~Joe's Bar & Grill~

Kristina

Rocket Ranger
Joined
Feb 28, 2003
Location
CHICAGO
#1
Title: "Joe's Bar & Grill"
Setting: Chicago 2004
Author: Kristina AKA: spy41

A/N: Alright. Vaughn is a bartender/cook. He's got his own bar&grill that he runs with his friend Joe. Sydney is an international movie/television star. They meet by chance.



Chapter Guide:
Part 1 ~ "A Not So Normal Chicago Morning" Edited 05/07/07
Part 2 ~ "The Second Meeting" Edited 05/14/07
Part 3 ~ "Surreal, But Nice" Edited 05/17/07
Part 4 ~ "The Third Wheel"
Part 5 ~ "Reality"
Part 6 ~ "Truth"
Part 7 ~ "Learning"
Part 8 ~ "Everyone Needs Someone"
Part 9 ~ "One in a Million"
Part 10 ~ "Elevator Run-In"
Part 11 ~ "The Phone Call"
Part 12 ~ "Problems"
Part 13 ~ "Confrontation"
Part 14 ~ "Last Minute Shopping"
Part 15 ~ "A Past Loss"
Part 15 b. ~ "Revelations"
Part 16 ~ "Insomnia"
Part 17 ~ "Connecting Losse Ends"
Part 18 ~ "Meeting The Bristow's"
Part 19 ~ "Dinner Interrogation"
Part 20 ~ "Comfort Zone"
Part 21 ~ "Spider Problems"
Part 22 ~ "The Accident"
Part 23 ~ "The Proposal"
Part 24 ~ "The Answer"
Part 25 ~ "Christmas Alone"
Part 26 ~ "Flight 309 to LAX"
Part 27 ~ "Under the Stars"
Part 28 ~ "A Christmas Surprise"
Part 29 ~ "The Picture Frame"
Part 30 ~ "A Visit From the Past"
Part 31 ~ "Taking a Risk"
Part 32 ~ "Late Night Phone Call"
Part 33 ~ "The Mistake"
Part 34 ~ "Change of Heart"
Part 35 ~ "Waiting"
Part 36 ~ "Good-Bye's"
Part 37 ~ "Reconciliation"
Part 38 ~ "Figuring Things Out"
Part 39 ~ "Grocery Aisle Disturbance"
Part 40 ~ "Some Bad Seafood"
Part 41 ~ "The Rumors Begin"
Part 42 ~ "Making Our Own Assumptions"
Part 43 ~ "The Talk"
Part 44 ~ "Wrong Timing"
Part 45 ~ "False Alarm"
Part 46 ~ "Catching Up"
Part 47 ~ "Sold"
Part 48 ~ "Voice-Mail Prank"
Part 49 ~ "Joe's Bar & Grill 'California Style' "
Part 50 ~ "Another Good-Bye"
Part 51 ~ "The Beginning"
Part 52 ~ "Serious Talk"
Part 53 ~ "The Journal"
Part 54 ~ "Journal Entry #2"
Part 55 ~ "Journal Entry #3"
Part 56 ~ "The Set-up"
Part 57 ~ "Hiding Reality"
Part 58 ~ "Close Call"
Part 59 ~ "Meeting Gina"
Part 60 ~ "Life & Love"
Part 61 ~ "The Ring Incident"
Part 62 ~ "Back to Chitown"
Part 63 ~ "Our First Valentine's Day"
Part 64 ~ "Dynamic Duo"
Part 65 ~ "Bathtub Advice"
Part 66 ~ "In the Shadows"
Part 67 ~ "Reflections"
Part 68 ~ "A Harmless Bet"
Part 69 ~ "A Late Breakfast"
Part 70 ~ "Battle of the Sexes"
Part 71 ~ "A Hidden Pain"
Part 72 ~ "While Angels Sleep"
Part 73 ~ "Breaking the Iceman"
Part 74 ~ "Bad Moods and Bad Ratings"
Part 75 ~ "Disneyland Virgin"
Part 76 ~ "Misses What?"
Part 77 ~ "Painting a Proposal"
Part 78 ~ "Nightmares to Reality"
Part 79 ~ "The Beginning of the End"
Part 80 ~ "Eight Years"
Part 81 ~ "The Hitman Returns"
Part 82 ~ "Fleeing Canada"
Part 83 ~ "Emotional Scars"
Part 84 ~ "Choices"
Part 85 ~ "When It's Over"
Part 86 ~ "Resurrected"
Part 87 ~ "Running in Circles with Nowhere to Go"
Part 88 ~ "Casablanca"
Part 89 ~ "Only Friends"
Part 90 ~ "Anxiety Attacks on Rainy Days"
Part 91 ~ "One Thing at a Time"
Part 92 ~ "Dream Training"
Part 93 ~ "Moving In"
Part 94 ~ "Thanksgiving in LA"
Part 95 ~ "A Good-Hearted Country Girl"
Part 96 ~ "Another Roadblock"
Part 97 ~ "Another Good-Bye"
Part 98 ~ "Dr. Judsworth"
Part 99 ~ "Back to Chitown"
Part 100 ~ "That Cold December Day, Way Back When"
Part 101 ~ "Not The Couch"
Part 102 ~ "Breakfast and Hawaii"
Part 103 ~ "A Dead-End Disease"
Part 104 ~ "Seperate Ways"
Part 105 ~ "A Late Present"
Part 106 ~ "New Year's"
Part 107 ~ "Paparazzi Get Clued In"
Part 108 ~ "Another Flashback"
Part 109 ~ "Babies and Jellyfish"
Part 110 ~ "The Letter"
Part 111 ~ "Midol & Pregnancy Tests"
Part 112 ~ "The Kitchen Incident"
Part 113 ~ "Arguments & Threats"
Part 114 ~ "Two Days"
Part 115 ~ "Drinking With A Stranger"
Part 116 ~ "The Wedding"
Part 117 ~ "Reunited"
Part 118 ~ "The Final Weekend"
Part 119 ~ "Back to the Doctors"
Part 120 ~ "Letting Go"
Part 121 ~ "Out of Area"
Part 122 ~ "Nightmares"
Part 123 ~ "Bad Cop"
Part 124 ~ "Three Days Behind"
Part 125 ~ "Moving"
Part 126 ~ "Breakdown"
Part 127 ~ "Season Tickets"
Part 128 ~ "Hospital Frenzy"
Part 129 ~ "D.M.V."
Part 130 ~ "Sins of the Father"



~Part I~
~A Not So Normal Chicago Morning~

Edited: 05/07/07

The rain pours slowly down from the morning Chicago sky. It falls to the ground in soft, cool drops – causing him to pull the collar of his brown suede jacket over the exposed skin on his neck. The zipper on his coat is broken due to how poorly it was made in the first place. So he settles by taking the two flaps of the jacket and overlapping them, he then crosses his arms to keep the material closed over his chest.

He walks in a quick manner down the sidewalk; dodging a few umbrellas before they could successfully smack him in the head as he weaves through the crowd. He finally gets to the front door of his establishment and takes out the ring of keys he keeps in his deep coat pocket.

Unlocking the door, he steps inside and tries to shake off the water that now soaks his jacket and the bottom of his slacks. He takes off his coat and walks into the back room of his small bar and grill and throws it on an empty box. He gropes the wall blindly and flips on the lights after a few seconds of searching. He then walks to his office and opens the door. Caught off guard, he jumps back at the sight of someone sitting at his private desk.

“Joe! What the hell are you doing here?” Michael Vaughn asks his business partner. Joe McDonald lifts his scruffy head off of the desk, a piece of white receipt sticking to the side of his face.

“What?” He asks tiredly. He smacks off the paper and squints as he looks up to the voice that has just interrupted his sleep.

“What are you doing here?” Vaughn asks again as he steps further into his office space.

“Oh – right, I stayed to add up all the profits from this month, I guess I fell asleep.” He says. He looks at the papers lying before him as Vaughn takes a seat in the chair across from his desk.

“And?” He asks. He is curious and anxious to know if they were making a profit yet. But he knows not to get his hopes up.

“And…we’re minus $2,521.” Joe tells his friend. Vaughn rubs his forehead and sighs. “Hey, it’s not that bad. Look at how busy we’ve been at night. More people are starting to flock over here everyday. It has potential.”

“Yeah, but the problem is we’re….” He pauses to correct himself, knowing he is the one that is pretty much betting his life on the success of the bar. “…I’m spending money before I even have it. If you add the deficit from September then I’ve lost over $5,000.” Vaughn says. He stands up from the chair. “How the hell am I supposed to tell that to the bank? Sorry, I can’t pay back the three loans you’ve already given us. My credit is already shot.”

“We’ll figure it out, and at least the numbers are getting smaller each month.” Joe says, trying to make light of the situation. Vaughn just lets the subject go. He doesn’t want it to ruin his day seeing as the rain outside has made him more depressed than he previously was.

“You need anything I’ll be in front.” He tells Joe before stepping out of his office. The ironic part was that Joe spent more time in Michael’s office than Michael did himself, he loved to help the customers, and he loved actually running the bar.

He proceeds with his morning routine of turning on the television that’s mounted on the wall in the corner of the room and turning on the lights. He then steps behind the bar and starts to clean the dirty glasses from the night before and put them away in their proper places underneath the counter. About twenty minutes later the front door opens and he looks up briefly to see someone wearing a red hooded sweatshirt sporting the University of Wisconsin across the front.

“Good-morning. Give me just a moment and I’ll be right with you.” He tells the young women who has just taken a seat in one of the corner booths furthest from the windows.

In response, he gets a small smile out of her as she takes off her sunglasses and then carefully pushes the red hood off of her head, careful not to mess her brown locks up underneath.

He looks down to put the final glass away under the counter and then looks up once again. He pauses; his eyes scan her face as she flips through the menu on the table slowly, trying to decide what meal will get her through the morning. It takes him a moment to final place her face. But he realizes that he is technically paying for the meal she is about to order from the last time he bought a ticket to see her film.

He wipes his hands on the nearest dishtowel and walks out from behind the bar and toward the table that she currently occupies.

“What can I get you to eat this morning?” He asks in a very warm voice. He stands there and waits as she looks through the menu.

“Hmmm…how are your eggs?” She asks as she looks up at him, her eyes meet his and he can finally see the deep shade of brown that surrounds her pupils.

“Well, If my partner were to make them for you then I’d seriously reconsider. But I’ve been told I can cook up some pretty wicked scrambled egg.” He grins slightly.

“I heard that!” Joe yells from the back office, after a moment he peaks his head out as well. “They are very good though. Best eggs in Chitown!” He says rubbing his stomach.

She smiles, puts the menu down and folds her hands in her lap.

“Well, then I’ll have two eggs scrambled. That comes with the hash browns right?” She asks. He takes the menu from her and smiles.

“Sure does.” He says. “Anything to drink?”

She blushes slightly and bites her bottom lip as she looks down at her hands. He’s seen it before, he is familiar with people not being comfortable with their orders, especially women.

“You want a beer?” He asks.

“No.” She laughs. “Um…do you guy’s have chocolate milk?” She can’t even look at him when she asks.

“Chocolate milk with eggs?” He asks. But he isn’t surprised.

“I know, it’s weird…”

“No, actually I’ve done it before.” He tells her. “I put ketchup on my eggs too, so compared to me you’re normal.” He smiles. “Your order will be ready shortly.” He turns around and walks away as she utters a thank you to his back. He quickly makes her the breakfast she requested and brings it out 10 minutes later, which marks his third visit to her table after he had served her the chocolate milk she had ordered as well.

“Thank you.” She says as she sets a napkin in her lap.

“You’re very welcome.” He tells her. He walks away once again, this time into the office. He closes the door softly. Joe looks up at him.

“What?” He asks curiously.

“Do you know who that is out there?” Vaughn asks.

“No, who? Is it someone famous? Donald Trump maybe? You know they’re building his tower on the river down here.” He says. Vaughn pauses a moment, he knows what will happen if he tells Joe that Sydney Bristow is sitting in the other room.

“No.” Vaughn says. He walks back to the door.

“Damn, well why did you get me all excited?” He asks.

“Sorry.” Vaughn comments as he walks out of the room. He walks back behind the bar and finds that another man has since shown up at his bar. But this man strikes him as curious. He is staring at the famous girl sitting across the room.
“Can I get you something man?” Vaughn asks.

“No, I’m okay. Just chillin’.” The man replies. Vaughn looks over at Sydney Bristow to see her eating with her hood back on. Her right hand is also covering the side of her face as she tries to block the man from staring at her.

“Well, you’ll have to chill outside if you’re not going to order anything.” Vaughn tells the man.

“You can’t make me buy anything.”

”No, but I can make you leave.” Vaughn says.

“F**k you, buddy!” The man gets up and seems to be heading out the door, but before he does he pulls something out of his coat and walks toward Sydney.

“Hey!” Vaughn immediately runs over to him, thinking he has some sort of weapon, seeing as his trench coat is hiding whatever is underneath. When he realizes it’s a camera he relaxes slightly, but Sydney tenses up and covers her face.

“You thought you could hide here, huh, b**ch? Trying to lose me outside?”

“Get out…NOW!” Vaughn says sternly as he pushes the man away from the table that Sydney is sitting at.

“You can’t touch me!”

“I can when you’re harassing one of my customers. You want me to call the cops? You’re on private property, you know that?”

“Pssh! Whatever you asshole. Why don’t you take a few pictures then, they’ll be worth thousands.” The paparazzo leaves while shaking his head. Vaughn looks out the window to see a few people waiting with cameras out front. He locks the door and closes the blinds much to the dismay of the paparazzi.

“I’m sorry about that.” Michael says as he turns around to see Sydney taking off her hood again. “I really didn’t think anything of him at first.”

“You having nothing to apologize for, I draw them everywhere I go. I can’t ever seem to get away.” She scuffs slightly. “I guess this means you know who I am, huh?”

He gives her a small smile, “How could I not? I don’t understand why these people follow you so closely though. Are they waiting for you to screw up or something so they can ruin your life?”

“You pretty much hit it right on the head. That’s how they make their living. Sick isn’t it?” She asks as she finishes her chocolate milk.

“Yeah.” He says, feeling slightly sympathy for the invasion of her privacy. “How was your breakfast? Besides the interruption.”

“It was really great, thank you. However, I think your friend was wrong.” She says.

“How so?” He asks with a wrinkled forehead.

“I think these are the best eggs in the country.” She says. She smiles a full dimpled smile and Michael soon finds himself staring at her. Her smile is curiously intoxicating to him, and as much as he wants too, he cant seem to look away. A small smile creeps onto his face and she looks down at the table. He can see her make-up free cheeks turn a slight shade of red.

“Thank you.” He tells her softly.

“You’re very welcome.” She says. She pulls out her wallet from her purse and opens it up, revealing more money than he makes in a month. “How much?” She asks.

He waves her off.

“It’s on the house, don’t worry about it.” He says. She smiles and takes out a $100 bill then stands up and places it in the front pocket of his shirt.

“Thank you for breakfast.” She says. She puts her wallet back in her purse and puts her hood back up ready to dodge the men outside once again. She is about to walk out the front door when his soothing voice stops her.

“It’s getting worse out there. You may want one of these.” He tells her as he holds up an umbrella.

“You’re probably right. I’ll make sure to return it.” She says as she takes it from him with a thankful smile. She walks to the door and turns back to him for a moment. She gives him one more smile that causes his heart to flutter, and then she leaves.

He stands there for a few moments, unable to believe that he had just talked to Sydney Bristow, one of the fastest rising movie stars in the business. She was much different than he had expected. She was much more down-to-earth than most actresses and possibly more than most regular people as well. Something about her left him utterly captivated, he felt different after she left than he had before she had entered his bar.

Was it just a stupid celebrity crush, or was it more complicated than that?
 

ashqua

Rocket Ranger
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Location
FRANCE
#2
I can't believe it!! I started to write exactely the same story except that Vaughn was the one who was famous ^_^ .
Now I don't think I will continue it since you already wrote something :(.
Anyway I should stop complaining and ask for a PM :)
 

Kristina

Rocket Ranger
Joined
Feb 28, 2003
Location
CHICAGO
#3
No!! Continue!! Just because i wrote something doesn't mean that you have to stop. Everyone's got different styles and ideas! Sorry if i ruined it for you. But you shouldn't stop writing, seriously.

~K
 

musically83

Rocket Ranger
Joined
Jan 27, 2003
Location
Connecticut
#7
this looks like a great story...I can't wait to find out more!


and ashqua, I want to read yours too!! Lots of stories use the same theme in different variations, and I think it would be interesting to see Syd&Vaughn's places reversed in this type of a situation!
 

stealthy

Rocket Ranger
Joined
Jun 10, 2004
#9
Thats so cute!
Although, I have never seen Noting Hill
But I am glad Vaughn gave her his umbrella
That was she has a reason to go back and see her
Thanks for the PM
Keep me on the list please
And update again soon!!
 

krzykty57789

Rocket Ranger
Joined
May 7, 2003
Location
Virginia
#15
No Freakin' Way. You read my mind. Last night I watched Notting Hill and thought that someone should write a fic about it. ;)

“You’re probably right.  I’ll make sure to return it.” She said.  She walked to the door and turned back to him for a moment.  She gave him one more smile that caused his heart to flutter, and then she left.  He stood there for a few moments.  He just stared at the door, still unable to believe that he had just talked to Sydney Bristow, one of the fastest rising movie stars in the business.  She was much different than he had expected.  She was much more down-to-earth than most actresses and possibly more than most regular people as well.  Something about her captivated him, he felt different after she left than he had before she had entered his bar.  Was it just lust, or was it more complicated than that?
Eeek! That's so wonderful. :woot:

Great Chapter
I Absolutely Loved It
Cant wait for more

:ph34r: :ninja:

Please Please Please Please PLEASE PM me. :)
 

Kristina

Rocket Ranger
Joined
Feb 28, 2003
Location
CHICAGO
#18
PM List:

ashqua
julesvartan
noggi16
SydnVaughn4eva
musically83
luckylass
stealthy
sexcivaughn14
alias_luver
vaughnshoney
Bekirock
Syd_Vaughn 4ver
krztkty57789
alizas
freckles3706
superspy
 

Kristina

Rocket Ranger
Joined
Feb 28, 2003
Location
CHICAGO
#20
Edited: May 14th, 2007
~Part II~
~The Second Meeting~


People are just starting to flock into the newly opened bar. Waiters and bartenders take care of customers as fast as possible; delivering the best service they can in the lively environment. Of course they are constantly pushed to work hard, told that if they do they will find it worthwhile when they get their Christmas bonuses, if the bar lasted until then.

Vaughn stands in the back corner, watching his bar come to life. People seem to be enjoying themselves, and he is happy that he was able to aid in the process. He turns around and walks into his office. Joe is sitting at the desk looking through a catalog of restaurant appliances.

“Hey, that new stove we were looking at with eight burners is cheaper this month. What do you think?” Joe asks. Vaughn takes his coat and slips his arms inside while letting out a sigh.

“And how are we going to pay for it exactly?” Vaughn asks.

“I don’t know. But it would speed up our preparation -- it would be worth while.” Joe points out.

“You checked over the specs? You’re sure it’s the one we were looking at last month?” Vaughn asks as he straightens out his jacket. Joe nods slightly while looking back at the catalog. Vaughn shakes his head and takes out his Visa.

“Alright, order it -- but if it comes out to be more than $1500 then forget it, I’m already having trouble paying the bills I have.” He says in an annoyed tone, not directed toward Joe. He throws the card on the desk and grabs his keys.

“I’m gonna take off, I’m not feeling very well.”

Joe looks at him with slight concern.

“You okay man?” He asks.

“I have a headache, that’s all.” He makes his response short and sweet; he just wants to get out.

“Alright, I’ll hold down the fort.” Joe says. Vaughn thanks him and walks out of the office. He moves through the crowd and head to the front door. He pushes it open and walks out into the cold fall air, it soothes him. It is nearly eight o’clock and people are starting to come out from the woodwork.

He had moved to the city after losing his father and mother in a car accident when he lived in the suburbs. He couldn’t take the looks and the stares from neighbors and friends, so he started over. He worked his way through college, keeping two jobs in order to pay tuition. He studied business and that’s where he met Joe. They both had aspirations. Joe wanted to own a bar, Vaughn wanted a restaurant, and after months of planning and saving they bought a building downtown and turned it into a warm, safe, friendly hangout for all people.

He considered himself lucky in ways, and unlucky in others. He didn’t have much family, and the family he did have was broken. He had friends, but not true friends. He could go months without hearing from people and all of a sudden when they needed something they would pretend to be all close with him again. In fact, the only people he knew that weren’t like that were Joe and his best friend and room mate Eric Weiss.

He struggled every month to pay the rent and his other bills on time, and it was becoming increasingly hard as time went on. He feared that soon he wouldn’t be able to do it anymore, and would have to give up the business and just get a regular job. Of course that was his last resort.

He is too busy thinking about his life to pay any attention to the people around him. He turns the corner of a building and runs smack dab into someone. They both had been walking at quick speeds and the collision sends his victim falling to the sidewalk. He immediately shakes off his thoughts and looks down to see the same woman that was in his bar earlier.

“I am so sorry.” He says, feeling horrible. He stands next to her and takes her arm. “Here, let me help you up.” He helps her to her feet and she rubs her back slightly.

“Thanks.” She says. He picks up her purse and then her Armani and Victoria’s Secret bags from the ground.

“I’m sorry, I should have been paying attention to where I was going.” He says as he hands her the bags he had knocked out of her grasp. She takes them with a smile.

“It’s alright, it wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t so lost.” She admits.

He raises and eyebrow, “What are you trying to find?” He asks. She hands him a piece of folded white paper.

“The Sears Tower. I have to be there in fifteen minutes.” She tells him desperately.

He unfolds the paper and looks at the map. He chuckles.

“Who drew this map?” he asks. Not only is it very wrong, but it also has coffee stains on it, making it almost unreadable.

“Well, judging by the look on your face, I’m thinking someone that’s never been to Chicago.” She says as she stares at him. He crinkles the paper up and looks up at her.
“A word of advice, never trust maps.” He says. He throws it in the trashcan.

“Um….”

“Just follow the big tower.” He tells her, pointing to the building that towers over all the others in the sky. “Come on, I’m going that way anyhow, I’ll get you there.”

He starts walking. When he realizes she isn’t following him he stops and turns around. She has a look of question on her face.

”You don’t trust me do you?” He asks. Why would she, he had just met her that day, she’s in a strange city and doesn’t know anyone here except for him.

“No, it’s not that….”

“Look, I assure you that I’m not a mugger, a thief, or a convicted felon, not to my knowledge at least. Unless my roommate got me drunk and made me do something I wasn’t aware of.” He says.

His joking and lighthearted banter works, as it brings a slowly rising smile to her face.

“Actually…I was just going to say that I needed that paper you just threw out.” She tells him. He instantly feels his cheeks redden from embarrassment. He always assumes things without actually getting the real reasoning.

“Oh.” His response is short and to the point, what else can he say about his stupidity?

“It’s got a phone number that I need on it.” She tells him. He sighs and walks back over to her. He takes a peek over at the garbage can and then back at her.

“You know what people throw in those things?” He asks.

“I really need it.” Her eyes are almost pleading with him to dig through the disgusting heap of trash.

“Dirty diapers, rotten food, squirrels….” She lets out a giggle after his last example.

“Squirrels?” She asks as she laughs unbelievingly.

“Yeah, you won’t believe it, they hide in there and wait for someone like me to put their hand in, and then they nibble on your fingers.” He tells her with a straight face. She stops laughing and just smiles at his light humor.

“Well I guess it’s not that important. I don’t want you to get your fingers chewed off by a deranged squirrel.” She tells him.

He smiles. “Well thank you for caring. But I’ll sacrifice my fingers for you.” He walks over to the garbage can.

“Okay.” She stands there watching him, a goofy smile on her face.

“But only this one time, if this happens again you’re on your own.” He says pointing at her. He slowly sticks his hand down into the garbage can and scrunches up his face as he feels around for the paper. She laughs at his expression.

“I think I….uh…what…ah!” He starts to panic and tries to yank his arm out as he yells. She covers her mouth, not believing it for a moment.

“Oh my gosh!” She yells in worry. He stops yelling and starts laughing.

“I’m only joking.” He tells. He pulls his hand out with the paper and brushes it off.

“There – good as…” He looks up at her to see tears in her eyes.
“…new.”

He walks over to her; not believing what he just did made her so scared that she was actually crying right in front of him.

“I’m such an a**hole, I scared you didn’t I? I’m sorry.” He says scanning her face. She sobs.

“My brother was attacked by squirrels when I was eight.” She cries.

“Oh I’m sorry.” He says. He doesn’t really know what to do – so he brings her into a tight, awkward hug.

“I shouldn’t have done that.” He tells her. He runs soothing circles on her upper back. He feels her start to shake, it wasn’t a product of sobbing – but instead laughter. He pulls away and looks at her face. She starts to crack up.

“I can’t believe you actually believed that.” She says shaking her head. He can’t help but feel stupid once again.

“Okay, you got me, we’re even.” He says rolling his eyes. He gives her paper back to her.

“I don’t know what the brown stuff is but…”

“Ew!” She says. She lets go of it and it blows away down the street due to the wind. He laughs. She is about to say something in retaliation but is interrupted by a police officer.

“Excuse me, is everything alright over here? I heard yelling.” He says. Vaughn and Sydney both turned around. Vaughn looks at her.

“Um….yeah. I was just helping her with….” She interrupts him.

“We’re fine officer thank you.” She says with a convincing smile. The officer nods and is about to walk away but hesitates.

“Aren’t you? You are! You’re Sydney Bristow.” He says. Sydney looks down, a bit embarrassed as people pass by and stare at her.

“My daughter loved your last movie, can you sign this for her?” He asks taking out a piece of paper and a pen. She smiles and signs it quickly. She hands it back to the officer and he looks at it.

“Thank you, this will make her day.” He tells her. He tucks the paper in his chest pocket and walks away shaking his head with a smile, every so often he turns around and looks at her, not believing who he had just met. Vaughn had just been staring at her the whole time. He’s smiling, but it is a serious smile, a sweet, respectful smile. She looka at him. Silence falls between them for a few moments.

“You did know who I was before didn’t you?” She asks. He nods softly.
“I figured.”

“Which way is the Sears Tower?” She asks. He points to his right. She nods and they start walking.

“Why didn’t you say anything?” He asks. He wonders why she hadn’t told him her identity. She sighs deeply.

“Well, at first I thought you really didn’t have a clue. And I liked it. People want to think they know me, but they don’t. They look at me as a famous person before a girl. Sometimes I just want to be as normal as possible.” She tells him.

“I think I can understand…this way.” He says turning the corner.

“Anyway, I like this city, people don’t really seem to notice me. Most are too busy thinking about work.”

“Some people would give anything to be noticed in the way you are.” He admits. She looks at him.

“Some people don’t know what it’s like to have to cover your face in public to elude the paparazzi. The only privacy I get is behind closed doors; even then I’m never sure.” She says. “And that is very sad.”

“Everything has its ups and downs. I know I do with my job.” She didn’t say anything, so he takes it as a signal to continue.

“Owning a bar is more work than one would think. Over the last few months I’ve lost more money than I’ve gained. And I only dig myself deeper when I have to buy more supplies.” He says.

“Then why do you do it?” She asks curiously. He looks up and sighs.

“I don’t know really. I think I’m optimistic about a lot of things. And even though times are a bit rough right now, I’m hoping everything will look up for me someday. You can really tell if you’re happy at the end of the day. If you can lie in bed at night and…and just smile knowing that you tried your best even if things didn’t go as planned. I think that’s when you really know you’re happy.” He says. “You learn from your mistakes and you move on, and try not to make them again. And as long as you remember why you’re doing what you’re doing, there will always be inspiration.” He tells her.

He is really starting to wonder where all of his thoughts are coming from. Of course he believes what he was saying, but he has never said these things out-loud before. He can see her watching him out of the corner of his eye and he smiles slightly.

“I confused you didn’t I?” He asks. He doesn’t look at her -- instead he leads them through the maze of sidewalks in the city, trying to get her to her destination.

“No. In fact you did the opposite.” She admits. She wraps her right arm around his bicep as they walk. He smiles before reaching over and taking her shopping bags for her.

“Here, let me carry these.” He says. She smiles and allows him to do so.

As they walk he wonders what is happening to him. Is he already falling for her? And isn’t it wrong? Since when does such an extraordinary woman want to even be around such an average guy such as himself? It is something he can’t exactly wrap his finger around. But something was telling him that their one chance meeting would change him forever.
 
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