Title: There should be a warning label that goes with pregnant women
Author: Nat
Summary: "They won't frisk a pregnant woman."
Timeline: Sydneys Missing two years

---

"They won't frisk a pregnant woman."

She hated to admit it, but she knew he was right.

The odds of her being frisked were reduced greatly, and the odds that they'd wave a metal detector wand over her were even slimmer. She knew this.

But for Christ's sake.

"No."

She knows he's finding this amusing, she can see it in his eyes, buried underneath the growing frustration. He is, of course, right though, she will have to wear it, and she will; this of course is all for a lead on Sydney and she will do anything she has to in order to find her daughter.

Practically growling at him, she snatches the coat hanger out of his hands and storms off to her room.

Later that night, she tries it on, making sure the pregnancy suit fits.

She stares at herself in the mirror, the fake baby bump protruding out from under her clothes and in the glow of the moonlight, she almost believes it's real.

Irina covers her mouth with her hand, trying to stifle the sob that threatens to bubble up out of her throat.

--

She never thought pregnancy would suit her.

And it doesn't.

But Laura absolutely glows because of it and Irina feels like she's been backed into a corner while Laura basks in the giddiness of an expectant first mother.

Late at night she stares at her body and what it's becoming, and thinks entirely too much about what the phrase 'For the good of the country' means and what exactly it should entail.

---

She's waddling and strutting at the same time, and he has no idea how she's still managing to walk like she owns the world while wearing that suit, because… damn. She's pulling it off. Jack watches as she flashes a brilliant smile and six bell boys practically fall over themselves to get her bags for her.

Irina then turns towards him, directs her smile at him and holds out her hand beckoning him to her.

She does look absolutely radiant though.

Her hair falls over her shoulders and down her back in large waves, and seems so vibrant against the whiteness of the peasant top that flows loosely over her bump.

When he joins her in the hotel lobby, she's eye level with him, courtesy of her heels, and leans in for a kiss, taking his hand.

She all but squeals then.

"Isn't it perfect?"

Mr and Mrs Vieira check into a rather exclusive hotel in the centre of Rome. ("Our last chance to holiday together, before the little one arrives" Mrs Vieira explains, her French accent thick, as she leans over to kiss her husband on the cheek.)

Jack's hand lands on the small of her back as he directs her toward the elevators, and although he's smiling and being charmingly attentive to his pregnant wife, she can feel the annoyance radiating off him.

He hates that she's drawing so much attention towards them.

It's funny she thinks, because he was exactly this way with Laura.

---

And she cries and she smiles, and god, she is just the most beautiful thing she's ever seen.

It's at that moment Irina knows she's failed.

Though she likes to think this won't change anything, she knows it has; she can never be a mother and an agent. She knows that at some point in the distant future she will come to a cross-road where she will have to choose between the two.

"Sydney," she whispers, trying it out.

The tiny bundle in front of her gurgles and Irina prays she will make the right decision.

---

They go out for dinner, and the air is so humid that she fells like she's melting beneath the pregnancy suit. She pulls her hair up with a clip just to get it off the back of her neck.

A waiter asks if she is ok.

Irina smiles beautifully, and replies its just hormones, it's been happening for months now. But she asks for more cold water; the waiter nods, and then moves away.

When she looks back at Jack she expects him to be smirking at her, enjoying her discomfort, but he's looking at her seriously. Too seriously.

And at that moment she knows exactly what he's thinking. It suddenly makes her curse this stupid fake baby bump that she's carrying around, because it reopening old wounds - not on purpose - and they'd worked so hard to get where they were.

But it wasn't just only bringing Laura back from the dead; it was a painful reminder of their only daughter, who might possibly—

Irina looks away and blinks back tears.

She won't do this here; they're supposed to be a happily married couple, completely delighted by the arrival of their unexpected first child.

But it's too late; the past is already engulfing them both.

---

He finds her in the hallway lying on the tiles in only her underwear.

She looks up from her book, the house is just too damn hot and this is her only sanctuary from the heat (it's all in her head, she knows that, but since Laura became pregnant, Irina's noticed a lot of stuff about her body that just doesn't make logical sense).

There should be a warning label attached to all of this, she muses.

But Jack seems to take it all in stride, every little bit of her craziness and deal with it rationally like it's the most natural thing in the world (like her gummi bear craving at 3am).

For the rest of her pregnancy they lie on the tiles together.

---

She doesn't know how to explain Laura to him.

This thing that they're doing, this truce to find their daughter, it's been working so far. But she feels it coming to a stand still, feels that this weekend has pushed it over the edge. She can feel Jack's questions; see him watching her, comparing her to Laura.

And dammit, she doesn't fully understand Laura.

All she knows is that Irina loved pretending to be Laura, and Laura loved Jack with everything she had and somewhere along the line she didn't have to pretend anymore.

But she doesn't know how to make Jack understand that, maybe it's easier letting him believe he was fooled and that she never loved him at all instead of having to face his questions. Because at the moment she just doesn't have answers for him.

In the darkness of their hotel room she takes a deep breath and lets her memories flash across her mind like a black and white film. She picks one, knowing it's significant to this moment and throws caution to the wind.

She starts talking to the darkness, knowing he is listening and hoping he'll remember with her.

fin