(one year later)
He gradually reduced the speed of his Lincoln as he pulled in to their neighborhood. Even though it was a weekend, there were only a few people outside. This was one of the reasons why they moved in this community—they didn't really have a lot of neighbors. Their house also overlooked the beach, something of a plus.
Their two-storey house was by the end of the street. It wasn't as big as Irina's house in England (since it was a mansion) but it was a big enough house that it didn't seem crowded when the whole family got together every Sunday.
Jack knew that he wanted to move in a house the moment they arrived in Los Angeles. There were hints about inviting Vaughn and Weiss to dinner, the apartment was too small for four people, Sofya wanted to go back to school … it was logical to find a big house for his big family.
A smile spread across his face. It took them fifteen long years, but they've finally found each other. They're a family again.
Minutes later, he pulled up the driveway. He just came back from Washington, after a three-day meeting with the Secretary of Defense. He actually felt relieved when the plane landed in LA. He missed his wife.
The absence of the black SUV and the presence of a silver Porsche told him that Irina wasn't home but Nathan was. He then turned off the engine and went out of his car as he looked at the horizon. The afternoon sun was still up. It was still early.
He went to the front door and tried the knob. It was unlocked. He could hear the noise from the television when he went inside and he surmised that Nathan was watching something.
Jack raised a brow when he heard the voice. It was Nadia, "Uh, not her." he answered and went to the living room. She was sitting on the floor beside Sofya, who was firmly concentrated on her laptop. Books and pieces of paper were strewn around them. Behind her were the French doors that overlooked the beach. There was a beautiful sight outside, but the two women seated on the floor were oblivious to it.
"What are you doing?" he asked as he took off his coat and set his briefcase and duffel bag by the side of the couch.
"Helping Iya with her fifteen-page paper." Nadia answered, "Its due at 6." She added.
Jack looked at his watch and walked towards them, "Its 4.30." he remarked, "How many more pages to go?"
"Three." Sofya muttered, "Conclusions are a pain in the ass."
He couldn't help but raise a brow. His daughter was cramming a paper, again? He looked at Nadia, who shook her head as if to say 'not now'.
"What's the paper about?" he asked and sat down on the sofa. He took the remote control and lowered the volume of the television.
"An analysis of the impact of the Cold War on our generation." Nadia answered for her sister, "Mama was helping her before she went out with Nate to buy some groceries."
"Speaking of mom, do you know that she's angry at you?" Sofya asked, not taking her eyes off her laptop, "She's seething."
A surprised expression appeared on Jack's face "What? Why?"
"Dad, Mama thinks you're trying to kill her through boredom." Nadia sighed and stood up to sit beside him, "Aside from that, the one thing that really made her angry was the fact that you forgot to tell her that you weren't coming home because you'll be in Washington for three days."
"I thought she knew about that." He answered, "I think I told her about it."
"This is going to be a contest on whether you told her or she forgot. I don't think Mama will agree that she forgot about your trip because… well, I know that she won't accept that, so…" his daughter trailed off and gave him a shrug.
Jack sighed as he knew that Irina was both stubborn and proud. If he didn't say anything about it, she'd probably do something unpleasant. 'God, this woman will drive me insane.'
He leaned his back and looked at the ceiling as he thought up of some kind of apology. She'd probably smack him in the head if she knew about what he was doing in Washington.
A sigh escaped him again, "Syd's on her way home?"
"Yup, she just finished debrief." Nadia answered.
Jack groaned slightly and pulled himself up, "I'm going to change. Whose turn is it to make dinner?" he asked Sofya.
"Nate." His youngest daughter said, still not looking up from the laptop. He took his bags and his coat while he observed Sofya, before sluggishly walking to the stairs. He hoped that no one from APO (or anyone from the CIA) would call them during dinner. It might make Irina even more irritated at him.
'She hasn't left the county in six months, Jack. You should have known that she's bored.' He thought as he went up the steps. She hadn't said a word about it, but he knew Irina didn't like being cooped in one place in long durations, especially when she didn't have a lot of things to do.
He headed straight to the end of the hallway and walked inside the master's bedroom. He tossed his briefcase on the bed before heading to the walk-in closet. Everything in the room was orderly, but as he tossed his clothes on the floor, he thought that sometimes they also needed a little mess.
Jack was throwing his clothes in the hamper when he heard the sound of the SUV pulling up the driveway. A glance at the clock told him that it was a quarter past 5. He quickly finished his task and strolled out of the bedroom.
"Fix your mess, Iya." Irina's voice was audible from where he was stood. Jack quietly went down the staircase. He could also hear activity inside the kitchen. Nathan must be inside, trying to stay away from the trouble brewing.
"After I pass my paper, Mom." Sofya's back suddenly came to view, "May I borrow a car? The bus stop's five minutes away."
"You still have forty minutes, sweetheart. Take the bus."
Jack reached the bottom of the steps but didn't make any move to show himself to anyone. The six-foot cabinet hid him from sight.
"Moooommm!" His daughter whined. Jack noticed the change in Sofya from a year ago. She's friendlier, a bit more talkative and a bit more optimistic. She also smiled more often—something they (including Nathan) had in common. One year in a different environment made them change a small part in their personalities.
"Then fix your mess, Iya." His wife said, "And I'll drive you to school myself."
He took a peek and saw Sofya grumbling and picking up the pieces of paper scattered around the floor. She then started to stack the thick History books under the coffee table.
"I think I can manage driving to UCLA on my own," Sofya mumbled as she placed her laptop inside her bag, "And besides, you've been pissed at Dad for the past three days and now that he's here…"
"Your father's here?"
Jack sighed and stepped out from behind the cabinet.
"Yeah, didn't you see his car?" Sofya asked and looked at Nadia, "But if you're afraid that I'd be caught over speeding again, I guess Nadia can come with me." She then looked back at her mother. She was staring at Jack with this… feral glint in her eyes. Uh-oh.
"I'm done; we're going to leave now… see you later for dinner." She quickly said and glanced at her sister, who has started her way out of the living room. Sofya then ran towards the front door.
Neither of them uttered a word. Irina waited for the sound of the car fade in the distance before she tore her eyes away from the man who stood in front of her.
"How was Washington?" she asked and looked out the French doors. The sun had started to set, "I guess it was pretty important since you forgot to inform me that you weren't coming home." She said as she crossed her arms and stared at Jack once again.
"Look, I'm sorry I forgot to tell you that I wasn't going home-"
"Did you know that I thought something bad happened to you? You weren't even answering my calls; your own children didn't know where you were…" her voice was very calm but her eyes were blazing with fury, "I have to learn it from Director Chase through Agent Dixon that you were in Washington. And did you know what time that was?!"
He kept his exasperation from showing. He really did make her angry. "What time did you find out?" he asked.
"Oh, just around 9 in the morning, the following day." She answered in a saccharine tone and then angled her head to ask, "What will you do if I suddenly don't come home and you don't know where I've gone? You do know that, that situation is starting to get more and more plausible every day."
The expression on Jack's face fell and he began to feel like he was the most idiotic man in the world. He made her worry. If the situation was reversed, he would be angry too.
"I'm sorry I made you worry." He took a few steps towards her, "You have every right to be angry. I should have told you that I was going to Washington-"
"Jack, if you come into my arm's reach, I will punch you." Irina warned.
He stopped walking. He then ran his fingers through his hair and took a deep breath, "Mckenas Cole and Olivia Reed are in CIA custody. They wanted me to oversee the transfer to FBI custody, so I went to Washington."
"And why did they want you, of all people, to oversee the transfer?" she asked in a slightly derisive tone.
"Because I want to retire in six months. I'm tying up some loose ends."
The look she gave him told Jack that she was either confused on how that task would tie up loose ends or she didn't believe him. Knowing Irina, it would probably be the latter.
"I'm really, really sorry, Irina." He said once again, "It won't happen again."
She stared at him. She masked any expression on her face, making it hard for him to guess what she would do next.
The front door suddenly opened.
"Hey, guys." A chirpy voice greeted.
It was Sydney.
"I think I'll help Nate in the kitchen." Irina said and began to walk past him. She gave Sydney a quick kiss on the cheek before leaving the living room.
"Hey, dad." His eldest daughter greeted as she gave him a big smile. Noticing the resigned expression on his face, she asked, "What's wrong?"
"Nothing." he answered and sank on the sofa, "Your mother's just angry at me."
Sydney then sat beside him, "Why is she angry at you?" she was in Brussels for the past three days and she just arrived a few hours ago.
"For being forgetful."
"Oh." Was the only thing that she could say. Her father's starting to look dejected, "She'd probably forgive you later… or next week… probably…"
Jack just shrugged his shoulders.
"I called the flower shop, just like you asked. They'll be delivering the four dozen roses tomorrow, at ten." Nathan kept his tone low as he looked at Jack. They were in the hallway, a few feet away from the master's bedroom, "You know it's not going to work if she's still angry at you tomorrow."
"I know." He replied, "How much…?"
His son gave him a small grin, "Don't worry about it. We don't like mama angry too." He said and made a face, "No one likes to live with an angry Irina Derevko."
Jack smiled back at him, "I'm sure no one wants to be in my position right now."
Nathan laughed out loud. Irina was giving him the silent treatment all throughout dinner. His twin sister seemed pretty amused with what was going on between their parents. They haven't actually observed a full-blown your-father/mother-is-furious-at-me domestic situation. It might be fun for them (the children), since this was not going to include any guns or knives.
"Uh, I better…"
His son grinned like a loon, "Yeah, you better go." He said, "Goodnight, Dad."
"Goodnight, Nate." He responded and turned to go inside the bedroom. He closed the door and looked at Irina.
She was leaning on the headboard and was reading a book. She didn't look up when he entered and continued reading. However, he could feel her eyes following his every move.
He went to the bathroom to get ready for sleeping. After a few minutes, he was finished with brushing his teeth and had washed his face and changed his clothes. He then walked out of the bathroom but stopped by the doorway. She still didn't look at him.
"Are you still angry at me?" he asked after a while and leaned on the wooden frame.
This time, she looked up from the book "Why do you ask?" she asked and glanced at his direction.
"So that I'll know if you'll kill me in my sleep tonight." He answered light-heartedly.
Irina gave him an unlady-like snort. "I'm not going to kill you when you're asleep. That would be too boring."
He slowly approached the bed. She didn't break her gaze.
"Did you mean what you said earlier?" He stopped at the foot of the queen-sized bed, "You know, about leaving?"
"Do you really think I'll do it?" she snapped the book shut and placed it on the side table. She smoothed the blanket and looked at him expectantly.
"I don't know. I don't want you to do it because…" he trailed off and sighed. Why was he still awkward with this? "I know you're bored and I know how you hate bored and normal at the same time. I also know that I sometimes act like I'm still in the office when I'm home. I don't know how I can make up for them because if I am in your situation, I'll be furious at me too."
Irina didn't say anything and waited for him to continue.
"I'm truly fixing my retirement from the Agency. And I'm really, really sorry. If it's any consolation, I… I really missed you when I was in Washington."
"You think I'll be swayed with that, Jack Bristow?" she asked and raised a brow.
He gave her a smile, "No, not really."
She tilted her head to the side, "Well, I could accept your apology if you-" a smile appeared on her face, "-stay for lunch tomorrow." She said.
"I'm not going to go anywhere tomorrow." He replied, relieved. He started to go towards his side of the bed when she suddenly said.
"Good, because Iya's friends are coming for lunch."
His brows furrowed, "Which friends are we talking about?"
"Her former roommates in San Francisco." Irina answered and smiled wickedly, "I heard they all had a crush on you."
Jack could barely keep his groan. Not those five girls! "Irina-"
"Fine." She said and shrugged, "I knew you'd back out."
Sometimes, he wondered if blackmailing was second nature to Irina. He shook his head and rubbed his face with the palm of his hand, "Okay, I'll stay for lunch."
Her eyes sparkled and she laughed.
"You've been planning this since dinner, have you?" he asked with suspicion.
"Of course." She replied, "I knew you'd grovel if I gave you the silent treatment. And Sofya requested that you stay for lunch. I told her I'll take care of it."
He frowned, but Irina just smiled at him, "Don't worry, I won't let them bite you." She stretched out her hand and softly said, "Come to bed."
Jack took her hand and she pulled him towards her. She then tilted her head and gave him a light kiss on the lips.
When they were comfortably under the blankets, Irina leaned on his shoulder and placed her left hand on his chest. She was protective, possessive and loving at the same time. It was something reassuring to him and he really missed it when he was away from home.
He wrapped his right arm around her waist, "So, where will you go if ever you do leave me?"
"I'm not going to leave you." She breathed deeply and closed her eyes. "As cheesy as this might sound, I'm happy when you're here with me."
Jack smiled to himself. His fear of Irina leaving without warning was dissipating.
He started to stroke her back. At least now, he and Irina are done with the lies.
They're on to the next chapter of their lives. Hopefully, it would be a peaceful sailing.
Thank you to all who have read the fanfic from start to finish. Though, you don't review as often as I might have wanted (especially since I post in bursts...), thank you. I really loved writing this story, writing for Alias. I'm currently making an outline for a new fic (for Alias, still), but I think its too ambitious. Heh.
Thank you once again.