Five & Ten ~ Part 8

Tuesday June 24, 2014

We skipped out early to browse through the landmark Rialto Market and taste-test its gourmet offerings. My husband is quite a connoisseur when it comes to food. I think that's partly why he indulges my love for farmers markets.

We then move on to San Marco Piazza where Renaissance grandeur is on full display. It is also where one of the world's best gelato makers can be found. We are sitting down at the square after Michael got us our frozen treats.

"How did you have time to plan all these?"

"I'm an experienced agent, Ms. Bristow, and covert ops happen to be part of my job description."

"Is that what you do at work, SSO Vaughn?"

"Well, that's classified."

"At least tell me what we're going to do the rest of the day…"

"Wouldn't you want to know?" He scoffs and pinches my nose lightly as he extends his hand to pull me up, "C'mon baby…"

He leads us back to our well-appointed hotel room and suggests freshening up before our evening program.

My version typically involves a steamy shower to start and entwined bodies in tangled sheets to cap it all off.

We lay in comfortable silence, content with just the presence of each other.

"Hey." I turn from staring at the paintings hung on the ceiling to face him.

"Hey." He replies wearing the gratified grin I'm always secretly so proud of. Amidst all the allures of the world, he still cares for only one person.

"How come I never get enough of you?" I whisper.

"Well," his tone serious, "maybe it's time for me to confess." He looks sheepishly away from me as I raise an eyebrow, "I drugged your coffee the day you walked into the CIA."

"Vaughn!" I swat the extra pillow at him.

He blocks my attack and enfolds me into his embrace in one swift move. "And I'm not at all remorseful." He declares before kissing me sweetly.

"You should be," pausing to gaze into his eyes, "I seriously won't make it without you."

"What's the problem? I plan to be insufferably inseparable from you anyway." His lips turn up in amusement.

"Who knows what life will be like next time we come back! I remember going home to Weiss romancing my sister at the hospital after our last mission here – it was like yesterday. Nadia is gone now, and we hang out with Eric and Alyssa. Seems so normal and yet so surreal when I think about it."

Every so often, I'm still haunted by how fragile my reality can be.

"Do you think Eric feels the same way about Alyssa? And Will with Becca? Do couples have to be as intense as us to be happy? Sometimes I wonder… if I'm overly needy." I quip.

"Um," letting out a soft laugh, he looks back at me, "I think Weiss is as intense as he comes. Syd, I don't know exactly how it's like for Weiss or for Will…" He pulls me in tighter, "For me, when I say there is no moving on from you, I'm not being sentimental. I know it to be true based on experience – nobody else will ever mean what you mean to me.

I can't judge how intense each couple should be. How we feel about each other, how we see our family, is what makes us – us. How we are is who we are… I think." He pauses.

I've stopped trying to figure out how Michael can always make perfect sense of what seems like warp logic in my head. I just grin like a fool.

"And because I'm crazy about you, I'm going to give you these." He turns to grab his wallet from the nightstand beside him and fetches two long strips from it.

"Interpreti Veneziani for tonight…" I'd read rave reviews about their concert and thought it might be nice to go. Michael Vaughn, the mind reader!

"Your present number four. I'm not taking you dancing but you're gonna love it!" He rises from our bed, "We'll go for a nice dinner first, so let's get dressed."

I don't consider myself a classical music buff but live performances are always powerful, let alone the breathtaking venue of Chiesa San Vidal.

I still have fond memory of Dad sitting with me at the piano to help me practise. Unfortunately, my music lessons, as well as my time with my father, came to a halt when my mother was supposedly killed in a car accident. But Dad's love of the piano didn't. His grand piano was one of his most treasured possessions. We completely rearranged our living room and managed to move it into our apartment after he died. We now have a piano room in our new beach house and Isabelle has started taking lessons about a year ago. I swear, from time to time, I could hear Dad cheering her on when she plays.

"Thinking about your dad?" Vaughn asks quietly during our trek back to our hotel from the beautiful church where the talented string ensemble performed.

"How do you…" I respond wide-eyed.

"The same way you always know when I'm thinking about my dad."

"Yeah, I was thinking how much Dad would have enjoyed that performance. I would have loved going dancing with you but this, Vivaldi and the incredible acoustics of the church, was magical. You'll soon find out how appreciative I'm…" I smile suggestively at him.

.

Wednesday June 25, 2014

I wake up mildly begrudge the fact that our anniversary getaway is coming to an end. Maybe it's a good thing, if I care to estimate how much my husband has invested in pampering me.

Take for example the hotel he's chosen for us in Venice – Corte Di Gabriela is truly impressive. Unlike most other hotels here that ooze historic splendors, it is an elegant combination of contemporary design and classic Venetian styled furnishings. Each uniquely decorated room is enhanced by a discerning choice of fabrics, delicate lighting effects and refinement in every detail. If it isn't because of my unquenched desire to rejoin my children, I would have begged to stay longer in this intimate yet secluded haven.

"Hi." I turn and see Michael sitting across from our bed. He likes to watch me sleep. "Did I talk in my sleep again?"

"I don't think so." He softly laughs, "You look to be deep in thought, even though you're just rousing."

"I was thinking to myself how perfect this vacation has been. I say we do it more often!"

"Where do I sign up?" He walks over to give me my morning kiss.

"You've just sealed the deal." I mumble not wanting to let go of his lips.

Our bags are packed and I'm almost done getting ready when he walks into the bathroom.

"I saved the best for last… I hope." He looks at me in the mirror, then fishes a small velvet pouch from his pocket to dangle in front of me.

"I told you at the start of our trip you would get five presents if you were naughty. Ha… you were plenty of naughty the last few days." He puts the pouch in my hand, "You've earned it."

"In that case, I expect to be rewarded handsomely." I say while untying the drawstring.

Our room must have gone silent for moments as I'm completely taken aback by what I find inside.

A V-shape platinum pendant, with four precious stones set on the thicker side of the letter.

Topaz

Diamond

Peridot

Emerald

Birthstones. Of our family.

"Vaughn!" Is all I could mutter.

He reaches to unclamp the Tiffany necklace I'm wearing, the one he gifted me when I met him at the train station after my Cuba mission. "May I do the honor?"

He takes the necklace off, carefully thread it through the V pendant, and gently put it back around my neck. "I had it custom made. V for Vaughn, obviously. It's also the Roman numeral five – for our fifth anniversary." He twists me around to face him. "I want it to be a reminder of my commitment to you that we'll always stay together as a family – nothing is more important to me than that."

I nod my head, fighting the tears welled in my eyes, and leap enthusiastically into his embrace.

Tussling his hair on the back, I pull him down for a long, deep kiss.

"You did save the best for last… I'm so glad I didn't behave." And I kiss him again.

I love this man.

Whether we've been married five or ten years really does not matter.

What matters is how thankful I'm for every minute I got and for every minute I will get from here and on.

.


AN: Here you have it - Sydney & Vaughn's anniversary getaway. i hope you've enjoyed the journey as much as I've loved writing it! Sound off and let me know if you'd like more of present day SV.

I haven't quite decided if I'd continue with the next five days of their trip in France. For now, i think I'll take a break from this story to focus on my other WIP fics.