After spending all of Saturday with Michael, Sydney sadly said goodbye to him on Sunday morning. She needed to get home and do some laundry as well as some grocery shopping before reporting to work early the next morning. They promised to call each other that evening and make plans for visits at a later date.
On her way out of town, Sydney stopped at both the Vaughn’s and her father’s to say a temporary goodbye. Amelia was the most upset of all of them to see her go, but she promised she would be back before another eight years went by. In fact, she said she would most likely be back before the month was over. Or, at least, she hoped she would be.
Arriving back in New York City was surreal for Sydney. After spending nearly seven days in the serenity of the country, she was so used to the quiet that the hustle and bustle of the city almost unnerved her. She was surprised at how easy she had become used to the country all over again, especially after being a city girl seemed like the person she was meant to be, at least for the time being.
The rest of Sunday was very hectic for Sydney, as she rushed around doing all the chores she usually spread out over the week in just one day. By seven pm, her designated calling Michael time, she was exhausted. Their phone call was a mood lifter for her, though; she had missed how nice it was to be able to call up her best friend, someone who had known her forever, and just chat for as long as she wanted. That was definitely going to be one of the things she enjoyed most about their rekindled relationship.
It only took Sydney a few hours on Monday morning to be back into the full swing of her New York life. Her first day back, she was utterly exhausted and could hardly formulate enough words to converse with Michael over the phone, but the subsequent days were better. The most amusing part of her return to work after vacation was that her coworkers all noticed her change in mood; she was much happier, more content and did not seem as agitated. Of course, they all contributed this to the fact that her break was well deserved and caused a large release of tension in her life; they had no idea her mood change was because of the new (sort of) man in her life.
By Friday, Sydney was really missing in person contact with Michael. Unfortunately, she was too busy with work to return to Hemlock Grove for the weekend. Michael, too, was busy, so he was unable to go to New York to visit her. This timing issue resulted in them settling for not getting together that weekend. In exchange, Michael promised to come to New York the following Friday so they could spend time together, and so Sydney could show him around the city.
In preparation for their weekend together, Sydney began making lists of all the things she wanted to do with Michael while he was there. Of course, as her list grew it became clear there would not even be close to enough time in their weekend to get everything done. She cut the list down to a few important activities, but made sure to tell Michael that he would have to visit another weekend so they could see more sights.
Late Friday morning, nearly three weeks after Sydney blew back into his life, Michael boarded a train bound for New York City. As he rode, he thought about how much his life had changed in just nineteen short days. When he saw Sydney walk into his parent’s house that first day, he was unsure of what to think. At that point, he had no idea why she had come or what she wanted out of the visit. Frankly, he just wanted her gone as quickly as possible; he did not want to deal with the pain all over again.
A few days later, the argument he had with Sydney at his house was really a wakeup call for him. When he saw the pain in Sydney’s eyes after his comments, he realized that he was being cruel on purpose. He realized that he had only said hurtful things to her to get back at her for saying hurtful things to him eight years earlier, which clearly was not the proper thing to do. In fact, it was particularly terrible since, when Sydney had insulted him, she had done it in the heat of the moment out of anger; she never meant it. He, on the other hand, went out of the way to say cruel things to her and that certainly was not the man he was, not in the least.
When he found her on the bridge, he only meant to make amends. He never hated her, not really anyway. He would always care for her and he felt as though their spat had gone on long enough; it needed to end. Then, as they got to talking about their lives, he forgot that they even spent any time apart. They were right back to where they had started, just as perfect as ever. Well, not quite, but in the garden it certainly felt that way.
Though he was scared at first, he knew that getting back with Sydney was the right thing to do. In their time apart, he had missed her terribly and compared every woman he went out with to her. None of those women held a candle to wonderful package Sydney was; no one could ever come even close to being as perfect for him as she was. Their two weeks of ‘dating’ only proved that even further and he was convinced that as long as they took things as slow as they needed to go, their relationship would prevail.
When he arrived at the busy train station, Michael was frozen with uncertainty; he had no idea where to go until he remembered the instructions he had printed out for himself from Sydney’s email. The paper directed him to go up to the street level, find a cab, and give the cabbie the address Sydney had given him. This address was the one to her office, where he would be meeting her to get a tour before going to lunch and spending the day together (she had taken the afternoon off).
Michael followed these instructions relatively well, though he nearly had a stroke when the cabbie told him how much his ride cost, until he reached Sydney’s office building. There, he was stumped as to what floor he needed to go to and even more confused by the fact that a large security guard appeared to be blocking the way to the elevators. After standing around dumbfounded for a few minutes Michael decided it was best to call Sydney. Their conversation was brief, and Sydney promised to come down and get him from the lobby.
“Hey!” she greeted him with a happy squeal, rushing over and jumping into his embrace. She gave him a long kiss before pulling him along with her to the elevator. “C’mon everyone’s excited to meet you.”
“Everyone? Who’d you tell I was coming and what did you tell them?” he asked.
“Well, I told a bunch of people that my favorite used car salesman was coming to visit,” she grinned. He gave her an annoyed look and she laughed. “I’m kidding and I called you my…significant other.”
“Significant other?” he questioned with a raised eyebrow.
“Well yeah. Husband would have raised too many questions and you’re much more than a boyfriend so…,” she shrugged.
“I see. And, can I just say how unbelievably sexy you look in this suit,” he said deeply, locking his arms around her waist and kissing her temple.
“Is it the suit or the fact that you haven’t seen me in two weeks?” she asked suspiciously.
“Both,” he answered with a nod. She laughed softly.
Once they arrived on the forty-first floor, Sydney began introducing Michael to a dozen different people that she worked with. Of course, Michael could not even begin to match up the names she was firing out with the faces they corresponded to, but he at least managed to smile politely and shake a bunch of hands. She quickly whisked him around the office, but since it was not any different than basically every other office in New York City, she did not waste too much time on their tour. Finally, they arrived at Sydney’s office.
“And this is where I work – isn’t it lovely,” she said dramatically, waving her hands across the oak door as though she was Vana White displaying the letters on Wheel of Fortune.
“Lovely,” Michael teased her. She giggled happily before opening the door. Inside, Michael found a run-of-the-mill office with a large desk, two chairs for guests, and a large green plant in the corner. Nothing in it was very groundbreaking except for one tiny thing. On the desk, there was a rectangular wooden block with a brass nameplate attached to it. In of itself, this was nothing out of the ordinary; however, the name on it was. Sydney Vaughn. The name plate read Sydney Vaughn, not Sydney Bristow.
Along with their marriage, Sydney legally changed her last name from Bristow to Vaughn. Michael naturally assumed that she would have changed it back to Bristow after college, or after they stopped speaking to one another. Apparently, she had not, but Michael chose not to bring up the issue. At least, not at that exact moment.
“So what do you think?” Sydney asked, leaning against the edge of her desk.
“It’s… great. I mean, it’s an office…,” he laughed, unsure of what else to say about it.
“Well I know but… I just wanted you to see it,” she shrugged slightly, suddenly feeling rather foolish.
Michael walked over and kissed her forehead sweetly. “It’s great; I’m glad I got to see where you worked.”
“Good. You wanna go to lunch now?” she offered. Michael nodded. “Okay,” she giggled, “this weekend is going to be so much fun.”
Yay Vaughn finally made it to NYC to visit Syd. Glad everything is working out for the couple. Wonder though who will make the move in the end? Also curious to see what Syd has in store for Vaughn during his NYC stay.
After grabbing a quick lunch, Sydney proceeded to take Michael on a tour of the city, stopping at various points of interest, which were unfortunately very crowded in the busy tourist season. Michael did manage to get an adequate view of the city before the two of them returned to Sydney’s apartment.
“Wow this is…small,” Michael laughed. This was his first comment upon walking inside Sydney’s humble abode. Though she clearly made a more than decent salary at her job, it did not go very far with New York City’s high expense living arrangement. She was by no means living in a cramped one room apartment where the kitchen doubled as the bathroom. She had more space than that; it just was not as large as Michael expected it to be.
“Yeah well what are ya gonna do? City living, you know,” she shrugged slightly. Her apartment consisted of only three rooms: the bathroom, her bedroom, and the kitchen that faded into a sitting area with just an eat-at countertop dividing the two. The area was moderately decorated with some paintings and photographs of the city adorning the walls as well as a few plants sitting around. Michael knew all too well Sydney’s hatred, or, rather, lack of remembering to water plants, so he had a strong hunch that those green leafy items around the apartment were those of the plastic nature.
“It’s nice though; looks like you got a comfy couch,” he said, rubbing the back of the leather sofa he was standing beside.
“Oh you have to sit on it! It’s so great!” Sydney exclaimed happily, gesturing for Michael to sit down. Laughing softly, he walked over to the front of the couch and sank down into the soft leather cushions.
“Whoa…,” he sighed contently. “This is one nice couch… I may have to steal it from you.”
“No, its mine,” she said with a proud smile while flopping down beside him. “You can sit on it though.”
“Oo how generous of you,” he teased with an eye roll. She laughed softly and leaned her head against his arm.
“What do you want for dinner?” she questioned a moment later.
“Um, I dunno… don’t care, either. You don’t have to cook special for me,” he told her.
Sydney laughed under her breath. “Seriously, Michael, you’ve known me forever – when have I ever cooked?”
He thought seriously for a moment. “Depends…are we counting the times I had to go to the hospital and get my stomach pumped or not? Hey!” he whined when she elbowed him in the ribs at his teasing comment.
“How about frozen pizza?” she offered. Michael nodded in agreement. Sydney smiled and kissed his forehead before saying as she walked away, “I’m really glad you’re here.”
“I’m glad I’m here too…hey Syd, can I ask you something?” he questioned, following her into the kitchen area. She gave him a curious look as she nodded, wondering what sort of question warranted such a serious tone from him. “Well, uh,” Michael continued, “at your office…on your desk – your nameplate said ‘Sydney Vaughn’ not ‘Sydney Bristow’ so I was just wondering…”
“Oh,” she said quietly, putting the frozen pizza in her hands on the countertop and folding her arms over her chest. “Well I never changed my name back…In college it was just too complicated with records and transcripts and all… I meant to change it before I got a job but I didn’t…then every time I thought about changing it I just… I couldn’t,” she whispered, her voice strained from emotion.
“Changing my name back would have been writing you off forever. It would have been losing us all over again and I couldn’t do that…it would have broken my heart,” she told him honestly before brushing some tears from her cheeks. “I hope that’s alright…”
“Of course of course!” Michael said, pulling her into a tight hug. He rubbed her back soothingly as he pressed a few kisses onto the top of her head. “I’m glad you didn’t change your name.”
“I’m glad too,” she said before giving him a quick kiss. Then she slid out of his embrace and went to put their pizza in the oven.
“Hey so somewhat awkward question…,” Michael began. “When you were, like, dating people… did you ever tell them you were married?”
“Um…no, not really because that would have lead to asking when we got divorced, which obviously…,” she let her voice drift off with a laugh. “No one I dated was ever serious to reveal that kind of information to. I did tell one guy, though…and he laughed at me and said, ‘Oh that’s ok; I’m married right now but I hate my wife.’”
“Oh that’s…normal,” Michael said with obvious sarcasm.
“Yeah,” Sydney cringed. “Needless to say I didn’t call him ever again.”
“Right,” he laughed softly. “I never had to tell anyone… I mean you know the whole town knew everything so… Although it’s funny – no one ever mentioned you to me, which is probably because the first time someone did I punched the guy out…”
“You WHAT?!” Sydney gasped, knowing that Michael had never been the type to resort to violence.
He gave her a rather sheepish shrug. “Yeah well I was at Joe’s…had a bit too much to drink and some guy came up to me calling you a slut because you wouldn’t go out with him or something so I punched him,” he said simply.
“Wow,” Sydney exhaled, not sure how to react. On one hand, she was glad Michael had defend her honor, yet on the other she was curious as to why some man in a bar was even talking about asking her out in the first place.
“Yeah well it was like seven years ago so…whatever,” he shrugged indifferently. Then he changed the subject, “So what are we eating with this pizza anyway?”
“Um…,” Sydney hesitated as she walked over to her freezer to examine what was inside. She pulled out a bag of frozen mixed vegetables and held it up to him. He nodded, showing his approval, and Sydney ripped open the bag before pouring it into a pot to cook.
As they ate dinner, Sydney told Michael about all the plans she had for the two of them that weekend. He listened politely, though he thought she was insane; she had planned way too much for their short time together, especially when Michael would have preferred to have a relaxing weekend, not one he spent running up and down across the island of Manhattan.
After they ate and cleaned up their dirty dishes, Michael returned to the very comfortable couch. Sydney sat beside him until, suddenly, she jumped up and walked into her bedroom as though she had just remembered something very important. She returned a moment later with a smile on her face and a small item concealed in the palm of her hand. She sat down beside him, tucking one leg beneath her as she did so, and smiled an annoyingly large grin at him until he finally asked her if she was off her medication. She ignored this comment entirely.
“Look what I found,” she said, opening her closed fist to reveal a tiny gold band; her wedding ring from ten years earlier.
“Oh yea, where was that?” he asked, gazing down at the item.
“In my jewelry box,” she told him. “I was thinking I would start wearing it again – around my neck,” she clarified before he had a chance to react. “You know, like on a chain or something. Is that okay?”
“Sure whatever,” he shrugged. Truthfully he didn’t care; it did not make a difference to him where or if she wore it. Not at that moment, anyway, since they were still in the dating phase of things.
“Okay,” she smiled, giving him a quick kissing the cheek. She took off the plain gold chain she was wearing, slipped the ring through it, and then put it back on. As she was doing this she debated posing her next question, but decided to go for it anyway. “Michael, what happened to your ring?”
“Threw it in the stream,” he laughed softly. She looked at him rather surprised. “Yeah it was Christmas and you didn’t call… I knew you were at your father’s but you didn’t call or stop by…so I went for a walk and I ended up at our bridge and I threw it…sorry,” he said with a slight grimace.
“Oh…its okay; don’t worry about it,” she told him even if she was slightly hurt that he had not kept their ring, which in her mind was a symbol of their marriage. Then again, thinking back to the cruel words she had spoken to him at the time, she did not entirely blame him for doing so.
Noticing she looked a little uncertain, Michael leaned over and pulled her into a long, deep kiss. Sydney crawled into his lap, still attached to his lips, and locked her arms around his neck. As their kiss grew more heated, Michael’s hands began to creep up the back of Sydney’s shirt and she pulled back to look at him in surprise. “What happened to your no sex decree?”
“Well I figure if we’re only gonna be seeing each other every few weeks we need to make the best of the time we spend together,” he smiled at her.
“Horny,” she accused playfully.
“Pretty much, yeah,” he laughed breathily before leaning in for another kiss. She stopped him, though.
“I love you,” she whispered.
He smiled broadly at her. “I love you, too.” She giggled softly before kissing him.
After spending a perfect Friday evening in Michael’s arms, Sydney abandoned all her prior plans for that weekend. She realized that no tourist trap could even be half as good as spending more time in Michael’s embrace, so the two of them spent a perfect Saturday together at her apartment. On Sunday, they did visit a few places Michael wanted to see before Sydney took him to the train station for his four fifteen departure. Their goodbye was sad, both of them knowing it would probably be another two weeks before they saw one another again. They both agreed, though, that seeing each other in two weeks was most definitely better than not seeing each other at all.
Through the next week, Sydney and Michael spoke over the phone daily. It seemed that any awkwardness and tension left over from their eight years apart had almost vanished entirely; they were right back to being their old selves, except perhaps a little older and wiser. Sydney found the older and wiser part to be a large benefit too; they had both lived a good part of their adult lives without one another, giving them a chance to experience things apart. In the end, this only reaffirmed for them that they were better off together.
For Michael, his time apart from Sydney was very lonely. Before Sydney returned to his life, he would often spend evenings after work at some of the hang-out spots around town. Sometimes, he would go out on a date, but more often than not he just hung around the friends he had in town. Now that Sydney had returned, he hesitated to do that for a few reasons.
First, since the whole town knew about his and Sydney’s rekindled romance, they were more likely to ask him questions about it; questions he was not keen on answering. That was the one thing he hated the very most about living in a small town: the gossip. Quite frankly, he did not care who was dating who or who was breaking up with who and could not understand why people cared such things about him.
The other reason why Michael did not like to go out by himself was simply because he felt as though since he and Sydney were a couple, they should hang out as a couple. Of course, this did not apply to every night a week; every couple needed its time apart, but every time he did go out, he thought about Sydney, which made him sad since it would be another week until he could see her once more. Sydney was scheduled to arrive in Hemlock Grove on Friday, two weekends after he visited her in New York; however, she surprised him by arriving on Tuesday instead.
“What are you doing here?” Michael laughed as he let Sydney into their house at eight on Tuesday night.
“Do you know much traffic there is leaving New York City at rush hour?! I thought I was actually going to die while sitting in line on the highway,” she sighed, dumping her bag down on the floor.
“Well its lovely to see you too, honey,” Michael teased.
“Oh I’m sorry,” she laughed before giving him a sweet kiss. “Hi.”
“Hi. What are you doing here?” he repeated his unanswered question.
“Oh well I have this work thing nearby early tomorrow morning so I thought it’d be nice to spend the night here since it would be easier to get from here to my meeting than from the city to my meeting,” she explained with a smile before kissing him again and kicking off her shoes.
“Um, question, what kinda meeting are you having out in Hickville for your fancy-schmancy financial advising felgercarb?” Michael asked with a raised eyebrow.
“It’s with a client,” she laughed. “You got any food? I’m starving. All I ate on the drive here was an old Pop Tart.”
“Ew,” Michael grimaced. “Why didn’t you stop at Burger King or something?”
“Ew,” she returned a grimace. “I didn’t want to die of a coronary before I got here!” Michael rolled his eyes and directed her towards the kitchen.
Later that evening, as they were getting ready for bed, Michael tired to strike up the romantic mood, but Sydney stopped him. “It’s that time of the month,” she informed him simply.
Michael’s entire body slumped down onto the bed as he grumbled, “Comes here early…no sex… oh! You know what you should do? You should switch to that birth control pill where you only get it four times a year.”
She gave him a suspicious look. “Why…and how do you even know about that?”
“’cause there are commercials for it like every five seconds on TV,” he informed her. “And that way you wouldn’t get it so often so we wouldn’t have to-” his comment was cut off by a loud ‘thwack’ as Sydney hit him in the head with her pillow.
“Michael Vaughn you are disgusting!” she exclaimed, though she was laughing.
“What?!” he asked innocently.
“First, that pill creeps me out –it’s unnatural. Secondly, oh you poor, poor baby that you can’t last just a few days a month – however will you survive?!” she mocked him with an eye roll. Michael merely shrugged before kissing her goodnight and sliding down beneath the covers, his arm around her waist.
After her meeting on Wednesday morning, Sydney returned to New York City for the remainder of the week. On Friday, she was one again driving to Hemlock Grove. During that trip, she seriously began contemplating buying a vehicle for herself. After all, she now had use for a car, at least every few weekends and she did not see that going away anytime soon.
Due to a traffic snarl, Sydney did not arrive at home until after nine o’clock. By that point, she was so exhausted, she just went straight into the bedroom, knowing that if she sat down on the couch it would only be moments until she fell asleep. As she was changing out of her work suit, Michael came in the room.
“Hey I wanted to show you something before you went to bed,” he said softly. She gave him a curious look, and he walked over to the nightstand beside their bed to retrieve the item.
“Your wedding ring…” Sydney said with confusion when Michael held up the item between his thumb and index finger. “But I thought you said you threw it in the river…”
“I did,” he said softly as he sat on the edge of the bed. “But apparently I have crappy aim. I found it a month later along the riverbanks. It was a bit tarnished, but I had a jeweler clean it up and then I put it away, someplace safe…”
“Why did you tell me you had it before?” she asked, sitting beside him.
He was silent for a moment before telling her, “I was scared…scared that this would all blow up and I’d get hurt again. But then I realized that if I kept being scared and holding back, I would just make sure things did blow up, but I don’t want them too.
“I saw on the calendar that next week is our tenth anniversary, technically anyway, and I was thinking how nice it would be if we were to renew our vows… Not next week, of course,” he clarified with a soft laugh, “but maybe in a few months…before the end of the year.”
Her heart fluttering softly, Sydney leaned over and gave him a long kiss. “I’m glad you said that because I have to tell you about my meeting on Wednesday.”
“Okay…?” Michael said with total confusion.
“Well first, it wasn’t a meeting – it was a job interview. A bank nearby is looking for a financial manager. It’s only a forty minute commute which is totally doable from here and it would be especially nice if I was able to live here with you, you know since you’re my husband and all,” she smiled at him.
Michael was so surprised he didn’t react for a whole minute; he just stared at her. Finally when he did speak, he asked, “But what about the city…your dream job… do you really want to give that up?”
Sydney sighed heavily and picked up one of his hands in hers. She had been thinking seriously about that exact question over the prior two weeks and had formulated a perfect answer. “I’m not giving it up. I had seven years of it and, while I loved it at the time, I knew it wasn’t the job I was going to have until I was sixty-five. The last few weeks at work have really kinda sucked since my boss decided to be a jerk about some stuff… that combined with our tenth anniversary made me think about the future, my life…
“I’m gonna be thirty soon and that means I want to have a family. I don’t want to do that in New York; I want to do that here, and I want to do that with you,” she smiled at him. He smiled back at her. “I want our kids to grow up like we did in this little hick town…because as much as I hate it sometimes I do love it and I want it for them.”
“I do too,” he agreed before kissing her. “So you’re like…moving back here?!” he asked with excitement.
She laughed softly. “Well not tomorrow – but definitely by the end of the summer, depending on if I get the bank job and when they want me to start.”
“That sounds wonderful,” he said, kissing her again. Then, he pressed his ring into her palm and she gave him a curious look. Grinning, he held out his left hand and wiggled his ring finger at her. Finally realizing that he wanted her to put his ring on, she laughed and did so, smiling at the recollection of her similar action from ten years prior.
After she did this, Michael leaned over and unclasped the necklace hanging around her neck, slid her ring off of it, and then placed it onto her left ring finger. Then, he gave her a long kiss. “I’m so glad to have you back,” he said softly to her.
“Right back atcha,” she smiled.
“Daaaaad come on! Let’s go already!” nine-year-old Scott groaned while banging his head against the back door impatiently.
“Where are you going?” Scott’s older sister, Nina, asked with distain.
“Fishing,” he said simply.
“Honey,” Sydney laughed softly to her son, “there are no fish in that stream.”
“Cray fish,” Scott clarified. The girls grimaced.
“Ready to go,” Michael smiled as he walked past his girls and over to his son. The fourteen years since he and Sydney had renewed their wedding vows had been utterly blissful.
After taking the bank job and moving back to Hemlock Grove permanently, Sydney and Michael’s relationship picked up essentially right where it had left off, only much better and mush stronger. They renewed their vows in October of that year in a real wedding ceremony before taking a real honeymoon to officially kick off their rekindled marriage.
Just a year later, Sydney became pregnant with their daughter. A year after she was born Sydney was pregnant once again, completing their family. She stayed home with the children until Scott was in kindergarten, at which point she returned to her bank job. In exchange, Michael began working only half days so that he would be home with the children when they were through with school. This was the perfect way for them to continue raising their family with the loving atmosphere that Hemlock Grove provided.
“Don’t bring home something gross,” Sydney warned her husband before he could escape out the door. “You can catch as many crayfish as you want, but if I see one in this house…,” she threatened dangerously.
“Don’t worry,” Michael laughed, “you won’t.” Then, he left with Scott.
Sydney turned to her daughter and smiled. “How about we girls go do some shopping while the boys are doing gross things?”
“Yes!” Nina cheered.
Sydney laughed and put her arm around her little girl. “C’mon, let’s go.”
thanks for reading everyone!
like i mentioned before, this will be the last fic i post here at AA. It's been quite a run for me... 4 years i belive, which is crazy long. However, all good things must come to an end
I will still be posting fics for a little whlie longer (i belive the promise i made was at least through the end of december) but only at RF and/or OI. So i'll see you guys there.
I'll still check in here every few days or so, so if you have questions you can still PM me