One.

He is there waiting for her when she steps off the plane. She wonders what kind of protocol he is breaking by being there, steady, calm, unwavering. She thinks of the cliched description, He's my rock. But rocks break. Solid like an oak. But trees get cut down.

He is more powerful than any force of nature. He is the transcendental lighthouse that guides her.

"Welcome home, Walker."

He is home.

"I could use your help on a mission," he murmurs into her hair with his arms securely around her.

She smiles. "Really?"

"Only if you're coming back," he smirks because he already knows the answer.

"I'm back."


Ever since Annie Walker was a baby, she loved to fly. Few babies liked to fly, including her sister Danielle. Other babies shriek and cry and protest the change in altitude and surroundings. Never Annie, though. She would stare up at her beautiful mother and her stern father and her bawling sister, with all of the wonder in the world.

That is how Annie is taking this flight, long and grueling, from Taiwan to Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. But instead of her mother and father and sister, she stares at three agents of some unknown agency with all of the wonder in the world. It is a miracle, it seems now, that she is alive, that she is able to come back at all, and not in a body bag.

The plane jerks with turbulence and one of the male agents grips the arm rest a bit tighter. The female agent across from him raises her eyebrow at the minute action. Clearly, these agents are trained to pick up on anything and everything.

Annie clears her throat, "Are you CIA?"

Her three escorts glance to each other before turning to her. "Ma'am," the older male agent starts, but the female agent cuts him off.

"Yes," the female agent says simply. Annie smiles slightly, because it was very kind of her to give an actual answer instead of the usual 'We are not at liberty to say.'

"Overt," the woman mentions and Annie's heart drops. Her emotions must be visible on her face because the woman hastily adds, "We will not be escorting you off of the plane when we land in D.C."

"Who is picking me up?"

"We don't have that information, ma'am," the female agent replies. "It will be about another four hours before we land in Los Angeles. You should sleep."

Annie nods, but the woman is already turned back to her iPad. Surprisingly, after she curls further into her seat and pulled the lush blanket up to her chin, Annie is able to sleep. Fitfully, and she is half-awake, and when she does fully wake up when the plane jerked in landing at LAX, she is still tired. But she slept.

Baby steps, Annie.


When Annie was little, she always thought of planes as magical time traveling devices. They weren't time traveling; they were place traveling, but to little Annie Walker, it didn't matter. She liked to pretend she was time traveling. Like the time she went to Stonehenge when her father was stationed in England. She took a plane to get there, and the airport was pretty modern, but then she was at Stonehenge, and she knew for a fact that she had time traveled. After every time she visited a castle, via plane, she thanked the plane for being a magical time traveling machine. It was cute for a kid to think that.

When she got older, planes didn't really stop being magical time traveling devices. When she flew from the West Coast to the East Coast for college, she imagined that every kilometer she flew in the magical time traveling plane was another minute, hour, day, forward to a time when she wasn't scarred by the realistic abominations her father had committed and the apathetic lethargy her mother had shown after so many years staying in that sham of a marriage. When she graduated college, she imagined the magical time traveling plane taking her away from the heartbreak of a trust fund white collar player who played her. When she left Sri Lanka, she imagined the time when she wouldn't feel physically sick from heartbreak.

So she did it again. She imagined the magical time traveling plane taking her away from the time when she was nothing and no one, except a cold-blooded killer on several occasions, taking her to a time when she could be someone she is proud of. Each minute in the air solidified her resolve. She is time traveling. To a time when she is Annie Walker, with her bleeding heart, wide open eyes, and desire to help save the entire world. Away from the killer.

"How much longer do we have until we land?" Annie asks, wincing at the croaking of her sleep-coated voice.

"We're approaching D.C. airspace within 10 minutes. Should be about 20 more," the female agent answers again. "Feel rested?"

"Yes, much better, thank you," Annie lies easily.

The woman nods with an unconvinced look on her face. "We have reports of a Mr. Mingus of the American Taxi Company picking you up from the airport," she states quietly before returning to her iPad. The woman must be tired too because she doesn't take note of the electricity that jerks through Annie's body.

Auggie.

"Are you sure?" Annie couldn't help but ask. This was definitely against protocol. It had to be against protocol. Shouldn't Auggie still be under investigation for dropping of the grid and helping her when she was dark? Dead, her mind corrects her. Calder would still be under investigation, Joan, Arthur probably too, Eric Barber, possibly everyone she has ever had contact with at the Agency to make sure she hadn't turned or they hadn't turned.

"That's what the notice said," the woman drawls. A grin plays at the edge of her lips. "That mean something to you?"

"It means everything to me," Annie answers confidently. The woman smirks and nods knowingly and ignores the questioning stares of her male companions.

Annie looks out the window, the barest hint of the night skyline of Washington, D.C. visible through the clouds. She smiles a real smile for the first time in too long.


When Annie was in her post-college, pre-CIA time, what Danielle had dubbed 'Annie's Years of Freedom' (how right she had been), Annie did not have a home. Sure, she had Washington, D.C., where Danielle and the girls were, but that was more of a collective family location, not a home. Sure, she had a home base, wherever her main stay would be, whether that was Colombo or Dublin or Bangkok, as she traveled the towns surrounding. But when Annie thought of home, she thought of loud fights and drunken fathers and crying sisters. Or nothing at all.

Annie certainly didn't need a home. She had the entire world to make into a home. She had millions upon millions of pseduo-family members in her pseudo-home. The rest of the world is out there, and Annie had always been determined to see as much of it as possible, to leave her mark in a positive way.

How naive, Annie.

So now, 10 minutes outside of D.C. airspace, it hits her. Anne Walker, lover of all places exotic and beautiful and worldly, is coming home. Home. What a strange concept for her. But that is where she's going. Home.


The plane jolts to a stop on the darkened runway, far from any structure besides the single black SUV next to the runway. Annie's heart nearly stops when the female agent opens the hatch to the small plane and nods at her.

"You deserve nothing less than everything, ma'am," the agent murmurs as she passes off Annie's bag to her. Annie shoulders the duffle bag with her meager possessions and blinks back tears. A sob threatens to escape when she opens her mouth, so she just nods at the woman.

Auggie is there waiting for her when she steps off the plane. She wonders what kind of protocol he is breaking by being there, steady, calm, unwavering. She thinks of the cliched description, He's my rock. But rocks break. Solid like an oak. But trees get cut down.

He is more powerful than any force of nature. He is the transcendental lighthouse that guides her.

"Welcome home, Walker." Annie lets that sob break her lips and she throws herself at him dramatically. He catches her, solid as usual.

He is home.

"I could use your help on a mission," he murmurs into her hair with his arms securely around her.

She smiles. "Really?"

"Only if you're coming back," he smirks because he already knows the answer.

"I'm back."


Author's Note: Thank you to everyone who stuck along for the ride! This was an exciting little series for me to write, and I hope you all enjoyed it. I might expand some of these into mini-universes, especially if there is enough interest!