Author's Notes: So, this is a little piece about what life might have been like if Sydney hadn't joined the CIA—because you've never seen one of these before. :-) Expect very sporadic updates.
All in the Timing
Who makes me laugh.
"No. Danny, absolutely not."
"What? Syd, why not? You love meatloaf!"
"Yes, I do; but not on Thanksgiving! You can't eat meatloaf on Thanksgiving, that's like … giving coal on Christmas!" Danny's mouth opens into a little 'o' before widening into a smile. He kisses her on the cheek; she swats his lips away. "Nuh-uh, buddy, we've talked about this. Not until you shave."
He smirks, rubbing his cheek against her hand. She pulls away, laughing delightedly; she lets him tug her into a hug and press little kisses onto her mouth. "My mother says that I look distinguished in a beard," he tells her haughtily.
"Your mother is blind in one eye," she returns, extricating herself from his grip. "Now, seriously. Go get the cereal. I'm buying the turkey. A big one."
He looks amused. "How big?"
"Big enough to dominate whatever Francie cooks up. I'm not letting her out-turkey me again this year."
A deep chuckle tumbles out of his throat. "Yes, well, last Thanksgiving was pretty embarrassing. I don't think that the girls will ever be the same."
Sydney makes a face, giving him a gentle shove. "Just go, will you? Meet me at the checkout." She smiles as he moves away, her eyes softening at the corners. Sometimes he looks just a little like her father, when he does that; it used to bother her, but now she's sort of fond of the idea – she likes to think that Danny acts the way her father did around her mother. She has to believe that Jack Bristow was a normal, functioning human being once.
She walks with determination to the meat counter. It's high time that she shows Francie what's what when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner; after having the smaller turkey for six years in a row, she needs to step it up. Sydney's always been highly competitive, and this is no different. She glares down at the different meats, eyes roving over the uncooked meat.
"Too small," she declares after reaching the end. "Henry, do you have anything bigger? Anything at all?"
The young man behind the counter grins up at her, wiping a hand on his smock. "Sorry, Sydney. The biggest one is being held for a customer already."
Her eyebrows shoot upwards. "Francie?" She asks miserably. "She got here first again, didn't she?"
"Just by a few hours."
"This will be the seventh year that she beats me, Henry! The seventh! It's a total disgrace to my name."
She feels a soft tap on her shoulder. As she turns, her jaw drops to the floor and she pins her hands to her cheeks. "Oh, my God!" She shrieks. "That's – that's the biggest turkey I've ever seen!"
The man holding the meat in question grins a little. She feels her chest constrict oddly and she takes a closer look at him; he's handsome, there's no denying that. But there is something else. Something that makes her ears perk as he laughs and says, "Thanks. I was actually wondering if you wanted it. I don't really need such a big one…and anyway, it sounds like you're pretty desperate. Seven years?"
She tries to frown but can't fight the smile that lights up her features. "You'd really be willing to sell it to me?" She asks, breathless. "You don't know what this means – "
"I won't sell it," he interrupts. "I was thinking more along the lines of giving it to you."
She pauses. "What? Oh, no, don't be silly. Whatever you've paid for it – "
"Look, ma'am, I really don't want this turkey. I only bought it because my best friend, well, he really wanted a large turkey and I thought that if I brought him this, he'd stop asking. But of course now I feel guilty, what with this meanly humungous turkey that will take days to cook, and I just want to be rid of it before he sees it – or me – and I lose my life."
Sydney smiles again, a little giggle escaping her mouth. "Well…if it will save your life," she says, pretending to deliberate. "I suppose I might be able to help you out."
"My guardian angel," he sighs in relief.
"I was about to say the same thing," she tells him. She holds out her arms and he begins to unload the massive package. Her hands brush his fingertips and a jolt surges up her arm. She jumps a little, surprised. He doesn't look at her, and she knows somehow that he felt it too.
This is ridiculous, Sydney, she tells herself, and then thinks, Where is Danny? If Danny were here this wouldn't be happening.
He extricates himself from the meat. The full weight is suddenly in her arms and she hefts it carefully just as her cell phone rings. "Damnit!" She swears, looking longingly at her purse. She balances the turkey in her left hand, reaching slowly with her right to grab at the machine. Will is sprawled lazily across the screen. "Will?" She asks, "Hello?"
She tries to walk towards her cart and suddenly she is falling, the turkey rolling into the air and her arms flailing outward. She lands with a thud on the tiled floor; she wonders if her turkey has retained as much damage as her ankle, which numbs and burns alternately.
She lifts her head from its position on her arm and realizes with horror that her turkey has landed on top of its previous owner and knocked him to the floor. "Oh, my God! I am so sorry!" She scrambles to her feet, ignoring the angry shouts of her ankle, and hobbles over to him. "Are you all right?"
For a moment, he doesn't answer. She can't see his face, but suddenly she can sense him smile. Sure enough, his stomach soon begins to vibrate and she hears the low laughter. She thinks that it's an oddly intimate laugh; an ounce of pleasure blossoms in her stomach. She wants to laugh with him. "That turkey is out for blood," she teases, hefting the thing off of his face.
"I guess it's angry that I gave it away," he returns easily, a wide grin across his cheeks. "Or there's always the other option."
She cocks her head curiously, dumping her prize into her cart and gently wheeling her ankle around its axis. "And what's that?"
"The turkey doesn't want to go home with you. It's frightened of your friend's larger, meaner turkey."
Sydney giggles, adjusting her purse on her shoulder. "I'll bet that's it," she agrees, and winces as she feels a pinch. The man's face falls and instantly he's on his knees in front of her.
"Did you twist it?" He asks, his tone suddenly business-like.
She arches an eyebrow. "A little, but I'm fine."
He shakes his head, a small smile on his lips. "How about you let me decide that?" He asks. "I'm sort of a doctor."
"Sort of?" She asks. "That's comforting."
He ignores her, instead pressing his fingers gently to her skin. It hurts; she avoids wincing because the pressure of his skin on hers is oddly exciting and makes her short of breath. She stays frozen for a minute or two before he declares, "Well, I think you'll live, Miss…?"
"Bristow," she supplies, and then instantly wonders why she didn't give her married name. "Sydney."
"Sydney Bristow," he says, and the name rolls off his tongue with an ease that surprises her. "Well, it was nice to meet you. I hope you enjoy your turkey … and good luck. Oh – and put ice on your ankle, or it'll be the size of your head by tomorrow morning."
She smiles at him, and he smiles back, and she has the weirdest sense of déjà vu. "Sure," she says dazedly, "Thanks."
He turns, and makes it halfway down the isle before she calls out, "Wait! What's your name, anyway?"
He stops, and turns to face her. For a second, when he looks at her, she can't breathe; the pain in her ankle disappears; she can't think or move or speak; Sydney wants to simply stand there, in the grocery store, forever, with his eyes on hers so that she feels like she's the most radiant, important thing that's ever crossed his path.
Stop it, she orders mentally, shaking her head to free the sensation. Stop it right now. She reaches into her purse, fingering her cell phone. Think about Danny.
"Vaughn," he answers with a cheeky little smile that almost makes her heart stop. "Michael Vaughn."