Infinity

thefallgirl

Cadet
Joined
Jul 9, 2009
Title: Infinity

Rating: PG-13 (for the moment)

Pairing: Vaughn/Lauren, eventual Vaughn/Sydney, a bit Sydney/OC, past Vaughn/OC

Genre: Action, drama, a bit of comedy

Setting: Post 3x11 Full Disclosure; the possibility of the Passenger and the existence of Doliak (sp?) agenda don't exist in this story.

Story Summary: The search for a new artifact reveals Isabelle Flannery, the mother of Vaughn's child--a child no one knew about. Her presence leads to the uncovering of a startling Rambaldi destiny--a destiny that may tie Sydney, Vaughn, and Isabelle together to Rambaldi more than they want.

Disclaimer: I do not own Alias or the characters from it.



_________________________


Prelude
Indulgence


During the ides of August…


It was quiet in the Vaughn household on the evening of the fourteenth. There were no romantic interludes with candles and soft music planned, no social outings with friends. The two occupants of the house converged at their house, consumed a serene meal, and did a little reading (grown-up homework courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency). Before heading to bed, they engaged in their pre-bedtime rituals which included the usual bathing procedure. Every now and again, they might shower together or she would take a bath on her own. That night, she soaked in the tub by herself, while her husband went to his study during his time alone.

Lauren and Michael Vaughn, on the surface, seemed the typical married couple, as the events of the evening had shown. They were prone to good days and bad days. Unfortunately, there had been a considerable amount of “bad” days since Vaughn had returned from Hong Kong three months previous. That was an incident he didn’t want to think about. But the truth was, Vaughn had felt a bit withdrawn throughout the whole ritual of a night at home on the night of the fourteenth. His mind had been miles away. Five thousand, seven hundred eighteen miles away.

While his wife was luxuriating in the bathtub, Vaughn allowed himself to partake in an indulgence of his own.

Everyone had hidden pockets of their lives that they only brought to light when no one was around, like a worn picture whispering of the past. On the night of fourteenth, the whisper came all the way from Spain.

Vaughn moved aside his folder on the Covenant’s movements in Europe, glancing guiltily at his cracked door. Judging from the sloshing sounds coming from tub and his wife’s contented sighs, he knew he had a little while yet. So he opened a drawer and unearthed a nondescript manila envelope that would have not aroused suspicion in the clutter of his desk drawer, but by itself, it hinted at something clandestine.

He had fought with himself day and night ever since he had married Lauren over this subject. One day he had decided to tell her; by the end of the day, he found his mouth shut on the subject and ready to move on to something else. Either that or he had totally forgotten the whole dilemma because his mind was occupied with other problems (or one problem in particular that had suddenly cropped up in Asia a few months ago). So here he was, married to Lauren Reed, having declared to be with her for better or for worse through sickness and health, for half a year with a secret eating a hole inside of him. A big secret.

Inside of the envelope were a letter and a sheaf of photographs and magazine clippings. The letter he could recite from memory; he left it inside the envelope, opting for the largest, glossiest photograph instead.

The person in the photograph he chose wore her hair unbound. The curly mass of mahogany brown framed a heart-shaped face. Her milky white shoulders were bared by an off-the-shoulder dress in a peach hue. Olive-green eyes as intense as his own stared at an unseen point off-camera, and the coral-shaded lips were slightly upturned at the edges, as if she were thinking of an amusing irony she shared with no one. A cream-gloved hand was placed in her lap, and as she was angled toward the viewer, she held the other gloved hand over the V exposing her chest—a sign of modesty. He always smiled when he noticed that, thinking of what her reaction could have been. She would have punched his shoulder laughingly and would have told him not to read too much into a silly picture.

He placed the picture aside and pulled one of the magazine clippings from the envelope. It touted the exploits of a Manhattan-born beauty who had taken Broadway by storm with her kaleidoscopic talent while giving a bit of background on her early life. After skimming the slightly overdone article, he pulled another photograph from the pile, one that included a younger version of him and another guy flanking her at the sides. They all wore baseball caps and huge grins. Vaughn recalled the rousing game they had just come from and smiled again. They’d made a bet, and she’d won like she always did.

An indefinite amount of time had passed when he heard the door to the bathroom open. He heard Lauren’s footsteps in the bedroom, heard the pause. Quickly he slid everything into the envelope and the envelope underneath the folder at which he was supposed to be looking.

When Lauren walked into the study with her tawny hair piled on top of her head, she saw her husband poring over a file from work. He tapped a pen idly on the desktop as he read, and his brows were furrowed in concentration. He didn’t look up immediately when she entered, so she went to him at the desk to get his attention.

“There you are,” she said with a smile. Lauren placed a hand on his shoulder and he gazed up at her. “Still working?”

“Yeah. Just looking at some stuff for the briefing tomorrow morning.” He paused as she glanced down at the desktop. One of the corners of the envelope was visible. Vaughn placed her lips on hers so that she was distracted from his desk long enough to conceal the corner. When she pulled away, a light smile curved his lips. “You smell nice. Is that new?”

Lauren beamed at the observation. It was nice that despite their times of discord that he would notice something like the scent of her body wash. Though, with her at this proximity, it was hard to miss without holding his breath. “The saleswoman at the store recommended it. Do you like it?”

“I do. Very much.” Vaughn carefully closed the file folder on his desk and set it neatly in the middle of the surface. In one smooth move, he stood and kissed her on the cheek.

“You go on to bed,” Vaughn told Lauren. “I’ll be there in a minute.”

Lauren complied and left him alone once again. After she had left the room, Vaughn exhaled heavily and collapsed in the chair. Silently he berated himself for not telling her sooner, chided himself for not finding the balls to sit her down and tell her at that moment.

I will tell her tomorrow, Vaughn told himself. I will take her aside, away from work, and tell her.

Of course, a more cynical person would have recognized the fact that that was an empty vow, thought only to ensure a false sense of accomplishment. But Michael Vaughn didn’t think about it any longer. If he did, he’d find that heart-shaped face in his dreams.

[----]

Meanwhile, five thousand, seven hundred eighteen miles away, a woman watched the rising of the sun with a multi-colored blanket covering her shoulders to ward off the pre-dawn chill. She wore a sweater and jeans, but she couldn’t quite chase away the cold. She was not sickly or anemic, but on the morning of the fifteenth, and only on the morning of the fifteenth, she always felt cold.

Her roommates, so to speak, were ensconced in slumber. She didn’t want to rouse them; this was her time alone, and she was going to take it. She liked the tranquil peace before the day began. In her life filled with toys, cartoons, math homework, and the occasional grocery expedition, this was one of her few mature indulgences.

She wasn’t a lonely woman by any means, nor did she feel crowded by the direction her life had taken or the people in it. She was content with her accomplishments and didn’t regret any choices she’d made. Well, perhaps just one.

But you let him go, she reminded herself. You let him go—when you both needed each other most. And you know who to thank for that.

Yes, she did, and she thought about dancing on that person’s grave…

But that would be rather vulgar of her. She had breeding, right? Her mother had taught her to turn the other cheek, to act and not react. Not to mention, she was an adult. She was above such overtures. It was all in the past, and everything was better because of it. She was better because of it.

So, with that thought, she brought the blanket tighter around her and headed into the house. She had a birthday cake to make.
 

thefallgirl

Cadet
Joined
Jul 9, 2009
Author's Notes: Some events in this chapter and the next resemble moments in 3x12, Crossroads.


____________________


Chapter One
Tuesday


What was it exactly about Tuesday that made it absolutely unbearable?

Sydney Bristow pondered this as she made her way through the security checkpoints at the JTF Building Tuesday morning. Tuesday was the odd day of the week that could claim no thrill; it was the day after Monday, the beginning of the work week. It was right before Wednesday, the middle of the week where some of it was behind you and but the rest of it was in front of you, however you looked at it. Thursday was the last quiet day before the stimulating weekend, and Friday was the end of the work week. Saturday was devoted to the extracurriculars you wouldn’t dare partake in during the week, and Sunday was a day of relaxation before it all began anew. Tuesday was the oddball day of the week, and for some unforeseen reason, she felt it more than usual today.

Sydney walked through the pen of desks housing her fellow CIA agents, passing a smile here, volleying a hello there. All the while, her eyes scanned the room looking for that one person she wanted to see and yet wanted to avoid all at the same time.

And because it was Tuesday (if it had been Monday or Wednesday, she’d have found him without incident and avoided him, and if it had been Friday or Thursday, she’d have realized that looking for him was stupid and went to her own desk instead), she’d looked up at the exact moment he looked up and their eyes met.

Dammit!

Sydney was not sure what had happened between her and Michael Vaughn over the past couple of weeks, but the dynamic between them had transformed. Now they could barely swap pleasantries with one another without Sydney catching the undercurrent of unease emanating from him. It was almost as if he had begun regarding her as an enemy, and a simple stare from her eyes made him uncomfortable.

The skin-bristling gaze held for a few humming moments before the voice of Eric Weiss broke through the invisible link between the former lovers.

“So are you going to just stare at him all day or are any actual words going to pass between you two?”

Sydney snapped out of it (and quite smoothly if she said so herself). She turned to Weiss with a wry smile. “Well, good morning to you, too.” As she spied Lauren Reed walking toward her husband, Sydney turned to Weiss, a question on her lips. “So how did the date with the redhead go last night? Any luck?”

“Oh, Cordelia?” Weiss sighed then, a breath laden with pleasure. It seemed he had forgotten about her and Vaughn—momentarily. “Sydney, she was a pure delight. Smart, funny, gorgeous…”

“Yeah, but did you have any luck with her or not?” Sydney asked with a touch of impatience.

Weiss laughed heartily. Only Sydney would ask him such a question. Of course, such was the nature of their friendship that they could have total and utter frankness without awkwardness or anxiety. “We had a rather chaste goodnight kiss on her doorstep before exchanging farewells.” Sydney’s eyebrows arched. “She invited me in for a nightcap, but I refused. Well, this time.”

Sydney dimpled. “And what if she asks next time? Will you take her up on it?”

Weiss did not get to answer because the happy couple walked their way. Weiss greeted his friend and his wife warmly. Sydney, meanwhile, only offered a curve of the lips as a gesture of salutation. Vaughn greeted Weiss…and Sydney as if it were an afterthought.

When they left the duo in their wake, Weiss turned to Sydney. “Oh-kay. So what’s going on between you two?”

Sydney threw up her hands in a gesture of utter bafflement. “I don’t know! I wish I knew. He doesn’t talk to you? Because he certainly doesn’t care to talk to me these days.”

“He hasn’t said anything to me.” Weiss shrugged then. “Maybe it’s that time of the month.”

Sydney couldn’t help but chuckle at the absurd notion. “That time of the month, Weiss?”

“Maybe he and Lauren share a box of Tampax,” Weiss suggested, making Sydney laugh. “There’s that smile.” Sydney’s dimple deepened as Weiss placed his hand on her shoulder. “We’d better get to the briefing before we’re late.”

Sydney agreed, and together they walked into the briefing room. Lauren and Vaughn were already there, along with Marshall Flinkman, the resident mechanical genius, Marcus Dixon, their superior and the director of their division. Also in attendance was Sydney’s father Jack Bristow.

Sydney sent her father a smile from across the room in a gesture of salutation. He faintly smiled back, then took his seat. Things were currently uniform for the father and daughter; the biggest upset they’d had over the past few weeks was the discovery of what had happened during the two years Sydney had been missing, and Sydney felt, for the most part, that she was recovering quite well from the shock of it all.

She sat up straight and paid attention as Dixon began the briefing.

“We’ve just received intel about a man named Alejandro Garza,” Dixon informed his team. “Garza was suspected of having Covenant ties, but the details were never confirmed. He was also an avid follower of Rambaldi. The information we received also reveals that he is in possession of an artifact called the Globe that he has housed in a massive collection at his home in Spain. He was in negotiations to auction off the artifact when he was killed during a trip to Russia three months ago. The information we collected indicates it was an arms deal gone wrong. His body wasn’t found until two weeks ago.”

“Do we know what the Globe is or what it does?” This came from Lauren.

“Not as of yet. But I am pretty sure that, now that Garza is dead, that the Covenant will try to move in and confiscate the Globe.” Dixon slid two file folders in Sydney and Vaughn’s direction. Dread snaked up Sydney’s spine as she realized that she would be accompanied by Michael Vaughn on the trip to…where were they going again?

“Sydney, Vaughn—you two are to go to Valladolid to pose as two lawyers from the firm Garza employed at his youngest daughter’s birthday party,” Dixon continued, as if hearing her question. “Information about your identities is in the folder along with specs for Garza’s mansion.” Dixon gestured to Marshall, who sat off to his right. “And now Marshall will go over the Op Tech for this mission.”

While Marshall gave a rundown on the devices he’d constructed to open the vault-like quarters of Alejandro Garza’s collection, including something that resembled a hanky, Sydney slid her eyes in Vaughn’s direction.

Vaughn gave Marshall his attention as he went through his Op Tech briefing but something lurked in his eyes. As if he sensed her staring at him, his eyes shifted to her. His eyes flicked over her briefly, then he looked back to Marshall. When the briefing ended, Vaughn calmly rose and left the room without a backward glance.

“This is ridiculous,” Sydney muttered under her breath. She stalked out of the briefing room, intending to seek out Vaughn so they could straighten this out once and for all.

Sydney strode through the agents’ pen, focused only on one point: Michael Vaughn’s back. With her mouth set and her brown eyes determined, the other agents merely stayed out her of her path. She’d have mowed them down otherwise.

She paused behind Vaughn, intending to spew her grievances about his none-too-subtle behavior. He was on his computer typing furiously and did not hear her approach. She fell into a faintly combative stance, feet apart, hands on hips. Her lips parted, the words she had in her head on the tip of her tongue.

They froze and died when her eyes focused on Vaughn’s computer screen.

An e-mail window was up, confined to about half his screen. The message was addressed to a mamaesperanza at some domain she didn’t recognize. Her sharp eyes spied the words on the screen as her stunned brain tried to pick them apart and find some meaning behind them.

This arrangement is unfair… Keeping me from what I obviously deserve is not only hurting me, but her…

“What are you doing?” Sydney inquired before she could stop herself.

Vaughn minimized the window and spun around in surprise. Now, on another day, Michael Vaughn would have been able to think fast on his feet and come up with a dynamite excuse for composing a personal e-mail of this nature to someone…who wasn’t Lauren. Or at least he would have been able to come up with some compelling indignation.

But it was Tuesday. So of course his reasoning skills were shot.

“I…” He tried to cover speechlessness but his heart was thumping in his throat and his mouth was dry. Sydney just stared at him warily. “This is not the best time…”

At that moment, Lauren came onto the scene, the clicking of her high heels filling Sydney with a bit of exasperation. And of all the moments… she thought.

“Hello, darling,” Lauren greeted her husband. Some of Vaughn’s wariness abated—only fractionally because, after greeting him, his wife focused on his former girlfriend with something resembling…camaraderie? It was disconcerting. “You know, I was thinking, Sydney, perhaps you and I could get together one of these evenings for some dinner.”

“Um, sure,” Sydney agreed a bit absently. “We’ll have to set a time and place.” She glanced down at her watch. An out. A trite and transparent one, but quite effective. She smiled apologetically at the duo, looking pointedly at Vaughn. “If you would excuse me, I have to go and pack for the trip.”

With that, Sydney walked away smoothly as Vaughn inwardly kicked himself. Damn Tuesday.

[----]

After Sydney left, Vaughn raised irritated eyes to Lauren. Since Sydney had walked away and left him with his emotions swirling dangerously, Vaughn found himself taking out on Lauren before he could stop himself. “And what was that all about?”

Lauren looked at him with innocence edged with confusion. “What do you mean?”

“Suggesting a dinner date with Sydney.” When Lauren pursed her lips together, he continued. “We see her all the time at work; I think that’s enough.”

“I just want to make things better between us, after all,” Lauren explained, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Remember when she first came back and we were at each other’s throats? Would you rather have it that way, Michael?”

Vaughn sighed. Lauren was right. Not to mention, her heart was in the right place. She was just attempting to make a strange situation better. Who could blame her?

“You have a point,” Vaughn told her. “I…I’m being silly.” He leaned down and kissed her on the cheek. “You have my blessing to be friends with Sydney if you want.” He glanced at his watch. “I have to go home and pack for the trip. I’ll see you later, okay?”

Lauren exchanged goodbyes with her husband and watched him walk away. Anyone paying cursory attention to her expression would have seen a faint smile that indicated that she thought her husband was silly sometimes, but she would miss him while he was away. She was the typical loving wife.

But something else lurked in the depths of her light eyes that would have been noticed at a closer look. Something dangerous.
 
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