Lauren's flight is late, delayed at a stopover in Zurich due to a snag in security that not even her Phoenix ID and most charming smile could cut through, and it's well after midnight before she finally slides into bed beside MacGyver. He's fast asleep but his body, long accustomed to her presence, rolls to face her. One hand slides across her midsection, arm curving about her body, drawing her to him. He radiates warmth and it is that warmth she craves now. She needs him and, even in deep sleep, he seems to recognize this, drawing her closer still. MacGyver has always been affectionate, a cuddler, but this is different. A response to her unstated need.
She closes her eyes, hiding her face in the crook of his neck and tries to forget the Intel her most recent Phoenix assignment has netted her. The information that has left her with a chill deep in her bones.
Her parents are traitors. They've sold themselves to a terrorist organization, complicit in the group's activities. It is a discovery that has broken her heart but, in the very same vein, has caused the pieces of her patchwork life fall into place. They form a terribly somber picture that explains so very much.
MacGyver has always teased her about her upbringing and her surprising skills. How does the pampered daughter of a United States senator learn to scale mountains, pick locks, be an expert in hand to hand combat, and display a skill for weaponry and explosives that is almost frightening?
Lauren has never really had an answer for him or for herself. She vaguely remembers lessons overseen by her mother, harsh recriminations for perceived failures and scant praise for successes. She has tried to remember more, in greater detail, but the memories linger at the edges of her consciousness. The more she tries to reach for them, the farther they slip.
Now she knows why. Why she can do the things she can and why she can't clearly remember learning them. Her parents fully intended on bringing her into the 'family business' and Lauren knows that were it not for the shattered relationship with her parents that drove her from her home, she would be there now. She wouldn't be their daughter, she'd be just another weapon in their arsenal. A pawn.
The realization sends yet another chill down her spine and Lauren hugs closer to MacGyver, inhaling the comforting scent of his aftershave. Tomorrow, she will tell him everything about her parents, their true loyalties, her memories and her fears. She has battled them from the moment she saw the files, since she understood the truth of her life and the potential things that might have been done to her. She's been with Phoenix long enough to know the worst case scenarios and she cannot help but fear the idea that she's been programmed to betray everyone and everything that she loves. MacGyver, her job with the Phoenix Foundation, her friends...she loves the life she has built for herself and the idea that it could be torn away from her in a split second, the time it takes to trigger the programming, terrifies her.
Tomorrow, once MacGyver knows, they will go to Phoenix and tell Pete. The Foundation has experts in the field, people who have longstanding experience in psychological conditioning. If anything has been done to her, they will find it and the process to nullify it will begin. She's not afraid of that part. MacGyver's been through this before, with Jack and Pete, he knows what the process entails, he'll be there for it. She won't go through it alone. As much as she hates to admit the weakness in herself, she's clinging to that knowledge. MacGyver won't let her do this alone.
It's something she has always teased him about. For a man known for his serious commitment issues, he is the most committed man she knows. She's seen him with his friends, with Jack, with Pete, with all of them...and then her. She knows that when she needs him, she can trust him to be there and, to her, that is the only commitment she will ever need from him. She can trust him and she's fiercely glad she has him in her life. Were he not - had she not found the Foundation, and him, when she had - she doesn't want to think about where she would be. But thanks to her assignment, she can't help it. She knows all too well what would have happened and it will be some time, maybe never, before the crystal-clear picture fades from her mind.
The knowledge, the pain, of her parents betrayal will be with her longer, it has the potential to become a longstanding companion, to haunt her, but she will not let it. The resolve has a bitter edge but she is determined. She is happy in her life and she will not give it up. She is scared, terrified really. She knows her parents will find out she knows, they will realize what she'll do with the information, and she knows the people they work for will try to stop her from fulfilling her plans. They will try to kill her, perhaps even her parents will try, and she accepts that. It is with a strange sense of resignation that she does, but she accepts it. It's business. It's the personal aspect she cannot comprehend. Her parents - people who were supposed to be her protection, her safety, who she'd looked up to and adored her entire life - were nothing more than phantoms. Lies. Her existence, her childhood, the good memories that spring to mind unbidden...all of it is now a question mark. How much of it is true? How much may be fiction created by her parents to hide the truth? Is any of it real? Is she real? Or is she, like her parents, nothing more than a carefully constructed lie?
She has always envied MacGyver's family though, until now, she has never understood why. It is not the circumstances she envies. He has had more tragedy in his life than she can imagine. That isn't what she envies. What she envies, and has always envied, is that they were real. She has never known the truth of her family before now, but she has always had the feeling, the sense, that something was not right. Knowing now what it is, she envies MacGyver. She has never lost her parents, but she never had them, did she?
Mac stirs, as if sensing her unrest, and Lauren soothes him back to sleep with whispered words and gentle kisses. Her attention focuses on him, the look on his face, the feel of his skin beneath her fingertips and mouth, the warmth of his presence beside her. She can't help but love him, she never could, and she doesn't want to stop. Her relationship with MacGyver is an important part of her life, now more than ever, and she makes no apologies for that fact. She never will.
Soothing him soothes her and she feels her own nerves settle. She will rest for now, lying quietly in Mac's arms. Tomorrow will take care of itself.