Just a bit o' fun
S/V, M/C, and the holidays :D
Enjoy - and feedback is always appreciated!
An Alias Fanfiction
For Queenie's Fanfic Challenge on SD-1
* * * * *
"Eric, you shouldn't have…" Sydney tried to admonish her friend.
But the black Labrador puppy in her arms begged to differ. She was already enthusiastic to meet her new owner, and didn't seem to mind that a large red Christmas bow was wrapped around her collar.
Sydney laughed. "I always wanted a dog," she admitted.
"You mean you never had pets when you were little?" Weiss asked.
Sydney shook her head, setting the puppy on the floor. "No," she shook her head, a smile still on her face as she watched the little dog start to explore. "My father would always say 'maybe when you're older,' and my mother would agree and start to talk about how much work it was to take care of a pet." She sighed a little. "Now I understand, of course, what the real reasons were."
"Well," he answered resolutely, "think of this as making up for lost time."
She smiled, looking back at Weiss. "Thank you," she said. Sydney brought her arms around him in a warm hug. "She's the nicest Christmas present I've ever gotten."
"I doubt that," he said bashfully, "but I appreciate the sentiment."
Turning to look back into the living room, Sydney then made a brisk dash for the leftover wrapping paper that the dog had, by now, discovered. Visions of shredded Santas and snowflakes covering her apartment began to fill her mind.
"I don't suppose this gift comes attached with some puppy training?" she said wryly, putting herself between the dog and the small tree she'd decorated for the season. More visions of a knocked-over tree and ornaments all over the floor. But the smile was still on her face.
"Of course it does," he said matter-of-factly. Weiss came over to join them, kneeling. "Hey girl, over here…" The dog paid mild attention to Weiss's moving hands. "Now, sit…No, sit…" He pressed a hand to the dog's back, trying to place it into a sitting position. But she was suddenly more interested in his loose flannel shirt, and started tugging on it playfully.
Sydney couldn't help but laugh.
"You know, once you come up with a name for her, I'm sure it'll be easier to do this," Weiss said in his own defense.
She raised her eyebrows, thinking. "That's true." She reached out a hand to pet the small fuzzy creature. "I'll have to think about it."
Just then the phone rang, and she rose to answer it, still chuckling at the noises in the background.
* * * * *
She'd remembered past Christmases. Past gifts, past relatives, past loves.
A picture frame.
How she missed that frame. So simple, so beautiful. From a time when things had somehow been simpler, even in their relative chaos.
It had taken all of her patience, even in that tequila-induced bout of nostalgia, not to admit how she wished she still had that frame on her shelf. But what picture would she have put in it? Her mother? Her father? Not Vaughn. Or maybe Vaughn…
In her mind's eye she had seen a wedding photo in that frame.
* * * * *
She hung up the phone, smiling more broadly now.
Weiss called from his spot in the living room, "Hey, at least you don't have to worry about paper training, the people at the kennel assured me she knows all about that." He saw her expression as she came back into the room.
"Who was on the phone?" he asked, intrigued.
"That was Marshall," said Sydney.
"Oh yeah? What's up?" Weiss asked, still crouched on the floor. The dog had settled on a corner of the living room rug, chewing happily on a rawhide bone - one of many toys Weiss had chosen to accompany the pet as a gift.
"Carrie's in labour," she announced. She sat down on the sofa.
Weiss turned to look at her. "Really? That's great," he said, brightening further.
"Yeah," she agreed. "You should have heard Marshall on the phone, I don't think I've ever heard him this nervous - even for him."
"I can only imagine," he answered. "Do they know when they'll have any news for us?"
She shook her head. "I guess the doctor thinks she's still got a while to go. I told him to call as soon as there's something to tell."
Weiss nodded. "Well then," he said, standing up. "It's a good thing I brought this along too," he rifled through his belongings that stood by the door, and pulled out a bottle of champagne. "It's still cool, too."
Sydney tilted her head questioningly. "Champagne? Christmas Day isn't for another two days yet."
"I know, I know, but my mother always told me to be prepared for any holiday occasion. Once December 1st arrives, you just never know when you might have to celebrate." He moved to the kitchen, expertly searching for the champagne flutes he knew were in the back of her cupboards. "And it looks like we do have something to celebrate," he advised.
She came into the kitchen, sitting on one of the counter stools. She watched as he placed two glasses in front of them and began to twist the cork.
"I still can't quite imagine Marshall as a father," she admitted.
"I know, it's a little surreal, isn't it?" Weiss agreed. "Thank goodness he found Carrie, though, she'll keep him grounded."
The cork gave way, and jumped out with a satisfying pop. Sydney immediately held up the two glasses to receive the champagne, before it all began to bubble down the side of the bottle.
She handed Weiss his glass, and took her own to make a toast. "To Marshall and Carrie," she said.
"To Marshall and Carrie," he repeated. "And to what's-her-name," he nodded over to the small dog, who by now had become curious, and had made her way over to sit expectantly at Sydney's feet.
Their glasses met, and chimed happily.
* * * * *
She remembered the last time she'd had champagne.
A few sips in the Science Ministry in Moscow. Her in a backless red dress, Vaughn in his tuxedo and tie. Both of them too uncertain to toast each other before they took a sip.
She remembered how long she'd looked at him from across the room, not daring to express her thoughts towards him in any way that betrayed their professional purpose. And then she'd seen
the way he was looking back at her, and she had been powerless.
She'd wanted to give him so much more than a smile, then. She'd wanted to ask him so many things.
It still hurt so much to remember some of her memories. And it hurt even more when she realized how few people she was still able to share them with.
* * * * *
The next morning Sydney was awake early, the dim light of dawn only just beginning to fade into her bedroom.
Blinking, she turned under the covers, glad for the few days of holiday leave she'd gotten - even the CIA managed to be generous every so often. She enjoyed the chance to linger, absorb the silence of the new hours of the day.
At her side she detected a warmth, radiating from the centre of the bed. She sat up slightly, and smiled at the small canine form that had been curled up beside her. Probably for the whole night, she realized.
She reached out a hand to stroke the soft black fur, still uncertain how she would adapt to this new - albeit extremely energetic and loveable - presence in her life. But at least she didn't feel as lonely.
The sound of the telephone ringing made her jump slightly, and the dog lifted her head, awake now. Sydney stroked its chin consolingly. "I guess we're not the only ones awake right now," she told her.
A second ring, a third, and by the fourth Sydney was out of bed, had pulled on a robe, and had reached the receiver.
She answered, hoping she sounded more awake than she thought she did.
It was Marshall, calling from the hospital.
A girl. Cassandra, he said. Arrived 4:25 am, 8 pounds 3 ounces. Mom and daughter both doing just fine.
She congratulated him, asked him a few questions about how everything had gone. Made plans to visit them later on in the day after they'd had a chance to rest.
As she hung up the phone, she was smiling. But when she sat back down on the edge of her bed, a kind of sadness began to fade over her.
* * * * *
Marshall and Carrie were parents.
Vaughn and Lauren were married.
She was neither a fiance nor a wife. Nor a mother. A friend to only a few people, now, and barely a daughter. How was she to define who she was? In 2 years all her definitions had become useless. Rewritten, reused.
She remembered Danny, a ring in his hand, down on one knee. Proposing to her as the university bells rang across the courtyard.
She remembered Will, his embarrassed apology for the kiss, his wholehearted affection for her.
She remembered Vaughn, his arms around her and his lips on hers. The sound of his voice in the dark of night.
In her mind's eye, she'd seen herself as so much more. She'd seen her father, living close by, celebrating holidays with her. Vaughn, and a gold band on her finger. Expectant months, waiting for their own trip to the hospital, and lamaze classes, and shopping for baby clothes. Children. Sleepless nights watching over a little boy with a cough and a fever. Energetic days helping a little girl learn to ride a bicycle.
She felt her hands resting on her slim waist, and remembered the memories that had never happened.
* * * * *
The hospital was relatively quiet, for a Christmas Eve afternoon.
Once, Danny had told her about how unpredicatable and chaotic the hospital could be around the holidays. Too many people driving cars after office Christmas parties, or burning themselves on the stove, or falling off of ladders while hanging coloured lights on their roof.
The maternity ward, it seemed, ran on its own schedule, he had told her once. Children didn't to arrive on a certain day on the calendar, they simply arrived when it was time.
She found the room easily. Marshall was at the door, he'd been about to search for the cafeteria and a cup of coffee.
"Congratulations, Marshall," she said warmly, putting her arms around him. He returned the embrace.
"Thanks," he answered happily. His pride was beaming from every part of him.
Carrie had dozed off for a few minutes, and the room was quiet. A bassinet stood next to the bed, and it held a small, now slightly awake, little person.
"Come see her," Marshall whispered happily. He brought Sydney around to the chairs that sat nearby, and pulled the bassinet closer. Sydney sat down, smiling down at the child.
"Marshall, she's beautiful," Sydney whispered back.
"I know," he said, grinning. "She's got Carrie's chin, thank goodness," he added.
It was true, the girl was beautiful. A wisp of dark brown hair on top of her head, and when she opened her eyes, they revealed deep blue irises that looked up in curiosity and wonder.
Carrie stirred again, and became aware of her visitor.
"Sydney," she recognized, smiling back. She brought a hand to her eyes, rubbing away touches of sleep, brushing her hair off her forehead.
"Hey," said Sydney warmly. She reached out and pressed a hand to Carrie's arm. "Congratulations," she said.
Marshall interrupted. "I'm on my way to the cafeteria," he said, returning to his purpose from a few minutes ago. "Back in a flash."
He was out the door in another moment, after placing a kiss on Carrie's forehead, and giving her hand a squeeze.
Sydney pulled her chair closer.
"How do you feel?" she asked.
Carrie pushed herself up a bit straighter. "Sore," she admitted. "But it's fine," she nodded truthfully. "It's worth it." She looked down at her daughter."
Carrie smiled. "That's right. Cassie, for short."
"What happened to all of the unisex names?" Sydney asked curiously.
She chuckled back. "I don't know. One day Marshall came across 'Cassandra' and it just stayed on the list. He said it's a strong name - it means a ruler, or a prophet."
Sydney nodded, smiling as well. "That is a strong name."
"I think Marshall wanted a name that was like mine, he's just too shy to admit it," she said, referring to the shortened name.
Sydney laughed. "It's nice," she agreed.
Carrie looked back at her daughter, who was now very aware of the voices around her. "Would you like to hold her?" she offered.
Sydney was a little unprepared. "Oh, I don't know…"
"It's alright," she answered. "I don't think she'll mind."
Cassie's hands stretched out slightly, reaching for something. Sydney stretched out her hands hesitantly, and brought them around the little girl. She leaned back, holding her close, the child's head resting firmly in the curve of her arm.
Sydney could not help but feel a small, internal longing, as the child's tiny fingers curled around one of her own. She smiled back at her friend.
"She really is beautiful, Carrie."
* * * * *
"What it comes down to, is faith."
She'd spoken those words to Vaughn and had regretted them the very next moment.
She'd walked away, realizing the things she had said to him, and wanted to find the nearest corner to crumple into tears. Faith? Who was she to talk of faith?
She, who hadn't managed to keep Danny's memory alive more than a few months, before she started having inappropriate thoughts about her new CIA Handler. She, who had now given up on Vaughn's feelings for her almost so completely that she could hardly stand to look at him when he was in the same room.
She could use some faith right now. Perhaps it was the time of year. Perhaps it was her own solitary life that she was still not accustomed to. Perhaps it was something that everyone needed, and she would always be searching for it.
* * * * *
Sydney left the hospital, eyes a little moist, but her spirits were lifted. She knew Marshall and Carrie would be fine.
She reached her car, and put her keys into the ignition. A thought occurred to her then, and she paused for a moment. Then, she reached into her purse, searched around for her cell phone. She dialed the number she had long ago committed to memory.
After two rings, an answer. "Yes?"
A softer tone. "Sydney," he answered. "Is everything alright?"
"Yeah, everything's fine," she said. "Dad…I was wondering…would you like to come over for dinner? I never finished decorating my tree, and I thought…"
She continued. "I thought you might like to join me. I can make egg nog," she offered, as if egg nog would be the final enticement for a man like Jack Bristow.
Another pause. "Dad? Are you there?"
"Yes," he answered. "I…I'd like that," he said.
Her breath came out almost in a laugh. "Great," she answered. "Come over for dinner, too, if you want. I'll be ready by seven."
"Alright, sweetheart," he said. A hint of a smile in his voice.
Sydney wondered what her father's reaction would be when she met her new, four-legged companion. Or whether or not he'd thought about visiting Marshall and Carrie.
She hung up the phone, eyes still moist, a smile still lingering on her face.
* * * * *
She took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and wondered where she would start to look, again, to find her faith.
* * * * *