Part Two: Dinner For Two



Sydney jumped up when the oven timer went off. She had been sitting next to Vaughn on the couch for the past forty-five minutes, struggling to pay attention to the show they were watching, but not quite able to because of his closeness. For his part, he seemed unaffected by her, laughing at the antics of the characters on TV. Although, she did notice that when she brushed up against him, he grew still.

"Is it ready?" he asked her, craning his head in order to look into the kitchen.

"Yes, sir. Come and get it."

Clapping his hands, he stood and strode into the kitchen. Sydney was holding the lasagna out in front of her and Vaughn's mouth began to water when its aroma reached his nose. He opened the fridge and pulled out a bottle of red wine that he had been saving for a special occasion. Sydney eyed the label and she looked surprised, but she didn't say anything. She only touched his cheek and turned to bring the lasagna into the dining room where he had set two places. Vaughn placed two wine glasses next to each place setting and lit the two candles in the center of the table.

"This looks wonderful," he said, putting a hand on her back, looking at the cozy setting before them.

"It does. Let me go get the salad and we'll be ready to eat. Pour the wine."

"Yes, ma'am."

When they were finally seated and the salad had been served, they found an awkward silence settle between them. The candlelight and dim overhead lights made the atmosphere much too romantic for either of their comfort, but at the same time, it was something they had both wanted for a long time.

"This looks good," Sydney said, staring at her plate.

"Eat it," Vaughn suggested, none too delicately.

"Thanks for the tip."

The sounds of crunching filled the air for a time, and Sydney was afraid her face was getting as red as the wine. She took a sip, hoping it would loosen her tongue, but he beat her to it.

"Tell me about your friends," he said. "They seem like such a big part of your life and I don't know anything about them other than their names."

"Let's see. Francie is my best friend in the world. She was engaged a while ago, I don't know if you remember, but I found out her fiance was cheating on her so she broke it off. It took her a while to get back on her feet, but she's started dating again and she's getting better. She's kinda...she's a motherly figure, I guess you could say. I always feel like she's taking care of me and watching out for me, which is good. Some days, I forget to eat, but she's always there, shoving a plate of food under my nose."

"She's one-in-a-million. I don't think Weiss would ever make me a plate of food. He won't even buy me a beer."

Sydney chuckled. "That's why you have other friends."

"You'd think so," Vaughn said with a theatrical sigh. "But the life of a CIA agent is a lonely road..."

"Really?"

"No...maybe sometimes. Anyway, go on."

"You're a pretty funny guy."

"See, all we needed was a conversation that lasted more than half an hour. All it takes is patience to get to the real Michael Vaughn."

"Michael," Sydney tested out, rolling the name around her tongue. "Mike."

He regarded her curiously. "Yes, Sydney. Syd."

"You're not a Mike," she said firmly. "More a Michael, but definitely a Vaughn."

He grinned. "Is that right? Well, I always hated being called Mike, my mother and my other friends call me Michael. You're one of the elite who call me Vaughn. Bristow...doesn't have quite the same ring to it. You're a Sydney."

"I always thought so."

"So, tell me about Will."

Sydney looked at him carefully, seeing a tightness to his features that she only noticed when Will was mentioned. If she didn't know better, she would say that Vaughn was jealous of him and the thought that Vaughn cared enough about her to be jealous lit a small fire inside her.

"He's as close to me as Francie is and I've known him a long time. He knew Danny. After he died, Will's become more protective of me. Once...once I kissed him."

"Why?"

"I don't know," she lied easily, remembering exactly why. "I guess I was feeling lonely that night and I wanted to see if there could be more between us. Will's always had feelings for me, but he never tried anything, in respect to Danny's memory, so it was really up to me."

Vaughn was carefully tearing up a large lettuce leaf. "What happened?"

"It wasn't there. He's definitely not my soulmate or anything like that. Will's a friend, nothing more. Things were weird for a while, but we're back to normal now."

He relaxed. "That's good then. They're your support system and it would be a shame to lose one."

"Yes, it would. Now, its my turn to play interrogator. What made you decide to decorate the dining room like this?" she questioned. "It's very...very..."

"Intimate?" he offered before he thought better of it. For a CIA agent, he'd had too many verbal slips for one night. Then again, only Sydney could make him act like an awkward teenager.

Sydney almost dropped her fork. She adjusted her grip on it and answered with a shaky, "Y-Yes."

"It wasn't my idea actually," he said reluctantly, carefully avoiding her inquiring gaze. "It was Alice's."

Sydney tensed at the name of his ex-fiancée. "Oh."

"She meant to redecorate the entire apartment and this was the only room she got to before we broke up."

"How did it happen?"

"She looked through magazines, went to about a dozen shops, dragging me along with her..."

Sydney laughed. "Not decorating the room, Vaughn. I meant, how did you two break up."

His eyes crinkled as he smiled, embarrassed. "Oh. I knew that. Well, I couldn't see her fitting into my life because I knew that after a while she would begin to question why I would have to leave the house in the middle of the night and not return for days at a time. She already started to when we were together and...it got on my nerves a little bit."

"Well, you can't expect her to cater to your every whim," Sydney said.

"No, but I also realized that I didn't care about her enough to work on it. I didn't love her, Syd."

"That's a better reason. Your mom must have been disappointed."

"Not really. She just wanted me to be happy."

"She seems like a nice lady."

He reached across the table and put his hand over hers. "She would like you," he said earnestly. "I wish you could meet her."

Sydney turned her hand over and clasped his. "Me, too."

They stared at each other over the candlelight. With her free hand, Sydney cupped his cheek. Keeping his eyes on her, Vaughn leaned forward and very lightly brushed his lips against hers, but Sydney felt it right down to her toes.

"What was that for?" she inquired.

"I don't know," he said honestly. "I guess it was a thank you for this night."

"We haven't even gotten to the lasagna yet."

He grinned suddenly, a disarming expression that Sydney had never seen on his face before. He seemed so free and uninhibited.

"What?" she asked.

"If this lasagna's good, wait and see what'll happen after dinner," he teased, waggling his eyebrows comically.

Sydney gasped in surprise then let out a delighted laugh. He joined in and began carving up the main course.



* * *



Sydney sat on the kitchen counter, her long legs swinging, and a glass of wine in one hand as Vaughn washed their dishes. She was interested to learn that Vaughn took special care in washing dishes, his long-fingered hands gripping the sponge and moving carefully across each plate to make sure nothing was left on its surface. He confessed to her that it was therapeutic after a long day's work, to come home and do something as simple as washing the dishes. Sydney found his practice endearing and told him so.

"How's the wine?" he asked.

"It's very good, but you didn't have to crack it open for me. I saw the label. It's not exactly a brand you would find at the grocery store."

"I wanted to. When will we be able to do this again?"

She sighed and took a sip. "That's true."

Vaughn put the last dish on the drying rack and wiped his hands on the dishtowel he had tucked into the waist of his pants. "Want to take this show to the living room? The couch is pretty comfortable and I can turn some music on."

Sydney glanced at her watch reluctantly. "It's getting late and I've already been here too long."

Vaughn looked put out an she reached out to rest her forearms on his shoulders. She leaned forward as he took a step towards her, and she looked hard into his eyes. "Do you think we'll be able to do this again?"

"I'd like to, but we're already playing with fire here."

"At least it was a good dinner," she sighed, resting her forehead against his.

"The best. Which reminds me, I owe you something."

"What?"

A slow smile spread across his face and before she could ask why he was smiling, he pressed his lips against hers. Sydney swallowed her surprised and kissed him back with all the passion she had been hiding and keeping at bay. Arms tightening around his neck, she could not bring him close enough. He slid her nearly to the edge of the counter, their bodies so close that not even a ray of light could get between them.

It seemed to go on for hours, but Vaughn was determine not to lose his wits. He carefully backed off, swallowing hard as Sydney's legs unwound from around his waist. Her cheeks were flushed and her breath came out in small puffs. He never wanted anyone so badly in his life. They were so close...

"You're welcome," she said hoarsely, touching her lips.

Vaughn helped her down from the counter. Hand in hand, they walked silently to the front door and he helped her into her coat. Sydney smiled and caught the front of his shirt in her hands.

"We will do this agan," she said firmly.

"I go shopping every other Thursday," he said. "Maybe I'll see you there."

"Maybe."

Sydney kissed him one last time and then she was gone.



* * *



Jack Bristow stewed in his car as he watched the front door of Michael Vaughn's building. It had taken an immense amount of skill and timing to prevent anything, CIA or SD-6 agent, from finding out about her dinner date with Agent Vaughn. He thought of a million things he could say to Sydney and to her handler about the irresponsible way they were acting.

He straightened when he saw the familiar figure of his daughter emerge and when he saw her face, all the words he had been planning to say flew out of his head. The expression on her beautiful face was a mixture of rapture and sadness. He saw her touch two fingers to her lips thoughtfully and smile. Jack could see even from this distance that Sydney had let it go too far, that she had fallen in love with her handler. He sighed and knew he would be doing this for many more nights to come. He knew as well as anyone that she deserved this, this chance to be young and free even if it was only for a few stolen hours. As her father, he wanted to give her this.

Waiting until she drove away, Jack started up his car. He gave the building one last look, spotting the window that was Vaughn's apartment and saw a shadow standing there. Sighing, he drove away.



*~*THE END*~*



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Author's Note: These characters are not mine, but I hope you enjoyed the story anyway. Thanks to everyone who reviewed it.



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