Title: At Last

Author: Steph (ILUVNYYANK@aol.com)

Category: Romance/Drama

Pairings: Sydney/Vaughn

POV: Sydney

Summary: It's six years later and all of SD-6 has been destroyed. Sydney is finally free and ready to admit her feelings to Vaughn, but his unexpected announcement throws her for a loop. (Sydney POV)

Rating: PG

Archive: Sure, just let me know where.

Spoilers: Nope.

Disclaimer: Alias and its characters do not belong to me. I do this out of a love for the show and no infringement is intended.

Note: Okay, so I'm through with my brief 'don't let them get together' phase. So here's a little romantic drama with some fluff in it for you. Hope you enjoy and please let me know what you thought! ~Steph

* * * At Last 1/1 * * *

I step outside of the CIA building and take a deep breath, the cold air filling my lungs.

A smile overtakes my lips.

I am free. I am finally free.

I just handed in the last of the paperwork and resigned my position as a CIA agent.

After six long years, SD-6 and all its branches have been destroyed. I am no longer an agent. I am no longer a double agent.

I am free.

And it couldn't possibly feel any better.

I don't have to lie to my friends anymore.

I don't have to leave at a moments notice and fly to country after country.

I don't have to coat my face in makeup, apply skintight dresses to my body or endure another uncomfortable wig.

I don't have to pretend that a certain handler hasn't made my heart race and my palms sweaty for far too long.

I don't have to pretend that my lips haven't ached to kiss his for years.

I am free.

And my first 'mission' as a free woman is to tell the man I've wanted for years exactly how I feel about him.

* * * *

I pace back and forth in the warehouse, my nerves causing my stomach to do flip-flops.

It's always taken a lot to make me nervous. Staying calm, cool and collected is necessary when you live the life of a double agent.

So that's why I am surprised by the perspiration beading up on my forehead and the herd of cattle apparently running through my abdomen.

I glance around the dimly lit caged area, hoping to calm my nerves by remembering the moments Vaughn and I have shared here.

It was my idea to meet here. Vaughn couldn't understand why I'd want to spend one more moment in this place. He thought I'd relish the thought of talking with him in public and not having to pretend like we don't know each other.

And I do, but I am still drawn to this place.

This is the only place where I could look him in the eye and not be afraid that anyone would see us.

Where I could tell him the truth about what I was feeling and he would simply listen.

Where he could pull me into his arms and comfort me when I cried.

This place was my safe haven...our safe haven.

I am thrown from my thoughts, as I hear the soft echo of footsteps behind me.

I smile and then turn around to face him.

I expect to find him smiling, to see his eyes filled with relief.

But, instead, I find his expression troubled, his eyes a conflicted sea of emotion.

My brow creases and I barely manage a soft, "Hi."

He steps closer until we are only a few feet away. The shadows play across his face, concealing half of it and making me feel oddly uneasy.

"Hi," he replies in a barely audible whisper, his eyes only briefly meeting mine before turning their attention to a spot on the wall behind me.

I swallow hard and force a smile, "I just left headquarters. That's it, I'm done. I'm finally free."

A slight smile plays across his lips, but it seems almost pained, bittersweet in nature. "I'm happy for you, Sydney."

I notice the tone in which he says the word 'you' and something inside of me sinks.

Maybe I've been kidding myself all of these years.

Maybe I was wrong about this thing I thought there was between us.

I thought he wanted a chance to see if we could be something more.

I thought he'd be happy for *us* today.

But now I don't know what to think.

I'm at a loss for words and only manage a weak, "Thank you."

I lower my eyes, but I can feel him staring at me.

I don't know what to else to say to him. I came hear knowing what I wanted to say, knowing what I wanted to happen. But his disposition has confused me and now I'm afraid to say what I've been waiting to for years.

"Sydney," he says and I meet his eyes.

As soon as our eyes meet, he lowers his gaze and continues in a low voice. "There's something I have to tell you."

My heart catches in my chest, anticipation slowly rising up in me.

Maybe I read him wrong.

Maybe he was just nervous about admitting his feelings for me, as I was for him.

"What is it?" I ask, hoping to hide any shred of excitement.

He raises his head and I can tell that it takes all of his strength to force his eyes to meet mine.

His voice is husky and quiet. "I've been transferred to our branch in New York. I was given a promotion in which I will oversee the junior officer handlers. Devlin believes the experience I've gained working with you has prepared me for this position and they need someone with my background over there."

A lump the size of an orange takes up residence in my throat and I am unable to swallow.

This isn't happening. This can't be happening. Tell me this isn't happening.

Not after everything we've been through...After all the time we've spent waiting.

This isn't happening. It can't be.

I force myself to take a deep breath and search for my words. My mind is a racing blur and the only thing I can manage is, "Congratulations."

His brow furrows and he opens his mouth like he's about to say something. I study his eyes and for a moment I think I see a flicker of disappointment in them.

Had he wanted me to say something else?

He nods and turns his eyes away, "Uh, thank you, I appreciate that."

I can't believe this is happening.

Why don't I say something?

Why don't I ask him to stay with me?

The words are on the tip of my tongue, but I can't seem to form them.

He breaks the uncomfortable silence with a lighthearted tone that I can tell is forced, "I guess that Kings' game will have to wait a little while longer."

I swallow hard. "When do you leave?"

"Day after tomorrow," he replies, his eyes scanning my face, seemingly searching for something.

I nod my head and force myself to push aside my feelings and assume a professional attitude. "Well, I won't keep you any longer then, I'm sure you have a lot to do to get ready before then. It-..."

"Sydney," he interrupts me, his tone almost urgent, desperate.

I focus my eyes on him and ask softly, "Yes?"

He swallows roughly and then removes his eyes, "Uh...I...I just wanted to thank you for all that you've done for me. You're the reason I got this promotion and I won't ever forget that."

My heart sinks in my chest once more.

From his tone, I had thought he might admit he has feelings for me or ask me to come with him.

Something...anything.

I bob my head and plaster a small smile on my lips, "You're welcome, Vaughn." I pause and then add in a soft voice, "And thank you...For everything."

Our eyes connect and he licks his lips.

I'd give anything to kiss those lips.

He nods and replies, "You don't need to thank me, Sydney. It's been my pleasure."

He offers me a sincere, heartwarming smile and that's the first sign I've seen today of the Vaughn I've come to love.

I can tell from his smile and the way it reaches his eyes that I have meant something to him...Something more than just agent to handler.

Something more than friends? I can't tell.

But his smile soon fades and I am left feeling cold and empty once more.

He sighs, "Well, I better be going. I do have a lot to do before Thursday."

I nod, my heart nearly breaking from the thought that I may never see him again.

"Good luck," I manage.

He smiles and then meets my eyes. "Good luck to you, too. Promise me you'll take some time to relax before you decide what you want to do with the rest of your life." He pauses and then adds in a low voice, his gaze no longer meeting mine. "Be happy, Sydney. Find a way to be happy. You deserve it."

There's something in his tone that I can't quite put my finger on, but his words alone nearly reduce me to tears.

If he only knew.

If he only knew that he holds my happiness in the palms of his hands.

He looks up at me once more and whispers, "Good-bye, Sydney."

He hesitates for a moment, his eyes scanning my face, before bending his head and turning on his heel.

And I stand there all alone, wondering what I just let walk out of my life.

A single tear strolls down my face, but I can't muster the strength to lift my arm up to wipe it away.

It rolls down my chin and drops from my face.

It hits the concrete and the silence that surrounds me is so palpable that I swear I hear it splatter.

* * * *

Today is Thursday. He leaves today. He's probably already gone.

I've been in my pajamas since Tuesday afternoon, right after our meeting. I've been drowning my sorrows in ice cream and sad loves songs.

I swore I would never turn into one of these women. I swore I would never let a man reduce me to a blubbering, depressed fool.

But that was before I met Vaughn.

That was before I fell in love with him.

That was before he walked out of my life forever.

And now I know why women drown their sorrows in ice cream and sad love songs.

Because it works. Or at least it temporarily numbs the pain.

I told Francie I was sick, so I've been coughing every so often for effect.

Ironic...Now that I am finally free, I'm still pretending with the people I care about.

I dig my spoon into my Chunky Monkey and fill it to capacity. I am just about to place the spoon in my mouth when the phone rings.

I groan and briefly consider letting it ring. After all, I have no pressing matters anymore. I don't have to run off and meet with Vaughn whenever I hear the words 'Joey's Pizza'.

I sigh, my curious nature unable to just let it be.

I slowly stand up and walk over to the phone. I pick it up and say rather grumpily, "Hello?"

"Joey's Pizza."

The familiar words 'Sorry, wrong number' nearly spill out of my mouth automatically before I catch myself.

My brow wrinkles and I say in an uncertain tone, "Vaughn?"

There's a laugh in his voice as he replies, "Well, I'm not someone with a craving for pizza."

I can't help myself and a smile crosses my lips.

The smile soon fades though and I hesitate to ask my question. "Why are you calling?"

There's a long pause before he responds. "I just checked into The Plaza. I don't have an apartment yet. I guess I just wanted to let you know where you can reach me if you need to."

A gentle smile pulls at my lips.

He's still thinking of me. The distance separating us hasn't stopped him from caring about my well-being.

"Thank you, I appreciate that."

There's a moment of silence before he breaks it. "You know, Sydney, we can still be friends. We can talk on the phone, correspond through e-mail. I'll come and visit every once in a while. We can catch that Kings' game sometime."

Friends. He wants to be friends.

And I want so much more.

How can I possibly endure a 'friendship' with him when all I want is to be in his arms?

How can I talk to him on the phone, correspond through e-mail, and see his face every once in a great while and not want him?

It would be so much easier if I never saw him again. Then I could close-off my feelings for him. I could act as if they never existed.

How can I do that if he's still a part of my life, no matter how small?

"Sydney?" he asks, his tone indicating concern.

I swallow. "Yeah, I'm here."

"So what do you think? Does that sound good to you?"

Frustrated anger suddenly boils up in me at the question.

No, it does not sound good to me. Not even close.

I can't help myself and my anger spills out in my reply to him, "Do I have a choice?"

For a moment, I think the line's gone dead. There's nothing but silence coming from the other end.

Then I hear him breathe and stammer, "Uh...Yeah, you have a choice. I would never force you to do anything you didn't want to do."

I smile slightly. Always the gentleman.

I inhale and exhale deeply before saying, "This is not my choice, Vaughn."

"I don't understand...What are you trying to say?"

I swallow hard and continue in a soft voice. "It wouldn't be my choice to talk to you on the phone, correspond through e-mails and see you occasionally." I pause before saying the last part, "My choice would be to see you everyday."

I think I hear him inhale deeply at my words. "This isn't ideal, I know, but it's the best I can do."

"Is it?" I ask, my voice strong and challenging. I'm suddenly feeling very bold, realizing I don't have anything to lose.

His voice is low, "This is how things have to be, Sydney...I don't know what you want me to say."

My voice is soft, but confident as I reply, "I want you to say that you'll show up at my door to take me to a Kings' game, just like you promised. And I don't want it to be in six months or a year, I want it to be now."

I acknowledge that I sound like a spoiled child, but I don't care.

I've put the needs and wants of others ahead of my own for far too long.

It's my turn now.

There's a long silence before he says, "Sydney-..."

The sound of the doorbell ringing pulls my attention away and I cut him off.

"Hold on, someone's at the door."

"Okay," he replies.

I leave the phone close to my ear, as I quickly walk to the front door and grab hold of the knob, my actions jerky with irritation from being interrupted.

I pull the door open quickly and my mouth moves to form a greeting, but instead drops open at the sight before me.

Standing in front of me, with a heart-stopping grin and a cell phone next to his ear, is none other than Michael Vaughn.

I am speechless and stunned beyond belief. My mouth is open so wide you could stuff a grapefruit in it.

He cocks his right eyebrow, his grin widening as he speaks into the phone, "So, who's at the door? Were you expecting someone?"

I remove the phone from my ear and allow my arm to slide down to my side.

The words form almost without me even realizing it. "No...I sure wasn't."

He removes the phone from his ear and clicks it shut. "So, aren't you going to invite me in? I've never been to your place before."

He makes a motion to enter, but I move to my left and block his path.

My thoughts are coming in bits and pieces, but I choose to speak anyway. "What...how...why...New York...The Plaza...What-..."

I can tell Vaughn is fighting the urge to laugh. He smiles, "Well, it looks like I've finally uncovered the secret to leaving Sydney Bristow speechless."

I try to recover. "I...I'm not speechless. I have speech, just not...coherence."

He raises his eyebrows and nods, his eyes dancing delight, "Oh."

I take a deep breath and try to slow my racing heart. I think I'm finally ready to form a lucid sentence. "What are you doing here?"

"I thought you'd be happy to see me," he replies, his tone playful.

"I...I am. I'm just...surprised. I thought you were in New York...at The Plaza. That's what you just said on the-..."

"I lied," he replies matter-of-factly, while nodding his head and pursing his lips.

My eyes narrow, agitation rising up in me a bit. Vaughn never lies to me.

"You lied to me."

"I just said that," he points out.

"Why did you lie to me?" I ask, my eyes focusing on his.

He lowers his head and responds softly, "So I could see that look on your face."

"What 'look'?" I ask, genuinely confused and suddenly a bit self-conscious.

He raises his eyes up and replies, "That look of absolute shock. It takes a lot to surprise you, Sydney Bristow. I guess I just didn't want to miss out on that look."

My face softens.

Damn it. I can't stay even a little angry at him for just a few minutes.

He smiles, "So, can I come in now?"

My eyes study his face. "I'm not so sure I'm not angry at you."

He shrugs and grins, "Well, can you not be sure about being angry at me inside, because I'm freezing out here."

I smile, shake my head in defeat and step aside to allow him entrance. I close the door behind him and then come to stand beside him as his gaze moves around the living room.

"You have a nice place here."

"We like it."

"Now how long have you-..."

"Vaughn," I say, cutting him off.

"Yeah?" he asks, as he turns his head in my direction.

"Are you going to tell me what's going on or do I have to beat it out of you?"

"I didn't think you did that anymore," he replies, a hint of a smile on his lips.

"I've only been in retirement for two days. Some habits are hard to break."

He chuckles and nods, "Okay, okay, I'll tell you. I'm extremely confident in your ability to thoroughly kick my ass."

"Thank you."

His expression grows abruptly serious and he averts his gaze. His voice is soft as he begins, "I couldn't do it. I couldn't leave you."

I swear my heart stops beating at the sound of his words.

Did he just say what I thought he said?

The only reply I can manage is an equally lame and weak, "Oh."

He goes on, his eyes securely focused on my rug. "I went all the way to the airport and I got on the plane. And I sat there. I sat there and I tried to read my book. I tried to study the 'in case of emergency' pamphlet. I browsed through the obligatory magazine. But, no matter what I did, I couldn't get you out of my mind. So, practical as always, I weighed my reasons for going, against my reasons for staying. Turns out, there were numerous reasons for me to go and only one reason for me to stay." He pauses and then adds in a voice a shade above a whisper, "Needless to say, you won."

Okay, now I'm speechless. He just uncovered the secret.

He looks up at me, trying to read my expression.

I wonder what it looks like. Could it possibly convey the joy I feel at his words? Or the fear that I still harbor that they don't mean what I hope they do?

"Sydney?" he asks, his voice laced with worry. "Are you okay?"

Oh, great. I must have my nauseated expression on.

I nod, "Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. It's just...a lot to take in, that's all."

He bobs his head, his eyes now scanning my body.

It isn't until I notice his laughing eyes that I realize I'm still in my flannel smiley face pajamas.

"Nice jammies," he says, as he chokes down a chuckle.

"They are not 'jammies'. They are pajamas and they happen to be very comfortable."

He continues to study me and I begin to grow self-conscious as I remember I am a total mess.

God, when was the last time I showered?

At least I brushed my teeth before eating that Chunky Monkey. I figured brushing my teeth would help balance the guilt I would feel after eating a hideous amount of ice cream.

"Have you been sick?" he asks, his eyes now focused on my hair, which currently bears a more striking resemblance to a bird's nest.

I shake my head, "No, no...I haven't been sick."

He smiles, "Oh, so this is what retirement has done to you. I know I told you to relax, but this isn't exactly what I had in mind."

I don't crack a smile and he notices it.

All of the tears I've cried and the pain I've endured over the last two days comes rushing towards me at that moment.

I speak tersely, "No, this is what you did to me."

His eyes flash with hurt and he swallows hard as he lowers his eyes. He didn't deserve that, but I can't help myself.

"I'm sorry, Sydney," he says softly.

I shake my head and take a deep breath.

Here I go. There's no turning back now.

"Why didn't you tell Devlin no, Vaughn? Why didn't you ask me to go with you?"

His head shoots up and his eyes meet mine, "You wanted to come with me?"

I shake my head and say softly, "I wanted you to ask."

He takes a deep breath, apparently pondering what all of this means.

I repeat my question, "Why didn't you ask me to go with you?"

This time he's ready and his piercing gaze meets mine, "Why didn't you ask me to stay?"

My eyes widen. He wanted me to ask him to stay.

I swallow hard. "If I had, would you have stayed?"

His gaze never wavers, "All you had to do was ask."

My heart starts to beat wildly and I can hardly believe what is happening.

My voice cracks as I ask, "So what does all of this mean?"

He smiles and then replies in a husky whisper, "Well, I can't speak for you. But, for me, it means I love you."

I think I just stopped breathing. How long before you die if you stop breathing?

Did he just say he loves me?

~At last

My love has come along

My lonely days are over

And life is like a song~

I stammer, "Did you just-..."

"Say I love you?"

"There it is again," I mutter, as I try to convince myself it isn't my mind playing tricks on me.

He smiles, "Yeah, I did."

As the shock wears off, I slowly bring my eyes to meet his and say softly, "You took the words right out of my mouth."

~At last

The sky above is blue

My heart was wrapped in clover

The night I looked at you~

He steps forward until we are mere inches apart. His eyes never leave mine, as he brings his right hand up to caress my cheek. I briefly close my eyes and let the feelings his touch stirs up in me wash over my body.

He licks his lips, as he leans in closer until our mouths are only separated by centimeters.

Before his lips meet mine I whisper, "I feel compelled to warn you that I can't recall the last time I showered."

He smiles slightly before replying in the softest voice I've ever heard, "I don't care. I love you just the way you are."

With that, his lips meet mine and I swear the world around us disappears. I dig my fingernails into the hair at the nape of his neck and pull him deeper into the kiss.

I didn't think it was possible, but it's better than I ever imagined it could be.

It's better than I dreamed it would be.

~I found a dream that I could speak to

A dream that I can call my own

I found a thrill to press my cheek to

A thrill that I have never ever known~

Words can't express how amazing it feels to have his lips on mine, to have his hands buried in my hair.

We slowly pull apart and look into each other's eyes.

I smile before saying, "So let me get this straight. You love me just the way I am right now? A hygienically-challenged, pajama-clad bum?"

He grins and nods, "Yup."

I smile, "It must be love."

He whispers, "You bet it is," before brushing his lips across mine again.

~You, you smiled

And then the spell was cast

And here we are in heaven

For you are mine at last~

When he pulls away, I look into his eyes and my voice turns serious. "The other day...I came there fully prepared to tell you how I feel about you. I came there to tell you I love you."

His eyes widen and he shakes his head, "But I beat you to it."

I nod, "Once you said you were leaving, I didn't know what to think. I thought maybe you didn't feel the same about me."

"And when you didn't ask me to stay, I thought that maybe my feelings were not reciprocated."

I smile, "So this whole thing was due to bad communication."

He shakes his head, "No, I think this whole thing was due to two people who have waited so long and were afraid to finally take that leap of faith."

~I found a dream, I found a dream

That I could speak to, baby

A dream that I can definitely call my own

I found a thrill, I found a thrill

To press my cheek to, to press my cheek to

A thrill that I have never ever known~

I look at him thoughtfully for a moment and then nod, "I've been waiting a long time for this day. I was beginning to think it would never come. But it has."

"At last," he whispers, his hot breath sweeping across my lips before his mouth meets mine.

Took the words right out of my mouth.

At last.

~You smiled, you smiled, baby

And then the spell was cast

And here we are in heaven

Yeah, yeah, yeah, for you are mine

At last

You are mine at last

At last

You're mine, baby~

*******************************THE END****************************

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed it and please let me know what you thought! ~Steph

Song was: "At Last" sung by B.B. King, among others.