Working it Out
Summary: Sydney and Nigel discuss their feelings for each other. Sequel to (and apology for) Heart of Gold.
Disclaimer: I don't own them, I just like getting inside their heads from time to time.
Feedback: Pretty please?
Note: Okay, so it was dumb of me to end Heart of Gold where I did. I swear, I wasn't trying to leave anyone hanging. Hopefully this will make up for it.
Working it Out
Sydney opened the door halfway and glanced out. "Nigel?"
He nodded nervously. "Um, Syd, I... that is, we..." He cleared his throat nervously. "It wasn't the drugs, Syd..." he said quietly.
"What?" Sydney frowned uncertainly at him.
"Um..." Nigel took a deep breath. She was listening. For now, at least. "The things I said and did during the excavations, Syd... You thought it was the painkillers talking. It wasn't, Syd. Not ever." He sighed and continued talking, quickly. "I don't even know why I'm here, really, Syd. It would be so easy to just lay the blame on those blasted pills and have it done with. Get on with life as usual. But... I can't, Syd. It wouldn't be honest, because it wasn't the pills."
"You don't know that, Nigel..." Sydney said softly, looking at him sadly.
"I do, Syd. I stopped taking them the first week of the dig because they were making me feel poorly."
"If it wasn't the pills, what was it?"
"The truth, Syd. It was the truth." He stared at his feet, then glanced back up at Sydney. "I think… I think that we need to discuss some things, Syd."
Sydney stared at him thoughtfully for a moment, then pulled the door open, nodding for him to enter. "I think you're right, Nigel."
Nigel sighed, not sure whether to be relieved or terrified. "Thank you, Syd." He took a deep breath and followed her into her living-room.
"Here, sit." Sydney helped him onto the couch and laid his crutches on the ground nearby. "I was just... making a cup of tea. Do you want one?"
Nigel nodded quickly. "Please." Okay, Nigel, you've got your foot in the door. Now the only question is what in the bloody hell are you going to say?
Sydney vanished into the kitchen and returned several minutes later with two cups of tea. "Here you go." She placed it on the coffee table in front of him and then sat down in an armchair across from him. After several minutes of awkward silence, in which neither touched their tea, Sydney spoke. "So, I guess we've got some things to talk about..."
Nigel nodded weakly. "Yes, it certainly seems that way." After a few moments of silence, he gave a nervous chuckle. "Good Lord, Syd... You know, I actually thought that knocking on your door in the first place was going to be the hard part."
Sydney laughed sympathetically. "Poor Nigel." With a soft sigh, she rose and moved to sit next to him. "Nigel..." she began, sighing again. "Talk to me."
"I'm so sorry for this, Syd. I swear, I never intended anything like it to happen. Things just... spun all out of control."
Sydney nodded, bowing her head. "I know that, Nigel."
He sighed, wishing that she would just look at him. She so seldom avoided his eye. "But it did happen, Syd. And I think we need to talk about that. I think I need to explain why. If only to let you know that it was never the drugs."
Sydney sighed and shook her head. "Nigel, you're my best friend. I don't want that to change."
Nigel rubbed his eyes, reflecting how much easier this whole thing would be if he were healthily drunk. "Sydney, I am not asking that anything change. I just think that... maybe it's better for both of us if everything's laid out on the table." He sighed. "I care about you, Syd. I... I think that I love you, and nothing that can be said or left unsaid is going to change that. I'm sorry."
Sydney stared up at him. "You really feel like that?"
"Of course I do. How could I not? I mean, look at you. You're smart and kind and talented and... well, very beautiful, Syd."
Sydney stared. Normally, when a man listed her attributes, her looks came first. Nigel seemed to have added them almost as an afterthought. "Nigel..." she muttered, taking his hand. "You've always been a wonderful friend to me."
Nigel stared up at her, shaking his head apologetically. "I sense a very large 'but' coming, Sydney. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have come. I'll go now." He started to get up.
"Oh no you don't." Sydney caught his hand and kept him from rising. "Nigel, you have to stop doing this. You can't just keep dropping these bombshells on me and then running away." She shook her head. "Nigel, you were right. We do need to talk about this, but talking usually involves two people, back and forth."
Nigel nodded and bowed his head. "You're right, Syd. I'm sorry. Go ahead."
Sydney sighed. "Look at me, Nigel." When Nigel hesitantly looked up at her, she continued. "Nigel, you have always been a wonderful friend to me..." she repeated slowly. "You have always been there for me no matter what. You've never judged me or gotten jealous of me. You've... saved my life more than once." She smiled helplessly. "And, Nigel, I don't know what I'd do without you."
He nodded slowly. "But, of course, you don't love me."
"I never said that..." she pointed out.
Nigel frowned, startled. "Um, you mean to say..."
Sydney shrugged. "Nigel, the honest answer is that I don't know what I feel for you. I've considered you my best friend for years now; it never occurred to me that you saw our relationship any other way."
"I'm not sure how long I have..." Nigel explained slowly. "Except that, in Ireland, I just suddenly knew. It's just all so very confusing."
Sydney smiled and nodded. "Yes, it is, Nigel. You aren't the only one who's confused here, you know." She shook her head, grinning. "You scared the hell out of me in Turkey, Nigel."
"I'm sorry, Syd..." Nigel began to explain.
"Hey..." Sydney gently hushed him, smiling. "Just because it scared me, doesn't mean I didn't like it."
Nigel stared at her with wide eyes and began to stammer.
Sydney shrugged helplessly, grinning. "You know that I'm not exactly lucky when it comes to opposite sex."
"I can relate to that..." Nigel muttered.
Sydney grinned at him. "I mean, I have no trouble picking up guys when I want to. It's keeping them that's a hassle. Every last one of them has really quickly become bored with the things that interest me, or intimidated by who I am, or jealous that my work comes first. But you, Nigel..." She smiled at him and gently cupped his face in her hands. "You've never been any of those things, and I've always loved you for that."
"Um..." Nigel rubbed his hands over his mouth, staring at her in disbelief. "Sydney, that's..."
"Complicated." Sydney sighed. "Nigel, I can't honestly say that I know what it is I feel for you. You've managed, without even trying, to do what no guy has ever done to me before. You've thrown me, Nigel. I'm confused."
"I'm sorry, Syd."
She shook her head. "Don't be. It's... interesting in a lot of ways." She sighed, but it was not an unhappy sound. "Look, Nigel, when you're not around, my days pretty uniformly suck, and it has nothing to do with the job you do. Yes, I depend on you there, too, but that's not all of it. I like having you around, Nigel. A lot. Beyond that, I just don't know..." She smiled sadly. "I know that it's probably not what you wanted to hear."
He shook his head. "Not at all, Syd. I didn't come here wanting to hear anything. Well, except maybe 'it's okay' or something to that effect. I just wanted you to know. You have a right to know. And... ultimately, to decide what that means for us."
"You think I'm going to fire you?" Sydney asked, surprised.
"The thought had occurred to me, yes." Nigel stared at his feet.
"It's okay..." Sydney said softly.
Nigel looked up at her in surprise.
Sydney smiled at him. "Nigel, I am not going to fire you. Not over something like this." She shook her head. "I like having you around. I've even... entertained the idea of spending more time with you. Outside of work."
Nigel stared at her with wide eyes. "You have?"
She nodded. "Haven't you?"
"Well, I mean, of course I have, but..."
Sydney smiled as he began to stumble over his words. "Then I'd say it's pretty much obvious what happens next."
"Is it?" Nigel asked uncertainly.
She nodded. "I'm confused and need time to figure some things out. Look like maybe you do, too."
He nodded weakly. "So... we give each other some space?"
"No, Nigel." Sydney shook her head. "We've tried that. We both end up miserable, remember?"
He nodded slowly. "Then... what?"
She smiled and picked up his hand. "I think we need to get to know each other a little better."
Nigel glanced up at her hopefully. "You mean like..."
"A date?" Sydney asked.
He nodded. "Yeah..."
"Well, not exactly, but yeah. Like a date. Or maybe just like two friends getting to know each other a little better. Would you like that?"
"Oh, very much, Syd." He nodded, smiling.
"Good." Sydney rose and picked up the untouched cups of tea, long since grown cold. "So, how's tomorrow at eight for you?"
"Good..." Nigel nodded slowly, amazed.
"Great. You want another cup of tea? Maybe this time we can actually drink it?"
Nigel laughed softly. "I'd like that, Syd."
"Great." Sydney vanished back into the kitchen and returned a few moments later with two fresh cups of tea. Nigel was still sitting there looking fairly stunned. Sydney placed the cups on the coffee table and sat down next to him again, turning to face him. "There is one thing that we still need to get straight, Nigel..." she began gravely.
He nodded, seeming more at ease. "Sure, Syd. What?"
"No more of these ambush kisses of yours until I give you the green light."
Nigel nodded and stared into his lap, embarrassed and a little sad. "Of course not, Syd. Won't happen again."
Sydney smiled faintly and leaned closer. "Nigel..." she whispered into his ear.
He looked up, startled. "Yes, Syd?" he asked uncertainly.
Sydney leaned a little closer, until their mouths were almost touching. "Green light."