4. The Mechanic

The car rolled to a stop, but Sydney's hands remained tight around the wheel.

Adrian's apartment sat before her, but his car did not. She idly distracted herself with wondering where it was as she took the key from the ignition and slipped out, locking it behind her. She approached his door and knocked. No one answered.

She had turned away and was walking back to the car when it opened and Jill looked out.

"Jill?" Sydney asked, shocked at the Dragomir Princess being at Adrian's house. "How did you get here?"

"Adrian picked me up this morning," she said, motioning Sydney back in. "Sorry, we were out the back. Come on in."

Sydney went in, feeling a little relieved she wouldn't have to face Adrian alone. She followed Jill round to the back, where they a found themselves at the Mustang. The bonnet was propped open.

"Adrian?" Jill called.

His head appeared from underneath the bonnet and he walked round at the sight of them. He was wearing a great stained, though once white shirt, and a pair of dark blue jeans that hung low on his hips. He was wiping his hands on a dirty rag and he was sweaty and his toned biceps were covered in grease. Sydney's eyes were the size of dinner plates.

"Sage?" he asked. "What are you doing here?"

"I - uh -" It wasn't often Sydney Sage was speechless. Adrian cocked an eyebrow and she realised she needed to think fast. She looked down at Jill to distract her from - that in front of her and saw she was grinning knowingly at Sydney.

"Adrian was just doing something to the car," Jill said.

Sydney swallowed, hard. "I can see that."

There was a moment of silence, before Sydney spoke again.

"I just came over because - the Alchemists wanted me to ask you a few questions."

"And you couldn't have called?" Jill prodded. Adrian shot her a warning look.

"Sure," he said, tossing the rag aside. "Let me just put the engine back in -"

"You took out the engine?!" Sydney squawked.

Adrian chuckled. "Just kidding. I could use a hand though."

Sydney looked down at her smart dress clothes. She didn't want to get oil all over them, but getting the chance to work on a beautiful car like this…

She sighed and pulled up the sleeves of her cardigan. "What do you need?"

Adrian looked pleased as she approached. He explained the problem and Sydney nodded along, listening carefully. She popped the hood and prodded a few things under the bonnet, begin to swelter in the heat of the afternoon sun. The two Moroi were safely tucked away under cover, but she was feeling the full effects. She pushed her hair back impatiently and eventually pulled back.

"I think it's fixed."

Adrian's eyes softened as he looked down at her. His thumb brushed gently against her face before she could stop him.

"You have a bit of oil here," he said quietly, green eyes flaming. She caught her breath, feeling unable to pull away.

"Thank you," she replied, equally as quietly. They stared at each other, his hand still gently cupping her face, feeling the buzz that ricocheted through both of them when they touched. If Sydney had been thinking straight, she would have been thinking what Adrian was - it was so deeply unfair that they should finally find each other and not be allowed to be together. Because of duty. Because of an organisation that used her and put her life in danger, and she accepted the price because of a misguided sense of loyalty to those who hurt her -

Sydney pulled away suddenly and cleared her throat.

He wanted to grab her hand and pull her close but that wasn't an option. So he settled for telling her with his eyes that she was welcome to come over and help with the car any time she liked.