Title: A Dark Wood
Author: Melanie-Anne
Disclaimer: Not my characters, alas.
Rating: Let's go with M, 'cause I'm not sure how dark this is going to get.
Summary: Mid-June 1982. Jack has just been released from CIA custody. Irina is still in Kashmir. AU.

Midway this way of life we're bound upon,
I woke to find myself in a dark wood,
Where the right road was wholly lost and gone.

-- Dante's Inferno, canto 1 l. 1-3

Prologue

February 1982

She lay curled up into a fetal position on the cool concrete floor. The room was small and poorly ventilated, and the smell of blood choked her throat with each breath she drew. A part of her wondered if she should just stop breathing and be done with it, but there was another part of her that refused to stop fighting.

Another wave of cramps hit. She rolled over and pushed her hands against the wall to try and brace herself against the pain. It didn't work – she'd known it wouldn't. As she felt the warm liquid against her thighs, she realized she might end up dying here after all. She needed a doctor –

-- she needed her husband --

-- or she would bleed to death on the floor of this cell.

She was fairly certain they didn't want her dead, or they would have executed her long before this. No, she was still one of their most valuable assets, worth the re-education.

Another cramp. Then, nothing.

She tentatively probed her stomach with the tips of her fingers. She hissed at the contact. It still hurt.

Everything still hurt.

She called out for help, knowing someone was listening, even if no one ever answered. Her throat was dry, her voice scratchy as a result of screaming all the time. She sat up, leaning with her back against the wall, facing the direction she thought the door was.

No one came.

She closed her eyes, pictured her husband's smiling face, their daughter's, and felt loss upon loss upon loss.

I'm sorry, she thought as the blackness claimed her.