Thoughts and Circumstances

I look down at his angelic little face, so peaceful in sleep. I never thought I'd love anyone as much as I love his father, but now I know that I can. This little guy, who lies so trustingly in my arms, holds a great deal of my heart and I would do anything in my power to make sure pain doesn't enter his life as often as it has entered mine.

These days, my life is more peaceful than it used to be. No more jaunts halfway around the world, only to get fired at or beaten within an inch of my life. Those bruises have healed long ago, though the skills I learned have not been forgotten. These days, the farthest trip I ever have to make is into the city for a shopping trip with Francie, coffee with Will, or dinner with my husband, Mike. I managed to break the habit of calling him Vaughn a while back, though it does slip out now and again at the most interesting moments. It amuses him too much for my comfort.

Mike's asleep right now in our bed only a few feet away, snoring softly with one arm thrown on my side of the bed. When we first got married, he used to be such a light sleeper, the slightest sound making him sit bolt upright in bed and scaring the bejeezus out of me. Now, he could probably sleep through a tornado and wake up wondering why he and the bed are outside. We have a pretty good sized house for a new couple and there's a room ready for our son, but neither of us wanted to part with him so he sleeps in our room in his crib. We didn't really ever talk about it, but I know Mike was thinking the same thing I was; we don't want him in another room, out of reach, should anything happen. My life is more peaceful, but that doesn't mean that the danger hasn't passed.

Although SD-6 is long gone, I'm still afraid that I'll get recognized by someone I beat up or stole from. I have nightmares of my mother appearing and disrupting what I've worked so hard to build and keep safe. Because of how much I've lost, I can't help but lapse into fatalistic thoughts in quiet moments. Scenarios involving masked men bursting through my door, pointing AK-47s at my family to Mike getting into a horrible car accident sneak into my mind from time to time. Mike says he can tell when my thoughts have taken a nasty turn by the way my mouth gets really tight and my eyes narrow. He says I look dangerous. I hope that I do because should danger ever find us again, I would have to forget that I've spent the last two years quietly living my life and take up the role of butt-kicking super spy once again. I wouldn't hesitate to do that to protect my family.

Little Jackie makes a small sound in his sleep and without thinking, I hold him closer to me as I sway gently in the rocking chair. He doesn't wake up, much to my relief. For such a small person, he could yell the roof off the house. I calculate that in about five minutes, it'll be safe to put him in his carrier and I can get back in bed. In the last three months since his birth, I haven't had a full night's sleep and neither has Mike. He still works at the Agency, but I'm retired, so I thought that in all fairness, I should take care of the baby. After one week of this noble plan, Mike found me and Jack in tears, so now we take turns. He's fabulous with the baby and proved what I'd always suspected--he is a great father and a wonderful husband.

When I was in labor, I'd never seen him more scared, but he didn't leave my side for a minute, even when he looked like he was close to passing out. He held my hand, told me how beautiful I was, and how lucky he was that I was confused enough to marry him. When he finally held Jackie in his arms, I'd never seen him look so happy. I took a picture of that moment and you can see the matching dimples in their cheeks. That picture is framed in his study and I've caught him staring at it. Jackie is his father's son, right down to his piercing green eyes. I couldn't be happier.

My own father handles his namesake like an old pro and I'm seeing glimpses of what he was before my mother "died". He spoils Jackie rotten, and me too. Mike laments that he never gets any presents, but I know he's just happy that my dad doesn't look at him like an insect anymore. I think I even saw him smile at Mike once. My dad is happier now, too, though not retired. I've tried to talk him into it, but he says his work isn't done yet. Unlike myself, he won't rest until the Alliance is gone. To my relief, Mike's chained to his desk and the cases he handles, though still complex, do not require the same amount of time as what he invested in me and the only danger he faces day by day is getting a papercut. Although, he likes to tell me, despite what we went through, it worked out in the end because now I can have a turn at handling him. I'm pretty good at it, I don't mind telling you.

At long last, I can put Jackie down. I pat his back as he settles into his bed and he sighs, but doesn't wake up. On quiet feet, I go back to bed and slide underneath Mike's arm. His eyes flutter open, and he pulls me against him, rubbing his stubbly chin into my shoulder.

"Is Sydney Junior asleep?" he asks, his voice scratchy.

I laugh quietly. Francie had suggested naming Jackie Sydney since it's a boy's name anyway. At the time, I thought about having to teach him martial arts because of all the beatings he would get at school and one look at Mike told me he was thinking the same thing. We immediately rejected the idea and settled on Jonathan Michael Vaughn, nicknamed Jackie.

"Like a log," I answer and turn my head to kiss the tip of his nose. "Go to sleep. You've got to work tomorrow."

He doesn't protest and is fast asleep in seconds. I relish the warmth of his embrace and close my own eyes. Tomorrow, Dad is coming over for breakfast and I think about what I'm going to prepare.

Yes, this is my new life, and boy, do I love it.

The End