Title: Small Victories

Warnings: Cuteness. Spoilers for Southbound Suarez.

Disclaimer: It isn't mine. But, damn, I wish it was.

Notes: This is my first CA fic! It's a missing scene: Annie returns from Caracas.

It was past 0330 when a call from Dulles informed Joan that Annie Walker was en route to Langley. Her Venezuelan charges were being escorted to a safe house, and every agent in South America was busy rooting out Victor Ponces.

It had been a risk to hinge the whole operation on someone with Annie's inexperience, but Arthur wanted her in the field- and the more bullets flying, the better- so Joan had pretended to consider their other options and then done it. She'd been glad that Annie had survived after Ponces made her. It should've shown Arthur that she had too much potential to be wasted as bait for Ben Mercer, but he didn't seem inclined to change his course of action.

Joan pressed her lips together in annoyance; she didn't appreciate talent used as a disposable commodity.

She moved from her office into the hub of the DPD, taking a bit of satisfaction in the sight of bleary-eyed Jai Wilcox in the middle of her team of analysts, working on the data from Ponces' accounts. She had to give him credit for taking on hard hours he could have easily used his position to avoid; as a show of dedication it didn't fool her, but a quick glance at his computer screen told her that he was doing good work.

"That'll be useful," she said, as much of a compliment as she was willing to give.

He nodded to show he'd heard her and reached for a file on the other side of his desk. She stepped away, giving him room to keep working; maybe later, if she was feeling charitable, she'd offer him a coffee. It was to her advantage to be a good boss, after all.

She walked down the hall to the bunk room where she'd sent Auggie after she'd seen him rubbing at his eyes one too many times. Actually, she'd offered to call a car so he could get out of there, but he'd smirked, reminded her of her "no one goes home tonight" order, and insisted on staying- "Never know when you'll need the tech guy."

In truth, she'd seen it coming. Auggie was protective of Annie and wanted to be there when she returned, which was fine because she was good for him. There were agents who could be startlingly insecure about the skills they lacked- a fact Auggie was generally politic enough to acknowledge- but Annie simply allowed him to teach her.

Joan smiled a little at the sight of him sprawled on one of the cots near the window, one arm dangling to the floor and the other wrapped around a pillow. She hadn't been sure he'd actually sleep; when he'd been a field agent he'd seemed to have an inexhaustible supply of energy.

But that was then.

Quietly, she shut the door and walked back the way she'd came, stopping at the coffee pot on the way.

She set a mug on Jai's desk, and he looked up with one of his smooth, white-toothed grins.

"Joan. How kind."

She saluted him with her own mug. "You're going to need it if you're intent on staying until you can congratulate Annie-" she arched an eyebrow, daring him to contradict her statement- "I wouldn't want to be cheated out of the opportunity to witness your game."

Impressively, Jai's expression didn't change. "There's nothing wrong with offering a bit of encouragement," he said. "It's in the agency's interest to nurture new recruits."

"And I have no doubt you're interested in doing a great deal of nurturing," Joan answered dryly. She gave him her own practiced, saccharine grin. "Be careful, Jai."

She didn't bother waiting for a response.

Annie arrived twenty minutes later, and, to Joan's private amusement, was still too keyed up for Jai's charm to be remotely effective. Or, perhaps, he'd heeded her warning and hadn't laid it on so thick, but she doubted that.

She waited at her desk for Annie to be brought in, then indicated that the younger woman should sit down. "How's your shoulder?"

"Fine." That was the expected answer. Joan waited a beat longer- "A little sore."

"Think of it as a rite of passage." And then, because Jai really did have a point about encouragement, she added, "The information from those bank accounts is proving to be very useful. Well done."

"And Ponces?"

Joan shrugged. "He won't stay under the radar long. In the meantime, I believe there's someone waiting for you who could use a ride home." She didn't miss the way Annie's face softened as she spoke. "Down the hall. Third door on the right."

She waited until the younger woman was out of sight before leaning back in her chair and folding her arms behind her head. There could have been a much different end to the day had some of the variables not gone in their favor, but her people had done the good work she'd expected of them. It was a small victory by agency standards, but Joan had learned to appreciate those.

She got up to tell everyone they could go, get some rest before the new workday officially began. She lingered on the stairs as they wound down, only turning her attention when Annie emerged from the bunk room with a barely-awake Auggie in tow. She was pleased to see that Jai was watching them, too, with a look on his face that suggested he'd suddenly gained a better understanding of her earlier warning.

Joan smiled and returned to her desk.