Title: Coming to Terms (Chapter 9)
Author: UConn Fan (Michele)
E-Mail: LoveUConnBasketball@yahoo.com

Authors Note:
This is IT! I'm DONE (okay, actually, I'm proud/upset it's done). This is my little bundle - I've been writing this for a LONG time, I'm so proud of myself with sticking to it. I wouldn't have stuck with it if not for the wonderful wonderful people who have reviewed this story from the beginning.

I've already got a name for the sequel - Trying Normal (I hope it hasn't been used before, I can't remember). The title will make sense at the end.
Expect to see it posted within a few weeks. Feel free to e-mail me at any time about anything.
CONSTRUCTIVE criticism, and for the record I've been using Spell&Grammar check for awhile so I've been trying to avoid all grammatical errors.

DEDICATION: To all of the readers, whether you've reviewed or not. As for my reviewers, I LOVE you all SO much! You guys have made me so happy by just your few simple thoughts, it means so much to me. Everything, really. Thank you.

DISCLAIMER: If it's recognizable, it's not mine. Technically, I suppose, I own Patrick, Maya, Charlotte, Jennie, Brigitte & the baby, but if you want to use them, go ahead, just let me know! Don't sue, this is just a complete labor of love.

Jackie had fallen asleep in her Father's arms and had slept soundly until she was woken by her Mother to eat or be changed. That night Sydney hadn't had the same luck. Despite how blurred her vision was from exhaustion, she caught very little shuteye that night. A fear of missing a feeding or a cry or that something would happen to her daughter while she slept had gripped her heart. So she watched her daughter sleep, reassured each time she saw the little girls chest rise and fall in tune with her breathing. After she ate, Sydney would walk her back to the nursery, rocking in the glider and studying her. Even her photographic memory didn't seem strong enough to capture everything she was determined to remember.

Wednesday was their first full day at home, and they spent it alone. Late in the morning Sydney finally collapsed under the weight of her own exhaustion, crashing on the sofa for nearly three hours. Jackie's cries woke her when it was time for her lunch and one of Jackie's several meals of the day. She was amazed by how much laundry and how many diapers one tiny infant could go through in one day, and how many pairs of her own underwear she found herself throwing out at the end of their first week home.

Jack arrived early Friday morning, already there when Sydney woke up. When she sat up on the couch, her heart momentarily stopped when she saw that the cradle was empty. Rushing through the house, she slowed down when she heard masculine humming. Walking into the nursery, she found her Father sitting on the glider humming softly as Jackie looked up at him.

"You were sleeping when I arrived, when Jackie started to cry for a change it seemed foolish to wake you." He explained, not bothering to look up at up.

"Thank you," she said sincerely.

"Sydney, why don't you go take a shower and get something to eat?"

"Dad, I'm fine -"

"Sydney," he cut in, his room and gaze left no room for argument. "Jackie and I are doing just fine, aren't we honey?" He asked, his tone surprisingly soft and gentle as he closely studied his namesake. Sydney smiled softly at the pair before she went to her room for a change of clothes.

For the first time in her memory, Sydney allowed her Father to take care of her that day. He had everything surprisingly in order, ordering his daughter to rest and relax. So, she slept on the sofa, her Father waking her when either she or her daughter (or sometimes both) needed to eat. It wasn't until later, when the photos from Jack's camera were developed, did Sydney get to see the bonding they all had that day. He had taken pictures of Sydney asleep with Jackie in her arms, of Jackie's chin on her Mother's shoulder as she made futile attempts to burp the infant, pictures of Jackie in the cradle, the carrier, of Sydney rocking her daughter in the glider. There were close ups of Jackie and Sydney's faces as they slept, pictures of Jackie swaddled up in soft pink blankets, pictures of her in her grandfather's arms. Having the help and someone to take pictures when she was too tired or busy to meant so much, but having the help come from her Father meant everything.

"Mandy's arriving in a few weeks," her Father said over breakfast Saturday morning.

"Mandy?" She blinked, looking up from her scrambled eggs. They were sitting in the living room and her daughter had just had her own breakfast and been rocked to sleep, at least momentarily. "My former nanny, Mandy?"

"Yes, do you know another one?" He asked blankly.


"To assist you in caring for Jackie upon your return to work."

"I thought we weren't going to get a nanny, it was too dangerous -"

"Sydney, do you remember Mandy's whole name?" He asked blankly.

His daughter pondered that for a moment. At six her biggest achievement had been reading 'Chocolate Pox' on her own and memorizing her own address and zip code, never mind learning and remembering her nanny's surname. Shaking her head, she met her Father's gaze.

"Amanda Devlin. She's Ben's niece. She passed a background check thirty years ago, she certainly will now. It won't be for long Sydney, we need to have someone we can trust caring for Jacqueline while we're both at work." Jack explained.

"She's a wonderful nanny," Sydney remembered fondly. "When is Sloane expecting you back?"

"Monday morning," he explained. "Barring any further . . Complications to the Alliance."

She nodded, having understood his underlying meaning. "I want until at least May. I won't return earlier then that."

"No one would expect you to."

"What if Emily invites me over or wants to come visit?"

"Then you graciously accept the invitation. Have you spoken to Will or Francie since you arrived home?"

"No," she sighed. "They're letting me have space to sleep and recover. I'll probably call them tomorrow. Francie will probably want to bring me a cake and make a big deal out of it," she smiled. Tomorrow she'd be thirty years old, and she wasn't sure if that realization made her happy or sad. Either way she would turn another year older and her life would still progress. Considering how doomed everything looked three years ago, she was significantly further in life then she thought she'd be at thirty.

"Enjoy your birthday Sydney, you only turn thirty once."

"It's funny," she laughed softly. "Most people dread turning thirty, I'm just glad I lived long enough to see it."

Jack's grin was sincere as he reassured her, "it's almost over Sydney."

His daughter grew serious as she nodded and returned to her food.

Sydney was finding that no matter how high she put the temperature in the house, she was always cold. The next morning was spent quietly celebrating with her Father. By the early afternoon she was briefly alone again, feeding Jackie and then gently changing her after the baby decided the food hadn't settled too well. Being alone with her, she was amazed by what she spoke about and sang to her daughter about. She'd talk about her own child, the news, television shows, her friends, and she'd sing everything from classic lullabies to a song she'd recently heard on the radio. Either way it kept her daughter amused, and she suspected that talking to her would only do Jackie good in the long run.

Jackie was sleeping in the cradle and her Mother was cuddled up under the blankets when the doorbell rang in the early afternoon. Sydney through back the throw and smiled, having expected her friends to make their arrival at any moment. Once she checked to make sure who it was (there was no such thing as too cautious), she opened the door and smiled at her friends.

"Hi!" She smiled, hugging the four of them as they walked in.

"Happy birthday Syd," they said as they walked into the house.

"Is now a bad time?" Jennie asked softly, eyeing the cradle.

"Nah, now's fine, she's sleeping. I think she could probably sleep through an earthquake."

"This is California, she may have to one day," Will joked. Meanwhile his girlfriend walked over to the cradle and smiled down at the infant.

"She's even cuter then she was in the hospital." Jennie declared as Francie joined her.

"When's her umbilical cord supposed to fall off?" Francie asked in obvious concern for her goddaughter.

"Not for a little bit longer. She goes to her one week check up on Monday, but I'm not anticipating any problems."

"How are you feeling?" Charlie asked, setting a pink cardboard box - what Sydney assumed was a birthday cake - on the coffee table.

"I'm okay," she insisted, sitting back down and pulling the afghan up again.

"We didn't think you'd be in a big party mode," Jennie explained as they all started to sit down.

"So we brought movies instead," Francie concluded.

"We also brought paper plates and plastic utensils, so we don't leave you anything to wash." Will added.

"Thank you guys, that's so sweet," she smiled. Charlie opened the box and allowed her a look at the cake. "It's beautiful, thank you." It was a beautiful cake, with purple roses made from frosting and 'Happy 30th Birthday Sydney!' in matching purple script. "Looks delicious."

"How's she been sleeping?" Jennie asked as Charlie started cutting the cake.

"Fine," she shrugged. "She's feeding a few times during the night, and she's up a few times changing." She explained, and thanked Charlie for the cake he handed her. "My Dad's been over a lot to help too."

"Good," Francie agreed. "Your Dad was so happy at the hospital Syd."

"He was actually emotional, I thought for a second he was going to cry," Will added. "Which, if he had, I think the world would have stopped." He muttered.

"Will!" his girlfriend scolded.

"My Dad's been over here nearly every day, it's actually sort of surprising," she confessed, taking another bite of her cake. "Mandy's coming out in a few weeks."

"Mandy? Your old nanny?" Francie recalled.

"Same one."

"Syd, I thought you weren't going to get a nanny," Will reminded her.

"I'm not. It's only for a few weeks . . Until my Dad and I can get our schedules at work sorted out and one of us can always be with Jackie." She hurried with an explanation. Sydney couldn't exactly tell them that it was only until the Alliance collapsed, that would open an entirely new can of worms that she'd just assume leave shut.

"I can watch her some mornings," Francie spoke up.

"I'm sure there will be some days where I can do work from home, I can watch her for you too. I love babies," Jennie grinned.

"Do you need a ride to the doctor's Monday?" Francie offered.

"No, I think I should be okay," she reassured them.

"If you change your mind, call, one of us will take you." Her best friend promised.

"Thank you," she smiled.

"How about we watch some movies now?" Will suggested as Francie grabbed the bag from the video store and stuffed one into the VCR.

That was one of Sydney's best birthdays to date. They stayed late into the evening, watching Moulin Rouge. Jackie interrupted the movie halfway through to declare that she needed to be fed and changed. Following a brief interlude, she was settled into her Aunt Francie's arms, cuddled up and half asleep as they finished watching the movie. The movie ended and her friends picked up the kitchen, wrapping up the remainder of the cake and putting it into the refrigerator. After a myriad of hugs and reminders to Sydney to call if she needs anything, they parted ways.

Sunday afternoon she got in the car and drove the short, familiar distance to the cemetery. Carefully lifting the carrier out of the holder, she walked through the headstones in the appropriate direction. Somewhere in the middle of the night, while learning that late night television as bad and late night radio even worse, she had decided this was a good idea. More then that, she had decided this was necessary, for her soul and maybe even his.

She set the carrier on the soft earth and placed the bouquet of flowers next to it. Jackie continued to sleep, her face resting against her shoulder as a baseball cap protected her from the sun that shone down on both of them. With a cautious glance over her shoulder, she slowly squatted down, her back already sore. Using a precise eye, she pulled the weeds away from the headstone and then set the flowers against the cool gray granite. After a heavy sigh, she brought the carrier closer and started to speak.

"Danny . . This is Jackie," she softly explained. "I know wherever you are you're watching over her . . Over us . . . Remember that lawyer I told you about? The one from Charlie's firm? Her name's Jennie, she and Will are very happy together. Francie wants them to get married. They're cute together . . . I'm sorry," she whispered, rapidly blinking as her tears started. "I'm so sorry that Jackie isn't yours . . . Isn't ours . . ." she swallowed hard. "I don't regret her, and her Father . . . You would have liked him," she laughed at how absurd it all sounded. "I'm sorry that this didn't turn out how we planned . . . . I'm happy though, and I'm not sorry I'm happy, because I know you'd want me to be happy. You would have wanted me to be happy, to have some normalcy, even if it's without you . . . I love you Danny, and that will never change," she vowed.

"Things with my Dad are getting better," she smiled, knowing he would appreciate that wherever he was. "I wanted to thank you," she explained, wiping away her tears. "Without you I'm not sure I would have ever realized that I wanted to be normal, that I wanted to have a house and a husband and a family, no matter how impossible it seemed at the time . . . I'm still so sorry I couldn't give you the life you wanted, that you didn't get the life you wanted . . . I wanted you to see Jackie. I'm not always sure I believe in a God, but I believe that you protected her, protected both of us, throughout my pregnancy. Thank you," she said softly.

Sydney stayed there for a few moments, studying the headstone and feeling the sun beat down on her. There was more she wanted to tell him, how she was so close to redeeming his loss, how by doing so the world would inevitably be a safer place. There was a hope in her heart that he already knew that, that wherever he was he saw her and was proud of her, happy for her. Danny had been the sweetest man she had ever known, and it wasn't hard to imagine those things. Grasping on to the headstone, she stood up, her back instantly regretting that she had ever bent down. Picking up the carrier, she whispered that she loved him and walked away.

Doctors had never been Sydney's favorite people, but seeing her daughter screaming in the pediatricians face made it far worse. In her opinion the pediatrician was a reasonable, pleasant woman. Jackie had gained eight ounces in the first week of her life, a good amount, and they discussed sleeping habits (Jackie's, not Sydney's, although Sydney thought it might be more useful to discuss her own sleeping habits). The umbilical cord was healing well, and the doctor explained that it should fall off soon. Once it did, she was given the go-ahead to start bathing her once a week. The doctor explained that until she started to crawl it would be enough to simply wash her face and hands once a day.

Looking at Jackie, half asleep in her car seat on the way home, Sydney wondered if her daughter missed her Father as much as she did.

Tuesday night, between her seven p.m. and eleven p.m. feedings, Jackie's umbilical cord fell off, revealing her belly button for the first time. A silly surge of pride ran through Sydney's veins at the sight of it. It had fallen off and there didn't appear to be any infection or bleeding, just an innie where the remainder of the cord had been.

Wednesday afternoon the soothing sound of Sarah McLachlan floated into the bathroom from the living room radio. Cautiously Sydney slid into the tub, carrying Jackie in her arms. Sydney bit her lip anxiously, instantly relieved when Jackie slid into the water without screaming. Soaping up the washcloth, she hummed along with the music as she started to wash her daughter. Using her dry hand and arm she balanced the baby, continuing to smile and hum as she bathed her. Her daughter apparently found baths just as relaxing as she did, and quietly let her Mother bathe her.

Gently massaging baby shampoo onto Jackie's scalp, she swore as the phone rang. Cupping water in her hand, she washed the shampoo away and reached across the side of the tub to pick up the cordless phone. Remembering to be pleasant, she hit 'Phone' and balanced it between her ear and shoulder, praying it wouldn't drop in to the tub.


"Sears Auto Center?" A familiar male asked. Sydney's distain and annoying briefly floated away.

"Wrong number," she replied and hung up. Placing the phone back down, she smiled at Jackie. "Okay sweetie, bath time's over for now," she explained. Standing with her daughter in her arms, she stepped out of the tub and rested her daughter in a hooded towel. Swaddling the blanket around the baby, she slipped on her own robe and started down the hallway to get changed.

That Wednesday was warm, even by California standards, and she took the opportunity to dress her daughter in the Kings onesie. Throwing on her own pants and t-shirt, she quickly braided her hair and put a cap on her daughter's head before they walked out the door. Buckling the carrier carefully into the car, she got in the drivers seat and started in the appropriate direction.

Upon her arrival to the Sears Auto Center, she decided she needed her oil changed and it was as good of a time as any. When she walked into the waiting room, it was empty, although far nicer then she had expected. There were a dozen or so chairs, a soda and snack machine, magazines, a television and even free coffee. Although the room was empty, she walked to the back of the room and sat down. Then she placed the carrier in the seat next to her as she picked up a magazine, killing time as she flipped through the pages.

Vaughn arrived ten minutes after she did, walking in and taking a seat across from her. For the first couple of seconds she continued to look through the magazine and then glanced quickly at him. She took in his suit and wondered if he was there on an official capacity or needed his oil changed during his lunch break. Either way she didn't care, she was relieved to see him.

"Next Tuesday, New York City," he said. Sydney looked up and nodded, having fully understood his meaning. Next Tuesday would have been her due date, although she had no qualms about having Jackie already by her side. The sooner she went back to work, the sooner this would all be over. "She's smiling," he whispered in awe.

Looking at Jackie, Sydney smiled and nodded, not having the heart to tell him it was a gas-induced smile and had nothing to do with her recognizing him - or either of them at that point. "She's gained eight ounces."

"I like her outfit," he smirked as she laughed. Deciding that the room was briefly safe, she met his eyes and smiled. "We're safe here," he promised her in a serious tone.

"We are?"

"Would you believe Sears is one of our front companies?" He asked with a straight face.

"Really?" She whispered in surprise.

"No," he laughed. "But it could be." He shrugged as they both shared a quiet laugh. She nodded and looked away, back down at her magazine. "Syd, are you okay?" He asked quietly with obvious concern.

"Yeah, why?" She shrugged.

"You're sweating." He noted. Bringing her hand up, she wiped away the sweat that had collected on her forehead.

"Hormones," she explained as he nodded. "How's Charlotte?"

"She's getting there," he told her. "Do you need anything?"

"I'm fine," she promised. Vaughn nodded and accepted her answer.

"My cars almost ready," he realized, glancing out the window to the repair station. After he sat looking at them for a few more seconds, he forced himself to stand up, remembering that this would be over in a month. Halfway to the door, he stopped briefly to look over his shoulder. "Hey Syd?" He called as she looked up. "Happy birthday." She smiled widely at him as he turned around and forced himself to walk out of the room.

Sydney's friends came over; they brought dinner and sat around watching television with her. While they were there they changed Jackie for the night, giving Sydney a slight break. They spoke about the restaurant, about Will's newest column, and Jennie's new case at work. For her credit, Jackie seemed to either love or just not notice the company, falling asleep in any of her friend's arms while the five of them sat around quietly talking and laughing.

Saturday afternoon Dixon, Diane and their daughter came over for a visit. It was the first time she had seen her partner in a few weeks, and it was a nice visit. Diane had plenty of helpful advice on how she could juggle the baby when she went back to work; and nine year old Deirdre loved holding Jackie. They brought Jackie a teddy bear and Sydney a nice and soft new set of sweats to parade around the house in. If that wasn't enough, Diane also brought her an already made casserole that she could warm up whenever necessary. Their generosity and care floored her, and after they left she once again found herself hoping that when the Alliance collapsed Dixon could find a job at the CIA.

Tuesday evening she was rocking Jackie in the nursery when her Father arrived with dinner. Letting him into the house, she put her daughter to sleep in the cradle and turned towards her Father. "This morning the Alliances cell in New York City was officially destroyed," Jack told her, handing her dinner.

"What does Sloane have to say?"

"Nothing pleasant," Jack muttered. "Dixon is currently on a plane to New York. The CIA has already planted all of the necessary information for him to uncover." He explained. "Mandy is arriving Sunday afternoon."

"Good, because I'm returning to work Monday."

The look he shot her would surely have killed a less experienced or weaker person. "Sydney, I'm not entirely sure -"

"Dad," she stopped him. "I'm returning to work on Monday. I can't walk in the day before the CIA raids the office. It's too soon for Sloane to send me on a mission, especially since Dixon's already handling all reconnaissance." She reminded him. "Today would have been my due date."

"Yes," Jack nodded and looked at the cradle. "How is Jacqueline doing?"

"She's fine," Sydney shrugged. "Tomorrow we're going to attempt her second bath, we'll see how it goes."

"You always loved bath time," he smiled at the memory. "You would scream when we tried to take you out."

"She seems to like it," she explained. "If the weather is nice this weekend I'm going to take her out in the pram. I'm starting to get sick of the apartment."

"Don't push yourself too far," he warned her.

"I won't. A walk to the park and back would do us both good." She declared. "I'll take all the necessary precautions."

"Yes, I trust that you will." Jack muttered.

From her corner of the room, Jackie began to cry. "She probably needs a change," Sydney mumbled as she started to stand up.

"Don't," her Father held up a hand to stop her. Instead he stood and walked over to the cradle. Getting comfortable on the sofa she watched her Father pick up Jackie. The little girl rested on her Grandfather's front arm, her head in the cradle of his hand and her feet tucked in by his elbow. Quietly talking to the little girl, he bounced her gently as he walked her in the direction of the nursery. The gentleness her Father exhibited towards her daughter was far more then she had ever anticipated, and allowed a small glimpse into the rarely seen side of her Father.

A sunny, warm California weekend arrived quickly. Jack had spent the remainder of the weekend in conference calls with Sloane and the head of the Alliances London cell, SD-1. On Friday evening he literally had had to drag Sloane out of his office and back to his own home for the weekend, having reminded Arvin that the unknown organization had not struck once on a weekend and there was no reason to believe his M.O. had suddenly changed. Arvin had agreed and promised Jack he would spend the weekend relaxing with Emily.

The black pram they had retrieved from storage months earlier moved smoother then Sydney had anticipated. Saturday afternoon she dressed her daughter in a lightweight onesie and placed her in the pram. After wrapping the little girl in a lightweight blanket, she grabbed the diaper bag and they started to walk. Walking, her muscles began to work and Sydney started to feel better. While she was nearly three weeks post-delivery she was still experiencing back aches, fatigue, severe sweating and when she looked in the mirror earlier in the day she had been disgusted by her bloodshot eyes. All of those symptoms were normal, as all the books and doctors had informed her. The warm sun and the casual walk went a long way to helping her feel better.

Having remembered her Father's advice not to push it, she sat down on the park bench to rest. Much to her relief, after a few minutes of waiting, she saw Vaughn approaching in loose pants and a t-shirt, jogging with a dog. She forced herself to look away and watch Jackie. After a few seconds, he sat down on the bench a short distance from her and the small bulldog, whom she assumed to be Donovan, briefly sniffed her before sitting on the grass between the two agents.

"By the time your Father goes into work Monday, London will be gone," he informed her.

"Good," she nodded. "I'm going back to work Monday too."

"What?" He asked, having barely enough time to stop himself from looking at her. "It's only been -"

"I need to go back." She cut him off. "I have to. The sooner I go back, the sooner it's all over."

Vaughn nodded and dared to look into the pram at the sleeping little girl he loved so much. "If it's what you want," he conceded. That was one of his shortcomings in life; if Sydney Bristow wanted it there were very few things he would say no to. He'd even broken in to the Vatican with her, and his Uncle was a Catholic priest.

"Mandy arrives tomorrow, she's going to help Dad and I . . . Until things end . ." She explained, glancing at him out of the corner of her eye. "How's Charlotte?"

"Cranky. With Maya she delivered ten days before her due date. I think she's ready to pounce on her doctor. Or divorce Patrick for ever touching her," he added as she laughed. "So, where'd you get the carriage?"

"It was mine. We got it out of storage," she explained. Jackie's fusses broke their quiet conversation. Sydney rose slightly and picked up Jackie, sitting back down and bouncing her slightly in her arms. "Hi sweetie, what's wrong sweetheart," she cooed gently as Vaughn watched out of the corner of his eye.

Looking down he shook his head, feeling his heart break and regret bubble in his soul. There was very little he wouldn't give to be able to openly look at them or to hold Jackie in his arms while Donovan rested at his feet. In an unusual way the four of them sitting there, Sydney pushing Jackie and he walking Donovan, was the sum of all of his dreams of the future. Yet living in that moment caused an excruciating pain to burn through his soul.

"Is there anything I can do?" He asked softly once Jackie had quieted down.

Sydney shook her head, still smiling down at her little girl. "No, I think we're okay, right sweetie?" She dropped a kiss on her daughter's head.

Vaughn nodded and stood. "C'mon Donovan, let's go." He commanded quietly, sneaking a glance at Sydney, who met his eyes for a half a second, before he turned and walked away.

That evening, as Jackie slept in her crib for the first time, Sydney sat in the glider filling out what she could in the baby book. She wrote her daughter's full name, birth weight, length, the time of birth, hospital and the doctor who delivered her. As Sydney filled out the information about her daughter's church, she made a mental note to call and schedule Jackie's baptism. She also taped in the first pictures of Jackie - the hospital photo and a picture of Jackie in her arms that Jack had taken - into the book. After consideration she decided to leave the birth certificate out until she could have it completely filled out. Sydney wrote about the people who had visited them and the gifts they received. Francie had thought ahead and brought in the baby book and had the nurses press Jackie's feet and handprints into the book after she was born. She also retrieved the hospital bracelets and taped them in. After she briefly admired her work, she placed the baby book away and slept in her room for the first time in three weeks.

Jack picked Mandy up from LAX the next afternoon. Sydney was in the living room having finished feeding Jackie when the door opened and they walked in. The woman who entered had obviously aged from the twenty three year old co-ed she had remembered, but only barely. She was still tall, her eyes were still bright blue and she still wore glasses with maroon frames. Her brown hair was in a ponytail, although it had streaks of gray, and the laugh lines on her face were more prominent then they were twenty-four years ago. There was no denying it was Mandy.

"Sydney, you're all grown up!" She teased as the two women hugged.

"So are you!" She joked. "You look so good!"

"So do you sweetheart, especially since you just had a baby!" She smiled fondly.

"Thank you so much for coming out."

"I wouldn't miss this for anything. Am I to assume that's her?" She asked, her eyes moving to the baby asleep in the swing.

"That's my Jackie."

"She looks so much like you did."

"Yeah, she does," Sydney smiled at the compliment. "Please, come in, make yourself at home."

They spent the afternoon reminiscing. That was the first chance she got to see Mandy's engagement ring, and heard of her plans to marry her fiancé at Christmas time. When Jackie awoke she instantly took to her Mother's former caretaker, calming in the woman's arms. Mandy listened to Sydney's stories of school, graduation, her friends. Having Mandy around also gave her an excuse to show off the pictures she had been taking over the past few weeks, displaying Jackie's growth over a short period of time.

Jack was going to pick Mandy up the next morning from Ben's house, where she'd be spending the next few weeks. The two women hugged and parted after dinner, Sydney confident that her daughter would get the best possible care while she was way. With her company gone she was forced to prepare for the next day and what would be her first time away from her daughter.

Sydney walked into SD-6 with her Father the next morning, her back aching and her eyes blurred from lack of sleep. It had taken nearly a pound of cover up to hide the bags under her eyes and it had been impossible to cover up the bloodshot look still in her eye. Putting down her briefcase, she started to sit down at her desk when Dixon arrived.

"Don't bother Syd, I wish I could say welcome back but it looks like Sloane wants to see us immediately."

"Okay," she nodded, setting down her coat and following him through the familiar office to the conference room. Marshall smiled nervously at her as she sat down and the three of them waited in silence.

After only a few seconds, Jack and Sloane walked into the office. Sydney watched her boss pick up the remote and flick on the monitor. "Sydney, welcome back," he said as she nodded before he turned to look at the rest of them. "Unfortunately, Sydney's return is not on a good note. This morning our London offices were raided and destroyed. The head of our London offices, Jason Rhys, was taken into custody by this unknown organization. As of today, we no longer have any allies; all eleven of them have been destroyed. Dixon, your flight leaves in two hours. Sydney, I mean no disrespect to your qualifications and ability, but I'd prefer if you stayed here. We're going to need your input to come up with a new security plan."

"Of course," she nodded.

"Marshall, I trust you can bring Dixon up to date on the Optec."

"Y-y-yes, sir." Marshall stuttered as his boss stood and retrieved to his office. After a moment Jack spoke to Dixon.

"Your mission will be to retrieve anything from a vault that they had in the conference room behind a portrait of Winston Churchill. You'll also log in to the main system and download everything."

"Of course," Dixon nodded before Jack stood and left the room.

Sydney stayed long enough to hear about Marshall's latest gadget and share a picture of Jackie with the tech whiz. Then she made her way back to her desk, filling out paperwork and forms that had gone undone in her absence. Following lunch she sat in on a meeting with her Father, Sloane and those from security section, listening and adding when necessary to the discussion of how to keep the office safe when they had no allies to turn to.

Returning home that night, she was surprised at how exhausted she was. Mandy had been fabulous though, vacuuming and dusting the living room and preparing dinner all while caring for Jackie. Sydney was relieved to hear that Jackie had taken the bottle full of the milk she had been pumping. Having her daughter back in her arms, however, no matter how exhausted she was, felt wonderful. Even when Jackie spit up all over Sydney's shirt.

Jackie sat in the swing while she warmed up her own dinner and prepared her outfit for the following day. The carrier rested on the bathroom floor while Sydney took a warm shower. After she was changed into her own pajamas she sat in the glider, humming Brahms Lullaby. While she nursed, she noticed for the first time that Jackie's eyes, while they had always held a tint of green, were now without a doubt the same shade of green as her Father's.

Although she spent most of her time at work in meetings, she felt as though she didn't belong. Her eyes would slip to the clock and she'd wonder what Jackie was doing - did she need anything? Did she miss her? No matter how confident she was in Mandy's ability to care for her daughter, the questions still popped up. Plus her body was still going through the stages of recovery, as judged by how shaky her legs would get in heels or how sore her back was in the morning. The only thing that kept her going was walking in the house every night and seeing Vaughn's eyes and crooked (albeit gassy) smile shining back at her compounded with the knowledge that soon enough this would all be over and she would have won.

Weiss walked into Vaughn's office Friday afternoon, playing with his yo-yo as he sat down across from his friend. "You want to get a pizza tonight and watch the Dodgers game?"

"The Dodgers stink," Vaughn replied, not bothering to look up from his paperwork.

"Yeah, well going to Shea Stadium isn't exactly an option," his friend reminded him. "So, how's your family?"

Vaughn looked up, slightly perplexed. "They're fine. My Mother's fine and Charlotte - "

"Not them," Weiss rolled his eyes in disgust. "Bristow and the baby."

"I'm assuming that Agent Bristow is doing well, she returned to work on Monday. I also assume that Jacqueline is fine."

Once again his friend's eyes rolled. "Yeah, okay, seriously, how many times have you seen her since the kid was born, five, six?"

Three, he thought miserably. "I saw Agent Bristow last weekend when she informed me she'd be returning to work this week." He said simply.

"Okay," he friend sighed and sat back. "It's okay. Don't tell me. She'll be free in a few weeks and I intend to have a front rows seat when you two run towards each other like madmen."

Vaughn looked up at his friend and snorted. "What is this, a nineteen fifties grade B movie?"

Weiss shrugged, "I call 'em like I see 'em. So, anyway, what's Brigitte making for dinner this weekend?"

"Honestly, I'm not sure. I'm not even sure we're having dinner this weekend."

"What? Why not?"

"Charlotte's out of the hospital today, so my Mother will probably be at their house helping with the baby and Maya."

"So you have a nephew now! Congratulations man, when did that happen?"

"Wednesday. William Vaughn McGannon, nine pounds twenty two inches and two miserable days overdue."

"Cinco de Mayo, very cool."

"Yeah," he shrugged.

"Did Charlotte like the onesie?"

"What?" He asked, now looking up in full confusion.

"The Kings onesie you bought for your *nephew*?"

"Oh, yeah, it was fine."

"So, pizza and the game tonight or what?"

Vaughn sighed as he closed the file he was working on and stood. "Thanks, but no thanks. I've got plans," he explained, starting to put on his coat.

"Okay," Weiss sighed in frustration as his friend grabbed his briefcase. "Hey, don't do anything I wouldn't do!" He called as Vaughn walked out of the office.

Three hours and a change into jeans and a t-shirt later, Vaughn sat in the warehouse waiting. Sydney walked in wearing leggings, a large t-shirt and tennis shoes. In her hand was the carrier, and to his delight Jackie's eyes were wide open. "Hey," she greeted, setting the carrier down on the chair.

"She's awake," he grinned as she smiled and nodded.

"Yeah. She had a good day. She ate a lot for Mandy and slept well."

Motioning towards the carrier, he asked, "Can I?"

"Go ahead," she smiled and sat down. Jackie started to cry as her Father unbuckled the carrier, but she quieted down as he picked her up.

"Hi honey," he grinned and spoke softly down at her. "How are you? I've missed you so much," he reminded her as he kissed her forehead. "You are getting more and more beautiful. Are you being good for your Mommy?" He asked. Jackie's response was to make a face and start to moan.

"She needs to burp, she hates to burp but if she doesn't she gets all cranky -" Sydney started to explain.

"Sit Syd, I've got it," he reassured her. Quietly she watched as he moved the baby in his arms, resting her chin on his shoulder as he started to gently pat her back and sashay back and forth with her, humming quietly. "C'mon kiddo, give it up," he urged as Sydney laughed. "Jackie, burp for Daddy, please sweetheart," he pleaded, kissing the side of her head as she let out a loud burp. "That's a girl, that's my little girl. See, you'll feel all better," he gently explained as he rubbed her back. "Charlotte had her baby," he said in a normal manner, his eyes on Sydney.

"Really? Did she have a boy?"

"Yep, William Vaughn McGannon. Born Wednesday, he was nine pounds and twenty two inches."

"So Jackie has another cousin," Sydney realized. Vaughn paced with Jackie on his shoulder, and Sydney smiled at her daughter, whose head was half asleep on her Father's shoulder. "I never had any cousins," she remembered softly.

"I did, my Father's sister had three kids, but they all live in Seattle. I never saw them much growing up," he recalled.

"What about your Mom, does she have any brothers or sisters?"

"One, my Uncle, but he's a priest."

"A priest?" She asked with wide eyes. "Your Uncle's a *priest*?"

"Yeah," he chuckled.

"Vaughn, you've broken in to the Vatican," she whispered the reminder as he laughed.

"Tell me about it. I didn't relish having to confess that to him."

Sydney laughed before she grew serious. "Do you want me to wait and baptize her after this is all over? Your Uncle could baptize her." She suggested.

"Do you want to wait?" Vaughn asked, once again meeting her gaze.

"We could. I already asked Will and Francie though, I hope that's not a problem."

"Syd, if you want them to be her godparents, then they'll be her godparents." He shrugged, resting his hand on the top of his daughter's head and holding her close.

"I think I'll wait," she decided. "I'd rather you be there, and your family too . . "

"My Mother mentioned you yesterday."

Sydney's head shot up and her eyes widened in surprise. "Your Mother mentioned *me*?"

"Do you remember how the papers have the little clippings that list the births at a hospital, whether they had a girl or boy, their address, things like that?"

"Yeah, I've seen them," she recalled.

"My Mother must have seen yours in the paper because she told me yesterday that you had had a little girl."

"Oh, what did you say?"

"I don't remember," he shrugged. "Something to the extend of oh, that's nice. Knowing my Mother she might send you a card. If my Mother meets you once she acts like you're her best friend."

"She's a nice woman," Sydney smiled as he grinned.

"Yeah, she is." He agreed. "Did Dixon have any problems in London?"

"If he did he didn't say anything. So far Sloane hasn't mentioned any inconsistencies in what he's brought back, including the information downloaded off the main server."

"Good. It only needs to keep him busy for a few more days." He reminded her.

"I can't believe it's almost over," she said, a small smile of disbelief hinting at her features.

"Either can I," he admitted. "You've done good work Syd, we'd still be years away from this if it wasn't for you."

"Thank you," she smiled. "Will you be part of the team that raids us?" She asked, turning professional as she heard Jackie's quiet snores.

"Yes, I will be," he nodded. Sydney just nodded, although she felt instantly relieved. "We haven't hammered out the procedure yet, but you'll be made aware of what's going on before we enter." He promised. She nodded and watched as he moved Jackie so she rested in his arms, cuddled up next to his chest. "She's so beautiful when she sleeps," he said gently, smiling down at the baby in adoration.

"Yeah, she is." Sydney agreed.

"How are things going with Mandy?"

"Wonderful. She's wonderful; I forgot how good she was. She's never had any children of her own and yet she can manage to clean the house and make dinner all while taking care of Jackie."

"Good," he nodded. "I know this isn't easy Syd, and I can't promise that it's going to get easier, but I do promise that it's almost over." He vowed.

"It's almost over," she quietly echoed.

"You need to get some sleep," he whispered. She nodded, not wanting to leave but knowing she had to. Slowly she stood and started to put on her coat. Meanwhile he dropped a kiss on his daughter's forehead and whispered how much he loved her. Jackie's eyes sprang open with tears and cries the second he put her in the carrier and buckled her in. "Sorry," he whispered in anguish. Although he knew it was impossible, he felt as though his daughter was looking right at him and crying because he had put her down.

"It's okay," Sydney spoke loudly over the cries. "She'll calm down once we're in the car," she tried to reassure him, smiling as she grabbed the carrier. Vaughn was left standing alone, hearing Jackie's screams echo long after they were gone.

Francie and Jennie accompanied Sydney Saturday when she took Jackie for a walk to the park. Francie complained about understaffing while Jennie shared her worries of her upcoming trial. Jackie, however, slept most of the time, even when the three women stopped for a late afternoon lunch. Being out of the house helped Sydney, and at almost four weeks past delivery she was feeling better and better everyday.

Sunday afternoon Will was at the house with Jackie so Sydney could go to the restaurant and have lunch with Francie. Under Jennie's influence and his own sweetness, Will had grown into a nearly expert baby-sitter in the few weeks since Jackie was born, and had long ago forgiven his goddaughter for being a girl instead of his desperately sought after godson. Being out with just Francie was wonderful, and Charlie had thoughtfully prepared her favorite dish to be warm and ready when she arrived. Afterwards the two girls even went to the newest Denzel Washington movie before they returned to Sydney's house.

During a late afternoon debriefing on Monday, Sloane mentioned the possibility of sending Sydney on a mission the following week. Deciding it was pointless to give it much thought or worry, she simply smiled and said she'd be eager to help in any way she could. The beginning half of the week was spent doing what she could do help with the installation of the new system. Marshall had designed it himself, and he proudly declared it was the most advanced system he had ever personally seen and should effectively keep their files safe and secure, accessible only to appropriate personnel.

By Friday there still had been no legitimate reason to see Vaughn. With Sloane more paranoid, it would have been near impossible for Sydney to have shaken a tail in order to see him. Anything that she needed to know about came from her Father, and she knew it was probably for the best. The truth still was that even Jackie, who was finally starting to meet Sydney's gaze and really smile, seemed to be missing his presence.

That final weekend seemed to be the longest of Sydney's life - even longer then the weekend she was in labor and in the hospital after. Saturday morning she had taken Jackie down to the library for their first story time, and then she stopped by Starbucks. After she sat in the park, drinking her decaf Cafe Mocha while her daughter slept soundly. During the evening Francie and Will came over for pizza, Charlie and Jennie were stuck at the office working on a case while the three friends sat watching television and eating pizza. They also laughed when Jackie's eyes followed the pizza and she gurgled whenever it was near. Sydney smiled and thought that perhaps their daughter had taken Joey's Pizza to heart.

Sunday morning Jackie slept in her carrier while her Mother and Grandfather sat in Francie's restaurant having breakfast. Jack was surprisingly calm about what he knew was to happen the following day. He refused to tell her anything, instead telling her that it was best she knew very little until absolutely necessary. Sydney couldn't help but have an odd emotion bubbling in her stomach, relief, and anxiety, even fear. The last thing she wanted to see was gunfire, as much as she wanted Arvin Sloane dead she knew if there was a crossfire it was more likely that one of her unassuming co-workers would go down.

In the evening Sydney took Jackie for another walk, unable to stay in her house. She found if she sat still for too long her thoughts wandered to the following day and all that could go wrong. Until it actually happened she was forcing herself to stay calm. The entire idea was entirely surreal, and she was terrified that she'd get her hopes up and some unforeseeable event would occur and as a result nothing would happen. Instead she took Jackie to the park, carefully steering the pram over the woodchips before she sat listening to the children playing in the park and watched the sun set peacefully over the horizon.

May 16th was the third Monday of May, and had been marked in her mind from the very first time Vaughn had uttered it. Mandy arrived early on that particular morning, having stopped ahead for a decaf Cafe Mocha for Sydney and bagels for both of them. Jackie was fed a bottle of breast milk while Sydney prepared for the day, forcing herself to go through the motions as though it were any other day. Given her connections, Mandy had already been informed of the day's events and was the soothing hand that guided her through her early morning preparations. Hugging Jackie close, she whispered how much she loved her and showered her daughter with kisses. Forcing herself to hand her daughter over to Mandy, she knew they'd be safe as she grabbed her jacket and briefcase and walked out of the house.

The L.A. traffic seemed horrific that morning. Every other turn there was an accident, or a red light, or construction work. She turned up the radio and remembered the relaxation exercises taught to her in childbirth classes. Was her commute always this difficult, or was she particularly sensitive that morning? She wouldn't bet either way, instead she reached Credit Dauphine five minutes before she was set to start work. She grabbed her briefcase and met her Father in the parking garage, where they exchanged basic pleasantries and rode the elevator down together.

Sloane spent the morning meeting talking about how fantastic Marshall's new security system was, and they all laughed at how it was to difficult to break into that Sloane himself had had trouble accessing it that morning. Then she listened as he explained a possible mission to Geneva later that week, where she and Dixon would retrieve a disk containing all the information that K-Directorate had on Rimbaldi. Sydney made a mental note to remember that, certain that the CIA would want to get that disk.

Dixon asked her how Jackie was and she asked how Diane and Deirdre were before they returned to their respective desks. Sydney was working on some paperwork when the sound of her cell phone ringing sent her skin jumping. "Hello?" She asked while disgusted at how shaky her voice was.

"Hi Syd, sorry, it's me," Mandy said apologetically. "Jackie's having a fit, can you please just talk to her or something?" She pleaded.

"Sure," she sighed. Within seconds she recognized her daughter's breathing no the line as she started to sing Brahms Lullaby to her, relieved that only Dixon heard her. Her partner glanced over his shoulder at her and smiled, recognizing something that only a parent would understand. "I love you sweetie," she whispered, relieved to hear Jackie's screams turn into gurgles and coos.

"Thanks Syd, sorry about that." Mandy said, rejoining the conversation.

"It's okay. Thanks for letting me talk to her. Let me go, I'll talk to you later."

"Okay. Have a good day."

"Thanks," she smiled, slightly more relaxed. "Bye."


Dixon pushed his chair back and leaned in to Sydney. "Jackie okay?"

"She's fine. She was throwing a fit for some reason," she smiled and shrugged.

"Jackie's just a baby Syd, it gets worse." He smiled as she laughed.

"That's what I'm afraid of."

"Diane wanted to know if you wanted to come over for dinner Saturday. She's making lasagna and Deirdre would love to see Jackie again."

Sydney smiled and wondered if the invitation would still exist in a few hours. Then again she hoped he'd be out of custody in by Saturday. She only wanted the best for Dixon and Marshall; they were the closest of her co-workers and two of the sweetest most patriotic men she had ever met. "Let me check with my Dad, but sure, that'd be nice." She agreed.

"Great, Diane will be thrilled." He smiled as he returned to his desk.

Late in the morning she saw her Father and Sloane walking into the latters office. Returning to her computer, she was attempting to log in to her new system, trying to figure out just what Marshall had done, when her phone rang. "Hello?" She answered, hoping that Jackie wasn't giving Mandy too much trouble.

"In one minute all communication outside of the building wired or otherwise, will be cut off. I want you to get under your desk, pretend your getting something; I don't care, just get under there and stay under. All of the agents are aware of where your desk is but I want you safe," Vaughn said in one breath.

Sydney felt her heart stop and she swallowed, her mouth suddenly dry.

"I need you to stay calm, don't move from under your desk until someone gets you. In three minutes we'll be in there. You're going to be okay," he reassured her.

"Okay. Thank you," she said, hoping she sounded professional as she hung up the phone. Dixon looked over his shoulder and smiled at her.

"Everything okay Syd?"

"Yeah, everything's great," she reassured him. "Think I dropped something," she muttered. As she got onto the floor and curled up under her desk, she was instantly glad she had worn her pants that day. Staying there, her body curled up and sore, she felt her heart stop when footsteps echoed into the room.

"CIA! Put your hands up!" Vaughn's familiar voice ordered. She heard the same sentiment repeated several times and some of her coworkers start to protest. Holding her breath, she heard a gunshot go off and her heart skipped a beat. Instantly she wondered if she'd ever see Jackie or her Father or Vaughn again. Then there was the sound of handcuffs being clasped shut and unfamiliar voices echoing the Miranda rights.

When a hand grasped her arm, she nearly fought back until she looked up and saw it was Weiss. Willingly she stood up and felt the cool metal handcuffs snap around her wrists. Somewhere in the back of her mind she heard him reading her Miranda rights, all in an attempt to keep her cover intact. Her eyes looked around at her stunned co-workers and the CIA agents, wearing bulletproof vests and toting semi-automatics. This was almost too peaceful, she thought, until her eyes fell on one of the Credit Dauphine employees bleeding in the back of the room. What really caught her eye, however, was Vaughn walking into Sloane's office. After she pried her eyes away from him, reminding herself that she was still under the guise of working for SD-6, she met her Father's gaze. He remained stoic as an unfamiliar agent led him out of the building.

Weiss grabbed her upper arm and started to lead her out of the building. She kept her mouth shut and her eye cast down as he led her to one of the CIA cars waiting in the parking garage. He put her in the car before he got in front. They had been driving for five minutes before either one of them spoke.

"Once we get to headquarters I'll uncuff you. We don't want to risk blowing your cover and Sloane attempting to get revenge."

"Okay," she agreed, keeping her eyes fixated out the window. L.A. looked exactly as it did that morning, and for some reason that disappointed her. Her entire world was now officially changed, shouldn't the rest of the world be changed too? Deep down she knew the world had changed, while it wasn't visible it was safer.

"How's Jackie?" He asked, as she looked at him, surprised he would ask that.

"She's good," Sydney smiled as she thought of her daughter. "She's getting big."

"Ah, kids, they grow up so fast." He said playfully as she laughed. "Sorry if I was too rough on you."

"It's fine," she said somberly. "You're just doing your job."

"Hey," he said as he met her eyes. "Your allowed to be happy now Syd. You brought down the monster, you won."

"I know," she sighed. "The truth is I don't know how to feel." She confessed.

"Give it some time, let it settle in. Just remember that you deserve this, you did nothing wrong."

Sydney laughed, "do you go to Doctor Barnett on a regular basis?"

"No, but I'm starting to sound like her," he shook in horror.

She rolled her eyes and looked out the car window, the rest of the ride silent.

Although she was in handcuffs, that was the first day since she started as a double that she walked through the CIA's front door. Weiss led her into a room that reminded her of the first CIA room she had been in. Back then her hair had been pink, her mouth had been bloody and she had been as lost as a soul could be. Aside from the teeth and the hair, she wasn't sure how much had actually changed.

The cuffs clinked as he released her. "Ready to write?" Weiss asked, setting down a handful of pens and paper in front of her. "I'll bring you some coffee, but you know the drill."

"Everything and anything I know." She nodded as she sat down.

"Exactly. Mike said you were worried about Dixon and Marshall, so if you want to start with them we can process them quicker," he reminded her. Sydney took a moment to remember that Weiss' friend Mike was her (former?) CIA handler Michael Vaughn.

"Okay. Thank you." She smiled as she turned and started to write.

She had written everything she knew about Dixon and Marshall - underscoring that she felt they were truly patriotic and unaware of what they were truly working for - within the first hour and a half. The next several hours were spent drinking seven cups of decaf coffee (Sydney briefly regretted that she was breastfeeding and thus could not have caffeine), going through ten blue and black Bic pens and a seemingly endless pile of paper.

"Done?" Weiss asked, walking in as she capped the last pen and massaged her sore right hand.

"Yes," she nodded and stood.

"I'll take them -" he started, going to take it from her. He'd already been in earlier and taken what she had written about Dixon and Marshall, and was surprised when she stopped him.

"No. I'd like to take them to Devlin."

Weiss looked at her in obvious surprise. After a moment he nodded. "Take a right, it's the fourth door on your left." He instructed. Sydney nodded and picked up the pile of papers. She walked down the hallway, intermingled between other CIA agents, all faces she didn't recognize but had been working side by side with for years. After a heavy sigh she stepped into Devlin's office, met by a secretary.

"I'd like to see Director Devlin."

The secretary plastered a fake smile and stood. "I'm afraid that's impossible, why don't you-"

"Please tell Director Devlin that Agent Sydney Bristow would like to see him." She commanded. The secretary wrinkled her nose in disgust but sat down and paged into the office. Following a brief conversation, the secretary glared at her and muttered that she could go in. Sydney sighed as she approached the door. She had always known the CIA was the boys club, but she had never suspected the women could be just as cruel.

"Agent Bristow, how can I help you?" Devlin asked, standing slightly to greet her. Sydney plopped the pile of papers unceremoniously on his desk and stepped back.

"That's everything I know." She explained.

"Thank you Agent Bristow -"

"I'm done." She said, her eyebrow rising slightly as she said it. "I have no interest in working for the CIA."

Devlin paused for a moment and nodded. "Perhaps consultation?" He suggested.

"Maybe one day, but not today." She explained.

He nodded again and outstretched his hand to the younger agent. "If you ever change your mind Agent Bristow, we'd be thrilled to have you join us," he said as she shook his hand. "Thank you for all you've done for us."

"Thank you," she replied. After a second, she let go of his hand. Once out of his office, she kept her head held high and marched without interruption out of the building.

"Sydney, your home," Mandy smiled, balancing Jackie in her arms as Sydney walked into the room. The CIA had entered Credit Dauphine around noon and she had spent the last five hours at the CIA. She was exhausted, but smiled when she saw her daughter.

"Hi Jackie, hi sweetie, I've missed you," she spoke softly, kissing her daughter's cheek and pulling her close.

"I was starting to get worried about you. Your friends have called several times, I let the machine answer it."

"Thank you," she smiled gratefully, resting her cheek against her daughter's.

"Am I to assume you have tomorrow off?"

"I have a million tomorrows off," she laughed as Jackie hummed a response. "Maybe you could come over for breakfast or something before you leave."

"I'd love to," she smiled. Briefly she reached out to touch the baby's cheek and then hugged her former charge.

"You get some rest sweetheart, and call me after you get it. Jackie's been fed, all she needs is to be changed for bed and put down."

"Thank you."

"Your welcome," Mandy smiled at them one more time. Then the nanny grabbed her jacket and walked out of the house.

"Do you need to be changed sweetie, huh?" Sydney asked Jackie, who responded by looking back at her Mother in confusion. "Let's get you changed for bed," she decided, starting to hum Brahms Lullaby as she walked down the hall to the nursery.

The sun had long ago set in the sky when she stood in the nursery watching over Jackie. She had changed into sweatpants and her socked feet. After everything that had happened that day, she was more then content to stand there and watch Jackie sleep peacefully. Her thoughts drifted back to her Father . . Dixon . . Marshall . . Emily . . . Before she consider where each of them were, the phone rang.

"Hello?" She asked, hoping it was her Father. When she had entered Devlin's office earlier in the day, she had half expected him to be there.

"Joey's Pizza?" A familiar voice asked.

"Wrong number," she answered as she put down the phone. "Guess we're going for some pizza," she mumbled as she gently picked her daughter up and started to prepare her for a brief trip out of the house.

Sydney walked into the warehouse a short time later, Jackie asleep in the snugli, the baby's ear resting over her own heartbeat. The warehouse suddenly seemed far dimmer then she recognized. Vaughn was waiting in his suit, looking fully professional. "Hey," he greeted softly.

This was new territory for both of them. She was free now, and she had yet to figure out what the reality of that was. "Hi," she answered softly.

"How are you doing?"

"I'm fine," she said. He saw straight through that and she sighed. Lying to him had always been pointless. "I just . . . I don't know what to do now." She admitted with a sigh. Being a spy had been her one and only focus for so long, SD-6 had been her major life goal. Now, it was over, and it was a mixed blessing at best.

The look in her eyes broke his heart when she asked, "What do I do now?" Vaughn's eyes fell on their daughter who slept cuddled up next to her Mother.

"I'm pretty sure she'll keep you busy," he suggested with a hint of a smile.

She laughed and kissed her daughter's head, appreciating the moment of levity. After a second, she once again grew somber. "Can I be normal?"

He shrugged, "what does normal mean anyway? You can be happy though, and that's about as close to normal as anyone can hope for."

~*The End *~