Posted on behalf of yankluver
Title: Someone Like Her
Spoilers: "The Frame" and "Unveiled".
Disclaimer: Alias and its characters do not belong to me. I do this out of
a love for the show and no infringement is intended.
Summary: "Unveiled" post-ep. Vaughn deals with learning the truth about Lauren.
"Syd! Sydney!" Vaughn slurred loudly, as he fell against the door and pressed his fist to the doorbell.
A few moments later, the door was thrown open, sending Vaughn flying backwards into the arms of Weiss.
Vaughn looked up at Weiss, his eyes narrowing and brow wrinkling in confusion. "You're not Sydney."
"Don't worry, it's not the first time I've been mistaken for her. I think it's my luscious hair and mega-watt smile," he replied, as he dragged his best friend toward the couch. He dropped him down onto it and then sat beside him. "Sydney's not here, Mike. This is my place. She lives a couple doors down."
Vaughn grabbed onto the arm of the couch and tried to stand up. "I have to see her. T..tell her I'm sorry, that she was right."
Weiss pushed him back down on the couch, his eyebrows peaking in curiosity. "Right about what?"
Vaughn stared at him for a long moment, before his face paled and he jerked forward. He proceeded to empty the contents of his stomach onto Weiss's feet, as well as the rug.
Weiss groaned and jumped up, as Vaughn fell back against the couch. "Okay, not exactly the answer I was expecting."
Weiss then went to change and clean up. When he was done, he brought Vaughn a cold washcloth for his forehead and a hot cup of coffee. Reacquainting himself with his lunch had helped and after a significant amount time had passed, he actually became lucid.
Weiss sat down beside him, as Vaughn sipped the coffee and laid his head back against the pillow. "What's going on, man? I haven't seen you like this since you lost Sydney."
Vaughn squeezed his eyes shut and muttered, "I get like this when my life's blown to pieces."
Weiss's brow furrowed. "What are you talking about? You said something about Sydney being right. What was she right about?"
Vaughn turned his head to look at Weiss. "She was right about Lauren. My wife's Covenant."
Weiss's eyes widened. Very few people had been informed of Sydney and Jack's suspicions and he hadn't been one of them. "What? Are you kidding?"
Vaughn snickered. "Yeah, I like to pretend my wife's an evil traitor for fun."
Weiss shook his head, "Sorry, I'm just surprised. Shocked is more like it. How did you find out? And why did Sydney suspect her?"
Vaughn sighed. "Sydney thought she saw Lauren in Berlin and told me so. Let's just say I was less than open to the idea. I even accused her of doing it because our relationship didn't work out."
Weiss rubbed at his face. "You didn't."
Vaughn squeezed his eyes shut again. "I did. I was angry. I didn't want to believe that I could have married someone like that. I didn't want to accept that my wife was a stranger. Jack even tried to reason with me."
"Well, knowing Jack, he probably wasn't exactly sensitive to your feelings."
Vaughn shook his head. "Actually, he was surprisingly compassionate and open. He tried to use his experience with Irina to get through to me, but it didn't work."
"So, how did you get from that point to sitting on my couch plastered and smelling like vomit?"
Vaughn raised an eyebrow. "I smell like vomit?"
Weiss nodded, "Hey, if you ask me, it's an improvement over that aftershave you always use." He paused and then asked again, "So, tell me. How did you find out about Lauren?"
"Even though I didn't believe - or want to believe - Sydney and Jack, their suspicions had planted the seeds of doubt in my mind. I followed Lauren and checked up on her. Jack told me not to ignore evasive techniques like he had. Irina would sometimes kiss Jack if he asked her a question about something she'd been doing. Well, I asked Lauren what she had done while I was away and she came over and gave me a kiss. That gave me a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach so I started going through her things." He paused and swallowed hard, "I found a suitcase with a gun, passport and the wig she was wearing when Sydney saw her."
Weiss shook his head in disbelief. "Wow, I am so sorry, Mike."
Vaughn turned his head and stared up at the ceiling. "I feel like such an idiot. There were so many signs and I was just blind to them. So much makes sense now."
"If you're an idiot, then so are we. She fooled all of us."
"But I'm the only who married her."
"Look, she had an agenda and she followed through with it. All that means is that she's good at her job."
They lapsed into silence for a moment, before Vaughn broke it, his voice soft. "I hurt Sydney because of her. I tried to make my marriage work because I thought that was the right thing to do. I ignored my feelings for Sydney because I didn't want to hurt Lauren. I gave Sydney hope that their might be a chance for us, then I went back to Lauren after her father died. Time and time again, I hurt her because I was trying to play the devoted husband. All this time I was protecting a lie."
Weiss shrugged. "I've always said you're biggest problem is that you're a good guy. You didn't want to hurt Lauren and you never meant to hurt Sydney. You were just trying to honor your commitment."
"I just think of all the time I wasted, all the time I could've been spending with Sydney and..." his voice trailed off.
Weiss nodded, "I know." He paused for a moment, pondering his next statement, before going on, "At least now, there's no choice. You don't have to worry about hurting Lauren or helping her grieve. You can be with Sydney if that's what you want."
Vaughn nodded, "That's all I've ever wanted...but I don't deserve her. I'm not sure I ever did."
Weiss rolled his eyes. "Okay, this self-pitying thing has got to stop. If ever there were two people who deserved each other, it's you two. And I don't mean that in a you're-both-asses-you-deserve-each-other kind of way. You're good people, probably the best I know. And you've been through a lot. You both deserve to have happiness. And I happen to think that being together is the best way to achieve that."
With that, Weiss stood up and handed him a blanket and pillow he'd placed on the coffee table. "Here you go. By the way, where does Lauren think you are?"
Vaughn lowered his eyes. "I left her a note saying I had to take care of some business and not to wait up. I'm sure she'll be wondering where I am tomorrow morning."
"Well, we'll deal with that later. Obviously, you're going to have to tell Dixon and he'll have to decide how to proceed."
Vaughn nodded, as Weiss stood up and pointed at the couch. "Oh, don't forget about the cheese nips in the couch if you get hungry."
Vaughn smiled. "Thanks."
Vaughn's expression turned serious. "No, I mean for everything. Thank you."
Weiss shrugged his shoulders and grinned. "Well, I may have to start charging you. The Weiss Wisdom doesn't come cheap."
Vaughn laughed and then watched him head toward his bedroom.
* * * *
Vaughn slowly opened his eyes, hoping it might help the pounding in his head. Nope. Damn sunlight. He squeezed his eyes shut again.
It was then that he sensed a presence close to him. He felt a hand on his forehead and cheek, then fingers combing through his hair. 'If that's Weiss,' he thought, 'we're going to need to have a talk.'
Slowly, he opened his eyes and was greeted by Sydney's beautiful smiling face. For a moment, he was transported back nearly three years, when waking up to her was just about his favorite thing in the world.
"Hey," she whispered, as she watched him sit up.
"Hi," he replied, his mouth dry and foul-tasting.
She handed him a mug of coffee. "I thought you might need this."
He smiled and took it from her. "Thanks." He took a sip and then looked around. "Where's Weiss?"
"He had to be at work early. He asked me to come stay with you."
Vaughn lowered his eyes. "So, I guess he told you then."
She nodded, but didn't reply. Vaughn searched for his words. "I'm so sor-..."
She placed her hand over his, stopping him. "I know."
He shook his head. "No, Syd, let me say this. I need to." He took a deep breath before going on, "I'm sorry I didn't believe you."
"There's no need to apologize. It's understandable that you wouldn't want to believe that about your wife." Sydney still had trouble saying the word without wincing.
"Maybe, but you didn't deserve my questioning your motives. I know you wouldn't let your personal feelings drive your suspicions. That's not you."
Sydney lowered her eyes. "I think you're giving me too much credit. I'd be lying if I said a little part of me didn't want my suspicions to be true. I couldn't help but think of what it might mean for us."
Vaughn shook his head. "I just keep thinking of what she did. She must have known about everything. She must have played a hand in your disappearance. Losing you and all the time we wasted after you came back...it was all because of her."
Sydney nodded. "It's all over now."
Vaughn studied her for a long moment before going on, his throat tightening as he spoke. "You know what's scary? Lauren wasn't the only one pretending. She wasn't the only one practicing deception. For a while, I made myself believe that my marriage could work. And then I deceived her by wanting someone else. I guess we're not as different as I thought."
"You know that's not true," Sydney replied. "Everything Lauren ever did was for malevolent purposes. You never wanted to hurt anyone."
"But I did, Sydney," he said. "I never meant to, but I hurt you. I'm so sorry."
Sydney offered him a comforting smile that said his guilt was unnecessary. They lapsed into silence for a few moments, before Vaughn finally broke it. "How did you do it, Syd? How did you deal with all of the betrayal in your life? Your father, your mother, Sloane. For so long, your life was based on lies perpetuated by others. How did you ever get over that?"
She shook her head. "I didn't. I still have trouble trusting people. I wonder if what they say is a lie, if they're not who they seem. It's a struggle and I can't imagine a time when it won't be." She paused, lowering her eyes, "That's why when I find someone I trust, have complete faith in, I don't like to let go. There are so few of those people in my life anymore."
Vaughn realized he was one of those people for her. He only wished he could have made it easier to be that person.
"Your father spoke to me, you know. I wasn't very receptive to his advice. He compared Lauren to Irina, me to him. Being compared to him probably bothered me the most. It made me even more unwilling to accept the truth. I looked at him and saw this emotionally closed-off human being. This man who's afraid to be with anyone. And I realized that he wasn't always this way. There was a time when he loved, as openly as he was capable of. But your mother...she did something to him. She broke him. He's afraid to trust anyone that completely again, let someone in like that. Accepting the truth would mean accepting the comparison between us, accepting the fact that I might turn into him."
He looked up into Sydney's eyes as she spoke. "There's one thing my father never had though. A woman who loved him and was deserving of his trust. If he had found her, then things may have been different for him."
Vaughn moved his eyes to his mug of coffee. "I'm not deserving of you and your trust, Sydney. I had a second chance with you and I threw it away. I threw it away for a sham of a marriage and a woman I never even knew. I had my chance, Syd, and I blew it. I don't deserve another one."
Sydney spoke softly, "Then why am I here?" He lifted his eyes to meet hers, as she went on. "I love you, Vaughn. I tried to deny it. I tried to stop, but I can't. After Lauren's father died and you went back to her, I accepted that we would never be together again. Even though it may have been temporary, I made myself believe that there was no hope for us. It was easier than getting my hopes up again, only to be hurt. I accepted the fact that I would spend the rest of my life loving you, but living without you. I would find a man who could never compare to you, who'd forever live in your shadow. I'd settle. I made myself believe all of that."
Vaughn watched as a tear slipped from her eye and fell onto her pants. She continued, paying it no attention. "So, the fact that we're now sitting here and have another chance...it's unexpected and we can't waste it."
Vaughn leaned forward and took her hands in his, their gaze holding and making silent promises for the future.
* * * *
Later that morning, Vaughn approached Jack's desk. They had all already discussed how to proceed. Despite Vaughn's objections, he was to pretend that he still did not know anything. He would use his access to Lauren to get information for the CIA so they could eventually take her and, hopefully, The Covenant down.
Vaughn stood by Jack's desk waiting for acknowledgment that never came. He finally cleared his throat, "If you're not busy, Jack, I'd like to speak with you for a moment."
Jack nodded and followed Vaughn into a conference room. Vaughn stood silently for a moment before sensing Jack's impatience. His eyes moved to the floor. "I just wanted to apologize for not listening to you the other day. You were right and I should have listened."
"If someone had said the same thing to me all of those years ago, I probably would have reacted in a similar manner." Vaughn raised his eyes to meet Jack's, as he went on, "You didn't want to believe it. It's understandable. I didn't want to believe the truth either. I didn't want to accept that my life had been a lie, my wife a stranger. But I realize now that my denial was based less on the truth about my wife and more about what it would mean for me. It wasn't really about who Irina was. It was about who I was. If it were true, what would that say about me as an agent, a person? I knew I would doubt my abilities to do my job, to accurately judge people in my personal and professional lives. I lived in denial for a long time because of that fear."
Vaughn raised an eyebrow. "And now?"
Jack stared at him for so long Vaughn almost had to look away. "Now I assume everyone I meet is trying to deceive me in some way. Their behavior determines to what degree I trust them. I suppose it's a guilty until proven innocent thing."
"It can't be easy living like that."
Jack shrugged his shoulders ever so slightly. "I've adjusted."
Vaughn waited a long moment, debating whether or not to ask his next question. He finally swallowed hard and spoke. "Have you ever let anyone get that close again?"
A slight twitch of his eye indicated Jack was surprised by the forward question. He shook his head. "No, I have not."
Vaughn nodded, hoping that he wouldn't let the same thing happen to him. He had turned on his heel to leave when Jack's voice stopped him. "Then again, I never found someone like Sydney."
Vaughn smiled slightly and then exited the room. In his own way, Jack was letting him know that they were two different people and that he wasn't doomed to have the same fate. It was comforting to him somehow.
Vaughn walked to his desk and sat down. A moment later, he felt two arms slide down his chest. For a second, he was reminded of that morning - Sydney waking him with her touch.
But that ended the moment he heard her voice in his ear, "You must have gotten home very late and left very early, because I completely missed you this morning. I hope we can make up for lost time tonight. See you later, love."
Lauren placed a soft kiss on his cheek and then walked off. Vaughn waited until she disappeared from view to wipe at his cheek with his sleeve. As he looked up, he caught Sydney's eyes across the room. She'd seen the whole thing, including his erasure of the intimate gesture.
She simply smiled, knowing that they wouldn't have to wait too much longer. He returned the smile.