Author's Notes: Ummmm…

All in the Timing

for my bio grade

which went down a full 5 points.

Chapter Four: When the Turkey became the Affair

Danny doesn't get home that night, and in a sick way she is grateful. She slinks back into her own house, avoiding eye contact with the picture-lined walls and refrigerator smothered in magnets. She leaves the lights off, sitting on the living room couch and basking in the darkness, comforted by the blanket of secrecy it covers her in.

It takes her two Aimee Mann songs to work up the courage to call Francie and apologize, and another six to answer to turn on a light. She waits in utter silence until she hears Danny's engine in the driveway—instantly her whole body stiffens and her throat constricts. She doesn't know how she's supposed to look at him, embrace him, kiss him when all she can taste is Vaughn, when all she can see are their tangled limbs and his eyes when he called her perfect.

She absently flicks on a light, listening to his boots on the stoop. "Syd?"

She stands as some internal switch shifts on. She takes his outstretched hand, feeling as if she is in some sort of daze, as if she isn't in control of her own body. "Danny. How'd the surgery go?"

He pulls her to him, mumbling, "Never mind that, sweetheart. I am so sorry I missed our anniversary, I am so sorry . . . I'll make it up to you. Somehow. I will."

She shakes her head, privately thinking that he still smells of blood. "Don't apologize. I know you couldn't help it." She touches his cheek and lets him kiss her mouth and even though her whole body reacts violently, rejecting these old and yet somehow still foreign lips, she doesn't let it show and instead kisses back with such guilty fervor that it surprises him.

"What did you do with your time without the girls?" He asks tenderly, leading her back towards the couch. "Francie is keeping them for the night, I take it?"

She nods, curling into him, needing his touch as if it will somehow erase the scent and feel of another man from her skin. "Yes. I went . . . I went to the train station. You know how I like to sit there sometimes."

He smiles, curling his fingers into hers. "How did I get so lucky?" He murmurs into her hair. "Any other woman would have run off with another man by now."

Sydney has to force herself not to stiffen, has to focus on keeping her muscles loose and relaxed. She answers, "You are a good man, Danny," because she can't bear to lie to him so directly.

His words babble over her, his voice low and melodic as he speaks. Sydney closes her eyes and squeezes his hands, half-hoping that if she is good enough, loving enough, devoted enough from now on she can erase what she did. But even as she prays she knows that can never happen; isn't entirely sure she really wants it to.

She can hear Vaughn's words in her head—Sydney you are smart and beautiful and perfect—and tries to retrace her steps over the passed two months, tries to understand when the funny man with the big turkey became an affair.

The thing is, she loves Danny. She loves him dearly, for his compassion and his kindness and his intelligence. And yet . . .

In college, she took a remedial biology course to refresh her memory. In enzymes, there is an active site and a substrate and they recognize each other by their shape and size. There is only one substrate for every active site. They belong to one another. One cannot perform its function without the other.

Something in Sydney fits something in Vaughn. She can't quite explain why, or how, or what. But she feels more completed with him than she has ever felt with Danny. Or anyone else.

It does not excuse her actions. She knows this.

Danny is murmuring, "Do you want to go upstairs?"

Her body is tired, her nerves frayed. But Danny is her husband, and she made a promise to love and cherish him. So although she can still feel Vaughn's teeth on her neck, she smiles and says yes.



She turns quickly, a little smile taking over her mouth before she can swallow it. "Vaughn. What are you going here? I thought you said you'd be on business for a few days."

He grins, leaning against the door frame of her office. She works in advertising—knowing how to dress and arrange a model to make the audience believe as the company wants them to has been a knack she'd realized her sophomore year in college. Wigs and costumes and roles come naturally, like some internal recognition. "I got back early."

He steps inside, hands deep in his pockets. "Listen. I wanted to ask you something."

She cocks her head, encouraging him with a little smile but not stepping closer. Distance seems to be a key factor with them—and contact at all and one or both loses control. She opens her mouth to ask him what's on his mind when Danny appears behind him, bearing flowers and a big smile.

"Excuse me," he mumbles politely to Vaughn, placing the vase on her desk and his mouth on her cheek. "Hello, sweetheart. Thought I'd drop in for a couple minutes during lunch." He looks over his shoulder. "Is he one of your models?"

Vaughn's expression changes smoothly and without blinking he extends a hand. "Hello. Charlie Davis. Your wife's been helping me with an add I've been working on."

Danny smiles. "Wonderful woman, Mrs. Hecht."

"Wonderful," Vaughn echoes, his voice a perfect pitch of disinterest and boredom she is so used to from the men in her ads.

She stares at him in half-amazement and then shakes her head, brushing away questions and speculation that has no place in their relationship. She can feel her instincts kicking in again, the same dreamy feeling she'd had the week before, on her anniversary when her body seemed to know what it was doing without her help. "The flowers are beautiful," she murmurs. "But I was just about to get back to work. How about dinner tonight? I'll call a sitter."

Danny smiles, kissing her once more quickly before shaking Vaughn's hand again and exiting.

No one speaks.

"What did you want to ask?" She ventures finally, dropping into her desk chair and sinking her head into her hands.

Vaughn is quiet. Then, "It's not important."

She looks up at him, at his back as he retreats, and can feel something in her start to tick. She doesn't want to hurt anybody but she is hurting everybody, herself and Danny and Vaughn.

She only knows one person who knows what's that like, to be a disappointment to your family and to yourself, and so she calls him before she can think to regret it.

Jack Bristow lets his phone ring three times before he answers.