You all have been so nice with my fic "Smile" ..(Thank you SOOOOO MUCH!!)that I decided to post another one of my fics here. Disclaimer: Don't own anything. Summary: SD-6 is just taken down. Sydney wants to move on with her relationship with Vaughn. But does he feel the same way??? (Sorry..I'm terrible with summaries) The Hardest Thing Part One – Sydney’s POV I can’t believe it’s finally over. I dreamed and prayed that this day would come. Now that it’s here, it somehow feels different. Not in a bad way. Not in a good way either. I can’t put my finger on it. I am reminded of that little yellow bird outside my window. I remember that day he was old enough to be out of his nest. His first breath of freedom to fly away, but he is motionless. Not yet ready to jump and taste the fresh air. This must be the period of limbo right after one chapter of my life ends but before the next begins when everything stands still. I spent over a decade with SD-6. After that long a time, it is only natural to forget my life had been anything else. Francie was right I guess. My work was my life. My life was my work. But I had good reason to work so hard. Before I found out about SD-6’s true nature, I worked because it was a savoir. I was lost at nineteen. There had been no one in my life to guide me. Sloane offered me a purpose. I, Sydney Bristow, was fighting for my country. For the better of millions of men, women and children. Sacrificing personal freedoms seemed all worth it. But some things should never be sacrificed. Whoever said “above all else, there is love” was right. I don’t know how I could have gotten through these years after I learned the truth without him. Our paths were bound to meet and cross. And now that everything else was over, we can continue down the same path...together. We had already started working on building that path for a few months now. The timing couldn’t have been better. I think I might go insane if I had to keep everything hidden inside for any longer. I haven’t seen him yet since the take-down. We decided that once everything was settled and calm, we’d meet back at where everything began. Our secret meeting place. The image of the two of us leaving the warehouse today hand in hand out into the sunlight is all I can think about. I hear the shuffle of his footsteps coming closer. My heart beats faster in excitement. He suddenly stops. I turn around quickly to see that he is still ten feet away and doesn’t have plans to move any closer. I see now. He wants me to be the one to come charging at him with open arms. My head says, why should I be the one to initiate everything? But I can’t control my legs. It is simply impossible for me to hold back when all I want to do is fling my arms around his neck and never let go. It takes a few strides and without even looking, I wrap any arms around him and I feel the onset of tears. We had waited so long. Too long. I hold on tighter and tighter and bring my head closer and closer to his neck. Taking him all in. Then I realize that he is still. He doesn’t have his arms around my waist. They are dangling by his side. He doesn’t move his head to be closer to mine. He stands upright and stiff. He is playing some joke I’m sure. In the next moment, he’ll snap out of it. I just know it. I hold on tighter dismissing his behavior. It’s just all too much to feel. People have different ways of expressing themselves. I happen to be a person who wants to let everything out all at once. Maybe he’s different. My smile slowly fades as there is still no response from him. “ What’s wrong?” I whisper into his ear. He takes my arms off his neck and gives me a little push. Away from him. “ Vaughn...” I say his name slowly in confusion. As if settling me a little away from him isn’t enough. He takes another step backwards. “ What’s going on?” my voice cracks a little. He stares at the floor and gives a big sigh. “ Agent Bristow. All the files have been compl ...” “ What did you call me?” I ask in bewilderment. I must have heard wrong. He never calls me with such formality. Not even when we were still strangers. And we have come a long way since then. “ I said Agent Bristow ...” he continues again. I shake my head uncontrollably. Who is this person and what have they done with my Vaughn? “ I heard you. I want to know why you are calling me that.” “ It is your name,” he states as if I were stupid. “ Not to you. Maybe to Devlin or Kendall. But not to you.” Snap out of it Vaughn! He is scaring me. “ That’s where you’re wrong. You should have always been just Agent Bristow to me. There is standard protocol.” The rules? Why is he talking about the rules now? I am quitting the CIA in a few days and he decides to follow the rules now? “ Don’t you think it’s a little too late for that?” my tone is urgent. How could he turn this day, the first day of my life with happiness, into this? “ It’s never too late.” He says coolly. “ Vaughn ...I don’t know what you’re doing. But stop it. You’re scaring me.” I take a step closer to him. He takes another step back. Is he doing this to intentionally make me mad? “ I just came here to tell you that all the papers have been prepared and ready for your signing.” “ I don’t want to know why you are here for business. I want to know why you are acting this way. Like you don’t even know me.” I feel the tears coming back to my eyes. “ Maybe I finally realized that I don’t know you. And you don’t know me either.” I gape my mouth open. This can’t be happening. “ After all we shared? ...we still don’t know each other?” What is he saying? Does he even know the words that are coming out of his mouth? “ That’s right. You may think you know. But you really don’t. How much do you think we shared?” his voice wavers a little. “ Everything!” I shout. I can’t believe he is asking that. “ I shared with you ...my worries, my fears, my hopes, my mind, ...” My mouth feels dry as I keep on listing. All he does is stare at the floor without any expression. “ my heart...my body ...my love...” All the frustration, anger, and shock can’t be contained any longer. My shoulders heave up and down as I bring my hands up to cover my face. All I want is to clear my reeling mind. “ Vaughn...” I say with a shaky voice. “ You can’t tell me I’m making those things up.” After a long silence, he answers in a calm voice. “ Maybe you think you feel that way. But you don’t really know that I feel the same way.” I feel like someone jabbed me in the stomach with a knife. “ I know!” I say as a matter of factly. I do know. There is no way he can say I don’t mean anything to him. His actions have said it all. “ I know you love me.” “ Maybe I don’t.” he spits out quickly. “ You do.” I am not in denial. He does. Right now my head is not sure what he is up to, but my heart knows. “ How can you be so sure?” “ Because you told me. Many times. Many places. Here in fact. Against that table,” I point to the desk in the corner. “ And over there,” I spin around to show him the fenced walls. “There is no way you could have been lying. It was real. I was there when you called out my name with desire and passion... ” “ Desire! That’s right. You said it.” He cries out to interrupt. “ That’s not the same as love,” he says with a hint of disappointment. “ But then you held me afterwards. When all the heat subsided. What was left?.” What about that mister? He can’t deny the tenderness of love when all the desire passed. What was left WAS love. “ I am a man Sydney. I do have needs.” He says slowly. Turning the knife in my stomach. He takes all the good out of what we did and is making it into something dirty. All the confusion and then hopelessness is now turning into anger and resentment. “ And you couldn’t get it anywhere else?” I say through clenched teeth. He sighs again condescendingly as if trying to explain a math problem to a dumb kid. I am waiting for a response. “ I didn’t need to. When you made it so easy,” he finally lets it out. It is like a reflex. My arm swings out leaving burns across his face. No one has ever made me feel like such a sl**. It is a hundred times worse coming from him. He brings his hand up to his face and I just stare with sadness. “ Why are you doing this?” I ask in a pleading voice. Pleading with him to stop. I don’t know this man in front of me. He is not Vaughn. Vaughn loves me. “ Sometimes the truth hurts.” That was a low blow. “ That’s not the truth. You’re lying.” I thought he was the one person that would never ever lie to me. “ I’m not.” He says flatly. “ Yes you are. why?… You can’t say you don’t love me. I DARE you to say you don’t love me.” I fold my arms across my chest. He still has his hand cupping his jaw from my blow. He remains motionless. Then slowly he opens his mouth. Bare audible, he says, “ I don’t love...” and he stops. “ You coward” I mouth because nothing comes out except a spit bubble. Then I regain my voice. Through the streaming tears, I say tensely. “ You coward. You can’t even look at me when you say it.” He just sinks his head further down. “ Look at me!” I yell. “ And tell me that. Look into my eyes.” He brings his face up to mine for the first time since he came in. My wild eyes are searching deep into his. Looking for that man. The one that would let me lean on him whenever I needed. The one that said sweet words every time we were together. I stare intensely into his stone cold green ones. I see them soften as I keep the penetration. Maybe he isn’t really softening. I just can’t see because my eyes are blurry with tears. He opens his mouth, but nothing comes out. There! I knew he couldn’t do it. But why is he saying all these terrible things to me? To make me hate him? why? Why? WHY?!? “ I...” he swallows hard. But before he could utter another word, I rush over to him. My arms seem to have a mind of their own. Flailing everywhere. They start pounding on his chest. Grabbing at his shirt. Pulling, pushing, hitting. My whole body is shaking uncontrollably and my mouth rattles on. “ Why?? Why are you doing this? You must love me. In everything you do. Why let me call you in the middle of the night? Why risk your life for me? Why help me and almost drown in Taipei? Why come to SD-6 to save them from Cole? Why help my mother…the one who killed your father?” I am soaking his dress shirt and my hands have now ripped off a few of his buttons. But I continue with my ranting. Through my sobs, I get in various words, “ why? Why sneak around? Why make promises? Why do all those things if you don’t love me?” He suddenly grabs my wrists and shakes me with force to snap me out. I let out a gasp. “ I may have loved you at one time.” My whole body slumps down while he still clings on to my wrists tightly. At one time . . .at one time . . .he words circle in my head. Making me dizzy. “ Now it’s different? Now we can finally be free to be together and you don’t feel that way anymore?” He couldn’t have led me on. “ Yes. I was stupid. I was captured by the thrill of sneaking around. The excitement of never being caught. But now, without that aspect . . .you have lost your appeal.” He abruptly releases my arms. “ I’ve now found someone...” My mind goes blank. I don’t want to hear it anymore. “And she satisfies me in...every...way.” Make him stop. “ She’s always been there.” Please stop. “ She knows me. The real me.” stop. Stop. Stop. “ Stop! STOP!” I quickly bring my hands to cover my ears and shake my head furiously. I let out a whimper. “ Just tell me... so, all this time. All this time I thought I loved you and you loved me. It was all a lie? I was nothing to you except some cheap thrill? You used me??” I am no longer confused. If he tells me honestly. Then it’s all over. Everything. I hold my breath as I hope that there is still something. Something to bring the real Vaughn back. I want this monster to go away. It’s not him. It can’t be. Just one glimmer of hope. That’s all I need. “ I had to make you think I loved you. Why else would you work so hard to bring down SD-6? The better you performed out in the field, the better praise I got back in the office. You weren’t just a thrill. You served me in other ways too.” I felt like screaming. Like waking up from this nightmare. I dig my nails into my arm to find that this is real. Everyone has used me. Sloane. My mother. My father. I never thought he would be one of those people. He said he was my ally. It was all lies. ALL LIES. How could I have been so blind? No more self-pity. Don’t show him that you’re broken. Don’t give him the satisfaction. I stand up and walk to the desk with the files that he had set on the table. I sit down with tears still streaming and sign. I grip the pen hard and keep on signing. Page after page after page. It is a huge pile. He just stands there watching. After it is all done, I stand up with the stack of papers in my arms. In one quick motion, I throw them forcefully to the floor. All the pages fly up in the air and float down scattered across the hard cement ground landing at his feet. “ There are your signed papers agent Vaughn. I’m done with the CIA and everyone in it. I don’t know how I could have been so blinded by you. There must have been moments of truth, but I don’t care anymore. Why should I care about someone who I hate? You’re right. I don’t know you at all.” He looks almost prepared for what I was going to tell him and a little sad. Don’t read anymore into it Sydney. He doesn’t deserve it. I have never hurt so much in my entire life. Every fiber of my being aches. I stride out of the warehouse into the sunlight...alone. Never looking back now. What happened to the Michael Vaughn that I loved? He couldn’t have been all made up in my mind. Maybe he was. I thought the hardest thing was not being able to be with him. I now know that the hardest thing is letting him go.