I'm all about posting things the minute I finish them because otherwise I never would. This is my first J/I fic, but I'm hoping it won't be my last. This clawed its way out of my head while in AI earlier, so while I now have a scrap of story that I'm pretty happy with, I don't have any grasp of propositional logic. Fair trade me hopes.

Disclaimer: They ain't mine.

Rating: Tragically clean.

Thanks to Kel for her fabulousness. Seriously.

Set after season 2 and before the season that I now longer speak of. It makes me want to smash things.

He found her in the living room, knees tucked up to her chin, a drink clutched in her hands resting against her thighs. She was staring at something that he couldn't see, something past the wall in front of her, maybe a lifetime away. Wearing only the shirt that she had borrowed from him earlier, her hair loose around her shoulders, she looked small and alone and the age that her years in this world accumlated to. It was the most vunerable that he had ever seen her.

He hated her, in that moment, for showing weakness. He was loathed to need her but was desperate for her strength. Her solidity was liquifying before him. He needed her pieces to hold together as his creaked and fell. His jaw tightened as he bit out her name, a demand on its heels "Irina, go to bed."

She closed her eyes, not yet back from wherever she'd gone, "Yes", the word flowed from her mouth, an automatic response to a command she hadn't really heard. She drank from the glass, the liquid burning its way down her throat. Holding the cool glass to her forehead she repeated her response with even less conviction.

He watched the condensation on the glass trickle from her fingertips, travelling to her skin, making tracks on the surface that tears did not. There were limits to the weakness she'd show even him. A door she couldn't open in fear that it'd never shut.

She was weak before him and his hate whispered from the room, replaced by the scream of understanding that she was allowing him to see it. Their daughter was lost to them, their strengths out of reach, each other their only constant.

Jack had little doubt that his life would be easier if didn't need the woman sitting before him and no doubt at all that it'd be easier if he didn't want her. His shoulders dropped in resignation as he accepted, for now, what he could not deny. She was the mother of his child, the woman who had, in another lifetime, been his world and she was aching for the same reason he was. "Irina," his voice softer, "come to bed".

He turned and left the room, heading upstairs.

"Go to to to bed" The words and their change echoed around in her head. Irina opened her eyes slowly, inclining her head in the direction of where Jack had been standing. She discarded the glass and followed after him.

She reached the door of the bedroom that she had not been in in 20 years. Her fingers caressed the wood as she stood frozen momentarily. She inhaled sharply and pushed open the door. The room was dark, details beyond the grasp of tired eyes. She could just make out Jack's shape, already in bed. In the seconds that followed Irina found herself lying on what, for 10 years, had been her side of their bed. A bed that they had laughed in, and loved in, fought and cried, talked until one day's night had melted into another day's morning.

The bed where they had made Sydney.

She groped blindly for his hand, twinning their fingers, squeezing with fierce determination.


She cut him off "Promise me, promise me, that we'll find her. That we'll destroy everyone that's done this."

He did. "For her, I'd promise you anything."