Disclaimer: I do not own nor claim to own any of the following characters, places, or events.

Author's Note: Set season 2. NO SPOILERS please! I'm only in the second season.

by Dax's10thHost

When a mother cannot embrace her own daughter, that is when the world is wrong. There's something inherently not right about reaching for the child that you carried in your womb for nine months and hearing the crack of seven guns aiming to blow out your brains because they think you're going to kill her.

Kill her. Kill Sydney.

With what?

What did she have left but the skin of her hands, the scratch of the clothes on her back, the weight of the hair blowing about her shoulders…? And the ache in her breast, the need to touch her, hold her, feel her in her arms just one last time…

She'd followed orders, she knew, followed them to the extreme, played her part with the finesse of a classically trained actress. Or spy. Go to America, find this man. Charm him, seduce him, marry him—do whatever it takes to learn his secrets. Have a child, if you must. In fact, do, because he'll trust you implicitly.

And so she had.

But somewhere in there, between the laughing and playacting and charming and kissing, she'd lost sight of her objective, and in came Sydney.

Sydney, her daughter. Her baby.

She'd conceived her on orders, but mothered her on her own. No orders could have forged a bond that strong, a bond that kept her up at night wondering how she'd ever manage to abandon this precious life moving inside her. For she knew that day would come. It was inevitable. From the moment he called her into his office, she'd known that permanence was not a part of the equation. Go, find, conquer, get out. Then on to her next assignment.

Simple, easy. One, two, three. Just forget about them and go. They'll be okay. Until we order you to kill them as part of another test. Of course they'd never said that, and she hadn't cared at that point, sitting in the deceptively comfortable chair, staring across the desk at a man she knew she couldn't trust. But she could trust his cause, and that was enough for her.

Listening to the orders, filing them away behind her squinting eyes, calculating gaze, secreting them in a part of her that no interrogator could get to no matter the mode or frequency of torture—that had been the easy part.

But the carrying out had been another story.

Go, find, conquer, get out.

Get out, as if it were a trap.

She hadn't thought of it that way until she felt the baby moving for the first time, and then when she heard its heartbeat, and finally when they settled her in her arms and tears robbed her vision.

In all her years as a KGB operative, she'd never cried. Not once.

Get out. It's a trap. Get out.

Yes. Yes, it was a trap. It was a prison cell more confining than the one around her now; a torture more excruciating than that of the methods used in the KGB compound. They'd suspected her of betrayal then, but what they'd never guessed was she'd betrayed herself. Surrendered to a red-faced, squalling infant the first time she laid eyes on her.

The running away, the faked death, the return to Russia and the KGB and the knives and chemicals and tortures—none of that had been orders. It had simply been staying alive, keeping herself moving even as she sat in that hospital room staring down into those hazel eyes she knew she must make cry. Irina Derevko was stuck in the past.

In many ways, she always would be.

Abandoning her, shooting her, probing her, hurting her, loving her, saving her, watching her through the cold, hard glass of her cell as she walked away, head down and hair fanning out in time to her steps… Sydney. Sydney. …and letting a tear drop to her cheek in a final act of surrender.

After this… never again.

It was rather ironic, actually. Have his child to prove your loyalty to us. All she'd done was cripple herself. Emotionally, mentally, physically.

She loved Sydney. She really did.

And that's why she couldn't love her anymore.