Disclaimer: I don't own Covert Affairs or any characters, places, things, or ideas therein. The aforementioned belong to the USA Network and the producers, writers, etc. of the show. I am making no monetary gain from this story in any way, shape, or form.
Summary: Sequel to "Behind the Masks." The masquerade is over and it's time for them to take their masks off, but are they ready? Auggie/Annie
Warnings: A teeny bit of fluff
Author's Note: So, I originally wrote Behind the Masks to fulfill a prompt on the Auggie/Annie community over on LiveJournal. But then, when I finished and posted the second part, requests started pouring in for me to write another chapter (or epilogue) wherein Auggie and Annie finally admit what they feel to each other. I decided to make it a sequel instead of another chapter since BtM was written as a prompt, and this wasn't technically part of the prompt, but a continuation of sorts. So - here you all go, and I hope you enjoy it! Thanks for reading!
So, here we were. Two coworkers - friends, if you will - having coffee. Coffee is wonderful, a caffeine jolt to keep us going through the day, through the ups and downs and dangers of our jobs at the CIA.
…It was our day off.
I sat spinning my Starbucks cup in my hands, relishing the warmth. With Thanksgiving approaching, the air had let go of the last gasps of fall and given in to the chill of winter. The coat and scarf draped over the back of my chair was witness enough to that.
Across the table, I heard the similar scrape of my companion's cup as she turned it around and around on the Formica. It had been nothing less than a shock when Annie Walker had called me at one-thirty on a Sunday afternoon and said she was picking me up in ten minutes so we could go get a cup of coffee. I had started to ask her why, but she'd hung up before I could. The entire car ride to the nearest Starbucks had also been spent in silence. It had stretched between us for so long now that I was sure I was about to snap - mentally, if not emotionally and physically as well. I wished I could see Annie's face, so I could read her expression. And I would give almost anything to be able to read her body language.
Finally she sighed, so hard it rivaled the wind whistling down the sidewalk outside. "I'm sorry for dragging you out of your warm house on your day off," she said.
I raised my eyebrows. "It's your day off, too. What, is the heat not working at your house?"
My humor was rewarded when she laughed, although the sound was weak and rather short-lived. "No, my heat's working fine. I even have a fireplace. But - I just really needed to talk to you. And - it couldn't wait any longer."
The tired resignation in her voice made my gut twist into knots. "Annie? Are - is everything okay?" Unease prickled at the hairs on the back of my neck.
Another weary chuckle. "Depends on your definition of 'okay.'" I heard her draw in a deep breath, then let it out. "The truth is, Auggie, I've been hiding for these past couple of months. It's been stupid, but I-I've been scared."
"Hiding from what?" I prompted when she continued. "And what are you scared of?"
Annie's fingers drummed a nervous tattoo against the tabletop. "I've been hiding from a lot of things," she admitted. "And - I was scared of being hurt again."
I leaned back in my chair a bit in surprise. "Annie, what happened? Who hurt you?" Tension and anger vibrated in my voice, mirroring the sudden flash of jealous fury that raced through my veins.
Fabric rustled, and then suddenly Annie's fingers were resting against mine on my cup. "I'm fine," she assured him quickly. "Physically, anyway. It's not always been so, though. Emotionally, anyway."
"Who hurt you?" I repeated, not willing to let it go that easily.
Withdrawing her fingers, I heard the scrape of Styrofoam against Formica as Annie resumed spinning her own cup of coffee. Then she spat one word, her voice full of hurt and anger and bitterness. "Ben."
Over our time of knowing each other, Annie had shared more and more with me about her ill-fated whirlwind romance with Ben Mercer. I still didn't know all of the facts - far from it - and probably never would. But I was glad she had trusted me with what she had, because I knew talking about it was keeping her from being so walled in by her own grief and anger that she wouldn't completely block herself from loving again. I would be lying if I said I hadn't hoped that she would, maybe, find that love with me.
For a minute I sat in silence, unsure of what to say in the face of her honest and open resentment of her ex-lover. Really, was there anything I could say? I'm sorry seemed to be too trite and insignificant to convey what I really meant, and beyond that, anything else seemed inappropriate. All I could do was mirror her earlier sentiment and reach across the table to rest my hand on hers.
I felt the muscles in her fingers tense as she drew in a sharp breath. Almost immediately I began to withdraw, feeling as if I had overstepped some unspoken boundary we'd set up a long time ago. The last thing I wanted to do was alienate her, because her friendship meant everything to me.
Annie didn't seem willing to let me go, though. When I started to pull away, her hand shot out and grasped mine, clinging with a surprising amount of strength. For a moment she just hung on, her nails digging into my palm as if seeking some sort of lifeline. But then she relaxed a bit, shifting so she could twine her fingers with mine. The touch felt so natural, as normal as her letting me hang on to her arm, or her laying a hand on the crook of my elbow to guide me. It was a effortless extension of the movements to which we were already so accustomed.
"Auggie - you already know you're my best friend."
I nodded. "And you're mine." I wondered where she was going with this particular line of thinking.
"Truthfully, the fact that you are has been part of what has held me back for so long. I-I was afraid if I were entirely honest with you that I'd lose your friendship, which has been so important to me for so long."
"Annie, you can tell me anything." I wasn't sure if I'd kept the breathless hope from my voice or not.
She drew in a deep, shuddering breath, and her fingers briefly trembled against my hand. I tightened mine, trying to inject some strength into her body from my own. I wasn't sure if I'd succeeded or not, and wouldn't until she spoke again.
"You - well, you're one of the few I've told about Ben. And no one, except Danielle, knows as much as you do. I knew I could trust you, that you would not betray my confidence." Her voice lowered a bit, and I sensed her lower her head. "But I must admit that I wasn't so confident that you wouldn't betray my heart - that you wouldn't leave my already broken heart into a thousand more broken pieces. The thought terrified me." She sniffled slightly, and her hair rustled against her clothes as she presumably shook her head. "Before you say it, I know. I'm being ridiculous."
"I wasn't going to say that," I told her honestly. "Perhaps I can't completely empathize, but I do understand that you've been hurt, and betrayed, and you're afraid that it will happen again." I hesitated, my next words dying in my throat. Suddenly I was afraid, too, of the promise I wanted so badly to make but knew I couldn't, no matter how hard I tried.
If Annie sensed my hesitation, she didn't show it when next she spoke. "And then I realized how stupid I was being. By closing myself off, I was keeping myself from being the friend you deserve, not to mention - well, I wasn't being a lot of things I should have been, or even wanted to be. By keeping to myself, I was doing the one thing I didn't want to happen to myself - I was hurting you."
Was she going where I thought she was with this?
She withdrew one hand from mine, and I heard her pick up her cup, swallow, then put it down again. "I think-" Annie's fingers drummed once, loudly and with great annoyance, on the table. "No," she murmured. "I promised to be honest this time."
I realized I wasn't breathing, and forced myself to exhale. The wait rasped on my nerves, making me silently grind my teeth.
Annie's hand slid back around my own. "The truth - the raw, complete truth - is that I like you." A moment's hesitation, and then, "I like you a lot."
The words registered immediately in my mind, but it took a moment for them to process. Was that it, then? Could it be that my patient waiting period had finally come to an end, and Annie was finally feeling the same way I did?
"Auggie?" Annie's voice wavered with uncertainty. "Are - are you all right?"
Only then did I realize that I hadn't actually said anything. I was too busy trying to grasp the amazing reality that Annie actually felt the same way I did. "I-I - you're not joking, right?" I felt horrible for asking, but I had to know. After all the relationships I'd tried after going blind, none of them had worked. I had to know that Annie was serious, that she genuinely felt something other than the usual superficial things, before I could find something even remotely comprehensible to say.
"What? No! I would never joke about something like this, ever. Especially not with you, Auggie." The shock in her voice was genuine.
I opened my mouth to reply, but for some reason my voice wasn't functioning. I had been waiting for this for how long now, and yet all I could do was just sit there like an idiot?
"Auggie?" Annie withdrew, and for a moment I panicked until I felt her slide onto the bench seat on my side of the booth. Her shoulder bumped against mine gently to get me to scoot over to make room for her. "Did I - offend you? I'm sorry, I never meant to - I mean, if all we are is friends, that's - well, I just thought I sensed that you felt the same way as me, so I-"
Finally I was able to move. Lifting my hand, I brushed her shoulder before I found her face so I could place my fingers over her lips to hush her. "Annie," I prompted.
I felt the skin beneath my fingertips grow warm - she was blushing. I wondered what shade her blush was - a deep rose, or the softest peach? Whichever, I knew it would be attractive.
Honestly, even after this time my mind was still drawing a blank. There was so much I wanted to say, but I couldn't find the right words to express everything. So I lifted my other hand to join the first, cupping her face, and leaned forward. My nose bumped hers, and we both laughed softly. Then she was kissing me, her lips warm and soft, hands lifting to brace against my forearms, knee bumping mine under the table.
My head buzzed with a euphoria I had never felt before. Only a moment later, though, I realized that it wasn't my pulse pounding in my ears, it was the sound of the other people in Starbucks applauding Annie and me.
As we drew apart, I knew I had to be flushed, too. Her cheeks were almost painfully hot to touch. "Oh," I said.
"'Oh'?" she repeated incredulously.
I laughed. "I can't think clearly after that," I said honestly. "I dare you to do better."
Annie joined me by chuckling ruefully. "Point taken." Her head nestled into my shoulder, hair tickling at my jaw and lips.
I planted a gentle kiss on the crown of her head, marveling at the softness of her tresses.
We sat that way for a long moment. Then Annie lifted her head and said softly, "You knew all along, didn't you?"
"Knew what?" I asked blithely.
Her elbow dug gently but pointedly into my ribcage. "What I didn't." She laughed again, sounding more carefree than I'd ever heard her. "You've been waiting for me to realize what's been there between us this whole time."
Wrapping my arm around her shoulder, I smiled. "You were worth waiting for, as cliché as it sounds."
Annie's fingertips brushed against my jaw before she tangled her hand in the hair at the back of my neck. "You might change your mind," she said wittily. "My sister becomes insufferable when she finds out she's right about something."
"You're worth it," I repeated firmly, then proceeded to kiss her laughing lips again.
I debated on whose POV to write this from, and in the end, obviously, decided on Auggie's for several reasons. One, he comes most naturally for me; two, he's a lot of fun to write; and three, his character is so amazing and complex and a true joy to explore. The next CA fic you see from me will probably be a multi-chapter, since I'm almost finished with the planning process and will start writing it really soon. Thanks for reading Listen, and I hope you enjoyed it!