She rained tiny kisses over his face. He tucked a lock of hair behind her ear, repeating the path of his fingers, tickling her skin. She stroked her nose against his. He kissed its tip and lowered her onto her back. His hand rested on her abdomen, the first home of their daughter. A mirthless smile graced his lips as his eyes grew heavy with memory. He opened his mouth and spilled words onto her skin.
"I knew Sydney was alive before they arrested me." She stiffened beneath him before he had finished. "Minutes before." He paused as she relaxed. "Everyday I sat in that cell knowing that she was alive but that I couldn't go to her. But the knowledge that she wasn't dead sustained me. You didn't have that. If our roles had been reversed I don't know if I would have..." His voice trailed off. He moved his hand from her stomach and replaced it with his lips. She ran her fingers through his hair, fingernails lightly scraping his scalp, remembering how lost he had been the last time they had been together. Terrified to think of what could have been.
"You made me promise to stay away." There was no accusation in her voice, just sadness.
"I know. I shouldn't have."
She laughed lightly. "Jack Bristow admitting that he was wrong about something." He bit gently at her skin.
"I missed you."
"You said. And proved."
He kissed a trail up her torso to find her mouth. He balanced above her eager to prove to her again when the expression on her face changed. She became quiet and still. He moved to her side sensing that she needed to speak, that there were words churning inside of her that she needed to release.
"I had it all planned." She whispered. Her eyes fixed on the ceiling.
"Where we would go. After. I had your extraction details prepared by the second. It was flawless." She reached for his hand and clutched it tightly.
"I was never happier then when I learned that Sydney was I alive. Never." She bit hard on her lip. Her face contorting with anxiety.
"What is it that you're not saying?"
She took a shuddering breath, willing the strength to continue. Words that had been festering in her, gnawing her insides. "There is a single cell in my body. One single cell....you won't, you can't come with me now."
"No. I can't."
"She needs you. I want you to be here taking care of our daughter. But I want you too. I hate myself for thinking it." She turned her face away from him, unable to bring herself to look him in the eyes, afraid that he would loathe her selfish words.
Jack raised their hands to his mouth and kissed her knuckles before wrapping his arms around her, nuzzling into her hair, his energy draining from his body.
"It's not an exchange. I won't loose either of you. I won't." She turned to him, saw him fighting to stay awake. She kissed his eyelids. "Go to sleep Jack, I'll still be here in the morning. We'll talk then."
"Dad, I brought those files you..." the end of Sydney's sentence trailed off as she stepped through the kitchen door and took in the scene before her.
The cup of coffee that was half way to Irina's mouth stopped as she froze in surprise. Irina was seated at the small table, knee of a bare leg under her chin, clothed only in her customary shirt. The daughter that she had not seen for nearly three years stood before her, the twenty that had preceded it seemed nothing in comparison.
Sydney's face was lost between shock and joy and horror as they all fought for dominance. Irina was out of her chair and hugging her child to her before the battle was one.
The words flowed on a breath and washed over them both breaking through a dam in the younger woman.
"Mom." The word crashed out of her with a sob that tore from her insides as she returned her mothers embrace. The cry called to its equal within Irina and it was drawn out to meet it. Both women clung to each other in a desperate bid to achieve the impossible and once again become one.
This was how Jack found when he descended the stairs a number of minutes later. He had awoken to an empty bed but the sight of Irina's clothes still scattered on the floor where she had abandoned them. Having missed Sydney's entrance he expected only to find Irina and halted at the image of his wife and child fused together. Irina saw him through the lense of her tears and pulled back enough to signal his presence to Sydney.
Both straightened and whipped at their faces, Irina for her part turned away, still not used to having an audience for what she considered a private act.
"Dad, Mom's here."
Jack moved into the room and kissed his daughter's cheek, mirroring the act on her mother.
"I don't understand."
Irina lowered herself back into her chair and nodded slightly. The words flowed. He explained in depth what he had previously done in brief of how he and Irina had worked together to find her killers, how Irina had carried on after his incarceration without knowing that Sydney was alive.
Sydney shook her head as she tried to take in all the information. Her world had been completely fragmented over the past few days making it difficult to latch onto specific pieces. Trying to reconcile the image of her mother that her father presented to her with the last one that she had of the woman that had betrayed her was more complex the she could have imagined.
She couldn't keep the accusatory tone from her voice when she spoke. "You could have extracted him from solitary at any time. You have more then enough resources to have succeeded."
"Sydney." Jack's response vaulted in front of Irina's, his voice heavy with warning at the tone that Sydney was taking. "I made her promise not to come for me. It would have been too dangerous."
"And you just agreed?" Sydney's voice lost none of its edge, her eyes still plowing into Irina.
"Your father threatened me." Her eyes flicked with memory as she thought back to that night, to the extreme measures he had been forced to take to ensure her agreement.
Sydney's face contorted with confusion as she tried to fathom what her father could possibly threatened Irina Derevko with.
"Divorce." Irina's face darkened at the word before a sly smile stole its way onto her mouth leaving Sydney dumbfounded.
She took slow steps towards her child and pulled her too her again. "Ask all the questions you want, feel you need to feel, but do it later."
Sydney started to relax into her mother's arms when her cell rang. She stepped back to answer it before excusing herself to go outside to talk.
Irina turned to face Jack, her eyes bright with tears that she ached to shed. "She's alive." She kissed him fiercely, her tongue pushing with force into her mouth, her hands dragging him to her. Mindless of anything but her he lifted her from the floor and seated her on the table.
She ran her hands down his arms and grasped his wrists. Her voice determined, resolute. "I love you." She dug her nails into his skin to stall his response. "Don't say anything. I don't want you to. Not now." She kissed his throat. "If you don't love me, it would hurt too much. I probably don't deserve to ask you not to hurt me. But I am. And if you do love me..." She looked down at the floor a smile tugging at her lips as she spoke. "I'd only knock you and Sydney unconscious and kidnap you both. So don't say anything."
"When we find out what happened to Sydney. When we know, I'll go with you. Whatever plans you made consider them suspended, not cancelled." He pressed his mouth to her forehead. "You won't be here when I come home."
"So this is how it ends."
"This is how it ends today. There'll be others."