Title: All The Time In The World
Pairings: Adam Kaufman and Stephen Saunders with their family
Spoilers?: Season Three maybe...if you haven't seen it
Warnings: Only a brief reference to alcohol
Summary: AdamKaufman takes his sister for dinner at the same restaurant Stephen Saunders is meeting his daughter that evening...
Disclaimer: None of these characters are mine. They all belong to Fox and the creators of 24.
All The Time In The World
“Where are you taking me?” Sarah Kaufman asked her older brother as they walked down the streets of L.A., her dark eyes sparkling with mischief as her long brown hair playfully brushed across her thin shoulders. She was only two years younger than Adam but her zest for life and exuberant personality made the gap seem much wider than it actually was. It didn’t help that her brother was a quiet, brooding young man who made up for his lack in social skills with a brilliant mind and a gift for computer science. Anyone passing them on the street that night would only identify them as siblings because of their similar features and coloring. In every other way, Adam and Sarah were nothing alike.
“I told you, Sarah,” he replied, dodging her obvious attempts to bait him. “It‘s a surprise.”
“You just want to torture me. You KNOW it kills me when you play this game. Just tell me already or I’ll have to do bodily harm to your person,” she threatened with narrowed eyes as she grabbed a hairbrush out of her bag and poked him in the ribs.
“Ouch!” Adam yelped, instinctively reaching for his injured side as he glared at his sister who erupted into another fit of giggles. “What’s so funny?”
“Nothing…nothing at all,” she replied happily and tried to look innocently away as she danced down the street in front of him, oblivious to the looks she drew from the people she passed by. However, those looks were not lost on her older, more self conscious brother who immediately rushed forward to rein his sister in once more…something he was getting quite good at unfortunately.
“Sarah…please. We’re in a public place,” he urged, glancing around as he caught up with her and tried to act like everything was fine as people continued to look their way as they walked past them.
“Well, what better way to express myself than in a public setting,” she teased back, slipping away once more to spin around in a circle on the sidewalk as she gazed upward. “Look at the sky, Adam. You can see all the stars out tonight. It’s a GLORIOUS day to be alive.”
“The stars are out every night, Sarah.”
“Ah, but not like this, Adam. Tonight you can see each and every one of them. I hope where you’re taking me has someplace we can eat outdoors so I can enjoy this heavenly view.”
“It’s possible,” he replied with a non committal shrug.
“Come on, Adam. Dance with me! The stars are out and I think I hear music in the distance.”
“Sarah! Watch out!” Adam suddenly warned, realizing he was too late as he watched her uncontrolled spin collide with a tall, distinguished gentleman waiting outside their restaurant.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Wasn’t looking where I was going,” she apologized, flashing a smile that had gotten her out of trouble more times than her brother could count.
“That’s quite all right,“ the dark, handsome stranger replied warmly in a light British accent as he returned her welcoming smile. “It IS a lovely evening,”
“That it is! I’m Sarah Kaufman and this is-” she began but was cut off by her brother grabbing her arm and explaining, “-the restaurant I promised to take you to, Sarah. Sorry to bother you, sir.”
“Nice meeting you!” the young lady told her new friend before being whisked through the doors of the Lunaria Restaurant & Jazz Bar. “Really, Adam, you can be quite rude sometimes.”
Chuckling at the girl’s high-spirited comments, Stephen Saunders continued to wait outside the expensive French bistro. Like the young man who had taken his sister inside, he too had a date with a family member…his daughter Jane. And she was running late. He was just about to reach for his cell phone when he spotted her familiar form turn the corner up ahead, hurriedly making her way toward him as she realized the lateness of the hour. Her straight brown hair fell away from her worried eyes as she rushed to meet him.
“I’m so sorry, Dad. Cheryl was supposed to relieve me at 6:00 but then her mother called and she didn’t get to the library until 6:15. I rushed here as soon as I could,” she explained, the words tumbling out as she went to embrace him in a warm hug. “I hope you weren’t waiting long.”
“Not at all, Jane. I was just worried something had happened to you,” he murmured, concern creeping into his voice for her well being.
“Happened to me? What do you mean?” she asked him, pulling away in confusion.
“It’s nothing, honey. I thought you might have been in an accident or waylaid in traffic.”
“Actually traffic really wasn‘t that bad,” she replied, quickly falling for the last minute explanation he had made up on the spot. “However, some people should not be allowed on the road…period.”
“I couldn’t agree more,” he returned, following her into the restaurant as he held the door open for his only child. These moments with her alone were few and far between but he savored each and every one. It made the work he had to do abroad much more bearable knowing that he could rely on the love and trust of his own daughter. He would do anything to protect her…anything within his power.
Stephen Saunders had made these reservations weeks in advance and the maitre de quickly found their name before proudly showing them to a lovely table for two with a fine view of the stage where a local jazz band was performing. Saunders could tell that Jane was in love with the place from the moment she stepped inside. Her eyes traveled across the lovely watercolor paintings framed on the walls to the elegant place settings on the white clothed tables lit by candlelight to the jazz musicians warming up on stage. This was her kind of place and he knew it from the surveillance he had put in place to protect her. She had been hanging out with a friend when the Lunaria Restaurant had been casually mentioned and Jane had immediately expressed a wish to go there but had been disappointed when her friend quoted her the price of a single entrée. Now he was here to make his daughter’s wish come true.
“Dad…I don’t know if you know this…but I have this friend, Lisa…and she told me about this place,” Jane started to tell him as she looked up at him with gleaming eyes. “I’ve wanted to go here ever since she told me about it…the food, the wine, the music. This is perfect, Dad, just perfect.”
“The wine?” he asked her, raising an eyebrow at her mention of alcohol though she was not yet 21.
“Just part of the atmosphere, Dad,” she quickly retorted, suddenly becoming absorbed in her menu before glancing over at him one more time. “Really.”
“Of course…I’ll just pretend I didn’t hear that,” Saunders told her, letting her off lightly as he perused the menu again. “I think the entrecote with Cognac-peppercorn sauce sounds delightful. Should we order an appetizer?”
“Sure. How about…the tomato torte Tatin with basil fondue and balsamic syrup?” she asked, looking up to see if her decision met with his approval.
“Perfect. That’s just what I would have chosen,” he told her and smiled when she beamed with pleasure at making the right choice. He loved it when she smiled.
On the other side of the restaurant, Adam Kaufman was half listening to his sister’s idle chatter as he tried to choose something that was not too expensive on the menu. He had put enough away for Sarah to choose whatever she wanted…after all it was her birthday. However, he would not allow himself the same luxury. Working for CTU meant he had to maintain a certain budget…something he wouldn’t have had to worry about if he had chosen to apply to one of the Fortune 500 companies based in the area. No, he wouldn’t think about that. The salary was not important as long as the work was personally fulfilling and what better job could he ask for than helping to keep America safe from terrorism…he was ensuring a bright future for those he loved. If he had to take a cut in his paycheck…so be it.
“Adam…you’re not listening to me…” his sister suddenly intervened as she leaned over to recapture his attention. “I just said that-”
“Johnny Depp asked you to have his baby. I heard you, Sarah. I just didn’t think it required a response.”
“No you didn’t. You’re just saying that so I’ll shut up. I know you too well, older brother.”
“Then you know that it takes me awhile to decide what I want to eat tonight.”
“And that’s your problem, Adam,” she told him simply, grabbing his menu and placing it face down on the table. “Now close your eyes and tell me the first dish that comes to mind.”
“Just humor your kid sister this one time.”
With a sigh of resignation, he played along and thought immediately of something that was inexpensive and healthy. “Water.”
“Ok…but what’s the first food that you think of?”
“Then that’s what you should get! Problem solved.”
“I don’t know, Sarah, it’s kind of pricey.”
“I love you, Adam, you’re my only brother…but sometimes you need to live a little! Sir! We’re ready to order now,” she announced, taking the initiative and waving over one of the refined members of the wait staff. “We would like to start off with the Arugula Salad. I’ll be ordering the Roasted Crispy Salmon with vegetables ratatouille. That includes steamed broccoli, garlic whipped potatoes, and basil tarragon sauce?”
“It’s mademoiselle,” she corrected him before moving on. “My brother will have the Grilled Free Range Chicken Breast Marsala with a fricassee of grilled vegetables, parsley whipped potatoes, mushrooms and marsala sauce. And we’ll finish off the meal with crème brulee.”
“And to drink?”
“A nice red wine. You may choose the vintage.”
“Of course. Excellent choices, mademoiselle,” their waiter replied as he took their menus and disappeared into the kitchen.
“And that’s how it’s done,” she told him with a smile, rearranging her cloth napkin in her lap as she put aside her more exuberant nature for the warmer, more laid back side of her personality that he loved.
“So I see,” he replied as he slowly began to smile. “You’re amazing, Sarah. Happy Birthday.”
“Thank you. You‘re not so bad yourself,” she responded, reaching over to give his shoulder a light punch but inadvertently knocking over the bottle of oil/vinaigrette dressing on their table. “Oh, Adam, I’m so sorry. Here…use my napkin.”
“That’s all right…I wore these pants for just such an incident.”
“No you didn’t!”
“Of course, I did,” he replied calmly before allowing a sly grin to break through his straight face. “After all, I knew I would be taking you out tonight.”
“Adam, I‘m hurt!” she gasped in mock astonishment before pushing him towards the men’s room. “Now you better escape while you can or I might just spill the rest of this dressing…on your head!”
Rubbing at the oil spot in vain, the young computer analyst did not even notice that the handsome stranger from before had also left his table to answer a cell phone call. Colliding with him briefly outside the men’s room, Adam quickly apologized and disappeared inside to see if he could repair the damage to his pants. Meanwhile Stephen Saunders asked his contact on the other line why he had decided to call him in the middle of an important dinner with his daughter.
“I’m sorry, Stephen, but this couldn’t wait. We need to meet. Now.”
“Lance, this REALLY isn’t a good time. How about tonight at 9 PM?”
“Stephen…which is more important…your family or this deal? You know the consequences if this contract should fall through. I’ll give you ten minutes.”
“Lance…Lance!” he hissed but was only met with dead air on the other line, growling in frustration he snapped the phone closed and went to break the bad news to Jane.
“You have to go, don‘t you?” she asked immediately, reading him like an open book.
“I’m sorry, sweetheart. Business calls,” he explained, giving her a reassuring smile. “Can you forgive me?”
“Of course I can. We can always do this again when you’re in town. It will give me something to look forward to.”
“You’re an angel,” he told her honestly, bending down to kiss her forehead as she smiled.
“I love you, Dad.”
“I love you too. See you in a few weeks?” he asked her, searching her eyes for forgiveness and finding it in her warm smile and the look of adoration she had for him.
“It’s a date,” she replied, her love for him overshadowing any disappointment she felt as they left the restaurant together before going separate ways. There would always be next time and if there was one person Jane could rely on, it was her father.
Adam returned to his table to find the appetizer had arrived and Sarah enthusiastically sampling the platter they had set down on the table. Urging him to partake in the first course of many, he gave in and enjoyed the fine food, smoky jazz music, and elegant surroundings. For one of the few times in his life, he allowed himself to relax. The rest of the night went by like a dream as he took joy in just hanging out with his kid sister as she teased, cajoled, and generally amused him throughout their very expensive but agreeable dinner. When he was finally presented the bill at the end of the evening, Adam just signed at the bottom, afraid his wonderful evening would be spoiled by glancing at the price of the whole meal. There would be plenty of time later for regrets.
“You are the best brother in the whole world,” Sarah enthused once they were outside, swinging her arms around his neck and planting a kiss on his cheek.
“And you are slightly intoxicated,” he replied, gently removing her arms as they walked back to his car but not resisting when she took hold of his arm and laid her head on his shoulder.
“I think you’re right, Mr. Kaufman. It’s a good thing you didn’t drink that wine I bought you.”
“You bought me? I thought this was my treat.”
“That’s what I wanted you to think.”
“Right…that’s why I paid with a credit card that has my name on it.”
“It’s all part of my master plan to…to…”
“Take over the world?”
“No, silly, to loosen you up some. You really are so uptight,” she joked, her fingers reaching up to tug at his high coat collar. “I just wanted to see the real Adam.”
“This IS the real Adam. I’m not uptight…I’m just…me.”
“If this is the real Adam, then where’s your heart…your soul. Where is the brother who chased me around the playground when no one else had the time? Where’s the brother who helped me play practical jokes on our unsuspecting neighbors?”“I grew up,” he replied simply, starting to walk faster because he now saw the arrival at his car as a welcome interruption of the conversation they were currently having. “I have responsibilities, both personally and professionally.”
Realizing she was losing him, Sarah made one last desperate attempt to get her point across, grabbing his arm and whirling him around to face her before placing both hands on his shoulders.
“Listen to me, Adam. I know you think that this straight, logical path you’ve chosen to follow is the right one but it’s not. Life is not some trip you can plot out on a map…it’s downright chaotic and unpredictable. Therefore, promise me you’ll embrace the unknown instead of run from it…you’ll roll with the punches instead of against them…most importantly, don’t allow your fears stop you from experiencing some of life’s most fulfilling moments…Time is too short to be worried about the future. Just promise me you’ll at least try. ”
“I promise,” he replied as she impulsively hugged him and he slowly allowed himself to wrap his arms around her. “I never could say no to you.”
“I know. Why do you think I asked?” she told him with sparkling eyes. And all he could do was smile back before resuming their walk down the empty street, enjoying a closeness only a brother and sister could share.