Posted on behalf of yankluver
Title: Conversations Over Wine
Spoilers: "The Getaway"
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: Filling in the missing pieces of the dinner conversation. Oh and Weiss gets to stick around, too!
At the restaurant, Sydney and Vaughn were escorted to their table by the owner.
"See what you like and I'll be right back."
"Merci," Vaughn replied.
Vaughn smiled at Sydney and she returned the gesture. A nervous expression overtook her face and she opened the menu. She began to scan it and then, hesitantly, lifted her eyes to look at him. He looked at her, too, before they both went back to studying their menus. A moment later, Sydney once again stole a glance at him and caught his eye.
This was something they had both wanted for quite some time...The simple pleasure of being together in public. Now that it had finally happened, they weren't sure how to react.
Sydney was the first to speak, "I think wine would help the situation."
Vaughn nodded in agreement and addressed the waiter, "I was just thinking the same thing. S'il vous plait?"
Weiss chuckled. "You don't waste any time, do you? Get her liquored up right away."
Vaughn tried not to smile at that and watched as the waiter poured them some wine.
They each took sips of wine, their eyes meeting over the rims of their glasses.
There were a few moments of uneasy silence before Sydney broke it.
"So I heard you on the phone with base ops. Your code name is Boy Scout?" she asked.
Vaughn laughed, "Yeah."
"Um, it goes back to CST -- clandestine service training. You don't want to hear this," he said, smiling nervously.
"Vaughn," she said in a voice that clearly indicated she did, while taking a sip of her wine.
"Okay, the Boy Scouts have a motto-..."
"Always be prepared," she interjected.
Vaughn nodded, "On my first day, I showed up and I had forgotten my field manual so the instructor said, "That is your one screw-up. And from then on, you'd better be prepared.
"This story is a disaster!" Weiss informed him through his earpiece.
Vaughn adopted an embarrassed expression.
"Just tell her she's pretty! Are you an idiot?" Weiss added helpfully.
Vaughn shook his head and ignored Weiss's comments. He focused on Sydney.
"So, right then, I realized that I always had to be as prepared as possible, ready for anything. It was a simple lesson, but a valuable one."
Weiss groaned in Vaughn's ear. He spoke mockingly. "'It was a simple lesson, but a valuable one.' Someone actually had to tell you to be prepared? You were joining the CIA, not the PTA! Of course, you had to be prepared!"
Vaughn rolled his eyes at him, but simply smiled at Sydney.
They lapsed into an uncomfortable silence. This was all so new and different. It was taking a while for them to adjust to the sudden shift in their relationship.
Weiss sighed loudly in Vaughn's ear. "Hello? You two still alive? I don't hear anything." He paused waiting for a response. "Real stimulating conversation you got going there, Mike. Uh, ask her who she prefers: Maryann or Ginger? That says a lot about a woman and it always leads to great conversation."
"What?" Vaughn asked, clearly not sharing the sentiment.
Sydney looked up from the napkin she'd been fiddling with on her lap. Her brow wrinkled in confusion. "I didn't say anything."
Vaughn smiled sheepishly, his face reddening. "Sorry."
Sydney nodded and the uncomfortable silence fell between them again.
Vaughn couldn't stand it anymore and finally blurted out: "So, who do you prefer: Maryann or Ginger?"
As soon as the words fell out of his mouth, he regretted them. Why would you ask someone that out of the blue?
Sydney looked at him with a mixture of surprise, confusion and amusement. She smiled slightly. "You mean from 'Gilligan's Island'?"
He nodded slightly. Weiss laughed in his ear, "Good going. For the record, I'm a Maryann man. She wasn't as innocent as she looked. There was a naughty girl inside of her just waiting to emerge."
Vaughn suppressed a chuckle and responded to Sydney, "Yeah, from 'Gilligan's Island.'"
Sydney laughed softly, "Wow, I don't know. I guess I've never really thought about it before. Do I have to pick from only those two?"
Vaughn pondered this for a moment. It was Weiss's question. How was he supposed to know?
"No, you can pick any character I guess."
Sydney nodded, "Well, in that case, I'd have to say The Professor."
"The Professor?" Weiss repeated in Vaughn's ear. "That guy was such a dork. He's stranded on an island with two beautiful women and what does he do the whole time? He fixes radios and tries to come up with ways to get home. Loser."
Vaughn once again ignored Weiss and raised his eyebrows at Sydney. "The Professor, huh? Why?"
Sydney shrugged, "I don't know, I guess I always admired his intelligence and perseverance. He never gave up. He was always trying to come up with ways to get them off that island. It was admirable."
Vaughn smiled at Sydney. This was just one of many things he loved about her. The ability to find meaning in even 'Gilligan's Island'.
It didn't come as any surprise that she would admire those qualities. She had them both in abundance. She'd been through a great deal in her relatively short life. Most people would have given up by now. But not Sydney. She would get down and sometimes he'd have to be the one to bring her back up, but she never gave up. She'd bend, but never break.
Sydney leaned towards him, taking a sip of her wine before speaking. "So, what about you? Who was your favorite?"
Vaughn pondered that for a moment. "I guess I'd have to say Gilligan."
Weiss snickered. "Gilligan? What, do you admire his fashion sense? It's the hat, isn't it."
Sydney smiled curiously, "Gilligan? Really?"
Vaughn nodded with a smile. "Yeah, I mean, I know he screwed up all of the time, but he always tried. Even though he messed up, he kept trying. He didn't let it stop him." He paused and smirked, "True, he never learned from his mistakes, but nobody's perfect."
Sydney looked at him with interest, realizing that Vaughn saw a little bit of himself in Gilligan. At first glance, they seemed to be completely different, but Vaughn had made a serious mistake more than once and he just kept going. He didn't lose confidence in himself. The difference between the two was that Vaughn learned from his mistakes. Usually.
Vaughn smiled at her and said, "Tell me about your pets."
He wanted to know everything about her and this was as good a place to start as any.
Weiss sighed heavily. "Pets? You're asking her about her pets?"
"What?" Sydney asked in surprise.
"Your pets. I want to know about every pet you've ever had."
Weiss shook his head, "Pets. Seriously, man, I have no idea how you ever got yourself laid."
Vaughn's eyes widened at that. Without thinking, he blurted out, "Shut up!"
Sydney's eyes narrowed at him. "What?"
Vaughn's face flooded with red and he shook his head, gesturing to the earpiece, "Sorry, I wasn't talking to you. Weiss was speaking to me in my earpiece and I couldn't hear you."
Weiss grinned. "That was funny."
Sydney smiled at him. "Pets. Okay. Well, let's see. When I was four I found this ladybug."
Vaughn grinned, his eyes focused intently on her. "A ladybug?"
Sydney nodded. "Yup. I loved that ladybug. I named her Louise."
Vaughn laughed. "Louise."
"Louise and I went everywhere together. I even took her to school. I'd put her in my pencil box and let her crawl around inside. And then, one day, I couldn't find her. I guess she flew away. I missed her, but I knew she didn't belong in a pencil box," Sydney finished with a smile.
Vaughn knew what she meant by that. Sometimes he'd look at Sydney, this amazing creature, and his heart would ache because she's stuck in a world of lies and deceit. She deserved to be free, to be a part of a normal life.
He only hoped that someday she'd be able to fly away, too...And, maybe, just maybe, she'd take him with her.
"Did you have any other pets?" he finally asked.
Sydney nodded, her expression growing serious and her eyes moving to the table. "After my mother died, my father bought me a kitten. He thought a pet would help me cope with the loss. And he did. He was a Silver Persian and just adorable. I named him Chester. We did everything together. I was so lonely during that period. My father was away so much and all I had was a nanny. Chester was my best friend...my only friend."
She slowly lifted her eyes and met Vaughn's. He spoke softly, "It was nice that you had him."
She nodded and went on, "About two years after I got him, he was hit and killed by a car. Chester was a house cat and had never been outside. One day, my father left the door open when he went to get the newspaper and Chester ran out. He was hit and killed almost instantly."
"I'm sorry," Vaughn replied comfortingly.
Sydney swallowed hard. "I was angry with my father for a long time after that. And he just couldn't help me deal with it. That's the way he was, that's the way he's always been. He couldn't help me deal with my mother's death either. Instead of asking me how I felt about my cat dying and helping me to remember all the good times I shared with Chester, he explained to me in that matter-of-fact way that only he can that Chester was a weak animal. He was ill-prepared for the world he inhabited. He'd been coddled and when he was met with an unfamiliar experience, he didn't know how to deal with it. He used Chester's death as an example of how I had to be strong and prepared for the evil that the world had to offer. He never could give me what I needed."
All Vaughn could do was look at her. In many ways, she was still very much a little girl. Amazingly enough, she still had this innocence and vulnerability to her. She still just wanted a father she could trust, one she could find comfort in. And while Jack and Sydney had made great strides in their relationship, Vaughn wasn't sure that Jack would ever be able to be the father Sydney had hoped for.
She smiled and shook her head. "Sorry, I didn't mean to dampen the mood."
Vaughn shook his head and spoke sincerely, as he met her eyes, "No, I wanted to know."
Their gaze held for a moment before she spoke, "So what about you? Did you have any pets as a child?"
Vaughn's eyes suddenly clouded with emotion and he nodded. "Yeah, I had a dog. My father gave me one for my seventh birthday. I had begged him for a dog forever. He kept telling me that I wasn't old enough to take care of him. I finally wore him down and convinced him that I would be responsible, that I would do everything, and he and Mom wouldn't have to do a thing. So he got me this Golden Retriever for my birthday. I named him Rover...Real creative, huh?" He paused and allowed himself a guarded chuckle.
"I loved him so much. We went everywhere together, did everything together. But I didn't take care of him. I didn't feed him or walk him, even though I promised I would. That job fell to my mother. The day my father left for his last mission, we had a fight. He got angry with me because I didn't keep my promise and didn't fulfill my responsibilities. He said that when he got back he was going to find Rover a little boy who would take care of him. He left after that and even though I was angry with him, I figured he'd forget all about it when he came home. But he never did. After that, I took care of Rover. I realized my father was just trying to teach me what it took to be an adult. He was doing what a father was supposed to do. He was trying to teach me to be responsible and keep my promises. I've always thought of it as the last thing he ever taught me and tried to remember it whenever life gets a little too hard...whenever it's easier to shirk responsibilities and break promises."
Sydney smiled at him. "I think he'd be proud of the man you've become, of the things you've done."
Vaughn laughed quietly. "If my father were around to see all of the stupid things I've done..." He paused and then added more soberly, "If he were here right now, watching us, he'd probably slap me upside the head and ask me what the hell I think I'm doing. He'd probably want to know why I am being so stupid."
Sydney tilted her head and shrugged her shoulders, her eyes piercing his, "I think your father of all people would understand that sometimes you have to take a chance because it might never come around again."
Their gaze held for a moment, both of them acutely aware of the risk they were taking...and how it felt so good after months of hiding, months of denying what everyone else could plainly see.
A smile pulled at Vaughn's lips and he leaned forward, his eyes seemingly studying her.
"What were you like as a kid?"
Sydney raised her eyebrows in surprise. "What do you mean?"
He shrugged, "I mean, you're this strong, smart, brave...and beautiful woman now. I guess I'm just wondering what little Sydney Bristow was like."
Sydney had to fight the urge to tell him that her parents had stolen away her childhood...That her father had programmed her to be a spy and that the mother who planned her own death had filled it with a sense of sadness.
But she shook off those thoughts and managed a small smile. "Well, you already know I had this weird fascination with ladybugs." He laughed and she went on, her eyes darkening in spite of her best efforts, "I wanted to be a teacher when I was a little girl. I wanted to be just like my mother. Although I'd never actually seen her teach, she used to tell me stories about it. She always seemed to be proud of teaching someone something...Like there was nothing better than watching someone learn and knowing that you made it happen. So, I had my dad buy me a blackboard and I would play school, using my dolls as students. Even after I joined SD-6, I kept that dream alive." She paused, her voice growing heavy. "After I found out about my mother, that it was all a lie, that dream kind of died. My father helped me see that it's something I might still be meant to do, but it's not the same as it was back then." She inhaled deeply before going on, "I guess the strangest part of all is that I did end up fulfilling my dream as a child, just not the way I thought. I am just like my mother. I followed in her footsteps."
She lowered her eyes and pressed at an invisible wrinkle in the tablecloth.
Vaughn spoke softly, "You're nothing like her, Sydney. You know that."
She nodded and looked up, offering a delicate smile, "I know, it's just ironic I guess." She inhaled deeply and then looked at him with interest. "What about you? What was little Michael Vaughn like?"
Weiss, who had taken that 'shut up' seriously and hadn't said anything for quite some time, spoke now, "Little Michael Vaughn? Do you have any idea how many jokes are spinning inside my head right now? Seriously, it feels like it's ready to explode."
Vaughn stifled a laugh and shrugged. "I guess I was your typical boy. I played sports, got dirty and into my fair share of trouble."
"What did you dream of being when you grew up?"
Vaughn laughed. "Take your pick. Cowboy, fireman, policeman, astronaut, super-hero, pilot, professional hockey and baseball player, mailman and... "he paused and leaned forward, his voice lowering, "Promise you won't tell anyone else this?" Sydney nodded, curiosity sparkling in her eyes. He went on, a blush creeping into his cheeks, "A ballerina."
Sydney had to bite her lip to keep from laughing. Weiss nearly choked on his coffee.
"A ballerina?" he repeated incredulously.
Vaughn rolled his eyes. He'd forgotten about Weiss.
Weiss snickered. "A ballerina. Well, Mike, you do have shapely legs. And I can't think of another CIA agent that can pull off a tutu like you can."
Vaughn ignored him and smiled at Sydney. "My mother made me take lessons. She said it would help me with my balance and coordination when playing sports. I ended up kind of liking it."
"I took ballet, too," Sydney replied, surprised that she and Vaughn shared such a thing.
Weiss laughed. "This is priceless. Vaughn, ask her if you can borrow her ballet slippers sometime. Tell her yours are in the shop."
Vaughn smirked, "So, this'll stay just between us, right? It's not exactly something I like to advertise."
Sydney nodded and so did Weiss, "Yup, just between us...and every other guy I ever come in contact with for the rest of my life."
Vaughn internally groaned. He'd have to speak with Weiss when he got back.
Sydney grinned at him. "So, the ballerina thing obviously didn't pan out. How did you get from that point to this one?"
"Well, all through college, I thought I was going to be a professional baseball player. I was a pitcher and I was pretty good. There was talk of some scouts coming to see me pitch my senior year. I had done well in college, but I had no idea what I wanted to do. I had pretty much taken every course known to man. In my mind, it didn't matter, because I was going to the pros. My first game of my senior year I blew my arm out. The doctor said I tore something I can't pronounce and that I'd never pitch again. I didn't know what to do after that. I graduated from college with a liberal arts degree. I was kind of lost for a while. I took the summer to try to 'find myself'. I traveled the country and took up pool. I got pretty good, too. I was able to make a living for a while."
"Playing pool. I can see it."
Vaughn smiled at her, "We should play sometime."
Sydney's smile morphed into an expression mixed with desire and hopelessness.
Being together like this was so nice. Neither of them wanted it to end, but they both knew they only had this night. This time together might never come again. At the very least, it wouldn't come for quite some time.
His simple statement had caused her to think of how wonderful it would be to play pool with him, to share normal moments together. How wonderful it would be to have his body cover hers as he taught her how to play.
Those thoughts, however, were tempered by their hopeless reality.
Sydney took a sip of her wine and forced herself back into the conversation, "I still don't know how you ended up here."
Vaughn nodded, his expression darkening. "After a while, I got tired of moving around and I wanted to do something that actually made a difference. I'd realized that I'd been avoiding the one thing that had always seemed right for me. After I found out what my father did, I was so proud of him. He was so brave. I used to tell my mother that I wanted to be just like him when I grew up. She took this much more seriously than my dreams of being a cowboy or super-hero. She told me that my father was a good, courageous man, but that he had died too soon. She said that she had already lost him and she wasn't about to lose me to the same job. So, all through school, I suppressed the desire I had to join the CIA. But after wandering around and pretty much wasting my life, I knew that I had to either take a risk or regret it for the rest of my life. So, I came back here and told my mother. She tried to change my mind, but she knew there was no use. I looked into the CIA and I already had connections, so it wasn't hard to get my foot in the door. The rest is history."
Sydney smiled warmly at him. "Although I think you would have made a wonderful cowboy or super-hero or, in particular, a ballerina, I think you made the right choice."
His piercing eyes met hers. "I've never regretted it, especially since none of those other professions would have led to me meeting you."
Sydney swallowed against the lump in her throat, the look in his eyes driving her crazy.
The moment was filled with unspoken desires. No words were necessary. They said everything with their eyes.
They were still caught in the moment when Weiss spoke, "That was beautiful, man. Really. Hell, if I were gay or a woman, I'd date you."
Vaughn laughed and shook his head. Sydney's brow wrinkled in confusion and Vaughn pointed to the earpiece.
Just then, the owner arrived at their table.
"So you liked everything?"
"C'etait tres bon, merci," Sydney replied.
The owner nodded, "So, uh, it is too late for you to set out for L'Avignon and you had much to drink. Upstairs, I have an inn and tonight, you are my guests. Please.
He placed the room key on the table.
"Take your time. Merci."
Sydney and Vaughn exchanged looks of surprise.
Weiss howled in Vaughn's ear. "All right, Mike! You go, tiger!"
Vaughn smiled and looked at Sydney, leaning forward. "Did you ask him to do that?"
Weiss sighed, "What is wrong with you? You don't ask a woman that! Are you trying to drive her away?"
Sydney shook her head and smiled, "There are so many issues with this, I don't know where to begin."
Vaughn's mind was spinning with possibilities. He wasn't about to let this chance slip away so easily, issues or no issues.
"Hold on a second. I think we should have an open mind about this."
"An open mind," she echoed.
Weiss snickered, "Sure, Mike, like it's your mind you're thinking with right now."
Vaughn didn't even hear him. "It'd be rude to overlook such a generous offer without proper consideration."
Weiss laughed, "Yeah, it's all about being polite. Such a gentleman."
A smile spread across Sydney's lips, "I wouldn't dream of it."
"But there are clearly issues."
He smiled at her, "Yes. I don't disagree."
She paused, contemplating it.
"Okay," she breathed.
Vaughn's smile widened.
Weiss did his dance again and spoke in a sing-song manner. "You're gonna get some action. I'm gonna want details. Don't forget my eclairs."
Vaughn laughed and touched his earpiece, "I'm turning you off now."
Weiss nodded. "Good, thank you. I'm not sick enough to actually want to eavesdrop on it. That's not the kind of threesome I'm interested in. I'll call if anything happens."
Vaughn turned Weiss off, grabbed the key, and then looked at Sydney.
They exchanged nervous smiles, before taking deep breaths and heading upstairs.