Body and Soul
Chapter 3: Maiden Voyage
Inspiration: Herbie Hancock's Maiden Voyage from the 1965 concept album of the same name. Give it a listen for Herbie's oceanic inspiration, his piano playing, and the stellar back-up ensemble accompanying him.
Tag: S1, Ep. 1 - Pilot.
There were a few ways I was tempted to go with this one, and I may revisit this in the future with some of my other ideas. This time, however, I was re-watching the pilot, thinking that's one hell of a new employee orientation! (I was also thinking that the show's creators planted some seeds in that pilot episode that we're still seeing grow and develop five seasons later. Fingers crossed that Covert Affairs gets as many more seasons as it needs to see them all come to fruition.)
Anyway, here's another conversational bit of fluff to bring closure to Annie's first week at the CIA.
Thanks for all your reviews, follows and PMs. I appreciate everyone single one.
Auggie took and long pull from the bottle, wiped his lips, and let the pub's end-of-the-work week ambiance wash over him. Not that he worked the typical nine-to-five, but it was Friday, and Allen's on a Friday was better than work. The music, a tolerable blend of Motown and classic rock, was a little louder than on week-nights, the laughter more raucous , the banter more flirtatious. The crowd of students, government workers, and the occasional spy or two was maybe a little more drunk, and blowing off steam at the end of another work week.
He set his bottle down, leaned back in his chair, and, in his own manner, surveyed the room. From the dart board on the far side of the bar, Jai let out a victory hoot as another hapless analyst fell to his deadly aim. From somewhere around his three o'clock, Bea from PsyOps was swearing off men... again! One table away in the opposite direction, Barber from Signals was narrating in an animated crescendo his latest epic video game win.
As for himself, he was simply enjoying the perfect close of another successful week of keeping his operatives and America safe. Having a decent watering hole only a few blocks from home, made it even better.
Nearby, maybe at the bar, two girls were whispering in conspiratorial tones. Blocking out the other sounds, he tried to zero in on their conversation. Maybe they were talking about him. He turned their way, and gave them his most disarming smile. Giggles. Stiletto heels. Bingo!
The slam of heavy glass on wood surprised him. That was direct. He straightened in his chair.
"So, let me guess. A typical week at the Agency?"
"Walker," he drawled.
A chair scraped in front of him.
"In the space of three days, I've been shot at, arrested, choked, threatened with dismissal, and given a medal. A typical first week?"
"And impressed the Seventh Floor suits. Don't forget that." He raised his bottle. "Well played."
"Joan said that most operatives go their entire careers without being shot at. In contrast, you said yesterday was a typical Thursday at the Agency. Who was telling the truth?"
Auggie took another long draw, emptying his bottle. He wiped his mouth, and pursed his lips. "Hmmm. The truth. You'll find that where we work the truth is kind of a fluid concept."
"Meaning that around there the truth is complicated. There are degrees of honesty. It's all about need-to-know. You're expected to trust your handler, your team, your superiors. In exchange, they will feed you only as much truth as they feel you absolutely require to complete your op."
"Me, too. My clearance may be higher than yours, but even I don't know all the details about most missions."
"So the Agency uses us the way we're trained to use our assets. Expecting our trust it, but keeping us in the dark."
"If that's how you want to look at it."
Annie didn't reply. Instead she filled the second glass, and slid it across the table until it touched the back of Auggie's hand.
Auggie grinned. "Plying me with liquor won't help."
"I was feeling sorry for you."
"As I would for any guy having to drink Bud Light."
He grinned and took a swallow. A rich amber ale. The rookie knew her beers. "For what it's worth," he said after another swallow, "I knew as much about Stas as you did."
"What about Ben?"
Annie sighed. "Never mind. Someone I used to know. I thought that maybe... It was stupid... random."
Auggie made a thoughtful noise, but said nothing. He listened to Annie drink, put her glass down, and refill it from the pitcher. He waited. Most people ended up talking if only to fill the silence. As the silence lengthened, Auggie began to realize Annie wasn't most people. "So, tell me about this Ben guy?"
"I already did."
"The tearful good-bye?
Annie nodded, then remembered. "Yeah."
"And you thought he was CIA?"
"The pieces just seemed to fit. Then what you said about trust and truth..." Annie gave a dry grunt of laugher. "He left a note. Said the truth was complicated."
"It usually is. No matter who you work for. You're not reconsidering, are you?" Auggie liked this rookie. He didn't want her to quit because of one op gone haywire. "You did well, considering the circumstances. You kept your cool, got the intel, and saved a guy's life. That's more than most rookies can say about their first op."
"Better than Joan?"
Auggie smiled. "I don't know. I came in later."
"Okay. Better than you?"
"No," he grinned and emptied his glass.
"Need to know, Walker." He reached across the table, found the jug, and refilled his glass expertly, while Annie watched. "Impressed?" he asked, shoving the jug back towards Annie.
"Should I be?"
Auggie laughed. "Nope."
Annie paused, drawing curlicues that sprouted out of the water rings on the table. "At the Farm, they're always telling us not to expect life at the CIA to be like a James Bond movie; that firefights, car chases, and explosions are actually marks of bad spycraft."
"That's true. The last thing you want to do is to attract notice. It's all about subterfuge."
"Right. So I worked on my deception skills, practiced diversion, evasion, and sleight of hand."
"All great skills to have."
"And then this week happened."
"And now you're having second thoughts."
"No. Just trying to figure out what I signed up for."
"Because, if you're having second thoughts, I know someone at the State Department. With your language skills, you'd be a shoe-in."
Annie leaned forward. "Are you telling me I shouldn't be a spy?" she whispered. "'Cause the DCS just gave me a medal."
"No, just letting you know you have options. You should do this job because you want to, not because you have to."
"Well I want to, okay? I just want to know what to expect."
"You're in the wrong place for that. Trust your instincts. Like I told you, you did well, especially for a first op. And bureaucratic b.s. to the contrary, they do appreciate initiative. I just want you to be sure of the choices you're making, because in a place where the whole concept of truth is fluid, the only thing you can be entirely sure of are your own motives. Well, that and your handler," he added, smirking. "You've got to trust him implicitly, completely and unconditionally."
"Noted," Annie laughed, but quickly grew serious again. "Medal notwithstanding, Joan is sending me back to the Farm. Tomorrow. I need to finish my firearms training. I have one month left."
"It'll fly by. You'll be back in no time."
"There's no guarantee I'll be back in the DPD."
"You impressed Joan."
"After she threatened to fire me."
"We've been over this before. You scored a huge win, Walker. She won't forget it. And she won't just hand you over to some other division without a fight. She goes to bat for her people."
Annie's phone vibrated on the table. She picked it up and glanced briefly at the number.
"You planning on answering that?"
"Later," she said and stood up. "I'm out of here. I've got to go home and pack. Need a ride?"
Auggie shook his head. "Good luck back at the Farm, Walker."
"See you in a month, Auggie."
Auggie waved, and listened as her footsteps moved towards the door. His phone buzzed in his pocket just as the bell over door jingled. He listened to the text message, and a smile spread across his face. So much for firearms training. Life at the DPD was about to get a whole lot more interesting.
Thanks for reading. Please review.