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Title / Prompt: Wine and Vengence
Character: Irina Derevko
Pairings: Sloane/Emily, Sloane/Irina, Jack/Irina
Fandom: Alias
Word count: 2,039
Rating: R
Disclaimer: As usual, not mine, no money being made, don't sue.
Note: Takes place immdiatly after the season 2 episode A Dark Turn.


Seeing Emily surprises her, though it doesn't change what she has come here to do.

She does pause, though, when Emily gasps out the name that used to be hers, "Laura," as she rushes to embrace her.

"Arvin will explain," she tells Emily. Thinking he had better. Thinking that his wife is not the only one to whom Arvin Sloane owes explanations.

If Arvin would listen to her- if Arvin gave a damn for anyone's advice but his own, or if Irina felt like giving it, she would tell him that she has tried this, and it doesn't work. She would tell him that family life and what they do, are not things that were ever meant to mix.

"I don't understand," Emily tells her. "I went to your funeral."

Irina smiles, Laura's old smile. It takes effort to remember how to do it. "My daughter spoke at yours. Very little is what it seems, Emily."

"I guess not," Emily says. She sighs, glancing over at Arvin, quite busy at his laptop. "I thought this was all over. I thought he-" Shakes her head. "It doesn't matter. I'm sorry."

"No," Irina tells her. "No, Emily, it matters. Excuse me, I think I need a word with your husband."

She leaves Emily staring after her, still wondering, and moves to Arvin. Forcing herself not to take him by the collar and shake him, which is what she'd really like to do. "Arvin."

"I'm busy, Irina."

"We need to talk," she says flatly. "Now."

Arvin sighs, closes the laptop. "Of course. Excuse us, won't you, my dear?"

Emily shrugs. "Sure."

Irina leads him into the forward cabin, quietly but firmly closing the hatch behind them. She'd like to slam it, but Emily would take it personally, and it isn't Sloane's wife she is furious with.

"You're certain this couldn't have waited?" Arvin asks. "We're upsetting Emily, and I-"

"Your focus is divided, Arvin," Irina cuts him off. "You are distracted whatever you do, and that puts us all in danger. Including Emily. It's time to decide your focus, and keep it."

"I'm doing this for Emily," he says. "There's no conflict here."

"Your wife is your excuse, not your motivation. You want everything, and you can't have it all. You must know that."

"Irina-"

Furious, she grasps his arm hard. "And what will she think, Arvin, when we find the Passenger- or she finds us? What will all the things you say you've done for her be worth to Emily when she knows how deeply you have betrayed her?"

"I can explain it to her-"

"Yes, as you've explained everything else." Deliberately, she raises her voice, loud enough so that Emily can overhear. "I cannot believe you were stupid enough not to tell her!"

"What would you have liked me to say, 'Laura Bristow is alive, and she'll be staying with us a while'?!" he replies, the words just as loud. Then, "I need you, Irina," he says, low, intense. "You know that."

Irina is silent a moment, listening to Emily's footsteps retreat from the other side of the door. She nods once, very slightly, as she lets her hand slide up Arvin's arm to his shoulder. "I know," she says at last.

She lets her mind drift back, back to last night. Remembering. Jack's arms around her, his hands on her body, making her feel things she has not known in so long. It is that tenderness, that long-stifled desire and passion she reaches for when she pulls Arvin Sloane closer, when she kisses him like it is him she needs, and has longed for.

"Oh, God," he gasps when she lets him breathe again. "Irina- we have to be careful. Emily-"

"I know what I'm doing," she says, which is far truer than he knows. "Trust me. Everything will be taken care of."

"Of course," Arvin says. "I'm sorry, I..."

Irina nods. "I know. Go and talk to her."

*

She sees Emily again before she sees Arvin, the other woman running her fingers through her hair over and over again. "I heard you two yelling," she says at last.

Irina sighs. "I'm sorry, Emily. I'm not here to make your life any more complicated."

"Complicated?" Emily chuckles. "Now there's a laugh. I think this was complicated long before you arrived. Damn Arvin!"

"He means well, Emily. If I'd known what was going on-"

"What is going on?" Emily asks her. "My husband won't tell me anything, except that what he is looking for could cure my cancer. Forever." She shakes her head. "I don't understand how that's possible, and I don't think I need it. I feel fine."

"I'm glad," Irina tells her. "The details get a bit strange, I'm afraid-" And how unusual it feels to be speaking in Laura's voice again, "-but what it boils down to is that I asked Arvin to help me. I'm trying to look after my daughter, but there are people who want to hurt her, people I can't take on on my own."

"You're talking about the Alliance."

"Yes," Irina says. "Some of them believe-" She shakes her head. "Oh, Emily, it's all so foolish! They believe in a prophecy written by this man Rambaldi, which involves a woman who could be Sydney. Or a hundred other women, or no one at all. But they believe it is Sydney, and that she can be... of use to them."

Emily pales. "I know how they use people. No wonder..."

"Yes. I've tried, but my contacts can't penetrate the Alliance. I needed Arvin's help. He indicated he was free to give that help, that he had no other obligations to see to."

"Like me." Emily sighs.

Irina touches her shoulder. "I didn't mean it that way. When I saw you, I realized I would have to alter my plans. Arvin would never put you at risk, you know that. Neither will I. But our plans do have to change now, and I don't think your husband quite realized that. I had to... explain it."

Emily gives her a small smile. "You wanted to hit him, didn't you?"

"I won't say the thought didn't cross my mind. We're going to work this out, Emily. We'll all be alright. And when it's finished, you and Arvin will never see me again."

"You say that as if you've been intruding on us," Emily says.

"I feel as if I am. I'm sorry-"

"No, no," Emily says quickly. "Please don't apologize. Of course we have to help Sydney. She's grown into such a lovely young woman."

Irina smiles. "Thank you."

*

"What did you tell her?"

"What was necessary," Irina says. "Lies, as close to the truth as I could make them." Briefly, she explains.

"She believed it?"

"Of course she did. Would Laura Bristow lie to her?" Irina fixes him with a cold stare. "I won't cover for you again, Arvin."

"You won't have to. It won't happen again."

"Good." Irina lifts the wine bottle, an eyebrow raised in inquiry, and he nods. She pours a glass.

He sips slowly, then sighs. "We can still do this, Irina."

"Of course. If I believed otherwise..." She does not finish this statement, does not have to.

*

They send Emily on ahead to Tuscany to settle in and begin arranging the house to her satisfaction. Irina lingers in town, perusing the bookshop and chatting up the clerk, a man perhaps a few years younger than Sydney.

They will remember her here.

Finally, when she thinks she has waited long enough, she gathers her purchases and leaves. "I'm terribly sorry, my friends will be wondering what's kept me..." She breezes out of the shop, tossing Laura's carefree smile over her shoulder.

She knocks, and Emily opens the door. "Laura, for heaven's sake, you're a guest- I'll have Arvin get you a key. Where have you been?"

Sheepishly, Irina holds up the books. Emily laughs. "Oh, of course- I should have known." Emily shows her into the house. "Arvin's napping. Jet lag, he says. You would think he'd be used to it by now, but-" She shrugs. "We have the master bedroom, obviously, but there's tons of space. Pick out whatever room you'd like."

"Emily..." Irina lays a hand on her arm. "Are you sure about this?"

Emily smiles. "Of course. Make yourself at home, go on."

So Irina smiles, and thanks her, and carries her things upstairs. She doesn't unpack, only drops her small bag in a corner of the room she's chosen. If things were different, she might actually like to stay here for a time. She would enjoy, she thinks, rising with the light filtering through those gauzy curtains.

Not that it matters.

She looks in on Arvin, whose condition she knows has much less to do with jet lag than the glass of wine she had poured for him.

Certain that he won't wake soon, Irina takes the time to explore the house, marking each exit, each hiding place.

She finds Emily in the kitchen, puttering happily over what will become dinner. Listens without really hearing as Emily explains the dish, and its ingredients.

"Oh, damn, these eggs aren't any good..." Emily sighs. "So much for that."

Irina leans over her shoulder, reading the recipe. "The eggs seem to go in last, which means one of us has time to run and get them."

"I'll go," Emily says. "We need a few other things, too."

Irina nods. "I'd offer to start this for you-"

"Oh, that's alright. I imagine you could use a bit of rest yourself."

"Yes, now that you mention it."

"Go ahead, then. I'll wake you when dinner's ready."

"Thank you," Irina says. As she turns away, she feels, not a reluctance so much as a moment's silent apology, for what she has come here to do.

With Emily gone, the house is silent, still. Irina moves in that stillness. Back to her room, but only for a moment, only to gather what she needs.

The knife is cool in her hand, and she curls her fingers tighter around it as she steps down the hall, to the room where Arvin sleeps. Hands at her sides, casual, she leans against the windowsill. Smiles.

"Arvin."

He stirs slowly. "Irina...?"

She nods. "Emily's gone to fetch some things from the store. I thought we might have another little talk."

"...tired..."

"Yes, I know." She moves to the bed, sits beside him. One hand strokes his cheek; the other, hidden, holds the knife.

"...You."

She nods. Smiles again. "Arvin, Arvin. There is so much you still don't understand."

"...Tell me..."

Irina shakes her head, her fingers brushing over his cheek again. "I'm afraid I haven't the time. Neither do you."

She lifts the hand that holds the knife, knowing he is still far too weak to resist her. She prefers her kills a bit cleaner than this, given a choice, but knowing how soon Emily will return, she has none. And perhaps it's best this way.

"Irina..."

She raises the knife, and brings it down, once. Cleanly. "Did you really think," she asks softly, her hand slowly twisting the knife, "that I would ever forgive you for the things you've done? For Sydney, for Jack, for Nadia- Did you think that I would ever forgive you?"

He cries out as the blade sinks in, the cry rising in pitch as it twists. "-Never- hurt... Nadia..."

"In time you would have," she answers. "You know what she is, what she carries. You would hurt her to get it, and I cannot allow that."

"Irina..."

But she shakes her head; she is finished with him, now. "Goodbye, Arvin."

She carries the knife, carefully wrapped in cloth. With this tucked under her arm, she walks away. In the back of her mind is a thought for Emily, but only a small one.

Irina posts the knife from Tuscany, the label printed though she feels a desire to write it out by hand. She contents herself with a note, laid to rest over the cloth.

Truth takes time, it says. Followed by coded instructions for a rendezvous in Paris which Jack already knows she won't keep.

She still has work to do.
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Irina Derevko

March 2015

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