DISCLAIMER: The characters of Nigel and Sydney do not belong to me. I am using them for entertainment purposes, only. Please do not copy, print or reproduce any of this story in any form without express permission of the author. Please review, I have not written RH in quite awhile and my skills are rusty. Thank you.
Nigel spun around, startled at the sound of his name, and smiled in delight at the familiar woman waving at him from across the terrace. "Syd!"
Sydney grinned and hurried forward, surprised to have spotted the Englishman here in Mexico. "Oh Nigel!" She threw her arms around him and was thrilled when he hugged her back, hard, almost lifting her off her feet.
"What the devil are you doing here?" he asked as he pulled back, just enough to see her shining face. "Are you after a relic?"
She nodded, still grinning. "I just got here an hour ago!"
"And you haven't found it yet?"
She smacked his arm playfully as he laughed and stepped back. "I'm not that good!"
He stood, smiling brightly at her as memories flooded him. It had been almost 6 years since he had left Trinity to explore a teaching position at Oxford, and a day didn't go by that he didn't think of her. "I can't believe you're here." He glanced around to the table where he had just been about to sit down. "Do you have time for a meal? I was just about to have a bite."
Sydney knew she should be getting on the trail of the relic, but for the first time that she could remember, something else seemed more important. "I'll make time," she said and pulled her satchel off her shoulders to toss around the back of the chair. "You didn't tell me why you were here."
Nigel held her chair for her, and then settled opposite. "I was asked to give a seminar on the Olmecs." He grinned. "My public speaking has come a long way since London."
Sydney laughed as the waitress paused to offer them each a menu and take their drink order. Sydney ordered a glass of wine and Nigel decided on the same. "How long are you here for?"
"Oh, just the weekend, I fly back on Sunday."
Sydney barely contained her displeasure. "So, how are things going?"
Nigel opened his menu and peered through it. "Excellent. I'm really enjoying teaching. I have some brilliant kids in my classes."
"Did you have to check willing to travel on your application?" Sydney teased as she looked at her menu as well.
"Yes, although no one has pushed me out of a plane lately." He paused, set his menu down, and reached across the table for her hand. "God, I've missed you."
Sydney returned his smile. She'd missed him too. She never should have let him go, but could hardly stand in his way when he had been offered the position. To be a Professor of Ancient History at his old Alma Mater; well it was simply the chance of a lifetime and something she knew Nigel had been working all his life towards. Still she knew he had struggled over the decision to leave Trinity and their relic hunting behind.
They had kept in touch via emails for the first few years, but Sydney was horrible for writing back and keeping in touch, with even her closest of friends.
She swallowed back her guilt at having let so much time go by, and batted her eyelashes at him. "I don't believe we've ever held hands before," she said and was rewarded by the touch of rose that entered Nigel's cheeks, though she wouldn't allow him to pull away.
"We did a few times," he managed, struggling thru his sudden embarrassment. He hadn't been teased like this since he'd left America, but then no one could fluster him like Sydney could. He'd missed it. "Usually, whenever we were trying to keep the other from falling to their death."
Sydney laughed, pulled his hand across and kissed his knuckles, before releasing him. "Oh, Nigel. No one can make me laugh quite the way you do."
He blushed again, this time with pleasure. "Glad you valued some of my skills, then."
"All of your skills," Sydney corrected as the waitress retuned with their drinks. They both quickly ordered a local dish, and then returned to their visit. "You made my job so much easier."
Sydney and Nigel glanced up at the young man standing beside their table. Nigel deemed him to be no more than 20, if that, and he that fresh eager look about him.
"Daniel!" Sydney smiled. "I'd like you to meet my friend Dr. Nigel Bailey." Sydney wiggled her eyes and emphasized the 'Doctor' and watched the Englishman grin. "Nige, this is Daniel Parkins, my new assistant."
Nigel rose and held out his hand to the man, who was a good foot taller and very well built. "Pleasure to meet you, Daniel," he offered, more amused than offended when Daniel gave him the once over before reluctantly shaking his hand. He'd been where the young man currently was. "Would you like to join us?"
"Ah…no." He released Nigel's hand and turned back to Sydney. "Professor…"
"I've asked you to call me Sydney when it's just us, Daniel."
"Yes, Sydney. I wanted to let you know that everything is set up in the rooms and I've already requested that information about that…er…thing from our…ah friend."
"Excellent I am sure that Ricardo will have the surveillance report for you within the hour then," Nigel assured as he settled back down in his chair and watched Daniel shift uncomfortably to try to hide his surprise and suspicion.
"Nigel knows everything about Ricardo, Daniel, relax." She grinned at Nigel. "They were buddies."
"I wouldn't term him as a buddy, exactly."
"You're little pygmy friend then?"
Nigel grinned even as he tossed his napkin at her. "Insensitive wretch!"
"Why don't you sit down and have something to eat?' Sydney invited again as their meals arrived. "We can start work after dinner."
"But…I thought you wanted to get started right away?"
"I want to eat first, and you should too." Sydney unrolled her fork and knife from her napkin, considering the matter closed.
Daniel shot Nigel a venomous look and then squared his shoulders. "We could work and eat in the room…" His words abruptly halted as Sydney raised her eyes to his.
Nigel hid his grin behind a cough into his napkin. He remembered that look and he felt a pang of sympathy for the poor lad. "You might want to leave now, Daniel," he suggested, almost kindly.
"I'm her assistant now, Dr. Bailey," Daniel snapped at Nigel. "And she certainly doesn't need…"
One word, a certain even tone was enough to shut the young man up and cause him to visibly pale as he looked back at Sydney, who had not even bothered to lift her eyes from her plate this time.
"Go back to the room. I'll be there when I'm finished here."
Daniel's posture practically screamed that he wanted to argue, however he nodded curtly, gave Nigel a hard glare, then turned on his heal and headed across the terrace.
"He's got it bad."
Sydney sighed and put down her fork, no longer interested in her enchiladas. "I guess I'd better go talk to him."
"No, it's better you leave him be, Syd." Nigel cut into his quesadillas. "He'll stalk about for a bit in anger and humiliation, and then he'll drop into a thick fear of being sacked. He'll finally settle down and realize he was an idiot and will remember for future not to question you again."
Sydney stared at him thoughtfully. "You sound like you speak from experience?"
He shrugged. "You took some getting used to."
Her expression softened. "Was I that hard on you?"
"No, you were remarkably encouraging and accepting, I just didn't see that at the time and nor does he." He took a bite of his food, chewed and then took a sip of wine before continuing. "It's difficult to be young and arrogant and to be slapped back by a girl." He lifted his eyes up to hers, finally. "Even by an exceptionally beautiful and brilliant one."
She smiled at him. "You must have thought I was a bitch on wheels."
"I thought you were magnificent," he replied. "Now eat your dinner."
Sydney took a bite of food. "He's one of the best students I've ever had, and I've gone through four other assistants. By the time he asked for the job I was desperate."
"Do you trust him?" Nigel asked him directly.
Sydney had to be honest. "Mostly. He's mouthy sometimes, a little too eager for action, but he's exceptionally gifted."
"And you see something of you in him."
It was Sydney's turn to shrug and she was startled at how mature Nigel seemed to have become. "He's a little green,but I think he'll be okay with a little guidance and some time in the field."
"If anyone can mold him, Syd, it's you."
She smiled again, seemed she couldn't help it. Nigel always knew just the right thing to say. On a whim she reached across the table again and covered his hand with hers. "I'd still rather have a partner than an apprentice."
Nigel turned his hand over and intertwined his fingers with her as a dash of pink touched his cheeks, again. "Likewise, Syd."
They stared at each other for a long moment, holding hands across the table, communicating without the necessary words, as they once had. So much feeling went into that look, and also, Sydney felt, a touch of regret.
Finally, Nigel seemed to grow uncomfortable and pulled away. "Your dinner is getting cold."
She nodded and continued to eat.