Mislov's girl was shooting up in the main lounge, which answered the question of junkie versus chic. The rubber strip she'd tied around her arm was bright blue with white polka-dots, one of the more disturbing new trends in drug fashion. Some hyper ABBA remix was playing from the stereo. A platter of cocaine sat on the coffee-table next to a bowl of pills, the paté and mixed nuts of the jet set.
Weiss was watching the girl covertly, his expression flat. Sydney was dancing with herself in the middle of the room, holding a cosmopolitan in one hand and sliding her skirt up a thigh with the other. It was hard to look away. It was a lot of thigh. And then Jack twisted his right ear lobe between two incredibly strong fingers.
"Oww! Motherfu--" He bit back the rest.
"Don't look at my daughter. Or I'll have you castrated."
Oh, yeah--he'd been waiting *years* to say that. Vaughn worked the muscles of his face, trying to iron smooth his anger.
The music changed and got dirtier and Weiss danced with Sydney, their movements lazy but synchronized. There was kissing. Vaughn made himself look away. He could feel Jack's restrained tension. It must be killing him to adopt a mask of benevolence when Weiss was so clearly enjoying himself. Sydney herself didn't seem to be minding.
It was mostly boring, this kind of thing, earning your mark's trust by simply putting the time in. Vaughn couldn't remember the last time he'd gone under cover for more than two or three days. The field ops they ran tended to need only transient covers. Agents in deep cover weren't on missions; they were operatives on assignments. An in-between mission like this was known as a mongrel op.
After an hour or so, a flunky came and whispered something in Mislov's ear. "Some friends of mine have arrived," he said.
"Oh?" said Jack.
Vaughn readied himself for anything, and Jack's hand rested loosely near his open jacket, close to his gun, but Mislov's friends were apparently no more than that: a mixed group of twentysomethings with designer clothes and forceful voices. A chick with blonde-on-blonde streaks and a totally waxed body took a seat by Jack on the couch and gave him a stoned, friendly smile.
"Hello," he said, inclining his head politely.
"Hello. I'm Caddy."
"Caddy. I'm Laszlo."
"A mature man. I haven't seen one of you in weeks. You've got a great voice. Is that a Kiton?" She rubbed the sleeve of his suit. Vaughn stifled a grin at Jack's concealed discomfort, and with the unerring instinct of the veteran cokehead, Caddy looked his way next. "Oh, you have a pet. Heavenish. Does he have a name?"
"None that he'll be keeping."
She found that hilarious, and seemed to be settling in for the duration, yelling for her friends to bring her drinks and snacks ("Something salty!"). She had to be the alpha bitch, because they obeyed as if they were used to it. After a while though, she went over to Mislov and smooched him and whispered in his ear for a length of time that a sane and sober man would have found unbearable.
Sydney was flirting with some guy who had ski bum written all over him, and Weiss had moved on to a healthy-looking girl with a mesmerizing lack of bra. Vaughn had a feeling he'd be scoring that night. Sometimes the mission demanded a sacrifice, after all. Just rotten luck that his own was Jack Bristow--and yet somehow he couldn't see Weiss ever ending up on the floor by Jack's feet.
He thought of Jack's comment about being unbeautiful. I'm not beautiful, he brooded grumpily, arguing with Jack in his head. I don't deserve this. Yeah, okay, he'd had no trouble pulling trim in college. But ten years in the agency had worn him out. Sydney hadn't wanted him. Probably not because of his looks, but a guy had to wonder. Had he been too old for her? He was sure as hell too old for this.
When Jack got up, Caddy took time out to mourn his departure, a ritual of whiny girlish flattery that lasted minutes and spilled over into conversation with the others with no sign of stopping. Politeness and patience going only so far, Jack walked out midflow, Vaughn at his side. This time his departure went unremarked.
"That chick makes Paris Hilton look classy," Vaughn whispered as they went up the stairs. Jack gave a tiny choking sound, but said nothing.
Once inside their room, Jack spun him and shoved him against the closed door. His mouth was shockingly hungry, as if he'd been waiting hours for just this. You bastard, Vaughn thought. There was no way they'd be heading to the shower twice; it would be too suspicious. Jack had just been giving him time to adjust to the idea, though why he hadn't said something--he would have said *something*, right? Vaughn held on to the hope that Jack would turn out to be as sane and professional as he had earlier, but the kiss was still going on and Jack was sliding his shirt up, stroking his side. The chill of the marble floor was seeping into Vaughn through his bare feet, slowing his reflexes, making him feel dull and off-balance and helpless. But the kiss was gentle. The kiss was gentle. He groaned a little and pushed forward with his hips, submitting to the heat of the other man's tongue in his mouth, begging him for something. Surreal.
He was gasping when Jack pulled away, and could feel his lashes stuttering under the heavy downward drag of his eyelids. It would be easy if he just closed his eyes, he thought, and let Jack's hands have their way with him. He arched back to lean against the door and let Jack push his shirt up his body and over his head. A kiss on his neck made him writhe. God, this was wrong. Sydney's father. His mind buckled against the idea and he panicked, but Jack's lips feathered up his neck to the edge of his jaw and one hand molded to the hardening ache in his jeans.
"Oh my god," Vaughn said, eyes closed. "Yes, that's--" Fuck, fuck. How long had it been since he'd gotten laid? Six months? A year? That couldn't be right. His dick was desperate for every light touch. "Oh Jesus, J--"
His eyes flew open in horror, and his stomach clenched. He'd almost said Jack's name, and Jack was staring at him, lips parted in a moment's equal shock, quickly hidden. Jack's face cooled, and he tipped Vaughn a mocking half-smile.
"You're coming along...beautifully," he said, stepping back.
Vaughn wasn't entirely able to process the switch of gears. He stood with his back to the door, shuddering with breath, fixed by Jack's eyes. All he could feel was despair and hatred, at his body's betrayal and Jack's manipulations. When Jack reached out to touch his jaw again, he flinched away, rage flooding his face with heat.
"You should get some rest." Jack left him standing there as he got ready for bed.
It took Vaughn long minutes to climb down off the emotional ledge he'd been about to leap from, poised to do something incredibly stupid that might trash the mission. This was it though. He caught his breath and clenched his jaw, narrowing his gaze at Jack across the room. This was war.