Timeline: a few years in the future, AU-ish
In this installment: Sydney has a troubling afternoon, and Vaughn provides a comforting ear.
Read, enjoy, comments appreciated! :D :D
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He had been at home, that Sunday afternoon, when she had returned, red-eyed and sombre.
His hands dropped the books he'd been holding, they slid onto the dining room table with a dim thud.
"Syd?" Vaughn wondered if he should be worried. "What's wrong? I thought you went to pick up some files?"
She shook her head wordlessly, tossed her keys onto the hall table.
He was face to face with her now.
"Syd…you're starting to worry me," he said, his hands grasping gently at her arms.
"I…" she started, faltering slightly. "I went to see Mom's grave," she admitted. Her eyes finally raised to meet his.
His forehead wrinkled slightly. "But…I didn't think Irina had a gravesite," he said, his mind racing. I could have sworn she didn't have one…
Sydney shook her head again. "No, not - I mean, the one Dad gave to Mom…Laura Bristow's grave," she clarified. Her breath was shaky, and she spoke in wavering tones.
"Oh, Syd," he said reflexively. His hand squeezed hers gently.
They took a few steps farther into the house, and sat down on the couch in the living room. Their hands were still linked.
"I only saw it once before," she said, "when I was little, when we had the funeral for her." Her head shook again. "I never went back."
He kept listening.
"I still don't know where she is, Vaughn," she pointed out. "None of us do. I can't talk to her, I can't hear her voice…I can't tell her about you, about us…" she said, as her voice broke slightly. Her gaze fell to her lap. "Even when she was behind that glass she could still tell what was going on in my life. Now, I have no idea if she's even alive."
"What would you ask her now?" he asked, without truly thinking before he spoke.
But she was not angered by the question. Her eyes met his, briefly. "I know that she loved me," she said first. "I want to know if she ever loved my father," she added simply. Her lip quivered slightly, then.
He reached for her, putting both of his arms around her.
Sydney leaned into him, the weight of her chin resting almost in the crook of his arm. She squeezed her eyes shut. "Because I have to believe there was a reason she stayed," she said. "How could she have stayed in a marriage that meant nothing?"
He shook his head, as one of his hands stroked her hair. "I don't know," was all he could say. "I can't even begin to imagine what her life was like."
She sighed, drawing a ragged breath, in and out again. "If she truly loved him," she wondered out loud, "She would have found a way to stay. She would have stayed if she had loved him."
"Maybe," he offered.
Her hands wrapped around him more tightly, then. "I miss my mother, Vaughn," she said simply.
He could feel her blinking back tears, trying to choose between steadying herself and giving in to the doubt and sadness. Was this why marriage had become such a hard path for her to choose? he wondered. Was love without marriage better than marriage without love? He knew what her answer would have been if he had asked her.
"I know," he answered.
She raised her head, then, after another moment had passed unspoken between them. "I love you, Michael," she said, her expression brightening, virtually imperceptibly.
"I love you," he said almost immediately.
He wrapped his arms around her once again, and she buried herself in his embrace.
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[x-posted to alias_fiction]