Title: Raw Precision
Author: UConnFan (Michele)
E-Mail: LoveUConnBasketball@yahoo.com
Story Summary: Post "The Telling"; be warned, it picks up immediately where ep leaves off.
"No," she shook her head, her eyes scanning the room for something - *anything*. Was this his idea of a sick joke? "Santa Barbara?" she pleaded.

The moisture continued to pool in his eyes as his head continued to slightly shake, "We never made it."

Her eyes shut before she shot back to the offensive object on his left hand. A spark of anger shot through her. Barely two years and he'd certainly moved on fast enough. It'd been over two years after Danny's death - at least in her memory - and she still felt stings of guilt over his absence. At least she'd known he was dead. Vaughn hadn't known; officially she was just missing. "You certainly moved on fast enough," she snapped and wiped away her eyes.

"Syd," he sighed, "it's not how it looks -"

"It looks like a wedding band," she chuckled as her tears again appeared. "I guess what we had wasn't all that important."

"No, Syd -"

"Please," she stopped him. "My father? My mother? Sloane?"

He looked back at his hands and then shuffled them into his pockets. When they reappeared she noticed that they were naked, as though slipping the gold into his pocket would erase it from her memory. Perhaps they'd never verbalized it, but this was the man she'd been banking on forever with. Now he'd banked on someone else. The anger only brewed deeper. It certainly wasn't her fault she'd been gone for almost two years. Two years wasn't that long anyway, her mind screamed, but he'd moved on and found something better.

"I'm not sure you're ready for this Syd."

"Not ready?" she laughed. "I'm still trying to understand how Will *isn't* dead and how Francie could have been a double! I'm still trying to come to terms with the fact that our first, most intimate moment was caught on tape by some sociopath *posing* as my best friend". She angrily wiped away the tears that had disobeyed her fury and fallen to her cheeks. "You have no right to assume how I feel or what I am or am not ready to hear."

"Whether you want to hear this or not, time hasn't stopped what I feel for you Syd. I came here tonight, didn't I?"
"Yeah," she said as she shook her head with a chuckle that felt bitter to his ears, "you got stuck as my contact. Again. You must really hate me by now."

Solemnly he shook his head, "I could never hate you."

"Well you obviously didn't love me," she flippantly remarked.

"Damn it Syd, it's been -"

"Nearly two years, I heard you the first time," she snapped.

"Maybe I have the advantage here because I remember what happened, but don't you dare discredit how much this hurts me too," he warned her. "My god Syd," he wiped his hand over his face, a thin band of pale skin was visible on his left hand from where he had removed his wedding band. "It's been so long since I could just look up and see you enter a room…"

"Have you buried me?"

"No," he shook his head. "Your Father and I refused to until we had a body. We still thought you were gone. Will and Dixon accused us of being in denial…they were probably right."

"How is Will even alive? I was sure he was dead. And you said you came back. What did you come back from? What's going on? You're scaring me."

"I . . . We were supposed to go on vacation . . . " he wiped his face again and pinched the bridge of his nose, making a conscience effort to keep his left hand from sight. "The house was a mess Syd . . . They were able to save Will, but Francie was long gone. And so were you. We thought they'd kidnapped you . . . We waited for a letter, a threat, ransom, whatever. Ever since that night . . . It was the worst night of my life. "

"Look at me damn it," she hissed as his green eyes finally met hers. For the first time since she'd known him, she couldn't read those green orbs. That was far more terrifying than anything else he'd told her in the life-altering moments since he'd entered. "Who did this to me?"

"You don't think if I'd known I would have found you?"

"I don't know," she sincerely sighed as she shook her head. One of the last thoughts she'd had was that they were going to go on what would be the first of a lifetime of vacations. That was now obviously a bust. Along with just about everything else she'd finally accepted in her life. "My father."

"Jack's surviving," he shrugged. "I don't expect you to believe this right now, but your… disappearance was the hardest thing either one of us has ever gone though," he conceded as he made a subtle adjustment to remove his gaze from her eyes to a spot on her forehead.

"Why did they send you and not him?"

His chuckle was forced, bitter and stiff to her tired ears. "When you . . . disappeared, the CIA gave me bereavement time. Everyone kept saying they were sorry, like I'd lost my wife instead of my former agent. Which at the time seemed more appropriate," he trailed off with a further inspection of the floor. "They asked me to come back … Dixon… Will… Kendall… Devlin. When your father asked, I couldn't say no."

"This is a nightmare," she muttered, resting her head in her hands. Even with her eyes closed there was no sanctuary, just the blank look Vaughn gave her when she hugged him and the unease at which he seemed to slip from her arms. What she wanted was to go home, back before either of her best friends were doubles or her former handler-then boyfriend was married to someone else. That home no longer existed. Briefly she pondered whether she was left to the same fate as her Mother, a nomad cursed forever by Rambaldi, perhaps losing everyone she loved for reasons beyond her control. "So what now?" she looked up, this time she was the one who chose not to meet his eyes. "Witness Protection?" she suggested. With all she had to deal with, the program wasn't her worse option.

"No," he shook his head. He pushed to his feet and paced the small area behind his chair. "I have orders to bring you back to L.A. I assume your Father will want to see you, and I know Kendall will want have you undergo an extensive debrief. Therapy to bring back your memories, find out where you've been."

"Where am I going to stay?" she pushed hair out of her face and looked at her expectantly.

"For the time being you'll be in protective custody, until the NSA, CIA and FBI are satisfied with their investigation."

"They think I'm a traitor."

"No one's making any accusations Sydney, but we are interested in knowing where you've been and what information you've acquired since you disappear."

"You don't think I'm a traitor, do you?"

"No," he wiped the bottom of his nose, "I never considered it an option."

This time when she stood she noticed how he took a slight step back from her, burning her soul. "You should put your wedding ring back on," she quietly instructed. "I don't think your wife would appreciate it. As he rolled it up his finger he sighed her name. "No," she stopped. "I don't want to know right now."

"It's not Alice," he softly offered, as though that would cure all her aches and pains.

"Please," she pleaded. The knife twisted in his heart as he watched the tears once again reappear in her soft brown eyes. "I have so many questions… I'm really tired right now," she explained. "Please. I'd like to go back to Los Angeles."

"Sure," he sighed. Silently he followed her out of the room, cautious not to touch her as he led her to the awaiting car.

TBC (maybe? you decide)

AN: Am I the first? (please?!). I don't know, it's 1:37 as I edit this and the ep ended at 11 . . With the 1/2hr I spent with my Mom getting her ready for bed & the other 1/2hr I spent SCREAMING at my TV, I think I'm doing okay . . . . Does this suck? Not a clue what I'm doing or where this is going. Don't count out The Lightkeeper or Trying Normal (although it's more like trying depression after last night) but I'm going to need to find all my good ol' post-Super Bowl tapes to watch . . . I'm so pissed at Vaughn . . . . Poor Syd . . . Anyway, on with the show.
Oh, yeah, I wrote this RIGHT after the ep, so if it's disjointed (or all-around horrible), let me know. Should I go on? Ugh, Reviews, PLEASE!

Yeah - Yankees lost two in a row BUT I'm the air hockey champion of my half sister's birthday party (I whipped everybody's butt - not bad for a 4'7" above the knee amputee!!)
So is this angsty enough? because *I* was in tears at the end . . . . Sorry this is so short. Once again, it was between 11-1:30 that I wrote this.