corner of the coffin, it almost looked as though the shot had come from inside. More cautiously now he crept forward, this time his own gun in his hand.

The minister ran out of the back room, obviously flustered at what he could have sworn he though was a gun going off. He stopped short when he saw the brother of the deceased with his own weapon.

"It would be better if you left the building," Sloane told him, leaving no doubt that there would be repercussions if he decided to stay. The minister scampered. He was probably going to phone the police but that did not matter much; this wouldn't take long.

He laid his hands on the lid of the coffin and then, quickly flung it back to show the woman inside. He gave a start, a look of confusion creased his features, he took a step back. There was nobody there.

The back door swung open and he spun around, aiming his gun in that direction. This was a little unnerving. He was disgusted with himself, how could he have been tricked into believing she was dead so easily? Evidently he was slacking off. Jack was stood in the doorway, he watched Sloane with distaste, his finger brushed across the trigger. "Get away from her," he ordered and came forward. He couldn't help but gloat a tiny bit.

"Come on now Jack, drop the act. It was ingenious really, faking her death to bring me out into the open," he swept his hand around to indicate the room they were stood in. "Very realistic."

Jack frowned. "I would like to say I know what you're talking about, but to be completely honest; you've actually lost me."

The older man chuckled and shook his head, shrugging her responded wryly. "I suppose it doesn't really matter, you've finally got me where you want me."

As they conversed Sydney, whilst keeping her eye on Arvin, walked towards the open coffin. She was almost afraid to look inside, not wanting this sight to be the last she saw of her mother. But she needed to know that Sloane had not done anything. She reluctantly peered inside, her mouth dropped opened. "It's empty," she announced.

Interested now Sloane glanced behind him to see the obviously surprised young woman. "You really didn't know? It looks like we've all been tricked...though that is to be expected considering whom we're dealing with," he said nonchalantly; acting for the entire world like his life was not hanging in the balance.

Disbelieving, Jack joined his daughter, needing to see for himself that this was not a sick joke. But it was true. Irina had disappeared. Again. "She died --."

"It worked," Sydney whispered, just barely managing to hold back a triumphant smile. She felt euphoric.

"I'm afraid we have a confession to make, Agent Bristow," Sark had let himself into the room minutes before and was, wisely, keeping back until now. He was rather satisfied to see the look of anger that suddenly coloured Sloane's face. Of course, his old temporary boss was still smarting from his betrayal. " "Prior to Irina's death she was given the Rambaldi serum that apparently enables the users to come back to life, I might also add that this was done without her knowing."

The expression that came to Sloane's face was one of abhorrence, as if the thought of Irina Derevko using one of Rambaldi's creations was perfectly sickening to him. He did not get the chance to voice these feelings however as the woman in question graced them with her presence. She was not back to full strength just yet; she had been very inactive for quite a while now so one could forgive her for looking a bit out of sorts. Where before her death she had seemed frail and weak, now it almost looked as if she had been rejuvenated. Apparently the Rambaldi juice had a kick to it.

The confusion she must have had did not alter her aim in any way shape, or form though as she wasted no time in joining Sydney and Jack in leveling her own gun at the enemy. "Well I certainly didn't expect to be doing this again…didn't expect to be breathing again for that matter," she leveled a chiding gaze at Sydney and Sark. "Life is full of surprises."

"Mom?" Sydney questioned as she walked forward to stand next to the newly breathing Irina. She needed to be sure that her mother really was okay, that she wasn't making out that she was actually better than she really felt.

Irina nodded, smiled thankfully. "I'm fine, Sydney," she reassured.

"It's so nice to be witness to this touching reunion," Sloane interrupted, his voice held a sarcastic edge, his eyes were hard and just a bit murderous. "Unfortunately I can't stay. As you know I am a very business man…" he allowed a smile to show, as if he knew something that they did not. The two men and two women that comprised Sloane's firing squad to be looked at him, bemused. In the distance sirens could be heard.

Even closer to them the sound of an explosion rocked the room, it was quickly followed by a round of gunfire, aimed at everyone but Sloane. It explained the smug smile on his face; he had a contingency plan. Irina and Sydney dived for cover behind the dais on which the coffin was situated, the latter grabbed Sloane by the arm and pushed him behind it, to stop him from making a break for the backroom, the door of which had blasted off with the explosion. Jack retreated into the anteroom that led to the exit and Sark threw himself behind the second row of chairs. No sooner had the disturbance erupted; it stopped. Not knowing where precisely the shooter was left them with not knowing where exactly to aim. For a few minutes at least, silence reigned. It could have led them into a false sense of security but they knew better than to think that whoever was helping Sloane had left the building.

Irina grabbed him and pushed him roughly against the dais, gaining a small amount of satisfaction when he winced as his head connected with the wood. She kept his head locked in place with her arm, obstructing his breathing as she applied pressure to his throat. Her gun was pressed against his temple. "Tell whomever it is that's back there to come out," she instructed. "Or it will be your body that occupies that coffin." Presumably there were more of them than there were of the enemy but they were in a precarious position; the shooter or shooters were out of their line of sight and, should one of them advance towards the back room, they would be open to being hit.

Sydney was momentarily concerned. As much as it would be wonderful for Sloane to be permanently out of their lives, she would prefer to squeeze him dry of any valuable information first. Then again she was not about to argue with her mother when she was holding a gun, and a grudge.

"Come now, Irina," he said in the fashion of an adult speaking to a child. "We've worked so well together before," that said he did find it trouble to swallow shortly after with the pressure Irina was exerting on his throat. He tried to shift his position to get more comfortable but Irina kept him still. "I'm sure if…we talked…we could do so again."

She pressed her elbow more firmly into his neck and smiled grimly as his face started to turn a worrying shade of red. "Do it or I will kill you," not that she was making any promises that she would not do that anyway.

That Sydney appeared reluctant to let her mother go ahead and shoot him point blank was somewhat reassuring for Sloane; Irina remained impassive as did Jack, who Sloane was just about able to see out of the corner of his eye. "Alright," he conceded. Irina allowed him more air to breathe; he coughed a few times and rubbed the offending area. "Your wife can be very persuasive, Jack," Sloane mentioned with obvious rancor. He stood and stepped away from the safety of the dais.

"I've noticed that. I have found it can be one of her more admirable traits," Jack responded drolly as he focused on his oftentimes-devious enemy. He sneaked a sidelong glance at Irina to find she was doing the same thing; they shared a look of understanding. They would have to talk later of course, this was not the time nor the place to have any meaningful conversations. Where he was annoyed that Sydney had regretted to mention the plan she and Sark had worked together on, he was beyond relieved that it had worked; once he got over his initial shock. Nothing could ever be easy with Irina, after this she would probably disappear into the shadows as usual, he would undoubtedly have to track her down, but then part of the fun was in the chase. And with Irina Derevko it would promise to be an exhilarating ride.

"Frédéric, you can come out," Sloane called out, his calm demeanor belied the hazardous situation. Something was wrong; Sloane was planning something. The remaining four were on their guard as the shooter showed himself, his arms held out to show his empty hands. But still something was not right. Sloane's minion stopped a few feet from the door, his eyes shifting from his boss to the others. "I assure you there is nobody else here."

Irina and Sydney slowly stood, as did Sark from behind the row of chairs, exhibiting the same caution as the rest of the group. Nothing Sloane said could be taken at face value. "I think I may have forgotten to mention something..." the others tensed in anticipation.

Frédéric suddenly grinned, it looked strange on him, sadistic even. He put his arms down and a small black device slid into his hand. His finger hovered over what was unmistakably a trigger.

"Unless you allow me to walk out of here, unscathed, Frédéric will detonate the bomb in the next room," he told them smugly.

"You would risk killing yourself?" Sark questioned.

"The satisfaction I would receive from knowing two if my greatest foes will die here today is greater than the fear for my own life," he answered nonchalantly. He shrugged and sighed, "I have no choice...Sydney, I will regret knowing you may face the same fate as the rest of us," he added, speaking directly to her, ignoring the revulsion she showed. But ultimately the decision rests with your parents."

They heard cars screech to a halt outside. The French police had arrived and in the next few seconds the situation was out of their hands. The back door in which Jack was standing near and the main arched door flew open simultaneously to admit several of the French police; the situation was immediately charged.

Déposez vous armes!" they were ordered.

None of them moved, only Jack, Irina, Sydney and Sark were aware of the danger and, as the police saw all of them as a threat, they were not very willing to listen to their reasoning. The police spread out across the room.

They were demanded again to put down their weapons, ""Déposez vous armes!"

And again nobody complied.

For his part Jack was making an attempt to get the officer that had a gun aimed at him, to listen to what he had to say. But the point stood that he was out of his jurisdiction and this was not a sanctioned mission in the first place. "Qui sont vous?" Jack was asked none to politely; the question was punctuated with a jab in the back from the but of the police officers own gun.

"Jack Bristow --."

"Américain?"

They were rudely interrupted by the actions of Frédéric. He had activated the bomb. Sloane coolly turned around to face them all, "You have 1 minute to resolve this situation."

Just in case any words may have been lost in translation Irina made everything perfectly clear for the police Nous avons 60 secondes pour évacuer le bâtiment avant que la bombe détoneQuite plainly, they had 60 seconds to evacuate the building before the bomb detonates."


Outside Vaughn was attempting to diffuse the situation on his end; upon arriving they had stayed long enough to ascertain there was a mad man inside with a gun, about to view the body of his sister; that is what the minister had said. Before Vaughn had a chance to explain exactly what was happening they had entered the building, believing this would be a simple case of taking down and arresting one man. But they had still not exited the building.

"C'est une recherche officielle," Vaughn told a little white lie in explaining to the officer in charge that this was an official investigation, he was sure that, should a call be made to Dixon; he would not say otherwise.

In any case he was not being listened to, the man to whom he was trying to get his point across was sidetracked with trying to communicate with his men inside. Seconds later those of the team that were inside scattered, running out of the building like stampeding buffalo. One of which shouted out the alert, "bombe!"

The group that had waited tensely outside for news had time to duck before an explosion lit up the dark sky. Vaughn ran forward but was forced to pull back, the blaze that had erupted refused to allow him to go further than the bottom step.


The police started to back up once they realised this was a life or death situation; the way they figured it, the foreigners that they were about to apprehend would had to leave the chapel too. The officer that stood behind Jack started to usher him urgently towards the back door. One his way out one of the others grabbed Sark to his feet and began dragging him down the isle to the main door. Their movements were hurried, the bomb was already counting down, what was the worse that could happen now? Jack was close to the door when he spun around and elbowed the officer, he was effective in knocking the younger man down thus allowing him to once again move freely without the threat of being shot. "Sydney, get out."

"Dad, no!" she refused once it became apparent that neither of her parents were going to leave.

"Listen to your father," Irina directed. "You don't need to be here," Sydney remained in her current position. "The police officer is unconscious, if somebody doesn't get him outside he will die with the rest of us." Irina continued, trying a different tact, emotional blackmail. Her daughter would not stay when an innocent man's life was at risk. As neither she nor Jack was going to move without Sloane doing the same, Sydney was the only other person available to drag the officer out of harms way. All three of them could escape before the bomb detonated, but they could not trust that Sloane would still be inside the chapel when that happened. They were not going to give him yet another chance of escaping.

For a few fleeting seconds it seemed that Sydney was going to choose now to remind her parents that she had inherited their stubborn streak. But then she ran to the back door, she stopped before leaving with the officer, who was starting to rouse. "Promise you'll get out."

Irina did not answer immediately, as conscious as she was about the lack of time they had, there was as ever not outward sign that she was in any hurry. "I promise that we will try," she settled with. Sydney had no choice to take that as an answer.


Vaughn grabbed Sark by the cuff of his shirt and threw him back against one of the police cars, his anger and obvious panic revealing itself. "What happened?"

"If you would release me I would gladly tell you," Sark grinded out. Vaughn let him go and was made to wait whilst Sark dusted himself off and straightened his shirt of the creases Vaughn had made in his enthusiastic attempt at gaining information as to what had gone wrong. Finally he answered, "As you are already aware Agents Bristow and returned to the building when they heard the gunshot. They found Sloane and an empty coffin..." Vaughn made to jump in but reigned in his questions, Sark would get to it in his own time, however long that would take. "I returned to the chapel to find Irina was alive, the plan worked..." he said with a smile. "Shortly thereafter we discovered Mr. Sloane had a back up plan. We were attempting to diffuse the situation when the police arrived. A bomb was triggered. The police and myself managed to escape -- as far as I am aware the others are still inside," he told the last part with undisguised regret.

The two men turned around to view the blazing inferno.

"Vaughn!"

In tangent Vaughn and Sark spun around; Sydney was coming towards them half helping and half dragging one of the police officers. They ran towards her as a secondary explosion forced them to find cover behind one of the cars.

Emily has been ushered away from the chapel at the first sign of activity but she came forward now, her gaze was fixated on the fire. "Where are they?" that was the dreaded question that was on the forefront of everyone's mind.


LOS ANGELES

The CIA panel comprised of four people, all dressed in smart suits and giving Jack a run for his money in appearing stern and stoic. The two men and two women were riveted on the agent that was seated in front of them; they listened intently to what was said, occasionally glancing down at the pads in front of them to jot down anything noteworthy. Sometimes they asked questions to hear specifics that otherwise may be overlooked, but mostly they listened.

"I left the building with only seconds to spare, had I waited any longer I would have been in the chapel with them when it exploded. I was fortunate," the speaker was Jack Bristow; he had escaped relatively unscathed. The panel had taken three weeks to convene to give Jack a chance to recover. He had been shot, supposedly before Sloane, Irina and Frédéric had died when the bomb exploded. Understandably a few details had been omitted.

PARIS, FRANCE

What they had not realised was Frédéric was in fact still in possession of a gun, the 9mm was concealed in his pocket and whilst Jack and Irina's attentions were on his boss he uncovered it and aimed at Jack, firing a split second before he realised he had been targeted. He went down but kept his hold on his own gun, he shifted on the floor and fired off a shot. As Irina altered the gun's trajectory to focus on the Frenchman, Sloane used the moment of distraction to tackle her to the floor.

"You should have stayed dead," he bit out. He straddled her to lessen her ability to move and made a wild grab for the arm in which she held the gun. Frédéric whistled to get Sloane's attention. Whilst Jack had not succeeded in fatally wounding him he was unable to do anything more than hobble as he stopped the blood from flowing out of the gunshot would in his left thigh. With his free hand tossed a knife to his boss, the ever-present sadistic smile on his face.

She stilled her struggling when the knife was placed against her throat, he pressed the sharp weapon just enough to draw a small amount of blood. Irina glared at him. "Do it," Irina whispered, goading him. "We both know that the chances are high that I will survive anyway; the Rambaldi formula is still in my system." That was another point for Irina.

"I'll take my chances."

And then he slumped forward. The knife toppled to the floor. Irina pushed Sloane back; his eyes were wide open with shock. Blood tickled from his mouth and he remained limp. She paused for a second; half thinking it was a trick of her imagination. She shifted into a seating position. Jack was sat about 10 feet in front of her holding the smoking gun, "I guess you owe me one."

Irina swung her arm around to aim at Frédéric. Jack turned with her as she fired at the Frenchman, he had risen and was preparing to have a second go at killing Jack; he must not have got the memo that he was nigh impossible to do such a thing. Frédéric fell back to the ground. Irina wasted no time, she pulled Jack to his feet and put his arm around her shoulder to better support his weight. It would probably hurt but a bit of pain was better than death; the fate that awaited them if they did not leave very soon. "Now we are even."

Together they made for the door.

LOS ANGELES

"You are certain both Irina Derevko and Arvin Sloane are now deceased?"

"Positive," Jack certified, staying indifferent.

PARIS, FRANCE

"You know I have to leave," Irina said to him. They were lying side by side amidst a group of trees that had provided cover for them when the building exploded. Bits and pieces of fiery debris lit up a small part of the surrounding area. Beside her Jack gritted his teeth and she moved into a kneeling position to place her hands over his wound, it was painful but he would live. The others would search the area very soon to ascertain whether they were still alive.

"It's what you do best," he replied without rancor. It was partially true after all. He got into a seating position and leant against a tree; it was a slightly more comfortable position to be in, given that he was almost bleeding to death. "What I said earlier -- before you died --."

Irina shushed him. "If this is where you take everything back, you don't have to."

"I wasn't going to, on the contrary I am glad that you are alive," he revealed.

LOS ANGELES

Once he got outside the room he allowed himself a smile. Of the CIA only himself and Sydney knew the truth, Vaughn was kept in the dark for the simple reason that she would not let him lie for her. Sark had been apprehended and was in their custody, occupying the cell that his boss had before him. He would remain there whilst he still had information to give. Or until he found a way to escape, Jack would not put it past him to try.

Night had fallen when he arrived home, it had been a long day full of questions, he still did not know whether the panel would call him back to go over his statement. If that happened he would tell them the same. As long as Irina stayed out of trouble they would be none the wiser. But then this was Irina he was talking about. He switched on the light in the hallway and walked towards the living room, pausing only when he noticed one of the lamps was burning. He paused and leant against the doorway with folded arms. "Will this become a regular occurrence?"

Irina set down the book she had been reading, on her lap. She was stretched across the couch, a beverage of some sort was on the floor next to her, and all in all she had been making herself at home. At one point the thought may have been unsettling, but now? Not so much. After what had happened recently he found he could probably get used to the idea. "I took a big chance in coming here, the least you can do is say hello," the chide was cushioned by a mischievous smile.

Agreeing to play whatever game she had in mind, Jack proceeded to welcome here with, "hello Irina."

"How is your wound?" at the question her eyes fell to the area on his chest that he had been shot.

"Healing nicely," Jack answered. "You didn't just come here for the coffee and to read, did you?"

"It's tea," she corrected, "and no I didn't." But I am supposed to be dead and what better place to lay low than in the house of the man that has, on so many occasions, voiced his wish to see me dead?"

He walked to the couch and pulled her to her feet. "But that's all in the past," Jack reminded her. "How long can you stay?" He knew that, realistically, she was unable to remain in his house for a prolonged period of time. But they would probably bump into each other when he least expected it, as was her way.

Irina looked thoughtful. "36 hours. Just how able are you with your injury?"

Jack smirked. They would find out soon enough; but he was certain he would manage.

The End


I can't believe I actually finished an Alias fic! Phew. On to the next.