Guilty Conscience

(A/N:  Well, now, here's another one.  You know, someone (who shall remain anonymous) recently pointed out to me that these things are pretty damn unlikely.  I'd just like to say DUH!  That's the point of a fanfics, to indulge in fantasies that could never be possible IRL.  I know it's unlikely, it's supposed to be.  *Reads back over what she just wrote* I did not just use IRL for a TV show.  I'm still in touch with reality.  I know that it's the year 2002 and Jeb Bartlett is President of the USA…  Okay.  This little story is only loosely related to my other ones.  I think that 'Hidden Truths' no longer exists in this timeline…R/R/E!  BTW - What's with Moscow?  Sydney must have gone there sixty or so times already…)

Disclaimer:  None of these characters belong to me.  The money factor is nil.  Sue me if you want.  I'll pay you with my sister.  *Evil grin and maniacal laughter echo throughout the universe*

            "Where?"
            "Anywhere."
            Vaughn gave Sydney directions to a new meeting place.  He had known she needed a shoulder, an unbiased shoulder to cry on, and called her.  He had the worst feeling that they were going to be caught soon, but…

/|\/|\/|\/|\/|\

"My tea's gone cold, I'm wondering why I got out of bed at all
The morning rain clouds up my window and I can't see at all
And even if I could it's all be gray, but your picture's on my wall
It reminds me it's not so bad, it's not so bad at all…"
            Dido - 'Thank You'

            As soon as Sydney showed up, Vaughn stood and opened his arms to her.  She fairly ran into them, to be surrounded by their warmth.  Vaguely, she knew this wasn't fair to Vaughn, after what her mother had done to his father, to be running to him to cry over her mother's betrayal.  But she needed to cry on someone who had supported her choices from the beginning, and not judged her,
            Sydney sobbed as Vaughn held her.  She sobbed at her stupidity, her mother's betrayal, the fact that her father was right, and the fact that she had doubted him and he had been right.  She cried until she physically couldn't cry any more, sobbed until her stomach hurt and her teeth were buzzing.  She cried until she felt like she was going to puke, and her nose was dripping snot like crazy.
            Vaughn held her and wished her could take away her pain.  He wanted to kill Irina Derevko for causing Sydney this much pain.  He stroked her hair, rubbed her back, and let her cry until his shirt was completely soaked through.  He would have gladly held her all day.  When she backed away, he mourned the loss, but handed her his handkerchief.  She blew her nose and wiped her eyes, then attempted a small smile.
            "I've never understood the point of a handkerchief.  Who would want to carry a snot-filled rag in their pocked?  Especially if it's not their snot?"
            Vaughn smiled as he gently took the 'snot-filled rag' from her shaking hands.  "So that at times like these, I don't have to look at snot's dripping from your nose."  He was rewarded with a weak laugh.  "Do you want to talk about it?"
            "What am I supposed to say?  If this were a book, this would be classic dramatic irony.  I think she's looking for forgiveness, and begin to trust her.  Dad keeps telling me I'm wrong, that she's using me, and I keep telling him he's wrong.  I keep hurting him by ignoring his warnings.  Then she tries to get me killed.  If Dad hadn't switched to infrascope… I would be dead.  You know, I've almost died so many times I've just stopped counting.  But this hurt more than usual.  I guess when someone close betrays you…"
            Vaughn gently kissed her salty cheek.  "It always hurts more them.  Sydney… You know you never have to fear that from me.  Right?"
            "I should hope so.  I need someone I'm not related to that I can trust."  She hiccupped a little.
            Vaughn encircled her in his arms again, and rocked her gently back and forth.  It music had been playing and they had been moving, it would have been called slow dancing.  Sydney leaned her head on his strong chest.  She had cried herself out.  Now she wanted to forget everything but Vaughn for a while.

/|\/|\/|\/|\/|\

"Anthem of the heart and mind
A funeral dirge for eyes gone blind
We marvel after those who sought
New wonders in the world they wrought…"
            RUSH - 'Anthem'

            Irina Derevko sat, lonely, in a new cell.  She had been moved there, non-too-gently, soon after Sydney had returned from her mission.  She did not know why, but she had an inkling that it had to do with her daughter.  She wondered what it was.  The building had been safe, she knew that.  As much as everyone thought she had no qualms about anything, she would never try to kill her own daughter.  At least, not now.
            For once, ­­­­­­­­­Irina had no ulterior motives.  She was looking for forgiveness and redemption.  She wanted to repay society for her sins, and be on the side of the good guys for once.  She wanted to hear about all those little things from Sydney like what school plays she was in, how her love life was.  She missed being a mother to her daughter.  She had hoped that, somehow, she could give them enough information, so they would release her.  But she knew that was merely wishful thinking.
            She wanted to be a wife again.  In the beginning, Jack Bristow had been an assignment.  But she had slowly grown to like him, to love him.  Logically, she knew he would never, ever forgive her.  That she had hurt him to badly.  She knew that never again would he trust her.  But a tiny part of her still hoped.
            Irina had sought redemption.  She had tried to do the right thing.  IN the end, it had somehow come back to bite her in the ass.  Her suspicious nature turned her mind to Jack.  She knew he hated her, mistrusted her, and didn't want her near Sydney.  Had he done something?

/|\/|\/|\/|\/|\

"The battle over and the dust is clearing
Disciples of the Snow Dog sound the knell
Rejoicing echoes as the dawn is nearing
By-Tor in defeat returns to Hell…"
            RUSH - 'By-Tor and the Snow Dog'

            Jack Bristow stared into the mug of beer in his hand.  He had come to this out-of-the-way bar to get pleasantly drunk, to numb his feelings.  The feelings of guilt and a deep sadness that wouldn't go away.  This was how people became alcoholics.

            His daughter, wise beyond her years in so many ways, was still naïve.  She still believed that people would change.  He had to give her a little leeway, however.  She had not really experienced the extent to which Irina would go.
            Then again, neither had he.
            She had sobbed in his arms, apologizing over and over for doubting him, but that had implanted seeds of doubt in his own mind.   Had he not set those bombs…would Irina have done something to harm his daughter?  Or did she truly only have benevolent intentions?  Sydney was usually very good at determining a person's character, once she had all the facts.  He could see that she was beginning - no, did trust her mother.  But she was biased on this, right?  She wanted a mother.  If Sydney ever found out what he did…
            Then, of course came the different sort of guilt.  If he had been a little slower in getting the infra turned on, Sydney would have died.  But he was confident in that part.  What chilled him to the very marrow of his bones was when he saw the building explode.  He did not know what had happened - if his daughter had been to close, if the wind had blown open a door while she was next to it, if someone had killed her to get in…  He thought he had somehow murdered his daughter.  That was not a good feeling.

"The guns replace the plow
Facades are tarnished now
The principles have been betrayed
The dreams gone stale
but still let hope prevail
Hope that history's debt won't be repaid…"
            RUSH - 'Beneath, Between, Behind'

            To protect Sydney from her mother, he had to break her heart again.  He had made her feel betrayed by her mother yet again, although this time it was he who was doing the betraying.  But he would protect her from her mother, and from his dirty little secret.

/|\/|\/|\/|\/|\

"And the men who hold high places
Must be the ones who start
To mould a new reality
Closer to the heart…"
            RUSH - 'Closer to the Heart'

            "You shot the gun up through the ice?"
            Sydney nodded, snuggling into Vaughn's side.  "Uh-huh.  It was the only way I could think of to get back to the air.  I didn't want anything from that mouthpiece again.  It tasted like dead fish."
            He laughed at that, and the disgusted look on her face.  "How did you know Dixon wasn't up there and was going to shoot you because he thought you were one of the bad guys?"
            "I was more concerned about getting warm.  Dixon dragged me out, and now I'm okay."
            Vaughn brushed a feather-light kiss across her temple.  "I'm glad of that.  I wish I could thank Dixon for being there."
            "He knows that many people are grateful, many who can't thank him because they don't know what happened, but would be grateful if they did."
            They sat in silence for a minute.  "You know," Sydney finally said, "that's three times now that Sark has offered my a job.  Is there something he knows that I don't?"
            Vaughn laughed softly.  "Not that I know of.  Maybe he's sick of having ugly male cronies and wants a pretty female beauty around."
            Sydney smiled, her grin lighting up her face.  "He's a pretty-boy.  He can have any woman he wants."
            "Maybe he wants you.  I would," He whispered into her ear.
            Sydney smiled and blushed, both pleased and embarrassed.  "Whatever you say, Vaughn.  Anyways," she changed the subject, uncomfortable, "poor Will still has a couple more meeting to go to, you know?"  Sydney didn't see that pang of jealousy that flashed through Vaughn's eyes at the mention of Will.  "Well, there was this girl there who kept on bugging him for info on SD-6.  She said she was a conspiracy theorist with a web page.  Will stuck with his story, but…  He asked me if it was some sort of test.  I told him I didn't know."
            "It's not a test from the CIA that I know of," Vaughn told her, controlling his voice to keep the jealousy out of it.  "But I don't know about SD-6."
            "I pray, every night, that he's smart enough to keep his mouth shut, that everyone will just leave him alone.  I feel so guilty for bringing this on him."
            Vaughn assured her that it was not her fault, that it would have happened one way or another, even without her.  Inside, they both knew it was a lie.  But the words helped her guilty conscience.

"Can't we find
The minds that made us strong
Can't we learn
To feel what's right and wrong…"
            RUSH - "A Farewell to Kings"

*Fin*