"Live" Drop

Joined
Jun 16, 2007
Location
London, England
#1
Well, it's a bit of a slow day, so I thought I'd do what I've been meaning to do for some time and post my first "proper" fic here at AA. I originally posted it at SD-1.net just before the start of S5, but since that's available to existing subscribers only I thought I'd make it available a bit more openly. It's not really "Romance", so I thought I'd post it under "General".


A/N: In a shameless attempt to curry favour with my target audience :D , this fic contains some NearlyNaked!Vaughn, Wet!Vaughn, Spikey-Haired!Vaughn and possibly more ...

Timeline: Early on in Season 2, and certainly well before "Salvation"

Rating: Not above a PG-13, I'd say. Some (?!) UST/humour.

One-parter: No, I still haven't come up with another scenario ...

Disclaimers: Well, we all know that I don't own the series, characters or anything, and that JJ and ABC do, don't we?



Arm muscles straining, Michael Vaughn hauled his tired body out of the water and clambered to his feet. He bent forward, hands braced on his thighs and chest heaving, as he fought to get his breathing back under control. Water trickled off the ends of his hair and formed runnels crisscrossing down the contours of his spine, increasing in speed and volume as he flattened one hand over his head to squeeze the water out. Why was it, he mused ruefully, that Donovan could be almost dry with just a couple of shakes of his body, yet humans despite all their advances still needed to resort to towels to get themselves dry? The corner of his mouth quirked in amusement at this, and he turned his attention to the waterproof stopwatch at his wrist. Hmm ... nearly five seconds less than his previous best: Operation Keep Up With Sydney Bristow was coming along nicely. Ever since their unauthorized mission to Taipei a few weeks previously, where both his and Sydney's lives had been in danger – he having nearly drowned, and Sydney being captured while trying to save him - because he'd been unable to react and run fast enough, he'd vowed that there was no way on earth he was going to put her life at risk by holding her back again - she was far too precious, both to him personally and to the Agency. Hence the campaign to increase his fitness levels, and part of the reason why he was at the pool. The other was that they were supposed to be having one of their clandestine meetings shortly, and he thought he'd already detected her presence, although, looking down the length of the pool, he couldn't spot her anywhere. Perhaps his Sydney-radar was malfunctioning?

She'd been so enthusiastic when she'd suggested this venue as a possible alternative meeting-place to the warehouse. "Vaughn, there's this new swimming-pool and fitness complex that's just opened down the road, and it's got mixed changing-rooms, so if we can manage to grab adjacent cubicles we can pass things under the partitions and nobody will ever know. Security Section isn't going to think it odd if I decide to go for a swim or something to work out the aches after a long trip, and provided you get there well before me and we leave at different times, who's going to make the connection between the two of us? After all, they can hardly have cameras in the changing-rooms, can they?" He’d agreed that it sounded like a foolproof idea, and so they’d decided to use it the next time she had any intel or hardware to pass to him.

He looked up to see that he was being given the once-over - although given the intensity of her gaze, maybe "twice-over" would be more accurate - by an attractive bikini-clad brunette whose interest was only too obvious. Unfortunately, as far as Vaughn at least was concerned, she wasn't the right brunette. He wondered what her reaction would be if he told her "Sorry, lady, wrong brunette", smiled broadly at the thought and then, realizing that she might take that as a come-on, concluded that discretion was probably the better part of valor, and dived back into the pool, deciding that swimming the entire length underwater would be no bad thing for his fitness campaign. Dodging round the stationary teenage couple whose main interest in going swimming seemed to be less the exercise than the fact that it enabled them to get as near-naked and as close to each other as possible, he fetched up at the other end of the pool, hauled himself out on to the side and looked at his watch. Still another few minutes before he had to meet with Sydney. Ah well, another couple of laps, then ...

---

The right brunette, meanwhile, was hiding behind a pillar in the viewing and refreshment area, looking unusually flushed and trying to cool herself down with a chilled bottle of water from the vending machine against her cheeks, although it wasn’t proving a nearly effective enough ice pack. She had arrived there several minutes previously, intent on calming down and relaxing before their meeting, but this particular situation was neither calming nor relaxing.

As she was sitting there idly scanning the pool, searching for Vaughn's dirty-blond head among its occupants, the sun, having finally pierced through an overcast sky, had suddenly bathed the far end of the pool in a diffuse golden light through the semi-opaque glass. It was a full-sized pool, so the swimmers at the far end were some considerable distance away, but even so her eye was caught by the behavior of a woman with artfully tousled red-brown hair wearing what she'd bet was a tiger-print bikini – that was, assuming there was enough fabric to it for any pattern to show up, given that she seemed to be almost falling out of what there was of it – which she almost certainly had no intention of going swimming in. Nope, judging by the way she was tossing her mane of russet hair and her unsubtle posture, she was on the prowl, and seemed more intent on stalking her prey (perhaps that tiger-skin hadn't been so far from the mark?): some hapless male who'd just got out of the water and hadn't yet noticed that he was next on the menu for dinner.

Switching her gaze to the woman's intended victim, Sydney had to concede that she really couldn't fault her taste, the COW: dark-haired, tall, quite slim, a nicely developed yet not over-muscled torso and arms, neat butt (shown off to near-perfection by the dark Speedos he was wearing, it had to be said), strong but lean legs, obviously kept himself in good physical condition. In fact, Sydney really couldn't blame the woman for trying – he truly was hot - but did she have to be quite so obvious about it? What next, sister, are you going to ask him if he'd like to share the hot tub with you?, she mentally sneered, then stopped to wonder what was up with herself. She wasn't usually this catty, but she put it down to the stress of her recent mission coming out. Perhaps she really did need that swim … Poor guy was probably going to fall for it hook, line and sinker, she mused, and felt almost sorry for him, but then so many men were like that: suckers for a pretty face, a sexy body or whatever. And it's not as if that's something you haven't capitalized on in your job numerous times before, her conscience pricked her. Wait – he'd finally registered the woman's attention and, to his credit, his body language indicated that he felt distinctly uncomfortable about it. He turned around and dove back into the water, giving Sydney a quick glimpse of a large dark mark on his upper left arm which seemed vaguely familiar, although she couldn't immediately place it. It niggled at the back of her mind as she strove to follow his progress through the water, until she realized that she'd lost him and that he must be swimming underwater. Oh well, never mind, she thought, he's a very nice distraction, but it must be nearly time for the drop now, anyway …. Looking at the giant clock on the pool wall, she realized that she still had a few more minutes to wait, and stared out across the pool again, watching with barely concealed amusement as a mother and father tried, not very successfully, to teach their two youngsters to swim in the shallow end. Thus it was that she didn't immediately notice that Hot Guy had climbed out of the water and was sitting, one leg bent and his arm resting on his knee, on the side of the pool only a few feet away from her. It wasn't until she looked up and recognized a familiar profile that she registered: Oh my God, it's Vaughn!

You stupid idiot, she chided herself, how could you not have recognized him, not have realized that the water would make his hair a lot darker? And he did have a tattoo on his upper arm: I remember now vaguely registering that when we were in Cap Ferrat, even if I had my mind on more important things, like getting him out of Khasinau's clutches alive, at the time. S***, what am I supposed to do now? It was already quite bad enough before, all those meetings in a dark and deserted warehouse, with nobody else around, trying not to think about how much I just wanted … -
she forced her mind away from thoughts of what she "just wanted" - … but how am I supposed to even vaguely concentrate on mission briefings after this, knowing what he looks like out of those suits of his as well? Why on earth did I ever think that having meetings in more public places would necessarily make things any easier? Come on, girl, compartmentalize: you've got to meet with him in a few minutes – where's that professional façade? Still flustered, she got up rather hurriedly, scraping the legs of the chair harshly against the floor as she did so, a sound that would surely have alerted him to her presence had he not already dived back into the water for another lap, and hurried over to the drinks machine, desperately scrabbling in her purse for some coins. There were advantages to her spy training, of course, and one of those was the ability to improvise, to think on her feet. Ramming the coins into the slot, she punched in a selection number and waited for the machine to disgorge her purchase …

---

By the time Vaughn finally decided to stop, Sydney had herself and her flushed cheeks sufficiently under control at least to step out from her hiding place behind the pillar to a position just behind the floor-length viewing window where it would be easy for him to spot her. He climbed out right opposite her, water running down his darkened legs and pooling at his feet, gave a very slight twitch of one eyebrow in an acknowledgement which only she would pick up on, and then casually turned his back on her and clasped his hands behind his back to signal to her the locker numbers outside the row of cubicles they were going to aim for. He stretched out the fingers of one hand, apparently flexing them at random. 2 ... 4 ... damn, what was that last number? Concentrate, Sydney, concentrate. Keep your eyes on his fingers, not what’s behind them! Oh well, never mind the final number, the first two would surely be enough for identification purposes. Get your mind back on track, Bristow ... you're supposed to be a professional! Vaughn finished off by splaying the fingers of both hands to indicate that she should give him 10 minutes to shower first, and then padded off in the direction of the changing-rooms.

...

A few minutes later, Sydney picked up her sports bag and followed him. As she walked past the just-closing door to the men's bathroom, she could just make out the evocative hiss of the water jets, and smell the humid air scented with a pot-pourri of male grooming products. Vaughn was just behind that door, she thought, and probably in the shower by now. It was now only too easy to picture that body drenched in water again, and even more so to visualize him soaping said body to get rid of the smell of chemicals. Perhaps he needed someone to hold the soap for him, or to scrub that inaccessible patch in the center of his back, or …?

She needed some form of distraction before she either went completely insane or through that door herself, or both! She looked around and spotted a poster on the wall headed "Health and Safety in swimming pools", and started to read: "Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection, and can be spread very easily in changing-rooms and swimming pools.” Yes, that should do nicely – nothing like a suitably gross hygiene warning notice to dampen your ardor, surely? “The fungi thrive in warm, moist conditions such as between the toes …” Vaughn has unusually long toes, she thought, now why on earth did I notice that? ... and with that, all her good work was undone. Her eyes lost their focus as she thought back to a few minutes earlier, recalling how good the rest of his body had looked in those Speedos. Finally, she managed to snap herself out of it: For heaven's sake, Bristow, she chastised herself, stop acting like a sophomore with a crush on the captain of the football team!. You've got a mission to complete here.

Even so, she was still instantly aware of when the door to the men's showers opened and Vaughn emerged. He had obviously toweled his hair dry, because it was standing up in spikes in all directions, but fortunately for her state of mind the towel was now around his waist, clinging damply to his thighs but still managing to hide a multitude of sins. Just what sins, she was trying desperately not to think about.

As he padded barefoot towards her, she could only meet his eyes for the briefest of moments before ducking her head to try and hide the blush that spread across her cheeks behind her fall of hair. And I seriously thought that being in a public place would diminish the effect he has on me? she thought. Think again, Bristow. And maybe next time you should suggest he plays squash, or something else a bit more covered up? Would a sack race do? Probably not. She walked ahead of him down the aisle they'd selected, and entered the nearest cubicle rather more hurriedly than was absolutely necessary, locking the door rather forcefully behind her and kicking her sandals off in relief, even though the damp tiles did little to cool her down. She heard the lock on the adjacent cubicle sliding shut, and the slap of bare feet on the tiles next door. And then … oh, please, tell me that wasn't his wet towel hitting the floor that I just heard …

Pulling herself together with a shake of her head, Sydney cleared her throat, as they’d agreed, to confirm that she was in place, and he did the same in response. With fingers that trembled only slightly, she took out the brown paper bag hiding the CIA's camera from her belongings, set it on the floor and pushed it under the partition. It caught on its rolled-over top and refused to budge. Damn, she thought, and, feeling too lazy to bend down further, simply extended a foot instead.

---

It was stuck. Vaughn bent down to give the bag a helping hand, just at the same time that Sydney’s foot slipped under the partition and pushed it through. Mesmerized by her slender toes and the pearly-pink nails at their tips, he couldn’t resist the temptation to grab hold of it and run the fleshy pad of his forefinger lightly along the sensitive crease between the toes and the ball of her foot.

The shock of the unexpected contact shot up Sydney's body, and just for a split second that body reacted purely on instinct, reflexively splaying her toes into the palm of his hand to allow him better access, before what was left of her brain hurriedly took charge and, fighting the urge to give in to the almost unbearable pleasure of his touch, caused her to withdraw sharply. Even as she pulled her foot away, part of her regretted the action, wishing that she had instead scrunched her toes to capture his questing finger and simply waited to see what happened next, and she was to regret it even more a microsecond later when she scraped the tops of her toes hard against the metal trim on the underside of the partition.

The squeal of shock which she had let out at his initial touch rapidly turned into an “Ow!” as the foot which she’d snatched away so quickly banged against the bottom of the panel. “You okay, honey?” came a female voice from the cubicle on the other side. “Oh, yeah, fine, thanks. I just put my foot in a bit of SLIME that I didn't know was there, and it gave me a bit of a shock, is all”, she responded swiftly, hopping on one foot as she rubbed her sore toes, her accompanying glare in Vaughn's direction almost strong enough to sear through the wooden panel separating them.

On the other side of the partition, Vaughn doubled up with suppressed laughter at her response. Sharp comeback, Bristow, he thought as he tried to keep his shaking body away from the cubicle walls in case anyone wondered what on earth he might be doing in there. Then he sobered slightly: so, Sydney Bristow was ticklish, was she? He stored that in his mental dossier marked "Bristow, S.A.", and reflected on the irony: this young woman, a kick-ass superspy, trained in thousands of techniques of resisting torture, could be brought to her knees by being tickled? That was one piece of information he'd die before giving up to anyone who might use it against her, but on the other hand, it did have some intriguing possibilities … definitely one to file away for future reference, just in case, along with the note that, another time, it might be better tactics to make sure that the roles were reversed and that he was the one with equipment to pass to Sydney. His mouth curved in anticipation as he started working out suitable scenarios …

---

Sydney slumped on the bench in her cubicle, listening to the sounds of Vaughn getting dressed next door. The audible friction of the towel against his body, the occasional sound of his quiet breathing and the rustling of cloth against what she supposed must be his skin – her brain of course conspired to torture her by trying to work out precisely what items of clothing he was putting on - did nothing to help her mental or physical state, but eventually the door lock slid back, he cleared his throat once more in farewell, and his steps faded off down the corridor. She remained there unmoving for several minutes more, willing her legs to stiffen and support her, before she staggered to her feet and began to undress. Perhaps in this state it wouldn't be such a good idea to go for a swim after all, she thought to herself. But that hot tub does sound tempting …I don't suppose I could arrange our next meeting there? Maybe not. What a pity …
_______________



Acknowledgements are due
a) to the architects of my local swimming pool, who are totally responsible for me coming up with the idea in the first place, so blame them , and
b) to B'Elanna Paris for her helpful comments, even if I haven't acted on all of them
 
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