Disclaimer: I don't own Sydney or Vaughn and I don't have any money so please don't sue me. Thanks!

Heart To Heart

Sydney took a deep breath and pried her fingers from their death grip on the steering wheel. She stared at the warehouse that she hadn't seen in over three years, nervousness and fear freezing her in place. It took an enormous force of will to open the car door and with a deep, steadying breath, she stepped out. Her legs were still stiff from the flight from New York, but she barely noticed, so intent she was on her purpose.

Before she could talk herself out of it, she headed for the side door at a quick pace and into the inner room lined by a forbidding chain-linked fence. It was dark and dank, but the sight was an old friend, for many good things had happened here--and bad, too. She stopped dead in her tracks when she saw a familiar figure slouching in one corner.

Vaughn straightened but didn't come towards her. His normally expressive face was unreadable and his eyes were cold. She was intimidated, but was careful not to show it. It had been a gamble whether or not he would show, and she wasn't going to run away now. It was too late for that anyway.

"You called?" he said, his voice calm, but as cool as his gaze.

"My husband left me," she said after a brief hesitation, her tone matching his.

He didn't look surprised, but he leaned back and crossed his arms. She took that as a sign that he was going to listen and found herself relieved by this, though the hard part was far from over.

"He moved out a week ago after one of the worst fights we have ever had," she said as if she was recounting the details of an assignment. "I was far from civil with him and I'm not blameless, but it always takes two."

She began to pace, hardly aware of Vaughn's presence anymore as she lost herself in a wave of sadness that her memories caused. His eyes tracked her as she moved from one end of the room to the other, but it was as if he was watching a stranger, judging by the indifference on his face. It was just as well that Sydney wasn't looking at him for the sight would have unnerved her.

"It's just been so hard," she contined. "My work has never been something to take lightly and it will not get any easier until the Alliance is taken out once and for all. Once upon a time, I thought the end of SD-6 would let me go back to the life I led before all this started; no more hiding, no more lying. I can't even begin to describe how I felt when the Credit Dauphine building was shut down, but that happiness could not even compare to what I felt on my wedding day."

She smiled, her eyes wistful as she remembered.

"I was surprised when he asked because it all happened so quickly, but then again, maybe it didn't. I loved him for a long time, but the life I led made having close relationships impossible. I learned that the hard way with Danny. But surprisingly enough, I wasn't scared. I wanted this, I wanted him, and there were no more reasons to stay apart. I loved him, still do, with all my heart. Our wedding day was perfect and I thought that this was it...my life could start now. We talked about having children, but mostly we just wanted to be together. Those first few weeks were...heaven. We spent every waking moment together, and I couldn't get enough of him. I thought we would live happily ever after. I was wrong."

Pausing in her story and her pacing, Sydney glanced at Vaughn, trying to gauge his thoughts, but his blank countenance gave nothing away. She'd never seen him like this and she wanted to reach out for him, but knew that the move would not be welcome. Disappointment made her sag against the wall. Her brown eyes grew shiny with unshed tears and she put a hand over her mouth. Months of tension and unhappiness were taking their toll on her, and she had to fight for control. She had to finish this.

Vaughn saw this and he straightened, brow furrowed. The movement drew her attention. Lips in a thin line, he looked no warmer than before, but instead of losing hope, Sydney got a hold of herself. She cleared her throat.

"My dad interrupted our extended honeymoon by telling me that he'd been contacted by one of the members of the Alliance, the head of SD-4 based in France. They wanted us to restart SD-6, this time in New York. My cover, and his as well, hadn't been blown like we expected, and they knew about my marriage. It had been three months and there was no denying it. Since I was supposedly uninformed about SD-6's true purpose, they wanted me back in the fold, but under even closer scrutiny. Closer than what Sloane, a bonafide paranoid, considered good coverage. I was given the option to refuse, which I wanted to do, but the CIA wouldn't let me. This was too good an opportunity to pass up. My old life wasn't over after all, and even had an additional complication--my husband.

"Lies surrounded me again and some days I didn't even know what the truth was anymore, but my husband was my focus, my center. I thought that with him by my side, it would be easier, or, at least, more tolerable. For a while, it worked because he's caught up in all this too. I didn't have to lie to him which made our relationship even more important to me.

"My long absences were hard on us, but he understood, even though we didn't want to be separated. My life was on the line every time I was on an assignment, but it wasn't that either, though he told me he always got physically ill when I left, that was how worried he was. The days living in fear and tension that what we had would be destroyed was what got to be too much. He wanted us to run away from all this and so did I. I was ready to chuck it all and run away with him to some little town in the middle of nowhere, but that wasn't possible. There was no exit strategy safe enough because I played with the big boys now. We would never have been able to live anything close to a normal life because we would have had to move more than four times a year in order to outrun the Alliance dogs. We would never be free."

Sydney rubbed her eyes and realized her cheeks were wet with tears. She hadn't even realized it. Vaughn hadn't moved from his position, but she could see that her story was affecting him. Gone was the ice in his eyes. Instead, they glimmered with sadness and disappointment.

"The truth of the matter hit us hard," she continued, focusing her gaze on the concrete floor at her feet. "I began to question the strength of our relationship. It was wrong of me, but the circumstances were so difficult to work with. There was still love between us, but things had changed. We didn't talk as much as we used to and we didn't even laugh at all anymore. We...we even stopped making love, sleeping with our backs to each other. We stayed home, afraid of confrontation outside of it, and that strained our relationship more because we both felt boxed in."

She smiled without humor.

"I know this because he told me so during one of our arguments. Those started at the drop of a hat. All the while, I felt like I was married to a stranger. It killed me to see the wariness on his face when he looked at me, but at the same time, I was afraid to reach out to him."

"Why?" Vaughn asked hoarsely

Sydney nearly jumped out of her skin at the sound of his voice, but she looked at him, he seemed sorry that he said anything at all. Her resolve weakened.

"W-why? I...well...because I didn't want to face it. My job was exacting its toll on me and since we were being watched so closely, I had to be even more careful with what I did or said outside of the office. Even when I was with SD-6, I had some freedom of movement when not on the job, but this time I had no breaks, no days off. I couldn't deal, no, I didn't want to deal with the problems at home because I needed to believe that I had no problems there. He is my haven. I wanted to believe things were the same so I made excuses for the differences."

Sliding to the floor, Sydney hugged her knees to her chest. She felt vulnerable under Vaughn's penetrating gaze.

"We had fought in the past, little quarrels that could be remedied quickly, but then we started to have these horrible fights where neither of us yelled but the things we said were so ugly, Vaughn--so hurtful, and a million times worst than yelling. I said so many things that I didn't mean and wish I could take back. He did the same. We apologized, but I don't think either of us could forgive so easily, especially since we were having difficulties already.

"The last fight we had, he said some things that cut to the core, and I wanted to hurt him as badly as he hurt me. It wasn't a calculated decision, but something I didn't even realize I was doing until later when it was too late to take things back."

Sydney took a deep, shaky breath. Vaughn was rubbing his chin with his hand, avoiding her eyes.

"I told him that our marriage was a mistake and that I wished it had never happened," she said tearfully. "I love him and I love what we had, and I think we could have it again. I didn't mean what I said and I wasn't thinking when I said it. I miss him. We have been married for two and a half years, and I want more. My work is far from over, but the same goes for our marriage. It'll be hard, but I will fight for us. Our lives won't be normal until the Alliance is gone, but until then, I want my husband back. I need him."

She looked up, met Vaughn's eyes, and saw them bright with emotion, but he stayed where he was. His control shattered hers.

"I need you," she whispered.

Before Sydney knew what was happening, she was in his arms. She clutched desperately at him, and she buried her face in his chest. Vaughn shuddered at he touch and held her even tighter to him.

"I missed you, too," he confessed, his voice shaky. "I love you, Syd."

"I love you, too," she said, joy bubbling up inside her. "I'm sorry about everything. I need you, Vaughn."

She could sense that he was smiling.

"You're probably the only woman in the world who calls her husband by his last name."

"It's a tough habit to break."

"Don't. I like it."

She looked up at him. "Will you come home with me?"

He cupped her face with his hands and kissed her tenderly. "I'm in this for the long haul."

She smiled at him, happy for the first time in a long time. He helped her up and held her in his arms for a moment longer, then hand-in-hand, they headed for the door.

*~*THE END*~*