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Belated Entry

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Jan. 14th, 2006 | 12:24 am
posted by: thepiratequeen in spy_santa

Title : Grounded (1/1)
Author : thepiratequeen
Rating: PG
Disclaimer : It would be a very different show if it belonged to me.
Spoilers : Contains Season 4 and minor Season 5 spoilers.
Notes: For medie who wanted Jack/Nadia spending Christmas together away from LA. Takes place after Season 5. My deepest apologies for how disgustingly late this is. I hope it ends up being well worth the wait.

Making friends in New York had been easier then she expected. Within in a few months of living there Nadia had formed a tight support system made up of coworkers, neighbors and the friendly faces she frequently ran into at the bars she would go to on Friday night. As Christmas neared she found her inundated with invitations and with much guilt turned every single one down. Sydney had invited her first and even though the idea of returning to LA and all the memories of what had happened to her while she was with the CIA was quite painful, she looked forward to seeing her sister and niece and having as traditional a family Christmas as could be expected. On Christmas Eve she packed with great enthusiasm and smiled when she needed an extra suitcase for all the presents she had purchased for her niece. Her good mood lasted throughout most of the two hour cab ride even though it should only have taken her about 20 minutes to get to the airport. Things darkened a bit as she began to take notice of how much snow was falling. When she stepped into the terminal and saw it packed with grounded passengers, Nadia began to truly panic. A quick check showed that her flight was seriously delayed and would most likely not take off until the morning. Nadia finally convinced herself that she was not meant to live in areas with severe winter weather when she made the tragic assumption that she’d easily be able to get a cab back to her apartment.

One hour later, Nadia found herself sitting in Starbucks and ruminating over the fact that she’d be sleeping in a cold, plastic chair that night even though she was in the same area code as her perfectly warm and comfortable bed. The hot beverage in her hand was helping matters slightly and the trashy celebrity gossip magazine was almost keeping her distracted from seriously depressing thoughts but if an instantly familiar voice hadn’t called out her name she may still have started crying. She didn’t dwell too long on how unsurprised she was to see Jack Bristow in front of her. He was simply that sort of man who would always appear at completely random moments and look as if no one belonged more perfectly in that place then he did. She smiled at him and tried to remember if Sydney had told her that her father would be in New York but she couldn’t bring up any memory of such a conversation. Fathers didn’t often come up with the sisters talked, a silent and heartfelt concession Sydney made while Nadia sorted out what role she wanted her father to play in her life.

“Hello, Jack. How are you?”

“Stuck in an airport with a headache thanks to the conversation I just had with a woman who claimed to be a functioning adult who was good at her job.”

Nadia grinned and bit back her laughter at Jack’s rant.

“Trying to get to LA?”

“Of course. Syd said that you’d be joining us for Christmas so I assume that is where you’re trying to go.”

“Us? I didn’t know that you would be there. I mean, I guess it’s obvious that you would be. She just didn’t actually mention your name. Is anyone else going to be there? Not that I mind you being there. You should be there.”

The corner of Jack’s lip trembled but Nadia couldn’t tell if he was trying to subdue a smile or a grimace.

“Your father will be out of town. It will just be the four of us.”

“Good. That’s good.”

“It will be good when we are in Los Angeles. I’m about to check and see if any government planes are being allowed to take off. Would you like to join me?”

Nadia looked down and played with the corner edge of the open magazine.

“I don’t have credentials anymore. I’m not an agent for anyone. They won’t let me on.”

Jack shook his head, “I’ll get us both on. Come along.”

Nadia followed him as he stalked through the restless sea of people. She knew she was with the one person in the universe who would be able to get her on a flight. Twenty minutes later when they were back at Starbucks and Jack had almost gotten them kicked out of the airport, Nadia finally resigned herself to a night at the airport. One of the few, tiny benefits of everything she had been through in the past few years was that it made minor setbacks like these never seem very bad.

The conversation between her and Jack passed along awkwardly. They were never quite able to suitably bypass all the topics that neither wanted to talk about and as a result were often forced to stop in the middle of what they were saying. Small talk was not something that either could tolerate and talking about the weather was only going to upset them so they finally turned to the subject of Sydney and exhausted all talk of her and the baby before falling into silence. It wasn’t a comfortable silence but Nadia was more comfortable with it then she was with the question that finally burst forth from Jack.

“How are you feeling, Nadia?”

She glared at him and narrowed her eyes when he glared back. She refused to answer for as long as possible and harshly beat her hand against her thigh instead. Finally she forced herself to look straight at him and respond.

“I still have to take medication every day but I’m better then I’ve been thanks to…”
She trailed off and was surprised to see that Jack looked almost guilty at the position he had put her in. It wasn’t a look that rested easily on his face and she had to look away until he could compose his features into a more neutral expression. She finally stood up and flung her empty cup into the nearby trash bin.
“I need to take a walk before I drink anymore coffee. Would you like to come?”

He silently stood up and followed her. As they walked around, Jack kept his hands in the pockets of his long coat and kept himself a step or two behind Nadia. They kept silent and looked like two strangers going in the same direction until they came upon a young couple doing their best to keep their infant from crying. Even to Nadia, who couldn’t have been much older then them if she was older then them at all, they looked impossibly young and sheltered. Nadia stood and stared at them for a long while, wondering how such a common scene could fill her with such profound emptiness. She felt Jack place a hand on her shoulder and without thinking tilted her head and leaned her cheek on it. He stepped closer to her and spoke softly.

“I think I’ve spent more Christmas’s alone then I have with other people.”

Nadia responded with a bitter laugh, “So have I.”

He put a confident arm around her and led her way from the family, “Come on.”

They walked some more without speaking. This time the silence was companionable and Jack kept his arm around her. When they were finally able to find two empty seats next to each other, Nadia collapsed into one and as Jack sat down she adjusted herself so that their sides were pressed together. She slowly told him about her first few Christmases at the Orphanage and the even harsher Christmases she had spent on the street. When she was done, Jack briefly recounted countless holidays spent in foreign countries, undercover and on missions that couldn’t wait until January. Just as he finished speaking, Nadia looked up and saw that it was a few minutes past midnight.

“Merry Christmas, Jack.”

He blinked in momentary confusion and when he opened his mouth to say something back to her, Nadia pressed her finger to his lips and leaning into him, she kissed him lightly. It was a risk that she didn’t expect to pay off but instead of being pushed away she felt the kiss being deepened. They soon had their arms around each other and when the kiss ended, neither pulled away.

“Merry Christmas, Nadia.”

Jack showered her face with several more soft kisses and she returned each. Nadia was careful not to over think this aspect to the connection she had always felt to Jack. She forced herself to enjoy how happy and calm being with him like this made her and when her exhaustion finally overtook her, she didn’t hesitate to lean against him as she fell asleep. It was late morning on Christmas Day when he woke her from what had turned out to be a very peaceful slumber. The weather had cleared enough to allow the planes to take off and their flight was due to leave in the next hour. Jack’s demeanor was slightly more controlled as they gathered their belongings but Nadia was grateful for the space to work her own emotions out. Her feelings for Jack had always been complex and would probably always continue to be. She knew this wasn’t the start of some shared happy ending for the both of them and that no flight was going to be long enough to puzzle out what it actually was.

As they walked towards the gate the crowd became denser so she took his hand to ensure that they wouldn’t get separated. When he grasped her hand gently and squeezed, she smiled. As they reached the gate they passed the family from the night before. This time Nadia was able to smile at them. For at least one Christmas she knew what it felt like to spend the day with someone who understood where you had come from and who you were.

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from: thepiratequeen
date: Jan. 17th, 2006 10:41 pm (UTC)

Thanks so much! And thanks for putting this whole thing together. The fics have been great.

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