wears the dress to dinner that night; they eat fish outside by the
harbor, and Jack tells her stories about Isabelle. Nadia thinks that it
ought to be a barrier to whatever is between them, and yet it's
surprisingly comfortable to lean back and laugh gently when Jack
describes his granddaughter's ill-fated exploration of Sydney's office.
He's so absurdly proud that it shines through every barrier he puts up,
and she can't help smiling in return.
He meets her eyes and his mouth twists. "I sound like I'm about to show you pictures, don't I?"
"It's charming, and I'm sure any pictures you have would be adorable."
"Your patience is admirable."
"It suits you, being a grandfather."
He grimaces at the word. "Nadia," he begins.
"No," she says. "Not tonight, Jack. Whatever happens, let us have this dinner."
He looks down as if gathering his strength. "You know," he says when he raises his head, "for the first time I actually look forward to Sydney's missions. I missed so much of her childhood. I feel that with Isabelle, I've been given a second chance."
Now it's Nadia's turn to look down. "Was it very difficult, knowing that she was in danger so often?"
"It was... it seemed important that she never know how much I worried. I compartmentalized."
"You played a role."
"In a way. Sydney needed certain things from her father, especially when we were working together." He meets her eyes again. "It wasn't a hardship."
She smiles to hide a moment of uncertainty, and then more honestly as Jack's lips twist in response. She won't think of her father and his uneven devotions. Not tonight. "It can be a little disconcerting," he says, "to realize that she no longer needs that kind of protection."
"And even if she did, Vaughn is there."
"Yes." He sounds dubious, but when she laughs he smiles back.
"Should we add Vaughn to the list of forbidden topics?" she asks. As the words leave her lips something shifts in his face and she catches her breath: she is an idiot. They already have a very real list of things they cannot say, and she has broken the very promise she asked from him.
But when she makes herself raise her eyes, she sees that he is serious, but there's no hint of disappointment in his eyes. "I am not usually in a position to offer advice in this sort of thing, Nadia," he says, "but I would suggest that there is a difference between lying to other people and lying to ourselves. Or indeed, to each other."
"I don't want to lie to you, Jack."
He makes it sound like a simple thing, and she wants to protest that she can't possibly tell him... and then she stops. What is there, after all, that she can't tell him? He's sitting directly across from her, her sister's father, her mother's husband, over the crumbs of their dinner, their romantic dinner. It is, after all, exactly what it looks like, and it strikes her that he has surely had sufficient deception in his life. Honesty may be the one thing she can offer. And what had she been intending, after all? That he not notice if she decided to try to seduce him?
She has killed; she has betrayed. Dinner with Jack Bristow is not the worst choice she could make.
"You have a lovely smile," he says. She thinks she can hear relief, but it's strange to think that Jack might have been uncertain as well.
The candle begins to gutter; the waiters have long since left them to their own devices. She takes a deep breath and asks him to walk her home.
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Alias is owned by JJ Abrams, Bad Robot Production, and ABC. No copyright infringement intended, and no profit made. Original story elements my own.