It's not a memory because she wasn't like this. She was smaller maybe (that's impossible), weaker. Not like this. This is the woman behind the glass, unconfinable, uncontrollable, powerful.
She's tying him to the bed. The knots feel smooth against his wrists. Silk probably. Out of the corner of his eye he sees a flash of red against white linen. The image burns into his retina. Unforgettable.
It's not her, he tells himself. She was never like this.
She's not like this now.
But she's beautiful. Oh yes. She was then, she is now and this woman, too, is beautiful, but it's not her.
It's not her.
She's snaking her way up his body. She's teasing him, taunting him, biting, scratching, touching him and pulling away. She bites the skin on his shoulder and trails her tongue from his neck to his ear. She breathes against him, and she whispers, "do you trust me?"
He wakes up and his hand finds the gun under his pillow before he realises it's a dream. Just a dream.
He switches the lamp on. The shadows don't disappear but at least they're in the farther corners of the room.
He brushes a hand across his forehead and his skin feels clammy.
She got to you, he tells himself. You goddamn let her get to you.
"What do you do, Jack?"
Dr Barnett leans forward, resting her chin on her hands. She regards him with narrowed eyes and a half smile on her lips. The trick in psychology is to be unpredictable in your insights: you learn nothing about the subject if they anticipate the question. He wonders what Dr Barnett has learnt about him. If anything.
"I'm a Special Agent in the CIA..."
"That's not what I meant." He knows that. "What do you do to unwind?"
He doesn't change expression. "My daughter is a double agent, obligated to a life of constant peril because of me. My former wife and mother of my daughter is in custody as on of the CIA's most dangerous adversaries. I don't unwind. Ever."
She touches her face when she's thinking. She touches her face as though her head is heavy and needs the support of her fingers, like a scaffold. She has long fingers, bent a little so they operate like a brace, taking the weight of her head in her knuckles.
Everything she does is purposeful and exact. Even her cell is perfectly square, the glass flawlessly transparent.
She touches her face and that's something new. Laura Bristow did not have an easy manner but she had a casualness Irina Derevko doesn't emulate (chooses not to emulate).
"You're thinking about her." She trails a line down her face with her index finger, finding rest at the corner of her mouth.
"The woman you married."
"You have no idea what I'm thinking."
She doesn't answer, but she smiles as she turns her attention back to Briault's bank statements.
Laura Bristow read minds. She knew when the plumber was lying about why the water heater blew up and she knew when the babysitter was lying about having her boyfriend over. Ironically, he always thought she'd make a good agent. He thought keeping ahead of her, keeping his secrets from her was a challenge he accomplished, accomplished with some difficulty but accomplished none the less.
He can't decide if he was nave or stupid. Or both.
Of course, he's a very different man now.
"You must wonder, if you could have known - if you should have read the signs?"
He pretends not to understand - largely because he's feeling incendiary but also because he likes to hear other people say it, say what he fears the most. "What do you mean?"
"How did she get past you, Jack? Was she that good? Or were you just not paying attention?"
He leans his chin into his hand, one finger pointing up toward his temple. He shakes his head. "I don't know."
"But you think about it, don't you? When you look back in retrospect, it must all seem so obvious."
"Are you asking me if I feel guilty? I comprised the safety of my colleagues, my daughter and the entire nation." He gets to his feet, abruptly, pushes the chair against the desk. In therapy they say that change is a matter of time and patience and he has neither. "If you insist on treating me like every other patient you see in this office then you are grossly underestimating my position. My responsibilities include the safety of the country -my actions effect more than just myself and my family. I don't have the time or the luxury of giving myself a break or forgiving my mistakes. I am not living and ordinary life, I am not an ordinary man."
Her voice is even. "Yes you are."
Later he remembers to be grateful. He visits the cell once more, tells her he couldn't have done it without her.
"Yes you could," she tells him, seeing through the lie once more. She leans her head to one side. "Although perhaps not in such short time."
She's giving him an out, a chance to pretend that he doesn't have ulterior motives for requiring her help. And maybe he doesn't. "Perhaps not."
Sometimes he hears Dr Barnett 's voice: How do you feel about her? How do you feel about her now?
He answers: I feel nothing.
They stand silently facing each other, neither betraying discomfort or awkwardness. They were trained to give little away and the rest they learned by rote.
Eventually she says, "It's late - you should get some rest."
"So should you."
"I rest all the time."
With little to say in response, he puts his hands behind his back and nods and turns without saying goodbye.
He's almost at the security barrier when he hears her say, "sleep well." She doesn't call out, doesn't yell so he wonders wether he was meant to hear it at all.
He turns back toward her and she's standing at the glass, looking at him, expressionless, a hint of a smile in her eyes.
The security doors lift in front of him and walks away, each step measured, never faster or slower than the one before. He replays strategy in his head, argues with himself over whether to play the game tighter or more casual than before now that he knows how little he keeps from her.
She knows. She probably knew before he did. She reads minds. She read his.
He considers how he will use this knowledge to his advantage, make her skill work against her.
He's a very different man now and Irina Derevko is a very different woman to Laura Bristow but somehow she knows how she affects him and this makes for more of a challenge than he had anticipated.
A challenge that will keep him up at night, keep him from dreaming.
Feel like I've been here before, instead of dreaming it down "Dream it Down" by the Underground Lovers.
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Title: Dream it Down
Author: cgb [email] [website]
Details: Standalone | PG-13 | 6k | 04/18/04
Summary: "She was never like this." Jack and Irina and all that UST. Circa "The Getaway", Season 2.
Notes: A very Happy Christmas to Anna Moonbar! May your Christmas be smoking and your New Year be smouldering! (Written for the Bordy Secret Santa. With thanks to Liz whose input is always invaluable).
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