Title: Finding Comfort
Author: Rhysenn

Pairing: Jack Bristow/Michael Vaughn
Rating: R (m/m slash themes)
Classification: Slash, Angst, UST
Distribution: Just drop me a line and let me know.

Summary: An argument between Jack and Vaughn leads to unexpected moments between them.

Warning: SLASH. This may be a Bristow/Vaughn pairing, but it's not the one you're expecting. If male/male relationships offend you, please stay away. Flamers will be redirected to my contacts at SD-6, and efficiently dispatched with.

Notes: Set during the Pilot episode, shortly after Danny's death. This is just me reading too much into the reason for Vaughn's slight hesitation when he let slip to Sydney about having "another double agent for SD-6." More than just some familiarity, perhaps? That was enough to fire up my slash muse. (I have a track record for that. Ask anyone who knows me.)

Thanks to Megan for the swift beta. This one is for Melissa D, who egged me on to write an Alias slash story, and chased this plot bunny around with carrot sticks.

Feedback: I would love to hear your comments.




Finding Comfort


"That is completely out of the question, Bristow!"

Vaughn's angry voice echoed in the small trailer, and he glared at Jack Bristow, who was glowering right back at him. The tension between the two men was palpable in the enclosed space they were alone in — the door was locked, and from the outside it was just a nondescript trailer parked in a remote spot behind a wooded park.

"They've already killed her fiancé," Jack hissed, his eyes blazing. "What do you think they will do to her next, especially when she hasn't reported back to work after her month off? Send her another condolence bouquet? I have good reason to think not."

"I know the situation is precarious now," Vaughn tried to reason. "But..."

"But I'm not going to sit back and watch my daughter get hurt!" Jack raised his voice in frustration. "Why can't you just understand that and let me handle things myself?"

"Because I don't want you to get hurt!" Vaughn snapped back, without thinking. He didn't realize the vehemence in his voice, or notice the stunned expression on Jack's face. "What do you think will happen if you tell Sydney to watch out for her life, even before they try to do anything to her? It's been six weeks. Only top management would be privy to any designs SD-6 might have on her, and when they find out that she's been alerted, they'll soon realize that you're the only possible one who could have told her about it. Then what happens?"

Jack opened his mouth to speak, but for one of the rare times in his life, he found himself without a reply. Vaughn favored him with another pointed look, and then took a deep breath. "I know you don't care much about yourself, Jack, but I... do. I don't want you to expose yourself to danger unless absolutely necessary, and it's my job to protect you at all costs."

"Protect me?" Jack's mouth curled in a bitter smile. "You actually think that you can protect me, Agent Vaughn?"

"No, I don't," Vaughn responded, still sounding irate. "It seems you do that perfectly well on your own."

But Vaughn's words didn't sound like a commendation of Jack's skills at stealth and espionage, and Jack knew it too. He took a step back, and eyed Vaughn critically.

"What do you mean?" Jack's voice was guarded.

"I mean that you're so adept at protecting yourself, that you spend all your time shielded off from everyone," Vaughn answered steadily. "Even people who want to help you. Whom you can trust. But no — you think that it's weak to show emotion, to show love..."

"It is weak!" Jack's voice cracked like a whip as he whirled to face Vaughn squarely. The younger agent looked startled by Jack's outburst, and subsided. Jack's eyes shimmered with controlled emotion as he spoke again, "Understand this, Agent Vaughn. In what I do, in the world that I operate in, to love is to make yourself more vulnerable than you can afford. To force a burden of knowledge onto someone else who thinks that you are what you're not."

Jack broke off. He turned away, looking agitated. Vaughn simply leaned against the edge of the desk, and watched him quietly.

"And if I tell them the truth," Jack's voice quivered, "if I give them a chance to love the person I really am... that would mean certain death. Sydney learned that the hard way, and I—" he broke off, faltering on the edge of words too painful to articulate — "I should have done something earlier. Just a few minutes... that would have made all the difference."

Jack paused when he felt a warm hand on his shoulder. Vaughn had moved to stand behind him; even though his first instinct was to withdraw, Jack didn't move away. It felt strangely comforting, to feel the calm, assuring touch of the younger agent, filled with all the optimism and passion that was natural to the young and unscarred.

Finally, Vaughn spoke.

"You have to stop blaming yourself," he said gently, leaning in ever so slightly. "There was little, if anything at all, that you could have done to prevent Danny's death without jeopardizing yourself. You're in a tough position, Jack, and I know that — it's like walking on the edge of a knife."

"Sometimes," Jack said pensively, barely turning his head towards Vaughn, "sometimes I just want to give up and let myself fall on the blade."

"No," Vaughn said staunchly. "I have more faith in you. And I..." he hesitated slightly, then added in a rush, "I'm here, and I know the truth."

Jack turned in surprise; and now, the two men were standing facing each other, instantly locking into an intense gaze that searched deeper than words, into the soul. Jack's lips barely moved as he said, "What are you saying, Michael?"

Vaughn bit his lip, and felt a flush of heat creep up the back of his neck. But he knew what he felt — and he also knew that Jack needed to hear it as much as he needed to say it.

"I already know who you are, Jack," Vaughn said sincerely, not taking his eyes away from the older man standing across from him, so close that he could simply reach out and touch the perfect knot of his tie, or straighten the slight crease in his collar. Vaughn restrained himself, and continued, "You don't have to hide behind a mask when you're with me. I wish you wouldn't, because there's really no need to. I know exactly what you do, and the kind of man you are... and I don't just accept you, I... I respect you, and I would trust you with my life if it ever came down to that."

The effect that Vaughn's soft, heartfelt words had on Jack was overwhelming. Those gray eyes carefully wiped clean of emotion suddenly warmed with feeling, and a genuine smile lifted the edges of Jack's mouth. He took a decisive step forward, and Vaughn found himself maneuvered and backed up against the trailer wall. There was still no contact between them.

"You'll trust me with your life?" Jack asked, his voice a low, sensuous whisper.

Vaughn felt a shiver of excitement curl up his spine. "Yes," he breathed.

The smile on Jack's face grew teasing, and an unnamed emotion shimmered in his eyes as he asked, "What else will you trust me with?"

And Vaughn answered his question by leaning forward and kissing Jack on the lips.

The moment exploded between them like fireworks soaring skyward, bursting into sparks of colorful fires that, for those precious instants, lit the world with a burning rainbow.

Jack's mouth closed over his own, and Vaughn was dimly aware that he was being nudged up against the wall and held in place by Jack's strong hands. One firmly rested on his waist, and the other moved to hold the back of his head, cushioning it against the wall behind them in an oddly protective manner.

A soft moan escaped Vaughn's lips as he parted them to allow Jack's questing tongue entry into his mouth. Their fully clothed bodies were pressed together, no breathing space left between them — Jack's left thigh was wedged against Vaughn's crotch, and the friction of fabric against his skin was driving Vaughn crazy. Jack's tongue was like hot velvet, flickering with wet, insistent strokes, leaving him utterly breathless and yearning for more.

Jack closed his eyes, and immersed himself in the sheer electrifying sensation that flared through every fiber of his body as he ravished Vaughn's mouth, gripping the younger man so tightly that he vaguely wondered if he was hurting him. But Vaughn arched closer against him, the taste of fire and sweetness on his tongue as he kissed Jack thoroughly in return. Jack was impressed at the eagerness and desire locked within the usually calm, composed agent. Their teeth clashed, their mouths hungry and devouring.

He wanted Michael. This fragment of thought fought its way through the fevered haze in Jack's mind, and it catalyzed him, sending a rush of warmth through his body such as he had never felt before. He wanted Michael Vaughn, this unlikely person who truly cared about and trusted implicitly in him — a man who survived by being duplicitous, and was flawlessly good at it.

Reality abruptly caught up with him, spearing him through like a spike of ice. What was he doing? Jack panicked, another thing he seldom did. It seemed that Vaughn was responsible for a lot of what Jack would never have done, under other circumstances.

No.

Jack summoned every ounce of willpower as he pushed himself away from the wall, breaking the kiss and drawing back from their physical contact. Vaughn's eyes flashed open in confusion — and they were misted with passion, plain and truthful. Jack had to look away. It hurt too much.

Vaughn was a good agent, but he was still young and inexperienced. He didn't need to be drawn into any complicated emotional attachments, least of all with him, Jack Bristow. Their professional relationship was already dangerous enough.

"We can't." Jack's voice was hoarse, wavering with ebbing desire. "We shouldn't. It would destroy everything."

A flicker of hurt crossed Vaughn's clear features, before the younger man nodded once in wordless acquiescence and moved back, putting a respectable distance between them again. Vaughn's eyes met and held Jack's for a long moment, before the younger agent finally looked away, and busied himself with gathering the files strewn on the narrow table.

"Wait and watch, and do nothing until SD-6 makes the first move," Vaughn's voice was brisk, business-like once more. He didn't look up. "You'll just have to play your cards very carefully. When they strike, then you move in to rescue Sydney. Not a moment earlier. Your life, as well as hers, and the integrity of this entire operation rests on your impeccable sense of timing."

Vaughn had slotted all the files into his briefcase — he heaved it off the table, and finally turned to face Jack. His face showed nothing but calmness, although his eyes betrayed a hint of something more.

"Talk to her, Jack." Vaughn paused. "You can shut me out of your life, but don't do the same thing to Sydney. Reach out to her. You owe her that much."

He did not wait for a reply as he headed for the door. Unlocking it, he quietly let himself out, and then was gone.

Jack watched him leave. He stared after him for a long time even after the door had already clicked softly shut once again, leaving nothing but silence and the memory of what had ignited so spontaneously between them. But the tentative flame had been extinguished, and the smoke that lingered was wistful and poignant.

Jack closed his eyes, and now, more fervently than ever, wished that things could be different. That he didn't have to push away anyone who could make him even remotely vulnerable. That he could actually tell Michael how he really felt.

But maybe some things were better left unsaid.



- fin -