Title: The Sweetness

Author: Karen T (poohmusings@yahoo.com)

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimers: Oh, how cool would it be if they actually did belong to me? But, alas, they do not.

Classification: Fluff (no doubt about it *g*) and angst ('cause this is from me). And a response to CM's December challenge.

Spoilers: None

Archive: CM, of course. All others, please ask first.

Feedback: Always appreciated!

Notes: I began writing this with the full intention of making it an S/V fluff fic in honor of Marifel's b-day. But I guess S/V weren't feeling particularly fluffy at the time because this popped out instead. Nonetheless, happy (hey, I'm only 22 days late!) birthday, Marifel! Hope you like this. And thanks to Diana for the killer beta.

His question makes her want to laugh. And then cry.

***

She yearns to mention

- the brilliant stars that speckled the night sky as she followed his finger with her eyes and strained to see the figure he insisted was right before her.

- the curve of his lips as he laughed when he saw her struggling to make sense of the constellations that fell into place for him, but remained scrambled for her.

- the wisp of condensation that escaped through his mouth as he blew warm air onto his hands and then wrapped them around hers, all the while urging her not to give up.

- the tenderness of his fingertips against her cold cheek as his eyes sparkled like the stars and he bent down to kiss her for the first time.

***

She yearns to mention

- the gears he ground mercilessly on their way up to Mammoth, her giddy laughter forming the soundtrack for their impromptu road trip.

- the snow flurries that clumped together and slammed against the windshield as he swore and then anxiously tried to downshift straight from fourth to second (yet again) while she leaned over the gearshift to nuzzle his cheek and tell him everything would be all right.

- the whoop he let out when they arrived at the lodge and the unabashed joy that shook his body as he ran over to her side of the car, flung open the door, and linked his fingers through hers.

- the blush that flooded his face when the grandfatherly gentleman behind the front desk pointed to the mistletoe they were standing underneath and encouraged the crowd that had formed in the lobby to cheer them on until he wrapped an arm around her waist, pulled her close, and kissed her so fiercely that she felt like she was melting in his arms.

***

She yearns to mention

- the flicker of the fire's flames dancing in the golden hues of his eyes as he poured her another glass of red wine and said, "I think I'd really like to marry you someday."

- the tumble of curls that fell upon his forehead as he cocked his head to one side and smiled, his face an open book of unfettered desire.

- the long shadows his eyelashes cast down his face when he blinked and then, to her utter surprise, nailed her left forearm with a wadded up ball of green tissue paper and red ribbon.

- the gleeful cries they both shrieked as they chased each other around the room, tossing discarded pieces of wrapping paper at one another, before he tackled her, pinned her hands down on the floor above her head, and felt her push her hips up to meet him as he lowered his mouth onto the warmth of her lips and tongue.

***

"Sydney? You here?"

She blinks and takes a second to regain her bearings. Her surprise at seeing the man in front of her does not escape the man's detection.

Vaughn reaches out and gently taps her shoulder, his eyes – different eyes – rimmed with concern. "You okay?"

"Yeah, I'm…I'm fine," she manages to croak as her gaze follows the movement of his hand from her shoulder to the right side of his hair – different hair – which he fluffs with nervous energy. "Sorry," she continues, her voice slowly growing stronger. "Guess my attention faltered there. Losing precious shopping time to deal with that thing in Xi'an last week kind of messed up my holiday plans. Now I'm totally behind schedule. But you were asking?"

"Oh, just whether you have any fond Christmas memories." Still plagued by a sense of uneasiness, he now rubs his lips – different lips – together.

"Memories?" …hands in hair…hands on skin…lips on lips… "No." Her lie is so empathic that she almost believes it herself. "My dad was rarely home for Christmas when I was growing up and Danny always seemed to be on call at the hospital, so no, no happy Christmas memories for me." …tongues in mouths…lips on skin…skin on skin…

"Oh. Well…if you…" he stammers, wishing he'd never attempted to make their conversation more personal. But he also finds he's unable to forget how dark and moist her eyes had grown when he'd first asked his question. "If—"

"Let me know what Analysis learns from those scrolls, okay?" They're both aware that this is Sydney's way of letting him off the hook from having to attempt to brighten her sad past.

"Yeah, definitely."

She smiles and then turns to leave without waiting for Vaughn to return the smile. The soles of her canvas sneakers are practically silent against the concrete pavement as she makes her way to her car. She doesn't look back. She doesn't even think to look back because there are too many words crowding her mind and teetering on the tip of her tongue.

But she knows she won't say those words, or any of the others.

The ache that's bursting up from her chest and making it difficult for her to breathe is saying more than enough. More than enough for her, but not nearly enough for Danny.

Still, she desperately yearns to mention

- the heat of his tongue etching a path down her neck.

- the intensity with which his hands laid claim to her body.

- the feverish pitch of his moan as he came moments after she had.

- the lingering sweet taste of his lips as he'd lay asleep beside her and she'd whispered, "I think I'd really like to marry you, too, Danny. I think I'd like that a lot."

— the end —