Title: Not a Dream Author: Duck Rating: PG - no smut in this one. Third and final companion in the "Dream" series. A/N: The italics are Sydney. Disclaimer: Yes, I own Michael Vartan, Disneyworld, and ABC. I'm also clinically insane. This morning you woke from a dreamless sleep, and nearly panicked. You didn't see her face, hear her voice, touch her, and you feel alone, cold, depressed. Throughout the day you catch yourself dozing on the mahogany desk (it reminds you of her bed), wishing and praying to see her, hear her, touch her. But you don't. Your alarm goes off, rudely dragging you back to the real world. You open your eyelids, confused, because you can't feel his presence. He usually stays with you for hours, but today you feel nothing, no burns on your skin and lips. In fact, you can't recall dreaming about anything last night, let alone him. And it scares you. After Eric shakes you from the confines of sleep for the fifth time, you decide to take a break to clear your mind. You have a client coming in for a meeting, but you quickly tell your secretary to cancel it. Your car is overheated, causing you to stick to the leather interior uncomfortably, and you drive without a destination. An hour passes, and you find yourself being pushed along the length of the Santa Monica pier by an unknown force. You remember this is where she held your hand and where she threw her beeper. The waters look inviting, even in the January cold, and you seriously contemplate throwing yourself over the rail to the rippling water beneath. And then, her presence is so strong, and you turn around expecting to see her, and to your elated surprise, you do. For a split second you wonder if you really did throw yourself over the rail and are dead, but your senses are pulling in sight and sound and smell so vividly that you throw that idea out the window. You wonder if you are going insane, if the image walking toward you is just a hallucination, and think about calling Eric to come and get you. But then she speaks. You can't concentrate on the lesson you're supposed to be teaching because you're wondering if you'll ever see him again, hear him, feel his touch. At lunch you tell the other teachers you feel sick, and they get a substitute so you can leave. You drive aimlessly, not wanting to return to your empty apartment, but you can't think of anywhere else to go. A force comes over you, directing the turns you make, and you end up on PCH, facing the blue green waters of the Pacific Ocean. Your car finds its way to the Santa Monica pier, where you held his hand. The salty wind whips your hair around your face, and even through the strands you see him. You feel him. He is facing you, and you are so sure by the way he has his arm slung over the rail that he's actually here. You wonder for a moment if you're dead, because you vividly remember waking up this morning. Since you figure you've gone insane and are hallucinating, you talk to him. "I missed you last night." And for a second something is brought to your attention. Usually, during your dreams, you forget the real world and become the spy Sydney Bristow. The only moments of clarity are seconds before you wake up, but now... now you know. You blink stupidly at her, stunned by the beauty created by the wind, and you can't take your eyes off because you are confused by her words. Needing confirmation that she is real, there, and that you're not insane, you walk closer to her, with the intent to caress her cheek. She welcomes your hand, and her face is warm to the touch, the contact sending shivers throughout your entire body. You smile gently at her. "I could have sworn I woke up this morning." You step away from his touch, too surprised to keep the eye contact you had established. You didn't know he dreamed about you, and that makes you think. If he dreamed about you, that meant he had to be real. A part of reality. And then you realize you are not insane, asleep, or dead. What you are experiencing is real. Not a dream. "You did." He takes a step away from you, increasing the distance from his lips to yours. You find that everything you love in the dreams is sharpened by reality: his eyes, his cleft chin, and the lips you itch to have all over you. You close the distance and take his hand, squeezing it reassuringly. "We're both real people." You stare at her numbly, having lost all control of your body moments before. Real people? You're not dead? Insane? Asleep? Your beeper decides to vibrate that second, restoring movement to your body by making you jump. You unclip it, see Eric's phone number, and toss it into the rippling green waters. She moves to look where you threw it, not releasing your hand. A smile starts to spread across her face, and she whispers so softly you can barely hear her. "You just threw your beeper into the Pacific." You laugh then, and the awkwardness of the situation is blown away with the salty air. You take her other hand, look into her eyes, and realize it’s the first time you've ever really seen her. You are filled with a sudden desire to make her laugh, and you kiss her hand. "Hi, I'm Michael Vaughn. You've been in my dreams for the past two years, and I've fallen in love with you." She does laugh, and kisses your hand. "Hi, I'm Sydney Bristow. I've been having dreams since I was 19, and you've occupied them for two years. In that time I've fallen in love with you." You smile at him, and his hands move up your arms to your face. He leans in, and you tilt your chin to receive the sweetest kiss you've ever experienced in reality. And when you break apart, both of you are grinning like idiots. You don't know what’s going to happen, because you don't really know reality Vaughn, just like he doesn’t really know reality Sydney. But, you realize, with giddiness, you don't care. Because this is real. His eyes, the cleft in his chin, and the lips you itch to have all over you. It's not a dream.