Anna S. (eliade) wrote,
Anna S.
eliade

the Jack/Vaughnish thing, continued



first part here

II.

"This is insane," Weiss said, running a hand back across his hair in a manic way.

"And not in the fun way," Vaughn commented, wishing he didn't have to look at anyone, especially Jack. He sat on the couch in Jack's hotel suite, which like all the other furnishings was swank and not-Jack in style. There was a hell of a view of the Prague National Theater off the tenth-story balcony, so he gazed in that direction.

"Don't you think this would've gone a bit easier if you'd let me--" Sydney broke off the low-voiced blistering she was giving Jack and looked at Vaughn, clearly grasping for the best way to put it. It was a moment's hesitation from a woman who rarely hesitated. It made him wince.

"Adopt him?" Jack finished, his voice bone-dry.

Sydney's eyes snapped with anger.

"Can you two stop bickering?" Vaughn asked. "It's too late to worry about it now."

"No, it isn't," Sydney said in her peremptory way. To Jack again: "You can say you changed your mind, give him to me--I'll make Mislov uphold the bet." Her arms were folded wire-tight, like one of those knotted paper clips. Vaughn wasn't sure that he could have crossed her in that state, but Jack was Jack.

"I'm not willing to take the risk of making that change mid-course." Jack turned his head and contemplated Vaughn. "I'm sure Agent Vaughn can maintain a convincing cover, regardless of circumstance."

Vaughn gave him a sour look in return. He certainly intended to try, but he wasn't going to take sides in a Bristow-on-Bristow spat if he could avoid it.

Hovering in the background, Weiss watched them as if they were a vicious tennis match, occasionally glancing at Vaughn. He was just as smart about staying out of it, though he looked increasingly pissed off, as if he wanted to say something.

"I'll be fine," Vaughn finally said to Sydney, to break the stand-off. This was where the inevitable embarrassment started to kick in, heightened by the weirdness factor. You crushed on a woman, got what you thought was encouragement, and then mixed signals, followed by the cold shoulder, all of which was humiliating enough, more so since you had to continue working with her, but then one day just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, you found yourself playing captive sex-slave to her father. In front of her.

This officially sucks, he thought, trading a look with Weiss and earning his reflected sympathy.

"You should get some rest." Jack included both Sydney and Weiss in the sweep of his eyes. "None of us should get distracted during this mission."

Sydney's expression said that she really didn't need lessons on mission protocol from her father, but she didn't voice it. She and Weiss both dithered for a few moments in an uncertain way, but rescue wasn't forthcoming, and they said good-night, throwing backward looks at him as they went.

Alone with Jack, Vaughn slumped back further on the couch and rested his head. "I'm not wearing this collar," he said, not because he cared all that much, but just to set some firm limits.

"You have no choice," Jack said. It was like he was talking to a petulant child, matter of factly but with not a lot of interest. Vaughn bristled and squashed down a rising queasiness.

"You were just kidding about the leash, right?"

Jack turned from the dresser where he'd been laying out the contents of his pockets and stared steadily at him. "What do you think?"

"I think you're an insane person. I have never worked with anyone so over the line as you."

Jack's brows raised. "You think *this* is over the line?" He voice was mild with faux surprise, and he wore a tiny half-smirk that said, *I am amused by your naiveté.*

Vaughn gave up. "I'm taking a shower." He went into the bathroom and closed the door. He was hiding. He was totally hiding. It was a relief to strip off the sticky and tacky leather. In the shower, he washed the gel from his hair, then braced himself against the wall, eyes closed, letting the hot water run down his back until he felt cleaner and less likely to punch someone. He exited the bath with a towel around his hips and didn't look at Jack at all as they passed each other.

There was one bed. "This sucks," Vaughn said to himself, alone in the main suite. The one-note thought wouldn't go away.

He pulled on a pair of boxers and lay down on the bed, where he stared at the ceiling and thought about Sydney. He still had no clue why she'd blown him off just when it had been heating up between them. *I think we should keep things on a professional level*, she'd said with impassive resolve a few months ago, on what felt like a completely random day. They hadn't been clashing over missions in previous weeks, and she'd been smiling girlishly at him just the day before. He'd pursued it, not willing to let it go without an explanation, but she shut him down with wide eyes and little frowns, as if she didn't know what he was talking about, a front that she expected him to accept. Eventually he did.

Jack came out in one of the hotel's white robes and Vaughn shut his eyes, listening as Jack moved around the room. He was nearly silent, like a ghost. It was eerie. He only opened his eyes again when he sensed Jack at the other side of the bed. He was wearing subtly striped, expensive-looking pajama bottoms, no top.

Vaughn put a hand over his face and grimaced.

"You're not insecure in your sexual orientation, are you, Agent Vaughn?"

He whipped his hand away from his face, eyes flying open. "What?!"

The other man's face was bland, open. "I just want to make sure you won't be uncomfortable sharing a bed." His voice lifted in pitch with smarmy concern. "I could take the couch."

"Shut up." He felt twelve. Jack made him feel like that. Son of a bitch. He rolled over onto his side and ignored the guy.

"You're not wearing your collar, I see." This was delivered as a reproof.

"Oh my god, I am so going to punch you if you don't shut up."

An amused silence followed him to sleep.
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