Title: Undercover Angel
Archive: Okay, just let me know where
Spoilers: Syd and Vaughn get some help from Angel Investigations
Disclaimer: None of these characters are mine. Never will be. I'm just playing with them in a crossover that will never happen.
Notes: If you haven't guessed, this is an 'action' crossover between "Alias" and "Angel." Might seem strange, but I thought it might work combining my favorite shows. It's much more S/V heavy than Angel, but the characters mentioned are the current ones on the show. Also, for the purpose of this fic, none of the Alias characters are living or based in LA. I needed to write it that way, so you can imagine them based anywhere but there! Indulge me for this little trip into intrigue and romance! Enjoy!
Sydney stopped to catch her breath, listening intently for the sound of running footsteps. After a few moments of silence, she allowed herself to sink into a crouch, one hand cupping her injured arm, eyes darting around the underground sewer tunnel she was currently in.
She had no clue where she was or where to go next.
But first things first.
Taking a deep breath, she managed to use her good arm to unhook the bra she wore underneath her skintight jumpsuit. Wincing at the stab of pain it caused, she pulled the undergarment off her shoulders using as little movement of her injured arm as possible. When the bra was free, she quickly turned it into a bandage, gingerly wrapping the cut on her arm that was bleeding profusely.
When the makeshift bandage was complete, she shifted her weight, looking down at her swollen ankle. The recent running hadn't done it any good, it was nearly unbearable to put any weight on. She knew she wouldn't get far before she was completely unable to walk. Not to mention the dizziness that came and went as the cut on her arm continued to bleed.
She tried to focus, running her good hand through her hair as she blocked the pain shooting through her body. She needed to be clearheaded, to think straight if she were going to get out of this.
She winced as she shifted, feeling her body protest the motion.
She closed her eyes as she tried to figure out what had gone wrong.
It was supposed to have been a simple mission.
Get inside the Wolfram and Hart Law Firm, steal a top-secret document and get out. The tricky thing was she hadn't been told what was inside the sealed envelope. Even Vaughn wasn't sure what it was. The plan was to meet, open the envelope and work out a switch of some kind.
It had all gone perfectly up to a point.
She'd managed to get the vault codes from a clueless lawyer, who was more than susceptible to the charms of a busty blonde. She'd gotten the building's plans and managed to sneak inside, thanks to a map of the intricate tunnels under the building. She'd even managed to get into the sealed vault and find the envelope without arousing suspicion.
Everything had been going perfectly until she'd reached out to grab the envelope and set off some alarm that even SD-6 hadn't known about.
Uttering a curse, she'd bolted for the vault's door, barely sliding through as the doors slammed shut. Running quickly to the manhole she'd used to enter the building, she'd yanked the cover up, cursing as she pulled too hard and felt something in her arm tear.
Biting back a cry of pain, she'd managed to drop through the hole, feeling her arm slice on a protruding piece of metal and her ankle twist as she hit the ground hard, her injured hand preventing her from grabbing anything to hold onto.
She'd known it wouldn't take them long to figure out where she'd gone, since her drop hadn't allowed her to pull the cover over the manhole.
She'd heard running footsteps as she'd reached for the map of the tunnels she had shoved into the neckline of the skintight body suit.
It wasn't there.
A quick search had revealed no paper anywhere on her body.
Cursing again, she'd headed back down the tunnel she thought she'd taken to get here.
Hearing her pursuers behind her, a burst of speed she hadn't known she had had given her feet wings as she'd flown up and down various tunnels, blocking out the pain, completely disoriented and having no clue where she was going. All she could hope was that she was headed away from Wolfram and Hart.
Now, panting, out of breath, in pain, she let the magnitude of her situation sink in.
She was lost in the sewers of Los Angeles, injured and with no contact to the outside world. She knew Vaughn would be looking for her, when she didn't arrive at the drop location. But how in the world was he going to find her if she didn't even know where she was herself?
Muttering a curse, she stood and began moving again, limping slightly as her ankle protested.
One of these tunnels had to lead her somewhere.
Several minutes later she felt a spurt of relief course through her as she spotted light coming through a manhole cover. Praying she wasn't putting herself in more danger, she struggled up the ladder, glad to see the cover was not on tightly and moved easily with a gentle shove from her good arm.
Cautiously raising her head, she felt the relief as she noted she appeared to be on some side street, with no sight of Wolfram and Hart or any other cars in sight. Wincing at the pain, she lifted herself out of the manhole, sliding the cover back into place with a swift kick of her good foot.
Looking around to orient herself, she realized the first thing she needed to do was get to a phone and get help. The pain was nearly excruciating, and she knew she would not make it far without collapsing.
Moving slowly, she began walking down the street, heading towards a group of buildings she could see on the next block. She felt dizzy as she stumbled to the corner, looking for the first occupied building she could find.
She found it in what looked like an old hotel staring back at her across the street. Stumbling over the curb, she managed to make it to the front gates, noting the words "Hyperion Hotel" on the front gate.
Pushing the gate open, she stumbled towards the front door, noting the words "Angel Investigations" next to it.
For a moment, she hesitated.
It was obviously a detective agency of some sort. Could prove dangerous if there were P.I.'s inside. But she had no choice. She needed to get her arm and ankle taken care of, and she needed to get a hold of Vaughn. She was going to have to take her chances.
The dizziness was nearly overwhelming as she struggled up the stairs, still clutching the envelope in her hand, and pushed against the front door, thanking God it was open.
Her ankle chose that moment to give out as she felt the door swing shut behind her, hitting her hard in the back, causing her to fall forward.
Her cry of pain as she crashed to the ground was the last thing she heard before the blackness engulfed her.
The sound of soft voices drew Sydney from the blackness. Struggling to remember what had happened, she dragged her eyes open, wincing as the pain of her injuries suddenly registered.
The voices stopped as she struggled to focus, wondering if she'd signed her death warrant by stumbling into the first building she'd seen.
"She's waking up," came a female voice along with the soothing touch of a cold cloth against her heated forehead.
As the world came back into focus, she found herself staring into the suspicious eyes of an attractive brunette.
"Where am I?" she managed, hoping to get a sense of her situation before trying to take any action.
"Angel Investigations," the woman replied as she motioned to someone behind her.
Sydney struggled to rise as a handsome face came into view, looking worriedly at her.
"I'm Angel, this is Cordelia, and I'm hoping you can remember who you are?" the man asked as Sydney struggled to remember which alibi she was going by this time. When none came to her fuzzy mind, she decided to stick as close to the truth as possible.
"Sydney," she offered, as the two nodded.
"Well Sydney," Cordelia began, "you seem to be in trouble and from the envelope we found you clutching, it seems to have something to do with Wolfram and Hart."
Sydney felt her face pale as she realized they now had the envelope.
"It's okay, we didn't open it," the man quickly assured her.
She breathed a sigh of relief.
"Can I have it please? I need to get it to someone," she managed, watching as the suspicion darkened in Cordelia's eyes.
"Why should we give it to you? It's something to do with Wolfram and Hart, which means it's probably something evil, which means we shouldn't let anyone have it," Cordelia offered quietly.
Sydney assessed her words for a moment, wondering if these people knew something about the envelope she'd stolen. She knew Wolfram and Hart was a bad firm, had known it from the start. But the fact that these people seemed to know it too aroused her suspicions.
"How do you know about Wolfram and Hart?" she asked carefully, seeing the two exchange glances.
"Let's just say we've dealt with them before and it hasn't been pleasant," Angel replied, moving to help her rise as she struggled into a sitting position.
"They are completely soulless, moraless, evil people, and if you're working for them, you aren't leaving here," Cordelia replied quietly.
Sydney sighed, wincing at the pain shooting through her body.
"I'm not working for them. I actually stole the envelope from them, and I have no idea what's in it," she offered quietly, noting the strange looks the two exchanged.
"You didn't look? You weren't curious?" Cordelia asked as she reached for a glass of water sitting on the table.
Sydney sighed her thanks as she gulped the cool liquid down.
"I didn't exactly have time to look, what with the alarms and guards approaching," she muttered when she could speak again.
She shifted uncomfortably as she noted Angel was staring intently at her.
"Who are you really?" he asked suddenly.
Sydney sighed, knowing she had to tell them something, but unwilling to reveal the whole truth.
"Let's just say I'm on your side, and whatever is in that envelope won't be used to harm people," she offered, prepared to leave then and there if her terms weren't accepted.
For a moment, Angel and Cordelia stared at each other, almost as if they were exchanging thoughts mentally. Sydney recognized it because it was the type of silent discussion she and Vaughn would often have.
"Vaughn," she whispered, suddenly realizing he would be frantic.
"Who's Vaughn?" Angel asked as Sydney closed her eyes and focused on pushing down the pain.
"My contact, I need to let him know I'm alive and how to find me," she offered, hoping her instincts were right and she could trust these people. She didn't have much of a choice at the moment, and she was going to go with her instincts.
"Here, it's not long distance, is it?" Cordelia asked as she handed her a cell phone.
"No, he should be here in town," she replied, knowing he would be frantically searching for her at the moment. Punching in the familiar numbers, she heard the ringing in her ear.
She breathed a sigh of relief when his frantic voice answered.
"Vaughn, I'm okay," was all she managed to get out before he cut her off.
"Where are you? What happened? Are you okay?" he began as she simply closed her eyes and let his voice wash over her. She was still amazed at how hearing his voice, even frantic and anxious, could make her feel better.
"Vaughn, if you'd let me get a word in edgewise, I could tell you that I'm fine, I'm at a place called the "Hyperion Hotel" and I have the envelope," she managed, hearing his sigh of relief.
"I'm on my way, stay on the line with me, okay?" came his soft reply.
Sydney closed her eyes, fighting back tears of pain and exhaustion.
"I'm not going anywhere until you get here," she whispered, listening to the soothing sound of his breathing as she relaxed against the sofa.
Vaughn was coming.
She had the envelope.
Things were going to be all right.
Angel and Cordelia watched the way the young woman clutched the phone to her ear, the pain and exhaustion evident on her features. But neither could deny the look of relief on the beautiful features as she listened to whoever was on the other end of the line.
"Think she's legit?" Cordelia whispered to Angel as he sighed.
"I think so. She's obviously not working for Wolfram and Hart, that I'm sure of," he mused as they continued to watch their unexpected guest.
"What do you think is in the envelope?" she whispered, eyes going to the object lying on the table next to Sydney.
"I don't know, but I hope when this Vaughn person gets here we can all find out. I don't like the feeling I'm getting about that envelope," he muttered as he heard the front door fly open.
Both turned to see a tall, worried looking man stumble through, his eyes going directly to the woman lying on the couch, the phone still pressed to her ear.
Sydney's eyes flew open as she heard Vaughn's worried voice. Turning towards the sound, she felt her entire spirit lift as her eyes connected with his.
"Vaughn," she managed, struggling to control her breathing as he bolted across the room and to her side, sinking to his knees as his hands reached to cup her face tenderly.
It was the most intimate gesture he'd ever made towards her and it took her breath away.
"Syd, you're okay, but you're hurt," he whispered, eyes quickly scanning the ice pack on her ankle and the bandaged arm held in a makeshift sling.
"I'll be okay, just a few more battle scars," she whispered, fighting back the tears of emotion and pain as she stared into his eyes.
"I'm so sorry I wasn't there for you," he whispered quietly, stroking a finger across her cheek as she leaned against his palm.
"There was nothing you could have done. It was a secret alarm, neither SD-6 or the CIA knew about," she managed quietly, seeing his eyes go dark.
"Damn, I had a bad feeling about this," he muttered, still stroking her cheeks.
She remained silent, simply absorbing his presence, feeling the comfort and peace he seemed to bring every time she was around him.
"I'm guessing you're the mysterious Vaughn."
Vaughn turned, suddenly becoming aware of the other two people in the room. He tensed, mind going on alert as he realized what he and Sydney had been talking about.
"It's okay Vaughn," Sydney whispered, reading his thoughts as clearly as if he'd spoken them aloud. "They already know about the envelope and Wolfram and Hart, I think we can trust them," she finished, praying she was right.
Vaughn looked at her, reading the truth behind her words, then sighed.
"Michael Vaughn," he offered, standing and holding out a hand to Angel.
"Angel, and this is Cordelia," he replied, taking the offered hand.
"So, it seems Wolfram and Hart is our mutual enemy, I say we see what all this fuss is about and open this envelope," Sydney spoke after the greetings were over.
Moving to her side, Vaughn reached for the envelope.
"Here goes nothing," he muttered as he slipped the paper from the envelope.
"What is it?" Sydney asked, looking over his shoulder as he frowned.
"I don't know, it's in some language I can't read," he muttered, handing the paper to Sydney who also frowned.
"What kind of language is this, it looks like Latin of some form, but no form I've ever seen," she muttered as Angel and Cordelia moved closer.
"Could I see that?" Angel asked quietly.
Exchanging a glance with Vaughn, Sydney handed him the sheet of paper, watching carefully as his eye skimmed the writing.
"I believe it is an ancient form of Latin, used by a certain English sect that was so secret, they had a language of their own," he murmured, earning surprised glances from Sydney and Vaughn.
"You're familiar with ancient languages?" Sydney asked, noting a strange look cross Angel's eyes.
"Actually, I know the basics. Our partner Wesley is much more skilled, and I'd bet he has a book here somewhere that might help," Angel mused, handing the letter back to Sydney and heading for a huge bookshelf behind what looked like the lobby desk.
"They have books on ancient Latin sects?" she whispered to Vaughn, who simply shrugged.
"Something tells me there's more than meets the eye here, but it's not a bad thing, just unusual," he replied.
Both turned as the hotel's doors flung open again and two men and a shorter female burst into the lobby.
"Yo people, you won't believe what we ran into on the way back from the movies," the black man called as he turned to smile at the young woman.
"Strange, really, two Phlange demons who were actually out in the daylight, completely against their nature," the man wearing glasses mused, coming to a halt as he noted Sydney and Vaughn staring strangely at him.
"Wes, Gunn, Fred, this is Vaughn and Sydney," Cordelia offered quickly.
Sydney was positive the pain and fatigue had twisted the word she'd just heard. Because it had sounded like 'demon.'
"Oh, um, hello, I'm Fred," the young woman finally spoke, sounding a bit anxious. "It's short for Winifred, but everyone has always called me Fred. Except when I was in Pylea, then I didn't have a name," she rambled, but was quickly cut off by Angel.
"Guys, Syd and Vaughn need some help. Wes, I need you to help us translate this document, and fast," he replied as the bespectacled man took the offered paper.
"Austinian Latinus, my word, I haven't seen writing like this in years," Wesley muttered as he headed for the bookshelf.
"Let me guess, he's the language expert," Vaughn offered dryly as the others nodded.
"And the fact he's heard of this language should probably scare me," Sydney muttered, wincing as she sifted and managed to jar her injured arm.
"Syd, you okay?" Vaughn asked, hearing her indrawn breath and immediately switching his attention back to her.
"I'm fine, I just can't move too fast," she whispered, sinking back against the pillows as he gently helped her make herself more comfortable.
"We're going to figure this out, then I'm getting you out of this place and back home to rest," he whispered, glad to see her smile, even if it was filled with pain.
"Francie will fuss more than you, if I come home looking like this," she offered with a small chuckle as she closed her eyes and let the fatigue take over.
Vaughn forced back his emotions as he watched her wince in pain. He hated seeing her hurt and suffering. Hated it more each time it happened. Hated that he hadn't been able to protect her.
"I'm here Syd, I won't let anything happen to you, ever again," he whispered, gently slipping his hand into her uninjured one, smiling as she instinctively tightened her hand in his.
Angel watched the couple, sensing there was a lot more here than met the eye. If he wasn't mistaken, these two were much more than colleagues. He also recognized the guilt on Vaughn's face.
Guilt at not being able to protect someone he cared about.
His gaze shifted to Cordelia, who was obviously filling Fred and Gunn in on their guests.
"Here," Angel spoke as he walked towards Vaughn, holding a cup of black coffee in his hands.
"Thanks," Vaughn murmured, taking the mug with his free hand, keeping a hold of Sydney's with the other.
"She's going to be okay. We took care of the cut on her arm and got it back in place, and her ankle's not broken, just severely strained," he spoke quietly, noting Sydney had dropped off into a light sleep.
Vaughn looked at the man standing next to him for a moment.
Then he smiled tiredly.
"Thank you," was all he offered, knowing everything he was feeling was expressed in those two words.
Angel nodded, moving back towards the bookshelf, hoping Wesley was having some luck.
Vaughn watched him go, wondering about the strange people that seemed to live and work here. Something was odd about this small little group. Odd not in a bad way, just a strange one. But regardless, these people had helped Sydney and were now obviously going to help them figure out what it was Sydney had stolen.
Despite his suspicious nature, he sensed they could trust these people.
After all, they had saved Sydney.
He felt his breath catch as he turned his eyes back to the battered body lying on the couch. Syd was bruised, broken and most probably in terrible pain, but she'd still managed to escape and get out with the information she'd been sent in to get.
If he hadn't admired her before, he sure as hell would now.
God how he loved the woman lying so still in front of him!
He sighed as he reached out to stroke a gentle finger across her cheek. He'd never allowed himself to admit his feelings for her until this moment.
Yes, he'd known he was attracted to her, known he cared deeply for her, but it wasn't until he'd realized he'd lost her, he'd lost contact and had no clue what was happening to her or where she was, that he'd admitted that he couldn't live without her.
Wouldn't want to.
He knew he shouldn't have these feelings for her. Knew it went against every CIA policy out there, not to mention it could spell their deaths if either the CIA or SD-6 found out. But he couldn't help how he felt.
He would die before he let anything happen to her.
Even if he couldn't tell her that just yet.
"You're in love with her, aren't you?"
Vaughn jumped as Cordelia's voice cut into his thoughts. Turning to assess the young woman standing next to him, he found no malice, just simple curiosity and strangely enough, understanding in the eyes that seemed wiser than their years.
Something in those eyes told him she knew what it was like to love someone you couldn't have.
"Yes, but I can't tell her, it could put both our lives in even more danger," he offered quietly, knowing that was the only explanation he could give.
He watched as she digested his words, then simply nodded.
"I know the feeling," she whispered in reply, her gaze going to the man conferring quietly with Wesley.
In that instant, Vaughn realized that Cordelia and Angel were also harboring feelings for each other. Feelings that from this conversation, he gathered could not be acted upon for reasons of their own either.
He smiled wryly, something inside him feeling a bit better than he and Syd weren't the only ones in this position.
"Life's a bitch sometimes, isn't it," he responded, getting a slight smile from Cordelia.
"I couldn't have put it better myself," she replied, exchanging a smile with him before moving off to talk to Fred.
Vaughn sighed, turning back to Sydney's still form, noting her eyes were still closed. He felt his breath catch as he again noted how beautiful she looked when she was at peace. He only wished he could keep that look on her face, take away the pain and betrayal and hurt she'd suffered. Far too much for someone so young.
But the past was the past. The present was still to come and he was damn well going to make sure it was as pain free as possible. They would take down SD-6 and after that, they'd be free to start over.
"I love you Syd, even if I can only tell you when you sleep," he whispered softly, leaning over to press a light kiss on her forehead, letting his forehead rest against hers as he closed his eyes and breathed her in.
Sydney forced her eyes to remain closed, knowing the tears building behind her lids would give her away if she let them fall.
Vaughn loved her.
The words sent a bolt of happiness through her pain weary body.
Vaughn loved her.
She'd hadn't realized how much she'd wanted to hear those words from him until he'd murmured them in her ear, thinking she was asleep.
She hadn't realized until this moment, how much she'd wanted to say those words back to him.
Everything inside her was crying out to open her eyes, look deeply into his and whisper she loved him back. The desire to do so was so compelling, she almost gave into it. She literally ached with the need to see his eyes as she whispered the words they both needed to hear.
It took everything inside her to keep her eyes closed.
But she must. If she admitted her feelings to him, it would only put them both in more danger than they already were in. They might love each other, but in their lives, love just wasn't enough. At least, not until they'd brought SD-6 down. Maybe then they'd get their chance.
Until then, she'd sleep a little easier knowing he loved her, the memory of his soft words burned into her brain. She would need them to get through the trials and tribulations that lay ahead.
~~I love you too Vaughn~~~
She whispered the words inside her head, knowing that was as close to saying them as she could get. She only hoped he understood, that he knew how much she loved him as well.
Keeping her eyes tightly closed, she whispered her mantra inside her head as she allowed the warmth of his cheek against her forehead to seep through her body. She had a feeling this would be the only moment of peace they'd get for a long time.
Syd and Vaughn both jolted awake at Wesley's triumphant cry.
Sydney wanted to cry out at the loss of Vaughn's skin against hers as he pulled back, concerned he was crushing her. For a moment, they gazed into each other's eyes, expressing more in that gaze than they ever could in words.
"Guys, you better look at this."
As one, they turned to see Angel's solemn face as he and Wesley walked across the room.
"What does it say?" Sydney asked, curiosity now aroused as Vaughn helped her into a sitting position on the sofa.
"It's actually an ancient prophecy," Wesley began to explain, the excitement in his voice reminding Sydney of how Marshall got every time he explained a new gadget.
"An ancient prophecy? What in the world could 'they' want with an ancient prophecy?" Vaughn muttered, editing his words so he wouldn't have to explain SD-6 and their connection to it.
"Well, I don't know who or what you're working for, but the gist of this prophecy revolves around 'the one of many disguises,'" Wesley offered, not missing the startled glances Syd and Vaughn exchanged.
Sydney knew in an instant that the words applied to her. Who else could it be? But did SD-6 know that? Her confusion was evident as Vaughn placed his hand over hers and squeezed before replying.
"What about this 'one of many disguises?" he asked quietly, holding Sydney's hand tightly.
Wesley sighed and pushed up his glasses.
"Apparently, he or she will 'remove the secret evil that exists of man,'" he continued.
Sydney felt something inside her shift as she began to comprehend what the words could mean.
Vaughn's mind was with hers as they stared at each other in shock.
"The secret evil that exists of man," he murmured quietly, knowing, as did Sydney, that that could apply to SD-6.
"I take it this has meaning for you both?" Cordelia asked, curiosity evident in her voice.
Sydney smiled tightly.
"It could, what else does it say?" she replied as Wesley continued.
"There's not a lot more, just the fact that 'the one' will be put in grave danger before he or she can destroy the evil. But it seems optimistic the 'one' will," he finished quietly, staring curiously at the looks the two were exchanging.
"Wesley, does it say anything about the grave danger? Or anything that might identify the 'one?'" Vaughn asked quietly, his hand tightening on Sydney's.
"No, there's nothing more," Wesley offered almost apologetically.
"Well, at least we know what it says, now why in the world would they want that? Could they even translate it?" Sydney muttered as Vaughn sighed and rubbed his forehead.
"I think we have to assume that they have people to translate, if they don't already know what it says. Although I tend to suspect they don't, or they wouldn't have sent you," he replied quietly.
Sydney closed her eyes, knowing in that instant, that they wanted the information to figure out who the 'one' was.
She knew if they read it, as soon as they saw the 'many disguises' line, there was a good chance they'd suspect her.
"We have to forge a copy, change it somehow, they can't get this, or we could both be in danger," she whispered, seeing the agreement in Vaughn's eyes.
"Wesley," Vaughn asked, turning to their new friend, "could you possibly recreate that document, with the same language, paper, everything, only completely change the copy?" he asked carefully.
"I suppose so. It would take at least a day though, and I'd have to find the exact paper and figure out what to say," he began.
"But you could do it?" Sydney interrupted, breathing a sigh of relief as she got a nod in reply.
"I know it's a lot to ask, and we can't really explain who we work for or why, but I can't tell you how much we'd appreciate your help," Vaughn offered quietly.
The two watched as the other occupants of the room seemed to exchange words with their eyes.
"We'll do it," Angel offered quietly as the others nodded.
"And you are both welcome to stay here while we work on it," Cordelia offered with a smile. "I think it would probably be more comfortable if Sydney didn't have to move too much for a while," she finished as Sydney managed a nod of thanks.
"Thank you, more than you know," she offered quietly, sensing they had an understanding.
"Guys, um, I hate to bring this up, but what about Wolfram and Hart?"
Sydney and Vaughn along with the others turned at Fred's timid voice.
"What about them?" Sydney asked.
"Well, um," Fred began, seeming to take courage from the smiles being sent her way from Wesley and Gunn. "They know that prophecy is missing, and I suspect they won't stop looking for it. If we're going around trying to buy ancient paper and the other things we'll need, we're going to raise questions," she finished simply.
Sydney closed her eyes, realizing they were right.
"We'll just have to be careful," Gunn replied as Cordelia spoke up.
"I think our best bet is the magic shop on 4th and Broad. Though I don't know if any of us could go buy the stuff, Wolfram and Hart will have spies everywhere," she mused, rubbing her forehead as if in pain.
"Cordy," Angel asked, concern in his voice as he moved towards her.
Sydney and Vaughn watched with interest as Cordelia waved him off with a tight smile, conveying something with her eyes that only he understood.
"I'm fine. But I'm thinking Vaughn might be our best bet, since I'm doubting Wolfram and Hart have made you," she finished as Vaughn nodded.
"I know they haven't seen me, I wasn't anywhere near there today. Sydney they could know if they had surveillance tape and besides, she's in no condition to go anywhere," he offered quietly, ignoring the weak protest she made.
"So it's settled, I'll tell you where to go and what to get, you get it and then get back here. And watch for anything strange," Angel offered as Vaughn nodded.
"Trust me, I've got some experience with dodging tails," he muttered, exchanging a smile with Sydney.
"Vaughn," she whispered, reaching for his hand and grabbing it tightly. "Be careful, I don't want to have to come after you," she whispered, hating the fact he was risking his life because she couldn't.
"You rest, it's my turn to help you now," he replied, leaning down to brush a quick kiss across her forehead, before standing to confer with Angel.
Sydney watched him go, knowing her heart was in her eyes, feeling more helpless than she had in a long time.
"He'll be fine. You wouldn't make it that far on that ankle anyhow."
Sydney turned and managed to smile as Cordelia settled herself on the sofa next to her.
"I know, I just worry," she replied, sensing this young woman understood what she meant.
"I know what you mean," Cordelia replied softly.
"So, let's get down to business, we have a new translation to create and I'm going to need all the help I can get," Wesley called as he headed towards them with a handful of books.
Sydney forced her worries down, knowing Vaughn could take care of himself. Meantime, she had to figure out a different 'prophecy' to take back to SD-6. Sighing, puzzled at the strangeness of this mission, she settled down with their new friends and got to work.
Vaughn sighed in relief as he finally reached the store Angel had described. He couldn't ever remember feeling this uneasy before. He'd checked and rechecked for tails, and was satisfied he wasn't being followed, but he couldn't shake the creepy feeling that prickled against the back of his neck.
Slipping into the store, he was surprised to see quite a few customers browsing the few shelves that lined the place. Heading for the parchment section, he was pleased to find a wide selection of paper. Spotting one that looked exactly like the original, he grabbed several pieces, figuring they'd need more than one.
Moving quickly through the store, he found the ink Wesley had told him about and even the quill pen that Angel had insisted on. He wasn't going to argue. These people knew more about what needed to be done to copy that prophecy than he or Sydney ever would.
Funny thing was, he wasn't even questioning how they knew.
All that mattered was getting that prophecy switched and getting Sydney home where she could rest and relax, out of danger for at least a few weeks while she recovered.
"That be all?"
He jumped at the old woman's high-pitched voice as he laid his purchases on the counter.
"Yes, thank you," he replied, watching as she rang up everything, seemingly uncaring about what exactly it was he had bought. Quickly pulling out the requested amount, he thanked her again and made his way out of the store, knowing he still had the walk back to worry about.
As he stepped outside, the prickly feeling returned again, and he knew, without a doubt, that he was being followed, whether he saw anyone or not.
Immediately heading in the opposite direction from where he'd been going, he took care to keep his pace leisurely and unhurried. As he walked, his mind was going a mile a minute, trying to figure out how to get back without bringing the uninvited guests with him.
Detouring here and there, he tried to remember where he'd come from, wishing he'd thought to look at a map before he'd left.
Three turns later found him in an area of LA he was almost positive he was not supposed to be in alone. Clutching the bag closer to his side, he hurried down another side street, praying he'd be able to find someone to help give him directions.
He felt the prickly sensation intensify against his neck and he knew his pursuer was closing in on him.
Forcing down the panic, he made his mind clear, focusing completely on how he was going to get out of this.
What would Sydney do?
Knowing his Agent, she'd probably demand they come out and confront them, using her sheer strength and stamina and blind faith she could take them down.
Then again, she could simply run and hope to God help was around the next corner.
Which was exactly what he decided to do, knowing that if he were going to have to fight, he'd rather be someplace where there were streetlights.
As he rounded the corner, he found himself confronted with a sinister looking man, rubbing his hands together in a very unseemly way. Swallowing hard, Vaughn braced himself as he heard footsteps behind him.
Whirling quickly, he was able to surprise his attacker from behind, kicking him in the stomach and sending him flying. Spinning around, he just managed to dodge a blow from the second man, ducking under his arm and delivering a quick strike to the back of his neck.
The second man went sprawling as Vaughn heard movement behind him. This time, he wasn't fast enough to dodge the first of his first assailant. Grunting in pain, the blow caught his upper arm, sending the bag of materials flying. Moving quickly, he began hand to hand combat, thankful the second man seemed to be unconscious on the ground.
Finally, he managed to land a disabling blow to his assailant's stomach, followed quickly by a chop to the back of the neck as the man went sprawling. Vaughn paused to catch his breath, wincing at the pain in his upper arm.
Then, moving quickly, he gathered up the fallen items, stuffing them back into the bag and searching desperately for help. Breathing a prayer of relief, he spotted a brightly lit sign for a nightclub just down the street.
Nearly running he reached the entrance and ducked inside, thankful to note his attackers were still unconscious. But they wouldn't be for long. Then they'd come looking for him again. He had to get directions and get back to the hotel fast.
Moving towards the bar, he was surprised to hear the sound of singing coming from a stage in the center of the room. Turning his gaze that way, he saw a beautiful raven-haired woman singing a song about love lost and found.
Well, at least this place felt friendly.
Finally reaching the bar, he searched out the bartender, blinking twice as the man wearing a garish purple jacket turned and headed his way.
He wondered if someone had forgotten to tell him it was Halloween.
Because the bartender was wearing some sort of green face mask with two little horns coming out of his forehead. He blinked again as the bartender smiled on his approach.
"You look surprised, obviously you've never been to 'Caritas' before, what can I get you to drink?" the man offered in a surprisingly melodic voice.
Vaughn blinked and remained silent.
The bartender looked at his gaze and laughed.
"Obviously, you've no idea what else exists on the streets of LA, but I'm sensing you're trying to avoid someone, am I right?" he asked.
Vaugh was still trying to wrap his mind around why a bartender would dress like a Halloween monster.
"Cat got your tongue?" the bartender offered.
Vaughn shook himself, realizing that no matter what type of costume this man was in, he needed help.
"Actually I need a phone, and a phone book," he replied, getting a nod in reply.
"That I can do," the bartender motioned and another man brought out the requested items. Vaughn was happy to note this man looked completely normal.
Unlike, he suddenly realized, half of the patrons of this bar.
"Oh it's okay, just an early Halloween party of sorts," the bartender offered, but there was an amused look in his eyes that didn't escape Vaughn. But he pushed that thought aside as he began to page through the phone book. He knew it wouldn't be long before the two thugs tailing him figured out where he'd gone.
"Angel Investigations? You a customer of theirs?"
Vaughn's head shot up as he heard the familiarity in the bartender's words.
"Actually yes, I'm trying to get back there, and I have no clue where I am," he offered, keeping it as close to the truth as he could.
The bartender stared at him for a moment.
"What you aren't telling me is that you're needing to get back there, without anyone following you, am I right?" he offered candidly.
Vaughn met his gaze steadily, wondering just how well this bartender knew Angel and his friends.
"They're old friends, we go way back. I can take you there without anyone knowing, if you'd like," he offered.
Vaughn thought for a moment, wondering if he could trust this strange man in a mask.
"I assure you, you can trust me. But if you'd rather not, I think you'd better say hello to the two creatures that just entered the bar," he replied quietly.
Vaughn made up his mind in an instant.
"Let's go," he replied, grabbing the bag of supplies and following the man through a door at the back of the bar. Remaining quiet, he followed the bartender through a series of hallways and through a door, down some stairs and into what seemed to be sewer tunnels.
"The sewer?" he asked quietly.
The man laughed.
"It's the fastest way around this town, and only a few people know of it. Name's Lorne by the way," the man offered as he motioned for Vaughn to follow.
"Michael," he replied, still not sure how far he could trust this strange man. "Aren't you going to take that mask off now?" he asked, feeling a little creeped out at the sight.
"Trust me, you wouldn't want to see what I look like without it. Besides, this one's fun, it either amuses or scares them all," he replied as Vaughn shook his head and followed Lorne's lead.
Twenty minutes later Vaughn was surprised to find himself climbing a set of stairs and stepping into the Hyperion lobby.
"Look at who I found trying to avoid some uglies," Lorne called out as he and Vaughn entered the room, drawing everyone's gazes.
"Vaughn, are you all right?" Sydney asked, all her attention focused on the man moving quickly towards her.
"I'm fine Syd, got the stuff we need and thanks to Lorne here, shook off the tail," he replied, dropping the bag on the table as he slipped to the floor beside Sydney, wincing as the move bumped his sore arm.
"You're hurt, what happened?" Sydney muttered as she reached for his arm.
Vaughn sighed and let her make sure he wasn't deathly injured before replying.
"I had a run in with a few guys tailing me. They lost," he offered quietly, seeing the concern mixed with admiration in her eyes.
"W does that not surprise me," she murmured, grabbing his hand and holding it tightly as he smiled at her.
Sydney closed her eyes, breathing a sigh of relief as she felt his warmth next to her. She had been worrying for the past few hours and it was driving her crazy. Opening her eyes, she smiled into his, then turned her head to thank the man who had helped him.
She blinked as her gaze met Lorne's amused one.
"Vaughn, what's going on?" she asked, blinking again, sure she wasn't seeing a horned, green faced man before her.
"Early Halloween party at the club I own," Lorne jumped in quickly, exchanging a look with Angel. "As for the mask, strange as it sounds, I'm more comfortable with it on than off, and don't ask," he finished as Sydney began to speak.
"He's okay Syd, he got me and the supplies here safely," Vaughn replied quietly, noting the looks the others were exchanging with Lorne. Again, he received an unusual, but not a bad, vibe.
"So you got the paper and ink?" Sydney asked, perking up as she watched Wesley grab the bag and begin putting the supplies on the table.
"Everything on the list. Did you guys come up with a new 'prophecy' for lack of a better word?" he asked as Sydney nodded.
"It's confusing, I don't understand half of it, but if they translate it, it won't say anything about the 'one' or the 'destruction of evil,'" she replied quietly as Vaughn nodded.
"Good, once we get the copy, we'll figure out how we're going to get you home," he replied as she nodded.
"They won't expect me for a few days, I told Slone I was going to do the job and take a vacation day in LA. Surprisingly, he let me, after only a few protests," she replied as he nodded.
"Weiss is the only one who knows where I am, he's covering with the 'vacation' day scenario as well," he replied and it was Sydney's turn to nod.
"Have you talked to him?" she asked as he shook his head. "I called him when I lost touch with you, but he had no information. I promised him I'd call when I knew more, but I haven't yet," he offered as Cordelia held out her cell.
"Feel free, I've got at least 100 free long distance minutes left," she offered with a smile.
Murmuring his thanks Vaughn rose and headed into the other room to call Weiss.
Sydney watched him go, a small smile on her face. He was the most remarkable man she'd ever known. And he was willing to go to the extreme for her.
He loved her.
How had she ever gotten so lucky?
She jumped as she heard Wesley call her name, turning her attention back to the matter at hand. She'd have plenty of time to think about Vaughn later. Especially on the trip back home, however they were going to work it.
Ten minutes later Vaughn emerged from the other room, a strained look on his face.
"Vaughn, what's wrong?" she asked as he dropped to the floor next her.
"Weiss says we've only got 24 hours before SD-6 sends out someone to find you. Apparently they know something went wrong with the pick up and they've only held off out of respect for your abilities, and some quick maneuverings of your father," he replied quietly, noting the others were still gathered around the table in the other room.
Sydney sighed and rubbed her forehead.
"I should find a way to contact Sloan, maybe stall the troops for another day," she began, as Vaughn shook his head.
"Too risky. They could trace the call and it would lead them here. Which would bring up a whole lot of questions you don't want to answer," he replied as she sighed in resignation.
"So what are we going to do?" she asked.
Vaughn sighed and ran a hand through his hair.
"Weiss and I have a plan to get you home," he offered quietly as she looked at him curiously. "We're going to disguise you and get you to the airport tomorrow morning. Wesley must have the new parchment done by then. You're flying out on a regular flight that has a stop over in Chicago. There, you'll change disguises again and board a plane to New York. Once in New York, you'll change your disguise yet again and head home," he finished.
"Why so many stops and changes?" she asked curiously.
"We can't be sure Wolfram and Hart isn't looking for you. They will have everything monitored if they are and we aren't willing to risk leading them back with you. This should hopefully throw them off a bit, although you're going to have to lose the sling," he finished as she nodded.
"I can do that. The arm and ankle will be a bit of a problem, but we can work them into a disguise somehow," she offered quietly as he placed a hand on her cheek.
"Have I mentioned how proud I am of you lately?" he whispered suddenly.
Sydney felt her eyes tear up at the heartfelt words, able to clearly read the emotions clouding his eyes. Her own heart leapt as she realized how much those words meant to her.
"Not as proud as I am of you," she replied softly, lifting her good hand to cover his where it rested against her cheek.
For a moment, they simply stared into each other's eyes.
Sydney suddenly pulled back as something hit her.
"Wait a minute, how are you getting back?" she asked, suspicions rising as she noted the way his eyes shifted from hers. "Vaughn, what aren't you telling me?" she asked, hardening her voice and using her hand to turn his face to hers.
Vaughn sighed, knowing she'd ask and knowing he had to answer.
"Weiss doesn't think it would look good if I arrived the same day as you. So I'm going to remain here for a few days, let you get home and settled, and then I'll fly home," he offered carefully.
Sydney watched him closely.
"There's something else you aren't telling me, what is it? Tell me Vaughn," she urged, steel in her quiet tone.
Turning to meet her gaze, he knew he couldn't lie to her.
"Apparently those two guys who attacked me were from Wolfram and Hart and they were following me today. According to Weiss's sources, they're on the hunt for me now and they have your description. Which means I can't risk them seeing us together, especially if you're in disguise. So, I'll stay here and decoy them for a few days, then head home," he replied, seeing her eyes darken.
Sydney hated the feeling of helplessness that was invading her body. Once again, she could do nothing while Vaughn put himself in danger, for her. She didn't like that helpless feeling. She didn't like it one bit.
"I know you don't like it Syd, but you're in no condition to argue," he whispered softly, reading her mind through her expressive eyes.
"I know, and I hate that," she replied emotionally, gripping his hand tightly in hers.
"I'll be fine. I think our new friends here will help me stay hidden and get me out okay. I promise you, in a few days, we'll be home safe and back to our clandestine meetings," he replied, trying to force a smile.
Sydney felt something inside her rebel as she held his hand tighter.
"I know we're in danger, I know this isn't the ideal situation, but I wish we could stay longer. I like being with you like this, with no danger of being spotted or recognized. I don't want it to end so soon," she whispered, knowing that was as close as she could afford to come to revealing her feelings.
Vaughn felt a lump grown in his throat as he held her hand tightly and brushed a fingertip down her cheek.
"I don't either. Despite the danger, despite your injuries, I haven't enjoyed anything more than spending time with you, not having to pretend," he replied, heart aching at the upcoming separation.
Sydney cursed life again, wondering why it had to be so unfair for both of them.
"Hey, we've still got some time, it's not over yet," he whispered, leaning down to let his lips rest against her cheek.
Sydney closed her eyes, breathing him in, absorbing everything into her memory to get her through the dark times ahead.
"Guys, I think we're almost done."
They moved apart at Fred's gentle voice, smiling at the timid young woman staring at them from behind the sofa.
"Thanks Fred," Vaughn replied, smiling at Sydney as the others crossed the room and Wesley handed him the parchment.
"It's incredible Wes," Sydney marveled, unable to tell the difference between the two letters, except for the writing, they were completely identical.
"Thank you, I do think it's one of my better efforts," he replied bashfully as Cordelia hit him on the arm lightly.
"Okay, the hard part's done. Now we just have to figure out how to get Sydney a new disguise and to the airport by 6am tomorrow morning," Vaughn offered as he began to explain the plan.
Sydney watched him take charge, smiling to herself at what a natural leader he was, even if he didn't realize it. She had a feeling he'd send some shock waves through the CIA if his colleagues could see him now.
"Syd, you with us here?"
She forced her mind back to the present at Vaughn's gentle scolding, concentrating on how they were going to get her out of there in the morning.
An hour later, plans finalized, the group decided they needed food. Sydney happily agreed with the consensus that pizza was the order of the night. She was suddenly hungry, realizing she hadn't eaten in the past 24 hours.
Vaughn smiled as he watched her debate what toppings to order with the others. It was a side of her he never got to see, and one he was thoroughly enjoying. He laughed at the high five she and Cordelia exchanged at getting pineapple on half a pizza.
This was what Sydney must be like those nights she spent with Will, Francie and Charlie. He'd always find himself jealous as she'd describe something funny one or the other had said while eating pizza or cooking dinner or simply watching a movie. Jealous because they had the freedom to do normal, everyday things with Sydney. Things she needed to do to balance out the tortured, crazy double life she lived.
But he always found himself wanting to be in on those nights. Somehow, they held more appeal than countless nights alone, drinking beer and watching bad TV. Some night's Weiss would join him and they'd commiserate over the sad state of his life. It was no secret that Weiss knew of his affection for Sydney, but to his credit, refrained from saying anything. Vaughn knew it was because he got enough flack from their other co-workers.
But tonight, he was going to get to sit and eat pizza and potentially watch a movie with Sydney. An ordinary, everyday type thing that most people would take for granted. But to him, it was the most incredible way he could think of to spend an evening.
Sydney smiled as she felt Vaughn's amused gaze on her as she and Cordelia argued over pizza toppings. She knew he was getting a kick out of watching her animated discussion, and learning what she liked on her pizza.
Something inside her softened and shifted as she realized this would be the first evening they'd actually spent together, doing something normal.
Eating pizza and watching a movie. Together. Things she did with Francie and Will, but never with Vaughn. Even though she always found herself wishing he were there.
It was extremely exciting to think about spending normal time with Vaughn.
She smiled at him, reading the same wonder in his eyes.
Might as well make the most of it if this were to be the only time they'd get a chance to act like normal human beings.
Who happened to be majorly attracted to each other.
She felt her excitement build as he settled his arm around her shoulders, pulling her against his side, careful not to disturb her bandaged arm.
Smiling, she snuggled against him, enjoying the feeling of normalcy. The first she'd felt in a long, long time.
Four hours later found the group entrenched in the 'family room' watching some action movie that Gunn had insisted was the best. Surprisingly, it wasn't that bad a plot and the actors were pretty decent. Overall, it hadn't been a bad night.
The pizza had arrived and been devoured as they laughed and joked, talking about themselves as best they could without giving away too much.
Sydney and Vaughn were aware their new friends weren't telling them everything, just as they knew the Angel Investigation's crew was aware they weren't being straight either. But somehow, they trusted each other enough to get out the basics about their lives, and for the moment, that was enough.
Sydney sighed as she snuggled against Vaughn, his arm around her shoulder, his head resting against hers. They'd remained this way since the movie started, each reluctant to stop touching the other, even lightly, knowing they might never get this chance again for a long time.
Vaughn found himself breathing in her scent, marveling at the woman he held against him. He'd learned more about her in these past four hours than he had in the two years they'd known each other.
The little things, like what she liked on her pizza, that she had to have a lemon slice if she were drinking water, even bottled water. That she liked sappy chick flicks, but enjoyed action and adventure films as well. To his delight, though not surprise, she revealed herself to be a hockey fan like himself, although they spiritedly disagreed on teams.
All of which only served to make him fall even harder for her.
Sydney was happily enjoying the fact that she now knew that Vaughn had a hidden obsession with James Bond films, hated mushrooms and peppers on his pizza and refused to even consider that the Blues were better than the Kings.
All of which only served to make her fall even harder for him.
Snuggling closer, she found herself wishing they could stay like this forever. Forget SD-6 and the CIA. Forget the danger they lived daily. Forget everything but each other.
What a dream come true that would be.
"You okay Syd?"
Vaughn whispered the words against her ear as she nodded sleepily against him.
"Yeah, I think most of the room is out as well," she yawned, looking at the bodies sprawled around them.
"This is nice," he suddenly offered, pulling her closer and letting his lips linger against her ear.
She shivered as she snuggled closer.
"Very nice. I don't want it to end," she replied, closing her eyes and wishing with all her might that time would stop for a while.
"Someday Syd, someday, we won't have to live in fear," he whispered, his hand lightly stroking up and down her arm.
Sydney sighed around the lump building in her throat.
"You know, one of my favorite films has a tag line that I think suits us, or it will someday," she whispered as he smiled against her ear.
"And what would that be?" he replied as she laughed softly.
"A life lived in fear is a life half lived," she whispered, surprised to hear a soft chuckle against her ear.
"I'm guessing you're a Baz Luhrman fan?" he asked as she turned her head up to his in surprise.
"You've seen 'Strictly Ballroom?' You?" she asked in amazement.
"Hey, I liked the music and the story wasn't bad, and you can't deny Luhrman's a genius with a camera angle," he offered with a sheepish smile.
"So, did you see "Moulin Rouge" then?" she asked as he smiled.
"Twice," came the reply.
"Four times," she answered, smiling at his laughter.
"You continue to amaze me Sydney Bristow," Vaughn whispered quietly, brushing a gentle kiss against her ear.
"The feelings mutual Michael Vaughn," she replied, letting her fingers glide across the hair at the nape of his neck.
Vaughn forced his libido down as he continued planting baby kisses against her soft skin, knowing he needed to stop before things went to far.
Especially in a very public family room.
But the taste of her was like an aphrodisiac and he couldn't get enough.
Sydney closed her eyes, letting the sensations sweep her body, knowing they couldn't take it farther than this, but determined to enjoy every touch, every caress to the fullest.
For who knows how long they nuzzled together, holding themselves back from what they really wanted.
But both knew now was not the time.
There might never be a time.
But there was this moment, and they were going to make the most of it.
Content and relaxed for the first time in a long time, they drifted off to sleep, wrapped in each other's arms, praying time would stop for a little while and give them this one night of peace.
Sydney sighed as she looked out the plane window, everything inside her rebelling at having to leave Vaughn behind.
Her mind drifted back to the intense feeling of satisfaction she'd felt as she'd awoken shortly before 5 to find herself curled against him. His arms held her tightly against his chest, his breath soft against the top of her head. For a moment, she'd simply savored the feeling, knowing it would be a long time before she might ever feel it again.
She hadn't wanted to move.
But unfortunately, their hosts had begun to awaken, and soon after, Vaughn.
She felt her heart leap as she remembered the pleasure that had filled those beautiful orbs as they'd opened to find her snuggled against him.
"Am I dreaming?" he'd whispered, as she'd laughed softly and shaken her head.
"If you are, then I'm with you, and I don't want to wake up," she'd replied, earning a gentle smile and a soft kiss on the forehead in reply.
Reluctantly, they'd separated, talking quietly amongst themselves as the rest of the room began to stir. Within minutes, the small group was awake and alert, and planning her trip to the airport.
Luckily, Cordelia had quite a few outfits and even a few wigs stashed in her room, from when she'd wanted to be an actress she'd told Sydney. Within a half an hour, she had a sleek blonde bob and a slinky outfit better suited to a high-class call girl. It wasn't indecent enough to make people talk, but a definite difference from the Sydney Bristow that might have been captured on hidden cameras.
It had been agreed that Vaughn would remain at the hotel with Wesley, Gunn, and Fred while Angel and Cordelia took her through the LA sewers and directly to the airport.
Ready to go, she'd slipped into the family room for one final moment with Vaughn. She'd felt her heart in her eyes as he'd taken in her appearance, smiling slightly as she twirled for him. She'd managed to keep her arm steady, without the sling, and as long as she was careful, could move it rather well.
"You look different, good but different, I don't think anyone would recognize you," he'd stated softly as she smiled at him.
"Except you," she'd offered as he smiled wryly and moved towards her.
"I'll always know you Sydney, no matter how you're disguised," he'd whispered softly, surprising her by taking her gently into his arms.
Her heart had begun to pound as she saw the love reflected in his eyes as they gazed into hers.
"Be careful, I don't want to have to come rescue you again," he'd teased in a hoarse voice, his fingers moving to stroke her cheekbones.
She'd closed her eyes, leaning her forehead into his hands.
"I will, and the same goes for you. I expect to see you fit and healthy in our warehouse in just a few days," she'd replied, a catch in her voice as his arms had tightened slightly.
"No matter what, I don't regret this time with you, it's been the best 24 hours of my life," he'd whispered, tilting her chin up to meet his burning gaze.
She had caught her breath as she read the intent in his eyes.
And despite everything inside her telling her to stop, she couldn't help but raise her head to his as their lips met in their first real kiss.
She had moaned softly as Vaughn's lips brushed hers, smooth and tentative, feeling out her reaction. With another small moan, she'd wrapped her good arm around his neck and kissed him passionately, with all the emotion she'd been storing up for the past two years.
Vaughn had moaned against her lips as he deepened the kiss, sending shivers of delight running down her spine.
When they'd finally parted for air, his eyes had been soft as they'd gazed into hers.
"I don't want to wait forever until I can do that again," she'd whispered, her emotions too near the surface to be denied any longer.
Vaughn had smiled and brushed another light kiss across her trembling lips.
"We won't have to. Somehow, we'll find a way Syd, I know we will, we just have to be creative and careful," he'd whispered.
"I love you Michael Vaughn," she'd replied, putting it all on the line, knowing she might never have the chance to say the words again.
"I love you too Sydney Bristow, I always will," he answered softly, leaning down to seal his words with a breathtaking kiss.
"Um, guys, it's time to go."
Both had pulled apart slowly at Cordelia's amused words.
For a moment more, she'd held him tightly, praying he would be safe.
"Be careful, and I'll see you in three days," he'd whispered softly, placing his forehead against hers.
"I'm holding you to that Michael," she'd replied, leaning up to plant one more kiss against his lips before turning and leaving the room.
Several moments later she'd been following their hosts back down into the sewers, wondering all the while if Vaughn would be all right.
"He'll be fine, Gunn and Wes won't let anything happen to him," Cordelia had offered quietly.
She had sighed as she moved farther away from the man she loved.
"They're not who I'm worried about," she'd murmured softly as she followed them into the darkness.
Two hours later found her safely aboard the plane, thinking back to how Vaughn was now the one in danger.
~~ Be safe and come home to me, my love ~~
She whispered the thought like a mantra in her head as she let her tired eyes close and fell into a deep sleep, dreaming about waking up in her handler's arms.
In three days, she'd be seeing him again.
And maybe, if she checked the place carefully, could steal a few more kisses.
The thought kept a smile on her face throughout the whole plane ride home.
"She's going to be fine, your plan will confuse anyone who might have seen her, but I doubt it, I did a thorough check of the airport before she left and it was clean," Angel offered to Vaughn, who had been staring into space for the past half hour since their return.
"I know, but I still worry," he offered quietly, sensing the other man understood.
"I know what you mean," Angel replied, his gaze going to Cordelia, who was immersed in some conversation with Wesley behind the counter. "She's a brave woman, whatever it is you two do, you do it well," he finished quietly as Vaughn laughed harshly.
"Too well at times, and never for fun," he answered slowly as Angel sighed.
"Sometimes, the worst work brings about the best results," he answered cryptically as Vaughn turned to stare at him.
"Strange, but oddly true," was his reply as the two men settled back into a comfortable silence.
"Okay you two, time to wake up and figure out how we're going to get Vaughn out of here in a few days."
Vaughn sighed as he heard Cordelia's cheery voice moving towards them.
He supposed it was time to stop worrying about Sydney and figure out his own return plan.
Pushing his worries aside, he began to help their new friends make plans.
Two day's later, Vaughn found himself standing in front of Cordelia's mirror, marveling at what a bottle of hair dye and talented scissors could do. He looked nothing like the 'Agent Vaughn' his friends knew.
In front of him stood a dark haired, well-dressed businessman, bearing little resemblance to the harried agent look he'd been sporting for the past few days.
They had been interesting days however.
Once he'd gotten word through Weiss that Sydney had arrived home safe and sound, made her meeting with Sloan and was now comfortably resting, he'd found himself relaxing a bit and getting to know the strangers who had helped them.
Despite the fact he felt there was something strange going on with this small family, he couldn't deny he felt welcomed. They'd spent the past few days cautiously exchanging stories, without revealing too much. They'd rented plenty of movies and spent several hours each night discussing the merits of each one.
To Vaughn's surprise and delight, Angel had even given him a few pointers on hand to hand combat and a quick lesson on swordplay. He'd never thought much about it, knowing he would never need the skill, but when he'd spotted the swords in an amazing cabinet of ancient weapons his curiosity had been peaked.
They'd spent an enjoyable few hours, watching Angel and Cordelia duel, and teaching him the basics. He grew more certain with each moment that the two were in love with each other, but something was holding them back.
He knew it wasn't his place to ask, and remained silent. But something inside him found itself crying out that these two find their way around their differences and into each other's arms.
He knew he and Sydney would, as soon as SD-6 was destroyed.
He was more certain of that than anything in his life.
So, the two days had passed without incident, everyone assuming Wolfram and Hart had given up the search.
And to Vaughn's surprise, he found himself not worry as much about Sydney. At least, not as much as he usually did. He'd had several enlightening conversations with both Angel and Cordelia about his feelings for his agent and their current relationship. He was amazed at how much better he felt talking to these people.
Maybe there was something about the 'telling things to strangers' theory he'd heard all his life.
Either way, he had found himself genuinely able express his thanks and leave a contact number should they ever need any help before they'd taken him through the sewers and safely to the airport that morning.
Now, staring out the plane window, watching LA disappear behind him, he found himself already missing the City of Angels. It was here that he and Sydney had been granted a brief reprieve from their everyday, dangerous lives. They'd been allowed to spend time with each other, hold each other, love each other, without fear or worry.
They'd made valuable allies in their fight against the evil in the world as well. Something told Vaughn they'd be meeting up with the crew of Angel Investigations again in the future.
Smiling, he closed his eyes, letting his mind wander to the fact that within 10 hours, he'd be seeing Sydney again.
And maybe, if he made sure the place was clean, he could steal another kiss or two before their debriefing.
The thought had him smiling the rest of the trip home.