After Dinner
by Siryn

They ordered coffee and he watched her dump sugar after sugar into her cup. It's something he likes about her. She likes coffee, but not coffee ice cream, hot tea, but not iced, and red grapes, but not green. But he's pretty sure she never used to use that much sugar.

"So, the quarterback, huh?" he said, with a grin. Since Syd and Vaughn left they've been sitting in an uncomfortable silence. He could tell something was going on, but he wasn't quite sure what yet.

Francie smiled, wide and innocent. "Yep, big man on campus. He was sweet, but sort of stupid. He looked a little like you actually." She looked at the bar, observing everyone. She's been doing that a lot more lately too.

"Okay, so fess up, what was with the tie?" he asked, putting on his best reporter face. She sipped at her coffee, and rolled her eyes.

"Nothing was 'with' the tie. I was shopping, I saw it and thought of him, that's it," she retorted, the annoyance in her tone plain. "I don't see why everyone was making such a big deal over it."

"It was just weird, that's all. I mean, Syd just started dating this guy and you're already buying gifts for him. It took forever for you to warm up to Danny, so I was just wondering what Vaughn did different," he said.

Leaning over, she took one of his hands in her. "He makes her happy. I mean, look at her. How long has it been since she seemed that relaxed, that carefree? I had no idea it was going to be weird," she said.

There was something about Sydney tonight, some kind of glow that he didn't really want to think had to do with Vaughn, but he knew that it did. "She did look happy, right?" he asked.

"Yeah, she really did. I'm happy for her. It's about time she got together with him. She's had a crush on him forever, you know. I'm glad the bank finally relaxed those rules about coworkers fraternizing. I know if there was I guy that I liked at work, I'd go for him, rules or not," Francie replied.

"I'm sure it's all very clandestine. They probably hold hands under the table at meetings and sneak into the broom closet to make out," he said with a laugh. He knew that they did, in fact, hold hands when they thought no one was watching. As for the broom closet, he and Weiss had a bet as to which one Kendall was going to find them in first.

"Do you think she's going to stay at work now that she finally graduated? This might be the time to quit and go teach someplace where she might be able to stay at home once and awhile," she said, running her finger around the rim of the cup.

"Well, maybe. I mean, I don't think I'm going to win the Pulitzer anytime soon, but two out of three ain't bad," Will replied.

She furrowed her brow. "What are you talking about?"

"Come on Fran; don't tell me you forgot that too! The night we got our undergrad diplomas, you, me, and Syd got drunk on that brandy her dad had in the study and we all talked about the things we wanted to accomplish by the time we were thirty. Syd wanted to go teach at some private school for girls and it would be very 'Dead Poets Society' except without the suicide and the shame, I was going win a Pulitzer for my crack investigative reporting, and you were going to have your own restaurant. I can't believe you don't remember that," he said incredulously. Raising her hand, she signaled the waiter.

"I was more drunk than I thought, I guess. I don't really remember that." she said, her expression blank. He reached his out to her, running his fingers over her cheek.

"That seems to be happening a lot lately. Are you okay?" he asked.

She tilted her head into his palm. "Yeah, I'm fine, really. It just with everything going on right now, I'm under a lot of pressure, that's all. I'm just tired," Francie answered, looking up at him. He snagged the check away from her and put some cash in the folder.

"I've got this," he said, standing. "Ready?" She stood up and grabbed her purse.

"Yeah, all set." They walked towards the door and when they stepped outside, he stopped. Pulling her in tight, he kissed her softly on the forehead.

"What was that for?" she asked.

He shook his head. "Nothing, just for being you. The tie thing was kind of sweet in a weird, slightly insane way. But that's what I like about you," he replied.

"Thanks, I think," she said with one eyebrow raised.

They got to the car and as she got in, he realized Francie kind of glowed too. But her glow had nothing to do with Vaughn.


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