Title: Feels Like Home
Disclaimer: I don't own Alias, it belongs to JJ Abrams.
Spoilers: Season 5
Notes: Written with the Alias "Dearly Departed" ficathon for olga_theodora, who requested
The character you most want resurrected: Jack. JAAAAAAAAACK.
Up to three (3) other elements you'd like your story to contain:
Syd/Jack reunion, Jack as SpyGrandpa.
I also sincerely apologize for the lateness of the fic.
Jack slowly opened his eyes. His final memory was of summoning his last remaining strength to push the button detonating the explosives that he had been wearing. There had been no pain from the blast, an unexpected blessing. He was certain – and this certainty was accompanied by a smug sense of self-congratulation – that the same could not be said for Arvin. Arvin, who was even now suffering in a hell of his own creation, immortal and yet crushed under tons of debris. Maybe he could finally come to understand the magnitude of the misery that he had caused to everyone who had ever entered his life. He had sacrificed the lives of so many innocent people – Jack could still clearly see the gruesome image of Nadia as he had found her, clutching at her ruined throat, her eyes open and staring – and for what? Immortality? Jack had shown him how much that was worth. He had himself chosen to die a natural death, and was now on his way to whatever came after.
Looking around did not reveal many clues as to where he was or what was going to happen to him. He was lying on a hard, institutional-looking cot, completely naked except for the thin white sheet which had been thrown across his body. Other than the cot, the room was completely bare and grey. There were no windows. Jack hadn’t really believed in God or an afterlife in any concrete sense while alive, but the fact that he was aware at this moment was almost enough to change his mind. He wondered whether he was waiting to be judged. What had whoever had been watching him thought of his life?
His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a key turning in the lock. He sat up to meet whoever was on the other side, hoping that they could answer his questions. This simple action made him feel surprisingly light-headed and weak. Before he could decide what this meant, the door opened to reveal a tall young woman. The dark haired woman walked purposefully into the small room, and her wide eyes seemed somehow familiar to him but he could not immediately place them. She was dressed completely in black, and carried a small bundle of cloth in her arms. Her face wore a determined expression, but it softened when she looked at him.
“Jack?” she whispered, and it should not have struck him as odd that she knew his name because this was the afterlife. “Do you remember me?” He frowned in confusion and she must have seen it, for she rapidly added, “It’s Rachel.”
Now that she had mentioned her name, he could see the resemblance. Her hair was dyed a dark brown, and she looked much older than she had when he had last seen her. Loss could do that to a person. Maybe she had cared more about Agent Grace than he had previously believed. Vaguely, he wondered if she had died of a broken heart, but her presence only added to his suspicion that he was not truly dead at all.
Jack tried to speak and found that his voice was hoarse from disuse. Rachel’s brow knit with concern; she pulled a small plastic water bottle out of the bundle she was carrying and handed it to him.
“I thought that you might need this. Just take a few small sips, all right?” she instructed as he screwed the cap off the bottle. He nodded and held the water bottle to his lips. The water was lukewarm, but it felt wonderful to drink it – he had not realised how dry his throat had been. When he had replaced the bottle’s cap, he cleared his throat and asked the question that had been on his mind since the moment that he had opened his eyes.
“Where are we?”
“We’re in Santiago,” Rachel answered, “a fortress run by a terrorist group known as The Restoration. I’m on a deep cover mission here, that’s how I heard that you’d been brought in. There’s not much time – you need to get out of here. Go somewhere safe. I’ve encoded as much information as I could onto a disk for you to read when you’re out of harm’s way. The guard changes soon, so we should be able to get out without any trouble. I’m trusted here.”
Jack noticed her eyes travelling around the room like an expert’s, looking for any signs of surveillance. Her eyes fell on him, and her face flushed before turning away. Shoving the bundle at him, she said, “I brought you some clothes.”
Raising an eyebrow at her expression, he thanked her and stood to dress. Rachel quickly turned her back. Throwing the clothes on did not take him long -- years of field work made dressing an exceptionally easy task – and he turned to her, almost ready to leave.
“I didn’t survive the explosion,” he stated. It was not even a question, he had noted the lack of scars on his body while changing – even the scars that he had received as a child were gone. He knew what these terrorists had done to him.
Rachel’s face fell, and she shook her head. “We never found your body – “ Before she could finish her sentence, she stopped, tensing every muscle as voices drifted down the hallway toward Jack’s cell. “We need to get out of here, now,” she finished, taking him firmly by the arm and all but dragging him into the corridor.
She must have been undercover at the Restoration headquarters for a significant period of time, Jack surmised, because she navigated the mazelike corridors of the building with ease. How long must he have been dead, that the CIA would trust Rachel Gibson with such a long-term deep cover mission, and that she would appear so confident while doing it? There was, however, no time to think as she rushed him through one hallway after another. He found that he was having difficulty keeping up with her. This seemed to increasingly alarm her, as she tightened her grip on his arm and kept shooting concerned glances at him like he was an invalid who required her assistance. This annoyed him enough that he quickened his pace despite the strange feelings of fatigue that he was experiencing.
When they finally arrived at the building’s back door exit, Rachel passed Jack the disk that she had mentioned earlier. He put it in his pocket.
“There it is,” she said, “That’s all I know. Get that to the Agency – it – the bomb’s armed, it’s time . . . There’s a plane ticket in your pocket; Director Dixon should be waiting for you at the airport back home.”
He nodded and started to walk away, but Rachel grabbed his wrist and said, “Wait. Just . . . be careful. Sydney’s really missed you; she should be able to see you again.”
Jack gave her a sharp nod and walked away from the place where he had been resurrected. Hopefully, seeing Sydney and Isabelle would be worth this terrible price.
Jack Bristow was probably one of the only men on the planet who did not wish to live forever. He had no desire to see everyone who mattered to him growing old and dying while he had no chance to join them. Was it not enough that he had already been forced to bury his daughter once? Now he would have to do it again. And not just his daughter, no, but also his granddaughter and her children, on and on until the end of time. Hell could not have designed a worse fate for him.
Eventually, he arrived at a dusty road, and was able to hitch a ride into the center of the city. The driver spoke no English, but Jack’s Spanish was decent, and he managed to get the date out of the man. It had been ten years.
There were no words to express the shock that Jack felt at that statement. He had died ten years ago. And yet, a group of people had decided that now was the time to bring him back to life. Hopefully no one had freed Sloane. He couldn’t imagine that anyone would have. After ten years alone, Sloane had likely gone insane. Adding that to the broken spine that he had probably incurred during the cavern’s collapse, and he would not be of much value to anyone. Rachel had mentioned a bomb, however, and that was obviously disturbing.
Jack spent most of the remaining drive, and his flight to Los Angeles, in contemplative silence. What would Sydney think, seeing him again after so long? Would she even believe that it was him, considering the things that had happened with the Project Helix protocol? And Isabelle, she would not remember him at all. She would be ten years old now. Hopefully, for her sake, her looks favoured Sydney. Perhaps by now Sydney and Vaughn had other children as well. It would certainly be interesting to meet them and see if Sydney’s children could be as stubborn as she had been.
Fortunately Rachel had called ahead to tell Dixon that Jack had been resurrected and she was going to let him go, so meeting him at the airport was not as difficult as it could have been.
Dixon shook his hand and said, “It’s good to have you back. Sydney is going to be so happy to see you . . . I warned her that you were coming. We’re going to review the contents of the disk that Rachel gave you at Sydney’s place. It’s secluded, and we’ll be safer there than anywhere else.” Dixon smiled at him and it still kind of surprised Jack when people were genuinely happy to see him. “And this way,” Dixon added, “you’ll get to see your grandchildren.” And there was not much that Jack wanted to do more than that.
They left quickly and boarded another plane to the obscure and tiny island where Sydney and Vaughn had made their home. On the way there, he learned that Sydney and Vaughn had been married three months after his death, and that they now had two children. In addition to Isabelle, there was a baby boy – named, much to Jack’s embarrassment, Jack – who was ten months old. Isabelle was generally a happy child and had been doing exceptionally well in school. It was difficult for Jack not to imagine her as a baby, the way he had last seen her, but he was proud of her achievements anyway.
After the small private plane had landed, they were required to board a motorboat to continue the rest of the way. Jack was not normally an impatient man, but he had never expected to see Sydney again, and now he was being forced to wait to do so. He glared at the horizon and watched for Sydney’s home to appear. Dixon knew better than to disturb him.
Finally, after what felt like an eternity – which made the prospect of the rest of his life seem worrisome – they arrived on the beach in front of Sydney’s home. First out the door was Isabelle, her long hair flying behind her as she ran toward them, shouting joyfully for Uncle Dixon. She was beautiful; so much like Sydney had been at the same age, but with a bright smile that Sydney had rarely shown. She got approximately halfway down the beach before she noticed Jack standing with him, and stopped. Nervously, she turned to look back at her father, who had come outside and was standing near the doorway, holding baby Jack.
“Isabelle . . .” Vaughn started, but then Sydney stepped outside and all eyes were on her.
Jack could almost feel his heart stop. Sydney looked radiant, standing in front of her home, and surrounded by her family. Her smile was the kind of relaxed, easy smile that she had not been able to make in years. Any sacrifice that he might have to make was worth it if his daughter could live a happy and normal life.
She looked at him, still smiling, and opened her mouth to speak, but no words emerged. The smile suddenly faded, and her wide eyes filled with tears before she ran down the beach toward him. Jack took a couple of steps forward to meet her in the middle. He was surprised at the amount of force with which she threw her arms around him.
“Dad!” she exclaimed, and now she was crying in earnest, clutching at his jacket and leaning her head against his shoulder. He put his arms around his daughter, kissed her hair, and said the only thing that he could think of to say.
“Sydney. It’s all right, I’m home.”
It was Sydney who pulled away first, smiling sheepishly through her tears. “I’m sorry, Dad, I’ve just missed you . . .” Turning to her daughter, she called, “Isabelle? Isabelle, sweetheart, come here and meet your grandfather.”
Isabelle approached, looking interested yet still eyeing him uncertainly. She looked for all the world like Sydney had at the same age, attempting to decrypt a particularly tricky crossword puzzle, a small frown line between her eyebrows and a determined expression on her face.
“Grandpa Jack? Mommy said that Uncle Dixon was going to bring you over to see us today. But before, she always told us that you died. If you were alive, why didn’t you come and see us before?”
Jack knelt next to the serious little girl. “Yes,” he admitted, “I was away for a very long time. Some things happened that made my absence unavoidable, but nothing can keep a father from his daughter – or a grandfather from his grandchildren – forever. You can trust that I will be with you for the rest of your life.”
He offered her his hand, and after a moment’s hesitation, staring into his face, she took it. Relieved, he stood and began walking toward Sydney’s house. As he passed her, he could not help but notice his daughter’s expression, beaming with pride, but with her eyes filled with tears.
They sat up until evening talking about innocuous things. The weather had been nice lately; Dixon’s daughter had recently gotten engaged, and he was having trouble letting her go; Isabelle had gotten an A+ on a math test the day before. The smaller Jack had taken to his grandfather almost immediately, and now was refusing to sit anywhere but on his lap. While they talked, Jack let his namesake play happily with the zipper on his jacket, a fact that seemed to give great amusement to the other adults in the room.
But soon it got dark and it was time to put the children to bed so that they could discuss the real business at hand. Isabelle, who had been gazing intently at her grandfather all evening, nonetheless went willingly, while her younger brother fussed about having to leave all of the action and his new favourite relative. Sydney and Vaughn did manage to get him to bed without too much difficulty. Sydney was an excellent mother, as he had known that she would be, and he grudgingly had to admit that Vaughn was a competent parent as well. Sydney had obviously chosen well.
With the children asleep, the adults gathered in the living room to read the contents of Rachel’s disk. Jack saw the word, “Rambaldi,” and grimaced. That man’s interference in their lives sometimes felt like it would never end. The Restoration, according to Rachel’s intel, had a bomb designed by Rambaldi himself, one that would cause untold devastation. It had remained incomplete for centuries because of a very specific component that was required. This component, she had found out, was Jack Bristow’s blood. He had been taken, then, and brought back to life in order to create destruction. As soon as the blood had been obtained, the terrorists had attempted to kill him again, but that had not been as simple as they had expected. Rachel had freed him as they were coming up with an alternate method of dealing with him. The bomb, Jack noted with alarm, was meant to be detonated over Washington in three days.
“We have to stop this,” Sydney said, and the group of them set about planning the mission as if their collaboration was the most natural thing in the world. They discussed and planned early into the morning. When they finally decided to break and get some sleep, Sydney pulled her father aside.
“Dad,” she asked softly, “Rambaldi can bring people back? From the dead?”
“Yes,” he answered, and her face lit up. He could tell that she was thinking of her sister. “However,” he continued, “you heard what was in those documents. The subject becomes immortal. No matter the horrible agony that they are put through, they will survive. And they will witness the deaths of everyone they love.” This came out more fiercely than he had intended, but he needed to make her see.
“I know,” Sydney sighed, “I had just hoped . . . I mean, Nadia was so young. But I do know that there’s a price to pay. I can’t ask Nadia to pay that price just to soothe my own guilt over what happened. And Mom --“ she looked at him sadly, “I don’t know if you knew that Mom died . . .”
“I knew,” Jack told her. He hadn’t.
Sydney nodded. “I’m sorry, Dad.” She paused briefly. “Dad? I . . . I’m really sorry that this happened to you. But I’m glad, too, because I get to see you again. I know that’s selfish, but Dad . . .”
“It is not,” he interrupted, “It’s human. I’m glad as well.” He clasped his daughter’s shoulder and left the room. He hoped that she knew that seeing her again was worth this.
The next day, everyone but Jack left to disarm the bomb that had been activated by his blood. He had protested that since the potential destruction was at least partially his fault he should go on the mission as well, but Sydney had sensibly pointed out that he was still feeling weak and recovering from having been resurrected. Besides, now was a perfect time for him to get to know his grandchildren.
It was on this day that he discovered the puzzle. The baby had finally fallen asleep for his nap, so Jack went to check on Isabelle. He found her playing quietly in her room. To his horror, she was playing with the block puzzle that had had such a major role in the Project Christmas experiments.
Trying to hide his anger, he asked, “Where did you get these? Who gave them to you?”
Isabelle looked up at him. “I found them,” she replied defiantly, “They’re too easy, baby toys, but I like them.”
“You’re right,” Jack agreed, “You’re much too old and intelligent to be playing with those blocks. Why not put them away for now, and I’ll play a game with you?” Isabelle seemed happy with this alternative and put the blocks away. That night, Jack would take them from their box and throw them into the ocean.
She and Jack played Crazy Eights all afternoon. They were still playing – though he now had a small boy in his lap who kept attempting to steal his cards – when he got the call from Sydney that the bomb had been destroyed and everyone was coming home.
Home. His presence here had come at a price, but the longer he was here, the more it was feeling like a price that he was willing to pay.
Wow, I loved this though I feel for Jack if he truly is immortal because I can't even imagine what it will be like for him to have to bury his daughter again -- and then Isabelle and little Jack and then their children and children's children.