Sydney strolled into her office as if she didn't have a care in the world.  Laura smiled at her and motioned for her to close the door.  It was fake; she barely had the strength to smile for real anymore.  Sydney's grin disappeared as soon as the door closed behind her.

She dropped a note on Laura's desk before sitting down.  She leaned forward, her hands on her knees.  "Mom, I know you've made mistakes.  We both have.  I know, given the chance, you'd go back and take a different path."

Laura forced herself not to respond, to not show any reaction.  She wished she could go back and kill Arvin Sloane.  It was the only different path she would have taken--she wouldn't have agreed to work for SD-6.  She would have found another way to protect her home.

She wanted to tell her daughter that she would have decided to work for the KGB.  She would without a moment's doubt.  Because no KGB would have meant no Jack and no Sydney; they were worth traveling that rocky path a million times.

"And that you would right the things you did wrong.  My point is, something went wrong last week, and I have a chance to correct it.  But I need your help.  Please.  You have to make Sloane believe that you've received intel about Hassan's weapons stockpile."

Looking down at the words written on the paper, Laura didn't even notice when her daughter left the room.  She may have been forced into SD-6, but she had always been a loyal officer.  Until she found out that her daughter was to die, until she had found out that her own daughter was a double agent.

Staring at the paper, she thought about why she had joined SD-6 in the first place, and she realized that her decision had already been made.

***

Jack put down the phone with deliberate ease.  He felt like tossing it against the wall.  He had felt like it every time Vaughn had apologized for making the mistake.  Jack hadn't blamed him for the danger Sydney had faced in Crete.  Hassan was a master at the game, and he had played it brilliantly.  He had known that the lure of the weapons stockpile would be too great to ignore, and he had used his own safety devices to trap Sydney so he could get his son and wife brought to the US like he wanted.

His biggest problem with the mission was that Sydney had brought her mother in on the action.  Laura had lied to Sloane, telling him that her contacts in the Middle East had given her the information.  She had lied to get Sydney what she wanted.

And Jack didn't know how to respond, how to feel about what she had done.

The phone rang.  "Bristow," he answered.  He stiffened when he heard his wife's voice on the other end.  "Why are you calling, Laura?"

His wife sighed.  "I want to know if Sydney is okay.  I don't trust that man."

He stiffened and then he chuckled.  "He got what he wanted, and we got what we wanted," he told her and then asked himself why he was telling her anything.  He still didn't know about her loyalty, but he was starting to believe that their daughter had it.

"Damn," she sighed.  He could see her in his mind's eyes, rubbing her neck.  She was sitting on their bed.  Her shoes were kicked off, of course.  She never kept her shoes on a second longer than she had to. 

"I'm sorry for calling," she sighed.  "But Sydney isn't supposed to be back until tomorrow, and I wanted to know if she was okay."

"She's fine," he whispered.

She sighed again, and he could hear her shifting around on the bed.  "Jack, tell Devlin that's he's going to have a walk-in Friday.  I have the day off."

Jack felt his jaw go slack.  "What?"

"I'm walking in Friday.  But if they want to hear everything I know about SD-6, you have to be there, Jack.  I won't talk if you're not there."

Before he could respond, he heard the gentle click of the phone being hung up.  He lowered the receiver, lost in thought.  Now what was he supposed to feel?

***

Sydney was surprised to find Vaughn pacing.  "What's happening?"

Vaughn ran his hand through his hair as he stopped and stared at her.  "Weiss called me to let me know that your mom's walking-in this morning."

"What?"  Sydney smiled.  Then, it faded as she realized what her father didn't know.

"That was what I was thinking about, too," Vaughn admitted.  "Do you think she'll tell the complete truth?"

Sydney blinked away the tears.  "I don't know, but I'm going to be there to find out."

***

Vaughn sank down in the chair next to Sydney.  She looked remarkably composed for someone who had just snuck into CIA headquarters in the trunk of his car.  Not to mention the battle that she had fought with Devlin to be allowed into this debriefing.

Jack walked into the room and froze for a brief second when he saw them.  He nodded and walked towards the front of the room.

"It's a big meeting," Sydney said.

"I know," Vaughn said, leaning towards her.  "A twenty-year veteran of SD-6 is big doings."  He didn't mention the ten years or so that she had worked for the KGB, but he knew Sydney was thinking about it, too.  Would Laura tell them--tell Jack--the entire truth of her life today?

Laura and her escort walked in last.  Sydney and her mother stared at each other.  Then, Laura nodded and looked away.  "She's going to do it," Sydney whispered.

Vaughn didn't look down when her hand slid into his beneath the table.  He squeezed her cold hand in his, hoping that Jack had the strength to face what he had to face.

***

Laura looked at the faces in the room; many of them were well-known to her.  She noticed her daughter sitting next to a familiar-looking man, and she wondered why Jack had gotten Vaughn to be their daughter's handler.  She had watched Jack and Michael Vaughn together over the years, always from a distance.  Jack had never hid his role in the young man's life.  He had been a positive influence in Vaughn's life; she had been a negative.

Just as she had been the negative in so many lives.  Jack.  Sydney.  She had hurt them, and she was about to hurt Jack more, but she couldn't lie anymore.  She had to tell him the truth.

She had spent almost thirty years of her life building a house of lies.  Wrapping herself in those lies, she had felt safe.  Protected.  Loved.  But now, the seams had been exposed.  The house was toppling.

After she had helped Sydney, she had known what she needed to do.  What Jack and Sydney both wanted.  They wanted SD-6 taken down, but they didn't know the inner workings of it.  She doubted they even had a clue of how large it was.  She could help them, help keep her daughter safe.

She stared at her husband while Devlin took care of opening the debriefing.  He introduced everyone, but she didn't care who else was here.  Jack was here.  He would now know everything.  She would lose it all.

All of her years of training strained to make her look cool and professional.  Devlin asked her to identify herself for the record.  She took in a deep breath and prepared to blow down her house of lies.  "My name is Laura Bristow," she stated.

She stopped, surprised by her words.  She had meant to use her real name, but the name given to her at birth no longer fit her.  Laura Bristow was who she was now.  She had stopped being the other woman years ago.

She looked down at her clenched hands and forced them to relax.  "I--" She looked over at Sydney and took another deep breath.  She wanted to look at Jack, but she didn't have the courage.  "My name is Laura Bristow, but I was born Irina Derevko."

She saw every person in the room, except her daughter and Vaughn, sit up straight at the name.  A dawning realization was brewing in Devlin's eyes.  "In 1970, I was recruited by the KGB."

She finally met her husband's eyes.  He stared at her with horror.  The look in his eyes ripped at her guts.  She hid behind facts.  "Phase one of the operation:  I was to pose as an American, a student of literature."  She continued to stare into Jack's eyes, even though she felt like she was fighting against a tidal wave of emotions.  "Phase two: I was to make the acquaintance of a particular officer in the Central Intelligence Agency, to insinuate myself in his life, to become his confidant, earn his trust."

She felt wetness on her hands.  She looked down and saw a tear; she was crying.  She made herself look up, kept her shoulders straight.  She looked into Jack's eyes and watched as he realized that it had all been a lie.  The way they had met, the way they had fallen in love.  It was all a lie.

The shutters fell down over his eyes.  He sat back and didn't show a speck of emotion.  The house of lies had fallen, and there was no way to repair it now.

She continued to recite facts.  She told about searching her husband's briefcase every night for almost ten years.  She admitted to being an assassin, to framing William Vaughn.  She shared with them how she had been recruited by Sloane.

And she felt relief.  The despair she expected was there, yes, but the relief was greater.  The burden of the lies was being lifted from her shoulders.  Jack and Sydney now knew everything; she was no longer hiding behind a veil.

Even her earlier sense of defeat was leaving her.  Yes, her house of lies had toppled, but she could rebuild it.  Not an easy task.  Jack was hurt, rightfully so.  Sydney would never look at her the same way again; her feet of clay had been exposed.

But they would now know her.  The real her, not just the woman she wanted to be.  They would be working together towards a common goal, too.  Destroying SD-6 could help her rebuild her home.

She had made Jack fall in love with her before, and she would do it again.  And this time, there would be nothing standing between them.  And nothing could tear down their home.

***
The end of the story for now . . .
***

More A/N: Thank you all for reading!

First, I must thank Amanda, who volunteered to look at this when it was nothing more than the first and third scene.  130 pages or so later, and she's still around.  Amanda, I can't thank you enough for all of your help--you reminded me of grammar rules that I had forgotten about years ago!--and I know this story is so much better--and finished!-- because of your help.

Next to be thanked has to be the incredible Thorne.  What would any of us do without her?  I'm not going to add to her many titles here.  What would I have done, Thorne, without you making sure that I knew how to spell all of the characters' names?  And making sure that I got the exact wording of the pier scene?  Oh, and I can't forget your willingness to start searching for an African city that starts with an "a" sound as we struggled to figure out exactly what Dixon was saying in "So It Begins".

(And I can't blame Thorne for this story either.  This time I'm going to blame the incredible Hil from CD for writing about AU's in one of her challenges g.  I don't know if she will want to claim it, but I had fun writing it.) 

Jenai, what would I do without you?  Your encouragement when I hit the downward swing was timely and much needed.  I can't thank you enough, and yes, I am going to finish "Ghosts" soon.

Celli, thank you for your great beta.  You had it thrown on you all at once, and still managed to go through it thoroughly and quickly.  I can't thank you enough.

As always, all mistakes contained within this story are mine.

I also must thank the Server-5 ladies, and most especially the ladies of the ILNPCC (International Late Night Porn Chat Club (TM)).  You are all the greatest!

Finally, but not the least important, I have to thank Secret Agent Fan (http://www.efanguide.com/~alias/episodes/) for the transcripts.  Stupid, idiotic me did not start recording the episodes until the season was more than half-over.  There is no way that I could have done this fic without those transcripts.

And thanks to all the people who work on Alias from the writers to the directors to the guy who brings in breakfast in the mornings. I couldn't have wrote this fic--or had has many hours of enjoyment as I have--without them.

I had planned on giving information on the writers of episodes here, but I don't have a copy of every episode, and I could find no website that listed the writers for all, and the evidence contradicted on some. So, here are the episodes I freely admit from which I borrowed huge chunks of dialogue and plot for House of Lies Part One: Truth Be Told, So It Begins, Parity, A Broken Heart, Doppelganger, Reckoning, Color Blind, Time Will Tell, Mea Culpa, Spirit, and The Confession. Of course, the later episodes dealing with Laura were also used for plot points.

The writers I was inspired by include such greats as: J.J. Abrams,Alex Kurtzman, Robert Orci, Vanessa Taylor, Daniel Arkin, Jesse Alexander, Jeff Pinkner, Debra J. Fisher, John Eisendrath, and Erica Messer.

***