Title: Penitence
Author: sweetsouthernbell
Summary: You always tried to be a good father to her. One shot.
Ship: None really. Just some hints to Jack/Irina and Sydney/Vaughn
SSB's note: This is my first Jack-centric fic. And my first second person one. Killing two birds with stone with this one. I found it floating around on my computer ago and decided to finish it. Oh and I have ideas for a few companions pieces for this, so like let me know if you want them.

So enjoy!

You always tried to be a good father to her.

You know that you've never been cut out for the paternal thing. Ever since you were a little boy, you knew. It just wasn't in your blood to be a father. You couldn't really be the father a child needed.

So when Laura announced over a dinner she had made herself that she was pregnant with your first child, you weren't sure how to respond. You knew you were expected to be as happy as she was but you didn't want to lie to her. She looked so happy, more than she had on your wedding day. She was the parental type. She would make a good mother to this baby.

You smiled at your wife and got up to kiss her, hug her, touch her stomach affectionately but you didn't feel like a father. And you wouldn't for another seven months, twelve days, sixteen hours, and thirty four minutes.

That moment was when you first met her.

Sydney Anne Bristow.

Your daughter.

The nurse who had cleaned her off handed her to you, wrapped in a pink blanket. You took your daughter hesitantly and with the expected grin. She was tiny, Sydney. So very tiny. It was hard to believe that one day, this tiny baby would be a full grown woman.

She was pink in the face from her crying during her birth. She had a mess of downy brown hair. Of course she would, with you and Laura for parents. When she opened her eyes, they were brown rather than blue like most babies. You realized that she had inherited Laura's dark looks.

She looked up at her, her father, and you swear that she smiled at you. She had just been born, not even in the world for an hour, and she already knew that you were her father.

That's when you first felt it. The unexplainable feeling in your gut that told you, you're a father. You're half the reason this tiny baby exists. You and your gut know it, your wife knows it, and most importantly, Sydney knows it.

The initial shock had worn off and you reluctantly tore your gaze from your daughter, your daughter, to look at Laura.

She was smiling at you both.

She held out her arms for Sydney and you grudgingly passed your daughter to your wife, her mother. You never wanted to let her go, and in that moment, you made a silent pact with yourself to be the father she needed.

You pressed a kiss to your wife's forehead, smiling warmly at her, before sitting next to her on the delivery bed. The two of you spent the next hour cooing and fawning over Sydney.

The next six years, two months, and four days speed by. One minute, Sydney was a tiny baby in your arms. The next, she was a loud, exuberant, laughing, rambunctious, happy six year old girl. So far, your pact with yourself was succeeding. Sydney adored you like a little girl was supposed to adore her father.

One time, when she was four, the three of you went camping. Somehow, Sydney had gotten into trouble and as a result had broken her leg. She was wailing, screaming with pain and being the in middle of the woods, far away from anybody, you and Laura couldn't do much for her. So you picked her up in your arms, cradling her close to your chest and you carried her all the way back to the car, a mile's trek in the middle of the night with Laura by your side, trying to do her best to calm Sydney down.

You felt like a father in that moment again. And once more, you didn't want to let that feeling go.

After six years, two months, and four days, you didn't feel like much of a father towards Sydney for a very long time. For one reason and one reason only. Your wife, her mother, Laura, was dead. As you later found out, she had faked her death and to be honest, that hadn't helped you any either.

You spent six months in solitary confinement after your wife died. She was a Russian spy, sent to steal your work on Project Christmas. The news devastated you, it crushed you, it hardened you but you never let anyone see that. Not even Sydney.

When you got out of the confinement, you went straight to Sydney's school. She was the only child on the playground not playing. She was sitting against the school, her chin on her knees, her arms wrapped around her shins and she was watching the other kids play. That wasn't like the Sydney you knew and loved.

She hated you from that moment on. Maybe she had started to hate you before that, you don't know. She had had to deal with her mother's death for six months virtually by herself. She believed that you had tried to abandon her (whether that was actually her thinking or the nanny's you never knew) but had come back because of a guilty conscious.

She had closed herself off from you and you had no choice but to do the same.

When you were home in between your many business trips, you couldn't stand to look at her. She held too many painful memories about the time you had with your wife. You couldn't look at your daughter without seeing Laura looking back at you.

So you took on more business trips, closing yourself off from Sydney even more.

You always regretted that decision.

You were an observer to her teenage years. What you knew was what her nannies told you. You paid them to take care of her and spy on her for you and they did that job superbly well. You rarely saw each other and when you did, you would always see Laura in her.

You couldn't stop her from joining SD-6. To have stopped her would have gotten you and her killed because she would have wanted to know the truth as to why she couldn't join. You couldn't tell her the truth. Not for a long time.

Sydney had been working at SD-6 under the illusion that she was helping out her government for six years when you got that call. The call. The one that told you that your daughter was growing up. Her soon to be fiancé, Danny, called to ask you permission to ask Sydney to marry him. You realized that he was trying to be chivalrous but it annoyed you more than anything. Sydney wouldn't give a damn if you said yes or no, and he should have known that.

You found out about Sydney's fatal mistake in telling her fiancé about what she really did after it had happened and it was too late for you to do anything. You couldn't do anything for her and you knew that she didn't want you to do anything.

She refused to come back to SD-6 after that day. That was another of her mistakes that you couldn't afford to pass. They would kill her if you didn't intervene. So you did. You arranged a way out for her. But she wouldn't take it. She wanted to bring down the people that had killed her fiancé. You fought it, on every level you could at the CIA but it happened anyway.

Your daughter was a double agent. Just like you.

You felt a little like a father again to her. The first time in many, many years.

You met her handler, Michael Vaughn, a few weeks after she'd become a double agent. He reminded you of yourself and maybe that was why you disliked him. Or maybe it was the way you could tell he was having impure thoughts about your daughter. You had found a way to protect her, actually be a father to her again, and this time, you weren't going to let it go.

There was only one problem to your plan. She didn't want you to do any of that. She was stubborn, much like her mother you noticed, and she believed that she could take care of things on her own.

You ended up saving her butt on several occasions in the next year.

If there was one thing you were sure would never happen, it was that you would never see Laura again. How very wrong you were. You did see her again. Sydney saw her again. She came waltzing back into your life and you didn't let your guard down around her. Not once.

The first time you two met face to face, she smiled at you. You wanted to kill her. You wanted to rid the world of Irina Derevko, the woman who had lied about being Laura, your wife and Sydney's mother. The world would be a better place without that woman.

You asked her once why she allowed herself to have a child if she knew she was going to have to leave it eventually. She didn't answer for a long time. When she did, she just looked at you and you had your answer.

She had wanted and loved Sydney just as much as you did.

Irina proved once again that she wasn't trustworthy. She disappeared, escaped from CIA custody, after six months and you haven't seen her since. Not that you ever expect to. She got what she needed, and that was that. Irina Derevko didn't have a heart.

Soon, Irina faded slightly from your mind as Sydney and Michael became more serious. After the Alliance had been taken down, thanks to their hard work, they had begun to date. You warned him that if he ever hurt your daughter that he'd have you to answer to. He had swallowed hard, but stared you in the eye anyway and told you that he had no intention of hurting Sydney.

And he never did. Well, you suppose that in a sense he did. When Sydney had disappeared for two years and no one knew where she was (in fact, she was pronounced dead) he married another woman. But you knew, even though you were put into solitary confinement again and you had little to no contact with the outside world that he never actually gave up on her. You knew because he was exactly like you and you never gave up on her either.

When it became public knowledge that the woman Michael married was an agent sent to steal from him that convinced you. You and the young agent were exactly alike. You both had been betrayed by women that didn't really care about you and you both loved Sydney more than anything.

After his wife died, he proved himself to her and yourself time and time again. He wasn't leaving the picture anytime soon this time around and he made sure you knew that. He wasn't like Danny. He didn't ask you before proposing to your daughter. You found out about their engagement over dinner one night at your house.

Since her mother had disappeared from her life again, Sydney had been opening up to you more. She shared things with you. She no longer looked at you with every sign of dislike. She smiled. She laughed. She was becoming that four year old girl that needed you again.

Only, she didn't really need you. You were her father, and confident. But you were no longer her protector. If she was hurt, she would go the hospital and Michael would be the first to know. On missions, he would be the one to save her butt. In the office, he was the one she went for help.

Although, she did talk to you. She confided in you things that she would never tell anyone else. Not even Michael. Like the fact that she was afraid to get married and have children because she didn't want to turn into you or her mother. You were the one to reassure her that she would never turn into you or her mother. You were the one to get her to believe it. You were the one who hugged her and listen to her profess all of her fears.

You felt like a father again then too.

You were surprised. No, blindsided when you learned that Irina had another daughter besides Sydney. What made it so shocking was that Irina conceived this second daughter while she was still pretending to be your wife. What's more was that you were not the father of this child. No, that honor (or curse, you weren't sure) was reserved for Arvin Sloane. That man is even less suited for fatherhood that you are.

Her name is Nadia. Nadia Santos. She grew up in an orphanage in Argentina. You weren't surprised when you learned that Irina had left her there. If she was capable of leaving a husband and six year old daughter, then leaving another child barely even a month old was no problem for her. Sydney and Michael had found her on one of their mission. It had been an accident. They had fought her and upon finding out that she was of the Argentine government, they brought her back to the States. That's where the whole story unraveled.

Irina had kept a daughter hidden from everyone, including the daughter's own father.

You and Nadia had a few chats but you never connected. Unlike with Sydney, you never felt any guilt about not connecting with this daughter of Irina's. She wasn't looking for a father in you and you were glad. Sydney was enough for you.

Sooner than you would have liked, Sydney's wedding day came. Whether you accepted it or not, that was the day she ceased to be your little girl forever. She would still tell you things but you wouldn't be the first to know about it. Michael would be. He would be the one who would share everything with her.

Admittingly, you were jealous at first. How was it that he got to be her protector, her confident, her most trusted and loved person? He did nothing for her near what you did. But as you come to realize as you think about it more and more that you hadn't actually done that much for Sydney.

You weren't there for her when she needed someone after her mother died. You weren't there for her teenage years. You weren't there for her graduation. You weren't there for her after Danny died. You weren't there for her when she got into fights with Michael.

You saw the way she looked at him and you came to the realization that she truly no longer needed you. You saw the smile in her eyes that mirrored the one on her face. You saw the love and dependency and trust and compassion she felt for him.

You always tried to be the father she needed but for once, your best wasn't good enough.

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