Title: Then You Look at Me

Author: SydGillyKC

Summary: Syd POV during "The Reunion." Most what was in the episode, though I did fill in some of the blanks.

Author's Note: Okay, so out of the hundreds of stories I've written for various things, this is only the second first-person one I've ever done. It's also one of the only one-parters I've ever done. I should be working on "This Tear" right now, I know, but this just wouldn't leave me alone. I started writing and it all just sort of poured out. So I figured I may as well post it and get some feedback. Plus, those of you reading "This Tear," maybe it'll give you something to read while I finish up the next chapter (which I swear is really close to being done). The lyrics are from Celine Dion's "Then You Look At Me." Anyway, I hope you guys like it and please review because this is a pretty new thing for me. Thanks!

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"Yeah, but there's gotta be something that you had that you just loved and it just kills you that you don't have it anymore."

I see the look on Weiss's face at my sad smile. He immediately looks apologetic, but the truth is that I couldn't have said it better myself. Instead, I tell him about my first edition copy of Alice in Wonderland as he pours our final drinks. And at last the reason for this little get- together comes out. Of course I tell him I'll be fine tomorrow. I'm Sydney Bristow, remember? And I'm confident that on the outside, I will be fine. I know I'll be able to keep my emotions in check. I will not give them the satisfaction of seeing my tears. I have no doubt that when they leave the office together to go home and play the happy couple, my tears will come. But they will never see them.

It's only fitting that I wake up the next morning with a splitting headache. Normally this would make me regret the many tequila shots, but not today. I today, it completely matches my mood. It's much easier to focus on the physical pain than the emotional. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever really recover emotionally. Sometimes I think I've lost too much for that to be possible. I often feel like one of those coma victims you read about in the newspaper, who wake up years later to find the world completely changed. But they wake up to the smiling, waiting faces of their families gathered at their bedside. There was no one waiting for me when I awoke. Only pain waited for me.

Seeing Lauren and Vaughn standing together in the briefing room hits me like a ton of bricks and I force a smile to hide it. Having the knowledge of his wife was painful. Meeting her was worse. But seeing them together creates a whole new kind of pain. I try to block it out and promise myself to deal with it later, though I know that's a lie. I'm so grateful when Marshall comes up. I don't hear a word of his rambling, but focusing on him is much easier than focusing on Vaughn and Lauren. Of course the awkward moment quickly returns and stretches what seems like an eternity until Dixon finally walks in. He takes no notice of our awkward silence and immediately starts the meeting. I can literally feel the shift into professional mode setting in. I'm almost able to keep up the cool, detached facade. And then, suddenly, Lauren and I are yelling at each other across the meeting table. I know I'm being at least slightly unfair, that I'm making it personal, but I can't help it. It is personal. Everything about this is personal. My heart jumps when Vaughn yells out, stopping us, but drops when he agrees with Lauren. Why wouldn't he agree with his wife? His wife. That's still a term I have to get used to saying in reference to Vaughn.

I have to give Lauren credit when she starts the conversation on the plane. I nearly choke when she expresses that it's a difficult situation for all of us. I would go through a situation ten times worse than this, if that's even possible, if it meant I could have Vaughn back. She doesn't know the meaning of difficult. I do recognize her attempt, though, and part of me even appreciates it. I tell her I don't hate her and realize, perhaps for the first time, that it's true. It may make it easier to deal with my feelings if I could simply put it all on her, if I could blame her for my pain. But it wouldn't be fair. I can't blame her for falling in love with Vaughn and wanting to be with him. I once imaged myself marrying him. I know she did what any woman in her situation would've done. And though no one's said it out loud, I know that she had something to do with pulling Vaughn out of his despair before he went too far. Most of all, though, I realize that hating her won't mean getting Vaughn back.

The meeting with Sloane is awkward, but I can tell we're all working hard at keeping it all business. Sloane is not a stupid man, though, and I know he's well aware of the situation. He makes this painfully obvious when he addresses Vaughn and refers to our relationship. The anger in me is inches from boiling over now and I know it must show on my face, but Sloane chooses not to notice. And then he suddenly remarks that Vaughn must be relieved at my return. The anger remains, but is suddenly joined by fear. I'm suddenly terrified that he'll say he isn't. Why should he be? He had a happy, simple life for the first time. And then I came back and turned it upside down again. Everything is upside down now.

Vaughn manages to remain more professional than I have, though. He doesn't grant Sloane with any sort of answer, but I can still see the pain in his eyes. I remain a moment, hearing their footsteps echo as they leave together. The pain it causes only fuels my anger toward Sloane and I make sure to give him a pointed look before I rise and leave as well. Behind me, I can almost feel him smile.

As I change into my dress for the mission, I can't help but feel the urge to spend a little extra time making sure to look my best. It's something I used to do often when we went on missions together. Before, it was a promise. A promise of the future, a promise that I was his. A promise of so many things. Now, it's only a painful reminder. A reminder of what once was. A reminder of what could've been. A reminder of what now can never be. I step in front of the mirror to make sure I look the part. The image that stares back at me is familiar in so many ways. The expensive clothing, the complex hairstyle, the glamorous make-up, the look of anticipation for the upcoming mission. If I were to get rid of all of this, though, I would be staring at a complete stranger, at a mystery. The scar on my stomach, the pain in my eyes, the general lack of spirit I've felt since I woke up in that alley two weeks ago. On the outside, I'm the same Sydney Bristow that donned a blonde wig and a black dress to go to a Swedish nightclub with her partner and boyfriend to apprehend Sark. A mission that was only weeks ago, but years to everyone else. On the inside, I've lost everything that Sydney Bristow had. I'm a few familiar things away from losing myself completely.

As if to make matters worse, I seem to walk into Vaughn and Lauren caught up in their own little world as she buttons up his jacket. I can't help but remember when that wonderful chore was mine. It pains me to see that they're so caught up in each other, neither seems to notice I've even entered the room. The man who was once so attuned to me that he could feel me walk soaking wet into the ops center from across the room no longer senses my presence from a few feet away in a quiet room. I make sure to quickly announce that I'm ready to spare myself having to witness any more than I already have. They both look at me then, and I suddenly feel wildly self-conscious. I see something in Vaughn's eyes that reminds me a bit of the look I just saw in my own. It fades quickly, though, as he turns back to his wife. They whisper to each other quckly as I choose not to listen. And suddenly he kisses her. It feels like a punch in my gut, a knife to my heart. I avert my eyes, but not quickly enough. I know it's an image that will be forever painfully burned into my memory, just like the persistent memories of his lips on mine. For a second, I feel an immense anger toward Vaughn for making me see something like that so soon after I've come back to this world of nightmares. The anger fades quickly, though, when I realize that it would be just like Vaughn to think that I'm already over him, that my pain comes simply from suddenly being so alone. I don't think he ever really knew just how much I loved him. How much I still love him. The anger is gone. but the pain is still there. The pain is always there.

I'm relieved when Lauren leaves, but my relief is quickly forgotten when I look up at Vaughn. It's obviously hurting him to be back in this position like not a day has gone by. Maybe, for a second, he sees just a glimpse of my world, of what it's like to be me. He walks closer to me and I turn quickly. I feel his and hover above my lower back as we walk. I know it's silly, but I'm praying inside for his hand to finally make contact with my skin again. It's a feeling I've missed so much, one that is still so fresh in my memory. My heart drops when I hear his hand fall back to his side. There's a car waiting for us outside. The driver opens the door for us and Vaughn motions for me to get in first. I slide in and make sure to press myself as close as possible to the side of the car. He slides in next to me and looks over at me as the driver closes the door. I risk looking back at him. He looks away almost immediately and I bite my lip and turn to gaze out the window. There isn't a single word spoken on the ride there. I remember the times when we couldn't stop talking, when talking was so valuable to us because it was all we could have when SD-6 was still around. It suddenly doesn't matter that it's been two years less for me since that time than it has for him. Things have changed completely for the both of us. I'm extremely grateful for the darkness in the car that now hides the tears pooling in my eyes.

When we arrive, I refuse to look away from the window until I hear the driver open the door beside him. I watch him get out of the car before sliding to where he sat so I can follow. I expect the driver to help me out, but instead, Vaughn reaches his hand in. I look up at him, trying to hide my surprise, as I grasp his hand and allow him to help me out of the car. My hand lingers in his perhaps a moment longer than it should, but he doesn't seem to mind. When I finally do let go, he offers me his arm. I try to offer a small smile as I take it. He turns and thanks the driver before looking back at me. It's as if nothing has changed as he questions me with his eyes, asking me if I'm ready. I give him a slight nod. He nods back and together, we proceed toward the entrance.

We greet several people and I sarcastically comment on them thinking Sloane is an amazing man. Vaughn then tells me we've got a minute before the guards change. Needing something to do, I walk over to a waiter standing nearby. I smile at him and take two glasses from his tray. He comments on my dress and I smile and thank him. He walks away and I look back over at Vaughn.

* Laugh and cry, live and die *

* Life is a dream we are dreaming *

* Day by day, I find my way *

* Look for the song and the meaning *

I'm surprised to find him already looking at me. He's staring at me the same way he did just after he recovered from that virus, right after we'd hugged. The look is so familiar that it sends tingles throughout my body. I know that he was telling the truth when I went to see him in his classroom. He really did love me. I can see it as plainly now as I could two years ago- when he was mine. I smile, realizing for maybe the first time since I saw that ring on his finger that this is the same man who once taught me hockey, ate ice cream with me in Griffith Park, and brought me wine in the bathtub. I realize that we are inextricably linked through the history we share. So many things can change in two years, but that's one thing that will always stay the same.

* Then you look at me *

* And I always see *

* What I have been searching for *

* I'm lost as can be *

* Then you look at me *

* And I am not lost anymore *

And suddenly he smiles back at me. It's a small smile, but the first one I've seen since before this nightmare that isn't filled with sadness. I know he's thinking along the same lines as I am. Just like it once did, everything around us fades into the background and all I can see is his smiling face. And for one second, everything is okay again. For one tiny instant, I can forget that he now belongs to someone else. I can forget how incredibly lost I've been these last two weeks. I suddenly wish I could live in this moment forever. It's the closest to pain-free I've felt in so long. It's the closest I've come to forgetting. In that moment, we're still just Vaughn and Sydney. We're still partners. We're still us.

* People run, sun to sun *

* Caught in their lives ever flowing *

* Once begun, life goes till it's gone *

* We have to go where it's going *

I don't dare break eye contact as I walk back over to him, fearing that I'll break the connection. I reach him quickly and hand him his glass, still looking deeply into his eyes. We are content simply to look at each other for a long, beautiful moment I know I'll hold on to for a long time. His eyes quickly turn sad, though, and I know the moment has ended. He looks down and I copy the action. When we look back up, reality sets in. Things will never be the way they used to be. While I may have moments like these, he will always go home to her. While I may forever have a place in his heart, it's a heart that now belongs to her. It will never be mine again. I may have his past, his memories, but she has his future. She has him.

And still, I know I will find myself looking forward in the next few weeks to another moment like the one we just shared. I know I will end up living for any opportunity to escape the hell I'm in, to pretend that it was all a bad dream. Someday, I'll have to let go of the past, I realize this. Until then, I'll just hold on to the memory of the way he looked at me tonight. The love in his eyes, the love I know he saw in mine. And I will take comfort in knowing that a small part of him will always belong to me.

* Then you look at me *

* And I always see *

* What I have been searching for *

* I'm lost as can be *

* Then you look at me *

* And I am not lost anymore *

The End.

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