Ok, so I entered this for the December Challenge on SD-1. I know it's late for a Christmas fic but it's a little bit of fluffy fun...enjoy!
Just You And Me
The inner city mall was packed full with last minute Christmas shoppers, the thousands of people were pushing past each other mindlessly; desperately trying to find presents for relatives quickly so they could return home to their families. The search to find the perfect present for Uncle Whathisname and Aunt Thingiemabob had long gone out of the window and the shoppers threw 2-for-1 chocolates in their baskets with hapless abandon. At six O' clock on Christmas Eve many were on the verge of giving up and going home, sick of the busy crowds.
Sydney liked the crowds though - she sat on a bench in the middle of the mall in front of the gigantic, sparkling Christmas tree and watched the people go by. Children with their parents, homeless people looking for help, old women buying food for the weekend, teenagers franticly shopping for their boyfriends or girlfriends, middle aged men looking for a gift for their wife…it seemed like everyone was here. She didn't know exactly why she had chosen this place, but it was better than sitting in the house alone.
Sydney's mother had died when she was a child, her father never came home for the holidays, and she had no siblings. No family. She had just finished college and although she had made a couple of friends, they had all moved away from the busy streets of Los Angeles to pursue careers in other areas. Sydney had managed to get a temporary job at a local library, but the only people she knew there were the spotty teenager that delivered the post and Mrs.Peterson, the head librarian, and they didn't get on too well to say the least. No friends. And as for a love life…Sydney hadn't had a boyfriend since college and, in her opinion, men were all complete jerks anyway. Ever since she was a child she believed that you would find a man, fall in love, get married and have your fairytale ending…but life, evidently, doesn't turn out like that.
She was alone.
But used to it.
Sydney let out a sigh as she got up and wandered to the shops, deciding to waste no more time thinking about her past. She might as well buy herself a Christmas present she thought, dully, and she walked past several shops before finally stopping in front of one, staring up at the sign over the window.
"Elf Shoes! What the…?"
"Happy holidays madam!" A rather enthusiastic man on roller blades interrupted. "May I interest you in…"
"No. No thank you." She said back to the man without even looking what he was trying to sell; her attention was completely focused on the shop before her.
"Well, you should at least take a leaflet! Here!" He replied, practically forcing the brightly coloured flyer into her hand. And with that he skated away to annoy another shopper.
however, had not moved her gaze - the small shop somehow entrancing
her. It was green – actually that was a huge understatement, she'd
never seen anything more green than this little shop was. A
huge sign hung over the doorway; it had an olive background with a dark
green rounded font over it spelling out the words 'Elf Shoes'.
What a strange name thought Sydney.
Her eyes moved to the window, and it seemed that the shop only sold a few things. A stuffed reindeer stood out from the other miscellaneous objects, maybe because it was the only thing that wasn't green.
Sydney didn't know why she was so attracted to this shop, it seemed deserted and tacky, to say the least, but there was something about it that was begging her to go in.
She looked down into her left hand where the man had put the leaflet and uncrumpled it for the first time.
See a real reindeer! Only at Santa's grotto! Under 5s free, reindeer food and other souvenirs are on sale at remarkably low prices!
She didn't see the relevance - why would she want to buy reindeer food or even see a reindeer for that matter? Sydney looked around the mall trying to locate the man but he was nowhere to been seen. Maybe he was just dishing them out to everyone, whether they were parents, reindeer keepers, or otherwise. She also didn't know why she was thinking about this so much.
Sydney rolled her eyes at herself and put the flyer in the bin outside 'Elf Shoes' before cautiously entering the shop. She was amazed at what she saw; dusty bookshelves surrounded her, packed full old tomes that looked like they hadn't been moved in decades. There were various tables in the corners with similar items to those in the window on them. In the centre of the room was a small circular stand, Sydney almost couldn't believe what was on it and let out a small laugh when she read the sign above them. 'Elf Shoes' actually sold elf shoes. On the table there were minute, green, pointed shoes. Sydney took a step closer and examined the nearest pair. They were perfect, no doubt they were handmade, they had little gems and sequins delicately sewed into the material.
"Beautiful…" she whispered.
"Yes, they are, aren't they?"
She jumped at the sound of the voice, previously believing that she was alone in the shop. She looked up to find an elderly lady behind the counter.
Sydney stumbled with her words "Yeah, they're…um…really unique. Did you make them?"
"No, my dear, my sister did. She's dead now." Her reply was in a monotone.
An awkward silence fell upon them.
"I'm…I'm sorry to hear of your loss."
The old lady smiled slightly. "It's alright my dear, she's gone to a better place."
Sydney simply nodded, not wanting to delve into what was obviously a sensitive subject for the lady. She wandered over to the window and looked down at the reindeer that she had seen from outside.
It was alone in the shop, she felt it was rather oddly placed, and yet the small stuffed toy held some beauty about it. She studied it for a few moments, still not entirely sure why she found it so fascinating, until she realised she wasn't the only one looking at it.
Sydney slowly raised her head to find a young man the other side of the window, he looked like he was in his early twenties and had short, sandy hair; his eyes were titled downwards, still captivated with the toy. She let out a small gasp of surprise when he suddenly lifted his head and their eyes connected. Neither knew how long they stood there just gazing at each other and they didn't care. His piercing green eyes mesmerized her and when the mystery man gave her a small smile she couldn't help but gently smile back.
"So, you see anything you like?"
Sydney gave a small jump, having completely forgotten about the lady in her shop prior to the encounter. She quietly cleared her throat and slowly tore her eyes away from the handsome man to face the woman. "Yes….yes actually, is that toy reindeer on sale?"
"Yes. $5 if you would like it." The shopkeeper smiled as she picked it up.
Just then the man walked through the door, a cute lopsided grin on his lips. "I'll buy it for the lady…if you don't mind, that is?" He added, turning to Sydney.
After a few moments, Sydney realised that she'd been standing there smiling stupidly at him and hadn't said anything. Great move Syd, really inspiring she thought to herself Now think of something impressive to say
"Erm…not at all, that would be very…nice of you." She blushed insanely at her lame answer and tried to hide it from the handsome man.
He just smiled at Sydney and handed his money to the lady behind the counter.
Sydney's thoughts interrupted her momentary bewilderment,What am I doing? He's a complete stranger…a rather cute stranger and, after all, nothing has to happen Her mind argued back. She let her eyes drift over to him again and carefully watched his every move.
He doesn't look evil…
And look at those muscles; I wonder if he works out…
Ok, focus Sydney, are you sure you want to do this?
You know what.
Oh my God, I swear I'm going schizo!
And dontcha just know it?
Whatever…I'm going for it.
"Here you go," the man said, placing the toy in her palm with a huge grin on his face; one she knew she was returning.
"Thank you so much, you didn't have to." She replied sweetly
"I know. But I wanted to," he stepped a bit closer to her. "My name is Michael Vaughn."
She smiled beautifully; starting to feel the heat between them "My name is Sydney Bristow."
"That's a beautiful name." Michael murmured and gave her that heart warming lopsided smile once more.
"Thank you." She felt her cheeks get even redder. I must look like a radish with sunburn. Fantastic.
He gave a small chuckle and a moment of silence passed between them. "So…do you have anything planned tonight apart from walking around the mall alone? Or do you have time for a coffee?" He asked.
"Well, um, I…coffee would be great, thanks." Sydney spluttered out,
The shopkeeper watched as the young couple stood in the middle of her shop grinning ridiculously at each other. Young love. she thought rolling her eyes before moving to the room at the back of the shop once more.
Several minutes later Sydney and Vaughn were seated at the nearest coffee shop, each sipping their own cups of coffee; it was amazing how much more comfortable they looked with each other after just five minutes together.
"You didn't have to buy the coffee Sydney." Michael said with a small smile on his lips.
"That's ok, you bought the reindeer!"
"True, true…so why were you in that shop anyway?" He asked.
"Oh, it's stupid really." Sydney smiled shyly, taking another sip of coffee and trying to avoid his gaze.
"What? Come on Syd, tell me?" He gently prodded.
She took note that he was already using her nickname before trying to construct an answer. "I…don't know. I just had the feeling that I had to go in…like, I dunno, it seemed that it was important."
Vaughn nodded but still looked mildly confused and so she tried to explain herself. "I was bored at home so I decided I would go out. I ended up here, I took a walk around and…the shop caught my eye I guess. While I was outside a man came up to me and gave me a leaflet about seeing Santa's reindeer." She laughed at the ridiculousness of it all.
"Wait a minute…not that idiot on skates handing out flyers about reindeer food and stuff?"
"Oh my God, yes!" Sydney exclaimed.
They both sat there laughing at the coincidence.
"Well, that's some serendipity." Vaughn stated and took a sip of his coffee. "I guess, after you had that leaflet, you felt that you just had to but that toy reindeer?" He asked pointing to her bag.
"How did you know that?" Sydney asked.
"Because the exact same thing happened to me." His smile grew. "I dropped by at the mall to get a Christmas gift for my mother because the delivery man didn't turn up this morning with her original present." He rolled his eyes. "Always the case, isn't it?" She chuckled while he paused to drink from his cup. "Anyway, when I was looking around the shops I bumped into that man and he told me some rubbish about Santa's reindeers. I wasn't really listening because I was far to preoccupied watching a beautiful young lady enter the shop opposite." Michael gave her a meaningful look and a shy smile and she instantly knew he was talking about her. "I decided to follow her and I ended up just staring at that little reindeer…and well, you know what happened from then on."
"It's rather strange, isn't it? That we just happened to meet tonight." Sydney pondered.
"Yeah, I guess…maybe it was meant to be." He said with a wink.
She laughed a bit; Sydney hadn't felt this much at home for a long time. "Maybe." She said and drank some more coffee. "Do you believe in fate?"
"Fate? I dunno, sometimes it seems that some things are so unlikely that it has to be more than chance."
"Yeah, I guess so." Sydney smiled, "You know, this reminds me of that film."
"What film? Serendipity?"
"Yeah…have you seen it?" She asked.
"Yep, my friend has it on DVD, he's obsessed with that film." He let out a sigh as he thought of the number of times that Eric made him watch it.
"Well it's a good film." Sydney argued.
"I'm not denying that, just saying that after the twentieth time he forced me to watch it, it got slightly less interesting."
She giggled at his comment and finished her coffee. "I only saw it once at the cinema, I don't really remember much of it"
"Really? You'll have to see it again sometime." His grin grew even wider "Maybe with me." He added.
Sydney blushed under his intense gaze and returned his smile "Yeah, I'd like that."
He finished off his coffee and smiled at her. "You finished?"
"Yes, thank you."
"Ok then, it's almost seven O'clock…do you mind helping me find my mother a present quickly before the shops close?"
"Not at all, I'd love to."
She didn't think her smile could get any wider until Vaughn got up and took her hand in his, but somehow it did. They walked away from the shop and back into the centre of the mall, their hands still joined.
"So, what did you have in mind?" Sydney asked.
"Huh?" He had fallen into a daze and Sydney's question served to snap him out of it.
"For the present?"
"Oh um…I don't know." He paused for a moment, then, "you know, you have the most adorable dimples when you smile."
"You really should stop making me blush, people will start to think that I've turned into a tomato."
He laughed openly at her comment. "Well, what if I enjoy complimenting you?"
"In which case…I guess I'll be a tomato forever. Well that's just spiffy." She said with a hint of sarcasm.
"It could be worse…I mean, at least tomatoes are nice. You could be a brussel sprout or something."
Sydney feigned shock. "Michael Vaughn, are you discriminating sprouts?"
"Brussel sprouts? I have nothing against sprouts! I'm just saying I prefer tomatoes as a vegetable."
"A tomato is a fruit." She said nonchalantly.
"I knew that! I was just...uh...testing you!"
She raised her eyebrow. "Yeah, yeah, whatever you say Mike."
"Look over there!" Vaughn said, pointing to a small toy store on the right, hoping to distract her.
"You really think you're going to find a present for your mother in there?" Sydney asked as they walked over. "Or were you trying to avoid the subject because you have a secret phobia of sprouts…either that or you really are against the vegetable of Christmas."
"You're not going to let this go are you?"
"Nope." She gave him a dimpled grin.
Vaughn let out a happy sigh as they looked in the window of toys. "Look, Syd, there's a reindeer." He pointed to a small, stuffed teddy.
"Aw yeah, cute."
They looked at it for a moment before he spoke again, "Ok, I have a joke for you. What do you call Bob the Builder after he's retired?"
"Do I want to know?" Sydney asked, rolling her eyes.
She burst into laughter. "You realise that has to be the worst joke in history, right? And here I was beginning to believe that you were funny."
"I would like to say in my defence that that was my friend's joke. Not mine."
"You know, I would love to believe that, but somehow I just don't." Sydney teased.
"Now that's just harsh." Vaughn kidded back.
Sydney couldn't believe how much fun she was having just being with Michael; this had to be her happiest Christmas Eve in a long time. They spent a while shopping and ended up buying Vaughn's mother a beautiful necklace which Sydney herself picked out.
It was almost Eight O'clock in the evening, and most of the shops were closed, before Sydney and Vaughn collapsed on the bench in front of the Christmas tree, ironically where Sydney had sat, alone, only a few hours ago.
"I'm so glad I finally found something! Thanks to you of course." He smiled over at the beautiful girl beside him.
"I was glad to help." She replied looking into his magical green eyes, finding that she had already fallen in love with them.
"Listen Syd, I had a great time tonight..."
"…and I would really like it if we could see each other again sometime."
"I'd like that too." She said and gave him the most adorable smile.
"Ok…well I'd better get going." Vaughn said as he slowly got up from the bench.
Sydney joined him standing in front of the huge Christmas tree; they were mere inches apart. She could feel the heat between them and when he stepped even closer to her she couldn't help but stare into his beautiful green eyes and she found herself leaning nearer still to him. Vaughn closed his eyes, as did she, and when their lips finally met she knew…
It had to be fate.
I love reviews! (hint, hint) Hope you liked it.