Title: Waking Up
Author's Note: This is fifth in my post ep Season Four series. It follows Ill-Fitting Answers, Outside Truths,A Matter of Belief, and Unexpected Liberty.

Nadia noted the dark sedan parked out in front of the apartment that she shared with Sydney and wondered who was visiting her sister. She moved a little quicker, hurrying to get inside and set down the large bag of groceries that she carried in one arm.

A moment later, Nadia was fumbling with her keys to let herself into the apartment. She hissed in frustration. It would have been easier to just pick the lock to the apartment than use the worn down second key that the landlord had given them.

A sudden slight noise and a hint of motion seen out of the corner of her eye caught Nadia's attention and she turned away from the object of her frustration. She glanced searchingly out into the darkness, looking for whatever she had seen and heard. She looked patiently out into the darkness for a moment and then dismissed it as nothing of any importance.

Nadia turned back to the door with an irritable sigh. With the proper amount of jiggling and a sharp slap to the door handle, the lock released and let her enter.

As she slipped inside, Nadia dropped the keys down on the small table by the door and called out quietly, "Sydney?"

She hadn't had a chance to see her sister since Sydney had been released from the APO medical facilities. She had hoped that Sydney might be up and about or relaxing on the couch when she came in. Nadia grimaced slightly. She had spent several very tense hours filled with worry after she had found out that Sydney had been infected with Nocturne. Doubt had raged within her concerning her decision to say nothing about her knowledge of Sydney's connection, but in the end, she had concluded that her actions had ultimately been for the best. If Sydney hadn't gone on that mission, it would have taken much longer to get the antidote back to her and her condition might have worsened to a point that couldn't be helped.

Nadia moved quietly around the kitchen, putting away groceries and carefully getting out ingredients she would need to fix dinner. It was always interesting to see whether she or Sydney could come up with a worse culinary disaster for dinner, but tonight it was her turn. It would also give her something to do while she waited to see Sydney.

The sound of a deep voice coming from Sydney's room caught Nadia's attention as she walked past her sister's door a moment later. She stopped in surprise as she recognized the voice as Jack's and caught a glimpse of Jack Bristow sitting in a chair next to his daughter's bed. A sad smile slipped over Nadia's lips before she moved away without making a sound. There was no place for her there in that father/daughter moment.


Inside his daughter's bedroom, Jack looked up sharply as he saw someone moving through the slight crack between the bedroom door and the door frame. He relaxed as soon as he realized that the person was only Nadia. He didn't fully trust the girl, yet. Nor did he know her motivations and secrets, but she did seem to have a commendable loyalty to her sister. He simply wasn't certain how much she could be trusted with Sydney's safety.

Jack glanced back down at Sydney's lightly dozing form. He was amazed that she had agreed to let him stay when he came by to visit her after leaving the office. When he had gone to leave again after several uncomfortable moments, she had asked him hesitantly, almost shyly to stay.

She had called him Daddy.

Jack grimaced. Sydney had called him Daddy up until Laura's car accident. Upon his return several months later, he had no longer been Daddy. That Jack and Sydney were gone. It was a measure of how terrified that her waking nightmares had left her that Sydney had called him that.

Of course, he hadn't been able to refuse her request then and hadn't even tried. He had come far to close to loosing his daughter less than a day ago. There had been nothing he could do to protect her from the effects of Nocturne and her obvious fear. He was grateful for the chance to watch over her for a while, to reassure himself that she was really fine.

A moment later, Jack bit back a growl as his cell phone began to vibrate and then ring from inside his pocket. He glanced at the number and recognized it immediately as Arvin. Jack considered turning the phone off and simply ignoring Sloane. He had chosen work over Sydney far too many times during her childhood. His fingers were poised over the off button, when a soft voice jolted into his thoughts.

"Shouldn't you answer that?"

Behind his usual blank mask that had slipped over his face, Jack was actually smiling. His wry amusement was shining in his eyes. "Contrary to popular belief," Jack spoke gently, but with a hint of his usual gruff, steely tone, "I don't like talking with or working for Arvin Sloane. He can wait," Jack finished flatly.

Sydney smiled at him widely. "But whatever he's calling you about probably can't. It's okay, Dad," she added softly.

He considered arguing with her for a moment and then stood up.

"Very well." He took the few steps required to put him next to the bed and bent over her. He carefully placed a kiss on her forehead with a word and then turned to walk out of the room. As he pulled the door open, he heard Sydney speak softly.

"Thank you, Daddy."

He nodded quickly in acknowledgement before he stepped out of the room. He smiled sadly, thinking of the little girl that Sydney had been and the woman that she was now.

"Anytime, Sweetheart."